Southern paranormal cozy mystery with ghosts, witches and a murder or two.
Hope, Faith and Charity plan to open a Wiccan school and white witches’ potion shop in rural Sunflower County Mississippi. Sarah Booth Delaney and her partner in the Delaney Detective Agency, Tinkie Richmond, are paid to dig up some dirt on the three newcomers. The witches cast a spell to make Tinkie pregnant and Sarah Booth hook up with the hunky Sheriff Coleman. Soon, someone is killed. Was the victim scared to death by the mysterious force in the apple orchard?
Charmed Bones is #18 in the series but it reads fine as a standalone. Reading the synopsis above, the plot sounds overblown but it is totally believable while immersed in the book. I found the quirky Southern characters were the best part of Charmed Bones. By the end of the book, all seemed like genuine friends that I wanted to spend more time with. Now I just have to decide to continue the series from here or start at #1. This entry deserves 4 stars!
Thanks to Minotaur and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Romance Tagged with: ghosts, May 15 2018
An eerie ambience suffuses The Broken Girls. It is a mystery wrapped in a ghost story or perhaps the other way around. “Ghosts and dead babies and murdered girls. What next?”
Roberta, Katie, Cece and Sonia were all dumped at Idlewild Hall, an all-girl boarding school in 1950 Vermont. Roberta is a victim of a traumatic family event. Katie was a troublemaker. Cece was born on the wrong side of the blanket to her rich father’s maid. Sonia has nightmares about her childhood during WWII. Along with indifferent teachers, the roommates have to deal with Mary Hand, who haunts the school by bringing up each girl’s worst nightmare.
In 2014, reporter Fiona is still shell shocked by her sister’s murder on the abandoned Idlewild grounds 20 years before. When a mysterious elderly woman begins to restore the school, Fiona decided to investigate.
There are many plots running concurrently. There are the 1950 roommates, the 1994 sister, the 2014 investigation and the ghost story shown in alternating chapters. It sounds confusing but it works seamlessly together.
The Broken Girls works as a “Northern Gothic” but also as a straight mystery. It is highly recommended for fans of mysteries with paranormal twists. I did not see the end coming at all, which is great! 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Berkley, and Edelweiss for a copy.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal Tagged with: ghosts, Mar 20 2018
Lydie is a short tear-jerker that rewards readers with beautiful artwork and a compelling plot.
Set in a French cul-de-sac in an unnamed French town, Lydie tells the story of a set of neighbors that band together to help Camille, a mentally impaired French girl, in a very unusual way. The street is nicknamed mustachioed baby court due to a graffitied baby on a soap billboard at the end of the street. There are many points-of-view depicted in Lydie including from a statue of the Virgin Mary located on one of the buildings.
Set in 1932, life was both harsher and more neighborly than it is today. Camille loses her baby named Lydie during childbirth. A few months later, Camille believes that angels have brought back her child from heaven. First her father and then all her neighbors support Camille’s fantasy. By speaking to an invisible child who grows increasing older as the novel continues, the neighbors help Camille deal with her grief of her dead child. The end of this novel is the best part of all.
Since this graphic novel vividly depicts life in all its harshness, it is recommended only for adults. While it is ultimately a feel-good plot, it is also a true tearjerker. The artwork is very good too. 4 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Europe Comics, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.
Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novel, Paranormal Tagged with: ghosts, Mar 21 2018
Have you ever thought, “Every plot has already been used so what’s the point in reading (or writing) another”? If so, Smoke City is going to surprise you. No book or movie is anywhere near its plot for imagination and creativity.
Smoke City is a captivating genre-smashing novel. Here are the major genres that are colliding like atoms within this novel:
- Historical fiction (Joan of Arc’s death)
- Horror (ghost story)
- Tragedy (predestination during reincarnation)
- Adventure (adult male bonding during a road trip)
- Literary fiction (famous artist hits the skids)
- Magical realism (see above)
It sounds like it would be a huge mess. But somehow it works!
Half-visible wraiths nicknamed smokes are appearing in Southern California and northern Mexico. Mike Vale, a washed up previously famous artist is desperately trying to get to a funeral in Los Angeles.
Mike picks up Marvin Deitz after Marvin is unceremoniously kicked out of his record store’s lease by his shady, possibly mob-connected, landlord. Marvin is convinced that he will die violently before his 57th birthday in a few days. Why? Throughout his multitude of reincarnations, he never lives to 57. Marvin is convinced he is being punished for executing Joan of Arc in 1431. His therapist thinks it is just a delusion. Convinced he has seen the current incarnation of Joan of Arc on a talk show, Marvin is going to Los Angeles in the hopes of finding forgiveness from a woman he has never met–at least in this lifetime.
On the way to LA, the pair pick up a stowaway, Casper. The plot continues to get curiouser and curiouser from there.
Deciding to read this book takes a leap of faith. There is no comparable book or movie to say it resembles. Smoke City was written by a relatively unknown writer and published by a small press. However, take this reviewer’s advice and read this book. It is truly fantastic and totally different from any other book you will read this year! Kirkus Reviews gushed (for them) that it was “strangely satisfying”. It is worth 5+ stars!
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Fantasy, Horror, Literary Fiction, Paranormal Tagged with: Historical fiction, Jan 23 2018, magical realism
Beware, you may not sleep well after reading Kill Creek!
Kill Creek begins with four horror novelists agreeing to a live-streamed interview in a long abandoned haunted house in Kill Creek, Kansas. The interviews are held on Halloween night and the novelists stay overnight within the house. All the novelists have different styles from a Stephen King-type horror veteran to a R.L. Stine-type Young Adult horror novelist. To say much more about the plot would spoil it. However, the aftermath of the interview is the best part of this excellent book.
Kill Creek is definitely not for the faint-of-heart. There is a lot of violence. However, the story is very innovative. It is clear that the author has a love of all things horror. There is even a section that echoes a scene in the movie, Murder by Death. The book is both intelligent atmospheric horror and plain scary. Think of the first Saw movie. I finished reading Kill Creek at night on my Kindle with all the lights off and no one else awake in the house. I couldn’t fall asleep until dawn! However, I also just couldn’t stop reading! I love the insertion of a mystery within the horror genre. Kill Creek is highly recommended. 5 stars!
Thanks to the publisher, Inkshares, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy.
Posted in Diane's Favorites, Horror, Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal Tagged with: ghosts, oct 31
Interesting setting and plot wasted with a lackluster resolution.
Dawn in Damnation opens in a western bar where a veteran resident is explaining how a newbie got there. Damnation is “hell’s sifter”. Those that have some redeeming qualities included in an evil life, go to Damnation to be judged. Those that kill a man, go straight to hell. Men who can avoid killing for a year might make it to heaven but no one has made it yet. The town, in perpetual dusk with an eerie sky, includes a “dead” vampire and a pack of dead werewolves.
The setup for this plot is innovative. However, foreshadowed events go nowhere and the ending just dribbles to a close without resolution of any of the town or citizen’s issues or questions. Instead there is a preview of volume two of the series that seems to indicate the addition of more problems rather than a resolution of the current ones.
There is nothing more frustrating than rushing to read a book to find out what happens–and then nothing is explained (heavy sigh). I can’t recommend this book even though I loved its innovation. 1 star.
Thanks to the publisher, Lyrical Underground, and netgalley for an advanced review copy.
Posted in Horror, Paranormal Tagged with: oct 31, vampires, werewolves
A former Pinkerton detective, MacGregor, searches for a known criminal in a Western town infected with evil.
Set in 1890, the villainous gangs in this graphic novel are extremely original paranormal creatures. Their originality is the best part of this book. The other characters are western movie stereotypes like the damsel in distress, the old doc and the crooked richest man in town. The plot is a standard western trope too with the usual villainous gangs replaced with monsters. There is also an off-hand reference to steampunk and a sub-plot regarding slavery, which seemed to be afterthoughts.
I love the idea of a western paranormal mashup. It makes sense that an old mine might house evil. The plot is good if somewhat derivative. However, the artwork is murky and it is frequently difficult to tell what is happening. Many of the panels use the exact same color for the foreground and the background with only a thin line separating the two. Also, the shadowing is done using thick cross-hatching, while the outlines are using thin lines that decreases the clarity in many panels. The original online comic won a Harvey award and didn’t have this clarity issue. Hopefully, that will be the way it will appear in the final released version.
The real reason to read High Moon #1 and the next volume due out in May 2018 is to prepare for the all-new volume 3. The original web series ended with a cliffhanger about seven years ago. Fans of the original series and others that want a good quick scary read for Halloween will be interested in this book. However, others should get a free Kindle sample or view the book in person to make sure the artwork issues have been cleared up before ordering a copy. 3 stars.
Thanks to the publisher, Papercutz, and NetGalley for an advanced review copy.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Horror, Paranormal Tagged with: oct 31, series, western
Great teen/young adult paranormal mystery perfect for fans of Beetlejuice and The Good Place.
It was the worst possible day for Echo. She had 70s makeup and 80s hair. Oh, she was also in an open casket at her own funeral. Okay, maybe being murdered was worse.
Sixteen year old Echo wakes up in Middle House not knowing how or why she arrived there. Soon she realizes her goal is to bring her murderer to justice. There is more than just one mystery to solve in Bad Girl Gone. Why does the caretaker, Mrs. Torvous, keep crying? Why doesn’t her best friend, Cole, talk about why he is in Middle House?
Bad Girl Gone was written by a screenwriter and it shows. This book would make a great movie. The author makes the setting feel real. This is paranormal at its best–not frightening but more thought-provoking. How would you handle it if you switched places with Echo? The use of ghosts in a paranormal mystery is not new. There is Bailey Ruth and The Others. However, the world building in Bad Girl Gone seems more organic like a science fiction or fantasy plot. Bad Girl Gone also has some clean romance.
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone looking for the something different than the usual werewolf or vampire paranormal mystery.
I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway but that did not impact my review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: Afterlife, romance
Great paranormal mystery set in near future New Zealand.
Penny is a scientist who has just opened a her own business. Her first criminal case includes a missing person, a large pool of blood and a ceremonial bowl.
Her brother, Matiu, is her driver in 2040s Auckland where pollution is rampant and few can afford private cars. Luckily, their rich parents run a car service, which is where Matiu works. Matiu has a criminal past and is recently out of prison on probation. Matiu has a special power.
It’s his blessing, his curse, to feel the veil that lies between the worlds, to touch it as it slips and slides in his grasp, rasps along his senses, teases at his dreams.
Matiu and Penny begin to solve the crime–not just do crime scene analysis as Penny has been contracted to do by the police. The clues to the solution are as varied as Rasputin and the Egyptian god Osiris.
The best part of the Hounds of the Underworld is the prickly but humorous sibling dynamics. Setting the novel in near future New Zealand is so brilliant! I’ve never read another novel with that setting so it feels fresh in a genre that frequently feels overused and stale. I also felt that the characters acted in ways that most people would react in similar circumstances.
The ending was engrossing and a real page-turner. However, it did leave a couple of major plot points hanging so I took one star off for that. This is book one in a planned series so I understand the point of having a cliffhanger but I thought this was a bit too much. Hopefully, the next book in the Path to Ra series will be published soon!
I would highly recommend this book to any mystery lover who wants more diverse plot elements than your standard genre book. This novel combines four genres: mystery, fantasy, light science fiction and paranormal. And it does it with style! Just don’t expect all the plot’s skeins to be neatly rolled up at the end.
I received this book in a Librarything giveaway but that has not impacted my review.
Posted in Fantasy, Kindle Unlimited, Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Science Fiction Tagged with: near future, New Zealand, Siblings
Great characters in an absorbing paranormal romantic mystery.
This was a good paranormal romantic mystery. Maybe it’s because I have read so many mysteries, but Force of Nature seemed rather easy to figure out. However, I loved the characters in the book–each had their own voice, motivations and quirks. The paranormal part was good too just enough to keep it interesting without becoming silly. I truly loved the ending.
I received this book from a Goodreads giveaway but that has not impacted my review.
Posted in Mystery & Thrillers, Paranormal, Romance
Makes you think what would you do! If you loved Scott Pilgrim, you will love this one more.
I loved this graphic novel. The plot was totally unpredictable. It also mashed together so many genres that it is hard to categorize, which is great. Maybe young adult paranormal mystery sci-fi romance?
I picked up this book because I enjoyed the Scott Pilgrim vs the World books by the same author. However, I believe this book is better and it is not a series so you get the immediate gratification of an ending. The magic mushrooms in the plot make you think about how you would change your mistakes well after you have finished the book.
Posted in Graphic Novel, Paranormal, Romance, Science Fiction, Teen & Young Adult Tagged with: do-over