Tag Archives: supernatural

The Crow Garden by Alison Littlewood. Review 

The Crow Garden is the first novel I have read from author Alison Littlewood and it was a rare treat! I love the idea of novels about madness but it is rare that I find one so well written, most I have found dance around with innuendo and mystery and I find that quite frustrating. Not so with The Crow Garden with echoes of Shutter Island Alison Littlewood builds tension with a novel where everything is evident to the reader and not to the characters themselves! 


Nathaniel Kerner is determined to become an Alienist or ‘mad-doctor’ treating patients in an asylum to atone for his father’s suicide, for which he blames himself. Soon he finds himself in his first position at Crakethorn, an old Manor House and now asylum where he meets the beautiful yet damaged Mrs Harleston. But as tension builds between the characters the lines between madness and sanity become blurred. 


Spotted with the poetry of Browning and Byron, the story tells of a terrible love story woven with insanity, in a time when it really was unclear who was mad and who was not. A time when Doctors were allowed free will to carry out barbarous treatments and patients could be admitted purely for being epileptic. The setting on the Yorkshire Moors and the time which is perceived to be Victorian times only add to the dark and cryptic storyline. 


Alison Littlewood’s writing reminds me a lot of the writing of Daphne Du Maurier and I feel that is the biggest complement I can afford the author of The Crow Garden a fantastic novel and highly recommended! 

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The Woman in Black by Susan Hill. Review. 

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t like being scared. Despite this, a few years ago I watched The Woman in Black because I figured something with a 12 rating couldn’t scare a 20+ year old woman. Wrong. But despite being scared witless I really wanted to try the book. Which I have now finally done! 

I really enjoyed The Woman in Black it’s a fairly short novel only 200 pages long but it’s 200 pages of white knuckle fear, or at least it was for the biggest scaredy cat in the world (me). 


Arthur Kipps is a young solicitor, sent to out into the countryside to a small town surrounded by marshes, to attend the funeral of an old client’s death. The town is shrouded in mystery and nobody seems to want to talk about the deceased Mrs Drablow or her weird old house only accessed at low tide. And when Arthur spots a curious looking woman dressed in black at the funeral he finds the townsfolk shutter up even more. Cue weird experiences and ghostly goings on when he goes over Mrs Drablow’s house; Eel Marsh House. 


I found the book to be both interesting and scary. Which I think is the best kind of horror. I have no interest in gore, aliens, etc. But I do like a ghost story which troubles you and causes a psychological reaction, The Woman in Black successfully achieves this, with a mystery at the centre of the hauntings. Susan Hill’s description of her narrator’s terror, told in a first person narrative is utterly believeable because it is exactly the kind of fear we have all experienced. 


Spine tingley good, I just hope I can sleep tonight! 

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry. Review 

The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry seems to have been the most talked about book of the year, people who I know are not regular readers have even read and raved about it. As usual I am a little late to the party thanks to my enormous reading pile, but I’ve finally read it. 

In all honesty I found it a little slow paced, while the writing is beautiful I often find that beautiful writing makes you read much slower. When I first started my own studies in writing I remember scoffing at the idea that people prefer to read speech, conversations etc. Rather than description and the narrator telling the story. Show don’t tell. It’s the first rule of writing school isn’t it? And this book I felt, does a lot more telling than showing which I guess is why I found it slow paced. 


There’s no denying that Sarah Perry is a great writer, her prose is beautiful and the story is interesting as it looks to a time when scientific discovery begins to battle not only religious piety but myth and legend as well. Not only this, the novel explores the human psyche, emotions and relationships in minute detail, and the way that as humans we blunder on breaking relationships and not knowing or even perhaps caring how we effect other people. In particular the character of Cora Seaborne who sees herself so much as a woman empowered, taking back her identity that she fails to see how her actions and words effect others. 


I thought that this book explored the concept of feminism very well, in believing in herself and her own rights to do as she pleased, Cora destroyed friendships and relationships completely unaware of the fact and somewhat resentful when she became so. 

It was weird in places but as I say, well explored and what are people if not a little on the strange side? 

Unpopular Opinions Booktag 

So I’m reading two books at the moment. Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard and Don Quixote by Miguel De Cervantes Saavedra. Which means I’ll not be able to review for a while as the great Don alone is over 1,000 pages. So I’m going to be doing a couple of book tags in the meantime! 

This is one I should have done ages ago but never got round to, I found it on http://www.booklovingnut.com which has a host of fantastic book tags which you should check out! It was originally created by https://readatmidnight.com/ and it’s all about Unpopular Opinions! 

1. A popular book you didn’t like. 

Vampire Diaries by LJ Smith 


Loved the show, hated the books. Genuinely some of the worst books I have ever read. Poorly written, terrible characters and well, just poor altogether! 

2. A book series that everyone hates but you love. 

Fifty Shades of Grey by E.L James 


I’m not going as far as to say everyone hates this book but I’ve heard a lot of bad things about it. I really enjoyed it and I like the series. Fair enough the first book is pure smut but the second and third start to bring together a storyline which is really interesting. 

3. A love triangle where the main character ends up with the person you didn’t want them to end up with. 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte 


Although Cathy’s heart always belonged to Heathcliffe I hate that she ended up married to Edgar. He was a sweet guy, I can’t speak ill of him, but Cathy and Heathcliffe should have been the couple! 

4. A popular genre you rarely reach for. 


Horror, I’m far too much of a scaredy cat! I’ve read a few but they scar me for days so I tend to avoid them! 

5. A popular character you didn’t like. 


Katniss Everdeen, I just find her a bit annoying. Also she treats her love interests like sh*t but they still love her. 

6. A popular author you can’t seem to get into. 


Saying that, I’m reading Glass Sword at the moment but I’m just really struggling to keep an interest in these books. 

7. A popular trope you’re tired of seeing. 

Lip biting. Seriously, who can bite their lip and look sexy? I’ve tried, I look like I’m attempting self cannabalism. Also who here bites their lip when they’re nervous/angry/scared? Nope, me neither. 

8. A popular series you have no interest in reading. 


The Discworld series by Terry Pritchett has just never appealed to me at all. 

9. The saying goes “the book is always better than the movie” but what movie do you prefer to the book?


I can’t think of a film but I’m enjoying the tv mini series of Cuckoo’s Calling much more than the book. 
I hope you enjoyed my unpopular opinions. Let me know what you think in the comments and have a go yourself if you haven’t already! 

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff. Review 

And so dear reader, we pick up where we left off… 

I’ll end up talking like the narrator in these books if I keep losing myself in them this way! You can read my review of Nevernight on the following link, be aware that though this review holds no spoilers for Godsgrave it will contain some for Nevernight so if you’ve not read it yet, a) go and do so as soon as possible, and b) don’t read any further until you have. https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/nevernight-by-jay-kristoff-review/

Godsgrave picks up where Nevernight finished. Mia has become a blade through a fluke, defending the ministry from the harm threatened them by Ash one of Mia’s own friends and along the way inheriting a new dark passenger; Eclipse the wolf who previously belonged to the now deceased Lord Cassius. (Is it just me or does Dark Passenger just make you think of Dexter?) 


The story is split into two parts which eventually come together. One tells the tale of Mia’s current position as a Gladitor in a collegium, essentially a slave. Meanwhile the story backtracks to show how Mia got from the point of her initiation as a blade, to being a slave. I’m guessing if you know Mia at all, there is little doubt in your mind that her motive is as always revenge. 


Godsgrave and Nevernight are equally as fast paced. Kristoff’s unusual but effective use of footnotes prevents the need for masses of worldbuilding and character building in both books which allows the story to get on with the action and suspense. Have I come out with more questions than I went in with? Thousands. Have I got answers to any of the questions I had when I finished Nevernight? Nope. But then that’s what makes the reader want to read more after all, and I am now seriously excited for the final book in this trilogy!! 

Tarnished City by Vic James. Review. 

This series is literally a rollercoaster ride. I loved Gilded Cage and you can check out my review of that here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/09/05/gilded-cage-by-vic-james-review/

Tarnished City was even better, which is quite rare for a Middle novel in a trilogy, usually I find the Middle novel a bit of a ‘filler’ with not much going on, but this was action packed to say the least. Following the events of Gilded Cage (spoilers for book 1 ahead) Tarnished City explains what happens next to the main characters. Abi is desperately trying to save her brother Luke by appealing to His old friends from the Millmoor Games and Social Club. Luke meanwhile is trapped in Crovan’s Scottish castle desperately trying to find a way out and back to his friends and family. Meanwhile Silyen is back to his old tricks and all I can say about Gavar and Jenner is that they’re about to both undergo big changes… 


Tarnished City is equally as fast paced as Gilded Cage but there is a lot more action in this one now that the author has free reign after the character and world building needed in book one. We start to see a lot more of the in depth personality traits of the characters and I was definitely correct in my original assumption that not everyone is who they seem! There’s a lot more violence in this one also as the story takes a darker turn than in the first book. 


I was really pleased with the character development overall, I feel like I’ve got a good idea of who everyone is deep down now as I’ve been able to see the darker and lighter sides of their characters. In the words of Sirius Black (ok.. JK Rowling) ‘we’ve all got both light and dark inside of us, what matters most is the part we choose to act on, that’s who we really are.’ I feel that’s a really fitting summary of the people in this book. 


I literally cannot wait for the next instalment in what has fast become one of my favourite fantasy series’. 

The Girl in the Tower by Katherine Arden. Review. 

‘Almost midnight – that wicked, magic hour – on a night menaced by ice and storm and the abyss of the featureless sky.’

I absolutely adored The Bear and the Nightingale so I was so happy when I was granted a review copy of The Girl in the Tower thanks to Netgalley and Ebury publishing. 
No spoilers here for The Girl in the Tower but if you haven’t read The Bear and the Nightingale yet I would warn you that there are spoilers for that book here and you would be better reading my spoiler free review of that book here: https://lifehasafunnywayofsneakinguponyou.wordpress.com/2017/04/06/the-bear-and-the-nightingale-by-katherine-arden-review/

The Girl in the Tower picks up from the events which happened in The Bear and the Nightingale, first focusing on Sasha and Olga in Moscow as the Grand Prince prepares for war against the Tartars and Olga receives news about the death of her father, stepmother and her little sister Vasya. The reader of course knows that Vasya is not dead but has escaped to the Frost King’s cottage for shelter. 


We pick up with Vasya next as she tells the Frost King that she intends to travel the country and be free rather than allow the people in her village to force her into a convent or marriage. I was glad to see the return of Vasya’s fiery spirit. But when she arrived in Moscow masquerading as a boy, it is here that Vasya’s fiery spirit gets her into trouble. 


I enjoyed this book so much, I love learning about folklore particularly the folklore of Eastern Europe which is always so deliciously dark. Katherine Arden demonstrates incredible research about the spirits, demons, myths and legends and weaves them into a fantastic story which is not only interesting but believable. Vasya is a character who is very easy to empathise with, a woman in a man’s world destined for nothing but a convent or marriage to a man she does not want. Instead she shows herself as a fierce survivor full of determination. Though she sometimes hurts the ones she loves I find that I see this as their fault not hers, their refusal to understand her and their determination to live by social protocols makes her the proverbial black sheep and I really dig that! 

If you haven’t read this series already then you should certainly do so as soon as possible. I challenge anyone to not enjoy these books.