Delighted to be on the #BlogTour today for #TheSevenDoors by Agnes Ravatn @OrendaBooks #NordicNoir #readers #bookreview #newbook

‘Unfolds in an austere style that perfectly captures the bleakly beautiful landscape of Norway’s far
north’
Irish Times

University professor Nina is at a turning point. Her work seems increasingly irrelevant, her doctor husband is never home, relations with her adult daughter Ingeborg are strained, and their beautiful house is scheduled for demolition.
When Ingeborg decides to move into another house they own, things take a very dark turn. The young woman who rents it disappears, leaving behind her son, the day after Nina and Ingeborg pay her a visit.
With few clues, the police enquiry soon grinds to a halt, but Nina has an inexplicable sense of guilt. Unable to rest, she begins her own investigation, but as she pulls on the threads of the case, it seems her discoveries may have very grave consequences for her and her family.

My thoughts…

This was one of those books that once you start reading, you keep going until the end, despite the late hour. It’s not action packed or fast paced, it’s a very steady read, but completely absorbing. I have to admit there were some inferences that starting raising my curiosity fairly early on, and the ending proved that my ‘spidery’ senses were correct, so the outcome was not a surprise for me, but I loved watching the interactions of all the characters throughout: the network of lies, suspicions, greed, power-play, and manipulation provides great reading.

This is a layered psychological thriller with plenty of underlying drama. At the core is Nina, who is being displaced from her roots, and having to relocate as her house is going to be demolished. I really enjoyed her character, in particular her tenacity and drive to not give in. With themes of connection, roots and uprooting wrapped around the central mystery, there’s certainly a decent amount of background and depth to the narrative.

I loved the references to art, literature, and fairy-tales. The Bluebeard underscore was woven darkly and beautifully; the threaded allusion addition was very welcome, and I really enjoyed the insights it offers for readers, with the seven doors parallel.

Overall, a dark, layered allusion themed Nordic Noir that hooks you in until the closing lines.

The Author – Agnes Ravatn

Agnes Ravatn

Agnes Ravatn (b. 1983) is a Norwegian author and columnist. She made her
literary début with the novel Week 53 (Veke 53) in 2007. Since then she
has written three critically acclaimed and award-winning essay collections:
Standing still (Stillstand), 2011, Popular Reading (Folkelesnad), 2011, and
Operation self-discipline (Operasjon sjøldisiplin), 2014. In these works,
Ravatn revealed a unique, witty voice and sharp eye for human fallibility.
Her second novel, The Bird Tribunal (Fugletribuanlet), was an international
bestseller translated into fifteen languages, winning an English PEN Award,
shortlisting for the Dublin Literary Award, a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick and a BBC Book at Bedtime. It was also made into a successful play, which premiered in Oslo in 2015. Agnes lives with her family in the Norwegian countryside.

Thanks to Anne for the tour invite and to Orenda Books for the review copy – wishing this book every success it deserves.

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An intriguing, magical fantasy debut #BlogTour #TheBoneShardDaughter by @AndreaGStewart with thanks to @orbitbooks @Tr4cyF3nt0n #readers #newbook #bookchat

It’s lovely to be chatting about THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER today for the Blog Tour – many thanks to Tracy for the invite, and Orbit for the review copy. I enjoy reading fantasy, so this appealed to me straight away, and I wasn’t disappointed…

The Blurb…

The Sukai Dynasty has ruled the Phoenix Empire for over a century, their mastery of bone shard magic powering the monstrous constructs that maintain law and order. But now the emperor’s rule is failing, and revolution is sweeping across the Empire’s many islands.

Lin is the Emperor’s daughter, but a mysterious illness has stolen her childhood memories and her status as heir to the empire. Trapped in a palace of locked doors and old secrets, Lin vows to reclaim her birthright by mastering the forbidden art of bone shard magic.

But the mysteries behind such power are dark and deep, and wielding her family’s magic carries a great cost. When the revolution reaches the gates of the palace itself, Lin must decide how far she is willing to go to claim her throne – and save her people.

My thoughts…

THE BONE SHARD DAUGHTER is certainly an eye-catching book, and the title an intriguing one. I enjoy reading fantasy novels, so was delighted to read this one as part of its Blog Tour.

Firstly, I’m not usually a fan of too many narrative perspectives, in this book we see the story through several eyes, written either in the first or third person. Lin and Jovis are connected via their first-person narratives, and I personally enjoyed the immediacy and drive of these sections. I really liked both Lin and Jovis. Jovis in particular is very endearing as he copes with what life throws at him, but also the thought and dedication to maintain the search for his missing wife is very emotive; I loved the snatches of memory built into the story as we piece together the past. Ah, and then there’s the adorable evolving relationship with Mephi – a magical horned cat/otter type creature. Loved every moment with Mephi! I also enjoyed the third person narrative pulling into the story the lives of Ranami and Phalue that explores the relationship between two social classes and pulls in the revolution theme.

Overall, meticulous planning and structural format creates a multi-layered perspective fantasy set in a creative island-based world ruled by a failing Emperor. There’re all the elements fantasy readers expect, and importantly the world is carefully crafted in detail, so the transference from reality is seamless. This is a book of layers with a thought out embedded magical system – I found Pullman’s Dark Material vibes made creepy with the creature constructs lurking and spying. The idea is menacing, and Frankenstein vibes underscore the reanimated creatures. It’s really creative and explores more modern themes of experimentation and exploitation.

With themes of identity, control, loss, the past, memory, and connection this is an impressive debut; I’m be looking forward to the second book in the Drowning Empire Trilogy.

The Blog Tour

Please buy from independents if you can XX

#BlogTour for #TheHeights by @Parker_Bilal @blackthornbks @RandomTTours

THE HEIGHTS is the second book in the Crane and Drake series from Parker Bilal. The first book in the series ‘The Divinities’ received great feedback, such as ‘terrific crime fiction rooted in geopolitics’ from the Sunday Times, and ‘told with a delicate elegance . . . it promises to be a fine series’ from the Daily Mail. For book chat about the newly published, THE HEIGHTS, please do keep scrolling. With thanks to the publisher for the review copy, and Anne for the tour invite.

The Blurb:

What starts with the gruesome discovery of a severed head on the Tube soon becomes personal for former DI Cal Drake. After one betrayal too many, Drake has abandoned the police force to become a private detective. He’s teamed up with enigmatic forensic pathologist Dr Rayhana Crane and it’s not long before the case leads them to the darkest corners of the nation’s capital and in dangerously close contact with an international crime circuit, a brutal local rivalry and a very personal quest for retribution. With the murder victim tied to Drake’s past, his new future is about to come under threat.

My thoughts…

This book begins after Cal Drake, a former Met DI, has left the police force, and begun work as a private detective, partnering with Dr. Rayhana Crane, a forensic psychologist. The story begins as this partnership starts to work together, and coinciding with the disturbing discovery of a severed head of a woman on a tube train. The plot develops and draws in Drake’s past during an undercover drugs operation, and a complex web of gangs, drugs, suspicion and plotting develops.

I really enjoyed the plot layers, and you have to keep focused as past and present collide in this well written crime thriller. Added into the mix is a seemingly Middle East connected abduction, that spirals into another connection, bringing both investigations on a similar tangent. The relationship between Drake and Crane adds a further dimension, and although suffers from mistrust, they make an interesting team. Both have layers, and I may have some missing gaps from not reading ‘The Divinities’, the first book in the series, but it didn’t seem to matter. There’s a lot of depth and complex detail in the book, which can slow the pace, but when it picks up it hurtles along!

It’s dark, intense, disturbing and complex. A decent crime thriller read.

The Author

Parker Bilal

Parker Bilal is the pseudonym of Jamal Mahjoub, the critically acclaimed literary novelist. He is the author of the Makana Investigations series, the third of which, The Ghost Runner, was longlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Novel of the Year Award. The Divinities, the first in his Crane and Drake London crime series, was published in 2019. Born in London, he has lived in a number of places, including the UK, Denmark, Spain and, currently, the Netherlands.


@Parker_Bilal | jamalmahjoub.com

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Delighted to be on the #BlogTour today for #TheYearOfTheWitching by @alexhwrites @penguinrandom @RandomTTours

I love a good yarn about witchcraft, so jumped at the chance to be a part of the blog tour for THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING, huge thanks to Anne for the invite. It’s a debut novel from Alexis Henderson whose lifelong love of ghost stories and all things witchcraft has resulted in a surprisingly detailed story, with complex themes and a defiant, political feminist drive.

Please keep scrolling for bookish chat about THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING

Four witches. Four warnings. Four plagues, and the first had come upon them…

The blurb:

Born on the fringes of Bethel, Immanuelle does her best to obey the Church and follow Holy Protocol. For it was in Bethel that the first Prophet pursued and killed four powerful witches, and so cleansed the land.
And then a chance encounter lures her into the Darkwood that surrounds Bethel.
It is a forbidden place, haunted by the spirits of the witches who bestow an extraordinary gift on Immanuelle. The diary of her dead mother . . .
Fascinated by and fearful of the secrets the diary reveals, Immanuelle begins to understand why her mother once consorted with witches. And as the truth about the Prophets, the Church and their history is revealed, so Immanuelle understands what must be done. For the real threat to Bethel is its own darkness.
Bethel must change. And that change will begin with her . . .

My thoughts…

Firstly, this is not simply a story of witchcraft, it’s a layered and detailed novel with Atwood vibes connecting the wider themes into the dominant patriarchal village of Bethal. I must admit I wasn’t expecting a YA book vibe, so once that was established, I was able to adjust to the overall plot, character types and their relationships.

Bethal is controlled strongly by religion, and the patriarchy that represents it. The rules over the villagers are stark, particularly so for the women. The darkness and the evil are not, as expected, ultimately caused by the witches, but it’s deeply rooted in the societal structures in place throughout Bethal. At the centre of this is the Prophet, who leads the villagers and is the top of the village’s hierarchy – he is also able to claim several wives, and both dominate and control them to his advantage. The reader cannot help but immediately question the morality and systemic patriarchy controlling this sheltered and alienated village.

So, where’s the witchcraft? It lies in the deep forest surrounding the town, and in its history. Our eyes are opened to this, through our central protagonist, Immanuelle, whose life changes after finding her dead mother’s diary; suddenly her perspective of the world shifts, and she begins to question how evil, and how much a threat the spirits of the witches in the wood are.

This is also a book about a quest, and the coming of age story of Immanuelle. She is drawn into the battle to stop four plagues descending on the village, a plague she unwittingly began. Her quest is to defeat the four plagues of Blood, Blight, Darkness and Slaughter, and along the way discover who is she, and where she truly belongs. Her bravery, passion, and morality to do what is right makes her a powerful female character; this is most definitely, and rightly, her story.

Certainly, a strong debut novel, with surprising thematic depth. A book that explores religion, patriarchy, feminism, fundamentalism, and politics as a young girl fights for the truth of her past and attempts to build a better future. With an abundance of darkness, witchery, and horror; this is a steadily paced and detailed book of a town plagued by witchcraft with a powerful thematic undercurrent.

The Author

Alexis Henderson is a speculative fiction writer with a penchant for dark fantasy, witchcraft, and cosmic horror. She grew up in one of America’s most haunted cities, Savannah, Georgia, which instilled in her a life-long love of ghost stories. When she doesn’t have her nose buried in a book, you can find her painting or watching horror movies with her feline familiar. Currently, Alexis resides in the sun-soaked marshland of Charleston, South Carolina.

Alexis Henderson

The Blog Tour

Please do check out more bookish chat about THE YEAR OF THE WITCHING from these brilliant bloggers.

Please do buy from independents if you can XX