Anne Bonny #BookReview The King’s Witch by @TracyBorman #HistoricalFiction #Witchcraft #NewRelease @HodderBooks ‏ @HodderPublicity ‘A novel rich in historical detail and accuracy, with a spellbinding tale and a feisty young protagonist’

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The King’s Witch by Tracy Borman
Review Copy
Synopsis:

Already a great historian, Tracy Borman proves with this thrilling debut novel that she is also a born storyteller.

As she helps to nurse the dying Queen Elizabeth, Frances Gorges longs for the fields and ancient woods of her parents’ Hampshire estate, where she has learned to use the flowers and herbs to become a much-loved healer.

Frances is happy to stay in her beloved countryside when the new King arrives from Scotland, bringing change, fear and suspicion. His court may be shockingly decadent, but James’s religion is Puritan, intolerant of all the old ways; he has already put to death many men for treason and women for witchcraft.

So when her ambitious uncle forcibly brings Frances to court, she is trapped in a claustrophobic world of intrigue and betrayal – and a ready target for the twisted scheming of Lord Cecil, the King’s first minister.

Surrounded by mortal dangers, Frances finds happiness only with the precocious young Princess Elizabeth, and Tom Wintour, the one courtier she can trust.
Or can she?

My Review:

The novel opens with our protagonist Lady Frances Gorges at the Longford estate. We become aware she is of noble birth and has a passion for seeking herbal remedies. When the Reverend Pritchard (the new local priest) preaches warnings of witches, Frances knows she must heed caution.

‘I have done nothing against the laws of god or nature. I only use my medicines for good’ – Frances
Frances must withhold her skills or bring the attention of Lord Cecil and those whom seek a witch to blame. . . .

Frances is appointed to the household of Princess Elizabeth by King James. Her parents and sisters are banished to Richmond, tainted by their association to the previous Queen. Frances is alone and filled with worry. She makes an unlikely friendship in Thomas Winter, but is he all he seems. . . .

Lord Cecil takes Frances to witness the hanging of a local witch at Tyburn. He is issues her a stern warning, that leaves her in no doubt, she must be on her guard
‘I am watching you’

When Lady Arbella is accused of witchcraft, Frances is certain an accusation will be yielded against her. With the plotting and scheming of royal court, there are eyes everywhere.

Who can Frances trust? And does she carry the devil’s mark?

A novel rich in historical detail and accuracy, with a spellbinding tale and a feisty young protagonist. 4*

TB
Tracy Borman
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Anne Bonny #BookReview Should You Ask Me by @MarianneKav #NewRelease #Historical #Literary #ww2 @HodderPublicity @HodderBooks ‘I especially love the inclusion of an 86yr old protagonist who is captivating.’

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Should You Ask Me by Marianne Kavanagh
Review copy
Synopsis:

‘I’ve come about the bodies. I know who they are.’

Mary is eighty-six years old, and she’s tired of being quiet.

She has a story to tell, and she’s only going to tell it once, so she won’t be rushed.

Especially as it’s not just a story, it’s a confession.

Because Mary has a dark secret, buried decades before. And while William, the nice young constable, might think she just wants someone to talk to, everything she says forces him to confront his own difficult past.

A unique and poignant novel about passion, regret and heartbreak, set during one of the most tumultuous periods of modern British history.

My Review:

This is such a quirky novel! I was really surprised as it was not what I was expecting at all. The cover gives the impression of a mystery/thriller, which it is. What you don’t fully grasp is that this is set amongst the backdrop of ww2. I felt as though I was going on a journey with Miss Mary Holmes, a journey through her past. I was absolutely hooked! I think this would make a great TV drama. I especially love the inclusion of an 86yr old protagonist who is captivating.

The novel opens on a normal Monday morning in Dorset. The only thing slightly unusual is that Mary makes her way to the police station to make a confession. When I say ‘slightly unusual’ that is because Mary is known to spin a yarn or two. . .

‘You could say that I killed them’ – Miss Holmes

Recently in the little town of Acton there has been the discovery of two people’s remains. When Mary Homes makes her confession to the on-duty young constable William, it is clear she has a story to tell. She starts with her brief admission that she is responsible for both deaths. The whys/how’s are going to take much longer to get to the bottom of. This is a secret Mary has held for 60yrs.

‘I’m eighty-six years old. I’m tired of being quiet’ – Miss Holmes

The chapters also alternate between Mary’s past and that of William the police officer she is confessing too. It would seem both of them have a past and both of them have secrets.

‘The guilt eats away at you. A lifetime of telling lies’ – Miss Holmes

Over a series of days, Mary’s story is eventually unravelled by the ever-patient and attentive William It is a long drawn out story, but it is intriguing nevertheless. This novel is slow-burning as clearly stated. But it is one of those cosy reads, you’d enjoy by a log fire. I did find the story to be very realistic. My background is in adult mental health and I have worked in dementia care. I can assure you, the elderly often harbour, some secrets you’d never suspect by simply looking at them. 4*

MK
Marianne Kavanagh
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Outsider by Stephen King #NewRelease #CrimeFiction @HodderPublicity ‘The outsider is phenomenal! 5* genius’

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The Outsider by Stephen King
My own copy from my TBR pile
Synopsis:

 When an eleven-year-old boy is found murdered in a town park, reliable eyewitnesses undeniably point to the town’s popular Little League coach, Terry Maitland, as the culprit. DNA evidence and fingerprints confirm the crime was committed by this well-loved family man.

Horrified by the brutal killing, Detective Ralph Anderson, whose own son was once coached by Maitland, orders the suspect to be arrested in a public spectacle. But Maitland has an alibi. And further research confirms he was indeed out of town that day.

As Anderson and the District Attorney trace the clues, the investigation expands from Ohio to Texas. And as horrifying answers begin to emerge, so King’s propulsive story of almost unbearable suspense kicks into high gear.

Terry Maitland seems like a nice guy but there is one rock-hard fact, as unassailable as gravity: a man cannot be in two places at the same time. Can he?

My Review:

The Outsider is insanely gripping! With a brilliant start, middle and ending. I am a fan of Stephen King, or as I call it ‘being scared to death by Stephen King’ lol. I started reading IT last summer and found I could only read it with my back firmly against the wall. So eventually I gave up as it was a really uncomfortable position to read in. But every time I tried to read IT with a space behind me, I kept jumping out of my skin!

The novel opens at the scene of the arrest of Terry Maitland (Coach T). It is an arrest that will come to haunt Detective Ralph Anderson, throughout the entire novel.
Throughout the novel there are a series of statements taken from residents of Flint City in the aftermath of the murder of Frankie Peterson. They all individually and clearly point the fingers of suspicion towards Coach T. Then fingerprint results come back and seal the deal. Coach T is getting arrested for murder, but not just any arrest. He will be arrested purposefully in front of the locals at the towns little league game.
A public shaming for all to see.

“Terence Maitland I am arresting you for the murder of Frank Peterson” – Troy Rampage

The murder of Frankie Peterson at just 11yrs old. Is not for the faint hearted, the scenes are described in graphic detail and the scene is one you won’t forget. As much as I was shocked and horrified at the murder itself, I didn’t feel this was an ‘over use of violence’ or too explicit. These crimes happen every day, in safe neighbourhoods etc. I think the author has drawn from the real horrors of the world, the daily news stories of cases just like this.

But the novel itself doesn’t focus too much around the actual physical act of murder. It focuses on the whodunit, in an unusual and impressive way. For Coach T claims he is innocent. He appears genuinely horrified at the cops claims and when shown direct testimony and evidence. he is baffled!
At the scene of his arrest are his wife Marcy and daughters Gracie and Sarah. He asks his wife to contact their lawyer Howie Gold. So that together they may get this misunderstanding figured out.

‘Thinking was beginning to replace reacting’

As the cops continue to interview Coach T. He begins to tell them of his alibi and how it simply couldn’t have been him in town on the afternoon of the murder. As he was in Cap City, watching Harlan Coben give an author talk. He claims he travelled with three fellow English teachers and spent the entire weekend with them. So why do the cops have so many witness statements stating the opposite? Are people mistaken?

The cops desperately await further DNA evidence believing this will be the final nail in the coffin. Meanwhile, Howie Gold contacts a private investigator to look into the alibi himself. What he and the cops discover is shocking and simply impossible. . .

‘A man could not be in two places at the same time’

Whilst the cops hold Coach T and continue their investigation into his alleged crime. The victims family is struggling to cope. Fred and Arlene Peterson are the unfortunate parents of Frank, they are left understandably devastated in the aftermath of his murder. Frankie’s brother Ollie is also left to hold his parents together. They are a family devastated and my heart ached for them. Arlene Peterson eventually snaps!

As footage of the Harlan Coben conference is discovered. DNA results are also back on the semen found at the crime scene.
Coach T is going to Flint county court for arraignment!

His wife Marcy remains in denial, as the locals in the town turn on the coach. Marcy begins to fear for her own future and that of her two young daughters. But she remains steadfast in her belief in her husbands innocence.

‘He never did anything but good for this town and they all hate him’ – Marcy

Coach T arrives at his arraignment and then the novel takes a HUGE twist!
One I never saw coming!

Detective Ralph Anderson is a cop who takes his work home with him. He often discusses his cases with his wife Jeanette. She becomes a shining star in this novel, despite the fact that she is actually a background character. I found her opinions and thoughts on the case fascinating and couldn’t help but wonder how many cases she must have assisted with over the years, to have such a wise mind.

‘There is something very wrong with this and the more you find, the wronger it gets. It scares me’ – Jeanette

I started out writing in-depth notes, but in the end, I gave up, sat back and just became absorbed in the novel.
So, to put it simply, The outsider is phenomenal! 5* genius

SK
Stephen King
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Anne Bonny #BookReview The Undesired by @YrsaSig Yrsa Sigurdardottir #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir @HodderBooks @HodderPublicity #TheUndesired ‘Breath-taking ending 5*’

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The Undesired by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
My own copy from tbr pile
Synopsis:

Aldis is working in a juvenile detention centre in rural Iceland. She witnesses something deeply disturbing in the middle of the night; soon afterwards, two of the boys at the centre are dead.

Decades later, single father Odinn is looking into alleged abuse at the centre following the unexplained death of the colleague who was previously running the investigation. The more he finds out, though, the more it seems the odd events of the 1970s are linked to the accident that killed his ex-wife. Was her death something more sinister?

Yrsa Sigurdardottir is a huge European bestseller both with her crime and horror novels. You might want to sleep with the light on after reading THE UNDESIRED . . .

My Review:

I have recently read The Reckoning, which is #2 in The Children’s House series of novels. I have also read and absolutely LOVED, why did you lie? So, I was intrigued to read Sigurdardottir’s back catalogue of novels. This novel appealed to me, due to its themes of juvenile detention and eerie/horror thrills. I like a good scare occasionally. I actually put this down at one point, reading alone at night as it began to freak me out!
So, when it says it has eerie moments, it is not lying!

‘Someone always gets punished when a crime is committed, but not always the guilty party’ – Aldis

The novel opens at the end quite an unusual start. It opens with the death of Odinn, in his car via poisonous fumes, as he thinks of his daughter Run. It is quite Vague, which I liked. I didn’t know if this was a murder, I can only assume due to the cover that it was so. But assuming anything, with one of Sigurdardottir’s novels is your first mistake!

We then meet Odinn, very much alive and prior to his sealed fate. He works for a committee that is investigating potential historical case in residential settings. He has been assigned the case of the Krokur care home for delinquent boys, to investigate its practices in the 1970s. Odinn has been assigned this case after his work colleague died at her desk, of a heart attack. The committee is under great stress and Odinn must continue to investigate despite no allegations have been alleged.

We learn more about Odinn personal, that he is a single father to his daughter Run. That his ex-wife Lara recently fell to her death from her window. This tragic accident left his young daughter (11yrs) traumatised and Odinn has her attending counselling to deal with the grief.

The novel then jumps back in time to 1974. Where we meet Aldis as she begins work at Krokur. There are currently seven boys and a new arrival pending. The boys are aged 13-16yrs old and have committed relatively minor crimes. Things that nowadays wouldn’t be considered subject to such harsh punishment. Although nobody should be subject to the punishment dished out at Krokur. The owners are a couple named Lilja and Veigar, they are recovering from the loss of their stillborn baby. Krokur is based in a remote location, SW of Reykjaner peninsula, meaning staff rarely get to leave. The owners are bizarre and their behaviour serves to become more and more alarming! Hakon, Malli and Steini are the three male members of staff that board with Aldis. Everything about Krokur just screams ‘get me out of here’. I simply don’t know how Aldis withstood it.

It is through the arrival of new ‘inmate’ Einar we learn more of Aldis’s background. As she begins to form quite a strong bond with the new young man. She is eager to know what crime he has committed to land him at Krokur but staff do not have access to the boys files. The boys dormitory is locked at night, there are bars amongst the windows and they are surely given the full ‘prison experience’. But if the boys are locked in every night, who is it that the owners claim to have seen on the grounds at night. Does Krokur have its own prowler? If so, what do they hope to achieve?

As Odinn continues to dig into Roberta’s files, he finds mis-matched information and from what he can understand Krokur seemed to offer humane care. That is until he uncovers the two deaths by ‘accident’ and digs deeper into their personal history. At the same time he begins to personally investigate Lara’s alleged accident. He hopes that if he can understand some of the facts, he can help his daughter come to terms with her loss. Run’s behaviour becomes increasingly erratic and she claims her mother in angry with her in heaven.

‘Perhaps the day of reckoning had come’ – Odinn

Odinn eventually manages to track down one of the former residents and one of the former owners of Krokur. I couldn’t wait to read their point of view and found myself racing through the pages, at rapid speed. Odinn also uncovers some threatening emails in Roberta’s computer. Somebody didn’t want this home under investigation. But why? Was Roberta’s death an accident or something more sinister?
‘Bloody nosy bitch
leave well alone
or You’ll regret it’

Aldis is caught in a power cut with one of the young boys Tobbi. After she catches him in the cellar. The entire incident gave me goosebumps! I cannot accurately describe it, but it is such an eerie sinister moment in the whole book!
It left me putting the book, down for the night, to prevent nightmares.

Odinn interviews Pytti at the Hladgerdarkot treatment centre. He is introduced to the man, via Kegga one of the staff at the centre. She gives Odinn some of Pytti’s history. It becomes clear this is a man that has consistently struggled with his past. Leading him down a never ending path of addiction and suffering. Pytti informs Odinn that he spent 11 months at Krokur for breaking a window at school. He tells of the appalling conditions, of no education, enforced labour and bible study. He also remarks about the physical and verbal abuse withstood.
But maintains that Lilja was the worst of the bunch. . .

“It doesn’t alter the fact that if you want to look after children properly you have to love them. And people seem incapable of that” – Kegga

In 1974, Aldis begins to snoop further and further into the owner’s office. Determined to uncover something she knows has been kept from her, along the way, discovering more truths.

‘Her mother had once told her that those who eavesdrop never hear well of themselves’ – Aldis

Odinn prepares to meet an elderly Lilja at the geriatric ward. Unknowing this will be the interview that not only unravels the case but unravels his entire life.

No one and nothing is as it seems

This novel has a fantastic ending that leaves you in utter disbelief! I couldn’t believe how many clues I had failed to pick up upon. The author clearly had me, the reader in the palm of her hand. I was so distracted by the various characters stories and spooky episodes. That I completely missed how it all interconnected.
Breath-taking ending 5*

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
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My review – The Reckoning
My review – The Legacy
My review – Why Did You Lie?

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Reckoning by @YrsaSig 5* Genius #CrimeFiction #IcelandicNoir #NewRelease @HodderPublicity @HodderBooks ‘This novel is the perfect revenge story, with revelations right up to the very last page!’

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The Reckoning by Yrsa Sigurdardottir
#2 In The Children’s House Series

Own copy via Kindle
Synopsis:

A chilling note predicting the deaths of six people is found in a school’s time capsule, ten years after it was buried.
But surely, if a thirteen-year-old wrote it, it can’t be a real threat…

Detective Huldar suspects he’s been given the investigation simply to keep him away from real police work. He turns to psychologist Freyja to help understand the child who hid the message.
Soon, however, they find themselves at the heart of another shocking case.

For the discovery of the letter coincides with a string of macabre events: body parts found in a garden, followed by the murder of the man who owned the house. His initials are BT, one of the names on the note.

Huldar and Freyja must race to identify the writer, the victims and the murderer, before the rest of the targets are killed…

My Review:

This novel is the perfect revenge story, with revelations right up to the very last page! It is brilliantly written and slowly unravels to reveal a meticulously planned plot.
It is one NOT to be missed!

The novel opens in September 2004, with 8yr old Vaka waiting at the school gates for her father who is late to collect her. She is approached by a curious school mate who offers to wait with her. Eventually the girls agree to walk to her new friend’s house nearby and call Vaka’s father. The friend warns them they must be quick and quiet.
This will be the last time, Vaka is seen alive. . . .

The novel then jumps ahead to 2016 with Detective Huldar, dealing with the cases no one wants. He has recently been demoted, from head of major murder investigations after a screw-up. He is left feeling demoralised and redundant in his new post.

Freyja has also been demoted from director of children’s house to child psychologist. She is angry with her downfall and lays the blame firmly with Huldar.

The case of the school time capsule is rather complex. When a capsule is unearthed ten years later in 2016, it has an extra letter inside, one that carries with it threats of death. . . .
‘In 2016 the following people are going to die: K, S, BT, JJ, OV and I. Nobody will miss them. Least of all me. I can’t wait’

As creepy as the time capsule note is, is this a prank? A threat gone astray? Or is someone planning on killing the individuals listed? How do you identify the people with only initials to go from? This may seem mundane and tedious to Huldar and young copper Gudlaugur ‘Gulli’ but it will turn out to be their most twisted case yet!

Erla is now in-charge of the major murder investigations team. She feels out of her depth and inadequate. Despite Huldar’s attempts to build her up. She is present at a crime scene where two human hands are discovered in a hot tub. The owner Benedict, has an initial from the letter BT, are the cases related or pure coincidence?

“Who’d be capable of chopping of another persons hands?” – Huldar
“A madman. Someone seriously deranged” – Freyja

Freyja reluctantly agrees to help Huldar with the time capsule case. She represses her inner anger at him, due to her own on-going problems in her personal life.
“Lots of teenagers fantasise about killing their enemies one day. But virtually none go on to act it out” – Freyja

Across town prosecutor Thorvaldur begins receiving emails from reckoning@gmail.com they contain death threats and attachments regarding betrayal and an image of two scruffy children. He is baffled as to who is sending the threats but doesn’t call the police. Despite the sinister tone of the threats. . .

‘What beautiful children you’ve got. Make sure you take good care of them. There are people out there who might betray them, as you know too well’

Meanwhile Huldar assumes he has a lead on the time capsule case, when one of the other notes has matching handwriting. The case links to Throstur, now in his 20s. But does he hold the key to solving this bizarre case?
Huldar and Freyja dig into his past. His child psychologist records and family history. He appears to be a depressed young man obsessed with death and evil. A friendless kid, who scared his peers.
His family situation is dire, as they read on he becomes a likely suspect. . .

“There must have been something wrong with the boy. Or his immediate environment” – Freyja

The novel does talk about crime in Iceland in general. How most cases are solved within 24/48hrs and crime is relatively low.
This really adds to the realistic nature of how the story pans out.

Freyja quizzes her work colleague Solveig, on Throstur’s vague records and her approaches with him in the past, as his child psychologist. The more Freyja digs, the less she trusts Solveig!

“Even one child with problems is one too many” – Solveig

Freyja continues to dig into the past. Throstur Jonsson has been known to the child mental health system since 8yr old, yet his records are bare. He has an ID but no files. Who would want to delete his history? Was it Solveig?
‘Something didn’t feel right’ – Freyja

Prosecutor Thorvaldur battles with his ex-wife over the whereabout of their two young children. He is an arrogant, rude entitled man. Yet his concern for his children Karlotta and Dadi is real. Who would want to harm them? And why has he not reported the threats? Does the esteemed prosecutor have something to hide? If so what?

Freyja and Huldar eventually interview Throstur. He lives with his sister Sigru and mother Agnes in poverty. At the mere mention of social services involvement, he becomes enraged and the interview is cut short. Huldar mentally makes a note to summon him to the police station at a later date, when they have more evidence and his records. But it is clear to see, this is a young man in deep pain. Something happened to that boy and no one helped this family.
Condemned by their father’s reputation, the family have been forced to move every year for the last 5yrs. Their inner pain and coming to the terms with Jon’s crimes is fully explored.
This is a family right on the edges of society, who nobody wants to know or help!

“I was dumb enough to think the cops would be worried about us now that he’s out. I should’ve known better” – Thorstur

It becomes apparent Thorstur’s father Jon Jonsson has been recently released from jail. He is a convicted paedophile and served over ten years for the sexual abuse and murder of an 8yr old girl. He claims to have no memory of the crime due to his alcoholism, at that time. But DNA evidence doesn’t lie. Since his incarceration he has ‘found’ god. But does anyone that evil, ever change? Did Jon abuse his own children?

‘Children were not born bad; not Thorstur nor anyone else’

When Benedict Toft’s body is discovered the case really picks up its pace. The past and the present will be fully uncovered and no one’s secrets are safe anymore!
A public murder scene brings with it media attention and the police officers are placed under the media spotlight. Can they untangle the past and solve the case in time? Or are those listed on the time capsule note doomed to death?

Huldar believes the cases are interlinked, yet this remains tough to prove with no evidence. With his past history and demotion, he is aware he is skating on thin ice. The answers lie in the past, but can Huldar and Feryja get Thorstur to open up?

This novel is a fantastic read! I devoured it instantly! The themes of childhood abuse, cover-ups and revenge finally come together to make one phenomenal ending!!!
5* Genius

YS
Yrsa Sigurdardottir
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My Review of, The Legacy #1 in The Children’s House series
My Review of, Why Did You Lie?
Coming Soon – My Review of, The Undesired 22nd May