Anne Bonny #BookReview Slender Man 4* #Horror #SlenderMan #Occult #Ghosts @HarperVoyagerUK

cover
Slender Man
My Own Copy
Synopsis:

LAUREN BAILEY HAS DISAPPEARED.

As her friends and the police search for answers, Matt Barker begins to dream of trees and black skies and something drawing closer.

Through fragments of journals, blog posts and messages, a sinister, slender figure emerges and all divisions between fiction and delusion, between nightmare and reality, begin to fall.

The urban legend of the Slender Man has inspired short fiction, viral videos, and a feature film. Gathered from online
whispers, Matt’s story reveals the true power of the internet’s most terrifying creation.

My Review:

Slender Man is marketed as within the horror genre, but I actually found it to also be very much in the YA genre. It focuses solely on the story of two teenagers Matthew Barker and Lauren Bailey. The novel focuses around the disappearance of Lauren and Matthew’s personal investigation.

The novel is made up of a series of diary extracts, interview transcripts, recordings, therapy sessions and texts.
Which personally I really enjoyed and I think will have a great appeal to readers of YA novels. However, I am aware it is very much unique and may discourage some readers.

The disappearance not only the missing Lauren but the many people involved with the case. Detective Mia Ramirez from the NYPD leading the case. Lauren’s ex-boyfriend Steven Allison, whom enjoys the new found fame. Also Lauren’s parents of which there is numerous malicious rumours and speculation.

Matthew believes that via his use of technology and Lauren herself, he can stay one step ahead of the police and bring Lauren home.
And then the nightmares and strange occurrences begin…

Slender Man kept me gripped and held my intrigue throughout. But it failed to truly ‘scare’ me and for that reason, it may suit those who prefer a tamer horror read! 4*

Anne Bonny #BlogTour #BookReview The Night Visitor by @PRedmondAuthor 5* Genius #NewRelease #CrimeFiction #Thriller #Horror @BooksManatee #NightVisitor

The Night Visitor Cover
The Night Visitor by Patrick Redmond
Review Copy
Synopsis:

When does a gift become a curse?

Meg has a gift. She can change lives. But when tragedy strikes in childhood she vows never to use it again.
Now an adult, she is living in Cornwall; a place where the elements themselves have a life of their own. When they call she refuses to listen, fearful of the dark places where her gift can lead.

But the dead will not be silenced. They are stronger than her. And now they have chosen she is powerless to escape…

My Review:

‘Until that dreadful day when everything changed’

The novel opens in Suffolk 1991, with sisters Meg (6yrs) and her little sister Grace and their mother Becky. They are in a café, a seemingly innocent day out. When Meg utters some simple words to widow, Edith Harris. This scene sets the tone for the novel and you instantly become aware there is so much more to Meg than meets the eye.

The novel then fast-forwards to 1992 and Meg is now at Wickenham primary school she is often taunted and bullied by the other children. We begin to learn that due to Meg’s visions/premonitions, she is treated as an outcast. She has a bullying teacher in Mrs Fisher and her classmates are quick to join in. For poor Meg life is tough; handling her visions and the shunning of her peers.

‘Please God, don’t let me ever see anything bad about my mum’ – Meg

Then novel progresses over Meg and Grace’s childhood and we learn that it was one of much suffering. The ultimate suffering for Meg is the tragic death of her beloved mother. Which sets Meg’s life on a unique course and ensures her refusal to ever accept her father’s new wife. The scenes are extremely moving and emotive, the girls plight is fully explored; and I must admit you grow to really admire Meg and her defensive stance.

‘Meg would never allow herself to trust anyone ever again’

Meg decides in order to live a happy fulfilled and ‘normal’ life it is best to close herself off to her visions and block them out. A decision she is determined to live by. . .

‘The dead couldn’t reach her. Not anymore. Her barriers were too firmly in place and none of them would ever break through and trick her again.
None but one’

The novel then jumps to 2017 Cornwall, where we are reunited with a now adult Meg. She is taking a break from her tough job at a prestigious law firm; on the West Coast of Cornwall. She slowly becomes friends with her neighbour Dan. But we also become aware Meg is deep in grief after the death of her sister Grace four months ago. Meg comes across as paranoid at moments but a lifetime of grief and emotional pain, can take its toll. She slowly opens up to Dan about Grace and even befriends some of the locals.
Then the nightmares begin. . . .

‘Only by facing it can you hope to conquer fear’

There are a series of unusual encounters, that force Meg to explore her own painful past and the local Cornish history. What she uncovers will lead to shock revelations.

I have enjoyed previous novels by this author and this one does not disappoint. The characterisation of meg is brilliant, as you the reader become drawn into her personality and story. The ending is beautifully written and clearly shows the skill of the delivery of a well-planned novel.
Expect the unexpected 5* genius

PR
Patrick Redmond
Website
Twitter

***Don’t miss the other bloggers on the blog tour***
banner

Anne Bonny #BookReview Halcyon by @Rio_Youers 5* Genius #Halcyon #Horror @TitanBooks ‘It is that INTENSE!!!!! But it is AWESOME!’

cover
Halcyon by Rio Youers
My own copy
Synopsis:

Nightmarishly compelling and flawlessly told horror for fans of Paul Tremblay and Joe Hill.
Halcyon is the answer for all Americans who want to escape, but paradise isn’t what it seems. A beautiful self-sustaining community made up of people who want to live without fear, crime, or greed, Halcyon is run by Valerie Kemp, aka Mother Moon, benevolent and altruistic on the outside, but hiding an unimaginable darkness inside. She has dedicated her life to the pursuit of Glam Moon, a place of eternal beauty and healing. And she believes the pathway there can only be found at the end of pleasure.
On the heels of tragedy, Martin Lovegrove moves his family to Halcyon. A couple of months, he tells himself, to retreat from the chaos and grind. He soon begins to suspect there is something beneath Halcyon’s perfect veneer and sets out to discover the truth, however terrible it might be, behind the island and its mysterious founder.

My Review:

I became aware of Rio Youers via the social media posts of Christopher Golden. I then saw a blurb on Halcyon from one of my author faves Sarah Pinborough. So, I knew I HAD to have this novel. I knew it would be dark and it is well, well, well, with the remit of the horror genre. But crikey bobs was I ill prepared! There were moments of just having to put it down, simply because it is so intense.
I also found myself re-laying the whole plot to my husband (he is a non-reader, I know, it is gross! Lol). My husband was in complete agreement with me, that this would make an incredibly sinister horror movie.
There are moments where it briefly reminded me of the TV show the American Horror Story and also elements of the true crimes of Charlie Manson.
It is that INTENSE!!!!! But it is AWESOME!

The novel opens with 10yr old Edith Lovegrove and her sister Shirley (15yrs). We become aware Edith is experiencing extreme night terrors. Her parents are unsure if this is a phase or if there is something more sinister to this. I immediately suspected that she was gifted, but is this a talent for good or bad?

‘The man with no hands is crying’ – Edith

There is a backstory of Garrett Riley, who will become the infamous ‘Buffalo Bomber’. We learn of his dark and troubled past and what made him perceptible to the brainwashing of a cult with an ulterior agenda etc.
When Edith’s parents watch footage of the bombing on live TV. They witness a man with no hands crying.
It is then, that they come to believe Edith may harbour a gift for premonitions.

They contact various psychics and mediums and attempt to understand the world that Edith sees. But how do you navigate a world known for its charlatans and liars?
The Edith has visions of her mother’s death!!!!!!

Edith’s mother is the victim of a fatal school shooting massacre. It is then that Martin Lovegrove, the girls now widowed father starts to become disillusioned with life in modern day America. He starts seeking alternative ways of existing and he seeks peace. Time to grieve and to heal.

‘A better America’

This is how Martin is lured to the island of Halcyon. A hippie commune that promises peace in a tranquil location away from the constraints of a modern day and the relentless sufferings etc.
As much as I did feel this was a ‘sanctuary or suicide’ mission. I could completely empathise with Martin’s need for escape. After all, who of us doesn’t just want to often retreat from the world and live in a cabin in the woods etc.
*We might feel safer in doing so, if we don’t take Rio Youer’s novels lol

At Halcyon there is a matriarch type character, called Mother Moon. Shirley instantly bonds with her and despite her initial reluctance accepts their new way of life. Edith however, is not so easily convinced. Is this her gift? Or her angst/jealousy? This is a young girl with no mother, now feeling she is losing her older sister to the leader.

‘Education develops a woman. Always. Tribulation is different. It can unravel her, or give her armour’ – Mother Moon

The idea is for an introduction period of six weeks at Halcyon and if they want to leave at the end, they can with no problems whatsoever. Something Martin doesn’t see a huge issue with. He is persistently warned via his friend Jimmy, about the reputation of such ‘retreats’. Nevertheless, the family arrive and become settled.

What happens at Halcyon, stays at Halcyon.
I will not be telling anymore, of this story! Just know that it is gripping and horror-filled!
When Mother Moon’s backstory is finally revealed, my jaw was on the floor!!!!!!
WOW, JUST WOW!
5* Genius

RY
Rio Youers
Website
Twitter

Anne Bonny #BookReview The Cabin At The End Of The World by @paulGtremblay 5* Genius #Horror #Thriller #NewRelease @TitanBooks ‘Buy it! You won’t regret it!’

cover 2 cover
The Cabin At The End Of The World by Paul Tremblay
Review copy
Synopsis:

The Bram Stoker Award-winning author of A Head Full of Ghosts adds an inventive twist to the home invasion horror story in a heart-palpitating novel of psychological suspense.

Seven-year-old Wen and her parents, Eric and Andrew, are vacationing at a remote cabin on a quiet New Hampshire lake, with their closest neighbours more than two miles in either direction.

As Wen catches grasshoppers in the front yard, a stranger unexpectedly appears in the driveway. Leonard is the largest man Wen has ever seen but he is young and friendly. Leonard and Wen talk and play until Leonard abruptly apologises and tells Wen, “None of what s going to happen is your fault”. Three more strangers arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out, “Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen.
But they have to. We need your help to save the world.”

So begins an unbearably tense, gripping tale of paranoia, sacrifice, apocalypse, and survival that escalates to a shattering conclusion, one in which the fate of a loving family and quite possibly all of humanity are intertwined.

My Review:

I have read and enjoyed, A Head Full Of Ghosts and Disappearance At Devil’s Rock, both by this author. So, I feel qualified enough to say, this novel is AMAZING, and the author is a GENIUS! This novel is a great mix of psychological thriller and horror. It is insanely intense from the beginning to the end, and I am not sure that I even breathed during the last 10%.

The novel opens with a little girl named Wen, sitting on the porch of an isolated cabin. Her parents Eric and Andrew have rented the cabin as the perfect escape from the reality of a busy life. The cabin is set within a picturesque location. However, it is two miles from the nearest property and has no cell phone service!!!!!
Which as a devout fan of the horror movie genre, instantly freaked me out!!!!

The family is seeking a break from the hassle of social media, busy schedules and relentless parenting duties. They just want some quiet time, by the lake, as a family.
Only they aren’t completely on their own. . . . .

The family’s background is explored, and we learn all about Wen’s adoption and the roles each father plays in their daughter’s life. I loved the concept of a thoroughly modern family and the diversity it finely brings to the genre. I think the author has done a fantastic job of creating the personalities of the individual family members.
They soon feel, like people you know.

As Wen sits on the porch collecting grasshoppers, innocently daydreaming her day away. A smiling man appears and wants to talk. Wen knows all about ‘strangers’ but his warm smile instantly disarms the little girl and she figures, it can’t hurt.

“Hi there . . . My name is Leonard”

Wen is an intelligent and determined little girl, she casually passes the time of day with the unusual man. Then the conversation suddenly changes, and others appear.
When the other people in the group arrive, Wen senses danger and she retreats to inside the cabin to warn her fathers.

The group consists of Leonard, Sabrina, Adriane and Redmond. They assemble on the porch and refuse to leave until they are heard. They warn the family of the impending ‘end of the world’ and tell them they have some tough decisions to make.

What does it all mean?
Who are the group?
Where did they come from?

Andrew and Eric begin the typical responses, they warn the people to leave, attempt to call for help and Andrew even claims to have a gun. But the group persists that they need to prevent the coming apocalypse, a sacrifice must be made!!!

The terror of the situation keeps you hooked to the page. I was desperately trying to fathom the motivation behind the group and guess what they had planned next for the young family.

Imagine having to bargain with insanity, for your life.

The sanctuary of the cabin quickly becomes a place of death and madness as the events unfold. Are the prophecies real? Or are the group just religious fanatics?
A fantastic novel, that I do not wish to spoil by sharing too many details.
Buy it! You won’t regret it! 5* Genius

tremblaypic
Paul Tremblay
Twitter
Website
My Q&A with the author

 

Anne Bonny #BookReview Hydra by @ConcreteKraken Matt Wesolowski #SixStories #CrimeFiction #Thriller #Suspense #Horror @OrendaBooks ‘such a bloody great book! 5*’

cover
Hydra by Matt Wesolowski – Six Stories #2
My own copy from my TBR mountain
Synopsis:

A family massacre
A deluded murderess
Five witnesses
Six Stories
Which one is true?

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the northwest of England, 21-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, stepfather and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the Macleod Massacre. Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation.

King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five key witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was as diminished as her legal team made out.

As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden ‘games’, online trolls, and the mysterious black-eyed kids, whose presence seems to extend far beyond the delusions of a murderess…

My Review:

I really enjoyed the authors first novel Six Stories, it was clear to see that it was a fantastic debut novel and the author clearly had a natural talent for storytelling. I think the author brings something young and edgy to the crime fiction genre. It maybe the use of technology and crime novel surrounding a podcast. But I happen to think it is the writing style and knowledge of certain aspects of true life horror phenomenon. For example, when the lift footage of Elisa Lam was mentioned, I was instantly reminded of who creepy it is and yet it remains an unsolved case!

This podcast with Scott King revolves around Arla Macleod. A young woman who massacred her entire family one evening with a hammer! Why did this meek young woman commit murder? What drove her to kill those closest to her?

‘We rake over old graves’ – Scott king

The podcaster is able to video interview Arla, from her confines of Elmtree manor. Just the very theme of Arla being detained under the mental health act, rather than serving a lengthy prison sentence is cause for mass media speculation. Did Arla getaway easily with her crimes? Was she even mentally ill?
These are all themes Scott king wishes to explore with his podcast.

This is what makes Wesoloski’s novels so unique. They force you to question and explore why people do commit violent crimes and their personal reasoning for doing so.

In the first episode we hear directly from Arla. Although certain subjects are forbidden from discussion at the staff’s request. We also learn about Arla herself, the crime and the victims she killed. Arla lived with her mother and stepfather Stanley and sister Alice. Her biological father was violent and abusive and it was Stanley that ‘saved’ the family as they fled from Scotland to Stanwel. Stanwel is described as your typical run-down northern town, where nothing ever happens. That is until a young woman takes a hammer to her parent’s heads.

‘Her life was lived under the law her parents imposed’

Arla’s parents were right-wing Christians with firm and steadfast beliefs on issues such as abortion and LGBT rights. Arla began to reject her parents values in her teens and this seemed to inflame their attitudes towards her. With her sister Alice becoming the preferred ‘favourite child’.
Something happened to Arla, that much is clear.
But what occurred that day at 41 Redstart Road, Stanwel?

“I let them in. I let them in” – Arla

Arla talks of visions of ‘black eyed kids’ BEK, an urban myth amongst young teens. It is unclear if the BEK caused her to further seek out other occult behaviour or she was already actively seeking it out. Needless to say Arla was fascinated by the occult and the notion of escaping her current life.

Arla’s background is further explored and the details of her psychosis diagnosis. Is Arla mentally ill? Seems to be a common question in the novel and schizophrenia is known to present itself in the late teens/early 20s. So, there is more than enough room for speculation. Which I think makes for fantastic reading.

I typically avoid novels with a mental health theme, as that was my previous occupation and I hate to see it misrepresented in a novel. Statistically mentally ill people are more likely to harm themselves than others and too often it is distorted to fit a narrative in a crime fiction novel. But this was not the case at all within Hydra. The mental health aspects were backed up with knowledgeable facts. The central theme remained focused on understanding Arla, not condemning her due to her illness.
I must admit I really respect the author for that. It could have been too easy, to delve off into a tangent of mental health and loose sight of Arla completely.

As Scott King continues to interview people from Arla’s past such as her former teacher, childhood friend and holiday buddy. We learn more and more about why Arla was the way she was. Why she became so meek and introverted. Her obsession with the band Skexxixx and occult practices, is all explored.
At the same time Scott begins to receive personal threats to cease and desist with his Six Stories podcast. But he refuses to back down to the threats of an online troll.
But this troll just won’t simply go away!

‘No one wants you when the world tells you that you’re not important, that you don’t matter, that you’re an inconvenience – some people start to believe it; they make themselves unlikable’ – Angel Mawson

The novel has so many talking points, as it incorporates real-life themes within the story. In a comparison from Arla to the killers of James Bulger, we are forced to ask why the media was so quick to condemn two 10yr old boys instead of asking why they did it? The band Skexxixx is forced to shoulder some responsibility for the violent crime. Almost as if listening to a specific type of music can turn you into a killer.
But I can remember the exact same approach being used against Marilyn Manson in the aftermath of the Columbine shooting.

Why are we so quick to cling to meaningless reasons in the aftermath of a violent crime? Instead of seeking to understand the individual that felt the violent crime was their only way out!

I write my reviews days after reading the books. As I sit here now, I keep reflecting,
‘this is just such a bloody great book’.
So, there you go, this is simply put – such a bloody great book! 5*

mw
Matt Wesolowski
Twitter
Orenda Books