Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley

Susanna Kearsley is a bestselling author in multiple countries and so definitely doesn't need my review. However, I do like to turn people on to good books, so I'm going to do a review anyway.
I read her book The Winter Sea first and I will probably get around to reviewing it as well (I'll just say here that it was fantastic), but then I read several others by her and The Splendour Falls is the most recently read.

Synopis: Emily Braden has stopped believing in fairy tales and happy endings. When her fascinating but unreliable cousin Harry invites her on a holiday to explore the legendary own of Chinon, and promptly disappears—well, that's Harry for you.

As Emily makes the acquaintance of Chinon and its people, she begins to uncover dark secrets beneath the charm. Legend has it that during a thirteenth-century siege of the castle that looms over the city, Queen Isabelle, child bride of King John, hid a "treasure of great price." And in the last days of the German occupation during World War II, another Isabelle living in Chinon, a girl whose love for an enemy soldier went tragically awry.

As the dangers of the past become disastrously real, Emily is drawn ever more deeply into a labyrinth of mystery as twisted as the streets and tunnels of the ancient town itself.

First of all, let me just say that I'm dying to go to Chinon, France now. Not only am I a sucker for a castle, but Susanna Kearsley makes the whole town come alive. I especially enjoyed the camaraderie between the travelers at the Hotel. It's something you experience in Europe, but rarely while on vacation in the US.

The book is well written, the tension taut, the mystery compelling. And while I did figure out who the murderer was before the end, it's one of the few times I didn't flip to the back to check to see if I was right. I didn't want to possibly see anything that might change the book for me. The conclusion is satisfying and wraps everything up. I like that in a book, I hate having loose ends blowing in the wind.

The book is a mystery, it's not exactly supernatural, but there are a few hints of the paranormal. It also relies heavily on historical accents, and includes a bit of romance. If you're a fan of Barbara Erskine, I think you'd really love it.

I recommend it. It's a much quicker read than The Winter Sea, but still satisfying. I, myself, plan to read all of Mrs. Kearsley's works.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sacrifice by Lisa C. Hinsley

I was given Sacrifice as a free read, but more for suggestions than a review. But I liked it so much I decided to review it as well. I also interviewed the author over at my author blog, you can read the interview here. Go on, I'll wait.

Okay, now that you've had an introduction to the author, here's a little about the book. The synopsis:

From the bestselling author of Plague: Part one of the Sulham Close series.

Pete rubs his hands together and waits for midnight. Neil tightens the noose around his neck and jumps from a stool. Kellie collapses to her knees, making the sign of the cross, even though God no longer listens. Sean and Amelia hold each other and wait for the screams. Harold pins Eloise to the kitchen floor as she shrieks her warnings. And so another August passes.

The residents of Sulham Close are cursed. Each year they must provide a sacrifice or suffer the wrath of a goblin-like creature called the ellyllon. Pete finds the victims, vagrants, junkies. People no one will miss.

He lures homeless Mark to Sulham Close with promises of getting him off drugs and giving him an education, installs him in the sacrifice cottage and leaves him to his fate. But Mark has a secret, a girlfriend Pete didn’t see. Heavily pregnant Louisa arrives late in the evening. Unsure whether to believe Pete or clear the house out of valuables, they decide to go exploring. They find a noose and then a man in a tub full of blood, one hand hanging by a sliver of skin at the wrist.

Nothing is worth getting caught up in a murder, so the pair make a run for it, but the gates are locked and there’s no way out of the close. Time has nearly run out. There are noises coming from a cupboard in the cottage and as midnight arrives, the handle turns from the inside…

The idea calls to mind stories like "The Lottery," where residents of a particular place are tasked to provide human sacrifices in order to maintain their lifestyles. But that would be where the similarity ends. As you're never quite sure who the townspeople of "The Lottery" are offering their sacrifice too, or if it's accepted even, you're given quite a close of view of the recipient(s) in Sacrifice. And they're a terrifying bit of welsh folklore. I'm not sure where Mrs. Hinsley drew her inspiration from, but I don't want to visit there late at night.

While Sacrifice is short, 113 pages, the characters are well developed and thought out. I easily sympathized with Mark and his girlfriend, disliked Peter immensely, and got a good feel for the other residents of the close, and their characters.

What I didn't know when I read Sacrifice was that it was going to be a series, this explains a lot of the questions I had and a few themes I felt were underdeveloped. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and finding out more about the curse and it's victims.

I'd recommend the book to anyone who enjoys supernatural horror. But I'd lock my cupboards before reading, if I were you.

You can find more about Lisa C. Hinsley's books at:


Happy Reading,