Rosie’s #Bookreview of Ghostly #WesternRomance Novella Comes A Specter by Keta Diablo

Comes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland SeriesComes A Specter, Book 2, Ghostland Series by Keta Diablo

3 stars

Comes A Specter is light historical western romance with a paranormal theme.  It is set in 1881, in Montana. Widow Anya has been left to run her ranch after her husband was driven to suicide by a malevolent ghost. When the ghost turns his attentions to her ten year old son, she seeks the help of childhood friend and shaman, Sutter Sky.

At just 87 pages, this was a quick read. But, written in the third person, I found it distanced me from the characters. The storyline moves swiftly; I could quite happily have enjoyed a slower pace where time was spent layering both the characters and the story to build in a little more tension and atmosphere. I was very interested in the Native American elements; Sutter’s traditional and shaman background left me wanting to know more.

Overall, a pleasant way to spend a few hours reading time, but it left me feeling rather flat; I felt it needed more than the 87 pages in order to make it memorable, with more detail and depth.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Six months ago, Anya Fleming’s ten- year-old son, Willie-boy, found his father hanging in the barn. Traumatized over his father’s suicide, the boy hasn’t spoken a word since. Now, Willie-boy has come down with a grave, unknown illness and there’s only one man who can save him, Sutter Sky, a learned Blackfoot shaman known as Yellow Smoke—a shaman who was once deeply in love with Anya.

But Fate had other plans for Anya and Sutter—she was forced to marry Lewis Fleming, a cruel man who berated her night and day, and brokenhearted Sutter immersed himself in the mystical customs and beliefs of his People and became a shaman

As if Anya didn’t have enough to deal with after her husband’s death and son’s illness, an evil, sinister ghost is terrorizing their ranch. Anya is convinced the spirit is Lewis, who apparently isn’t done making her life miserable.
When she turns to Yellow Smoke for help, will he put side his bitterness and save Willie-boy? And can the renowned shaman dispel the powerful ghost from their lives and send him back to Hades?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Victorian #Mystery Fear & Phantoms by @carolJhedges

Today’s team review is from Cathy, she blogs here https://betweenthelinesbookblog.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Cathy has been reading Fear & Phantoms by Carol J Hedges

Fear & Phantoms is another very enjoyable addition to the excellent Victorian Detectives series. The story opens in the early hours of a snowy winter morning, as an injured man is left to freeze to death. And as Helena Trigg wakes to a bright white, silent world she discovers her twin brother Lambert’s bedroom neat, tidy and empty. Assuming he has left early for work she doesn’t worry until she returns at the end of the work day to empty lodgings and an accusatory letter.

Detective Inspector Stride and Detective Sergeant Cully are dealing with sightings of a supposed apparition in railway tunnels and the ensuing media frenzy. Which is nothing compared to the crime they will investigate very shortly. A con man is defrauding banks, masquerading as several different people, and killing those who get in his way.

Lucy Landseer, a budding novelist, journalist and very purposeful young lady who is determined to pursue her dream of a writing career in London, keeps her eyes and ears open at all times in search of articles and stories, which comes in very useful along the way.

‘A train going in the opposite direction arrives, and they board it. Now, Lucy is highly intrigued. What is going on? Feeling more like a detective than a writer, she follows them, placing herself in an inconspicuous seat.’

What I love about these books, apart from the colourful, well defined characters (with sometimes very apt names…Tom Scallywagg MP), be they good, bad or downright evil, are the evocative descriptions of Victorian London. The dark, menacing back streets contrasting sharply with the more affluent areas, and the opulence of the wealthy set against the often terrible lives of the poorer classes, particularly the children. Two of these children play a small but significant part in the plot and are portrayed brilliantly.

I enjoyed meeting again the characters who have been constants throughout, as well as new ones, witnessing their development and experiencing Carol Hedges’ wonderful way with words and distinct narrative style. Stride and Cully along with Inspector Greig have their work cut out to make sense of the financial dirty dealings and murders, in addition to bringing the perpetrator to justice. The proverbial thorn in their side, chief reporter Richard Dandy, makes the job harder than necessary with his scurrilous newspaper articles. Plot and sub plots are woven together expertly, bringing the story to a very satisfactory conclusion.

Book description

When a young man’s body is discovered buried deep beneath the winter snow, Detectives Stride and Cully little realise where the discovery will take them. Is his murder a random, one-off event, or could the death be linked to the mysteriously elusive individual who has already brought down one of the City’s long-standing private banks?

Mishap, misunderstanding and mystery dog their footsteps, as the Scotland Yard detectives find themselves in very murky territory indeed, struggling to keep their heads above water in the umbrous underworld of murder and  financial fraud.

Can they unmask the dark brutal mastermind lurking at the centre of it all, before he strikes again?

A taut, gripping historical crime novel that lays bare the dubious practices of the Victorian banking businesses and entices the reader into the shady world of high-class gambling houses, where fortunes can be made or lost on the luck of the cards.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #NewRelease Historical #Fantasy Athena’s Champion by @DHairauthor & Cath Mayo

Athena's ChampionAthena’s Champion by David Hair

4 stars

Athena’s Champion is a story based around Greek mythology, and features the early days of Odysseus. It begins when the seeress of Pytho proclaims that Odysseus is not the son of King Laertes, but the son of Sisyphus. Unfortunately for him, all descendants from Sisyphus have a death warrant on their heads. Added to this, an embarrassed and livid Laertes then disowns Odysseus, but luckily new friends help him. After barely surviving an attack from a magical boar, the Goddess Athena intervenes and awakens him so he may be one of her ‘theioi’ or demi-gods.

Given the job of serving Athena, Odysseus becomes embroiled in the selfish battles between the gods of Olympus. When a kidnapping goes wrong, he finds himself facing the perils of the underworld where he meets his true ancestors. He must use his quick thinking to make it back to the world above.

Like many tales of mythology, this story was a complicated mix of characters and plot twists. However, it was very entertaining and I enjoyed it. One of my favourite parts was the episode through Hades’ underworld, which I could picture more easily than other settings in the story. Also, I quite enjoy seeing Hades score points over other gods.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

The first in a thrilling new historical fantasy series; Odysseus must embrace his secret heritage and outwit the vengeful Gods who would control or destroy him…

Prince Odysseus of Ithaca is about to have his world torn apart. He’s travelled to the oracle at Pytho to be anointed as heir to his island kingdom; but instead the Pythia reveals a terrible secret, one that tears down every pillar of his life, and marks him out for death.

Outcast by his family, hunted by the vengeful gods, Odysseus is offered sanctuary by Athena, goddess of wisdom, and thrust into the secret war between the Olympians for domination and survival. Only his wits, and his skill as a warrior, can keep him ahead of their power games – and alive.

When one of Athena’s schemes goes drastically wrong, and the young Helen of Sparta is kidnapped, Odysseus must journey past the gates of Hades to save her. Falling in love with a Trojan princess, a bewitching woman who poses a deadly threat to both his homeland and Athena, won’t make his task any easier…

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Rosie’s#Bookreview Team #RBRT #RomCom A Village Affair by Julie Houston @JulieHouston2

Today’s team review is from Liz, she blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Liz has been reading A Village Affair by Julie Houston

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In A Village Affair we are first introduced to Cassie as a woman who, “has it all,” a handsome husband, two teenage children, good friends, a beautiful house and an exciting new job. But the plot is about to become far more interesting; husband Mark has betrayed her, and she finds herself challenged, both in her career and her personal life.  What makes this story such a pleasure to read is that both Cassandra Moonbeam, as her mother called her, and the author, have a great sense of humour.

We travel back in time to Cassie’s conception in 1976, discovering how different she is from her hippie mother. Paula, we meet grandfather, Norman, defending his beautiful meadow from developers and we enter the enchanting primary school with its diverse staff.  This is a character driven novel which engages the reader and you cannot help rooting for Cassie against impossible odds.

As a former primary school teacher, I was pleased with the accuracy of the present-day school and admired Cassie for her nurturing approach to her pupils.  Her friend, Fi, a farmer’s wife, was credible and likeable, but I wish the book had included a confrontation between Cassie and Tina, after her betrayal, to see how they both dealt with the situation. Mother, Paula, grandpa Norman and Latvian lolly-pop lady, Deimante, add great depth and interest to this lively story.

Julie Houston has blended romance, every day crises and light-hearted humour effectively, providing easy reading with realism.

Book description

Cassie Beresford has recently landed her dream job as deputy head at her local, idyllic village primary school, Little Acorns. So, the last thing she needs is her husband of twenty years being ‘outed’ at a village charity auction – he has been having an affair with one of her closest friends.

As if that weren’t enough to cope with, Cassie suddenly finds herself catapulted into the head teacher position, and at the forefront of a fight to ward off developers determined to concrete over the beautiful landscape.

But through it all, the irresistible joy of her pupils, the reality of keeping her teenage children on the straight and narrow, her irrepressible family and friends, and the possibility of new love, mean what could have been the worst year ever, actually might be the best yet…

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Philadelphia Set #Thriller Quick Fix by @JGregorySmith3 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Terry, she blogs here https://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

#RBRT Review Team

Terry has been reading Quick Fix by J Gregory Smith

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4 out of 5 stars

This book has a great opening.  Military contractor Kyle Logan messes up his already messed up life by assaulting his wife’s divorce lawyer, who also happens to be her lover.  He’s then offered a role in the theft of some pieces of valuable artwork, by his friend Ryan.  Kyle is also suffering from injuries caused by an IED when he was in Iraq.

I warmed to the characters and the writing style straight away.  There’s plenty of dark stuff going on, but lots of humour, too – I liked the observations about characters, and often just the way stuff was phrased (‘I hated losing her to a puke like Fenster’).  The guy-on-his-uppers-with-wife-who-has-moved-on-to-a-more-straight-and-successful-new-man thing is an oft-used scenario in this genre in both books and on screen (I’m currently watching the TV series Get Shorty – there it is again!), but it works every time, and J Gregory Smith has painted all participants most colourfully.

When Kyle realises that involvement in Ryan’s criminal schemes means re-acquaintance with childhood chum-turned-gangster Danny ‘Iceballs’ Sheehan, he knows his life is not going to be easy.  Smith has portrayed the atmosphere of the criminal underworld of Philadelphia so well; this book is fast-paced and flows very well, with a convincing plot, and is, basically, a good, solid novel.  I haven’t got anything negative to say about it.  Nice one.

Book description

Military contractor Kyle Logan’s luck has gone from bad to worse ever since he returned home to Philadelphia following an injury by an IED in Iraq. First, his marriage crumbles, then his career after he’s pushed to the brink and assaults his wife’s lover, who is also her divorce attorney.

When Kyle’s shady best friend turns up and offers him a “once in a lifetime” chance to regain his job and his life, all for just a couple night’s work, Kyle figures he’s got nothing to lose. The police, Philly Irish Mob and a couple of drug cartels all think otherwise.

Now forced to fight for his life, and those around him, Kyle must turn to allies from his old neighborhood in a desperate effort to stay alive and out of prison.

Quick Fix is one man’s fall into a world of unintended consequences that seeks to tread the razor-thin lines between right and wrong, loyalty and treachery.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview of #Romance From Courtesan To Convenient Wife by @MargueriteKaye

From Courtesan to Convenient Wife (Matches Made in Scandal, #2)From Courtesan to Convenient Wife by Marguerite Kaye

4 stars

From Courtesan To Convenient Wife is a regency style romance set in Paris. It is book #2 of the Matches Made In Scandal series.

The book opens in 1818; a woman known as The Procurer has been asked to find someone who would be willing to play the role of a wife for a short period of time. Lady Sophia Acton has had a fall from grace and is heading towards poverty when The Procurer calls with a fortunate job offer.

In Paris, French wine merchant Jean-Luc Bauduin needs an instant wife. A mysterious woman recently claimed that she had a legal contract of proposed marriage between herself and Jean-Luc; a document he knows nothing about. He hopes that Sophia’s presence will head off an unwanted situation.

The storyline has interesting links to the post-French Revolution era which involved the Reign Of Terror when large numbers of the French nobility were sent to the guillotine. I thought it was a thought-provoking glimpse into a part of history that I knew little about. The Romantic nature of France and its people shines through in this book, and it is a lovely addition to the series.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Every woman wants to marry him But what if he is already taken? In this Matches Made in Scandal story, Jean-Luc Bauduin, Parisian society’s most eligible bachelor, is determined to take only a wife of his choosing. But until that day comes, he’ll ward off his admirers by hiring Lady Sophia Acton to wear his ring! The passion Jean-Luc shares with his convenient bride is enormously satisfying–until he discovers Sophia’s utterly scandalous past!

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Family Saga What’s Left Unsaid by @DeborahStone_

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://judithbarrowblog.com

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading What’s Left Unsaid by Deborah Stone

What's Left Unsaid

My Review:

There are some books that grab you from the first page, even the first paragraph. What’s Left Unsaid did just that for me:

“If Annie had just been honest with me, we might have avoided much of the ugliness which followed… but she wasn’t and we didn’t…”

How could I resist? I didn’t! It helped when I realised the story is told in one of my favourite formats; it’s written from different points of view under the name of three characters: the protagonist, Sasha, her mother Annie and her late father, Joe. I especially liked Joe’s objective viewpoint that balanced out the subjective viewpoints of the other two characters as they describe the complex and difficult relationship between them. Even so, the question hovering throughout the text is what is truth and what is lies. It’s a cleverly written narrative and I loved the writing style of Deborah Stone; she moves from character to character, slipping easily into their voices, alternately moving the reader to understand each with empathy, yet being able to see the flaws in them as well.

The plot is tense and tightly woven, moving at different paces to reveal the secrets held for years held by this family. There are many themes: family secrets and deceptions, emotional power struggles between characters, dementia, miscommunications, understandings and forgiveness. All delicately intertwined throughout the text.

I always think that, when we reach a certain age we are formed by the things that we have done, what has happened to us, how we have been treated and how we have treated others. In What’s Left Unsaid the flashbacks to Annie’s earlier life reveal her vanity, her prejudices of others and her jealousy of her own daughter. As a reader I was torn between disliking much of what she was and yet having compassion for what she has become; a woman in the throes of dementia. The flashbacks of Joe’s earlier life show his Jewish family’s struggles to move from a totalitarian Russia at the end of the nineteenth century to the North of England where they face fascism and suffer poverty that they fight to escape, much as they have escaped from an oppressive regime.

The characters are many layered. The protagonist, Sasha is living in a loveless marriage and cannot understand either her husband, Jeremy, who has a secret of his own or her son, Zac, typically a monosyllabic, hormonal teenager. She has no closeness with her mother yet is forced to be deeply involved in her life. The author cleverly and subtly reveals the tensions hidden in Sasha, much as she does in all the major characters.  Her internal dialogue initially shows her timidity, her nervousness, in the way she approaches her family. Yet there is also exasperation and even anger. And this comes out more and more as the story progresses.

Joe’s words, spoken from beyond the grave, are wise and, as I said earlier, objective. I felt they gave a distanced reflective view on human nature as a whole. Yet, through the dialogue and thoughts of the other characters, his personality in life is exposed to have had had the same flaws and weaknesses as their own.

Even without the story being allocated to each character the reader is left in no doubt who is speaking; each have their own distinctive voice.

The narrative describing the settings give a good sense of place and provide an interesting background to the story.

What’s Left Unsaid is a complex and poignant read. Thought provoking and absorbing it left me reflecting on the complexities of marriage and families. I would recommend this to readers who enjoy well-written family sagas.

Book description

Sasha is just about managing to hold her life together. She is raising her teenage son Zac, coping with an absent husband and caring for her ageing, temperamental and alcoholic mother, as well as holding down her own job. But when Zac begins to suspect that he has a secret sibling, Sasha realises that she must relive the events of a devastating night which she has done her best to forget for the past nineteen years.

Sasha’s mother, Annie, is old and finds it difficult to distinguish between past and present and between truth and lies. As Annie sinks deeper back into her past, she revisits the key events in her life which have shaped her emotionally. Through it all, she remains convinced that her dead husband Joe is watching and waiting for her. But there’s one thing she never told him, and as painful as it is for her to admit the truth, Annie is determined to go to Joe with a guilt-free conscience.

As the plot unfurls, traumas are revealed and lies uncovered, revealing long-buried secrets which are at the root of Annie and Sasha’s fractious relationship.

The novel spans several decades, telling the history of the Stein family from the turn of the twentieth century to the present day. Speaking of her inspiration for her novel, Deborah says; ‘My own mother was evacuated at the age of five during World War Two and my father was a young man working as an ARP warden. This novel is purely fictitious, but I wanted to explore the traumas that many ordinary people of the war generation suffered, experiences which would be quite unimaginable to many of us today and then to contrast them with the issues we all face in the modern day.’

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Fun #Saxon #HistFic Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army – Edoardo Albert

Today’s team review is from Sean, he blogs here https://ebookwormssite.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Sean has been reading Conrad Monk and the Great Heathen Army by Edoardo Albert

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Summary:

A light humorous tale of medieval England, where Vikings terrorised the Saxons, looting and pillaging as they went. Two monks, one devout, the other a total chancer and not really a monk at all, somehow find themselves having to travel through dangerous country to get to the Saxon King, to warn him of the Viking invasion.

Main Characters:

Conrad Monk: A schemer, selfish, and always looking to turn every situation to his own advantage. A plausible liar, there really are no redeeming features.

Brother Odo: Humble, honest, naïve in many respects, he is the complete opposite to Conrad, his manipulative companion.

The Vikings: A Danish horde, led by the three sons of Ragnar Lothbrok –  everyone flees before their mindless orgy of violence.

Minor Characters:

Abbot Flory: A man of the world yet still spiritual, he led the monastery until its sacking by the Vikings.

King Ethelred: The last hold-out against the Danish invasion, Conrad and Odo travel there to warn him, and seek safety.

Plot:

Essentially, it is a medieval car-chase, with our two “heroes” running from the Vikings to get to the Saxon camp, with various situations to be met and resolved along the way.

We first meet Conrad and Odo literally up to their necks in it, as they are hiding in a pigsty. The Vikings are ransacking the Abbey, looking for all the gold and silver treasure, and to take prisoners as slaves to be sold. Most of the monks got away to a secret location, except for our two.

We immediately see Conrad for what he is – prepared to sacrifice the unsuspecting innocent Odo in order to save his own skin. This leads Conrad to meeting with the Viking leader, then revealing the whereabouts of the monks and betraying them to the slavers. As he keeps repeating to Odo and anyone else who would listen, this is all actually a ruse to get everyone to safety. However, Odo was not sold at the slave market, so Conrad has to buy him, and is lumbered with him for the rest of the book. All part of the plan, of course.

The most important treasure is the intricately decorated Gospel, a holy book covered in gold and precious gems. Flory had entrusted its safety to three monks, but they had been compromised. Conrad wants this for himself – his pension plan I would think – but innocent Brother Odo believes him when he says they are taking it to the Saxon King for safe-keeping. Having retrieved it literally from under the noses of the vicious Viking brothers, they are forced into making a run for it.

The type of humorous escapades in the book include Conrad using Odo as a human horse to escape the oncoming Heathen Army, obtaining a valuable bishops ring by removing it from the said dead bishop’s posterior, and escaping his captors by means of projectile diarrhoea.

What I Liked:

  • The author’s research is thorough.
  • It reads easily and fast, with action happening on nearly every page.
  • This approach to history may make the subject more interesting to a younger audience.

What I Didn’t Like:

  • The humour did not appeal to me, being way too slapstick and appealing to a scatological-type mindset. (Yep call me a snob!).
  • I didn’t particularly like either of the main characters, Conrad being too stereotypical as a self-absorbed chancer, and Odo too much of a docile wet blanket.

Overall:

I liked how the author brought the historical figures to life, and it is a good approach to humanising history. I think however it is an opportunity missed, as this type of humour won’t appeal to everyone. The book is written to entertain first, and for those who like this style it will absolutely do that. A three-star for me.

Acknowledgements:

I received a .pdf of this book as part of Rosie Amber’s Review Team, in return for an honest and objective review.

Book description

Conrad is a monk, but he has become a monk through trickery and against his will. So, it is fair to say that his heart isn’t really in it.

Conrad is also clever, charming, entirely self-serving, self-absorbed and almost completely without scruple — but in Anglo-Saxon England, when the Danish invaders come calling, those are very helpful attributes to have.

And so it comes to pass that Conrad finds himself constantly dodging death by various means, some reasonable, some… less so. His tricks include selling his brother monks into slavery, witnessing the death of a king, juggling his loyalties between his own people and the Danes, robbing corpses and impersonating a bishop.

By his side throughout is the gentle and honourable Brother Odo, a man so naturally and completely good that even animals sense it. He is no match of wits for the cunning Conrad but can he, perhaps, at least encourage the wayward monk to behave a little better?

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Relationship novel The Men by @fannycalder #fridayreads

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs here https://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading The Men by Fanny Calder

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How refreshing to read something different, something honest and authentic. This is a book that is what it says it is – raw and unflinchingly honest. It follows the experiences of an unnamed woman as she moves from encounter to encounter and from relationship to relationship, making mistakes, getting into difficult situations, looking for something she can’t quite reach.

The relationships she has make for a compelling read, and one that is difficult at times. I found the first few episodes a little irritating to be honest and I wasn’t sure I was going to like the narrator or the book, but then, as things progressed, I warmed to her and became really engrossed in the narrative. She grows on you and you find yourself feeling angry with her, sorry for her, frustrated with her and happy for her when she does find joy and contentment.

I found her friendship with the transvestite and his boy really touching and a joy to read. She found with them, it seemed, a relationship that was real and good and good for her.

The author is a very talented writer, the writing here is beautifully done – well-crafted, measured, beautiful in places without being overblown. The writer knows how to build a scene, build characters without overdoing descriptions, unnecessary adjectives and tired, clichéd similes and metaphors – this is a writer with natural flair.

An unusual, intelligent and unsettling book. Very much recommended.

Five stars

Book description

A darkly brilliant debut novel by Fanny Calder, and arguably essential reading for the feminist hedonist woman in your life. City life in the 1990s. Anonymous, intense, paradoxical and sometimes lonely. A young, haunted woman falls in love with a singer. She finds she has been consumed by the relationship and when it ends – as it inevitably does – she feels unable to quite rediscover herself. Cities can draw you into even darker places, and she embarks on a series of intense relationships with thirteen men of very different types, from a rough sleeper to a millionaire, and from a transvestite to a leading politician. As she is propelled through a series of extraordinary adventures and wild parties she finds she begins to lose her own identity. Is there a way out? A raw and unflinchingly honest narrative with stripped down language that is liberating and sometimes challenging. It is a tale of urban human connections crafted with no judgement or deep introspection – a window on the author’s own life at that time that will resonate and stay with you.

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #middlegrade The Snow Witch by Rosie Boyes @RosieTheAuthor

Today’s team review is from Noelle, she blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

#RBRT Review Team

Noelle has been reading The Snow Witch by Rosie Boyes

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Christmas, lots of snow, a grandfather clock in an old mansion, a powerful curse, and a witch in two time periods. What’s not to like? This book is intended for middle grade children, but it is so well-written and so darned compelling, at least from this adult’s point of view, I can recommend it to everyone.

The story:  It’s December 2018. Twelve- year-old Kes Bunting and his younger sister Star, both orphans, are living in a cold, dilapidated foster home overseen by the devious Mrs. Auk. She receives an official letter from Hoop, Hoop, Hoop, Hoop and Sons, announcing the children’s legal guardian has been found, and shortly they are off by train to meet their grandmother, Lady Bunting. She resides in a large country mansion called St. Flurries, which is supposed to be haunted. They are followed there by an elderly man in a dark gray suit. What a great beginning!

St. Flurries is a wondrous old house, populated by a seven foot tall major domo named Goldie, who has a black eye patch; their white-haired grandmother whom they call Granny Bird; the rotund cook named Mrs. Chiffchaff; a tiny, bird-like old woman named Genevieve, who talks in riddles and acts most strangely; and Chat the cat. One of the first things the children notice is a grandfather clock which keeps time running backward.

It is snowing heavily, the countdown to Christmas has begun, and Star falls ill. Kes is told of the haunting of St. Flurries by a Snow Witch, and outside, exploring, he thinks he sees her.

December 1918: Twelve-year-old Kitty Wigeon can’t wait for Christmas at St Flurries, a grand old manor house in the countryside. When she goes to the local Christmas Fair, through no fault of her own she earns a curse from the old matriarch of a powerful gypsy clan. Then, on the chilly night after the funeral for her oldest brother, who died in the war, she vanishes without a trace. The only thing found is her locket, which now resides around Star’s neck.

What happened to Kitty? Is she really the Snow Witch? What was the curse? Is there an evil force behind Star’s illness? What can Kes do to solve the mystery, in a house brimming with secrets? Who is the man who followed them to St. Flurries?

Hopefully, I’ve revealed enough, without giving a lot away, to make you want to read this book. The inventiveness and creativity of the author have made this one of my favorite children’s book, with whimsical and wonderful characters and setting. She has woven an intricate mystery against a colorful and compelling background that spans time and place. Her descriptions of Christmas at St. Flurries are spun like dreams, with food and outlandish decorations, and her characters are so lovingly imagined, you want to meet them in person. Have you ever met a snow white hedgehog called Bob the Snodge? She has also rendered the children in an amazingly down to earth fashion, so even in the face of unimaginable, they are real.

Five stars for this book!

Book description

A GRANDFATHER CLOCK. A GLASS LOCKET. A POWERFUL CURSE UNLEASHED ON CHRISTMAS EVE.

Twelve-year-old Kitty Wigeon can’t wait for Christmas at St Flurries, a grand old manor house in the countryside, until one chilly night she vanishes without a trace.

One hundred years later… Still grieving over the death of their mother, Kes Bunting and his younger sister Star, are sent to live at St Flurries. They find a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets.

Who, or what, is making footprints in the snow?

And what evil force is taking a cold grip on Star?

Wrap up warm as you join Kes, and a cast of eccentric snow creatures, in a race against time to solve a hundred-year-old curse. Will he succeed? Or will the fate of his sister be decided by a shivery kiss from… the Snow Witch?

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