🧙‍♀️’For Fans Of The Macabre And Light #Horror’ @JillianChantal reviews Legacy Witches by @CassKayWrites for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Sherry.

Sherry blogs here https://sherryfowlerchancellor.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Sherry has been reading Legacy Witches by Cass Kay.

Book cover for urban fantasy Legacy Witches by Cass Kay, set against a background of a moon from a free photo from Pixabay.

Vianna Roots is a reluctant witch from a Salem family which has a long history of witchcraft.  She also sees the dead which is not a normal characteristic of a witch. She’s never fit in—either with the town or her family and she had a bad relationship with her mother. As soon as she was able, she escaped in the middle of the night and had no intention of ever returning to her childhood home.

Fate had other plans for Vianna. Her mother died and she had to return home to take part in the burial ritual. But Vianna had other plans than performing the ritual as it is supposed to go. She wanted to tie her mother to the grave so she couldn’t come back and harass her like her other dead relatives—especially her grandmother Susannah.

When Vianna arrives in Salem, she has an accident in her old truck with, of all things, a local policeman.  Then, when she gets to the house she inherited, which she can’t wait to sell off, the house won’t let her in and things continue to go downhill for her from there.

She doesn’t want to wear witch robes to the cemetery and chooses a red dress from her mother’s closet which turns out to be the dress her mother wore when she was initiated into her role as a witch. Something Vianna is determined not to let happen to herself.

At the cemetery, we meet a number of other characters who all have distinct personalities and who do not much care for the rebel Vianna. The scene is set for more drama in her life.

Vianna ties her mother to her grave and once she returns home, she starts to clear out some of the old things lying around. In searching a drawer, she finds a rotting hand. A vision of a woman reliving her death in the bathroom shows her where the hand originated. And now Vianna is on a quest to help this spirit to rest—a spirit she happens to know quite well. But she doesn’t plan to embrace her legacy as a witch. She is going to solve this issue with this spirit and sell the house and leave again as soon as she can.

Along the way to her goal, Vianna goes on a date with a man she had a crush on in high school. She finds, not only is he weird and possessive, but his mother has issues, too. He’s persistent and annoying. She’s mystified about why he’s suddenly attracted to her. Old school mates wreak havoc in her life, and, when danger arises, she even has to head back to the cemetery to dig up another ancestor and get a bone from her—not because she wants to embrace her legacy, but because it’s necessary to do so.

The cemetery caretaker is someone she knew in the past who is not welcome in the witching community either and they strike up a friendship. I loved their relationship. It was nice to have someone that the heroine could rely on and who was a great character. She offered some relief from the gloomy atmosphere and danger the heroine was in.

This book was delightful to read. A lot of great action, a mystery about some paintings and a dead girl in the bathroom as well as the friendship that arises between two people who don’t fit in, makes for a great story. The author also gives us fans of the macabre and light horror a lot of great, descriptive scenes.  This is no white witch, light comedy type story that glosses over some of the darker sides of the craft. I quite enjoyed the change of pace from those type of stories.  

I recommend this one as it is chockful of great scenes, some humor and a compelling story, not least of which is how misfits can find their place and make the home/family they need.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Coming from a long line of murderous witches hasn’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows for Vianna Roots. When she inherits the family’s haunted house after her mother dies, she decides flipping the rundown dump is her smartest move—but the ghosts that haunt her have a different plan.

When Vianna finds the ghost of her childhood friend Nancy, she’s drawn into the mystery surrounding her friend’s death. Her meddling attracts the attention of the oldest coven in Salem. In order to get her out of town, they make an offer on the house, but Vianna hesitates. She’s no longer sure she wants to abandon the demon familiar who possesses her home, the transgender outcast witch—who may just be the best friend she never knew she needed—and her high school crush, who now wants her in his life.

Vianna must find a way to solve the case of her murdered friend, stay out of the hands of the most powerful coven in Salem, and face the past she’s so desperately tried to run away from.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS (Due out Oct)

📚This Author ‘Dares To Be Different’. @deBieJennifer reviews dark #UrbanFantasy Legacy Witches by @CassKayWrites for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Jenni.

Find out more about her here https://jenniferdebie.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Jenni has been reading Legacy Of Witches by Cass Kay.

Book cover for urban fantasy Legacy Witches by Cass Kay, set against a background of a moon from a free photo from Pixabay.
Legacy Witches by Cass Kay

When Vienna Roots returns home to Salem for her mother’s funeral after a decade away, she expects a short trip. Bury the old witch, sell the family home, try not to let the ghosts of her ancestors or the demon haunting its walls get in the way of the sale, and get back to her life in Boston. No, she does not want to get involved in the tangled, occult politics of her hometown. No, she has no intention of taking over her mother’s place, or practicing her family’s particular brand of brutal magic. No, she doesn’t want to get the police involved. But when Vienna finds a hand in a drawer, and an unexpected specter haunting one of the upstairs bathrooms, she knows this quick trip home isn’t going to be nearly as fast or as simple as she’d hoped.

The market on urban fantasy and witchy protagonists is arguably glutted at the moment. Witches are cutesy, they’re sexy, they’re demon huntresses and vampire lovers and all sorts of fun combinations of back-cover blurb buzzwords, but something that truly sets Cass Kay’s Legacy Witches above the rest for me is that her witches are dark.

Vienna Roots’ ancestors and peers deal in moldering corpses, gruesome deaths, and necromantic rites as a matter of course, and while Vienna herself shies away from the murder edges of magic, Kay seems to revel in the gory details. As something of a connoisseur of gory details, I appreciate the unflinching approach to maggots and skeletons and what a pain in the butt it is to rob a grave on a rainy night.

I appreciate that Kay doesn’t try to redeem the terrible things that the Roots witches have done in the past, and the lengths they will go to to protect their own.

A story of generations, and rewriting the scripts of eras come and gone, Legacy Witches is more than just one more urban fantasy with a witchy protagonist. This is a novel with heart, a story about growth, and acceptance, and magic far darker than most authors in the genre dare dabble in from a writer who obviously knows her craft. In a market that has long been saturated by the cozy, the sexy, and the action-y, and the overly romantic, Legacy Witches dares to be something different, and as a reader, I appreciate that too.

5/5

Orange rose book description
Book description

Coming from a long line of murderous witches hasn’t exactly been sunshine and rainbows for Vianna Roots. When she inherits the family’s haunted house after her mother dies, she decides flipping the rundown dump is her smartest move—but the ghosts that haunt her have a different plan.

When Vianna finds the ghost of her childhood friend Nancy, she’s drawn into the mystery surrounding her friend’s death. Her meddling attracts the attention of the oldest coven in Salem. In order to get her out of town, they make an offer on the house, but Vianna hesitates. She’s no longer sure she wants to abandon the demon familiar who possesses her home, the transgender outcast witch—who may just be the best friend she never knew she needed—and her high school crush, who now wants her in his life.

Vianna must find a way to solve the case of her murdered friend, stay out of the hands of the most powerful coven in Salem, and face the past she’s so desperately tried to run away from.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS (Due out Oct)

Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror #Shortstories CHILLS & CREEPS by @NickClausen9

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

#RBRT Review Team

Robbie has been reading Chills & Creeps by Nick Clausen

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book of eight short creepy and chilling tales by Nick Clausen. The tone of his stories, and their unusual and clever twists reminded me of Roald Dahl’s style with his short story collections.

Under the skin features a young, red headed boy with freckly skin who takes shelter in a elderly strangers house one afternoon during a downpour. The granny is kindly towards him, giving him tea and cookies and drying his clothing, but she has her own frightening agenda.

Snapper the fish is a tale about the acquisition of a pet gone wrong. Mary is a spoiled girl who has recently become an older sister to a baby girl. Mary is jealous of the attention the new baby is garnering from her friends and family. When Mary acquires a most unusual pet, she makes a plan to use it for her own selfish ends.

Deadly dreams features the very topical world of gaming. Two boys are drawn into a popular game of human versus monsters. Despite various warnings that the game is dangerous to your health, it has gone viral. Daniel and Christian had better practice hard, they can’t afford to make mistakes.

All birds hate me gave me the greatest creeps of them all as I have a bit of a phobia about birds attacking people. Eagle is diagnosed with a strange disease. He is getting treatment, but is impatient to enjoy his life like everyone else his age. He decides to venture out of the safety of his home.

Ghost tennis is all about a young ghost who has an obsession with tennis. When a new family move into his historic home, he hopes that he will find a new tennis partner. If not, everyone will pay.

Drip-Drip-Drip shows what could happen if your own home turned against you. Unfortunately, it knows your deepest and darkest fears and is willing to use them against you.

When I snap my fingers is really rather unsettling tale about progressive hypnotism and what could come out if you delve into your past lives. Meddling with the mind is never a good idea.

Lights out is a rather unusual tale with a super power flavour of a different sort. It is never a good idea for one person to have too much power over nature.

Book description

In this collection, you’ll meet …

Peter, who meets an upholsterer who really likes his skin. Mary, who gets a pet fish thatwill only eat human flesh. Daniel, who plays a game that becomes real in his dreams. Eagle, who has a disease that make birds attack him wherever he goes. Joseph, who plays tennis with a ghost. Nadia, who gets trapped in a house slowly filling up with water. Calvin, whose sister visits a hypnotist and becomes someone else. And Noah, who learns to control lights with his mind.

Eight stories spanning horror, dark fantasy and science fiction, all set in everyday life while exploring the dark, the evil and the supernatural. The Chills & Creeps-series was originally published in Danish to great reviews, and is now available in English.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview #Team #RBRT #Horror novella HUMAN FLESH by Nick Clausen

Today’s team review is from Judith, she blogs here https://readandreview2016.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Judith has been reading Human Flesh by Nick Clausen

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Human Flesh is the third book by Nick Clausen I’ve reviewed this year – clearly, I enjoy his work.

Human Flesh is a narrative formed from fictitious evidence from a murder case. The suspect, Otha’s grandfather, is a man who behaves strangely whenever winter descends. This is somewhat understandable; winter reminds him of losing his wife. Yet, Otha’s grandfather adamantly refuses to admit how she died – almost as if he has something to hide.

As I’ve been reading more of Nick Clausen’s books, I’ve found I really enjoy the many ideas he has for horror stories. Human Flesh is no exception. The story is inspired by legends of the Wendigo, a cannibalistic creature or spirit which lurks in Northern America. I really enjoyed following this mysterious murder case, and I was drawn to keep reading. It’s definitely a creepy little story.

However, when I say little, I do mean little.

Human Flesh is very short. On the one hand, this could tie nicely to the fact the book is meant to be a collection of police evidence and, consequently, a small amount of evidence could reflect the mystery behind the story and how much is still unknown. On the other hand, practically speaking, when I read it, I was disappointed the story ended so soon.

I did like Clausen’s choice to present the narrative as a collection of evidence from the past though, adding some realism because it treats the Wendigo and the mysterious deaths as real crimes. Furthermore, it leaves the reader in the dark, as we have no idea who has survived the ordeal and who has not until the end of the book. However, I do have some constructive feedback about this choice of narrative style too.

Firstly, as Human Flesh largely consists of informal evidence such as blog posts and text messages, the story was also informal. As a result, I thought that in places, the story lacked detailed or literary narration and description. I partly understand this, as the bulk of the narrative is from a teenager’s perspective, which is bound to be more informal. Yet, it also felt a shame that some opportunities for fantastically scary or Gothic language and descriptions were missed.

Secondly, I’m not convinced an e-book was the best format for Human Flesh; at present, it is only available to buy as an e-book. I appreciate it can be harder to publish physical copies of a book but, in this instance, I think a physical book would have lent itself to the format. For example, the pages could have been designed and printed to look like an email browser, a police report, or a text message exchange. It would have looked like a more convincing scrapbook or folder of collected written evidence. In an e-book, however, it is very obvious that you’re not actually reading a text message, for example. I know this is a nit-picky comment to make, and I know the story itself is fictitious – but when the narrative partly relies on convincing you, the reader, of the realism of the situation, I found that this format pulled me out of the story a little.

These comments may sound a little critical, but I only mean them in a constructive way. I still genuinely enjoyed Human Flesh and, in general, I particularly like Clausen’s creative and interesting horror story ideas, even if I do wish these stories were longer!

For anyone looking for a small and succinct yet chilling read, I would recommend Human Flesh.

Star Rating: 3.5/5 Stars 

Book description

They never caught it

During the winter of 2017, a series of strange occurrences took place in a small town of northern Maine. A rational explanation for what happened has still not been presented. Now, for the first time, all the available written evidence is being released to the public from what is commonly know as the Freyston case.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #Horror novella HUMAN FLESH by @NickClausen9

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Human Flesh by Nick Clausen

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I am a fan of horror, had read great reviews of one of Clausen’s collections of short stories, and I liked the sound of this one (and the cover is pretty impressive as well).

This is a short horror novella that works at many levels. Its topic is fairly well known (especially to lovers of the genre, and as a psychiatrist I’m also aware of its diagnostic implications, although I won’t elaborate on that), but despite its short length, the author manages to capture the atmosphere of the story, the cold, the darkness, the weirdness and the horror (more psychological than graphic, although it has its moments) in the few pages available, using also a pretty interesting way of telling the story. As mentioned in the description, rather than a standard narration, we have what appears to be a compilation of documents pertaining to a mysterious case, and this will appeal as well to lovers of crime stories and police procedural novels (although if they are sticklers for details, they might be bothered by the supernatural aspects and by some bits and pieces of information that don’t seem to quite fit in, but…). This peculiar way of narrating the story forces readers to do some of the work and fill in the blanks, and that is always a good strategy when it comes to horror (our imagination can come up with pretty scary things, as we all know). It also gives readers a variety of perspectives and some background that would have been trickier to include in a story of this length otherwise. Does it make it more difficult to identify with any of the characters? I didn’t find that to be the case. The story (or the evidence) starts mildly enough. An accident means that a family cannot go skiing as usual for their winter holidays, and the father decides to send his two children (and older girl, Otha, and a younger boy, Hugh) to stay with their grandfather, Fred, in Maine.  Things start getting weird from the beginning, and Otha (who has a successful blog, and whose entries create the backbone of the story, making her the main narrator and the most sympathetic and easier to identify with for readers) is not the only one who worries about her grandfather, as some of the neighbours have also been wondering about the old man’s behaviour. The secret behind their grandmother’s death becomes an important part of the story and there are eerie moments aplenty to come.

The novella manages to combine well not only some legends and traditional Native-American stories with more modern concepts like PTSD, survivor’s guilt, but also the underlying current of grief that has come to dominate the life of the children’s grandfather. It also emphasises how much we have come to rely on technology and creature comforts that give us a false sense of security and cannot protect us again extreme natural conditions and disasters. Because of the age of the main protagonist, there is also a YA feel to the story with elements of the coming-of-age genre —even a possible love interest— and I’ve seen it listed under such category, but those aspects don’t overwhelm the rest of the story, and I don’t think they would reduce the enjoyment of readers who usually avoid that genre.

Is it scary? Well, that is always a personal call. As I said, there are some chilling scenes, but the novella is not too graphic (it relies heavily on what the characters might or might not have seen or heard, and also on our own capacity for autosuggestion and suspension of disbelief). There is something about the topic, which combines a strong moral taboo with plenty of true stories going back hundreds of years, which makes it a very likely scenario and something anybody reading it cannot help what reflect upon. We might all reassure ourselves that we wouldn’t do something like that, no matter how dire the conditions, but how confident are we? For me, that is the scariest part of the story.

In sum, this is a well-written and fairly scary story, with the emphasis on atmosphere and psychological horror rather than on blood and gore (but there is some, I’m warning you), successfully combined with an interesting way of narrating a familiar story. As a straight mystery not all details tie in perfectly, but it’s a good introduction to a new voice (in English) in the horror genre. I’m sure it won’t be the last of Clausen’s stories I’ll read.

Book description

They never caught it

During the winter of 2017, a series of strange occurrences took place in a small town of northern Maine. A rational explanation for what happened has still not been presented. Now, for the first time, all the available written evidence is being released to the public from what is commonly know as the Freyston case.

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

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Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT Revengers by David Valdes Greenwood @dvgtweets #YA #Suspense

Today’s Team review is from Olga, she blogs here http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Revengers by David Valdes Greenwood

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My review:

Thanks to Rosie Amber (from Rosie’s Book Review Team) and to the author for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel that I freely chose to review.

Revengers is the first in the YA Revengers Series, and it is the first work by the author, David Valdes Greenwood, better known for his non-fiction books and his plays, I have read. This is a revenge story with a supernatural twist. If that is not unusual (we all know revenge stories orchestrated by evil or sometimes simply very angry spirits), both the details and the characters are.

Those who love mythology, in particular, Greek (and Roman) mythology, will probably appreciate the thematic link to the Furies, ancient vengeful deities whose roles and interpretation changed over time. Because, the book tells the story of three adolescents who’ve experienced terrible losses at different ages (Marc, a Harvard dropout, only a year ago, whilst Justin and Ama were much younger) and who, for different reasons, have had to grieve alone. They’ve been experiencing terrifying nightmares since the events, that they witnessed, and suddenly, these nightmares become more real than before. A strange and scary female figure tells them to go to Salem and leaves them a journal. They feel compelled to obey Rebecca, the fury/spirit behind their nightmares whose story we learn later (and who had good reasons to seek revenge).

The story is told in the third person, mostly alternating the points of view of the three main characters (although also briefly from the victims and other characters with small parts in the story, including the Rebecca herself), who, although don’t know each other at the beginning, end up becoming an ersatz family. They are as diverse as they could be (ethnically: African-American and Dominican blood, Chinese, old Massachusetts stock, sexually: Marc is gay and Ama and Justin haven’t had much time to think about such things so far; they also have different interests, studies and their economic and family circumstances are miles apart) but have to form a team to be able to fulfil the rules and get rid of their nightmares forever. Although killing somebody is not an easy task, they don’t realise how complicated things can get until later, when secrets and half-told truths come to light. The rules they are given, that seem to be clear-cut and not leave any room for ambiguity, aren’t so clear when one scratches beyond the surface, and there is no such a thing as getting off scotch-free.

The Salem of the story (I cannot comment on how much it resembles the real location, although for me it is more of a paranormal backdrop to the story than a real place, and it reminded me a bit of Demon Road where an alternative order and lifestyle existed side by side with normal life, without anybody other than those involved being aware of it) is full of secrets, tragedy, lessons not learned and people trying to maintain the status quo while pretending everything is fine. Although it might appear like business to Halloween Tourists, to those in the know, witches are the least of their problems.

The three main characters have distinctive personalities and are realistically portrayed (Ama is quite suspicious, Justin can be quick to act, Marc is a bit of a softy) and they are all flawed, and not all that likeable at the beginning of the story but make a good team and learn to appreciate and accept their differences and skills. For me, one of the most appealing aspects of the book (apart from the suspense and the mystery) is the strong bond that develops between the three adolescents who at that point didn’t have a close connection or intimate friends who knew their secrets, shared their concerns and cared for them. I particularly liked Ama, who although is tough and determined, is also the character who often hesitates and questions the morality of their actions and who will go to any extent to try and keep everybody safe. And that is why in the end… (Don’t worry, no spoilers).

The book is compellingly written, with enough imagery and description to feel the changes in weather and scenery (that are all in tune with their experiences and the action providing visual and sensory emphasis to the events), without becoming cumbersome. The interactions between the adolescents and with other characters ring true and help build their characters more convincingly. There is plenty of action, it has many scary moments and the suspense builds up from the start (as we have a time-frame and the clock is ticking continuously, with the tension increasing towards the end of the story).  The inclusion of the point of view of some of the victims makes the story more morally ambiguous and complex. This is not just a revenge story with a few paranormal scary touches. It will make readers (and who hasn’t thought about getting revenge on somebody at some point) think twice about justice and revenge. Although the ending (no, no spoilers) opens up the series to the next book, do not worry about unfinished businesses or annoying cliff-hangers. This is not a story divided into several books where you never get any resolution. So you won’t feel disappointed because of a lack of ending (you might have preferred a different ending, but that’s a completely different matter).

I recommend this novel to readers of YA stories who love suspense, paranormal subjects, mythology and strong and diverse protagonists. Especially those looking for a new series with a kick-ass female protagonist. The author has promised to keep me informed when he publishes the next books in the series, so I’ll keep you posted.

Book Description

A great revenge story, with a fabulous paranormal presence and the start of series that promises many more adventures and frights. (Olga’s thoughts)

How far would you go to make things right? Ama, Mark, and Justin are about to find out. All three have each witnessed a murder that went unpunished, and they’ve lived broken lives ever since. In recent months, their dreams have been haunted by someone who understands their pain: a Fury who survived the witch hunts of Old Salem. Three days before Halloween, she enters their dreams and summons them to be Revengers, just as she has done for a new trio of teens every year for centuries. If they abide by her seemingly simple set of rules, she promises supernatural protection while they avenge their losses. One catch: exacting revenge means becoming killers themselves. And they don’t have much time to wrestle with the moral dilemma, as the Fury’s protection will end on the Day of the Dead. When they agree—setting in motion three bloody acts of vengeance—things begin to spiral out of control and they come to understand they are pawns in an ancient game. As the Fury toys with them, they race against the clock, hoping to live more than just a few more days…

About the author

David Valdes Greenwood is the author of Revengers, The Rhinestone Sisterhood, Homo Domesticus and A Little Fruitcake. As an award-winning playwright, his work has been staged coast to coast and in the UK. A former freelance journalist, Valdes Greenwood is best known for his Boston Globe columns. Currently, he details life as a parent as a Huffington Post blogger.

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