The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis

I review The Wolf Road by Beth Lewis.

A debut literary thriller from an incredible new voice. What do you do when the man who gave you everything turns out to be a killer? 

Everything Elka knows of the world she learned from the man she calls Trapper, the solitary hunter who took her under his wing when she was just seven years old.

But when Elka sees the Wanted poster in town, her simple existence is shattered. Her Trapper – Kreagar Hallet – is wanted for murder. Even worse, Magistrate Lyon is hot on his trail, and she wants to talk to Elka.

Elka flees into the vast wilderness, determined to find her true parents. But Lyon is never far behind – and she’s not the only one following Elka’s every move. There will be a reckoning, one that will push friendships to the limit and force Elka to confront the dark memories of her past.

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What a ride. The Wolf Road is everything I love in a book. It’s dystopian, which confused me for a while, as it also reads as an historical fiction. The Damn Stupid, described in the book, seems to be some kind of nuclear war, which threw the world back into the 1800s. Beth Lewis blends the two genres together seamlessly; I got lost in a world that was at once the future and the past, with all the emotions of the present.

Elka is the perfect heroine. Flawed, raw, open. Her voice is beautiful, innocent, yet haunted. Her story is sad, yet she is incredibly strong. Left with her abusive Nana while her parents went north to “make their fortune”, Elka gets caught up in a thunderhead, some kind of storm, and is deposited miles away from home. She comes upon a hut, which belongs to a man she calls Trapper. Covered in tattoos, hulking, Trapper is terrifying, but Elka sticks with him for over 10 years, learning his ways, the ways of the wild, and coming to think of him as her father. Her eyes are closed to his real ways, his wolf road, until she sees his face plastered on wanted posters around the nearest town.

Elka’s journey to understanding, not just the truth about Trapper, but also about herself, is hard and heartbreaking. How many of us have been fooled by someone? Been so caught up in a certain life that you do things without thinking of the consequences, of the importance of your choices? Are we even able to make choices in such situations? Beth Lewis writes about this in an incredible and engaging way, describing Elka’s path beautifully.

Listening to The Wolf Road as an audiobook was an extra treat. Amy McFadden is wonderful, and truly brings the story to life. This is a contender for my book of the year.

Goodreads | Amazon | Audible

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See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

“Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one.”

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I’d never heard of Lizzie Borden before I read about this book. The topic instantly grabbed me, and I knew I had to have it. I was crossing my fingers every time I searched for it on NetGalley, and, lo and behold, it came up. And I was approved!

When her father and step-mother are found brutally murdered on a summer morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden – thirty two years old and still living at home – immediately becomes a suspect. But after a notorious trial, she is found innocent, and no one is ever convicted of the crime.

Meanwhile, others in the claustrophobic Borden household have their own motives and their own stories to tell: Lizzie’s unmarried older sister, a put-upon Irish housemaid, and a boy hired by Lizzie’s uncle to take care of a problem.

This unforgettable debut makes you question the truth behind one of the great unsolved mysteries, as well as exploring power, violence and the harsh realities of being a woman in late nineteenth century America.

I love a good historical fiction, particularly one based on a true story. Lizzie Borden is famous (or infamous) for being acquitted for the murders of her father and step-mother in 1892. Told from the perspectives of Bridget the maid, a troubled young man called Benjamin, Emma the eldest daughter, and Lizzie herself, we’re thrown into a whirlwind of a whodunit.

There’s clearly something very strange about the Borden family. Lizzie is in her thirties, Emma in her forties, and neither of them have ever married or moved away from their childhood home. Emma, the eldest, gave up a large part of her life to care for Lizzie, when they were left motherless after their mum died. Their father married Abby a few years later, and it seems the sisters made a decision to never love their stepmother.

There are also clear signs of abuse. Andrew Borden is often violent and quick to anger, and Lizzie too has a fiery temper. Emma has escaped to her friend’s house when the murders occur, and is dragged back by the tragedy. You can almost feel her desperation to cling on to her freedom. It’s Emma who I identify with the most: the eldest daughter, older by a fair few years, forced to give up childhood and become a parental figure.

See What I Have Done is full of secrets, and Schmidt doesn’t give them up easily. This is a triumphant debut, wonderfully written and well-researched (Schmidt stayed in the Borden house while writing this book, which is actually now a creepy hotel!). Lizzie Borden dug her claws into me and didn’t let go until the very final page.

See What I Have Done is due out in May 2017, and you really don’t want to miss it.

Goodreads | Amazon UK

Introducing The Good Dictator I: The Birth of an Empire by Gonçalo JN Dias

The Bandwagon introduces The Good Dictator I: The Birth of an Empire by Gonçalo JN Dias, one of the most popular books of 2016 in Portugal, now with an English translation.
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There’s an object parked on the moon, but curiously, the unfolding of the story does not take place in New York, but rather, in Lisbon suburbs and in a small village between Portugal and Spain.

The main character, Gustavo, does not get along well with his parents-in-law, and his wife does not like Gustavo’s friends.

A genre-busting book that includes adventure, thriller, dystopia or utopia and an exciting love story.

From 19th-21st of January, you can download The Good Dictator I: The Birth of an Empire for free on Amazon!
Follow the author on Twitter for more information.

Under The Harrow by Flynn Berry

I review Under The Harrow by Flynn Berry.

When Nora takes the train from London to visit her sister in the countryside, she expects to find her waiting at the station, or at home cooking dinner. But when she walks into Rachel’s familiar house, what she finds is entirely different: her sister has been the victim of a brutal murder.

Stunned and adrift, Nora finds she can’t return to her former life. An unsolved assault in the past has shaken her faith in the police, and she can’t trust them to find her sister’s killer. Haunted by the murder and the secrets that surround it, Nora is under the harrow: distressed and in danger. As Nora’s fear turns to obsession, she becomes as unrecognizable as the sister her investigation uncovers.

A riveting psychological thriller and a haunting exploration of the fierce love between two sisters, the distortions of grief, and the terrifying power of the past, Under the Harrow marks the debut of an extraordinary new writer.

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I love a good unreliable narrator. It seems as if they’ve become very popular since Gone Girl and the like, and I can see why. The relationship between sisters is a complicated one, based on both rivalry and loyalty. Nora and Rachel are close, and Rachel’s murder affects Nora deeply. She becomes obsessed with finding out who killed her sister,

I didn’t understand the assault on Rachel as a teenager. Perhaps it was based on a true story, but it just didn’t sit right with me. I also didn’t understand how it related to her murder. It felt disjointed and jerky, but perhaps that was all part of Nora being unreliable.

Props to the author for describing Polperro exactly right. Being a Cornish maid, I know it well. And to describe loving Cornwall and loving life is, of course, something I approve of. Berry is a wonderful storyteller, and Under The Harrow is a great debut. The premise and build-up of Under The Harrow was excellent. It was thrilling and captivating. But the execution, and the big reveal, was sadly a bit of a let-down. It felt rushed, and it speaks volumes that I fell asleep at 98%, in the middle of Rachel’s killer being unveiled.

Under The Harrow is a short read, one that will grip and shock you. And with a few tweaks, particularly regarding the ending, it could be a fantastic read.

Goodreads | Amazon

The Thunder Beneath Us by Nicole Blades

I review The Thunder Beneath Us by Nicole Blades.

Many thanks to the author for providing a review copy.

To the world, Best is a talented writer rising up at an international style magazine, girlfriend of a gorgeous actor, and friend to New York City’s most fabulous. Ten years ago, Best and her two older brothers fell into a frozen lake. Only Best came out. And after years of covering up the past, her guilt is destroying every facet of her seemingly charmed life. It’s all unravelling so fast: her new boss is undermining and deceitful, her boyfriend is recovering from a breakdown, and a recent investigative story has led to a secret affair with the magazine’s wealthy publisher.

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The Thunder Beneath Us tells the story of Best, an accomplished writer, and how a dark secret from her childhood continues to haunt her. Best suffers from survivor’s guilt after her two brothers died after falling through some ice, and she continues to carry that guilt around with her. This is rich fiction, compelling and thought-provoking.

Best’s pain feels real, raw and haunting; Blades writes with a steady hand. The writing is fresh and concise; the characters deep and realistic. You might not like Best, but you don’t have to like a character to be affected by them. And believe me, The Thunder Beneath Us will affect you. Blades is talented AF, and I’m looking forward to whatever else she comes out with.

Amazon UK | Goodreads

Caged by Onaiza Khan

Introducing Caged, a psychological thriller from upcoming Indian author Onaiza Khan.

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“Keep your mind right, put your body in action and let your spirit guide you.”

These are the words keeping her sane after her husband kidnaps her, tearing her away from her life in India and keeping her captive in Northern Canada.

But after three months with only a servant, a television and the screams of another captive keeping her company, she begins to lose touch with reality – even forgetting her own name.

In her struggle to escape, she discovers an inner strength and powers previously unknown realigning her past, present and future.

About The Author

Hello, my name is Onaiza Khan and I’m from New Delhi in India. onaizakhan-headshot

People work hard all their lives for things like money, security, love, fame. But to me, life has just two parts. ‘TO LEARN’ and ‘TO CREATE’. I strive to learn anything and everything I can. My closet’s full of certificates and degrees. As a little girl, I used to write poems and passages for my loved ones to make them smile. This is how I learned the art of creating things that can make people happy.

As I got older and started writing stories in my mind, I began to live them. I’m a chronic daydreamer who lives in worlds and places so amazing and awesome, I almost never want to come back to reality. Whenever I see someone smile or shed a tear because of my writing, it is an award to me… I’m honoured that they let my words get so close to their heart that it can touch them.

If you would like to say hello, please come and see me here: Facebook & Twitter @KhanOn.

Grab your own copy of Caged on Amazon.

 

The Pearl and the Carnelian by Annabel Fielding

I review The Pearl and the Carnelian by Annabel Fielding.

Britain, 1934. Hester Blake, an ambitious girl from an industrial Northern town, finds a job as a lady’s maid in a small aristocratic household. Despite their impressive title and glorious past, the Fitzmartins are crumbling under the tribulations of the new century. In the cold isolation of these new surroundings, Hester ends up hopelessly besotted with her young mistress, Lady Lucy. Fragile and enthralling, Lucy can weave fascinating stories like a spider weaves her web. Armed with shrewd wits and an iron will to match, she is determined to carve out a new life for herself.

They are drawn to each other as kindred spirits, eager to take advantage of the new opportunities the world has to offer. Moreover, soon Hester gets to accompany Lady Lucy on her London Season, and readily plunges herself into the heady mix of passion, art and excitement of the glittering city.

However, there are plenty of dark undercurrents swirling beneath the majestic imperial capital. The country is rife with discontent, and radical political movements are growing in influence day by day. There is a controversy, surrounding the new dictatorships of Europe, and struggles are breaking out in the press as well as in the streets. The hushed whispers of yet another war are still rare, but the battle for hearts and minds has already started, and Lucy’s talent can be employed for very sinister ends.

Meanwhile, Hester seems to be harboring some secrets of her own…

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Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres. I love the richness, the detail, the ability to dive into Victorian London or Ancient Greece or Medieval England. Annabel Fielding allows us to dive into the 1900’s, and meet Hester, a maid with aspirations of something more.

The Pearl and the Carnelian isn’t just a historical fiction, though. It’s a story of the friendship between women, something which can barely be explained, only felt. Hester becomes besotted with her mistress, Lady Lucy, who is darker than she appears. The sinister undercurrent, coupled with Fielding’s excellent writing, makes The Pearl and the Carnelian an enjoyable read.

Perfect for those of us who are missing Downton Abbey. Get your fill with The Pearl and the Carnelian.

Many thanks to the author for providing me with a review copy.

Goodreads | Amazon