Tag: Horror (Page 1 of 6)

BOOK REVIEW: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco

BOOK REVIEW: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri ManiscalcoStalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)
by Kerri Maniscalco
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


Presented by James Patterson's new children's imprint, this deliciously creepy horror novel has a storyline inspired by the Ripper murders and an unexpected, blood-chilling conclusion...

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story's shocking twists and turns, augmented with real, sinister period photos, will make this dazzling, #1 New York Times bestselling debut from author Kerri Maniscalco impossible to forget.


 “Didn’t your family warn you against sneaking around at night alone?” he asked. “Dangerous things linger in the dark.”

Halloooo therreee. It seems I’m catching up and producing enough reviews to halfway feel like myself again!!!! And it. Is. GLORIOUS. And I’m so happy to be reviewing a book my dear friend, Brittney, has been unflinchingly begging me to read for ages. It’s not often I’ll pick up a book that has creepier tendencies, but when I do, they sometimes become my absolute favorites (a la Jazz from I Hunt Killers).

But where this book was strong in its witty writing and intriguing characters, there were also some flaws that I couldn’t help but to be bothered by (and the matter gets worse in book 2…but I wouldn’t let that effect the rating of this installment, of course!). As I always like to repeat: Let’s start with the sour, then we’ll get to the sweet. And oh, let me tell ya, Thomas was as sweet as it can get.

I stood, and Thomas joined me, eager to move onto our next mission.
“Hurry along, then,” I said, grabbing my orchid and securing it safely in my journal. “I want to sit by the window.”
“What now?” I asked, losing patience.
“I usually sit by the window. You may have to sit in my lap.”

I know this is going to get me kicked in the teeth, metaphorically speaking, for saying this, but I found that Audrey Rose really, really loved to get haughty about being a woman who deserved the same equality as a man. Now

I’m not sayiiinnngggg women shouldn’t be treated equally-I NEVER said that-howeverrrr, when a point is repeated, well, repeatedly, it begins to lose its importance. Just let the dead horse lay, as they say, and stop beating it. Like I said, I noticed it here in this book, but it didn’t really get on my nerves TOO BAD until book two. Or maybe I’m just confused because I read them so close together….either way, girl needs to stop. She’s said it enough I’m sure even the corpses she’s operating on got it through their thick, dead skulls.

“…the dead speak to those who listen. Be quieter than even them.”

Secondly, I was so SOOOO excited and into her and Thomas’s banter. From the beginning (this is a plus) my heart went into overdrive when they first met, because Thomas was just an outspoken little soul who couldn’t help but to get under her (and everyone else’s) skin. But, again, being inside Audrey Rose’s head just kind of got….annoying. NOT BADLY SO, but enough that I balked near the end when she’d proclaim what a fiend and a scoundrel Thomas was. I ADORE Thomas, but sometimes saying things so much just ruins the whole effect-such is the case with her repetitive proclamations-both about Thomas’s idiosyncrasies and being a wholly capable woman who is able to handle herself just as the men do.

I was determined to be both pretty and fierce, as Mother had said I could be. Just because I was interested in a man’s job didn’t mean I had to give up being girly. Who defined those roles anyhow?

NOW. Onto the pleasant and sweet-Which far surpassed the sour.

All in all this story was super addicting. I loved the fast-paced feeling, yet it was handled in a manner in which you didn’t feel rushed. It was day-to-day and we were constantly on the lookout for Jack the Ripper. Shrouded in mystery, each page had me guessing who near Audrey Rose could possibly be the killer. You just knew it was someone she was in close proximity with, yet she was missing key clues to really pin it down. Was I right in the end? Yes and no. Was it somewhat obvious? Not particularly. But I did like how the author handled everything so that we constantly questioned everyone’s intent, were constantly second guessing ourselves, and really how it made me feel like a damned fool because I was like a chicken running around with its head cut off.

This story was also quite creepy-not in the way you will feel if you continue onto the second (castles and secret tunnels and creepy creepy crawlers, oh my!), but enough that it had me looking over my shoulder. Who said alleyways aren’t creepy? As the book came to its haunting conclusion, I began shaking in a way that I haven’t for a book in…I don’t know how long. I’m talking stomach flutters of actual TERROR, people, a dread I couldn’t grasp onto. Reading each page slower than the last not to savor, but because my fear had grown so immeasurable I could hardly breathe, for I didn’t know what horrors each new page possessed. That alone deserved 4 stars! However, this book caused loss of breath for two reasons, and one isn’t so scary as the last…

Thomas held a hand up, shaking his head. Fine. “What makes you sure I even need a partner? I’m quite capable of doing things on my own.”
“Perhaps it’s not you who would benefit from our partnership,” he said quietly.

Thomas. Thomas Cresswell. Be still my heart…sweet, cocky, and socially inept, this boy stole my heart INSTANTLY. It wasn’t so much that he was different or special or anything, but I suppose it’s just his mannerisms, the way he handled himself. I love that he knew he wanted to be with Audrey, so he went for it. He went in for the kill at each present opportunity, never once allowing her to believe he had any other intention. He knows what people say about him, and he knows what they think, but never once does he let it bother him…or is it more that he didn’t let his insecurities show? I think this defines Thomas to a tee-outwardly cocky, but a soft, insecure, unsure of himself boy who is fiercely loyal and only wishes to be accepted by those he loves. And….I simply adore him. What else is there to say? He’s simply marvelous and he would literally do anything to win Audrey Rose’s heart. He’d do anything to protect her, and his love is genuine. You can’t ask for more than that.

Without lifting his head from his own journal, he said, “Not having any luck figuring me out, then? Don’t worry, you’ll get better with practice. And, yes”—he grinned wickedly, eyes fixed on his paper—“ you’ll still fancy me tomorrow no matter how much you wish otherwise. I’m unpredictable, and you adore it. Just as I cannot wrap my massive brain around the equation of you and yet adore it.”

This book was a nice little surprise-whenever you repeatedly hear something about a story, you really can’t expect much lest the hype monster devour you. But with this story I was pleasantly surprised and pleased beyond words. With a clever mystery, enrapturing characters full of banter, and nail-biting suspense, your heart will surely break for these spell-binding characters. And, if I’m being completely honest, I do have a soft spot for our MC because, well, her name is scary close to my baby girl’s name-Aubrey Rose. OOPS. So…there you have it. I’m biased and refuse to relent…and it doesn’t hurt that the author knows what she’s doing.

View all my reviews

BOOK REVIEW – Shutter by Courtney Alameda

BOOK REVIEW – Shutter by Courtney AlamedaShutter by Courtney Alameda
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads


Horror has a new name: introducing Courtney Alameda.

Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She's aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera's technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.

When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn't exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she's faced before . . . or die trying.

Lock, stock, and lens, she’s in for one hell of a week. 


Trust me, I would have loved for my first book in 2016 to be a winner… Sadly it wasn’t, and I never managed to enjoy Shutter, mostly because *whispers* I was drawn into the 4 levels of dooooom (no, it’s not really a thing, I do know that, shhh)

How much as I wanted to like it, from the start I felt that something was off with the writing. Perhaps because whole pages read like textbooks.

Welcome to REAPER 101!

”High-powered quartz lenses allowed me to capture light effectively, as quartz conducted a ghost’s electricity and had a high sensivity to fast-moving violet light. Most ghosts succumbed in a few photographs, their energy whittled down shot by shot and sealed into film’s silver halide trap.
Helsing Research and Development optimized my flashes to slam ghosts with flares of ionized light, which broke down the electrons in the air and turned my camera into a lightning rod for ghostly energy. Lastly, my monopod steadied my had and became a melee weapon in a pinch –“

… And so on. Can I mention that she is stalking a ghost at this point? All these scientific speeches were so freaking specific that they made me lose sight of what was important: the PLOT, and urged me to get my hands on a thesaurus.

Not to mention that this wordy and over specific writing emphasizes the lack of dialogues and their fakeness when the characters finally decide to talk together. I mean, who in the word uses a word like unpalatable in a conversation? At 16? One might argue that they aren’t our usual teenagers, and I sure can’t deny that. Yet it bothered me, because in my opinion the (relative) lack of dialogues always weakens the characters dynamics.

More I read and more I realize that I have personal peeves that can completely spoil my reading experience. An invasion of metaphors is one of them, and it doesn’t mean that Courtney Alameda’s writing isn’t good, because I’m sure some readers will read the quotes below and love them. I’m not one of those readers.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the occasional metaphor but GOD they were EVERYWHERE.

The writing didn’t flow, and some sentences let me frowning at my book helplessly :

“Anger rasped in the squared breaths he took, the ones for shooting and fighting and not losing your head; it deepened the shadows under his eyes and throbbed in his jugular”


“Large sprinklers dotted the ceiling like daisies with razor-sharp petals, the same apparatuses I’d seen on the ceilings of Seward Memorial’s Ninth Circle. Those devices sprouted nerve gas in case the necros escaped their pens… but why would they be needed in an evacuation tunnel?”

I don’t know. You lost me at petals. Then at apparatuses (really?).

Definitely too much purple prose for me to enjoy reading.

Ah, Micheline. Micheline Micheline Micheline. I don’t hate you, but it’s allllll about you now isn’t it? Indeed I had a hard time standing how self-absorbed she was. Her safety. The future. The boys’ safety. Her fault, her problems, her her her. For a girl who’s supposed to be badass, she spends loads of time whining. Her friend Oliver shares a great relationship with his father? So unfair, given that hers is an abusive asshole. She drowns in guilt every time a member of her team is injured? It doesn’t prevent her from lying to them and hiding important information about their enemies.

I’ll pass over the fact that she sees every other woman as weak (and Jude’s comments about punching like a girl serve her well) or as a sexual distraction for her precious boys (god forbid the guys develop feelings – I really liked the fact that Bianca resisted and surprised her, by the way) but did she need to dismiss everything that didn’t involve fighting kills? Medics are useful too, you know.

Sorry guys, it does seem as if I hated her, yet I really didn’t – she annoyed me more than everything else, but I can’t deny that she was brave and strong-minded. Her inner pep-talk and other self-absorbed monologues just gritted my nerves, I presume.

As for the other characters, I won’t lie and hide the fact that Ryden made my heart beat faster in the beginning. Loyal, protective, not an asshole, what more could one want in a love interest?

His own personality, perhaps? Given the fact that the guy doesn’t talk (I kid, I kid…almost), more I read and more blurred he became : yes, he loves Micheline (this is obvious from the start), yet what does he like doing in his spare time? What does he think of all these events? What does he freaking do except acting like a bodyguard for Micheline? His whole characterization is centered on his relationship with her and in the end I feel as if I don’t know him. He has no layers. The only things I know about him are,
1) He loves rules and Micheline.
2) He was adopted (sort of) by Micheline’s father for training.
3) He thinks Jude is gross with his dating. Oh, that, he has a strong opinion about how his friend should live his sex life, that he does. *roll eyes*

You sense my frustration? You’re freaking right. And don’t get me started about her father. *slaps the asshole*

Shutter is by no means a bad book, though. Indeed I found the plot really interesting and most of my frustration lay in the fact that I wanted to know what would happen but couldn’t handle the writing and the characters. Courtney Alamedaa manages to successfully mix classic horror tropes and her take on the Helsing/Dracula myth was really well-done. Trust me, it’s rare that I find myself captivated by a plot when a book isn’t working for me, that’s why I couldn’t rate Shutter lower . If it wasn’t for the info-dumping, the metaphors and the stiff writing, I’m pretty sure that I would have overlooked my annoyance with the characters.

Sadly I was disappointed in the climax which didn’t live up to the expectations carefully built in spite of my other peeves. I would love to state that Shutter was unpredictable, but unfortunately if it was in the beginning, it didn’t last. Yes, it was well-wrapped, but not surprising at all and quite the easy road.

► Oh well. My first book in 2016 has come and gone. Still 250 books in my kindle waiting for me to read them (no, I feel no fear *high-pitched voice* At all)

BOOK REVIEW – Hellraisers (The Devil’s Engine #1) by Alexander Gordon Smith

BOOK REVIEW – Hellraisers (The Devil’s Engine #1) by Alexander Gordon SmithHellraisers (The Devil's Engine #1)
by Alexander Gordon Smith
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


From the author of the Escape from Furnace series, an explosive new horror trilogy about an ordinary American kid caught up in an invisible war against the very worst enemy imaginable.

There is a machine from the darkest parts of history, concealed in an impossible location, that can make any wish come true, and the only price you have to pay is your soul. Known as the Devil’s Engine, this device powers a brutal war between good and evil that will decide the fate of every living thing on Earth. When a 16-year-old asthmatic kid named Marlow Green unwittingly rescues an ass-kicking secret soldier from a demonic attack in the middle of his Staten Island neighborhood, he finds himself following her into a centuries-old conflict between a group of mysterious protectors and the legions of the Devil himself. Faced with superpowers, monsters, machine guns, and a lot worse, Marlow knows it's going to be a breathless ride—and not just because he’s lost his inhaler along the way.


**ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**

That was the trouble with being a hellraiser.
Sometimes you got burned.

I think it goes without saying that I have really branched out on books I’ve read this year. I’ve fallen for crime novels, sci-fi novels, and, most recently, I’ve even fallen for some certain (ahem) steamier NA stories. My point is…I just enjoy reading. So when I was approached to read and review Hellraisers, I was all for it.

You can’t run forever

And that’s not even the best part-I have had this author on my radar for years. His book, Lockdown (look up and see if that’s the name or Escape from the Furnace), has been something I have wanted to try for as long as I can remember. But here’s the thing: It always seemed so scary. And anyone that knows me understands that I don’t do scary. So, needless to say, when I was asked to read this story that didn’t look nearly as terrifying…I was ecstatic.

I’ll find you

I was right to be excited for a chance to read a book by this author: From the first page I was hooked. Marlow’s story wasn’t addicting because he was the strongest, the most badass, the most amazing guy ever-No, his story was addicting in spite of that. Marlow is what you would call a troublemaker, getting kicked out of school after school after school, until now it’s the last straw and he has no where else to go. No friends and a mother who looks at him with eyes sad beyond their years because of how he is putting her through hell, he is desperate to make this final school work….even though he has already been kicked out and any chance of readmission vanished when he fled from the school grounds with a big F-YOU to the principal.

I’ll find you, and you will burn

But after the initial process of escaping a suffocating situation, Marlow slows down and realizes just what he’s done. Where does he have to go to now? What will his mother say? Hardly able to breathe without constant use of his inhaler, he’s hardly an impressive being-in fact, he’s actually a coward: Always running at the first sign of complacency, always becoming the troublemaker when he should be making it work. Marlow is nothing but trouble…but he’s about to see what real trouble looks like….and it’s not a kid with a bad attitude and an inhaler.

”Gonna throw the new dog in the pool? See if it drowns?”
“Call someone a dog too many times,” Marlow said, speaking slowly so he wouldn’t trip over his tongue, “and they might just start to bite.”

Walking into a situation better left in the movies, Marlow finds that he is in over his head. Strange creatures that can morph into about anything and rip your body to shreds in the blink of an eye, he has no clue what to do. A battle raging in front of him and, wait, is that a beautiful girl about to be impaled by one of said monsters?? Who better to be her knight in shining armor than Marlow??? 😉

”He’s clean,” he said. “Holding a pretty big torch for you, though, Pan. Just about all I could see in that simple little excuse for a mind.”
“Wait, no, what?” Marlow spluttered, and Pan turned away before he could see her cheeks boil.

Yes, Folks, believe it or not, Chelsea got her peril and a smidgen of romance. Okay, okay, it’s tentative, but come on! Who doesn’t love something to root for?? He is obsessed with the badass Pan and she…well…she despises him. Too jaded by the aftermath of losing people she has loved, she sees no point in making friends and getting attached, especially to the new loser who they have to lug around everywhere. But as her icy exterior begins to melt, she begins to find a little comfort in his company-He’s a goofball, but he still has a nice, firm shoulder to lean on…

Pan studied him for a moment more and he had the almost overwhelming desire to lean forward and plant his mouth on hers. It would be so easy, she was six inches away, and those lips were so full, slightly open…
“Do it and you die,” she said, reading his mind. She prodded him hard in the forehead and backed away. “Believe me, the Engine is a mean piece of work but I’m worse.”
“Do what?” he said as innocently as he could. “I wasn’t…”

Apparently not one to shy away from gore (YASSSS), Smith excels in creating a truly gruesome atmosphere in which you can’t help but to cringe and go

 photo tumblr_n8rfruhO6L1tv4k5po1_400 1_zpsq5muospc.gif

even though you know it’s coming. Well, that’s a lie, that first splatter of blood had me blinking profusely, making sure I was well and truly seeing what I thought I was reading, Not one to be outmatched by slasher filled horror flicks, Smith impressed me in a way I didn’t think I could be impressed-with blood and destruction. Bravo, Smith, I applaud you. What a pleasant, albeit disgusting, surprise.

 photo Xx2AM2h_zpsqmkfakwp.gif

I’m not sure what’s to come with this series or where it will go, but I know that I enjoyed every single bit of the journey from page one to the end. I am not easily impressed these days by horror type books, so, to me, this was a complete breath of fresh air. I never once got the feeling I was going to be disappointed or bored with the story, and that is a common occurrence as of late. I loved the play on getting anything you ever wanted at a price…666 hours, to be exact. You get anything in the world you want….but only for that many hours, and then they come to collect.

Marlow smiled nervously at her and she almost felt sorry for him. Almost. The truth was he didn’t know how lucky he was. Right now he was a wheezing, trembling sack of flesh and bone and worry.
And in a few minutes he’d be a god.

And I may have guessed certain events that were going to happen long before they did, but, in a way, that made me happy. I was excited to see my twisted mind went hand in hand with Smith’s twisted mind and, in turn, we were weird twisted minds together. So…there’s that.

So, again, I am over the moon excited that I got asked to read this story and that it was as excellent as it was. It’s not often I adore my ARCs, so to open this up with a smile on my face and end it with an even bigger, more malicious smile on my face was an added bonus. If you are a fan of anything dark or ominous, or even adventurous, I’d venture to say you would probably enjoy this. As for me, I can’t wait to see where it goes next. I quite enjoyed those amazing final chapters. So many amazing possibilities and wonderful directions to go…I only hope my heart can handle it.

BOOK REVIEW – In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters

BOOK REVIEW – In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat WintersIn the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Add to: Goodreads


In 1918, the world seems on the verge of apocalypse. Americans roam the streets in gauze masks to ward off the deadly Spanish influenza, and the government ships young men to the front lines of a brutal war, creating an atmosphere of fear and confusion. Sixteen-year-old Mary Shelley Black watches as desperate mourners flock to séances and spirit photographers for comfort, but she herself has never believed in ghosts. During her bleakest moment, however, she’s forced to rethink her entire way of looking at life and death, for her first love—a boy who died in battle—returns in spirit form. But what does he want from her?

Featuring haunting archival early-twentieth-century photographs, this is a tense, romantic story set in a past that is eerily like our own time.

What an original little gem : this brilliant tale, served by a beautiful writing and a haunting atmosphere, is like nothing I’ve read before.

From page one I felt connected to every one of these characters, first of all Mary Shelley, a strong and clever heroine I instantly loved (I wish there were more YA leads like her, to be honest). In my opinion Cat Winters perfectly nailed the characterization, making me care for characters even before meeting them : how is that even possible? Before I knew it my heart was in my throat, my belly in knots, afraid to follow Mary on her journey.

But what won me over was the unexpected quality of the plot (especially because I didn’t read the blurb, which gives away too much in my opinion). More than once did I find myself clasping my hand over my mouth, widening my eyes and giggling out of surprise : it was fabulous.

Do you believe in ghosts? Because I don’t. Not that it stops them from creeping the hell out of me. See, my mum used to tell everyone that I channeled spirits because of that time when I told her that someone was dead without nobody knowing it yet. I was 4. As far as I’m concerned, it was only a sad and creepy coincidence, but my mother never really saw it that way, and it became the story every one of my friends religiously heard her recall over the years. Since then I’ve been afraid of spirits, even knowing how irrational my fear is. All this because I once was a spoiled child who said something mean. Payback is a bitch.

That’s why I couldn’t shake off the impression that someone was watching me while I was reading, not to mention that the pictures freaked the hell out of me. Trust me, if someone told me that they could capture spirits’ soul in pictures, I would brush it off laughing and rolling my eyes, as Mary did. Yet some passages made my blood run cold, so much that I couldn’t breathe. Perhaps I’m a chicken. I don’t care. I. Was. Scared. Fucking bird. *shivers*

“Lives were being traded for other lives.
The line between right and wrong blurred into a haze.”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been passionate about the darkest times my country lived : contrary to what some stupid people think, not being blind about France’s faults in History doesn’t mean that we don’t love our country, but actually the opposite. I strongly believe that historical knowledge is needed to stop making the same mistakes again : it’s far from enough, but that’s a start, isn’t it? Obviously I read a lot of books about both World Wars because literature is really prolific about them in France. Yet In the Shadow of Blackbirds is the only US insight I’ve come across since Dos Passos, and it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve read The 42nd Parallel. As we follow Mary’s story, we get to see how dark and dangerous this period was : if USA weren’t where fighting was taking place, it doesn’t mean that no battle were fought there. Between the flu and the prevailing paranoia, Mary’s world is shredded into pieces.

Mary’s father was taken into custody as a traitor because he proved himself to be against USA’s participation in that war. If my knowledge about the way US citizens dealt with WW1 is close to zero, here are some facts about the Great War (I do know that I simplify some of them, but it is neither the place nor the time to write an History paper. Yet this book, and the November 11th anniversary coming this week made me want to talk about it). There’s something to say about a book that makes you want to revisit your History. In my opinion anyway.

As that’s the case with most wars, every country involved spread hate and misinformation through propaganda. This poster, published in 1918 in France, chills the air around me so much it reminds me of those Mary sees everywhere : (view spoiler) As Mary and her aunt points it, WW1 started due to a deadly game of alliances combined with the ambition to be the most influent, powerful, wealthy European country, and not really out of threat. Look how good it worked, you stupid.

During Winter 1915, some French and German soldiers ‘celebrated’ Christmas together, many of them (on both sides) struggling to understand why the hell they were fighting to death in these awful conditions. Between 1914 and 1918, hundred, if not thousands French soldiers were sentenced to death by their hierarchy because they refused to carry on fighting. For those of you who speak French, I strongly recommend reading Paroles de Poilus: Lettres et carnets du front 1914-1918, a chilling collection of letters sent by French soldiers during WW1 : they’re as unsettling as though-provoking, and Stephen’s experience made way more sense knowing that.

The way Cat Winters captured the oppressive atmosphere during this year was brilliantly done, and added so much more depth to the story. Rarely struggles moved me as much as Mary’s and Stephen’s did.

“Oh, you silly, naive men.” I shook my weary head and genuinely pitied their ignorance. “You’ve clearly never been a sixteen-year-old girl in the fall of 1918.”

Moreover, I loved how Cat Winters tackled women’s emancipation issue : as it played out for Mary’s aunt, WW1 brought many French women to work in factories and other ‘men’ jobs for the first time, creating a growing awareness of the need to give more rights to women – Don’t hold your breath, though. In France the fight for women’s suffrage ended in 1944, and women earn the right to work without their father/husband’s permission in 1965 only. If France’s always been the country of humans rights, it takes its time to acknowledge that women deserved them too. All of that is to say that I really appreciated reading about how women were dealing with war overseas, especially through such strong yet realistic characters.

► All in all, a book that I won’t forget anytime soon. Strongly recommended.

I found the crow to make my pict here.

BOOK REVIEW – The Screaming Starcase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan Stroud

BOOK REVIEW – The Screaming Starcase (Lockwood & Co. #1) by Jonathan StroudThe Screaming Starcase (Lockwood & Co. #1)
by Jonathan Stroud
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads


When the dead come back to haunt the living, Lockwood & Co. step in . . .

For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions.

Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive.

Set in a city stalked by spectres, The Screaming Staircase is the first in a chilling new series full of suspense, humour and truly terrifying ghosts. Your nights will never be the same again . . .

Why an experiment? To be honest, I wasn’t accustomed to discriminating Middle-Grade and Young Adult novels back when I read in French. WHY? This would be because they’re similarly advertised (when in hardbacks) – and don’t get me started about the New Adult ones which are blended with them : frankly, I applause all the parents who’re trying to make some sense of the way books are sold to their teenagers. I mean it. You guys are so brave.

Anyway, my point is that I stopped reading Middle-Grade novels around the time I started experiencing books in English, running far away each time I saw the “children” shelf. Doing that, 1) I was missing out on some amazing stories, and 2) I couldn’t properly recommend books to young teenagers (my older pupils, for example).

That’s why I decided to stop narrowing my possibilities – and here I am, reading The Screaming Staircase. No need to say that I don’t regret a second of my read.

Alternative history is starting to become one of my favorite world-building tropes. How is London different? Basically, the dead decided that to rest in peace was way too boring, and started to wander the earth after dark : first they are many, second they’re more dangerous (they have the power to kill you in a blue painful death – yes, it’s as horrible as it sounds).

Jonathan Stroud‘s trick lies in the fact that only children and teenagers can sense them fully and then, fight them. I really like this idea because this way we don’t have to suspend our disbelief about the odds of teenagers investigating, and it constitutes an awesome premise in my opinion.

Plot wise, what we get here is a murder mysteryAnnabel (don’t you think this is the most beautiful name of the world? Huh?) was a young socialite in the 60s when she brutally disappeared… until Lockwood and Co find her again during a fucked up mission.

SPOILER ALERT : She was dead.

This is precisely where the shoe pinches : PREDICTABILITY. Indeed I figured the mystery out pretty fast, and the ending confirmed everything I thought. Is it a fail, then?

No. I did guess what will happen around 50-60%, but it didn’t prevent me from enjoying my read, and to be fair, I still think that it was well-crafted for a MG, way darker and grittier than I would have at first imagined.

Anyway – despite my tendency to turn into some Nancy Drew, the story was still completely addictive. No need to say more.

If there’s still room for further improvement, for example when it comes to the depth of the characters, I grew attached to them and felt connected, which is not a sure thing in many books. Not to mention that since it’s a series, I can completely nurture the hope that they will be (more) developed.

In a word, if the characterization isn’t flawless, the author made me love his characters (all right, with a soft spot for Lockwood) and they’re FULL of potential in my opinion.

First of all, Lucy is a strong female lead, kickass but acknowledging her fears, in other words, my favorite kind. Her inner thoughts gave me several genuine and unexpected laughs (the best kind in my opinion) and I really appreciated the fact that she was never seen as the “weak” member of the team.

As for George, his nerdness and… hmm… weirdness is smile-inducing, I have to admit.

And last but not least : Lockwood! God, I love his sarcastic (but never mean) mind and his secretive personality. In my opinion characters are winners when 1)they feel real and 2)they make the readers want to know MORE about them, not because they’re one dimensional, but because what we do know is already fascinating. Yet he did annoy me when he started to keep his discoveries and hypothesis to himself : YOU ARE PART OF A TEAM, DUDE. Just don’t forget it. Sigh. I’m willing to forgive him, though, but do not do this anymore, okay?

But most of all I fell in love with the characters’ dynamics playing out in the ghosts hunting team : I genuinely think that we have never enough books where friendship is well-portrayed, especially when aiming a younger audience.

We need to talk about the scary scenes. Okay. I know what you think. Anna. You’re such a pussy.

Annnd you might be right. But. But. But. I didn’t imagine the way my heart pounded at some scenes. I’m not delusional. It did happen, and for me, it’s everything I need to know when dealing with a ghost story. Did I feel oppressed? YES. WELL DONE.

Let me get this straight : I wasn’t scared TO DEATH, but it did let me… What’s the word… Spooky? Jumpy? Now, what you need to know is that I grew up in a house where basically everyone believed in ghosts to a certain extend (not me, though – I’m the cynical of the bunch). My mother most of all. SO, MUM, THIS IS TOTALLY YOUR FAULT.

Also, in this world when there are ghosts there are spiders as well. Fucking SPIDERS. Will the nightmare never end??? *shivers*

There’s no denying that this book is incredibly well-written, and the narration surprisingly GREAT. Really, I am genuinely impressed by the writing and despite being MG, the characters hardly feel more juvenile than YA ones even if they are around 13? 14? 15? (What? I got lost at some point)

Not to mention that the dialogues made me smile more often than not. Think banter. Sarcasm.

All in all, a really good introduction to this series, and I can hardly wait to read the sequel.

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