Review: Thores-Cross: A Yorkshire Ghost Story (Yorkshire Ghost Series, #1) ~ Karen Perkins

Thores CrossISBN ~ 978-1481928175
Publisher ~ LionheART Publishing house
No. Of Pages ~ 266 pages
Links ~ Amazon

Emma Moorcroft is still grieving after a late miscarriage and moves to her dream house at Thruscross Reservoir with her husband, Dave. Both Emma and Dave hope that moving into their new home signifies a fresh start, but life is not that simple. Emma has nightmares about the reservoir and the drowned village that lies beneath the water, and is further disturbed by the sound of church bells – from a church that no longer exists.

Jennet is fifteen and lives in the isolated community of Thores-Cross, where life revolves about the sheep on which they depend. Following the sudden loss of both her parents, she is seduced by the local wool merchant, Richard Ramsgill. She becomes pregnant and is shunned not only by Ramsgill, but by the entire village. Lonely and embittered, Jennet’s problems escalate, leading to tragic consequences which continue to have an effect through the centuries.

Emma becomes fixated on Jennet, neglecting herself, her beloved dogs and her husband, to the point where her marriage may not survive. As Jennet and Emma’s lives become further entwined, Emma’s obsession deepens and she realises that the curse Jennet inflicted on the Ramsgill family over two hundred years ago is still claiming lives. Emma is the only one who can stop Jennet killing again, but will her efforts be enough?

This is the kind of book that you can pick up and read in a day, there’s nothing too technical or complex in the storyline that would make a reader want to take their time reading this and this in itself presented me with a problem; I really wasn’t sure what kind of a rating this particular short story should have.

The story is actually, in my opinion, two stories set in the same area of England; one of them being current times and the other being the late 1700’s.  As much as I really wanted to see a comparison made between the lot of women in these two eras, I just failed to be invested in the modern day plot and found myself skimming over these parts to find out what was happening in the past; in my mind the main protagonist of the book was the woman grounded in the past, and the way the Author grew her from being a grieving teenager to a vindictive woman was extremely realistic and convincing.  By comparison the modern day equivalent came across as being less credible and if anything hinted that the reader may not be bothered too much by the gaps in her personality.  The Author did do their historical research though and, I did enjoy the way the Yorkshire dialect was included in the speech patterns.

As a whole the story itself was interesting and well written, but could have done with more polishing to make parts of it more credible.  I would classify this book as more of a haunting short than a horror short.  If I am ever on the lookout for another quick light read to fill a couple of hours, I will probably look at something else written by this Author.

This book was read as part of my 2016 Reading Challenge; a book you can finish in a day.

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Wednesday Poem: Her Kind ~ Anne Sexton

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Her Kind

I have gone out, a possessed witch,
haunting the black air, braver at night;
dreaming evil, I have done my hitch
over the plain houses, light by light:
lonely thing, twelve-fingered, out of mind.
A woman like that is not a woman, quite.
I have been her kind.

I have found the warm caves in the woods,
filled them with skillets, carvings, shelves,
closets, silks, innumerable goods;
fixed the suppers for the worms and the elves:
whining, rearranging the disaligned.
A woman like that is misunderstood.
I have been her kind.

I have ridden in your cart, driver,
waved my nude arms at villages going by,
learning the last bright routes, survivor
where your flames still bite my thigh
and my ribs crack where your wheels wind.
A woman like that is not ashamed to die.
I have been her kind.

ANNE SEXTON

Review: The Witch of Painted Sorrows (The Daughters of La Lune #1) ~ M.J. Rose

witch of painted sorrowsISBN ~ 978-1476778068
Publisher ~ Atria Books
No. Of Pages ~ 384 pages
Links ~ Amazon

Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.

Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.

This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love, and witchery.

3 Thumbs-UpAlthough the first in this series, this is the third novel written by this Author and, to be honest I’ve not read either of the previous two.  However the synopsis intrigued me and held a certain promise, so I set off to wind my way through its pages.

I’m going to come straight out and say this; I did not like the main protagonist at all.  I did not understand her or her motivation for anything she did, and had even less understanding for those things she didn’t do but probably should have.  As much as I tried I could not find myself either empathizing or sympathising with her in any way which resulted in her just being a downright annoyance throughout the whole novel.  Why she had to keep banging on about her one and only failed attempt at watercolour painting just confused the heck out of me, and she seems to use this as an excuse for all her bad behaviour and dishonesty when related to art school.  I did feel sorry for her Grandmother who tried her hardest to steer the lead character in the right direction but was constantly ignored and dismissed.  But again I was also disappointed in her, for a woman who had made a living in her given profession she was not very strong-willed at all, and usually ended up just giving in to the main character for the sake of a quiet life I felt.

So why did I give this book a three thumbs rating?  As already said it was not the characters that helped the novel achieve this rating, but rather the location and the way in which the Author used the words on the page.  The streets of Old Paris leapt of the page through the descriptions of the courtyards around which people made their homes, and the words rolled of the page not in a rush and bluster but as if they were taking a leisurely stroll down the Champs Elysees on a warm summer day.  As much as I enjoyed the relaxed way in which the book was written I felt somewhat let down too; after all the synopsis had promised witchery and there was nothing remotely ominous and witchy that I could find in these pages.  Maybe I like my witches too dark, and the kind featured here were just so innocuous they escaped my attention.

If you are already familiar with this Author, you may just enjoy this book; as for me I doubt very much that I will be reading anything by her again… as the saying goes ‘it wasn’t you, it’s me’

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Song of the Witches ~ William Shakespeare

The end of this week is Samhain, or Halloween, and this week will be poetry week here on the site.  To get the ball, or should I say pumpkin, rolling here is the first of the three poems I will be featuring this week.

witches

Song of the Witches

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder’s fork and bling-worms sting,
Lizard’s leg and howlet’s wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon’s blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

William Shakespeare – from Macbeth

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Review: Daughters of the Witching Hill ~ Mary Sharratt

witching hillIn “Daughters of the Witching Hill,” Mary Sharratt brings history to life in a vivid and wrenching novel of strong women, family, and betrayal inspired by the 1612 Pendle witch trials.

Bess Southerns, an impoverished widow lives with her children in a crumbling old tower in Pendle Forest. Drawing on Catholic ritual, medicinal herbs, and guidance from her spirit-friend Tibb, Bess heals the sick and foretells the future in exchange for food and drink. As she ages, she instructs her best friend, Anne, and her granddaughter, Alizon, in her craft. Though Anne ultimately turns to dark magic, Alizon intends to use her craft for good. But when a peddler suffers a stroke after exchanging harsh words with Alizon, a local magistrate tricks her into accusing her family and neighbors of witchcraft. Suspicion and paranoia reach frenzied heights as friends and loved ones turn on one another and the novel draws to an inevitable conclusion.

4 Thumbs-UpMany people know of the hysteria and events surrounding the Salem Witch Trials, but for those readers in England this novel predates those trials by 80 years and takes place in Pendle Lancashire.  Until reading this, although I was aware of witch trials taking place in my homeland, I was not aware of how differently they were conducted to those in the Colonies.

This novel is told in the voices of the two main protagonists, both actual historical figures which adds weight and substance to them as the reader follows their story to its conclusion.  As always when actual people are placed in fictional works some liberties are taken with them, but this in no way takes away from the book, in my opinion it just adds an extra dimension to what is in the pages.  Through the eyes of the two women we can enter the world of the poor in the early 1600’s.  As the reader journeys through their world with them, they are able to experience all the happiness and heart-break that came into their lives.  Regardless of the poverty and hardship of the period, these are two strong women characters that, despite their lack of formal education, resonate with intelligence and compassion.

More than anything this excellently written book could be seen as a lesson in dominion.  Catholicism has been forcibly replaced by the Protestant faith, but rather than have the enlightening effect intended it makes society become more superstitious and paranoid as their lives are now filled with contestant threats of damnation without the solace offered by the Catholic faith of that time.  The extensive research the Author has so obviously done, not only on the witch trials but also on the ‘pulse’ of society at that time makes this an engaging retelling of the poor of the Pendle region, if not of the whole country.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone with an interest in the subject matter, or who loves to read historical fiction.  I would definitely read more by this Author.

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Review: Shadow of Night (All Souls Trilogy #2) ~ Deborah Harkness

ShadowIT BEGAN WITH A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES.

Historian Diana Bishop, descended from a line of powerful witches, and long-lived vampire Matthew Clairmont have broken the laws dividing creatures. When Diana discovered a significant alchemical manuscript in the Bodleian Library,she sparked a struggle in which she became bound to Matthew. Now the fragile coexistence of witches, daemons, vampires and humans is dangerously threatened.

Seeking safety, Diana and Matthew travel back in time to London, 1590. But they soon realise that the past may not provide a haven. Reclaiming his former identity as poet and spy for Queen Elizabeth, the vampire falls back in with a group of radicals known as the School of Night. Many are unruly daemons, the creative minds of the age, including playwright Christopher Marlowe and mathematician Thomas Harriot.

Together Matthew and Diana scour Tudor London for the elusive manuscript Ashmole 782, and search for the witch who will teach Diana how to control her remarkable powers.

2 Thumbs-UpAfter devouring A Discovery of Witches by this Author, I spent a long time waiting for the sequel… why did I bother.  For those of you who may be thinking of picking this up to read as a standalone book, I would strongly advise against it, as you will be even more confused at the end of this tome than you were at the beginning.

As far as the characters in this book are concerned, so much more could have been done with the slew of new ones that were introduced, but I will get back to that in a moment.  The two main protagonists are still the same pair the reader encountered in the first book in this series, and we pick up with them exactly where the previous book left them.  As to their development within this novel’s pages, it is sorely lacking and has a tendency to take any likability they invoked in the first book away from them in this.  In fact they come across as being rather flat and one-dimensional.  As with most books that feature actual historical characters, there is a myriad of resources available to the Author to build their characters upon, unfortunately this was not the case here and I felt the Author left it up to the reader’s knowledge of these persons to create their back-story. This left the characters, from a fictional point of view, being people I really didn’t care about or want to know better.  The dialogue between the characters is between the characters is bland and, at times, there is far too much of it which results in the storyline becoming bogged down and boring.

The Authors biggest downfall, in my opinion, was the depth in which she outlined the political intrigue of the time period of the novel.  It was apparent from this that they had done an extensive amount of research, but by including so much of it in this fictional piece of work I found myself drifting to other things and feeling as if I were reading a very dry and dusty history text-book.  Another irritant for me, and one of a multitude that led to the rating this book was given, was the flippant way in which the Author treated time travel; there was none of the tact or explanatory pieces that appear in works by Diana Gabaldon, or the humour used by Connie Willis to help the reader navigate around these segments of their work.

I’m hesitant to recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first in the series, and doubt very much that I will be reading the conclusion.

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Review: The Spirit of A Witch ~ Sarah Jane Avory

Spirit of a witchEver wondered what it would be like to truly understand a cat, every last meow, every narrowed glance, every jab of a paw?

When Briley Forester, a shy recluse and gifted games programmer, is torn from the world and dumped into the village of Maepole, she finds out the hard way. Trapped within a backward world without technology, she discovers that being a witch is hard, and that her grouchy talking cat Smokey knows more about men than she does!

Tricked into working as a delivery girl and aided by an ancient grimoire, only by learning the powers of witchcraft can she hope to return home. Not an easy task for a girl suffering from crippling self-doubt.

But her way home is fraught with heartache and danger, love and despair. The powerful Whitehead family, haters of witches, will stop at nothing to be rid of her.

And lurking within the forest, the dark spirit lies in wait, ready to strike…

2 Thumbs-UpThis is the Authors debut novel, and the first in the Briley Witch Chronicles.  If you are highly religious, or completely against the idea of magic, witches and unusual things happening to ordinary people, you may want to give this one a miss.

I’m going to start in this review by heading straight to the part of this book I didn’t like, and that was the main protagonist.  The fact that I didn’t like her one bit made it a chore rather than a pleasure to keep reading this book to the end.  So much so, it almost received the dubious pleasure of being the first book I have ever left unfinished.  The main character finds themselves whisked from her ordinary everyday life into another world and, while this can be disconcerting and hard to get used to, she complains and moans her whole way through the book.  She is such a negative person, and full of so much low self-esteem, that I felt she needed therapy rather than the chance to discover new and interesting things about herself.  There is one redeeming character in this book, and it is her cat; obviously a magical beast as it provides an excellent balance and provides reality checks for our ‘Minnie the Moaner’.  As this is the first book in this series, I am hoping that Author is going to allow the main protagonist to grow out of and deal with all her insecurities, to develop into a person some readers may like; it is possible that after reading this book some readers may already like her, but she was not for me.

Outside of the dislike I had for the main character, this Author has done an outstanding job in writing this book, it is well written and put together in such a manner that it flows along nicely.  Despite its slow beginning which covers some routes that have been covered before, the Author manages to make the new world she is building seem almost real.  As well as magic, the Author covers certain mysteries in the novels pages that are uncovered and solved as the book progresses; this helps the book become a stronger piece of work and also picks up the pace of the storyline.

I would recommend this book to YA readers and anyone who enjoys a fantasy read that contains a small helping of fairytale.

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