Book Review (ARC): Where the Missing Go by Emma Rowley

“I’m still here…”

The blurb doesn’t do this book justice. I’m so surprised at how much I enjoyed this story. The writing is elegant and succinct, the tension is spellbinding, and it kept me occupied on the StairMaster for over 30 minutes, which is high praise in itself :p

Where the Missing Go begins with a woman named Kate working at the “Message in a Bottle” helpline. It’s a place where missing people can call in and anonymously contact their families or friends. If they’ve vanished voluntarily, it provides a way to let their loved ones know they’re safe, without actually coming home or calling them directly. That night, Kate is alone at the helpline office, and receives a call from a young woman named Sophie, who asks her to get in touch with her parents and let them know she’s all right.

Kate’s daughter’s name is Sophie.

And Sophie has been missing for two years.

Although Kate had been beginning to accept that perhaps her daughter had run away for good, the call upends her life (a life that was already teetering on the edge), and she cannot help but try once again to find out what happened those years ago. Clues begin to mount up, and an intruder stalks Kate in the night, entering her home and leaving without making a sound. The police don’t believe her, and her family begin to think she’s going crazy – they all ask the same question: why can’t she just move on?

But Kate can’t and won’t – what mother would? When her investigation leads her to the disappearance of a local woman decades before, she’s even more sure: something happened to Sophie. And perhaps, she’s been trying to reach her mother all along…

I’m a huge fan of ‘journey’ novels, and I loved the way that Kate slowly peels the onion, unraveling her daughter’s vanishing in slow steps. I did guess the ultimate perpetrator, but there isn’t a large cast of characters, so this wasn’t difficult – nor did it detract from my can’t-put-this-down enjoyment of the story as a whole.

If you like mystery and psychological suspense, I can almost guarantee you’ll be riveted by this story by Emma Rowley. It’s a wonderful debut, and I think she’ll be entertaining us for years to come.

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Book Review (ARC): The Dark Bones by Loreth Anne White


“He’d always harbored a fear that she still lay there. Her dark bones in wait. To rise. To get them.”

Reading Loreth Anne White is a sensory experience. You can feel the biting wind in your hair, whispering in your ear like a lover might. The snow crunches and powders beneath your feet. Frost alights on your fingertips, and the sky is vast overhead, raining stars over the horizon. It’s as if you are there, walking side-by-side with the characters, hearing a bird shriek in the wilderness, seeing headlights flash in the dark. It’s my favourite thing about her writing – that acute sense of place, and it never wavers.

The Dark Bones is a sequel to A Dark Lure, and I was excited to see White returning to this world. Although I didn’t remember everything about Olivia, Cole, Tori and Ace, I remembered enough to want to check in – see how they were doing, and get reacquainted with their town and the folk who live there. Although they’re kept on the periphery, I sense another novel in those characters – Olivia and Cole’s romance especially seemed to have stuttered to a halt – so I’m anxious to see if White returns.

The novel switches between the past and the present, circling around Rebecca North, once an insecure, shy teenager, and now a police officer based in British Columbia, who returns to her hometown after her father commits suicide. His cabin is also razed to the ground in an “accidental” fire, and knowing that her Dad was working on a cold case when he died, Rebecca is suspicious of the blaze. She begins to investigate both her father’s death, and the cold case he was fixated on – that of the disappearances of local teenagers Whitney and Trevor, who vanished twenty years back. Her machinations bring her into close quarters with Olivia (whose daughter Tori is suspected to have been near the cabin when it burned), and Rebecca’s ex-boyfriend, Ash Haugen, whose land borders Broken Bar Ranch, and who cheated on her with Whitney the summer they turned seventeen.

It’s all quite a quagmire. In the beginning, I struggled to relate to the characters. Ash was a closed book, and I grew quickly exhausted with the idea of Rebecca being hung up on a guy she went to high school with. Slowly though, White hooked me in, as she has a tendency to do, and the tension ratcheted up to a fever pitch. I appreciate that as a novelist, she’s not afraid to go to dark places, and truly, the reality of what happened to Ash, to Whitney, to Trevor and more… it’s disturbing, and raw, and bloody.

As the book drew to a close, it became clear why Rebecca was so frustrating in the beginning – because she’d sublimated so many memories of her past in order to move on, and coming back was like a regression of sorts. The landscape of her childhood was a hell of forgotten feelings, and rivered with the ghost of her father, whom she’d been too late to help.

Ash too, was unable – or unwilling – to work through what had happened to him, and so, they were both stumbling, like newborn deer, into the dark.

To pre-order your copy of The Dark Bones, click here <—-

I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley and Montlake Romance, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to both!

A note to all lovely readers that if you click the Amazon link above and purchase, I will receive a small fee for referring. Thank you for supporting this blog and in turn, supporting authors!

book review: Lost Connections by Johann Hari

“The Internet was born into a world where many people had already lost their sense of connection to each other. The collapse had already been taking place for decades by then. The web arrived offering them a kind of parody of what they were losing—Facebook friends in place of neighbours, video games in place of meaningful work, status updates in place of status in the world. The comedian Marc Maron once wrote that “every status update is a just a variation on a single request: ‘Would someone please acknowledge me?”

– Lost Connections by Johann Hari

Some of the reviews for this book absolutely terrify me. But even worse are the responses.

Thanks! I guess I can skip this one!

Oh, snap. Was looking forward to it. I’ll give it a miss.

No, no, no. Nope! People, read this book. Please do not listen to reviews that are at best, shallow, and at worst, willfully ignorant. A lot of the negativity comes from people reacting exactly as Johann predicted they would, when presented with the idea that anti-depressant medications are a tool for Big Pharma to make billions, and have a negligible effect (if any) on the actual medical issues they are supposed to be treating. The reaction to this theory is – naturally – resentment, discomfort, disbelief or even anger. The prevailing sentiment seems to be, “but they work for me! Or they slightly work for me! Or they’ve worked for someone I know! How dare you!”, and that is not productive, nor is it solid evidence that Johann’s research is flawed.

Johann Hari talked to thousands of people while writing this book. Professionals and laypersons. Doctors from all over the world. Therapists. Patients. People suffering from depression and anxiety, and people with relatives suffering. He did his research. He’s made some very bold claims. And the glib reaction to those claims and theories in some of the reviews posted online really, really get under my skin. Mainly because I truly believe that this book could help save lives – and by that I don’t mean life, in terms of not dying, but life as in living. I believe this book could help people to live.

When speaking with these doctors and doing this research, Johann discovered the uncomfortable, inflammatory fact that most of the time, anti-depressants have a very small effect on depression. In some cases, they may not work at all. In others, they work, but then they stop working, and the dose needs to be doubled, tripled, quadrupled. The end result? Millions upon millions of people are on these pills, and these pills are draining into our wastewater, and pharmaceutical company executives are working at solid gold desks, and for what? What are we actually treating? Have we gotten to the root of the problem, or are we scratching futilely at the surface?

It reminds me of Febreze commercials. Stay with me! In the commercials, a dog will jump up on a couch and rub its wet dog smell** all over the cushions, and the woman (it’s almost always a woman), comes out of the kitchen smiling, with a spray bottle of chemicals, and spritzes the absolute shit out of the room. She smiles. Ahhh, that fresh scent of artificial lavender and spring breezes! But the smell isn’t actually gone. It’s just disguised. It’s been covered with a thin layer of whatever-the-fuck is in that spray bottle, and for a while at least, everyone is happy.

But underneath? The original smell is still there.

That’s what this book reminded me of. That rot – unless properly taken care of – will remain, and fester, and grow. We can try to medicate ourselves out of it, but at what cost? I should note here that I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for over a decade, and I’ve medicated, and I haven’t medicated, and recently, I came off the drugs for good. The withdrawal was beyond horrendous, but I got through it, and am now utilizing (through therapy) a lot of the tools Hari mentions in the book. Many reviewers found these tools troubling.

Yes, gardening isn’t possible for everyone. Sure, not everyone can get out into nature. Meditation might seem intimidating. Living more toward your actual values is a foreign concept. Perhaps a living wage is something Fox News told you is socialism, oh and thanks Obama! But these tools are real things that have actually helped real people, and to dismiss them outright is foolish, dangerous, and contrary to what I believe most human beings want – to live a meaningful, purposeful life that has moments of joy, moments of contentment, and moments of peace.

While I truly think that some reviewers read this with a closed mind – unable and unwilling to confront the ideas that Hari presents – I hope that the majority of people will carve out a space in their hearts for these simple, powerful concepts.

Connection. Family. Tribes. Values. Nature. And the bald truth that your pain is trying to tell you something.

Listen.

Answer it.

To order your copy of Lost Connections, click here. <—— You’ll thank me later.

**Note, I absolutely adore dogs and would happily give my life for mine. This is just an example. PLEASE BE NICE TO DOGGIES AND ALL OTHER FUR PEOPLE.

book review (ARC): Lying Next to Me by Gregg Olsen




No matter what you see, no matter what you’ve heard, assume nothing.

Adam and Sophie Warner and their three-year-old daughter are vacationing in Washington State’s Hood Canal for Memorial Day weekend. It’s the perfect getaway to unplug—and to calm an uneasy marriage. But on Adam’s first day out on the water, he sees Sophie abducted by a stranger. A hundred yards from shore, Adam can’t save her. And Sophie disappears.

Unconvincingly written and disappointingly “one-note”, Lying Next to Me has such a promising blurb – but for me, it failed to deliver. Initially, I wondered if Gregg Olsen was inspired by the case of Heather Teague, who went missing over twenty years ago in Kentucky. A witness with a telescope saw Heather, who was sunbathing by the side of a lake, approached by a man who dragged her into the woods at gunpoint. To this day, there have been no signs of her whereabouts. All that was left of her was a small scrap of her bathing suit, discovered by investigators as they combed the scene.

It’s a case that has always haunted me.

This novel will not. It’s certainly readable, and it starts with a bang. Adam and Sophie Warner and their three-year-old daughter are on holiday. While out crab fishing with his little girl, Adam sees his wife abducted on the shore. Though he rows back with everything in him, by the time he returns, there’s no sign of her – and the search begins.

Right from the get-go, it’s clear there’s more to Adam than there seems. He’s not acting like you’d “expect” and even in his inner thoughts, there’s a veil over his feelings, as if he’s playing a role. Interestingly, Adam knows one of the two lead detectives on Sophie’s case.

Lee is the sister of Adam’s childhood best friend, and their history is a fraught one – tangled with an instance where Adam saved her life, in the most harrowing of circumstances.

There isn’t a likable character in this bunch. Adam is a hapless asshole, more interested in drinking whisky than parenting his child. Sophie’s parents are akin to caricatures – her father particularly is such a blustering blowhard that he”s impossible to swallow as a functioning human being. There is zero nuance to his character.

Even Lee is unsympathetic, due to the deeply stupid things she keeps doing. Her misguided crush on Adam seems more befitting of a 13-year-old girl than a police detective. It’s not endearing. I just wanted to shake her.

By the end, I didn’t care what happened to any of them. Even Sophie. While the “twist” is a good one, I couldn’t muster up anything but vague sympathy.

I think I might have appreciated it more if we’d had more time with her – or any time at all – she remained a mystery, and since the entire book is based around her disappearance, it’s weird that she’s a question mark. We’re meant to wonder what happened to her and why, and Olsen gives us nothing to go on.

While there were promising elements to this tale, for me, it didn’t quite get there, and I think it would have benefited from more time taken to flesh out the characters and make them more well rounded.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate it, as always!

cover & blurb reveal: Violent Delights by Jessica Hawkins


In the de la Rosa family, old grudges run deeper than loyalty, and betrayal is a three-letter word: war. But this feud isn’t between enemies. It’s between brothers. And I’m the prize.

I was born a princess among criminals. An untouchable among thieves. Heiress to a life others have killed for, and one I’d do anything to escape. I vowed not to leave without Diego, my first love and best friend, but if his ruthless brother has his way, I won’t leave at all. Cristiano de la Rosa is a man as big and bold as his legend. Once upon a time, he was our cartel’s best soldier . . . until he became my family’s worst enemy.

A man like Cristiano will bend fate to his will to get what he wants. Even if it means dragging me to hell—and tearing me from his brother’s arms.

“She is mine.”
Three words from two different men.
A life, future, and love I don’t get to choose.

This. Cover.

They could not have spoke more to my 90s-Romeo-and-Juliet-loving soul if they tried. I am verklempt.

There’s no way you’re not buying this book, so just get on it, would ya?

Amazon. <– clicky . Plus, remember to add on GoodReads.com to share the love!

A note to all lovely readers that if you click the Amazon link above and purchase, I will receive a small fee for referring. Thank you for supporting this blog and in turn, supporting authors!

book review: The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

Source: GoodReads.com


‘Welcome to the escape room. Your goal is simple. Get out alive.’ 

This book is a treat.

No, it’s not going to solve world hunger or bring peace to the land, but it will entertain the absolute shit out of you, and don’t we all need a little bit of that magic these days?

Alternating between the past and present, The Escape Room is a deftly plotted tale of revenge, and revenge is never sweeter than when the people receiving it really, really deserve what’s coming to them.

The scene: four people are in an elevator in a building under construction. It’s flying toward the top floor, binding them all to a meeting they don’t know anything about. Each of these four people are tightly wound, high-flying business types, each with their own secrets, malicious thoughts, baggage, selfish hopes, dreams of better, more – more money, more love, more freedom – and they all know each other. Perhaps a bit too well. When the elevator comes to a halt, they realize that what they thought was a ‘meeting’ is actually a team-building exercise.

The elevator has become their own personal escape room, and they have to answer riddles in order to be let out of the elevator before the hour is up. Believing this is a test to keep their jobs, they get to work unraveling the scant, frustrating clues. Already fractious, their tempers fray as their personalities clash and it becomes apparent that something a bit more sinister is going on. The temperature is rising, the clues are impossible, and why aren’t the doors opening when the hour is up?

Between these bites of suffocating tension, Goldin tells another story – Sara’s story. A young financial analyst, Sara begins working at Stanhope & Sons, a company that thrives on making money, and will do anything to get its clients rich – and its employees even richer. Drunk on the prospect of unlimited income, Sara is willing to drink any sort of Kool-Aid to rise to the top of the wolfpack. As she begins to sacrifice her own ideals, values and even friendships for the sake of the company, she wonders if she’s in over her head. Things take a bloody turn when an associate dies under suspicious circumstances, and Sara wonders if Stanhope & Sons is really all that it seems, and what might be unspooling beneath the surface, rotten and dark.

How these two tales intertwine is fairly obvious from the beginning, but it’s nonetheless fascinating watching how it plays out. It’s one of those books that just makes you feel damn good about life. Perhaps not a morally sound admission, but some people getting their just desserts gave me a little glow of happiness, and I think it will do the same for you.

Revenge is a dish best served … up high, in an elevator, with no way out but down.

Support authors & literacy & imagination! Get your copy of The Escape Room here.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I really appreciate it!

A note to all lovely readers that if you click the Amazon link above and purchase, I will receive a small fee for referring. Thank you for supporting this blog and in turn, supporting authors!

book review: The Hiding Place (also known as: The Taking of Annie Thorne) by C.J. Tudor


Because for Joe, the worst moment of his life wasn’t the day his sister went missing. It was the day she came back. 

Ouch.

That is one hell of a lede. Okay, so it’s not the first sentence of the blurb, but damn. The second I read it, I was hooked. Not that I wasn’t determined to read this book to begin with, having enjoyed C.J Tudor’s first novel, The Chalk Man so much. Largely, I’ve seen positive reviews of this one, with a few detractors. I’ve even seen comments about of racism and homophobia, and maybe my memory is shot, but I can’t recall any that spring to mind …? If I’m wrong, please correct me by all means!

However, I’m not sure when it became important for books to be perfect in that regard. My own personal opinion is that it’s more entertaining to read about flawed human beings that angels. Further, I didn’t get the sense that Tudor set Joe up specifically to be a “hero”. If anything, he’s a cautionary tale.

Set in Arnhill, a soiled spot on the British landscape, The Hiding Place captures one of my favourite journeys – the adult returning to their childhood home to face a half-remembered horror. Stephen King is particularly good at this, and so is C.J. Tudor. Every step that Joe Thorne takes is leaden, every page he turns in the ghostly book of his past is crumbling, and every detail he reveals to us seems to come directly from the belly of the beast.

The novel begins with an act of madness. A local teacher murders her son and then shoots herself, leaving only questions behind. In Arnhill, an old mining town that seems best left to rot, the questions go unanswered. Enter (walking disaster) Joe Thorne, stage left. Ostensibly, Joe returns to Arnhill to work as a teacher at his old school and pay off debts (or hide from his lenders), but in reality, he’s back because something is happening.

And what is happening,

happened before.

What exactly occurred in the past, I’ll leave you to discover. Suffice to say, it involves the disappearance of Joe’s sister, Annie, a childhood gang of “friends” that lead Joe straight into the bowels of the earth, and a particular horror that once it gets its claws into you, doesn’t let go, not for anyone, not for death or dreams or innocence or tears.

Genuinely creepy and viscerally atmospheric, this novel interrupted my sleep. What more can you ask for? Click here to buy The Hiding Place, and support imagination, literary and our treasured authors!

A note to all lovely readers that if you click the Amazon link above and purchase, I will receive a small fee for referring. Thank you for supporting this blog and in turn, supporting authors!

Book Review: The Housewife by Valerie Keogh

Source: GoodReads.com


“There’s no place like home” – that’s what I tell myself as I pull another flawless meal from the oven. This perfect house on a quiet street was supposed to be my sanctuary, a place to recover. But everything changed the moment I saw that woman in the charity shop. She triggered something dark, buried deep within my memory… 

By no means unentertaining, The Housewife nonetheless falls prey to “Girl on the Train” syndrome. It’s touted as wildly thrilling and with a twist you’ll never see coming, and can no book just be a JOURNEY? Must it always be about the denouement? Because this kind of marketing never truly serves the book. I did in fact see the ending coming. Most readers will. It doesn’t mean that the book isn’t worth reading.

Just that we all need to cool it with expecting a twist that will cause an earthquake in our brains.

The Housewife circles around Diane, a woman recovering from a trauma and suffering from short-term amnesia. While she remembers her husband and the basics of her life, she can’t recall what’s caused her memory loss, or why she’s so afraid of the sitting room in her home. Often, she hears the haunting sound of a baby crying, and it sends her spiraling down into the darkest shadows of her mind. These moments of terror impact the rest of her life – and she begins to forget to pick her daughter up from nursery or make dinner on time for her husband. When she tries to pick up the pieces and volunteer at a local charity shop, she has a run-in with a woman who looks at her with scorn – and begins to “stalk” her around their small suburb of London. But is she truly being stalked? Or is she imagining things?

Horrified by what she sees as the disintegration of her mind, Diane hides what’s happening from her husband, and begins to drink secretly during the evenings. Her paranoia soon leads her to believe that everyone is conspiring against her, and that even her own house is a dangerous place, full of barbed memories around every corner.

As I mentioned earlier, the “twist” is not really a twist. There’s a lot to examine in this book that goes largely unpacked by the author. For instance, the utter misogyny and contempt displayed by Diane’s husband (I forget the prick’s name already), the odd whirlwind romance they have (in this day and age, does it really make sense that she wouldn’t see his house until the day she moved in??), and the truly upsetting reason for her amnesia. The “twist” is revealed and I think the horror of it is almost… too much for the author? It’s glossed over, in favour of bog-standard notions of revenge. I’m being deliberately obtuse, because spoilers are awful, but if you read, you’ll see what I mean.

I do think The Housewife is a good little thriller, but it has the potential to be so much more, and particularly in the relationship of the husband and wife, there’s A LOT to unravel that could have provided meaty character development.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I appreciate the chance, as always!

Book Review: Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers

source: GoodReads.com


In this provocative, wildly entertaining, and compelling novel, seven women enrolled in an extreme weight loss documentary discover self-love and sisterhood as they enact a daring revenge against the exploitative filmmakers.

From the blurb.

Would I call this “wildly entertaining”? In a word, no.

However, I was interested in this book from the get-go. I’m a devotee of Jillian Michaels and Gwyneth Paltrow, while still craving (tee hee, I’m so funny…) Chrissy Teigan’s recipes and dreaming daily of nachos. Balance, sure, but it’s not always that easy. Weight and food and body image – they are all wrapped up in the fabric of my every day life, and sometimes, they take over. So it’s natural that Waisted intrigued me. The premise – a weight loss documentary gone wrong – seemed right up my alley.

I wish I could say the execution lived up to the premise. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what went wrong here, but for me, I didn’t buy that Randy Susan Meyers had ever struggled with her weight. I could be way off base, and I haven’t searched for any interviews to ascertain either way, because the proof is in the pudding so-to-speak, and this novel felt like it was written by a woman of average weight.

From the scene where the women’s bodies are described, along with their heights and weights, everything was just… off. I’m not sure if Meyers did her research but the height to weight ratios didn’t add up. A 5’2” woman who weighs 178 pounds is not going to look obese. I remember reading a mystery once where the author had the heroine pulling out her hair at the idea of being over 120 pounds. I DNFed that shit because no thanks. This novel reminded me of that. I mean, come on, one of the heroines is like, 5’10” and weighs under 195!

Rest assured, I am NOT saying these women might not struggle or feel like crap or want to lose weight, etcetera. But in a world where we’re lectured constantly about the “obesity epidemic” and fat shaming abounds, I find it very hard to believe that these very, very average women would be the subjects of an extreme weight loss documentary. We’ve all seen The Biggest Loser – TV sells itself on being OTT. I’m not sure if Meyers didn’t want to deal with heroines that couldn’t lose enough to be considered “normal” (heavy quotation marks implied) by the book’s end, or if she honestly thinks that the weights / heights she mentioned are reasonable for this sort of endeavor.

The novel is told from two viewpoints, but I couldn’t see much difference in the narrative voices. One of the husbands is such a colossal prick that I was shocked no one had set him on fire by the end of the book. Not to mention, the whole ‘message’ just felt super … icky. The women dabble in drugs pretty heavily to lose weight, and the ramifications of this is never touched on or discussed? One daughter cries because her mother doesn’t emphasize her beauty enough (she’s relentlessly described as “thin as a pin” and “a wispy waif”, gag me), another’s mother is an absolute monster and this is treated as endearing, and the much-touted “revenge” is extremely muted to the point of being nonexistent.

By the conclusion, the emphasis is back on who’s gained weight and who’s lost, and the examination of culture, beauty norms and body image that I was waiting for never arrives. There’s no feeling of growth or empowerment (besides one small scene that I enjoyed around the dinner table), and no realizations about unhealthy behaviours or patterns. This novel had so much potential to unpack, and for me, it fell short of true bravery in the telling.

Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for the ARC in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. I appreciate the chance to read, as always!

book review: Wolfhunter River by Rachel Caine

Source: GoodReads.com

She can’t ignore a cry for help. But in this remote hunting town, it’s open season.

Gwen Proctor escaped her serial-killer husband and saved her family. What she can’t seem to outrun is his notoriety. Or the sick internet vigilantes still seeking to avenge his crimes. For Gwen, hiding isn’t an option. Not when her only mission is to create a normal life for her kids.

But now, a threatened woman has reached out… 

The third in Caine’s immensely readable and thrilling ‘Stillhouse Lake’ series, Wolfhunter River is nonetheless a departure from the norm. The book feels very much like a bridge that had to be crossed before Caine could continue the series the way she wanted. This isn’t a criticism. Actually, I was worried that Caine wouldn’t be able to move Gwen and Sam away from the malevolent spectre that was Melvin Royal, and I’m very pleased to be wrong. I can imagine – given the narrative thread that Rachel Caine introduces toward the end of this book – a very satisfying series coming from this new direction in Gwen’s life.

Part of me just wants Gwen to catch a break. What else can she possibly endure without going crazy? But the other part finds these books way too exciting to let go. In Wolfhunter River, Gwen answers the call of a panicked woman named Marlene Crockett, who is desperate for help to escape a looming threat. She won’t explain what – or who – she’s terrified of, but it’s evident that there’s something rotten in Wolfhunter. After sick Internet vigilantes come after Gwen and her family once again, and she receives another disturbing call – this time from Marlene’s daughter, she heads to Wolfhunter, feeling called to help, any way she can.

The second half of the book is packed with action, but Caine doesn’t sacrifice character and relationship development in the process. Gwen and Sam are struggling both with their romance, and with their pasts. Gwen sees camera eyes in every corner and Melvin in every patch of dark, and Sam is rocked to the core by the re-emergence of Miranda Tidewell in his life – a particularly repellent character that is hellbent on misery and revenge.

There’s also the very real threat from online sources and ghosts from Melvin’s past. He’s made sure that even in death, he’s a part of his family’s life, and like a spider, he keeps tightening the web – until someone is bound to choke. He’s a black stain on their lives, and it only continues to get worse, not better.

By the end, Caine has set up Gwen for a new beginning, but crucially, a beginning that is shaped irrevocably by the blood and horror of her past. I’m very, very happy that we haven’t seen the last of Gwen and her family, and hopefully, we’ll get more glimpses of Melvin (what a name hiding such a monster!)

My favourite part of these books – the beating heart that runs through them like a golden cord of steel – is Gwen’s love for her children, and YES – her love for herSELF. She SURVIVED. *She* did that. And she’s not giving up – not for anyone. It’s such a gorgeous portrayal of what it means to be a survivor, and what it means to be a woman in this world – this world of rape culture and #MeToo and Internet dog-piling and incessant, damaging vitriol. A world where your husband was a serial killer, and somehow it’s your fault for not controlling him, pleasing him, stopping him. It’s still, somehow, all on the woman.

I love Rachel Caine for this honest, unflinching depiction of a woman who has gone through the fire – and come through scarred, but alive, kicking and ready.

Click here to buy Wolfhunter River and support literacy, imagination and our treasured authors!

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I appreciate the chance, as always.

A note to all lovely readers that if you click the Amazon link above and purchase, I will receive a small fee for referring. Thank you for supporting this blog and in turn, supporting authors!