All Hallows by Christopher Golden

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of Publication: January 24th, 2023

Genre: Horror, Holiday, Halloween, Fiction, Historical Fiction, Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Historical, Thriller, Mystery, Adult Fiction

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

With the 80’s nostalgia of Stranger Things, this horror drama from NYT bestselling author Christopher Golden follows neighborhood families and a mysterious, lurking evil on one Halloween day.

It’s Halloween night, 1984, in Coventry, Massachusetts, and two families are unraveling. Up and down the street, horrifying secrets are being revealed, and all the while, mixed in with the trick-or-treaters of all ages, four children who do not belong are walking door to door, merging with the kids of Parmenter Road. Children in vintage costumes with faded, eerie makeup. They seem terrified, and beg the neighborhood kids to hide them away, to keep them safe from The Cunning Man. There’s a small clearing in the woods now that was never there before, and a blackthorn tree that doesn’t belong at all. These odd children claim that The Cunning Man is coming for them…and they want the local kids to protect them. But with families falling apart and the neighborhood splintered by bitterness, who will save the children of Parmenter Road?

New York Times bestselling, Bram Stoker Award-winning author Christopher Golden is best known for his supernatural thrillers set in deadly, distant locales…but in this suburban Halloween drama, Golden brings the horror home.

All Hallows. The one night when everything is a mask…


First Line:

In the woods behind Tony Barbosa’s house, the autumn leaves screened out so much daylight it seemed like dusk had already arrived.

All Hallows by Christopher Golden

This isn’t easy to admit, but I am a giant baby in reading or watching anything horror. Take, for instance, the new series on HBO Max, The Last of Us. I was sitting with my husband and oldest daughter, and whenever something scary would come on, I would cover my face with a blanket and tell them to tell me when it was over. That is how I felt reading All Hallows. I wanted to cover my face and wait until it was all over, but I couldn’t. This book scared the living out of me!!

I am going to be upfront with the trigger warnings in this book. I wasn’t expecting a couple of them, and they left a bad taste in my mouth when I realized what was happening. The triggers are child sexual abuse (not graphic, but a couple of scenes that describe a victim’s emotions), racism (overt and subtle), domestic violence, cheating, bigotry, and homophobia. If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading this book.

The plotline for All Hallows was exciting but all over the place at first. Halloween has come to a Massachusetts town, Coventry. While kids are out trick or treating, the individual families are fracturing. Add to this, there are kids in the neighborhood who don’t belong. They are dressed in old-fashioned costumes and are begging people to let them in their houses. Why? They have escaped from a being called The Cunning Man and are running from it. But not all is what it seems, as the hours count to midnight and long-held secrets are uncovered. Who are these children? What do they want? Will The Cunning Man get them? Or is everything they told a lie? What horrors are in store for the families that took them in?

All Hallows has multiple main characters; writing a short blurb on each is impossible. So, I am not in this review. It would make this review go on forever; we all know people don’t like it.

The main characters in All Hallows were well-written and fleshed out. Each character brought a fresh perspective to what was happening in that neighborhood that night. I loved seeing the same events from different eyes.

As for the secondary characters, some of them felt a little flat. While they did provide some needed filler in the storylines, I couldn’t connect to some of them. And that made it impossible for me to care when certain things happened in the book (like Donny Sweeney’s semi-redemption arc).

All Hallows fit perfectly in the horror genre. The author did a great job of making me want to cover my eyes during parts of the book. This would have been a great book to release around Halloween because, well, the book is set on Halloween afternoon/night.

The storyline with The Cunning Man and the displaced kids was unique. The author did take me for a ride with that one. I was expecting one thing to happen, but a neat twist in the storyline had me shaking my head and saying, “No way.

The storyline with the neighborhood relationships fracturing was, again, well written. The author didn’t do a massive deep dive into the people he featured during that night, but it was deep enough to know that this was beyond what neighbors act like, especially in 1984, when neighborhoods were tight. I was seven in 1984, and I remember my neighbors being like second parents. If we (my brothers and I) were outside playing, someone was always out with us. Like in the book, the neighbors treated Halloween like a party for the adults, and we kids would go around the neighborhood trick or treating, barely supervised. You can’t do that these days, which is sad.

The end of All Hallows was interesting. While the author resolved things, only some were, if you understand. There were a few storylines that I had questions on that were left up in the air. Also, there were no happy endings. People died and were hurt; the end was maybe three days later. Everyone involved was still processing what had happened. There might be a book two because of the last couple of scenes. I would love to see Vanessa, Chloe, and possibly Julia get revenge!!

I recommend All Hallows to anyone over 21. There is language, violence, and no sex (some light kissing). Also, see my trigger warnings.

I want to thank St. Martin’s Press, NetGalley, and Christopher Golden for allowing me to read and review All Hallows. All opinions stated in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading All Hallows, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries (Emily Wilde: Book 1) by Heather Fawcett

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: January 10th, 2023

Series: Emily Wilde

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries—Book 1

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Adult, Historical Fiction, Fairies, Fae, Fiction, Historical, Paranormal, Magical Realism, Fantasy Romance

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A curmudgeonly professor journeys to a small town in the far north to study faerie folklore and discovers dark fae magic, friendship, and love, in this heartwarming and enchanting fantasy.

Cambridge professor Emily Wilde is good at many things: She is the foremost expert on the study of faeries. She is a genius scholar and a meticulous researcher who is writing the world’s first encyclopaedia of faerie lore. But Emily Wilde is not good at people. She could never make small talk at a party–or even get invited to one. And she prefers the company of her books, her dog, Shadow, and the Fair Folk to other people.

So when she arrives in the hardscrabble village of Hrafnsvik, Emily has no intention of befriending the gruff townsfolk. Nor does she care to spend time with another new arrival: her dashing and insufferably handsome academic rival Wendell Bambleby, who manages to charm the townsfolk, get in the middle of Emily’s research, and utterly confound and frustrate her.

But as Emily gets closer and closer to uncovering the secrets of the Hidden Ones–the most elusive of all faeries–lurking in the shadowy forest outside the town, she also finds herself on the trail of another mystery: Who is Wendell Bambleby, and what does he really want? To find the answer, she’ll have to unlock the greatest mystery of all–her own heart.


First Line:

Shadow is not at all happy with me. He lies by the fire while the chill wind rattles the door, tail inert, staring up at me from beneath that shaggy forelock of his with the sort of accusatory resignation peculiar to dogs, as if to say: Of all the stupid adventures you’ve dragged me on, this will surely be the death of us.

Emily Wilde’s Encycolpaedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

When I got the email inviting me to read/review this book, I was immediately taken by two things. The first was the cover. Now, covers don’t usually get my attention or play into why I want to read a book. Mainly because I read using my Kindle Scribed. But this one caught my attention because of how simple it was. The other thing that grabbed my attention was the blurb. A female professor studying Faeries in an alternative Norway in the 1880s? That is when I decided that I wanted, no needed, to read this book. And I am glad that I did because it was a good read.

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries takes place in the late 1800s in an alternative world where women could hold jobs and have the same rights as men at that time. 95% of the book is set in the fictional country of Ljosland. Now, I was curious, and I googled the country. It turns out that Ljosland is a village in Norway. The village is made up (I googled that too). I liked that the author created a whole country similar to Norway but simultaneously different.

The plotline for Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is an interesting one. In this alternative world, fairies are real. Emily Wilde is an expert on Faeries and is writing an encyclopedia of fairie lore, which will be the first of its kind. She is almost finished and is traveling to Ljosland to study the most elusive and feared Faery of that area, the Hidden Ones. A loner by nature, Emily struggles to make connections in the village. Connections that she needs if she is going to finish her encyclopedia. Help, or a hindrance if she had her say, comes from Wendell Bambleby. Wendell is her rival in the world of Faery lore. But there is something about him that Emily can’t put her finger on. As the winter rages on and her studies continue, Emily learns that Wendell is more than he seems. And when The Hidden Ones start taking children and creating mischief, Emily takes it upon herself to help. That sets off a series of events that forces Emily to reevaluate everything she knows about Faeries, herself, and Wendell. What does Emily learn? What does she find out about Wendell? Will she finish her encyclopedia?

Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries is the first book in the Emily Wilde series. Usually, I would put in here if you need to read the other books in the series first or not. Well, since it’s the first book, it doesn’t apply.

The pacing of Emily Wilde (I am shortening the title for this review. Plus Encyclopaedia keeps getting autocorrected) is slow for the first 70% of the book. And when I mean slow, it was snail or turtle slow. There was a point in the book where I debated DNF’ing it. It was that slow. But, once certain things happened (I can’t say because of spoilers), the book picked up speed.

The characters of Emily Wilde were interesting and diverse. I liked that the author chose this alternative world to be LGBTQ-friendly (a lesbian couple is featured prominently in the middle and last half of the book). I enjoyed it. It was refreshing for the period it was in (as was Emily, 30 and unmarried).

  • Emily—She was an odd duck right from the beginning. She had zero people skills and managed to tick off not only her host but the unofficial chief of the village. Her only companion was an elderly dog named Shadow. She was able to win over a couple of the Fairy. One was a sprite who lived in a tree, and the other was a changeling who just wanted to go home to his mother. I did feel bad because she did try. I wasn’t prepared for what she did 70% through the book. I am not going to go into it much, except that it went against everything she had warned the villagers about during the first few days of her stay. But, in a way, it did make sense because she got the last bit of information she needed for her encyclopedia.
  • Wendell—Ok, so I figured him out from the beginning. I don’t know how Emily didn’t figure it out sooner. All the signs were there. I can’t get more into what I am talking about because of the spoilers. But it is something huge. One thing I can talk about is Wendell’s feelings for Emily. Even I could see that he loved her. He followed her to that snowy land and helped her with her research. And then, he stayed and helped her out when things went sideways. Wendell made me laugh because he did things to annoy Emily deliberately. Like adding entries into her journal or just being a pain in the butt. But he did have an alternative reason for being there. One that made me sad.

Emily Wilde fits perfectly into the fantasy genre. The author spun a world where Faeries were real and were studied. There were points in the book where I wished that it was true. But then I would read about the more dangerous Faery and say, “Nope, glad they’re fictional.

There was a slight, very slight, sliver of romance in Emily Wilde. It was so small that I almost missed it. But, towards the end, it became more apparent.

The storyline with Emily, Wendell, and the research into her encyclopedia was interesting. I couldn’t believe the different kinds of Fairies that Emily had encountered on her research journies. I wondered how much of the folklore was true and how much the author made up. Usually, I google this stuff, but I didn’t want to go down a rabbit hole, so I didn’t. The Faeries that Emily met in the north were as cold-blooded as the weather. There was a point towards the end of the book (after the rescue mission) when I worried for Emily. There was a neat twist in the plotline that happened after the tree scene. I did laugh a little at Emily’s dismay (what did she think was going to happen!!), but my laughter did turn to concern for her. Everything did work out in the end.

The end of Emily Wilde was interesting. I was slightly put off by how it ended until I remembered it was a series. It ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, and those annoy me. But it did its job and made me want to read book 2. I pray that it isn’t as slow as this one was. I couldn’t do that again.

I recommend Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries to anyone over 16. There is mild violence, no language, and no sex.

I want to thank Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey, and Heather Fawcett for allowing me to read and review Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries. All opinions stated in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, then you will enjoy reading these books:

Son of the Poison Rose (Kagen the Damned: Book 2) by Jonathan Maberry

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press, St. Martin’s Griffin

Date of publication: January 10th, 2023

Series: Kagen the Damned

Kagen the Damned—Book 1 (review here)

Son of the Poison Rose—Book 2

Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Dark Fantasy

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Son of the Poison Rose marks the second installment of New York Times bestselling author Jonathan Maberry’s epic, swashbuckling Kagen the Damned series.

The Silver Empire is in ruins. War is in the wind. Kagen and his allies are on the run from the Witch-king. Wild magic is running rampant everywhere. Spies and secret cabals plot from the shadows of golden thrones.

Kagen Vale is the most wanted man in the world, with a death sentence on his head and a reward for him—dead or alive—that would tempt a saint.

The Witch-king has new allies who bring a terrible weapon—a cursed disease that drives people into a murderous rage. If the disease is allowed to spread, the whole of the West will tear itself apart.

In order to build an army of resistance fighters and unearth magical weapons of his own, Kagen and his friends have to survive attacks and storms at sea, brave the haunted wastelands of the snowy north, fight their way across the deadly Cathedral Mountains, and rediscover a lost city filled with cannibal warriors, old ghosts, and monsters from other worlds. Along with his reckless adventurer brothers, Kagen races against time to save more than the old empire… if he fails the world will be drenched in a tsunami of bloodshed and horror.

Son of the Poison Rose weaves politics and espionage, sorcery and swordplay, treachery and heroism as the damned outcast Kagen fights against the forces of ultimate darkness.


First Line:

“Repel boarders!”

The cry rang through the ship, tearing Kagen from a dream of his family dining all together, the air filled with conversation and laughter and the smell of the Harvest feast.

Son of the Poison Rose by Jonathan Maberry

I love a complicated fantasy book that takes you down a road you didn’t think it would go. That was what I liked about Kagen the Damned and what I hoped that Son of the Poison Rose would do. This book not only delivered on that expectation but also exceeded what I expected.

Son of the Poison Rose takes place in a complicated but similar world to ours. It was a medium-paced book for about 85%, but it picked up steam towards the end. With how this book ended, any other pacing would have made it impossible to read and retain the information (fast) or made it so dull that people would DNF it after the first few chapters (slow).

Son of the Poison Rose starts shortly after the events in Kagen the Damned. Kagen is determined to discover what happened to his brother, Herepath, to make him turn into the Witch-King. He is not alone in his journey and is aided by his best friends, Tuke and Filia. Their journey takes them from the frozen north to the jungle to uncover secrets left undiscovered for millennia. This book also follows Ryssa as she tries to come to terms with the sacrifice of her lover, Miri, to the god Cthulhu; Mother Frey, as she sets in place a plan to take back the empire; the Witch-King and his cronies dealing with countries that oppose him, and the last two Seedlings, Desalyn and Alleyn, as they try to keep their identities in place and not become Garvan and Foscor, the Witch-King’s children. Enemies are made, countries are destroyed, and alliances are forged as people come together to battle the Witch-King forces. When the dust settles, who will be on top? Will Kagen find out what happened to his brother? Will Ryssa accept Miri’s death? Will Mother Frey get results from everything she’s been doing? Will the Witch-King triumph over his enemies? Will Desalyn/Foscor and Alleyn/Garvan keep their identities?

Son of the Poison Rose is the second book in the Kagen the Damned series. This book cannot be read as a stand-alone book. It will help if you read the first book to understand what is happening in this one.

The characters (primary and secondary) in Son of the Poison Rose were all wonderfully written. The author didn’t write these characters to be loved. These characters got under your skin and sat while you tried to figure out their next move. They were complex and had issues brought to life in the book. The author also didn’t hesitate to kill or maim primary and secondary characters.

  • Kagen—I wasn’t sure what I would get with him when I started reading Son of the Poison Rose. Finding out who the Witch-King was had badly shaken him at the end of Kagen the Damned. I mean, he had found out that his brother executed 2 of his siblings, their parents, and the entire royal line except for the twins. I would have been in shock too. But he didn’t dwell on it much. Instead, he decided to do something about it. He went north to recruit people to his cause. He discovered that magic had reawakened the world in terrifying ways. And he went to a kingdom avoided by other countries to try and find out how to defeat the Witch-King.
  • Ryssa—She didn’t get much page time in the book. But, man, it was intense when the author squeezed her in. She was evolving into something more than herself, something that even the Witch-King feared. I cannot wait to see what she will do in Book 3.
  • Mother Frey—Again, the author gave not much page time to her in the book. And, as with Ryssa, it was explosive when she was in the book. She reminded me of Varys in GoT (with her hands in everything). She manipulated events and people. Plus, she was a tough old bird, and I loved her!! Again, I can’t wait to see what she’ll bring in Book 3.
  • The Witch-King—He was vicious. His bringing in of the monks and turning people of various villages into undead, and allowing his enemies to find and be killed by them highlighted that to me. But I also got the feeling that he was losing power. There were scenes where he talked about killing Kagen, but after everyone left, he cried. That felt like his “real” personality was breaking through. I am curious to see what he will do after what happened in his tower. And I got some insight into why he targeted the Silver Empire.
  • Desalyn/Foscor and Alleyn/Garvan—All I have to say is those poor children. They witnessed so much (like their eldest sister’s rape and murder), and they were forced to do things no children should do. Like, beat each other with a rod when they touched. I did like how Lady Kestrel helped him in the end (she realized what was being done to them was awful). Again, I can’t wait to see where their characters will go in Book 3.

Before I get interrupted or forget, this is a long book. It has 704 pages. So you must read it in more than one sitting. It took me several days to read Son of the Poison Rose.

Son of the Poison Rose fits perfectly into the fantasy and horror genre. If I did have to get technical, this could be shelved as a dark fantasy. But since I’m not getting technical, fantasy, it will be.

I will only take the time to outline some of the main storylines in the book. It would make this book tediously long. I will briefly summarize what I thought of all the storylines. They were insanely good, and I couldn’t get enough of them. Even the little snippets of what was happening in the world once the magic was released were unique. My only complaint was that I thought the author drew the undead/pyramid scenes out toward the end of Kagen’s storyline. But it served its purpose, and I can’t wait to see what will happen in this world now!!

There are some major trigger warnings in Son of the Poison Rose. There are explicit scenes of child abuse, graphic violence, gore, self-mutilation, and sexual situations. If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading this book.

The end of Son of the Poison Rose was a cliffhanger. Usually, I’m not too fond of cliffhangers. They annoy me, but they do their job. I am invested in these characters, and I need to read book 3 to see if there will be any resolution.

I recommend Son of the Poison Rose to anyone over 21. There is explicit violence, language, and sexual situations. Also, see my trigger warnings.


If you enjoyed reading Son of the Poison Rose, you will enjoy reading these books:

Cathedral of Time (The World of Agartha: Book 1) by Stephen Austin Thorpe

Publisher: Creating History

Date of publication: April 10th, 2018

Genre: Middle Grade, Fiction, Historical, Fantasy, Mythology

Series: The World of Agartha

Cathedral of Light—Book 1

Toquchar’s Prisoner—Book 2

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | Alibris | Powells | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ghostly sightings of a legendary murderer. The discovery of a hidden stash from a bank robbery. The disappearance of a well-known TV personality, and the most prominent family in town entangled in all of it. Makayla Brown’s ideal life is about to be blown to smithereens. She’ll need to race across space and time, plunging herself into another world in hopes of saving her own. When Makayla disappears off the face of the Earth, the dedication of her two best friends, Tanner and Andrew, will be tested as they attempt to follow her trail through a dangerous new world and encounter beasts and beings the likes of which they’ve never seen. Will they reach Makayla in time to rescue her from certain death and bring her safely home, or will they be doomed to spend eternity in their new world, sealed by the rule of the fates?

Author Stephen Austin Thorpe, the son of a school teacher who made magic with her words by varying intonations and playing with pronunciation to add dramatic flare, grew up loving words. But it wasn’t until he sat down to document the flow of a video game he planned to create that he realized how much he loved to write. And so Cathedral of Time, the first in The World of Agartha series, was born. Stephen’s love for Ancient Rome, and history in general, grew from his service as a 19-year old missionary in modern-day Rome. Stephen lives in Utah with his wife Maria and daughters Jenny and Mary.


First Line:

Makayla “Mick” Brown was about as all-American of a girl as there was at Edmonson County Middle School.

Cathedral of Time by Stephen Austin Thorpe

It had been a minute since I had read a middle-grade book. When I read them, I usually do because I am checking the content for my 9-year-old daughter. So, when the email came from the author asking me to read and review this book, I did hesitate. But, what ultimately made me choose to review Cathedral of Time was that this book used Augmented Reality as part of the plotline. I had only read one other book that used this and was curious to see how it would go with the book. I am glad that I did. The book was a good read, and the augmented reality was fantastic!!

The author provided me with an app that went with the book. The app is Xperience Books. It is free and can be used with iPhones and Android phones. You need to register with the app, which takes about 5 minutes. But once you are registered, you can scan the QR codes supplied at the end of each chapter. I did a few chapters (with the QR codes) and found the content quite good. There was AR (I brought one up with a bear. It stood on my dining room table….lol), voice clips from the different characters, filters (the one I tried was Tanner’s baseball hat), links to the cave mentioned in the book (it is real) and links to book merch. This app was a plus and made my reading experience more fun.

There are some triggers in the Cathedral of Time. They are the death of a sibling, divorce, verbal and maybe emotional abuse of a child, and depression. The author does spend some time on all of these (mainly because they happen to one child), and he writes about them respectfully. If you are triggered by these or feel that your child will be, I suggest not reading this book.

Cathedral of Time is a medium-paced book that takes place in quite a few places. I loved the pacing of this book. It was just fast enough for me to enjoy the action scenes but also slow enough for me to process everything. I loved the locations where this book took place. It took place in Kentucky (past and present). But, as soon as the kids found the portal, the book shifted location to a different world that led them to Mount Olympus, the River Styx, and Ancient Rome.

The three main characters were well-written. They acted like tweens, and I loved it. Any book where the kids act their age instead of years older immediately gets bonus brownie points.

  • Makayla—I loved her. She was resourceful and determined to solve the mystery of her ancestor. But, simultaneously, she was embarrassed by what he did. I did feel bad when her huge secret got out. I didn’t think that Tanner or Andrew ratted on her. Something else must have happened. I did get irritated with her when she set off by herself. She was mad and decided she would be the only one to solve the mystery of her ancestor. And that did come back to bite her in the butt, big time.
  • Tanner—My heart broke for him. This poor child endured more than anyone should at his age. The guilt over his sister dying ate at him, as did how his father treated him. Everything manifested in him trying to be the best at everything just so his father would say something nice. I wanted to cry during his chapters. His self-esteem and self-worth weren’t there. But the author did something in the middle of his and Andrew’s storyline that made me smile. He made Tanner realize his self-worth.
  • Andrew—I didn’t know a lot about him. He was a bit of an enigma. All I knew was that he was uber-rich, intelligent, and a very loyal friend to Makayla and Tanner. Other than that, nada. I hope that more is revealed about him in the next book because I feel there is more to him than what is shown.

There were a ton of notable secondary characters. The author included regular made-up characters (Mick’s mom and dad, the sheriff, and Tanner’s mom). He also included, which I loved, figures from mythology and history. Jupiter, Hades, Persephone, Demeter, and Nero appear in the book. The secondary characters made this book much more fleshed out and three-dimensional.

Cathedral of Time was a mishmash of genres, so I can’t just pin it down to one. It fits into the genres of middle grade, fiction, history, and fantasy. There is also a Christian angle to the book. The author gave an excellent overview of Christianity and how it survived in Ancient Rome without being too preachy.

The storyline with Mick and her journey to prove her ancestor’s innocence was engaging. I felt awful that Mick felt her father was up to something shady. But, in her defense, he was acting shady. Then when she found out about who she was related to, it was almost too much for her. I felt she was reckless when she set off alone in Agartha. But the adventures she had and the advice she was given were priceless. There were a couple of twists in her storyline that I saw coming. But it didn’t take away from my enjoyment of seeing where she went and who she met.

The storyline with Tanner and Andrew was just as good as Mick’s. They were on a rescue mission and determined to get to Mick no matter what. They did go about getting to Mount Olympus differently than Mick did. They traveled down the River Styx, met Persephone, traversed a bottomless pit, and beat Hades to reach Ancient Rome. I disagreed with them messing with history, though. Or what happened when they tried to get Mick out of prison. I will say that Nero was pretty scary (he might be too frightening for younger readers). The twist at the end of their storyline was pretty good.

The end of the Cathedral of Time was interesting. I wasn’t exactly thrilled with what Mick’s mother said about Tanner and Andrew. The author did wrap up a couple of the storylines but left the main ones wide open. I also am interested in what happens in the next book.

I recommend Cathedral of Time to anyone over 10 (with a parent) or 12 (without a parent). There is mild violence, very mild language, and the triggers I mentioned above.

I want to thank the author, Stephen Austin Thorpe, for allowing me to read and review this free book. All opinions stated in this review are mine.

Xperience Books app is available for iOS and Android.

The Sylvan Horn: Book One of The Sylvan Chord by Robert Redinger

Publisher: iUniverse

Date of publication: February 23rd, 2009

Genre: Fantasy

Purchase Links: Kindle | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Before the days of men, there were elves. In a time they were great and powerful, the first dwellers, the brightest ray of dawn upon the earth. They brought light and music to the world and every breeze that stirs and wave that crashes still echoes with the wonder of the fair folk.
But a foulness is brewing in the east, where men deal in sorcery. They summon dire forces, unleashing a terrible power into the world. And the elves, once immortal, now fade from the earth. But knowing that all sorcery comes from Runes that were carved ages ago, Efkin, a young elf lord, races to find and destroy the hidden Runes before all is lost. He sets out to recover the horn of his ancestors that long ago summoned the forces that shaped the world. Only the horn has the power to break the Runes. He journeys into the east, but comes too close to the heart of sorcery and does not dare blow the horn. If he is tainted by the poison of the Runes the horn will sound a ruinous note that could spell the end of the earth.


First Line:

It was early dawn when a wagon rumbled across the plain along the eastern part of Khazinth in its way toward a village the stood between the mountains and the sea.

The Sylvan Horn by Robert Redinger

When I read the blurb for The Sylvan Horn, I immediately thought of The Lord of the Rings series. Except the Humans were the bad guys, and the Elves were trying to protect the rest of the world from them. So, I immediately accepted the invite and dove right in. While I wasn’t right about it being like The Lord of The Rings (not even close…lol), I did enjoy reading this book.

The Sylvan Horn had an exciting plotline. The boundaries that have protected the Elves’ realm are failing. That is allowing Trolls to infiltrate their forests and kill their people. Attempting to broker peace leads the Elves to discover that there is more going on than just the Trolls attacking them. It is up to Efkin, a young Elf with almost mythic magical powers, to retrieve an artifact that can help him. This artifact, The Sylvan Horn, is held by the humans in a mountain of iron….which is deadly to Elves. As Elfkin makes his journey, he discovers there is so much more at stake. The bindings on The Runes, which can destroy the world, are failing. And there is only one god that can help them. Can Efkin survive the journey? Will he be able to reach the Horn? And what will Efkin learn about himself on the journey?

The Sylvan Horn is book one in The Sylvan Chord series. As it is the first book in the series, I can’t say the usual stuff I put in this section.

The Sylvan Horn was a medium-paced book. It did get off to a slow start, but the author used that to introduce most of the main characters. It picked up when Efkin started his journey but did falter a little in the middle of the book. But I still enjoyed the plotline. Once Efkin reached the human lands, the book picked up its pace and zipped to the end.

There were a lot of characters in The Sylvan Horn, most of which were introduced in the first few chapters. It did get a little confusing. But once Efkin was on his journey, I was better able to keep track of characters better.

I want to add before I go any further and forget that I wish the author had included a glossary. That would have made keeping track of the characters and the cities/countries/continents Efkin and his group visited so much easier.

This book is supposed to be a young adult fantasy. The book fits perfectly in with the fantasy genre. The author hit every single earmark for that genre, and I enjoyed it. I was iffy about the young adult genre, though. Some of the vocabulary was a little adult. Even I had to look some words up.

I loved the main storyline and the lore that went with it. Efkin was a likable character who was determined to get the Horn. I loved reading about his side journies while continuing on his main quest. The ones that stood out the most to me were the water giant (who protected him against the dragons) and the count who was training birds for war (I got a good laugh about that). I liked the twist on who Efkin was. It made sense during the last half of the book (with what he could do).

The Sylvan Horn ended on a cliffhanger. I have questions about the druid that this one didn’t answer. I am looking forward to reading the next book

I would recommend The Sylvan Horn to anyone over 13. There is violence, no language, no sex (or sexual situations), and no other triggers.

Thank you to the author for allowing me to read and review The Sylvan Horn.

Little Eve by Catriona Ward

Publisher: Macmillan-Tor/Forge, Tor Nightfire

Date of publication: October 11th, 2022

Genre: Horror, Gothic, Historical, Historical Fiction, Mystery, Fiction, Religion, Cults, Adult, Thriller, Fantasy

Purchase Links: Kindle | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

A heart-pounding tale of faith and family, with a devastating twist

“A great day is upon us. He is coming. The world will be washed away.”

On the wind-battered isle of Altnaharra, off the wildest coast of Scotland, a clan prepares to bring about the end of the world and its imminent rebirth.

The Adder is coming and one of their number will inherit its powers. They all want the honor, but young Eve is willing to do anything for the distinction.

A reckoning beyond Eve’s imagination begins when Chief Inspector Black arrives to investigate a brutal murder and their sacred ceremony goes terribly wrong.

And soon all the secrets of Altnaharra will be uncovered.


First Line:

My heart is a dark passage, lined with ranks of gleaming jars.

Little Eve by Catriona Ward

When I got the invite from Tor to read Little Eve, I had a fan girl moment. I started jumping up and down and yelling, “I got it!! I got it!!“. I rarely have that type of reaction to getting a book invite. But this was different. I had recently read (and reviewed) The House on Needless Street. So, it was a given that I would accept this book. I am glad that I did because this book was a great read.

Little Eve is the story of Evelyn (aka Eve). Eve grew up on an isolated island off the coast of Scotland. Living with her Uncle, his two consorts, and three other children, her life revolves around chores, exercise, school, and a ritual that her Uncle oversees – who is going to become the next Adder? Eve is determined to become the next Adder, even if that means isolating everyone from the village they used to frequent. But Eve has discovered something about her Uncle that changes how she views her life. What has she found, and how is it going to affect her? How is it going to affect her family? And who is Uncle, and why does he have such power over everyone?

There are trigger warnings in Little Eve. There are graphic examples of child abuse (children being starved, having their mouths tarred shut, being maimed, exercise as punishment, alluded sexual abuse, and medical/physical needs not being met). If that triggers you, I suggest not reading this book.

Little Eve started slow and gradually amped up the speed of the book. It was never lightning fast which worked with how the story was.

Little Eve takes place on an island called Altnaharra in Scotland and its neighboring village. I love books set in Scotland, and this book didn’t dampen my love of it.

I needed help telling the characters apart at the beginning of the book. The author labeled the chapters with the names and years in which the book took place. But still, I couldn’t keep them straight in my head.

  • Eve—I wasn’t sure about her when the book started. She was a wild child who marched to the beat of her own drummer, which was frowned upon in 1920s Scotland. But, as the book went on, I began to see how she acted was more of a survival technique than being different. By the time of the murders, she had thrown off Uncle’s brainwashing techniques and was desperate to help her family. There is so much more that I can say, but I will say this – read the beginning of the book with a very open mind. Not everything is how it seems, and it will become crystal clear as the book progresses.
  • Uncle—I went back and forth about having him as one of the main characters. I decided he would be one because of his overwhelming presence in the book. The more the author revealed about him, the less I liked him. Uncle wasn’t a nice man, and he wielded his power over the children in ways that made me sick. When Nora finally told all towards the end of the book, I wanted to throw up.
  • Nora—-She was another one I went back and forth about adding as a main character. And, like Uncle, I chose to do it since she was a colossal figure in the book in so many ways. I couldn’t understand why Nora was almost constantly pregnant during the book or kept losing the babies. It didn’t hit me until about halfway through what Uncle was doing and why Nora kept losing the babies. I felt so bad for her, and I understood her actions at the end of the book.
  • Dinah—She was a third of the triad of characters that I waffled on putting as the main character. She was Eve’s Jiminy Cricket in some ways. Everything Eve did for the entire book was mainly for Dinah. Dinah did love Eve, but she didn’t understand her.

A ton of secondary characters in Little Eve add extra depth to the book. The ones that stood out the most to me were Abel, Jaime, and Ruby.

Little Eve fits perfectly into the Gothic horror genre. Catriona Ward is becoming one of my favorite authors of this genre. She writes it so beautifully.

The storyline with Eve, Uncle, the other residents of the island, and everything that was happening on the island was well written. The author did a fantastic job of keeping me on edge with everything. I was horrified at the killings and how Dinah was maimed. I was also horrified at the glimpses of abuse everyone on that island went through. I wasn’t expecting that storyline to end the way it did because of how chaotically it was written. As I stated above, keep a very open mind about what is happening. Things will explain themselves at the end of the book.

The storyline with Eve and Chief Inspector Black was interesting. Chief Inspector Black had an idea of what was happening on the island and did everything to get Eve out of there. I loved that the author included that he was trying to use forensic science!! Of course, that storyline did get sad, but he was vindicated by the end of the book.

The end of Little Eve was terrific. There were a few massive twists that I didn’t see (or want to see coming). I left reading this book feeling like the author had put me through the wringer.

Three Things I Liked About Little Eve:

  1. The author. I am a massive fan of her books.
  2. It is set in Scotland.
  3. The storylines. They were creepy and kept me guessing.

Three Things I Disliked About Little Eve:

  1. Child abuse. The author didn’t lay it on thick, but it was stated as a matter of fact.
  2. Uncle. He gave me the heebie-jeebies.
  3. What happened to Chief Inspector Black. It was a travesty, and I was not happy about it.

I would recommend Little Eve to anyone over 21. There is mild language, graphic violence, and no sex. Also, see the trigger warnings at the beginning of the review.


If you enjoyed reading Little Eve, you will enjoy reading these books:

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Del Rey

Date of publication: August 30th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Adult, Fiction, High Fantasy, LGBT, Science Fiction, Queer, Epic Fantasy, Science Fiction Fantasy, Adult Fiction

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound | Indigo | Better World Books

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two warriors shepherd an ancient god across a broken land to end the tyrannical reign of a royal family in this new epic fantasy from the author of The Vanished Birds.

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Tordotcom, BookPage, LitHub

The people suffer under the centuries-long rule of the Moon Throne. The royal family—the despotic emperor and his monstrous sons, the Three Terrors—hold the countryside in their choking grip. They bleed the land and oppress the citizens with the frightful powers they inherited from the god locked under their palace.

But that god cannot be contained forever.

With the aid of Jun, a guard broken by his guilt-stricken past, and Keema, an outcast fighting for his future, the god escapes from her royal captivity and flees from her own children, the triplet Terrors who would drag her back to her unholy prison. And so it is that she embarks with her young companions on a five-day pilgrimage in search of freedom—and a way to end the Moon Throne forever. The journey ahead will be more dangerous than any of them could have imagined.

Both a sweeping adventure story and an intimate exploration of identity, legacy, and belonging, The Spear Cuts Through Water is an ambitious and profound saga that will transport and transform you—and is like nothing you’ve ever read before.


First Line:

Before you arrive, you remember your lola, smoking.

The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez

When I first received the publisher’s request to review The Spear Cuts Through Water, I almost didn’t accept it. I had reviewed The Vanished Birds and “meh” about it. But when I read the blurb, it caught my interest, and I decided to give this book a chance. I am glad I did because this book was one of the most uniquely written books I have ever read. Oh, and I also really liked it.

The Spear Cuts Through Water had an exciting plotline. It follows the journey of Keema, a one-armed outcast, and Jun, grandson of the emperor, as they escort Jun’s goddess grandmother across the country. Jun and Keema face many dangers but discover strengths they didn’t know they had. There is also another storyline that is intertwined with Keema and Jun. That is the story of an unnamed man who finds himself in a place called the Inverted Theater after a lifetime of hardship. He is watching a play about Keema and Jun and their journey. Like me, he had questions about their journey. Will they complete their journey?

Usually, I will put a trigger and content warning at the end of my review. But, if I feel that the book’s content will immediately affect the reader or the triggers are horrible, I move it to the top of the review. The triggers in this book are a combination of both. If you are triggered by gore, genocide, ritual cannabilism, body horror, dismemberment, and ableism, do not read this book.

The Spear Cuts Through Water is a medium-paced book in a dystopian ancient Japan or China (I couldn’t figure out which one). The author uses a lot of Japanese and Chinese folklore as a base for the story. I loved it!! It made the book so much more enjoyable for me to read because I enjoy the folklore/mythology from those areas.

As I stated above, this was very uniquely written book. It was written in equal parts, 2nd person and 3rd person POVs. I can count on one hand how many books I have read in 2nd person. And I can count how many of those books I have liked on half of that hand. The author seamlessly switched between the 2nd and 3rd person without disrupting the book’s flow. I was surprised at how much I liked the way it was written. Now, saying that the way this book is written isn’t for everyone, and I would keep that in mind when starting it.

The main characters of The Spear Cuts Through Water were well-written. The author did a great job of fleshing them out and making me care about them (and their journey).

  • Keema—I liked him. There’s not much I can say about him other than that he was almost stupidly brave. I wouldn’t say I liked that he was looked down upon for only having one arm or that the other guards picked on him because of it. His journey with Keema was to find himself as much as it was to bring the Moon to her final destination.
  • Jun—So, he didn’t make the best first impression when he showed up in the book. But, as the book continued, I saw Jun’s character evolving. He started to care about Keema and what the Terrors were doing to the people during his journey. Heck, he even cared about the tortoise. By the end of the book, he has changed from the beginning.
  • Unknown Narrator—This is the person being told Jun and Keema’s story and their own life story. I felt terrible for this man. He had been through so much in life. He was amazed to find himself at the Inverted Theater, watching this story unfold. There was a more fantastic connection between Jun, Keema, and himself that was revealed at the end of the book. I didn’t see that twist coming!
  • The Three Terrors—I was going to make them secondary characters, but I got to thinking, and they each, in their way, were main characters. To me, they embodied the worst traits that society had. Jun’s father (the First Terror) was Violence. He participated in genocide in the Old World. He did love his sons, but that was his only redeeming quality. The Second Terror, to me, was Greed and Gluttony. In my eyes, he was the scariest Terror, mainly because of what he did to gain the powers of the tortoise. The Third Terror, I couldn’t place him in any group. He was a horror exiled from his family at a young age. I will not even get into what he was or what he did. But I did feel bad for him. The scene with the man in that dungeon was both gruesome and heartbreaking at the same time.
  • The Moon— I wasn’t sure about her. I understood why she wanted to leave (who would want to be held captive under a palace). But I wouldn’t say I liked how she coerced Jun and Keema to do what she wanted. She didn’t get to her destination, forcing Jun and Keema to do something atrocious, something I had heard of but had never seen written in a book before. She also held no love for her children. That bothered me more than anything, to be honest.

The Spear Cut Through Water did have a lot of notable secondary characters. I will not list them, but they all added extra depth to the book.

The Spear Cuts Through Water was listed as a fantasy novel. I agree, but it is more suited as a dark and epic fantasy. The author did a great job weaving the epic fantasy angle (the journey) and the dark fantasy angle (everything else). It made for a great read.

I also want to add that there is a romance and LGBTQ+ angle to this book also. Keema and Jun’s romance is cultivated throughout the entire book. There was so much given with a look between them. And the yearning, oh my, it was almost too much for me to bear.

The author amazingly wrote the main storyline with Keema, Jun, the Terrors, the Moon, and their journey. The author had me glued to the book, wanting to know more, and you know what? He gave it to me in spades. The author explained everything, and he tied everything together. The author left no loose ends with this plotline. There were a couple of twists I didn’t see coming.

The storylines with the unknown narrator and the Inverted Theater was well written. I didn’t get as invested as I did with the main storyline, but still, it drew me in. A twist in that storyline made me put my Kindle down. I needed a second to process what I had read because the twist was that unexpected and that good.

Several secondary storylines give some added background and depth to the main storylines. The author incorporated them into the main storyline without pausing the book’s flow.

The end of The Spear Cuts Through Water was not what I expected, but at the same time, I expected it, if that makes sense. I loved how the author ended the main storylines and how he merged them both.

Three reasons why you should read The Spear Cuts Through Water:

  1. The storylines.
  2. The characters.
  3. Jun and Keema’s slow-burn romance

Three reasons why you shouldn’t read The Spear Cuts Through Water:

  1. The triggers. I am usually pretty good with the number of triggers in the book, but even I got triggered by this book.
  2. The way it was written. Being told in 2nd and 3rd person isn’t most people’s cup of tea.
  3. The Terrors. They genuinely creeped me out.

If you enjoyed reading The Spear Cuts Through Water, you will enjoy reading these books:

A Maiden of Snakes by Jane McGarry

Publisher: JM Books

Date of publication: August 28th, 2022

Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Marchioness Lamberico fails to conceive a child, she solicits the help of Imelda, the village witch. Nine months later, she gives birth to a baby girl. Biancabella. Though perfect in every other way, the infant is born with a snake wrapped around her neck. To the relief of the marchioness, the creature vanishes at once and, in the joy of motherhood, is soon forgotten. When Biancabella is a young girl, the snake reappears and explains their uncommon sisterhood. Samaritana helps Biancabella unlock her magical gifts and asserts that so long as they are together, all will be well. Their close, though secret, relationship unites them above all others. Years pass, the sisters contented, until the day King Ferrandino of Naples arrives, seeking Biancabella’s hand in marriage. What follows shatters the sisters’ bond, leading to misfortune and betrayal, which forces them to grapple with not only the loss of their connection, but leaves each fighting for her life. Loosely based on the Italian fairy tale Biancabella and the Snake, the story explores how the love can transform from a domineering and covetous power to authenticity and, ultimately, redemption.


First Line:

The day was perfect, a warm spring sun in a cloudless sky.

A Maiden of Snakes by Jane McGarry

When I got the invite to review A Maiden of Snakes, I hesitated to accept the invite for the review. The blurb didn’t stand out to me. After taking a couple of days to think about it, I accepted the invitation. My reason was this: My blog started off reviewing indie authors, and I have made it a point to accept any/all invites that come across my inbox. Well, I am glad I accepted because this book was excellent!!!

A Maiden of Snakes had an exciting storyline. Biancabella is the much-loved child of lesser Italian nobility. A miracle child, she was born with a snake wrapped around her neck. When she was ten, she met with her snake sister (Samaritana) and completed a bonding ritual. But that ritual comes with a price. Biancabella must always stay with her Samaritana. If she does, life will be great. But if they are separated, then bad things will happen to Biancabella. Biancabella doesn’t heed Samaritana’s warning and is married to the King of Naples. Intrigue follows her to court, where her stepmother-in-law looks at her as someone to get rid of. When a deadly sickness overtakes the city, her stepmother-in-law jumps, she has Biancabella kidnapped and leaves instructions for her to be killed. Samaritana interrupts Biancabella’s killer, but it is almost too late. The assassin had cut off her hands. What will happen to Biancabella? Will she and Samaritana make up? Or will Biancabella live with the kindly woodcutter and his family forever? And, more importantly, will the evil stepmother get away with everything she has done?

A Maiden of Snakes is a fast-paced book set in medieval Italy. This book takes place in Monferrato and Naples. I enjoyed seeing glimpses of what these cities were like back in medieval times.

The characters of A Maiden were Snakes were interesting. But I did find them a little underdeveloped.

Biancabella: I liked her but found her almost too innocent and trusting. I also didn’t like that she could easily brush off Samaritana’s concerns because “she was in love.” Towards the end of the book, I found her character much more engaging than the innocent little miss portrayed until the assassin took her from the castle.

Samaritana: I liked her also and thought she was very wise in some ways. But her jealousy when Biancabella met and married Ferrandino got on my nerves. I had wished that elder snakes had stayed to advise her. I also felt that her jealousy caused a lot of Biancabella’s issues when she was in Naples. But Samaritana did come through when Biancabella needed her.

Ferrandino: He annoyed the ever living out of me. How could he not see what his stepmother was doing? How could he not see what she did to his father? And when faced with Biancabella’s stepsister (who was forced to take her place), why didn’t he SAY SOMETHING!!! I was so annoyed with him; it wasn’t even funny. Of course, he did make up for it in the end.

The Stepmother: She was one of the evilest, vile villains to grace the pages of a book. Everything she did in A Maiden of Snakes was for her. She showed no mercy to Biancabella when the plague hit the castle. She knew Biancabella was pregnant and STILL told the mercenary to kill her. She got what she deserved and then some at the end of the book.

The Woodcutter and His Family: Besides Biancabella, he was one of the book’s only good people. He found a critically injured and maimed young woman and brought her back to his house to nurse her back to health. They were prepared to take care of her for the rest of her life (even if Biancabella did have other plans). And when the author revealed Biancabella’s identity (along with Samaritana), they helped to get Biancabella back into Ferrandino’s life (and get rid of the stepmother). They were the MVPs of this book.

A Maiden of Snakes has many secondary characters that flesh out the storylines. They made the scenes more enjoyable (and sometimes sad) to read. There were some that I wished stayed in the story (the elder snakes, for one).

I wasn’t entirely sure what genre to put A Maiden of Snakes. I decided upon Young Adult (Biancabella was around 18), Fantasy (Samaritana did have magic, as did Biancabella), and Romance (Biancabella’s love for Ferrandino and his for her). Romance, I am still undecided. I want to say yes because of the love they had for each other, but at the same time, I want to say no. I do feel that this book fits very well into the young adult and fantasy genres.

Oh yes, before I forget, this entire book was based on the Italian fairytale (Biancabella and the Snake) by Giovanni Francesco Straperola for his book The Facetious Nights.

I liked the storyline with Biancabella and Samaritana. I wish more time had been spent with them, not apart, but I understood the author was following the fairytale.

The storyline with Ferrandino, Biancabella, and his stepmother was sad. There was a point in that storyline where I thought Ferrandino wouldn’t get his HEA with Biancabella. I felt the stepmother got everything coming to her and then some. So, yes, I was thrilled when everything came to a head at the end of the book.

Some trigger warnings do need to be discussed in A Maiden of Snakes. They would be infertility, abandonment (Samaritana’s elder snakes), child abuse (stepmother beating her daughters), a graphic scene where Biancabella’s hands are cut off, and she is beaten, and what happened to the stepmother. If any of these triggers you, I recommend not reading this book.

The end of A Maiden of Snakes was your typical fairytale ending. Everyone got their HEA. I am hoping that Samaritana gets hers in another book.

Three things I liked about A Maiden of Snakes:

  1. It takes place in medieval Italy
  2. Biancabella and Samaritana’s relationship
  3. Based on a fairytale

Three things I didn’t like about A Maiden of Snakes

  1. Samaritana’s jealousy
  2. The stepmother
  3. The blurb/cover

I would recommend A Maiden of Snakes to anyone over 21. There is no sex or language but graphic violence. Also, see my trigger warnings.


If you enjoyed reading A Maiden of Snakes, you will enjoy reading these books:

The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Date of publication: November 15th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Magical Realism, Young Adult, Fiction, Paranormal, Contemporary, Family, Mystery, Adult

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powell’s | IndieBound | Indigo

Goodreads Synopsis:

Ohioana Book Award finalist Ruth Emmie Lang returns with a new cast of ordinary characters with extraordinary abilities.

Five years ago, Nora Wilder disappeared. The older of her two daughters, Zadie, should have seen it coming, because she can literally see things coming. But not even her psychic abilities were able to prevent their mother from vanishing one morning.

Zadie’s estranged younger sister, Finn, can’t see into the future, but she has an uncannily good memory, so good that she remembers not only her own memories, but the echoes of memories other people have left behind. On the afternoon of her graduation party, Finn is seized by an “echo” more powerful than anything she’s experienced before: a woman singing a song she recognizes, a song about a bird…

When Finn wakes up alone in an aviary with no idea of how she got there, she realizes who the memory belongs to: Nora.

Now, it’s up to Finn to convince her sister that not only is their mom still out there, but that she wants to be found. Against Zadie’s better judgement, she and Finn hit the highway, using Finn’s echoes to retrace Nora’s footsteps and uncover the answer to the question that has been haunting them for years: Why did she leave?

But the more time Finn spends in their mother’s past, the harder it is for her to return to the present, to return to herself. As Zadie feels her sister start to slip away, she will have to decide what lengths she is willing to go to to find their mother, knowing that if she chooses wrong, she could lose them both for good.


First Line:

Nora Wilder was supposed to be a bird.

The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang

When I first read the synopsis of The Wilderwomen, I was very intrigued. I am a big fan of anything fantasy or paranormal, and with what the blurb said, it was right up my alley. And it was. But, as I got into the book, I realized that it wasn’t what I thought it would be, which kept me from truly enjoying it.

The plotline for The Wilderwoman was interesting. It centers around two sisters, Zadie and Finn, and their search for their mother, Nora. Aiding in that search is Zadie’s ability to see glimpses of the future and Finn’s ability to see echoes of the past. On their journey, they meet people that can help them find their mother. Can Zadie and Finn find Nora and confront her? Or will this trip tear them apart for good?

Before I do anything else, I will throw up a trigger warning. There are two significant triggers in The Wilderwomen; they are the abandonment of children and mental illness. If any of these trigger you, I highly suggest not reading this book.

The Wilderwoman is a fast-paced book in the Southwest, the Rockies, and the Pacific Northwest. Zadie and Finn started in Texas, stopped at a campsite in Arizona, followed Nora’s trail to a house in the Rockies, and ended the journey on the beaches of Oregon (or Washington, I wasn’t sure).

The book centers around three main characters: Nora, Zadie, and Finn. I will highlight what I liked/disliked about each character (instead of writing huge paragraphs).

  • Nora––The author didn’t spend as much time on her as I would have liked. Anything I got from her was from Finn’s echoes and Zadie’s memories (mostly not nice). The more I got into Zadie’s memories; the more Nora became unstable. The author did try to redeem her at the end of the book. But I had already made up my mind at that point.
  • Zadie—I had alternate feelings about Zadie. I pitied her for what had happened to her (her mother taking off and having an unplanned pregnancy). But, at the same time, she annoyed me. She had a woe-is-me attitude the entire book. I also wanted to shake her because she wasn’t the only one affected by Nora’s leaving. As for her secret, I understood why she wanted to keep it from Finn. Also, I didn’t understand why she was so afraid of her ability, but I guess if I could see glimpses of the future, I would have acted the same way.
  • Finn—I liked her. She was the exact opposite of Zadie in so many ways. She was upbeat. She was determined to use her ability to find Nora. At one point in the book, I got worried when it seemed like her ability threatened to overtake her life. I thought her storyline would go in another direction, and I was surprised by the turn it took instead.

Several secondary characters added some much-needed depth to the book. I liked them all except Finn’s foster mother. She annoyed the cr*p out of me. I could hear that high-pitched voice and see her facial expressions whenever Zadie was around. Uggh.

The Wilderwomen’s primary genre was magical realism and a bit of fantasy and mystery mixed in. I wasn’t a big fan of the magical realism angle. I thought it covered the fact that Nora took off on her kids. But I did like the fantasy and mystery angles. The fantasy was great, and I liked how the author showcased it differently. The mystery angle was also good. I liked that Zadie and Finn had to work to find Nora’s echoes. I also liked that they had to solve why she left them.

The end of The Wilderwomen was a little disappointing. The author did an excellent job of wrapping up all the storylines, but there was something off with it. I didn’t particularly appreciate how Zadie could accept things (same as Finn). It just left a bad taste in my mouth.

Three reasons why you should read The Wilderwomen

  • Complex characters
  • Finn’s use of echoes to see the past
  • Zadie and Finn’s road trip

Three reasons why you shouldn’t read The Wilderwomen

  • Triggers of child abandonment and mental illness
  • Zadie’s attitude for 90% of the book
  • The ending. I wasn’t expecting it to end the way it did.

I would recommend The Wilderwomen to anyone over 16. There is no sex. But there is some mild violence and language. Also, see my trigger warning above.


If you enjoyed reading The Wilderwomen, you will enjoy these books:

A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine, Ballantine Books

Date of publication: November 8th, 2022

Genre: Horror, Short Stories, Fiction, Adult, Mystery, Thriller, Mystery Thriller, Short Story Collection, Fantasy, Suspense

Purchase Links: Amazon | Audible | B&N | Alibris | Powells | IndieBound

Goodreads Synopsis:

The debut short story collection from the acclaimed author of The Chalk Man, featuring ten bone-chilling and mind-bending tales

Timeslips. Doomsday scenarios. Killer butterflies. C. J. Tudor’s novels are widely acclaimed for their dark, twisty suspense plots, but with A Sliver of Darkness, she pulls us even further into her dizzying imagination.

In Final Course, the world has descended into darkness, but a group of old friends make time for one last dinner party. In Runaway Blues, thwarted love, revenge, and something very nasty stowed in a hat box converge. In Gloria, a strange girl at a service station endears herself to a cold-hearted killer, but can a leopard really change its spots? And in I’m Not Ted, a case of mistaken identity has unforeseen, fatal consequences.

Riveting and explosively original, A Sliver of Darkness is C. J. Tudor at her most wicked and uninhibited.


First Line:

She often dreamed of drowning.

End of the Liner, A Sliver of Darkness by C.J. Tudor

I like reading anthologies. Sometimes my brain isn’t able to process longer books (my attention span can be shot at times). But I wouldn’t say I like reviewing them. I write long reviews because I want to cover each story and give it the attention I think it deserves. I am not going to do that with this review. I am a little crunched for time (I am writing this on Halloween and I have a bunch of things to do/get ready for on top of my usual Monday morning routine). So, this review is going to be short.

A Sliver of Darkness had an exciting mix of short stories. The author did keep my attention because these stories were not cookie-cutter. Also, the author did something that I wasn’t expecting. She wrote a little forward to each story to explain why she wrote it. I loved it!!

I had two favorite stories out of the eleven that were published. They are End of the Liner, and I’m not Ted. My least favorite one was Gloria, only because I hadn’t read her featured book.

This short story collection would have been perfect for reading in October. Each story was creepy in its way.

I would recommend A Sliver of Darkness to anyone over 21. There is language and violence but no sex.


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