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:

Shadowed Visions (The Guardians: Book 6) by Reily Garrett

Publisher:

Date of publication: December 16th, 2022

Genre: Romance, Suspense, Paranormal

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1 (review here)

Shadowed Origins—Book 2 (review here)

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Shadowed Spirits—Book 4 (review here)

Shadowed Intent—Book 5 (review here)

Shadowed Visions—Book 6

Purchase Links—Kindle

Goodreads Synopsis:

Silver Wade has never been one to back down from a fight. Facing off against an organization imprisoning those with psychic abilities has become the biggest challenge of her life. The fact she’s also a shapeshifter would make her a unique specimen in their collection.

New to the world of spies and terrorism, she and her sister cross paths with three teens fighting to stay ahead of skilled assassins, intent on their demise.

Dacien McGreggor is well known among his peers for his calm demeanor in times of stress. When ex-detective Silver Wade crosses his path, his worldview is challenged.

Each member of the team is paired with another according to their psychic ability. Dacien and Silver must set aside their differences and work together in order to survive.


First Line:

Never had evil penetrated Colin’s skin, flowing through his pores as if the barrier of his flesh were instead a sieve.

Shadowed Visions by Reily Garrett

I was beyond excited when the author approached me to read/review Shadowed Visions. Why was I so excited? Well, Dacian was getting his HEA. I had waited for six books to see who his love interest was going to be, and it was in book five that the author gave a hint. It was a given that I would accept the invitation to this book. I have become invested in the storyline and characters. I also want to see what wild ride the author would take me on in this book.

Shadowed Visions is book six in The Guardians series. While you don’t need to read the first five books in the series, I highly recommend that you do. There is so much background in each book that missing one could mean missing something important. Side note: I didn’t read book three and needed clarification about what was happening for a good part of book four. So, read the previous books.

Shadowed Visions is a fast-paced book that takes place mainly in Florida. Where in Florida, you ask? The Everglades. The author pained a perfect picture of just how deadly The Everglades was. One of the secondary characters, Colin (who has a fantastic ability), was attacked by a panther and left for dead. The other location that Shadowed Visions take place in is Connecticut. There are also talks about visiting the other group in Pennsylvania, but the author did not take us there.

Shadowed Visions is Dacian and Silver’s story. The fight against the organization that hunts down talented individuals and captures them is still intense. Silver, who is the last of Kiera’s siblings to be found, is a panther shifter who is an adrenaline junkier. She never backs down from a challenge. Nikolai has paired her with Dacian, who can control energy. They are tasked with finding the organization’s last American stronghold, kidnapping talented people, and experimenting on them. When looking for a group of teenagers lost in The Everglades, Silver contacts a large group of panther shifters. It is then that the last part of a prophecy is realized. Can Silver bring the shifters and the psychics together? Or will she choose a side? And what about her new relationship with Dacian? Can it survive the upheavals going on around them?

As with the last five books, Shadowed Visions characters were wonderfully written. Even the secondary character had a depth to them that I was surprised to find out. It made for a more fleshed-out and exciting book.

  • Silver—I didn’t get a chance to get to know her in the last book (Wade’s book). What I saw of her, I liked. She was headstrong, loyal to a fault, an adrenaline junkie, and independent. She was still a little wary of the family she found, but that was understandable. For years, it was just her and Wade. When the panther shifters showed up, I thought she would leave to stay with them. I wasn’t surprised by what she chose, though. I also loved her interactions with Dacian.
  • Dacian—I was so excited that Sparky was getting his match. I paired them up in book five and couldn’t wait to see what adventure they would lead me on. I do wish that the author had revealed more about his background. But that didn’t cut into my enjoyment of reading his story. 

Shadowed Visions fit perfectly in the romantic suspense genre. The romance was a little low-key, but with what was going on in the book, I agreed with it. And the suspense angle was terrific too!! Those two genres are among my favorites to read.

The storyline with Silver, the prophecy, the shifters, and the psychics was interesting. I figured out what would happen around the middle of the book (when Gabe allowed Dacian and others into the compound). But it was still fun reading up to it. Of course, there was a neat twist at the end, where the author revealed something HUGE. Huge as in, certain someone showed up. And the way this person did it was epic. It explained something that had bugged me since book 1. And now I know how the next romance is going to be!!

The storyline with Silver, Dacian, and their romance was sweet. Like I said above, the romance was a little low-key, but with everything happening, I didn’t expect it to be a big showy thing. It wouldn’t have made sense.

The storyline with Roth, the organization, the kidnappings, and the family were not what I expected. I got a significant insight into why Roth was the way he was (spoiler: it was unfortunate) and why he was going to the lengths to destroy his sister and her family. I loved seeing where the organization was holding the kidnapped people, finally being brought down. But then someone said, in America, and it made me wonder, were there other facilities around the world? Would the teams have to travel to release those people? Food for thought there.

I had questions about some secondary storylines that were seemingly left open. The main one was about Colin’s brother and Mary. I was trying to figure out if Silver and Dacian had found him. I know they found his girlfriend’s body, but with how his storyline ended, I figured he wasn’t found. I sure hope that he shows up in the next book. His ability to hold his breath for hours could be a game-changer for the group. The one with Mary seemed to have ended, but she’ll be back. People like her don’t go away quietly.

The end of Shadowed Visions left me very excited. As I said above, a twist in one of the storylines revealed someone I hoped the author would announce. With Roth being back in the picture, I think the next book will be the climax of the series. But I also have a slight, niggling feeling that what happened to Roth in the past wasn’t what it seemed. Maybe someone is showing up unexpectedly? I know this; I can’t wait to read the next book!!

I recommend Shadowed Visions to anyone over 21. There is no sex, but there is language and violence.

I want to thank Reily Garrett for allowing me to read and review Shadowed Visions. All opinions expressed in this review are mine.


If you enjoyed reading Shadowed Visions, you will enjoy reading these books:

Mostly Human 2 by D.I. Jolly

Publisher: Tinpot Publishing

Date of publication: November 21st, 2020

Genre: Shapeshifters, Werewolves, Paranormal

Series: Mostly Human

Mostly Human—Book 1 (review here)

Mostly Human 2—Book 2

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

I, Alex Harris, have run away from home.

I’m running from my problems, from my mistakes, and from myself.

I killed some people and I don’t think anyone is chasing me, but I can’t stop running, and as much as I miss the people I love. I feel like if I go home now, I’ll be going back empty-handed.

I have to find out more about this curse, where it comes from and what it really means to be a werewolf.

Because the truth is…

The truth is that when I stop and really look at myself. I’ve been running my whole life.

Maybe it’s time to stop.


First Line:

Well, I spent two weeks on that ship before it docked again in Bergen on the west coast of Norway – turns out that’s where Syn gets most of its milk.

Mostly Human 2 by D.I. Jolly

I was surprised when I got an email from the author asking me if I would like to read/review Mostly Human 2. It had been some time since I had reviewed Mostly Human (to be precise, May 01, 2017). He had emailed me during the pandemic’s beginning, but I didn’t answer the email. I was busy teaching three upset and confused kids (at the time: 14, 12, and 6). When I decided to start reviewing, I had forgotten about the email (sorry, D.I.!!). I went on my merry way, reviewing books. So, it was a given that I would accept the email. I enjoyed reading Mostly Human and wanted to know where Alex’s journey would take him. I wasn’t disappointed.

Mostly Human 2 starts two weeks after the events of the previous book. Looking for solace, Alex finds himself in Norway and soon makes his way to a wolf sanctuary. For six months, Alex lives in solitude, trying to heal from the events that made him leave Syn Island. But things change when a group of veterinary students arrives, and Alex finds himself falling for Cassandra, the only girl in the group. But secrets have a habit of not staying secrets. Alex soon finds his deepest secrets exposed when his sister shows up, and a group of werewolf hunters hones in on him. Those events send Alex on a journey to find the werewolf who bit him so he can understand why it happened. But Alex isn’t prepared for what he finds. What does Alex find? And more importantly, can Alex come to terms with the new information he learns?

Mostly Human 2 is the 2nd book in the Mostly Human duology. I do recommend reading Mostly Human first and then reading this book. Many of the backstories and characters are explained in Book 1. They will help understand the dynamics and relationships in book 2.

Mostly Human 2 had a medium pace to it. For me, it worked. I could digest some of the information thrown at me before moving on. This book also took place in various areas of Europe, Canada, and Russia. I loved seeing the international flavor of the book.

The characters in Mostly Human 2 were complex. They were well-fleshed-out individuals that kept my attention focused on the book. Of course, there were some that I was not too fond of more than others.

  • Alex—I found him just as intriguing as I did in the first book. I understood why he disappeared. At the end of book one, bad things happen to him, and he feels awful. Plus, Syn Island wasn’t a great place to hide being a werewolf (but honestly, neither was the sanctuary). I understood why he wanted answers and his despair when he found out what he found out. I would have reacted the same way.
  • Cassandra—I couldn’t stand her. I have never reacted so severely to a fictional character as I did with her. She came across as an immature twatwaffle who couldn’t handle anything. Her fits of screaming at Alex were awful. I did understand why, at first, who likes to be lied to? But she just kept going on and on. I was glad when she broke it off with him. I got a headache reading her scenes.
  • Annabel—I loved her. She was a steadfast supporter of Alex (along with his father). She was very supportive of everything Alex did but didn’t hesitate to tell him when he was wrong. Their relationship was unique.

There are way too many secondary characters for me to name in this review. They all added extra depth to the plotline.

Mostly Human 2 fits perfectly into the paranormal genre. The author did a great twist on the werewolf subgenre, and I loved it.

The author amazingly wrote the main storyline with Alex, his family, and the other werewolves. One werewolf was a little suspect to me (the torture scene with Alex and the fact that he founded the hunters). But everything washed out in the end.

There are several (and I stress several) secondary storylines that tie into the main one. Again, as with the characters, these storylines added extra depth to scenes that needed it.

I went back and forth about adding content/trigger warnings to this review. I decided that I would because of what happened to Alex (the torture scene) towards the end of the book. So, yes, there is a trigger warning. If you are triggered by torture, cheating, or drinking alcohol, I recommend not reading this book.

The end of Mostly Human 2 made me wonder if there would be a book 3. I will not go into it, but I can’t accept that Alex would do what he did. That’s all I will say.

Three things I liked about Mostly Human 2:

  1. A different take on a werewolf story
  2. The various locations Alex went to
  3. Alex’s relationship with his family, found family, and friends.

Three things I didn’t like about Mostly Human 2:

  1. Cassandra. Her tantrums were epic, and she constantly screamed, “you lied to me.” She grated on my one last nerve during all of her scenes.
  2. The torture scene. I felt awful for Alex. What a way to learn something significant about yourself.
  3. His best friend’s wife. I remember her from the previous book and didn’t like her. I must say that she got what was coming to her.

I would recommend Mostly Human 2 to anyone over 21. There is language, nongraphic sexual situations, and violence. Also, see my trigger/content warning.


If you enjoyed reading Mostly Human 2, you will enjoy reading these books:

Wicked Bleu: Simone Doucet Series Book 2 by E. Denise Billups

Publisher: Next Chapter Publishing

Date of publication: October 10th, 2022

Series: Simone Doucet

Tainted Harvest—Book 1

Wicked Bleu—Book 2

Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Suspense, Paranormal

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | AbeBooks | Alibris | IndieBound | Kobo

Goodreads Synopsis:

A 103-year-old murder mystery.

An amateur ghost sleuth.

Can a wrong be rectified in death?

Eight months ago, Simone experienced her first spectral encounter. It awakened a dormant second sight and opened a chasm to the afterlife. Now, another spirit from 1917 New Orleans has wandered through that passage, haunting her with an intoxicating jasmine fragrance and wicked antics.

To escape this mysterious ghost, Simone jumps at a seven-day complimentary Mardi Gras hotel package, unaware there might be an ancestral power behind her decision, an identity she grapples with.

Is the ghost’s name Bleu?

She’s a lady of the night who lived a dangerous life in the infamous Storyville. A place lined with mansion-like brothels on the edge of the French Quarter run by unscrupulous madams and frequented by dangerous criminals. WWI is on the horizon, jazz music is burgeoning, and Bleu’s life unravels.

Visions of her past and horrific death beset Simone as she explores present-day New Orleans with her three roommates.

But why are the images fragmented? Has Bleu forgotten what happened the stormy night she died? Can Simone uncover Bleu’s murderer and reunite her with her loved ones before it’s too late?


First Line:

Knock-Knock, Knock-Knock! “I’m here. Can’t you hear me?”

Wicked Bleu by E. Denise Billups

I like reading paranormal suspense/mystery/thriller. This reflects in the books that I review. If I get a request to review a book in any of those genres, I will accept it. That was the case with Wicked Bleu. I read the synopsis, and I knew that I was going to love it. And guess what, I did!!

Wicked Bleu had an exciting plotline. Eight months previously, Simone had dormant powers awakened, and she could connect with the dead. A new ghost from 1917 is taunting her with its presence. Unnerved, Simone takes a trip to New Orleans with her roommates but finds that the encounters intensify, and they turn in an unexpected direction. On the cusp of the Covid 19 pandemic that shut down the country, Simone must unravel a century-old murder. Who was Bleu? Who killed her? And more importantly, what is Simone’s connection to her?

Wicked Bleu is the second book in the Simone Doucet series. I never say this, but readers can read this as a stand-alone. I would recommend reading book one, but it isn’t needed.

I am going to put up a trigger warning for this book. I went back and forth on it for a little bit while writing my notes. I decided to include it because of the subject matter and some scenes in the brothel. There is a scene of attempted rape, mentions of rape and bearing a child of rape, the beating and murder of the main character, comments of a serial killer in Storyville, drug use (opium), and descriptions of the beginning of the Covid 19 pandemic. If any of these trigger you, I recommend not reading Wicked Bleu.

Wicked Bleu is a fast-paced book. I read it in one night, mainly because I didn’t want to put it down. I did pay for it the next day, but it was worth it. Also worth it was the locations where the book took place. The beginning of the book takes place in an apartment in Brooklyn and the rest in New Orleans. I loved it. Having never been to Mardi Gras, I was living through the characters when they were at the parades. I also loved the descriptions of 1917 New Orleans and the colorful Storyville.

The main characters complimented the book and added extra depth to the plotline.

Simone: I enjoyed her character. She wasn’t perfect, but I wouldn’t have liked her if she was. She didn’t want her gift (I wouldn’t have either, she blacks out), but at the same time, she learned to embrace it in this book.

Bleu: She wasn’t someone I particularly liked at first. She came across as selfish and manipulative. Add in that she possessed Simone’s friend Stacey (a huge no-no). But, after the possession, I started to see a different side to her. All she wanted was to find out who murdered her, reconnect with the love of her life, and get her daughter’s forgiveness. It was at that point that I started to like her.

The secondary characters complicated the main characters. The only ones I didn’t like were Jude (he was very distant for most of the book), Bleu (for reasons stated above), and the person who killed Bleu (spoiler if I gave the name away).

Wicked Bleu is a paranormal mystery with a bit of suspense added to it. The author kept me guessing who the killer was (I figured it out shortly before Simone did) and that person’s motives. As for the paranormal angle, I enjoyed seeing a different take on ghosts and Bleu possessing Stacey. It fits very well within those genres.

The main storyline with Simone, Bleu, and Bleu’s murder was well written. Like I said above, I kept guessing who the murderer was (at one point, I did think a client killed her). I also loved the descriptions of 2020 and 1917 New Orleans. It has reignited a desire to visit there and visit.

The storyline with Simone, Bleu, Bleu’s daughter, Bleu’s fiance, and Bleu’s former best friend broke my heart. I did have a hard time following it (and not because of how it was written but because I kept getting interrupted). But once I got all of my distractions settled (cough9yearoldwhowouldnotgotobedcough), I could better focus on it. And that storyline broke my heart. I was alternately sad, angry, and triumphant (you know why if you have read the book).

I couldn’t believe the ending. The author wrapped everything up in a way that I loved. And then she did something unexpected. It was a cliffhanger, and I couldn’t believe what I had read. I cannot wait to see what Simone will do!! It has made me all fired up for the next book.

Three things I liked about Wicked Bleu:

  1. The characters. They were all well-written and had distinct personalities.
  2. The location. New Orleans has been on my must-visit list for years.
  3. The end. Talk about not expecting what happened!!

Three things I disliked about Wicked Bleu:

  1. Bleu’s possession of Stacey. It proved to be dangerous.
  2. Bleu’s daughter’s backstory. I felt bad for that child and everything she had been through.
  3. Who killed Bleu. That person deserved everything that they got!!

I would recommend Wicked Bleu to anyone over 21. There are no graphic sex scenes (most were implied or nongraphic). There was language and violence. See also my trigger warning.


If you enjoyed reading Wicked Bleu, 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:

Shadowed Intent (The Guardians: Book 5) by Reily Garrett

Publisher:

Date of publication: October 28th, 2022

Genre: Suspense, Paranormal, Romance

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1 (review here)

Shadowed Origins—Book 2 (review here)

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Shadowed Spirits—Book 4 (review here)

Shadowed Intent—Book 5

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

Detective Wade’s search for her sister leads to an abandoned building and a man with two teens, a fierce battle where light poles bend like pipe cleaners, and twenty-six unmarked shallow graves.

A sibling addicted to extreme sports used to be her biggest challenge. Now fate has chosen to widen her horizons and test her unique psychic skill set. With her Bernese mountain dog by her side, they must fathom friend from foe while staying one step ahead of the organization responsible for kidnapping those with psychic abilities.

Parker Ratham’s goal of locating psychically talented teens and adults held prisoner takes him deep into the Connecticut forests. On a stormy night, he crosses paths not only with a serial killer, but also a young teen running from unknown assassins.

Each must learn to trust and work as a unit while staying ahead of those seeking to capture or kill.


First Line:

A midnight hike through thick, forested land ending with a creepy abanonded insitution would be less unnerving without slivers of moonlight casting phantom shadows across broken windows.

Shadowed Intent by Reily Garrett

I love reading series. I mean, who doesn’t? I love seeing new characters get their romance (if I am reading a romance) and minor updates on older characters. So, I always say yes if I have been reading/reviewing a series and an author asks me to review the next book. That was the case with Shadowed Intent. I am glad I did because I got to see Parker get his romance and see what twists this book would bring to the continued storyline of finding the gifted people. I wasn’t disappointed.

Shadowed Intent had an exciting plotline with more twists and turns than a mountain road. Detective Wade is out in the woods searching for her missing sister when she accidentally runs into Parker and Casper. They are with another teenager who has just been saved from being abducted by the organization they have been fighting with. After discovering that Wade has powers like Keira, Parker brings her to their home base. Can Wade help Keira’s found family? Can she help the imprisoned people before more die? And more importantly, can she find her sister before something horrible happens to her?

Shadowed Intent is the 5th book in the Guardians series. It can be read as a standalone book. But, I suggest reading from book 1. That way, you get why Keira and her group are fighting the people they’re fighting. You also will get the background on the different family dynamics and romantic relationships between background characters.

Shadowed Intent takes place in Connecticut with side trips to Texas and Pennsylvania. The author doesn’t get into much detail about where in Connecticut this book takes place. But, if I had to guess, it would be in the western part of the state.

The main characters of Shadowed Intent had some unique abilities. I loved reading how their characters interacted with each other as well as the other members of the team.

  • Parker. I was super excited when it became clear that this was Parker’s story. The author got more into his background and how his power manifested (the tragic drowning of his older brother). I did think that he was a little too patient with Wade, but given what they were up against, it made sense. I also loved his banter with Casper!! It had me cracking up laughing. His ability was also showcased more in this book. I wish that I could slow down time.
  • Wade. I got a little irritated by her at first. She refused to listen to Casper when told what was going on. Instead, she brushed her off and treated her like a kid (well, she is, but Casper is much more than that). When confronted with the truth, she didn’t believe it until Casper morphed her and Parker through the abandoned facility. When her power was revealed, I was impressed. Her ability to talk to animals surpassed Keira’s. And her secondary ability was flipping awesome!!! It was something new, and it was scary.
  • Casper. I loved this spitfire. She was determined to bring down the organization that killed her parents. She was also more powerful than the author lets on. There were glimpses in this book and the previous one. She was also a perfect foil for Wade and Parker (her defacto parents).

The secondary characters (including Wade’s sister, Silver) were just as well fleshed out as they always are with this author. They all brought added depth to the book. While I know Silver will probably be featured in an upcoming but, I hope another character is also featured. I was fascinated by this character and his ability (slow aging).

Shadowed Intent is a romantic suspense novel. It fits those genres well. The romance between Parker and Wade is low-key and kept in the background. But, the author did work in some kissing scenes and one or two nongraphic sex scenes towards the end of the book. This book also had a ton of suspense. I couldn’t put my Kindle down because I had to know what would happen next.

There are two main storylines and a bunch of smaller ones in Shadowed Intent. The main storyline runs throughout this series: Find and defeat the people kidnapping and experimenting on people with abilities. The author did branch off this storyline for several secondary ones (like the serial killer, the kidnapped kids/murdered adults, and how people were being forced into their abilities). The other main storyline centered around Wade, Parker, and Wade’s kidnapped sister. Both of those storylines (and the secondary ones) were well written.

I am going to include a trigger warning in this review. I usually don’t, but I felt that, in this case, it is warranted. The triggers are torture, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, and mass murder. If any of these trigger you, I recommend not to read the book.

The end of Shadowed Intent was terrific. I loved the final fight scenes with the serial killer and his accomplice. There were things revealed that I didn’t see coming, and there were reunions that touched my heart. The author did wrap up Wade and Parker’s storyline in a way that I loved. Now, I am wondering who will be next. Dacian and Silver? I also want to know who is watching the group but staying hidden. I have a feeling I know who it is, but I don’t want to stay.

Three reasons why you should read Shadowed Intent:

  • Amazing characters
  • Great storylines
  • It can be read as a standalone (see above)

Three reasons why you shouldn’t read Shadowed Intent:

  • Does have triggering content (see above)
  • The romance was almost too low-key.
  • The serial killer. He was pure evil.

I would recommend Shadowed Intent to anyone over 21. There is graphic violence and language. The sex scenes are nongraphic too.

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith

Publisher: Two Petals Publishing

Date of Publication: September 15th, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Paranormal, Adventure, Action, Urban Fantasy, Supernatural, Thriller, Mystery, Contemporary

Purchase Links: Amazon | AbeBooks | Alibris | Powells | Indigo | BetterWorldBooks

Goodreads Synopsis:

Welcome or unwelcome. Fate has arrived.

A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. Sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell become super-gifts that forever change the world. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, can the boys defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late? Get prepared for the twisting and grinding of this award-winning, action-adventure story — an edge-of-your-seat narrative for young and mature readers alike.


First Line:

An alluring midnight seeped through the preserve, where huge, wavy leaves dances beneath the moonlight.

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith

Fantasy has been one of my go-to genres to read since I was a child. I remember reading The Hobbit for the first time and thinking, “I like this!” But I wasn’t a contemporary or urban fantasy fan until I was a little older. And when I say a little bit, I mean in my late 30’s, lol. But, once I started reading them, I liked that subgenre. When I was approached to read/review The Urban Boys, I considered how I felt about the genre/subgenre and decided to accept the invite. I am glad I did because this book was a great read.

The Urban Boys had an exciting and somewhat complex plotline. Five boys acquire magical powers that affect their five senses. They also learn that they are responsible for keeping a peaceful alien race secret and protecting the human race from a being determined to enslave them. But it isn’t easy because the boys need to learn how to control their powers and work together. Can they do that? Can they overcome Druth and save the world?

The pacing of The Urban Boys went from fast to medium and back to fast. It didn’t bother me because I could keep up with the shifting pacing. Plus, when it did shift, it allowed me to take a breather (as a reader) and process everything that had happened up to that point.

I loved that there were five teenage boys (all of various ethnic backgrounds) as the heroes/main characters of the book. The author did something I considered difficult and gave each boy a distinct personality. So, if the book shifted to that character, I immediately knew who it was.

As stated, each of the boys acquired a heightened sense that turned them into superheroes (for lack of a better word). They are (in no particular order):

  • Hearing—Jordan
  • Sight—Kinsu
  • Touch—Chase
  • Smell—Rhee
  • Taste—Alex

I enjoyed reading as the boys discovered what had happened to them. It was interesting to read each boy’s response. The responses went from thinking it was cool to wishing they never had it.

The villain in this story was an evil person, but I felt terrible for him simultaneously. He felt neglected by his parents and forgotten by people that mattered to him. But, it doesn’t excuse what he did. He used the powers he was given by the Naculeans and exploited them. He turned that power into a weapon of destruction and used it to hurt countless people.

There were a lot of secondary characters in The Urban Boys. I did have a minor issue keeping them straight until I realized I could make notes of them on my Kindle (and so I did). The main secondary characters were The Dark Stranger, Mason, and Alina Alcaraz Olivas. The other secondary characters consisted of Druth’s main thugs, the Naculeans, the parents/guardians of the boys, and Alex’s girlfriend. They were all well written. Some I wished I had more info on, and others I wanted were more involved in the plotline. But all added an extra depth to the overall plotline. I will say that I wouldn’t have been as cool as the parents/guardians were when they found out the truth.

I do want to mention the Naculeans. I found them and their backstory fascinating. They were genuinely peaceful beings who tried to help humans. But, I liked that the author made them make mistakes. The big one was telling Druth a half-truth about his powers. They realized that and ensured they had the right people (the boys) before they again bestowed the powers.

There is a lot of action in The Urban Boys. It primarily centered around the boys learning about their powers and fighting Druth’s thugs. I did enjoy it because it showed the boys’ growth as people and as a fighting unit.

A substory line was running in the background of The Urban Boys. It involved the parents of a couple of the boys, Druth, Alina, and The Dark Stranger. I was wondering how the author was going to tie everything together. I wasn’t disappointed and was very surprised by what was revealed.

The end of The Urban Boys was interesting. I loved how the author resolved the main storyline. It was a classic good versus evil battle, and I was on the edge of my seat. Of course, there is a lead-in to the next book, which I can’t wait to read.

I recommend The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses to anyone over 13. There is violence, mild language, and some kissing scenes (otherwise, a clean book).


If you enjoy The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Fives Senses, you will enjoy these books;

Shadowed Spirits (The Guardians: Book 4) by Reily Garrett

Publisher:

Date of publication: August 19th, 2022

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller

Series: The Guardians

Shadowed Horizons—Book 1 (review here)

Shadowed Origins—Book 2 (review here)

Shadowed Passages—Book 3

Shadowed Spirits—Book 4

Purchase Links: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis:

One man’s curse is another man’s weapon.

Genetic engineer Neah Haversham thought unlocking the code to her psychic gift would ease the way to blocking it, something she’d wanted since puberty.
Unable to turn off heightened senses means experiencing life on a different level. Shiya, her golden retriever, is the only companion tolerated.
Within months of finishing her studies, she learns the life she planned has vanished with the rescue of a sarcastic, hardheaded teen with an unprecedented ability.
Ouray Bernard is a healer and warrior, a Native American who uses his skills to train other uniquely talented individuals. When called to help the woman invading his dreams, he can’t refuse.
Loyalties collide as each defends their position in the battle against a secret society determined to dominate them all.


First Line:

Concrete is porous. Most people think it’s the same as cement.

Shadowed Spirits by Reily Garrett

I was immediately sucked into the book when I started reading Shadowed Spirits. I was thrilled that Ouray was getting his HEA, and I couldn’t wait to see who Neah was and what abilities her character would have. I wasn’t disappointed!!

Shadowed Spirits are the 4th book in The Guardians series. Technically, readers could read this book as a standalone mainly because the author does go over what happened in the previous books in the beginning. I would, however, strongly recommend reading the first three books before reading this one.

As noted in the first paragraph, Shadowed Spirits are the love story between Neah and Ouray. This book starts shortly after the last book’s events and introduces Neah. Neah is a genetic engineer coming close to cracking the code of not only her psychic gift but everyone like her psychic gifts. But Neah is on a mission from her mentor when the book starts. That mission is to rescue a gifted teenager from people who wish to harness her ability. But that mission goes sideways, and Neah finds herself joined to Ouray’s group. Determined to keep the teen safe and finish her research, Neah doesn’t have time for romance. But as she gets to know the group, Neah realizes that maybe her research wasn’t for the greater good and was selfish. When her research is stolen, and the teenager kidnapped, Neah must put aside everything she thinks about her gift and use it. Will Neah and the group be able to rescue the teen? Will Neah come to terms with her gift? And more importantly, will Neah and Ouray recognize their feelings for each other?

I liked Neah. From the minute she was introduced in the book, I was fascinated with her. Her gift was unique, and I could sympathize with her frustration with it. It must have been not very good to live with heightened senses. I understood why she went into genetic research. She wanted a way to turn it off. It made sense to me. She mildly annoys me when she refuses to listen to reason with her research (it could put people like her at risk). But other than that, I enjoyed her character.

I was super happy that Ouray got his love story. A little of his background was released, and I wish the author had released more of his background. He was a stabilizing force with Caspar and Neah once they overcame their initial distrust of him. Plus, he trained them (which they both needed). I enjoyed his character a lot.

I wasn’t expecting Caspar and her abilities. Just for the record, Caspar is not her real name. She got the nickname because of her ability. Caspar can phase through inanimate and animate objects. She reminded me of my almost 17-year-old daughter: headstrong, spunky, and with a heart of gold. She cared more than she let on. I also was in awe of her ability. The more the author released, the stronger it got. She phased through a mountain to escape the bad guys while holding Neah in one memorable scene. In another memorable scene, she could phase her hand through a chest and grab a heart in her hand as an intimidation tactic. I cannot wait to see where her story ends up.

The romance angle of Shadowed Spirits was very slight and almost overlooked. I didn’t feel Neah and Ouray liked each other that way until nearly the end of the book. And that was only after Christine’s vision that Neah saw herself with a black-haired toddler boy.

There were zero sex scenes in Shadowed Spirits. Ouray and Neah kiss, but it is towards the end of the book. Honestly, I liked it like that. I felt that sex would have taken away some of the storylines with everything going on.

The author very well wrote the plotline regarding Neah, her research, the two groups helping her, and the group kidnapping people with abilities. Some of those scenes were gripping, and I couldn’t put my book down. I also loved what happened with Pandora towards the end of the book. Let’s say that she deserved what she got.

The plotline centered around Neah; her background and her abilities were interesting. I did figure out who Neah was related to by the middle of the book. But, I was still surprised when the author made the grand reveal at the end. It did make sense.

The plotline centered around Caspar, her background and her abilities were well written. I enjoyed watching her character flesh out during the book. As I mentioned above, I was in awe of her abilities. She was one of the more powerful, gifted people I have read in the series. Her background is revealed at the end of the book. She found out where she came from and how she ended up in the foster system. The only thing that the author didn’t release was her true name.

The end of Shadowed Spirits was terrific. The author wrapped up Neah and Ouray’s storyline and part of Caspar’s. But she left all the rest open and threw in a shocking bit of information that made my mouth drop. I have a feeling I know who the next couple will be, but I’m not going to say.

I would recommend Shadowed Spirits to anyone over 21. There is no sex. There is language and violence. There are also scenes of people being held against their will and drugged and kidnapped.

A Spark of Ash (Ember of Night: Book 3) by Molly E. Lee

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, Entangled: Teen

Date of publication: May 24th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult, Paranormal

Series: Ember of Night

Ember of Night—Book 1 (review here)

Shadow of Light—Book 2

Spark of Ash—Book 3

Purchase Links: Amazon | B&N | WorldCat

Goodreads Synopsis:

The Seven―the Divine beings meant to protect the world―just declared war. On me. They took Ray, my baby sister, and now they’re using my boyfriend to do their dirty work.

Well, screw that.

I may not be able to wipe them off the face of the earth now, but I know what can.

Thanks to an Ather connection, I know about the Seven Scrolls. An ancient incantation made by the Creator to counteract the Seven’s great power, scattered into pieces across the world.

With the help of my new crew, we’re on the hunt. And with each located scroll, I face new battles, bloodier and harder than I’ve ever known before. But now the stakes are even higher, because Ray has always been my bright light in the darkness, and Draven is my hope when all seems lost, and if I don’t get them back?

Well, then I might just become the scariest legend the world has ever known.


First Line:

Harley giggled as I lean over her on the bed, laying a line of kisses down her neck.

Spark of Ash by Molly E. Lee

When I got the invite to review Spark of Ash, I almost didn’t accept it. I had read Ember of Night (and loved it) but didn’t get to read Shadow of Light. What ultimately made my mind up was that I was intrigued by the synopsis. I hoped the author would review what happened in Shadow of Light so I wouldn’t be lost. While that didn’t happen, I could still follow the plotline.

Spark of Ash is the 3rd (and final) book in the Ember of Night series. Readers cannot read this book as a standalone. I also strongly suggest reading the series in order.

Spark of Ash had an exciting plotline. Harley and Draven live peacefully on a plane in the Aether when Draven is kidnapped by the head of the Seven, brainwashed, and then kidnapped to kidnap Harley’s baby sister, Ray. Harley is given a quest that could save both Ray and Draven: She needs to find the Seven Scrolls. These scrolls, when united, can be used to counteract the Seven’s power. The scrolls are located in various parts of the Aether and Earth, and each comes with dangers. But Harley is determined to find them, even if that means facing the demons of her past. Can Harley find the scrolls? Can she counteract the Seven’s powers? Can she defeat the head of the Seven? Can she free Ray and Draven? And most importantly, can Harley get through to Draven? Or will she fail?

As I mentioned above, I almost didn’t accept the review invitation because I didn’t read Shadow of Light. I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to follow the storyline. I was fortunate because the author briefly reviewed what happened in Shadow of Light before diving into Spark of Ash. Some parts confused me because I didn’t understand what was happening. But that was only for 3-4 scenes. The rest of the book flowed smoothly.

I loved Harley. She was a badass b*tch who would do anything for her family (found and otherwise). It was showcased when she didn’t hesitate to rescue Draven and Ray. She agreed to get the scrolls, knowing she could get hurt or even die. She was willing to risk everything to find them. I really can’t say anything bad about her.

I loved Draven, too, even though he spent 90% of the book with his memories wiped. He cared for Ray, even though he had no clue who she was. I wouldn’t say I liked seeing him as a mindless machine, though. After reading the first chapter and seeing how much he loved Harley and knowing he was in Ember of Night, I couldn’t come to terms with how he was in this book. But, once he got his memories back, man, he was something else.

The storyline with Harley and Cassiel looking for the scrolls was interesting. But I did feel slightly let down by how easy it was for Harley to get some of the scrolls. I was looking for more battles than what was shown. The only one that put me on edge was when Harley returned to her abusive stepfather’s house to get a scroll.

The storyline with Ray, Draven, and the Seven was interesting. I liked seeing how the Seven was splintering on the inside. I was curious about Ray and her abilities, but the author didn’t get into them. I am hoping for a book (or series) when Ray is a little older that will explore them. As I mentioned above, I wouldn’t say I liked seeing Draven without his memories, but that did serve its purpose.

The romance between Harley and Draven was terrific. It showcased that true love can overcome everything. I loved seeing Harley trying to reach Draven on so many levels while looking for the scrolls (thanks to the mate bond), and when she did, it was incredible!! I also liked seeing the beginning of a romance between Ryder and Wallace. Again, I hope for another series or a standalone book in this universe.

I thought the fantasy angle of the book was well written also. Having Hell (aka Aether) be a whole other dimension with layers was fascinating. Harley’s journey through those layers was eye-opening and made me want to read more about this universe.

There were several twists in the plot towards the end of the book. The one with a significant character broke my heart. I kept saying “Oh no, no, no!!!” when it was revealed what that person did. There was a twist with Harley that left me with my mouth open. Mainly because I couldn’t believe what Harley found out; not only did I not believe it, but I also couldn’t believe that this person had stayed in the shadows for so long. The biggest twist, though, was the end of the book. I did not expect it to go the way it did. It only made me want to read more from this universe.

As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, the end of the book took me by surprise. Mainly because of everything that happened and was revealed. The author did wrap up Draven and Harley’s storyline, but I am hoping for more books in this universe.

I would recommend Spark of Ash for anyone over 16. There are mild sexual scenes (kissing but no sex), violence, and language.