Home Before Dark Review

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

This was better than I was expecting!

Maggie returns to the house made famous by her father’s bestselling horror memoir. Is the place really haunted by evil forces, as her father claimed? Or are there more earthbound – and dangerous – secrets hidden within its walls?

I was definitely enthralled right from the start. From learning about Maggie and how she doesn’t remember any of the events over the 20 days her family spent in Baneberry Hall. Getting the truth from her mother that it was indeed all a lie only to go back and see that maybe what her father wrote was true.

There was a sense of eeriness and unease that wove its way throughout the course of the plot line and definitely added a bit of depth and atmosphere, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Just from reading Riley Sagar’s previous words I knew that the twist wasn’t going to be supernaturnal and their would be a solid explanation to the events that took place and I was pretty much correct.

Maggie as our main protagonist was wonderful. She had the perfect amount of drive to figure out what was really happening but also opened herself up to other explanations that added that sense of mystery. I wish we had touched a little more on the other characters in the book. Again I knew inevitably they would have more of a significance to the storyline than what we were getting at the start and I would of liked to learn more about them.

The jumps between present day and the narrative that Maggie’s father wrote was very well done and again just gave me more incentive to want to read on and figure out what was going to happen next. Riley Sagar has a way of manipulating the reading into thinking that these mysterious, otherworldly events really could of happened only to turn that on its head and have plausible explanation that was staring you right in the face.

I highly enjoyed this book. It was a little predictable at the end there but I was still surprised by a few of the twists and turns and it gave me hella spooky house vibes!

⭐️4/5 stars Definitely a page turner!

Hold Back the Tide Review

Everyone knows what happened to Alva’s mother, all those years ago. But when dark forces begin to stir in Ormscaula, Alva has to face a very different future – and question everything she thought she knew about her past.

I was pleasantly surprised about this book. Right from the start I intrigued and eager to find out what was happening. I thought it was just going to be like this familial psychological thriller but it quickly took a turn I was not expecting and became quite fantastical and otherworldly.

Alva’s character at times acted a little older than her age. I think because she was so sheltered in the mountains and constantly trying to maintain her helpfulness to her father so he wouldn’t kill her might of accelerated her maturity. But we also see some of the naivety of her age come out when she is talking to any of the boys from the village, Ren especially.

The overarching storyline about her mother’s death and these creatures was very well done and wove together seamlessly. I like that its based upon the myths and legends of this town and the loch and how it resurfaces and comes to life, that’s definitely one of my favourite literary devices for sure.

There was a great amount of detail and also action and mystery that really kept me entertained and eager to read on. The pacing at times though felt a little stagnant and there were periods where I felt like it dragged.

I honestly picked this up randomly and I was quickly taken with the story and Alva. It felt highly original and was overall a pretty fast read that I was unable to predict anything that was going to happen. The ending I can appreciate although I am not that much of a fan of. I don’t want to spoil anything but I was left feeling unfulfilled I guess.

⭐️3/5 overall entertaining, gory & creepy!

The Kingdom of Back Review

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish—to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. 

I can appreciate the journey of self-acceptance that Nannerl goes on throughout the course of the book, but I wasn’t all that attached to her. She seemed petty and jealous of her brother and his talents even though he is so dedicated to her and appreciates her talents above all else. It would be difficult as a young woman growing up in this time and how frustratingly sexist the people are and it is really displayed in the plot.

Wolfer again I wasn’t very attached to. Sure he profited off Nannerl’s composition when their father stole her work and passed it off as his but he always praised Nannerl and was just trying to emulate her. Their whole familial relationship was centred around their musical talents and putting so much pressure on children so provide for the family is a little problematic in my eyes.

The secondary plotline surrounding the Kingdom was what really kept me reading on. I wanted to find out what the three tasks where that Nannerl needed to complete to get her wish and how that shifted over the years she and Wolfer visited the Kingdom. Hyancinth was definitely an interesting character but in the end it was just a tad too predictable for me.

The prose was well done and the pacing was pretty consistent. I went into this book with pretty low expectations as I have found I am not the greatest fan of historical fiction, even if it has a fantastical twist and this stayed true. Unfortunately, I didn’t really enjoy this book at all, there was nothing inherently wrong with it and I don’t have any untoward feelings towards the tale I was just bored most of the time.

⭐️2/5 I can see why so many people love this book, just not for me…

The Toll Review

It’s been three years since Rowan and Citra disappeared; since Scythe Goddard came into power; since the Thunderhead closed itself off to everyone but Grayson Tolliver.

I really enjoyed how we see the story unfold over various timelines within the three years since Endura sank. There was a lot you kind of had to wade through and at times I did find it a bit dense but still captivating and engaging me in a way that propelled me to keep reading.

I just loved the way Citra and Rowan have evolved over the course of the series and how they started off as quite innocuous characters to being some of the most beloved and infamous people in the world. I loved how we see how the decisions they make over the course of the storyline has such an impact on their society and the Scythedom. They are separated for the majority of the series so when they are reunited it almost feels like fanservice because it what I have been craving for so long.

We are again introduced to a plethora of new characters and a few different perspectives that kept the narrative fresh and interesting. We spent some time outside of MidMerica and we get to see how some of the other factions within this world operate and how they all differ from one another whilst still maintaining this social order, it was compelling. Also seeing how everyone is scrambling to try and survive without being able to communicate with the Thunderhead to do their unsavory statuses was entertaining.

I have to admit the Tonists and Greyson’s perspective was my least favourite out of them all. I honestly wasn’t all that invested in their religion or how it operated. I was curious as to why the Thunderhead chose Grayson out of every to still communicate with but I was way more interested in what was happening with Rowan and Citra as opposed to The Toll though he was a defining character in the grand scheme of the book.

I think this was meticulously planned and put together in a way that really captivates you from the start and has you questioning every single detail. Wondering what the Thunderhead was planning and how it was able to get around his rules to keep humankind safe but still continue to not meddle in Scythe business. I had my doubts about him since the start, I don’t know why but I never trust AI in books but this time I was pleasantly surprised!

⭐️4/5 stars a very gratifying ending, definitely exceeded my expectations!

Girl, Serpent, Thorn Review

*Mild Spoilers Below*

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

Soraya I could definitely sympathize with and agree with most of the decisions she made in this book. If I was in the same position as her I would of probably done the same thing. I just think she trusted Asad way to quickly and virtually exposed all of her familial secrets to this guy she just met 5 minutes ago. I got a sense of their connection sure but again it was just a little too insta lovey for me. I do appreciate the transformation of Soraya’s character throughout the duration of the plot. She really takes on a lot of guilt and responsibility for everything that happens and I don’t necessarily believe that it was all her fault.

Soraya’s mother on the other hand I felt just handled everything completely wrong. Ignoring Soraya for all these years and barely spending any time with her and not explaining any of the reasons behind the curse especially after she knew Soraya had visited the Div. When we did find out the reasoning behind what she did you can understand why she made her choices but still just be honest and explain everything rather than leaving your daughter miserable and alone for so long.

All of the characters in this book were very distinct and connected in a way that you wouldn’t predict. Azad and Parvaneh in particular were very interesting. Especially when we find out their backgrounds and how they changed the course of history in this land by their quite selfish decisions. It really shows how perspectives can be skewed and they way people interpret history into fact.

There’s a part of me that would of enjoyed this book even more if Soraya would of gave into her baser instincts and actually allied herself with Azad and became the queen. Again it was obvious that she would betray Azad and stay true to her family and her people but we get that so often in fantasy nowadays that I would of appreciated that kind of twist. I am still very satisfied with how this ended and who Soraya ended up with but I kind of wanted more.

⭐️3/5 stars So this was a tad frustrating but also entertaining and thrilling!