**REVIEW** Three Rules by Marie Drake

I have been wanting to reading Marie Drake’s ‘Three Rules’ for quite some time. It is a remarkable read that will reach out to most readers either because of the mystery, the emotional and physical effects of abuse and the beautiful romance/love story. During this past year, Three Rules made it as a semi-finalist for The Kindle Book Review’s Best Kindle Book Awards 2014! Definitely not one to be missed!!

Extremely powerful narrative, beautifully written – will have you reduced to tears!

Three Rules Marie DrakeTitle: Three Rules

Author: Marie Drake

Genre: Dark fiction, mystery, romance

Release date: September 24, 2013

Released by: Marie Drake

Length: 296 pages

Blurb: Hope Wellman has a childhood full of horrific memories, a bone chilling recurring nightmare, and a persistent paranoid sense of being followed that she would rather keep repressed. Is evil reaching from beyond the grave to capture the tattered remnants of her soul once and for all, is it only a machination of her disturbed mind, or is there something happening more sinister than even she can imagine?

Attending the funeral of her abuser is the first step in putting her life back together. She struggles with the fact she never told anyone what happened to her, and that the grave they are mourning over is empty. She’d find it a lot easier to move on and believe in the future if he were in the box, ready to be covered with dirt. She fears the last thread of her sanity has snapped when she sees Lucas everywhere she turns, and can’t escape a recurring nightmare. Is her tormentor alive, or is she imagining it? Is her dream triggered by past fears or is it a prediction of the future?

Quoted from Three Rules:

“I have learned three rules in my life: 1.) The most dangerous people in the world are not always strangers. 2.) The scariest things imaginable are not those that can kill you, but those you can live through. And probably the most prominent: 3.) The most horrible possibility is not what could happen to you, but what you could become – I became a killer.”
~Hope Wellman

REVIEW

Three Rules is an extremely powerful narrative and beautifully written, with a great deal of emotion running through it, that will reduce you to tears. Despite the dark subject matter of abuse, and the mystery of the storyline, it also holds one of the most romantic stories I have ever read!

Hope Wellman (20) having lived through sexual abuse as a young girl, by her step-uncle, Lucas, has never said a word about her ordeal to anyone. And now at Lucas’ funeral she feels an inner-relief that he cannot harm her again. The only doubt that she does have is that his body is not in the coffin as it was never recovered from his boat accident. Without his body, there is a fraction of her that wonders if he is still alive, and when she has moments of feeling that somebody is watching her, she instantly thinks it could be him.

There are a string of events that come to light early in the story that keep reminding Hope of her past and begin to create the mystery for the remainder of the story. One of the main questions you’ll be asking is whether or not Lucas is still alive?

Hope is having terrible nightmares about being chased by someone, and then when she is out she feels like someone is following her, watching her at times. This makes her question her own sanity – she may be paranoid, unless she does have a stalker, or maybe it really is Lucas?  There are some brilliant twists in the story to keep the reader wondering and guessing.

The reader is aware of how Hope feels about Lucas’ death as it opens her mind up to those moments of abuse again. She puts on a brave face for her parents, to offer support and to keep her ordeals to herself. However, remaining strong and trying to forget is becoming increasingly difficult when she finds out that one of her childhood friends, Karen Bishop, is pregnant with Lucas’ child. Not only does it hurt to know that he had his hands on her, but it also creates some guilt within Hope that maybe if she had spoken about what had happened to her, then Karen wouldn’t have gotten herself into this situation.

As if dealing with all of this wasn’t enough, there is also the very lovely Joey Bishop to face. Joey is Karen’s brother who was always Hope’s best friend growing up. They did everything together during their childhood and he always had time for her. He was the only boy she ever felt close to. But, after what should have been Hope’s magical and memorable first kiss, her parents encouraged her and Joey to keep their distance after Lucas had seen their innocent moment and reported it back.

A few years on and the attraction is still clearly there. And yet, Hope struggles with her feelings. Anything physical is out of the question, leaving Joey believing that they are just friends.  After certain events take place, Hope spends more time with Joey and this really brings them closer together on many levels. But every time she feels she can tell him, something prevents her from doing so. And, will he change his opinion of her if he knew her secret?

The further into the story we go the more Hope’s feelings and past are brought to the fore. Hope’s character is very strong, despite all that she has been through. She still feels like she can’t tell anyone and when her family notice something isn’t right they assume she is depressed (just as she tended to be when she was younger). She begins to feel trapped – she wants to tell Joey on many occasions (and sometimes her mum) but she just can’t face it. At this point the reader feels trapped with her – wanting to encourage her to speak and finally let it out, but at the same time realising it is a delicate subject for her. The fact that she is thinking about telling someone is a step in the right direction.

Three Rules is a work of fiction and yet based on the abuse suffered by the author, making it a very real read but written without lengthy graphic details – it is more focused on the state of mind, the emotions, as it is written with the intent to help others in similar situations. Marie Drake has written the story with so much care that it is a sensitive read but with some powerful heart-warming moments – two of which had me in tears.

This is a story of inner-strength, of coming through abuse and it’s effects, and then reaching the other side. It is a story of courage, will-power and love that carries it’s own message to all those in need – don’t push those feelings down, don’t ignore them. The power to speak to someone, anyone, can be all that you need to begin your journey to the light, where you can find security, love and be at peace with yourself and your loved ones.

A copy of Three Rules was provided by the author in return for an honest and fair review.

Three Rules by Marie Drake is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

To read the prologue and first chapter, along with info on the author, Marie Drake, please check out our spotlight.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

**REVIEW** Love Bites: A Collection of Short Stories by Valeria Kogan

Love Bites: V. 1: A Collection of Short StoriesTitle: Love Bites: A Collection of Short Stories

Author: Valeria Kogan

Genre: Contemporary dark romance, women’s fiction, dark read

Release date: March 1st, 2013

Released by: Wattle Publishing

Length: 133 pages

Blurb: Love Bites is the provocative debut collection of short stories by Valeria Kogan. From heartbreak to redemption, Love Bites provides a spellbinding interpretation of love and friendship, glamour and guilt, secrets and deceit.

Each story provides a captivating insight into the world of love; its profound impact and effect; and how women relate to their partners.

This cleverly constructed collection of short stories will leave you tantalized and yearning for more. Love Bites is a must-read for every modern woman, reader of romance and romantic enthusiast.

REVIEW

Love Bites is an assortment of eleven short, dramatic stories. Most are told from the female perspective, whilst some are told from the male point of view. In this book, love certainly does bite as each story shows the effect love can have on us as an individual. It explores the state of the mind during grieving and hard times, or even as new love sprouts without us realising until it falls upon us in an instant.

Valeria Kogan explains in the preface that she is providing the reader a taste of how far she can take her characters, or rather how far they take her. This makes for a more natural process of where she feels the characters are going, rather than always having an intended ending in mind. Thus, making it an unpredictable read.

There are some real eye-opening moments as we read about each individual’s state of mind and follow the way that they are thinking. Some of the stories are very touching, especially the last story, ‘End of a Story’ as we realise the true depth that a man can love a woman. This story in particular reached me as it was so beautifully written and packed with so much emotion – it will bring tears to your eyes!

There are some characters with psychological issues, whilst philosophical musings are also present in others. For instance, in ‘Tonight’ we follow a woman, a prostitute, who has always been used to her way of working, and working for big bucks! After promising her boyfriend she’d stop, she begins to think deeper about her situation. Should she begin a 9 to 5 job with little money, or stay working fairly flexibly for a few hours a week for more money?

There are many questions to be asked of the characters, but I love how the author has written it in such a way that the reader, too, will ask themselves these questions about the story. Some of the stories left me wondering, what next? The author hints at certain endings, but I like the idea that the reader can decide, or elaborate the story in their own mind.

The characters are stretched in their emotions and are overwhelmed with their experiences in many of the stories. There were moments when I felt that there were some realistic aspects as the characters are flawed, just as we all are, and at other times I felt disconnected to the story. This left me a little torn with some of the stories.

Love Bites is not a typical, refreshing and heart-warming romance read. However, it is powerfully dark, emotional and gritty, leaving the reader a great deal to ponder over. I was left feeling that – love may be the most powerful and emotional feeling of all, which is why it brings us so much bliss and yet so much pain!

Love Bites was provided by Wattle Publishing for the purpose of a fair and honest review.

Love Bites: A Collection of Short Stories by Valeria Kogan is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

*SPOTLIGHT with Giveaway* Shrink Rapt by Freda Hansburg

shrink rapt freda tour banner

Shrink RaptShrink Rapt

By Freda Hansburg

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Blurb: A little hypnosis can be a dangerous thing.

Psychologist April Simon reaches that conclusion when four of her most unstable patients begin to violently unravel following the murder of their psychiatrist, Lowell Morgenstern, April’s arrogant department chairman. She suspects it’s no coincidence that all four were subjects in his research project.

As April tries to undo Morgenstern’s mayhem, she finds her colleagues turning resentful, her career on the line, and the chairman’s killer closing in. Who can she trust? Maybe Sam Perone, the attractive, cynical detective who seeks her help in solving Morgenstern’s murder – that is, when he’s not treating her as a suspect.

Author Bio

shrink rapt author FredaFreda Hansburg is a psychologist who lives with her husband in New Jersey. She is the co-author of the self-help books PeopleSmart and Working PeopleSmart. Shrink Rapt is her first novel.

Purchase on Amazon: http://amzn.to/14wUQ5l

https://twitter.com/FredaHansburg

https://www.facebook.com/poospress

http://fredahansburg.com/


Freda Hansburg is giving away one signed paperback of Shrink Rapt!

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**REVIEW & GIVEAWAY x 2** After the Haze (full length novel) by Gary Richardson

After the Haze

Blood curdling, bones breaking and boisterous biting!

We are excited to post zombie horror, After the Haze, for a gritty, scary and suspenseful Halloween treat. Not only that but we have 2 SIGNED copies to giveaway to some lucky winners! All you need to do is add your name in the comments below or on our Facebook Page, and we will randomly select the winners on Friday 7th November 2014! Tina & Caroline 🙂

Synopsis: The haze ravaged everything. Human life as we know it is over. Those who survived the haze awoke to find themselves in a new nightmare, as the dead returned with the insatiable desire to hunt down and feed on the remaining humans. Yvonne thought she had escaped her nightmare. Safely aboard the HMS Lancaster, Martin, Mike and herself believed they had found salvation with their military saviours. Things change when a devastating realisation is made. Humans no longer control the Earth. With this in mind, Yvonne has no choice but to assist in the operation to take back control of the UK and bring together all the survivors, but she soon learns that there are bigger threats to mankind than the living dead…

REVIEW

The Purple HazeAfter reading the first book, The Purple Haze, I couldn’t wait to read After the Haze. Whereas the first book takes the reader from a bank robbery scene (put me in the mind of tv series, The Sweeney) to an escape scene, where the living had to constantly duck and dive from the undead and begin to leave loved ones behind and use violence to survive, the sequel begins once the initial haze has started to diminish and many are dead or undead!

The opening chapter is fantastic. The reader is introduced to Alan who is spending quality time with his son, daughter-in-law and granddaughter at his home. Everything appears normal, until the Purple Haze hits. Once Alan comes round it isn’t long until he realises he needs to protect his granddaughter. The journey that he has is so heart-breaking. This opening is easy to relate to and yet builds up for the horror to come – if you have already read The Purple Haze you will prepare yourselves a little easier. This is certainly not for the faint-hearted with some shocking moments and great horror. Fans of The Walking Dead will definitely love this series.

If you haven’t read The Purple Haze – no problem – as Gary Richardson has written the introduction to the main characters, Mike, Martin and Yvonne, from where they left off in the last story. Richardson also delves into some scenes from the first story which either recaps the reader, or informs the new reader just where these characters have come from and what they have been through. In this manner, After the Haze could be read as a stand alone. However, I would STRONGLY recommend that The Purple Haze be read first for the reader to feel the full effect of the beginning of the horror!

The story follows Yvonne’s character mostly, as she is faced with venturing back to the mainland where she had left the mayhem and horror behind. Seeing the undead brings the fear, tension and panic back. Albeit, at least this time she has trained marines to help protect her. The reader can really understand Yvonne’s reluctance to face these monsters again – she’s been through it once and survived. This must truly be a psychological challenge for her. And, although the marines accompanying her are equipped and trained they have not faced the zombies themselves. You can imagine the shock and surprise that they feel when they do.

The mission is to check three villages and ascertain any survivors in order to create some areas human zones, if possible. The idea is that these human zones could be set up to help keep the survivors and human race alive, with the hope to repopulate the area, country and possibly the world, depending on the situation. There are moments of quiet, eeriness and some action during the initial searches and these help build up suspense for what is to come a little later on!

When the team come face to face with the zombies there is plenty of action, violence and gore. Some scenes are quite horrific physically and painful emotionally as some of the undead are familiar to their killer. It is gritty, dark and the reader will be quite tense and stunned at times with some of the surprises that are waiting!

Another side to After the Haze explores how some survivors can become cruel, evil and wickedly selfish. They want to take what they want, at the same time as try to instil control and fear over the remaining survivors. The readers will certainly have a level of threat and violence to deal with, aside from the undead themselves! This makes some characters those that you love to hate and you long for them to receive a little of what they are dishing out. There is the need for justice and maybe revenge, which makes for a deeper storyline.

The ending is wrapped up beautifully, providing the reader (or at least myself) with an obvious hero and favourite character of the story. If you love zombie stories, horror, violence, survival stories, and even emotional ties, then After the Haze will prove to be a favourite!

After the HazeAfter the Haze by Gary Richardson is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US. But don’t forget to enter our GIVEAWAY for the chance to win one of two signed copies! Add your name in the comments box below or on our Facebook page. CLOSING DATE: FRIDAY 7TH NOVEMBER 2014!

Good luck, guys!

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Demonica by Will Davis plus 2 free ebook GIVEAWAYS

Demonica_Cover_(Resized)

The dark, psychological, modern day fairy tale and horror ‘Demonica’ by Will Davis  is released today by Hashtag Books!

Already a renowned author, Will Davis is already published by Bloomsbury and a prize winning author for his debut novel ‘My Side of The Story’.

Check out the blurb for new novel ‘Demonica’ below followed by our review! SCROLL DOWN FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE E-COPY OF DEMONICA!!!

When spoilt eighteen year old Miranda suffers a terrible accident she survives, but her face is hideously scarred.

Unable to bear what has happened to her, she locks herself away. Her only companions are Veronica, her cruel and beautiful mother, and Nelly, the sympathetic housekeeper.

As time passes Veronica inflicts cruelty after cruelty on her disfigured daughter. Lonely and filled with despair, Miranda is astonished when Bernard, Veronica’s handsome younger boyfriend, takes an interest in her circumstances.

For Bernard believes there is an operation that can restore Miranda’s face. But it will involve committing an unspeakable crime. A decision that will haunt her for the rest of her life…

In the tradition of Angela Carter and Daphne du Maurier, Demonica is a terrifying modern fairy tale.

Caroline’s review:-

Will Davis’ Demonica has disturbed me like no other book! This sickening, twisted, dark psychological horror will certainly overhang your mind for weeks, if not months to come. It is a brilliant read for those that enjoy reading an uncertain trail of events as the storyline for the main character, Miranda, goes from bad to worse. It sure is a dark, dark read but I love the unpredictability and how stories like this feed my morbid curiosities.

The reader does not necessarily like or sympathise with Miranda initially as she is quite mean and cruel. She is the type of girl that uses her beauty to get what she wants and being left to her own devices she regularly finds herself in some sort of mischief. However, the reader is aware of the lack of attention paid to her by her parents and can begin to understand why Miranda is the way she is.

Will Davis wastes no time in reaching the beginning of the terror with the accident that is to change Miranda’s life forever. The description and account of the accident is a very powerful, dramatic and horrifying piece of writing which is a little bit too real at times, as well as being surreal. I think this is what makes it so chilling – that it is so realistic at times!

I landed several metres away, my body twisting terribly as I hit the earth for a second time. Then the noise and light was joined by pain. Bright red was streaking out around my eyes and this time it wasn’t my hair. It was because my head was on fire. I couldn’t move to do anything about it. I couldn’t feel my legs. All I could feel was the white hot sensation of the flames.”

After the accident Miranda’s face is left severely scarred. This is extremely difficult for her to come to terms with and so she locks herself away at home. She not only has to deal with her physical and mental scars of the accident, but she has to suffer emotional abuse from her mother, Veronica, leaving her more than completely ruined. The reader is appalled at Veronica’s reaction to her daughter. Veronica truly is cruel, making her own daughter call her Veronica and indulging in beauty treatments and men right before Miranda’s eyes.

Hatred is probably the feeling the reader has for Veronica. Just like the feelings a little girl has for all of those step-mothers of princesses in traditional fairytales. Within the actual story, Demonica has been likened to Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella. We’ve all come to learn the traditional fairytales where the role of the step-mother is to be jealous of their step-daughters and cause or plan to harm them. However, in this instance it is Miranda’s birth mother – which makes it even more bewildering for the reader to believe and this creates very dark, passionate feelings of hate towards Veronica. The reader feels Miranda’s pain and can easily sympathise with her at this point.

Miranda received her care and attention from their housekeeper, Nelly. I absolutely adored the character, Nelly. Nelly saw sense and was aware of the relationship that Miranda had with Veronica. Nelly, although always kind and caring, was also very matter-of-fact, and tried to encourage Miranda to make the most of what she had. Nelly was always very accepting of Miranda and made everything sound so practical. These moments lightened the mood a little and the reader is grateful for Nelly’s input as she is someone who sees sense and can hopefully give Miranda a nudge in the right direction.

However, to make matters worse still, Miranda begins to fall for one of Veronica’s male friends, Bernard. Apart from Nelly, he is the only one to take notice of her and not be horrified of her looks but accept her for who she is. Bernard provides hope for Miranda that one day she will look beautiful again with the help of a surgeon he is familiar with. To go ahead would mean that Miranda would have to carry out a twisted, immoral crime for her own selfish reasons. But will it work out? Will it be worth it?

Demonica surely provides the reader with many emotions, which are constantly changing from one extreme to another. Morals are certainly questioned and I found myself trying to empathise with Miranda’s situation. However, I’m sure many readers would agree that Miranda made a sickening choice, despite what she had been through prior to her decision, to go along with Bernard’s hint of a suggestion. This selfish decision surely did haunt Miranda forever and readers will question Miranda’s integrity!

I found it fascinating that there was not a true hero/heroine in Demonica. Nelly would be my heroine of the whole story even though she is more of a supporting character. I think, for me, that this is what makes Demonica quite realistic as many of the characters are flawed, just as many people are. It is not the fact that there are good and bad but the fact that we are all both. Only in Demonica, the bad is really bad, downright cruel and completely unforgiveable. As a reader, you’re mind will be scarred after experiencing Demonica. Be warned!

An Advanced Reader’s Copy was provided by Tim O’Rourke of Hashtag Books for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

Will Davis’ Demonica is now available on Amazon UK and Amazon US. For more information please check out Hashtag Books.

FOR A CHANCE TO WIN A FREE E-COPY OF DEMONICA PLEASE ADD YOUR NAME IN THE COMMENTS BELOW! THE CLOSING DATE WILL BE FRIDAY 13TH DECEMBER 2013!

The lucky winners will be randomly selected on this date! Good luck everyone!!!

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

The Hourglass Killer Trilogy by LR Potter

The Hourglass Killer Trilogy - All 3 BooksWhat a brilliant and carefully written dark, dark crime thriller? Poor Tess!!! Tess Champion is a police detective in Colarado, and we begin the first novel, ‘Dwindling Sands’, with Tess being subjected to a violent, torturous, sexual attack in her own home. As she returns to work, alongside her partner, Anthony Delgado, they are faced with a murder of a woman with similar scenarios that Tess found herself in. Is she going mad? Is she scared after what happened to her? Is she adding two and two together and coming up with five? However, over time there are more murders, each with a possible link to her ordeal.

Tess, although now feeling vulnerable and weak, is actually one of the strongest heroine’s that I have read about. Mentally, she has been teased and taunted, confused and, after the third book, ‘Cascading Sands’, in that much despair that it is a wonder that she doesn’t end her own pain. However, she keeps on going. She is a fighter deep down and her inner strength helps her to survive.

As Tess’ attacker knew her by name, it is believed throughout that it must be somebody that she knew. There are five main characters to keep you guessing; Anthony Delgado, her partner; Carter, her twin brother (even though unlikely, you can’t rule anyone out!); Thom Wyndom, her new love interest; Dominic Wyndom, Thom’s brother and an acquaintance to Tess, and finally; Dane Carver, the first and only true love from Tess’ past. I kept an open mind as different areas of the story led me to believe that each of these characters were capable and had the opportunity but as the story unfolded there were so many possible scenarios that the reader simply cannot determine the culprit until it is all made clear at the end.

Due to the motivation, the obsession, of the murderer and their perseverance it does feel very personal. Therefore, each event that happens with Tess is very believable and horrific. He, the murderer, is referred to as ‘The Angry Man’ and, in the prologue, he is the first character the reader encounters. We learn of his obsession, his need for control and throughout the book we know how he despises those he deems vulnerable and weak. These can be disposed of, as far as he is concerned, as there is no real need for them.

Initially, I was planning to read ‘Dwindling Sands (Book 1)’ of The Hourglass Killer Trilogy and separate each book with another of my choice in between. However, I was hooked! Each book of this trilogy is carefully interwoven with the next that I just had to simply carry on reading. The stories, settings, characters, etc, are so fluent that it felt like I was reading only one novel. ‘The Hourglass Trilogy’ is absolutely gripping, with so many twists and turns and unexpected turn of events. Just when the reader thinks that there are no more ordeals for Tess – bam! – another hits you right in the face.

There are many adult themes in these novels, such as abduction, rape and murder. Hence the strongly recommended 18+ year age warning. LR Potter’s style of writing these horrific scenes is amazing. The reader feels so tense in parts and there are some scenes that are creepy and yet the writing of these scenes is not over-exaggerated. LR Potter displays her sensitivity towards these scenes when she describes Tess at her worst, after each ordeal. It would be so nice just to pick Tess up from the book and pop her in your pocket to keep her safe! She is in trouble, without even realising it at times, and, working for the police department, she feels like she should be able to protect herself. It is so upsetting, knowing that she is vulnerable and a possible target/link to this monster.

I am disappointed to let Tess go – although to be fair she has been through enough. However, the whole setting and characters of these books make me want to read more about her. If you are interested in crime thrillers this is a must-read. If you would like to try a crime thriller for the first time, ‘The Hourglass Killer Trilogy’ will blow you away, at the same time as keeping you on your toes. After this absolutely brilliant introduction to LR Potter’s work , I am definitely looking forward to reading more of her novels.

‘The Hourglass Killer Trilogy’ was sent to me for the purpose of a honest and just review. Received gratefully, with thanks, from the copyeditor, Carolyn Pinard.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy, Book One) by Tim O’Rourke

Received with thanks from the author in return for an honest review.

I had no expectations with ‘Moonlight’ as I hadn’t read the synopsis. This is largely due to the fact that I have enjoyed every book of Tim’s that I have read so far and wanted to start reading the main novel as soon as possible. The prologue grips the reader from the very beginning, ‘”Don’t hurt me,” the girl sobbed….’, setting the scene with fear and tension as a young girl is being attacked. At first the reader has no idea who is attacking the girl but it soon becomes clear. For an opening scene, this gets the heartrate beating fast as you really feel for the victim, feel her fear and desperation with the added extras of gore and horror. Please note that the intended audience for this novel is young adult and adults alike.

As Chapter One begins we are introduced to the main male character, Thaddeus Blake. Over the coming pages we find out that he is a wealthy man, with a mansion at St. Ives in Cornwall that he inherited along with his wealth. He travels to London to meet his publisher and it is whilst he is in London that he notices Winter McCall.

Unfortunately for Winter, she has not lived such a lavish lifestyle. Begging on the streets outside train stations is where she has ended up every night in the hope to be given enough money to put food in her belly. Not one for selling her body like some did, Winter finds it very difficult to make ends meet, to survive.

In a creepy sort of way, once he had noticed Winter, Thaddeus watched her carefully from a distance. For the first few days he would come night after night, just watching her, watching how people treated her and how she handled them. When he feels ready he approaches Winter, offering to buy her dinner and to explain what he would like to do for her.

Although Winter is very doubtful and doesn’t trust Thaddeus there is something about his voice and besides, what did she really have to lose? Thaddeus’ offer is for Winter to travel to St. Ives with him to his mansion where she would be fed, clothed, paid and have a roof over her head. Her side of the bargain is to cook and clean for him as well as to carry out some odd tasks that he would ask of her from time to time. One of these being to stand in the moonlight when there is a full moon.

The atmosphere of this book is very creepy. Although Thaddeus has a soothing voice, good looks and appears to be helping Winter, the reader cannot trust him and is constantly worried about Winter’s well-being. Winter is occasionally ridiculed by him only for him to realise and apologise. She knows that there is more to him than meets the eye and she does try to find out. The whole setting is very strange. During most part of the day Winter is left alone in the mansion whilst Thaddeus is in his room.

In order to create this dark, eerie atmosphere I did find the story in parts to be a little slow. When Winter is on her own I imagined what it is like to be in a large, strange house alone with nothing but your mind and imagination going wild. Paranoia sets in. Insecurity sets in. Time drags. Tim O’Rourke has written this very cleverly though as the reader goes through all of these motions with Winter. I was screaming for her to run. Every ounce of mistrust, every ounce of fear the reader can feel.

Without spoiling the story, as it nears the end there is a great deal of action, gore, horror and emotions running wild. The story is like an orchestra playing and the music gradually builds up, becoming louder and louder until it reaches a great crescendo. I was a little conscious in the middle of this book, thinking how indecisive Winter was about running or staying, and was hoping for more action and more underlying plots, BUT boy did I get what I wanted as the story grew!

Some readers may think Winter to be foolish by going along with Thaddeus, better the devil you know, as she placed herself in a vulnerable situation, alone with a guy she didn’t even know and couldn’t trust. However, a part of me cannot help but feel that she was courageous, she took a risk. But, did the risk pay off? With the danger that ensued it definitely made her think about her choices. As Thaddeus places Winter in a dangerous position, for partly his own benefit, there is a great deal of mistrust for him and he is partly a coward for doing this.

I think that the length of this novel was just right. As with all of the Tim O’Rourke books that I have read to date ‘Moonlight’ makes the reader feel as if they are a part of the story. You feel for Winter as if she were your sister or best friend. And I cannot explain how much terror you feel for her. I just wanted to jump into the book and pull her out to safety. There are very few authors that make the reader feel like they can almost touch the characters and live in the story but Tim O’Rourke has this fascinating gift. I would definitely recommend to any young adult/adult, depending on the intended audience, to read Tim’s books. You will not be disappointed. If you’ve tried once, try another. I find these stories suck you in and you are in another world. This is fantasy as it’s best! I will be looking forward to the following two books in this Moon Trilogy.

Other series’ to try are Keira Hudson, Black Hill Farm, Samantha Carter and Doorways. You can find all information on Tim’s website.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker