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Review: The Midnight Side By Natasha Mostert

midnightside
Originally published in 2000. Republished for Kindle by Portable Magic, 2013.
Click for the goodreads page.

How much worse are suitors, who to men’s lust
Are made preys? O, worse than dust or worms’ meat,
For they do eat you now, whose selves worms shall eat. – John Donne, Thou shalt not laugh in this leaf, Muse (British Poet, Satirist, Author, 1572-1631)

The sin of pride may be a small or a great thing in someone’s life, and hurt vanity a passing pinprick, or a self-destroying or ever murderous obsession. – Iris Murdoch (British Novelist and Philosopher, 1919-1999)

We’re going to start a rumour. It’s easy: here’s how. And thus starts a tale of twisted obsession, of ghostly presence and lucid dreaming. A tale of suffering. But whose? And how far will obsession live within the soul? To the grave? Beyond?

Too late hee would the paine asswage,
And to thick shadowes does retire;
About with him hee beares the rage,
And in his tainted blood the fire.
Edmund Waller –The selfe-banished –  (English Poet and Politician,1606 – 1687)

Isabella, or Isa to her friends, lives a life of quiet desperation in South Africa. The mistress of a married man for the past thirteen years, Isa has set aside her own needs for those of her lover, Eric. Eric, who has just died, leaving her with nothing but heartache.

In the night, as she lies dreaming, the phone rings, a flat, atonal sound, odd and strangely off-key, and the crackling voice of her cousin, Alette comes through. Alette, the wild and flighty girl with whom Isa was raised. Alette the strong, Alette the vibrant. And, as Isa is soon to learn, Alette who is two days dead.

Now back in London to close Allete’s estate, Isa receives a message from Allete along with a copy of her will. A very odd and devastating message, which leads Isa to carry out a twisted scheme against Jason, Allete’s ex-husband – an ex-husband whose tortures Allete lays out in a letter, sealed for only Isa.

Lucid dreaming, African mysticism. Alchemy and premonitions. Mostert’s The Midnight Side is a brooding, atmospheric tale of suspense and psychological thrill, full of the kinds of fear and gloomy atmosphere sure to lure in even the most jaded of readers. Isa wanders through the halls of her dreams, following orders, reaching out . . . and changing within herself. The Vigyan Bhairava Tantra, the seventh sutra, says, “ . . . reach the heart at the instant of sleep and seek direction over dreams and over death itself.” Is Isabella following her heart? Or are the dreams of death drawing back the soul of her beloved cousin?

What cruelty, wasted love – love which lies only in recompense? Mostert speaks to deep waters of the mind, dark corners of the soul, the ruin brought on by wounded and damaged souls. And yet, her journey also showcases the beauty and drabery of London itself, with it’s fogs and rains, the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery of the British Museum, the odd libraries and collections, the tea shops and cathedrals. The mass of cultures and foods and beliefs. A brooding city of history and blood and loss and joy, all wrapped up in banks of fog and fire, melancholy, and old, old guilt.

What Isa does and doesn’t do, thinks and feels and suffers leads you through murky darkness, fear, and the question, or promise, of forbidden destiny.

I received this book from Netgalley in return for an honest review.  Highly recommended.

Review Maggie Get Your Gun: Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 2-Kate Danley

Maggie Get Your Gun: Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 2

maggiegetyourgun
Click to get your copy. You will want to, because her new one is now out!

First, if you are looking for “serious” UF, before you pick up either of these volumes, let me warn you. Ilona Andrews or Mark Henwick, this is not. What this series is, though, is lighthearted fun with an interesting twist that keeps you reading. Sometimes, that is all you really need from a book, and Kate Danley delivers in spades.

One of the best things about this book is why Danley wrote it. Proceeds from the write-a-thon where this book was mostly written benefited the Young Writers Program, which funds free creative writing programs in hundred of schools and communities around the world. With the state of public education and the lack of support for the arts, I give Ms. Danley full kudos for her work.

The story itself picks up after the action in Maggie for Hire (Maggie MacKay – Magical Tracker). Maggie has her dad back and he and her mom have gone off for a nice weekend away to celebrate his return from two years stuck in limbo. Now, a new client walks in her door, with what seems a ridiculously simple job. To retrieve a simple ladies hair comb, ‘dropped in the desert’ outside of Calico Ghost Town on the far outskirts of Las Vegas. What happens next is a rather slap-stick (read ‘vintage Danley’) chase through deserts and down mine shafts to an old fashioned “Standoff At The OK Corral” ghost and monster style, in the streets of a real “Ghost Town” on the Other Side. As always, the good guys win, but only by a ‘ghost’ of a chance and with enough snark and ‘F’ bombs to float the Marie Celeste. (I will admit that I would appreciate some different and more creative expletives – the bomb is getting rather old . . .)

All in all, this series is funny and charming and is quite a pleasant way to wile away an afternoon. It doesn’t put a strain on the brain, the characters are to my mind quite likeable and you learn a bit more about Maggie’s mom in this one. I like her more even than I did before. I am really looking forward to the next one. I haven’t read The Woodcutter yet, that is on my list of must reads. Thanks, Ms. Danley, for a fun read and I look forward to more soon.

Funny throughout, good world building, likeable characters, lots of “F”bombs if you are offended by that sort of thing. Kate still needs a good editor, a few too many errors are creeping through that could set off the “Grammar Nazis”. Nothing five stars, but still well worth the $3.99.

The newest, Maggie on the Bounty (Maggie MacKay, Magical Tracker #3) was published July 15, 2013 and flew in right under my radar. I will be checking it out soon.

From the GoodReads blurb:

maggieonthebounty
The newest Maggie!

New business partners, Maggie and Killian, are looking forward to their latest gig: finding out why all the ghosts are disappearing from the Empress Adelaide, a turn of the century ocean liner who once shuttled Hollywood’s finest across the Atlantic. But Maggie and Killian find themselves trapped in the past, caught in a time rift with only a ghost of a chance of escaping. This ain’t no pleasure cruise.

Review: Beneath The Veil – by William McNally

Don’t cry, I’m sorry to have deceived you so much, but that’s how life is.
Vladimir Nabokov, Lolita

 I never realized before there were so many ways to die. So many ways to kill people. Why are there so many deadly weapons?

Clapp rubbed his lip and looked down at her. “Listen, Miss Gilbert. I’ve come to figure that man is the only deadly weapon. Take a gun. It’s an absolutely harmless thing—even makes a good honest paperweight—until some man gets his hands around it. You can strip a gun down to its basic parts and it’s lost its power. You can reduce a man to his chemical elements, but you’ve always got the spirit of whatever you call it left. And that spirit will find some damned way to do evil.
Wade Miller, Deadly weapon

————

Beneath the Veil Cover
Click cover for the GoodReads page.

There are secrets. Secrets hidden between the darkness of the world and the darkness of the human soul Secrets wander amongst the lost, where only the dead are truly free. Secrets live within the darkness, sucking away the human soul, leaving a shell of nothing but horror.

Barry Ryan is learning about secrets. His personal secret, that he is dying of an inherited disease. The bigger secret, hidden under layers of history, that there is something strange, very strange, about his family and where he came from. An adopted child, Barry has done well in his life. A famous sculptor, Barry has friends, a career, and an adoptive family that loves him. But with only a familial match capable of giving him the marrow transplant he needs to survive, Barry must return to his roots, return to the shadows of the past – the shadows and secrets of a place called Auraria.

With his sister, and her boyfriend, Barry begins his trip to Auraria. And thus begins a trip to Hell. But a Hell of whose creation? Layers of lies and superstition and death fill the pages of “Beneath the Veil.” I was immediately drawn into the story, as reality becomes merely a memory. As truth and physics and geography twist and turn upon themselves, into a horror no longer dreamed, but lived.

The story itself was well written and convincingly frightening. The characters themselves are believable, though they could have been a bit better ‘fleshed out’ in my opinion, though some would say that doing so would cause the story to drag a bit. To each their own.  The author doesn’t lead you by the hand through the book, you must come to some of your own conclusions, and this is not a book tied up in a tidy little bow at the end. It is, however, extremely creative, and, for a horror novel, ended in a deeply thoughtful manner. Overall, I found there were some small missteps, but I am quite comfortable with my rating. If you are a lover of horror, mystery, or thrilling ghost stories, this is most certainly going to interest you.

Recommended.

Review: Wink by Eric Trant – Five Star Review

wink
Click to order the book. Really. click it. You won’t regret it. You need to read this book!

Sometimes we hear a voice. Deep at times, at times trembling on the very edge of hearing, a vibration, a whisper. A voice that reaches into your soul and changes what was there before. Rarely do you find these voices, but when they do, they are to be cherished.

Eric Trant has that voice. He speaks of the darkness in the human soul. The pain, the agony of savagery and brutality, of hopelessness and agony too deep to bear. Of the absolute depths of what can pass for a human soul. I could taste Trant’s characters on the back of my tongue, copper and brass and old, diseased blood. Smell the decay of souls rotted beyond redemption.

Yet on top of that, he layers a sheen of hope, a blue-shimmering breath of possibility, scented and yet not seen. Two children, separated by the width of a yard, and by a chasm of darkness without end. One child broken, trapped within her house, neat and tidy and real. The other living inside a nightmare with no end: It was a place where the unburied dead mired themselves between life and death. It was a place of half-living, half-dead, spiritless creatures, and except for Marty, what lived there did not walk and dwell like other living things, but crawled and crept and slithered and hid from the light.

So much of this book is lived within the ‘real world’. A world of poverty, drug addiction, hoarding, hatred and child abuse. A world of no hope, no joy, no possibilities. And then, things begin to change . . .

Thrilling, painful, heart-rending and yet hopeful. All of these things and more. I highly recommend this book, no matter if you like thrillers and paranormal, or are up for some heavy-duty literary fiction. The book walked right inside me and turned on a light in a dark place.

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