Blood Like Magic by Liselle Sambury #bookreview #YA #urbanfantasy #scifi #TuesdayBookBlog

A rich, dark urban fantasy debut following a teen witch who is given a horrifying task: sacrificing her first love to save her family’s magic. The problem is, she’s never been in love—she’ll have to find the perfect guy before she can kill him.

After years of waiting for her Calling—a trial every witch must pass in order to come into their powers—the one thing Voya Thomas didn’t expect was to fail. When Voya’s ancestor gives her an unprecedented second chance to complete her Calling, she agrees—and then is horrified when her task is to kill her first love. And this time, failure means every Thomas witch will be stripped of their magic.

Voya is determined to save her family’s magic no matter the cost. The problem is, Voya has never been in love, so for her to succeed, she’ll first have to find the perfect guy—and fast. Fortunately, a genetic matchmaking program has just hit the market. Her plan is to join the program, fall in love, and complete her task before the deadline. What she doesn’t count on is being paired with the infuriating Luc—how can she fall in love with a guy who seemingly wants nothing to do with her?

With mounting pressure from her family, Voya is caught between her morality and her duty to her bloodline. If she wants to save their heritage and Luc, she’ll have to find something her ancestor wants more than blood. And in witchcraft, blood is everything.

The main reason I requested this book, other than that beautiful cover, is the high stakes/high pressure situation Voya is put in and the mention of witches and genetics.

I didn’t realize this was a futuristic Toronto setting (why aren’t more books set in Canada?), but that made me like it even more. I’m pretty sure I’ve never read about futuristic witches. The mixture of urban fantasy and sci-fi was also surprising, and now I’m wondering why there aren’t more novels with this blend of genres.

The first several pages are an introduction to Voya’s family – and it’s a large one. Honestly, a family tree might have helped with this dysfunctional bunch. They argue, insult, and mess with one another, but it’s clear the love runs deeply, and family is a priority. In Voya’s case, she puts everyone ahead of her own interests and desires and suffers from a severe case of low self esteem. She’s been anxious for her Calling, but fears she’ll be the first of her family in decades not to come into her powers. Flawed and full of self-doubt, you can’t help rooting for her. Voya is also a talented cook, using some of her own original recipes as well as her ancestors’ (yes, I totally drooled – but maybe not over the goat dishes), and I enjoyed learning about the Trinidadian culture.

Luc (thrilled he’s a trans character) is a tough nut to crack. He initially comes across as an arrogant genius, but with Voya’s prodding his walls gradually disintegrate. As a complex character I still think there are several layers left undiscovered, and I’m not sure how I felt about him at the end of the novel. It’s an ending I couldn’t have predicted.

Voya’s Calling is a seemingly impossible task with terrible consequences no matter which decision she makes. I had no idea how this would play out and almost dreaded seeing what she’d do. The magic system is well thought out and, although complicated, is explained well. One of my favorite things about this world is how accepting it is of all genders, identities, and sexualities, and the characters are diverse. At nearly five hundred pages, this is a long one for YA, but it’s the first of a series and contains the initial world-building.

Impossible stakes, magic, a dysfunctional, loving family, first love, and killings, Blood Like Magic contains a multi-layered plot and a MC asked to make an impossible choice. I’m axious to see where this series goes next.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Fire with Fire by Destiny Soria #bookreview #YA #fantasy #dragons

Dani and Eden Rivera were both born to kill dragons, but the sisters couldn’t be more different. For Dani, dragon slaying takes a back seat to normal high school life, while Eden prioritizes training above everything else. Yet they both agree on one thing: it’s kill or be killed where dragons are concerned.

Until Dani comes face-to-face with one and forges a rare and magical bond with him. As she gets to know Nox, she realizes that everything she thought she knew about dragons is wrong. With Dani lost to the dragons, Eden turns to the mysterious and alluring sorcerers to help save her sister. Now on opposite sides of the conflict, the sisters will do whatever it takes to save the other. But the two are playing with magic that is more dangerous than they know, and there is another, more powerful enemy waiting for them both in the shadows. 

Julie Kagawa’s Talon series turned me into a big dragon fan. It’s not hard to see why this book made its way to my TBR.

With this being an urban fantasy, the author did an excellent job with world-building. Dragons and sorcerers have existed for hundreds of years with humans believing they’re nothing but a myth. Dani, Eden, and their family have had to straddle both worlds for years and lie to everyone about being slayers.

It’s evident early on that Dani and Eden are opposites. Dani has a natural talent when it comes to dragon slayer training, but all she wants is a normal life with friends, school, and a summer job. For her sister Eden, joining the family business is everything, but without a natural aptitude she has to work much harder to succeed. Although the older sister, she’s always felt as if she lives in Dani’s shadow. She just wants to be seen and appreciated for her talents, and that’s exactly what the sorcerers offer her. Talk about manipulation. Despite the sisters’ differences and occasional arguments, the bond between them figures prominently in the story.

The soul bond between Dani and Nox takes both of them by surprise, and it doesn’t start off as an easy or natural relationship – totally understandable when one is a human and the other a dragon. Once they grow more comfortable, their snarky comments to each other became one of my favorite parts of the book. Dani’s relationship with best friend Tomas (and his completely easy to love family) is also a bright spot. Why people think platonic relationships of the opposite sex are impossible is beyond me.

The teen conversations come across as entirely authentic, and the plot moves along at a brisk pace. It certainly didn’t feel like a 400+ page book. This novel appears to be a standalone, but the author left a door open to continue this story, and I’d love to see what happens next.

With complex family dynamics, power plays, sorcerers, magic, beautiful friendships – and most of all dragons, this is a novel that will make urban fantasy fans very happy.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

The Ballad of Mrs. Molony (The Hat #3) by C.S. Boyack #bookreview #vampires #paranormal #TuesdayBookBlog

Lizzie and the hat are back, and this time they’re chasing vampires across a subculture of America. A pair of rodeo cowboys are holding a woman captive to use like a milk cow since they joined the undead.

The person who put them onto the trail is also a vampire, but he has to be the worst vampire in history. Is he really that pitiful, or is he setting a trap for our heroes? Does the woman even exist? Can Lizzie and the hat find her before she also takes up blood sucking?

Follow Lizzie and the hat as they use their cover band to stalk vamps across the country music scene. 

I’m a real fan of this series and, also being a vamp fan, was super excited to go on this hunting/staking adventure with Lizzie and the hat.

Working several part time jobs and playing in a band keep Lizzie busy enough, but she and the hat also have a duty to fight crime. Luckily, they can still make some money playing gigs at the same time. When Kevin asks Lizzie and the hat to help rescue his sister from a group of vampires, Lizzie wants to volunteer, but the hat is suspicious. Kevin is also a vampire, but not the dark, mysterious, sexy type – trust me on this. He doesn’t feed on humans, and he certainly doesn’t sparkle, but the hat wants to stake him anyway, nice guy or not. Having no choice but to give in, the hat loses this battle.

The banter between Lizzie and the hat is always a favorite for me in this series. Sometimes it’s like listening to an old married couple. Since discovering the internet (especially Amazon), the hat has discovered the joys of online shopping. Lizzie has to occasionally veto purchasing requests (I didn’t think the fog machine was an entirely bad idea) due to budget constraints. At least it keeps him busy (he doesn’t sleep) and out of Lizzie’s hair for a while.

I’m not a country music fan, so I was amused by the band’s attempts to slide some other non-country artists into the playlist by introducing them as cowboys. I also snorted out loud several times at the hat’s attempts to remember (more like poke fun at) Kevin’s sister’s name, Ida Rose.

At less than two hundred pages, this is a quick read. With humor, vampires (one that’s very memorable), banter, and music, this is another adventurous romp with the ever patient Lizzie and shopaholic hat. The fourth book in the series dropped recently, and I can’t wait to get started.

Buried by Sue Rovens #bookreview #horror #thriller

I published this yesterday from the WP app, but something went wonky with it. Imagine that – something going wonky with WP. Anyhoo, I’m posting it again today. We’re in the midst of moving my son, so I may not be able to get to comments right away.

Hoarding is about to take a sharp left turn into the macabre.

Priscilla Wyatt is a nursing assistant who lives behind the Sommerville Funeral Home. When her dachshund, Weenie, returns home with a ghastly find, Pris’s life spirals out of control. What was once a troublesome disorder soon dissolves into a hellish nightmare from which she attempts to escape.

Gerald Zenith, proprietor of Sommerville, is too busy running scams and keeping tabs on his necrophiliac subordinate to notice what is really happening during the wee hours of the morning in the cemetery. While he was certain his ghoulish past would never catch up with him, he never realized the dead could actually return.

Some secrets are too big to stay buried.

Trust me when I say there are some strange and highly disturbed folks in this small town. A therapist could make a killing with this many patients.

Sommerville Funeral Home is busy all hours of the day and night, but not all the activities are legal. Two sets of books are kept – one that shows a respectable business and the other contains the real financial transactions. The owner is scamming the public, putting multiple bodies in graves as one example, but the most unsettling occurrence is what happens to some of the customers’ deceased family members. One of the employees is a necrophiliac – see what I mean about disturbed?

Another resident of this town, Pris, is a hoarder – and I’m not talking about just piles of magazines, clothes, etc. Her dog brings home body parts he digs up from the cemetery next door. Can you guess the types of things she begins hoarding? When her friend offers to help Pris clean her house, she makes several discoveries that indicate Pris needs professional help – and it’s not just a cleaning service. Warning: You probably shouldn’t be eating while reading about these discoveries.

It’s apparent the author did thorough research for this novel – I can only imagine what someone would think if they saw her Google searches. Surprisingly, it also contains some humorous moments, and I found myself laughing over some passages. Another reviewer stated this story has a Fargo feel, and I have to agree – dark, quirky and bizarre. It’s an unsettling, grisly tale you can’t look away from and is sure to delight horror and suspense fans.

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune #bookreview #fantasy #LGBT #TuesdayBookBlog

A magical island. A dangerous task. A burning secret.

Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages.

When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.

But the children aren’t the only secret the island keeps. Their caretaker is the charming and enigmatic Arthur Parnassus, who will do anything to keep his wards safe. As Arthur and Linus grow closer, long-held secrets are exposed, and Linus must make a choice: destroy a home or watch the world burn.

An enchanting story, masterfully told, The House in the Cerulean Sea is about the profound experience of discovering an unlikely family in an unexpected place—and realizing that family is yours.

I’d seen so much hype about this book and really hoped I wouldn’t be let down when I read it. I wasn’t. It’s utter perfection. I’d give it one hundred stars if I could and doubt I can do it justice in this review.

Linus Baker leads a fairly uneventful, solitary life, residing with a cat with an attitude who basically adopted him and listening to the rants of his nosy neighbor. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge of Magical Youth (DICOMA), he’s grossly underappreciated, but kept busy making sure the children in orphanages are being properly cared for. It’s a job he takes very seriously, and he places the welfare of the children above all else. When he’s given a highly classified assignment, he’s ill-prepared for what awaits him on Marsyas Island. Little does he know it will be a profound, life-changing experience.

I fell in love with Linus, Arthur, and all of the children – they grabbed my heart and didn’t let go. Many of Linus’s interactions with Lucy (short for Lucifer, the Antichist) had me laughing out loud and were some of my favorite scenes. This is a beautifully told story about acceptance, found families, and opening yourself up to possibilities. I’ve already recommended it to several people and honestly feel like it should be required reading. Upon reaching the end, I wanted to start all over again and spend more time with these characters in their world. It’s heartwarming, endearing, delightful – I guarantee you’ll experience all the feels with this novel. It will always be one of my favorites.

Rabbits by Terry Miles #bookreview #scifi #technothriller

Conspiracies abound in this surreal and yet all-too-real technothriller in which a deadly underground alternate reality game might just be altering reality itself, set in the same world as the popular Rabbits podcast.

It’s an average work day. You’ve been wrapped up in a task, and you check the clock when you come up for air–4:44 pm. You go to check your email, and 44 unread messages have built up. With a shock, you realize it is April 4th–4/4. And when you get in your car to drive home, your odometer reads 44,444. Coincidence? Or have you just seen the edge of a rabbit hole?

Rabbits is a mysterious alternate reality game so vast it uses our global reality as its canvas. Since the game first started in 1959, ten iterations have appeared and nine winners have been declared. Their identities are unknown. So is their reward, which is whispered to be NSA or CIA recruitment, vast wealth, immortality, or perhaps even the key to unlocking the secrets of the universe itself. But the deeper you get, the more deadly the game becomes. Players have died in the past–and the body count is rising.

And now the eleventh round is about to begin. Enter K–a Rabbits obsessive who has been trying to find a way into the game for years. That path opens when K is approached by billionaire Alan Scarpio, the alleged winner of the sixth iteration. Scarpio says that something has gone wrong with the game and that K needs to fix it before Eleven starts or the whole world will pay the price.

Five days later, Scarpio is declared missing. Two weeks after that, K blows the deadline and Eleven begins. And suddenly, the fate of the entire universe is at stake.

I couldn’t resist this description of an alternate reality game – and it turned out to be a mindbender of a book.

I wasn’t familiar with the Rabbits podcast created by this author, but after checking it out it seems to be pretty popular. The website states it’s a documentary/docudrama, and the show’s producers won’t admit it isn’t real. That little niggle at the back of my brain wondering if this could really happen made this story even more appealing for me. The game of Rabbits is kind of like Fight Club – you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist, and you tell no one you’re playing. Rumors about its purpose have surrounded the game for years, and the identities of the winners are unknown. It involves finding patterns, inconsistencies, and following clues in our everyday world, and the players seem to be pretty tech savvy and geniuses at detecting subtle irregularities.

After K is contacted by Scarpio (a former winner – maybe?) who tells him something has gone wrong with the game, things take a dark turn. Players go missing and/or turn up dead. K has had some issues in his past and at times is unsure of what’s real and what’s not – along with the reader. He loses time, encounters shadow figures, and remembers movies that don’t exist. My jaw dropped more than once at unanticipated twists, and I formed all sorts of theories.

At times, you’ll feel like you’re literally going down a rabbit hole with the characters, then look up at the clock and see you’ve also lost time because you need to know what’s happening. With quantum physics, alternate realities, false memory syndrome, and more, Rabbits is a trippy and often baffling novel I’d recommend to avid sci-fi fans. Now I’ll be looking for patterns and inconsistencies everywhere.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Simulated (Calculated #2) by Nova McBee #bookreview #YA #thriller #TuesdayBookBlog

From Young-Adult author Nova McBee comes the second book in the gritty, action-filled Calculated series.

Jo Rivers, safely back in Seattle, asks the same question daily—how does a math genius go from taking down international criminals and saving the world economy to living a normal teenage life? The only answer she can come up with is—she doesn’t.

With an overprotective father on her back and Kai on the other side of the world, Jo accepts an offer from Prodigy Stealth Solutions (PSS), who may have found a way to get her gift back. Using a newly developed technology, PSS tries a simulation process on Jo to restore her abilities, but during the attempt, PSS is hacked and a blacklist file containing some of PSS’s most sensitive secrets is stolen. Meanwhile, a mysterious caller who seems to know more than he should delivers a warning to Jo about Kai, who then goes missing.

Despite her father’s concerns, Jo sets off on a risky trip to Tunisia with a PSS team of teen prodigies to find an urgently needed solution for PSS and locate Kai. All the while, Jo has to trust the mysterious informant who, frighteningly, is like no one she has ever met before.

I just finished the first book in this series, Calculated, in November so I was thrilled to see the sequel available so soon on NetGalley.

The second book starts with a slower pace of life for Jo back in Seattle. In the first book, she relied on her gift, the ability to see numbers everywhere and in everything, to make mathematical-based decisions. While Calculated is intricately plotted and full of action, Simulated has a bit of a different feel. At the end of Calculated Jo had lost her gift and is now like a fish out of water struggling to live without it. With the help of PSS and their simulations, she’s fighting to awaken it, but things aren’t going so well. Without the numbers to back her up, Jo is unsure of herself and her decisions, but then a mysterious hacker appears in her sims and guarantees he can help her regain her gift. I feel like most readers will figure out the identity of this hacker early on. Wickedly intelligent and good-hearted, he brings an addional layer of mystery and intrigue to the story. Jo wants to trust him, but her team and boss aren’t as convinced, and she finds herself at a crossroads in her life.

Jo is soon on a plane headed for a mission in Tunisia, but also with a secret agenda of locating Kai. As with the Shanghai setting in the first book, this novel immerses the reader in the country and culture of Tunisia (I especially enjoyed the food!). There’s no sophomore slump here. This heart-pounding sequel offers just as many dangerous and harrowing moments – especially since Jo can’t rely on the numbers and doesn’t hesitate to take risks. Several new characters are introduced, and I enjoyed meeting the other prods (prodigies) on her team.

I wasn’t sure if this was a duology or trilogy, but upon reaching the end I was thrilled to learn there’s a third book in the works. The epilogue offers a surprise that gives a hint where the next story may be headed. If you enjoy intelligent thrillers with spies, covert missions, and surprising twists (and math that’s faaaar out of your lane), add this series to your TBR.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Ember of Night by Molly E. Lee #bookreview #YA #paranormal

I am a weed.

Unloved by my abusive, alcoholic dad. Unwanted by my classmates. Unnoticed by everyone else.

But I’d suffer anything to give my kid sister a better life—the minute I turn eighteen, I’m getting us the hell out of here. And some hot stranger telling me I am the key to stopping a war between Heaven and Hell isn’t going to change that.

Let the world crumble and burn, for all I care.

Draven is relentless, though. And very much a liar. Every time his sexy lips are moving, I can see it—in the dip of his head, the grit of his jaw—even if my heart begs me to ignore the signs.

So what does he want?

I need to figure it out fast, because now everyone is gunning for me. And damn if I don’t want to show them what happens when you let weeds thrive in the cracks of the pavement…

We can grow powerful enough to shatter the whole foundation.

It’s been a while since I’ve read a paranormal novel, and I liked main character Harley’s voice in the description – determined, stubborn, and protective of her sister.

The way Harley has been treated throughout most of her life – physically and verbally abused by her father – would be enough to shut down almost anyone. But she has her little sister to protect and a plan to get both of them away from him when Harley turns eighteen. She works for Nathan at his restaurant, and he’s a bright spot both in this novel and in the girls’ lives, offering them food, love, and a safe place to stay when needed. The sister bond between Harley and Ray is also a strong point of the story and the driving force behind most everything Harley does. She’s a survivor.

I’ve never been a fan of insta-love, but that generally comes with the territory in YA paranormal books, and it happens here from nearly the first page. The on-again, off-again, you-should-stay-away-from-me-I’m-dangerous push and pull between Harley and Draven will no doubt delight many readers, but it was the world-building that interested me. Throughout the story it’s evident Harley is something other than human and is only beginning to come into her powers. I liked watching her learn about the fantasy world she’s suddenly a part of – she can roll with the punches both figuratively and literally because there are also several exciting fight scenes that are done well.

The ending brings a pretty shocking cliffhanger and lays groundwork for book two. Ember of Night deals with some disturbing topics, and the author gives trigger warnings at the beginning which readers should absolutely take into account before deciding to proceed. Although tropey, this is an engaging read I’d recommend to devoted paranormal fans.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Curse of the Specter Queen by Jenny Elder Moke #bookreview #YA #mystery #historicalfiction #TuesdayBookBlog

MAY THE HAZEL BRING YOU WISDOM AND THE ASPEN GUIDE AND PROTECT YOU…

Samantha Knox put away her childish fantasies of archaeological adventure the day her father didn’t return home from the Great War, retreating to the safety of the antique bookshop where she works. But when a mysterious package arrives with a damaged diary inside, Sam’s peaceful life is obliterated. Ruthless men intent on reclaiming the diary are after Sam, setting her and her best friend, along with her childhood crush, on a high-stakes adventure that lands them in the green hills outside Dublin, Ireland. Here they discover an ancient order with a dark purpose – to perform an occult ritual that will raise the Specter Queen, the Celtic goddess of vengeance and death, to bring about a war unlike any the world has ever seen. To stop them, Sam must solve a deviously complex cipher – one that will lead her on a treasure hunt to discover the ancient relic at the heart of the ritual: a bowl carved from the tree of life. Will she find the bowl and stop the curse of the Specter Queen, or will the ancient order bring about the end of the world?

Indiana Jones gets a refresh with this female-driven mystery adventure, set in the 1920s, full of ciphers, ancient relics, and heart-stopping action – the first in a brand-new series! 

As an Indiana Jones fan, I was all in after reading this description. A 1920s setting, ciphers, ancient relics, and lots of action? Sold.

Sam Knox is my kind of people – she treasures books. In the bookstore where she’s employed, she repairs and catalogues them and speaks to them as if they’re people. She has an insatiable curiosity about the world she lives in and dreams of traveling beyond the small town where she resides. And she doesn’t have to wait long. One mysterious diary, a life-threatening bookshop fire, and a frantic rush to Chicago later, she soon finds herself on a ship to Ireland.

Intelligent, determined, loyal, and selfless, Sam is a relatable main character. Seeing her step outside the comfort zone of the bookshop was thrilling, and I enjoyed learning how her mind works while solving the puzzles and following clues. She’s certainly not afraid to take risks. Bennett shares her love of archeology, and the hints of romance between them are sweet – they’re like a double dose of cinnamon rolls. Jo adds some lighter moments to the story – she’s one crafty, resourceful girl and a force to be reckoned with. She also challenges her brother Bennett at every turn.

This is an enthralling mystery with high stakes and surprising turns that takes you on an action-packed adventure overseas on an ocean liner and across the rolling hills of Ireland With shades of Indiana Jones, The Mummy, and National Treasure, this is a novel I’d recommend to readers who enjoy puzzles and piecing together clues. I’m hoping the author has plans to make this into a series.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

Goblin by Josh Malerman #bookreview #horror

From the New York Times bestselling author of Bird Box and Malorie, a novella collection in which every story reveals a sinister secret about a mysterious small town

Goblin seems like any other ordinary small town. But with the master storyteller Josh Malerman as your tour guide, you’ll discover the secrets that hide behind its closed doors. These six novellas tell the story of a place where the rain is always falling, nighttime is always near, and your darkest fears and desires await. Welcome to Goblin. . . .

A Man in Slices: A man proves his “legendary love” to his girlfriend with a sacrifice even more daring than Vincent van Gogh’s–and sends her more than his heart.

Kamp: Walter Kamp is afraid of everything, but most afraid of being scared to death. As he sets traps around his home to catch the ghosts that haunt him, he learns that nothing is more terrifying than fear itself.

Happy Birthday, Hunter!: A famed big-game hunter is determined to capture–and kill–the ultimate prey: the mythic Great Owl who lives in Goblin’s dark forests. But this mysterious creature is not the only secret the woods are keeping.

Presto: All Peter wants is to be like his hero, Roman Emperor, the greatest magician in the world. When the famous magician comes to Goblin, Peter discovers that not all magic is just an illusion.

A Mix-Up at the Zoo: The new zookeeper feels a mysterious kinship with the animals in his care . . . and finds that his work is freeing dark forces inside him.

The Hedges: When his wife dies, a man builds a hedge maze so elaborate no one ever solves it–until a little girl resolves to be the first to find the mysteries that wait at its heart. 

I’ve read several books by this author and consider myself a fan, but this is probably my least favorite.

I like the concept of six novellas with a common theme – this one being the bizarre town of Goblin. There’s a bit of overlap with some of the stories – names of businesses, the mention of another character, etc. – but each stands on its own. It’s one seriously creepy town with some sinister residents and not a place you’d want to visit. Given its origin story, it’s no wonder such heinous events have occurred throughout the town’s history. My favorite of the six stories would have to be Presto. I felt Peter’s excitement at meeting his hero magician in person, and the idea of a magician practicing “dark” magic was deliciously macabre.

The author really knows how to set an eerie tone and make you almost dread what might be waiting around the corner for his characters or under their bed. Considering these six stories are novellas, he also does an admirable job with characterization in just a few pages. It was mainly the story endings that didn’t work for me. Most of them left me frustrated after such a tantalizing plot buildup only to be let down at the finish.

Although this isn’t my favorite Malerman book, it certainly won’t prevent me from reading his next one. Reviews seem to be split, so other readers may enjoy it more.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.