horror

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Blog Tour – Doll House by Ashley Lister

Published September 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Following the death of his best friend, author Ben Haversham is crippled by a terminal case of writer’s block. The isolation of his agent’s remote cottage, nestled in an out-of-the-way village, seems like the ideal location for him to rekindle his creativity.

Except, Sandalwood village, with its curious museum the ‘Doll House’, is not as idyllic as it first appears.

There is a history to Sandalwood. There are nefarious plots and dark secrets held by the sinister souls who reside in Sandalwood. And there are dark and dangerous characters determined to keep those secrets.

Even if his own ghosts hadn’t followed him to Sandalwood, Ben discovers that he would still have been haunted by the many malevolent spirits that reside in the village beneath the shadow of the Doll House.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Caffeine Nights Publishing for sending me a review copy in exchange for an honest review. I’m a huge fan of all things horror (raised as a child on Point Horror then graduating to James Herbert, Dean Koontz and Stephen King) but I’ve read surprisingly little of it in recent years. I’m not sure why, I seem to have difficulties finding anything that stands out in the genre, or wins both the popularity contest and legions of fans which usually attracts my attention on social media. Well, I’m so glad that this was brought to my attention because as soon as I read that synopsis, I knew it was time to dip my toes into the genre again and find out whether I still had the strength of stomach to deal with it.

Do you need a strong stomach for Doll House? Absolutely. It’s incredibly graphic in points both in horrific descriptions of violence and in one case, sexually graphic so if you’re prone to a bit of queasiness, just warning you now. However, I was delighted that my stomach seemed to be as steady as I remembered and I found this a fascinating, disturbing and incredibly memorable novel in the way that parts of it will be demonstrably difficult to forget.

Ashley Lister, author of Doll House.

I don’t want to delve too deeply into the synopsis as the blurb above does a brilliant job of that all by itself. All I will say is that it involves a cottage where an author is working on his next novel, some terrifying goings-on with dolls, clowns, the supernatural and some very shady, untrustworthy and terrifying characters that may have ulterior motives and not necessarily our main character, Ben Haversham’s best interests at heart. The sense of isolation and unpleasant nature of the narrative is only heightened by the fact that Ben finds himself completely trapped, unable to advance beyond a certain point or indeed, exit the village at all. Additionally, how is it that Ben’s novel appears to be writing itself whilst he is sleeping and has no recollection of writing at all? Even more shockingly, what is the real purpose behind Ben’s habitation in the cottage? Is it to write his next book or is there something much more forbidding going on in Sandalwood?

Wow. This was a ride I really wasn’t expecting. Having had no prior experience with the author’s work I’m always curious about what to expect, particularly in the horror genre. I like to think of myself as being quite difficult to scare although I must confess, as I get older I do feel slightly more vulnerable to any “bumps in the night,” within a narrative! There were moments in this novel that I was genuinely petrified and was glad to have been reading it in the daylight hours and not alone in bed, particularly when our main character is so isolated and cut off from “normal” society himself. It’s a fairly short novel at 229 pages in the paperback edition and although it’s easy to consume in one or two sittings, at the same time it feels the perfect length for what the author was attempting to achieve. It’s definitely a novel that has made me more keen to branch out in the horror genre and see what I can find and of course, to read another book by Ashley Lister.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Ashley Lister is a prolific author, having written more than fifty full length titles and over a hundred short stories. Aside from regularly blogging about writing erotica, Ashley also lectures in creative writing and hosts open mic poetry events in Blackpool, Lancashire. Doll House is Ashley Lister’s second horror novel from Caffeine Nights, following on the success of the much acclaimed Raven and Skull.

Website : http://www.ashleylister.co.uk/

Twitter: @ashleylister

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater and Caffeine Nights for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Doll House will be published by Caffeine Nights on 28th June 2018 and is available as a paperback and a digital e-book. If you fancy more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to Doll House on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41542428-doll-house

Link to Doll House on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Doll-House-Ashley-Lister/dp/1910720933/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1536864327&sr=8-1&keywords=doll+house+ashley+lister

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Finders Keepers (Bill Hodges Trilogy #2) – Stephen King

Published September 13, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

Wake up, genius.

The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

What did I think?:

Those of you who might have been following my set of reviews on the Dark Tower series, never fear, the review of book three, The Wastelands is coming soon but I thought I’d slot in another King book I managed to read in between my Dark Tower re-read, the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy, Finders Keepers. For the first book in the series, please check out my review HERE. This particular series featuring hard-boiled retired detective Hodges was a bit of a departure for King and his first non-supernatural foray into the crime genre. He’s had a bit of criticism (which I think is going to come with ANYTHING he writes, being such a prolific author!) and to be honest, even my other half sadly gave up on Mr Mercedes halfway through pronouncing it “not his cup of tea.” However, I have really enjoyed the series so far and am intrigued as to the direction King is taking his trio of lead characters – Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney and Jerome Robinson.

Stephen King, author of Finders Keepers, the second book in the Bill Hodges trilogy.

As with all trilogies, I would one hundred percent recommend reading Mr Mercedes before reading this book. Although we don’t hear much from the serial killer in the first book for reasons I simply cannot divulge for fear of spoilers, there are connections throughout the narrative to what has happened in the first novel, particularly as we come to an absolute blistering cliffhanger of an ending. In Finders Keepers, Hodges is following a new case of a celebrated author – John Rothstein who has recently been murdered by an obsessive fan, Morris Bellamy. Bellamy has become particularly crazed about one particular recurring character of Rothstein’s and is furious at the direction the author chose to steer his male lead in. However, when he gets out of prison, he learns that there is a final novel featuring this character in the possession of a young lad called Pete Saubers. He will stop at nothing to get his hands on this gold-mine putting Pete in a very precarious situation and in desperate need of Hodges’ help.

The actor Brendan Gleeson, who played Bill Hodges in the recent TV adaptation.

I was slightly surprised to realise that the focus of the second novel in the series wouldn’t be on the serial killer of the first novel but involve a completely new case. However, within a mere few chapters, I was completely compelled and devoured the novel in a couple of days, unable to put it down. In retrospect, I’m really pleased that King chose to do this, particularly when I consider the ending which leaves EVERYTHING open for the final book in the series. Some critics may also say that King is falling back on the same old formula of an obsessive fan and an author which he has already explored in novels such as Misery and Lisey’s Story. This is especially true of the former where the infamous Annie Wilkes is also none too impressed about how her beloved female lead character, Misery Chastain is treated by author, Paul Sheldon.

Personally, I really didn’t care. I love it when King re-hashes this trope and feel every time he does it, he manages to bring something fresh and new with despicable characters that it’s impossible to erase from your memory. I’m sure he’s had his fair share of crazed fans in his career (I promise I’m not one of them!!) and perhaps he draws on his considerable experience as a best-selling author to bring even more credibility to his stories. I believe so, anyway. Having read Finders Keepers a little while ago now, I still cannot believe I haven’t managed to get to the final book in the series, End Of Watch yet. As I read THAT ending, I did the audible gasp thing, the hugging the book in anticipation thing, the looking longingly at End Of Watch on my shelves thing…. and yet still, I keep making other books a priority. Well, no more. I am determined to complete the series, at least by the end of the year so watch this space for a review coming your way *hopefully* very soon!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – The Underhouse by Gerard Woodward from the collection The New Uncanny: Tales Of Unease edited by Sarah Eyre and Ra Page.

Published August 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s The Underhouse all about?:

The Underhouse follows an odd gentleman who decides to remodel his house in an upside down fashion.

What did I think?:

I’ve mentioned before that one of the reasons I love short story collections that feature multiple authors is that I get to read work from an author I’ve never heard of before. Gerard Woodward was another one of those authors for me. On doing a little bit of research on him, I can’t believe his work has passed me by. He is probably most famous for his trilogy of novels that followed a troubled family, the second of which – I’ll Go To Bed At Noon was short-listed for the 2004 Man Booker Prize. He is also a prolific poet, his first collection being published in the late eighties and his most recent, The Seacunny in 2012. The Underhouse is one of the shorter stories in this collection as as a result, I don’t have a whole lot to say about it except that it’s perfectly obvious that Woodward has a talent for sucking the reader into his world in a very short space of time.

Gerard Woodward, author of The Underhouse.

This story follows our unnamed narrator who becomes obsessed with a peculiar aspect of his house. At first, he wants to make his cellar and the room above (the sitting room) exactly the same height so he lowers the cellar floor to make this just right. This isn’t quite good enough and he then becomes fixated on making the cellar an exact replica of the room above i.e. the same furniture, curtains, light fixtures and fittings BUT (and here’s the twist) as an “upside down” version so the cellar looks like an exact mirror image of the room above. He goes to extraordinary lengths to make sure everything matches exactly and is delighted with the eventual outcome. However, you might be wondering why this story is in a collection entitled The New Uncanny? Well, he uses this strange gravity-defying room to deliberately unnerve other people, making them feel quite uncomfortable and uneasy in this abnormal, incredibly unique setting.

Well, this was an odd little tale! I liked the imaginative idea behind it and have to admit I was wondering how it was going to become “uncanny.” In the end, I found what our narrator did quite unnerving but perhaps not as disturbing as I was expecting. It’s certainly a strange situation to find yourself in and even that picture is making me feel a bit ill just looking at it so I can imagine if I was placed in those circumstances, it would probably have the desired effect on me! I don’t really have any strong criticism or feelings towards the story either way, I enjoyed the writing style and appreciated what the author was trying to do but I couldn’t help but wish it had been a bit longer so that the narrator had a bit more of a chance to tell the reader how exactly he was using the room for his own devious plans.

However, I would definitely check out Gerard Woodward’s work in the future as he’s clearly an intriguing writer with a plethora of interesting ideas.

Would I recommend it?:

Probably!

Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

NEXT SHORT STORY: The Adventure Of The Copper Beeches by Arthur Conan Doyle from the collection The Adventures Of Sherlock Holmes.

Blog Tour – The Log House by Baylea Hart

Published June 5, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The forest is a deadly place.

Nobody knows this better than Penny. She has spent her whole life hiding in the darkness, shielding herself from the terrors that watch and wait within the trees.

When Penny is abandoned and left for dead in the forest, she is forced to navigate this terrifying labyrinth in order to return home to her son and take revenge on the woman who tried to kill her.

But the murderous creatures with the false smiles aren’t the only monsters to lurk in the forest, and some demons may be closer than she thinks.

What did I think?:

First of all, a huge thank you to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and to Unbound Publishers for sending me a copy of this astonishing novel in exchange for an honest review. I haven’t read any horror stories for a little while now and as it’s one of my favourite genres, it was about time that I re-visited it once more! So when the email from Anne flew in and I read the synopsis, I couldn’t have be quicker in replying to her with an ardent: “Yes please!” Horror can be a bit hit and miss sometimes. For me, an author has to really get under my skin, build up that tension and drama and the terrifying moments have to be convincing and genuinely scare me. I mentioned in a review recently that events in a horror novel or film are often a lot more frightening if the creature/monster/villain is not completely seen, in other words – if it is only hinted at and left in shadow.

Has anyone seen the film Jeepers Creepers? As soon as I saw the monster in all its glory, I wasn’t scared anymore. (To be perfectly honest, I found it quite funny and not in the least scary but that says more about my sense of humour than the creature in the film, I think!!). Anyway, I digress – back to The Log House. What I’m trying to say is that Baylea Hart pulled off the scary moments in her novel wonderfully well. She doesn’t completely unearth the creature, there’s mention of the colour grey, and long, claw like hands but we don’t ever get the full detail about what it looks like. For me, this made it MORE frightening and definitely ensured my thorough enjoyment of the novel as a whole.

Jeepers Creepers – you don’t scare ME! The Log House? Umm…. you do!

So, the synopsis above already does a wonderful job of explaining what this novel explores and I don’t think I could do much better. Basically, we follow a young mother called Penelope who lives in a safe house with a number of other residents, including Mary whom she has had a bit of history with. Penny ends up in the forest on her own because of the bad blood between Mary and herself. She has a head and ankle injury and is quite far away from home but that’s the least of her problems. A safe house is necessary for the inhabitants of this world because of the creatures that stalk around, attracted by light and invoke instant death if you’re unlucky enough to come across one. Penny must fight to avoid these creatures as she treks through the forest to get back to her son and to avenge herself upon Mary. It’s not long though before she discovers that there may be worse things out in the woods then these monsters.

Baylea Hart, author of The Log House.

I had a sneaking suspicion that I might enjoy this book just from the dedication alone, where I felt a certain kinship with the author as soon as I read: “To my family, for giving me Stephen King books to read as a child. This is all your fault.” I thought to myself if the author of this novel has taken any inspiration from the Master Of Horror himself, (who just happens to be my all-time favourite author), I’m in for quite the ride and I was certainly correct in my initial assessment! This book is disturbing, graphic, horrifying and tense in equal measures and I was absolutely gripped by both the character of Penny and the electrifying plot. Penny is not a particularly likeable character and has made a couple of shady decisions in her past which has led to her fractured relationship with Mary but I couldn’t help but admire her gutsy, determined nature. She goes through absolute hell in those woods, not only in hiding/avoiding these awful monsters but struggling through the pain of a horrific injury combined with how she deals with several dangerous situations with some very different kinds of monsters along the way.

This is a richly imaginative tale of horror from a talented writer that made me catch my breath and provoked multiple shivers down my spine. I was particularly unnerved by the fact that Penny realises that when everything goes deathly silent, the creatures are near and she has no other option but to hide. No bird song, no leaves rustling – just utter silence.

“Watch for the silence, said the voice in her head. It’s the only warning you’ll get.”

Personally, I found this incredibly frightening and I could instantly see this being played very well in a film. As the narrative continues, we learn much more about Penny and her past, the creatures themselves and how one simple, distorted sound: “Haaaaa,” has the potential to chill your blood.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Baylea Hart is an IT Technician by day, horror writer by night and a reader everywhere in between. In 2013 she wrote, directed and edited the short film Behind the Door, which won a Top 50 spot in the Bloody Cuts “Who’s There?” competition and as of 2015 has over 410,000 views on YouTube. In October 2015 she won the Bristol Horror Writing Competition with her short story Jack in the Box, and her short story Eyes Open was published in the 12th issue of 9Tales Told in the Dark. Baylea’s debut novel The Log House was published by Unbound in 2018.

She can be found on Twitter @bayleahart and on her website http://www.bayleahart.com/

Thank you once again to Anne Cater and Unbound Publishers for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. The Log House was published in January 2018 and will be available as a paperback and e-book. If you fancy some more information don’t forget to check out the rest of the stops on this blog tour for some amazing reviews!

Link to The Log House on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36502696-the-log-house

Amazon UK link: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Log-House-Baylea-Hart/dp/1911586467/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1528041732&sr=8-1&keywords=the+log+house

The Good Son – You-jeong Jeong

Published May 30, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

The Talented Mr. Ripley meets The Bad Seed in this breathless, chilling psychological thriller by the bestselling novelist known as “Korea’s Stephen King” 

Who can you trust if you can’t trust yourself?

Early one morning, twenty-six-year-old Yu-jin wakes up to a strange metallic smell, and a phone call from his brother asking if everything’s all right at home – he missed a call from their mother in the middle of the night. Yu-jin soon discovers her murdered body, lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of the stairs of their stylish Seoul duplex. He can’t remember much about the night before; having suffered from seizures for most of his life, Yu-jin often has trouble with his memory. All he has is a faint impression of his mother calling his name. But was she calling for help? Or begging for her life?

Thus begins Yu-jin’s frantic three-day search to uncover what happened that night, and to finally learn the truth about himself and his family. A shocking and addictive psychological thriller, The Good Son explores the mysteries of mind and memory, and the twisted relationship between a mother and son, with incredible urgency.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Grace Vincent and Little, Brown publishers for providing me with a digital copy of this astounding novel from “the Korean Stephen King,” in exchange for an honest review. When Grace first emailed me and I read the comparison to King above, well of course I had to have it! As a die-hard Constant Reader (King fan) anything that is compared to my all-time favourite author, I have to check out. Now, I normally hate comparisons to other books or authors but this one I didn’t mind so much. I think because it was compared to King and my expectations are astronomically high when it comes to him, I was too curious to see how You-jeong Jeong would measure up. And did she? Well, I would say absolutely yes. However, I feel like her novel stood completely on its own as a twisted, dark tale that wasn’t reminiscent of King’s work in my opinion, but a great example of a unique author with an individual, quirky style.

You-jeong Jeong, author of The Good Son

I don’t want to go too deep into the synopsis as I believe the one above taken from Goodreads describes this novel more than adequately without me giving any more detail. In fact, this is one of those books where you’ve got to be incredibly careful exactly what you say, because you could be giving away major spoilers. However, never fear, I’m not one to be doing that and I will be as deliberately vague as possible. Set in South Korea, we have our unreliable narrator, Yu-jin who finds his mother’s lifeless body at the bottom of the stairs in his house and has no memory of the previous nights events, apart from going running late at night. Our male lead has suffered with seizures and memory loss for as long as he can remember and although he is on tablets that are meant to control/stop his episodes, he goes for periods where he doesn’t take them at all as taking the medication gives him debilitating headaches. As the narrative continues, we get glimpses into Yu-jin’s childhood and the present day as he attempts to remember what happened to his mother as ever so slowly, the memories start trickling back.

South Korea, where our story is set.

I was very worried about writing this review but I’m relieved to realise that as soon as I sat down, everything I wanted to say (without giving away major spoilers) just managed to flow (PHEW!). I was hugely impressed by this novel and it’s one that has continued to stay with me, despite having read it a few weeks ago now. I think this is for a number of reasons – first, the unreliable narrator, secondly, the brutality of the story and thirdly, the multiple surprises that are round every corner. The way in which the information is fed to you by the author is nothing short of spectacular and you become desperate to discover exactly what’s going on in Yu-Jin’s head and what has occurred in his past to get him to the situation in which he finds himself at the beginning of the story. It’s not a story for the faint-hearted, I have to say. There is violence, graphic and shocking details of this violence and characters that crawl under your skin, give you goosebumps and make you shiver.

This novel starts as a slow burner but please don’t let that put you off. You-jeong Jeong expertly builds and weaves all the necessary parts of this jigsaw puzzle of a story piece by piece. This is absolutely necessary in my opinion to construct a tense and creepy atmosphere where you’ll be glad certain characters in this story exist only in this book, it’s that terrifying.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

four-stars_0

 

 

Short Stories Challenge 2018 – Beachworld by Stephen King from the collection Skeleton Crew.

Published May 27, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s Beachworld all about?:

Beachworld is set at an unspecified time in the future when a spacecraft crashes onto a beach, killing one of the crew. It is not long before the other two members of the crew discover that the land they are now stranded on is having a strange and very dangerous effect on both of them.

What did I think?:

I’m not going to go on and on about how much I adore Stephen King and his work. I think if you’ve been following my blog for a while, you might realise that by now and I don’t want to sound like a broken record. Stephen King is my hero. The End. Personally, I think it’s rare where you find an author where you enjoy both their novels and shorter fiction equally and King is one of those authors for me. Of course, there are stories that I don’t particularly connect with, I have to be honest but generally, I go into King’s work knowing I’m not going to be disappointed. For me, Beachworld was another classic King tale, rich in imaginative detail and although it’s not my favourite in the collection, it was a solid, decent and fascinating narrative that drew me in and made me want to keep turning the pages.

Stephen King, the author of the short story Beachworld. This man is my god. Seriously.

As I’ve already mentioned in the synopsis, this story is about two men, Shapiro and Rand who have crash landed onto a deserted beach, in fact it’s probably more like a desert with numerous sand dunes and a hypnotic quality which becomes deadly as the narrative continues. They have lost one of their crew mates in a fire and resulting explosion that led to the crash of the craft and have very limited water and food supplies. Desperate to be rescued, Shapiro is hoping that another spacecraft will come to their aid. However, his colleague Rand doesn’t appear to be that bothered about being saved. That’s putting it lightly. He has become entranced by the dunes and will not budge from the top of one, even for water and quite quickly becomes emaciated. Meanwhile, the sand begins creeping over his body and into the craft itself, even though there are no possible entrances that the sand could be getting into (hey, that pesky sand gets everywhere, doesn’t it?). It is almost as if the sand is claiming Rand and burying him as he continues to stand on the dune, immovable and completely under its spell.

I am always hugely impressed by the way King seems to change it up with every single story he writes. I am seriously in awe of his imagination and story-telling ability and the way in which he seems to have unlimited tales to tell stored up in that brilliant little brain of his. Beachworld is King’s take on science fiction and this story almost feels Lovecraftian in its scope and the themes it explores. Now if you’ve seen my previous Lovecraft reviews, I’m not insulting King at all by saying this (I haven’t been the biggest fan of Lovecraft in the past) but I am referring to the strange other-worldly elements that H.P. Lovecraft chooses to use. I was intrigued by these elements at the beginning of my Lovecraft journey but unfortunately they got a little bit repetitive and “samey” for me and I ended up giving up the collection.

But back to King. There is definitely a similarity to the better Lovecraft horrors in Beachworld and I loved the author’s take on the future where androids are your assistants, pornography comes in the form of holograms and people still listen to The Beach Boys even though they died eight thousand years ago. The fact that the sand seems to be alive and has a mind of its own (and a very evil mind I must add!) creeped me out considerably and I think King used the isolation of the two men to good effect. After all, how scary is it to be all alone with little hope of rescue, no food and limited water and then to top it all off, your mate goes crazy and the sand wants to eat you?! The only thing that I was slightly disappointed with was the thing that comes out of the sand right near the end of the story. For me, it kind of ruined the atmosphere and I felt as if the sand had remained a mysterious entity, I would have continued to be slightly disturbed. It’s almost like a horror film, isn’t it? If you see the monster’s face, your fear is reduced slightly because now you know what you’re facing. It’s far more scary if you can’t see whatever’s stalking you. In my opinion anyway!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

3-5-stars

NEXT SHORT STORY: Set-Up by Dianne Gray from the collection Manslaughter And Other Tears.

 

The Fireman – Joe Hill

Published May 14, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

From the award-winning, New York Timesbestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.

What did I think?:

I will always look back with happy memories when I think of The Fireman by Joe Hill. My reasons are three-fold! Firstly, it has the accolade of being my first ever buddy read with a fellow blogger, (along with Scythe by Neal Shusterman) secondly I read most of it on a two week holiday in Mexico and thirdly, it was bloody fantastic! I read this novel with the lovely Janel from Keeper Of Pages and we had an absolute ball. I was always super excited to get to a pre-defined checkpoint and find out Janel’s thoughts and I’m delighted that she enjoyed it as much as I did. For her amazing review, please visit her blog HERE. Once again, Joe Hill has smashed it out of the park with another five star read for me (haha, spoiler!) and I truly believe he’s a master of an epic narrative. The Fireman was everything that that word “epic,” means. It very much reminded me of his father Stephen King’s landmark novel, The Stand but obviously, it completely stands on its own as a thrilling, compelling tale that left me with that wonderful feeling of wanting to read just one more page.

The Fireman follows a number of different characters in contemporary times or a time not too far in our future. A horrific virus has plagued the entire world, leaving it’s sufferers speckled with marks almost like tattoos, that they term “Dragonscale.” It leaves the infected at risk of bursting into flame at any moment in their lives and often, without warning. As a result, the population has vastly decreased due to many people just burning to death. Our main character (a woman, hurrah!) is pregnant Harper Grayson who is working at a hospital as a nurse, desperately trying to help the infected. After a while, when everything seems to be falling apart, both in her life and in the world, her hospital burns down and she finds herself also infected and an outsider, seen as a danger from rebel groups who want to rid the world of the infected. She meets up with John, The Fireman who is a member of a strange group of people, also infected who have learned to control the fire within their bodies, keeping them safe. However, the danger is constant and very close and Harper must learn what The Fireman knows if she is to keep both herself and her unborn child safe and well.

Burning – one of the most frightening things I can imagine.

This book is a beast. As in number of pages, physically wise I mean! At nearly 800 pages in paperback, please don’t let the size of it intimidate you. Even though I read this with another blogger and we stopped at various places to discuss, we absolutely flew through this novel in remarkably very little time and it was one wild ride. Janel can probably testify, this book made me feel ALL the emotions. I was terribly angry with some of the characters, which I’m not going to spoil but honestly, they made me furious. Then others, I just felt so touched by. There was Harper, with her no nonsense Mary Poppins manners but who could really hold her own, protect other people and was so incredibly brave that I just felt she was a fantastic role model and female lead.

The inimitable Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins – you WILL do what I say children!!

The plot itself was so brilliant in both the execution and the imagination and preparation that must have gone into it by Joe Hill. This is the kind of book that you have to read on the edge of your seat because relaxing is just not an option, I’m sorry! Both the humour and the journey our characters go through is second to none and although it’s quite rare for a book to make me laugh out loud, I found myself sniggering quite a lot at many points in this story. Personally, I think Joe Hill just gets better and better and does both his father and himself proud with every novel he writes.

Thank you so much to Janel for a brilliant buddy reading experience!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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The Fireman by Joe Hill was the twenty-ninth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018.