Matt Wesolowski

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Blog Tour – Changeling (Six Stories #3) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 20, 2019 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

On Christmas Eve in 1988, seven-year-old Alfie Marsden vanished in the Wentshire Forest Pass, when a burst tyre forced his father, Sorrel, to stop the car. Leaving the car to summon the emergency services, Sorrel returned to find his son gone. No trace of the child, nor his remains, have ever been found. Alfie Marsden was declared officially dead in 1995.
Elusive online journalist, Scott King, whose ‘Six Stories’ podcasts have become an internet sensation, investigates the disappearance, interviewing six witnesses, including Sorrel, his son and his ex-partner, to try to find out what really happened that fateful night. He takes a journey through the trees of the Wentshire Forest – a place synonymous with strange sightings, and tales of hidden folk who dwell there. He talks to a company that tried and failed to build a development in the forest, and a psychic who claims to know where Alfie is…
Intensely dark, deeply chilling and searingly thought provoking, Changeling is an up-to-the-minute, startling thriller, taking you to places you will never, ever forget.

What did I think?:

First of all, thank you so much to Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in this blog tour and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books for providing the free digital copy in exchange for an honest review. I’ve become a huge fan of Matt Wesolowski’s work after thoroughly enjoying both novels in the Six Stories series – Six Stories and the prequel, Hydra and was so delighted to get my spot on this blog tour that I might have given a very loud “whoop!” Now, I’ve sat down three times and tried to compose my thoughts about this novel for you all and each time I’ve failed miserably. Does anyone else really struggle with talking about stand-out books like I do? I feel like there’s only so many adjectives I can use that adequately describe how fantastic this series is and with Changeling, I’m seriously running out of words. How does it stand out for me? The answer is, in every way possible. The structure, the writing style, the individuality, the imaginative (yet realistic) story-telling, the horror, the tension and the intense emotions that accompany this story that left me utterly enraptured.

Matt Wesolowski, author of Changeling, the third book in the Six Stories series.

One of the beautiful parts of this series, which follows the format of a true crime podcast hosted by Scott King, is that each novel can easily be read as a stand-alone. Personally, I always love to start from the beginning of a series but if you pick up Changeling on a whim, you’re not going to be spoiled for anything which occurs in the previous two books. This particular episode of the podcast Six Stories focuses on the unsolved disappearance of a child, Alfie Marsden in the 1980’s and some peculiar goings-on in the forest where he was last seen. Once again, the author manages to combine elements of true crime, mystery, fantasy and horror so effortlessly and fluidly that it will have you questioning everyone and everything concerned and as Scott King interviews six different individuals connected with the Marsden case, slowly but surely, parts of the puzzle start to slot into place with unexpected and scandalous consequences.

Changeling is set near the English-Welsh border shown in purple on this particular map.

Image from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/England%E2%80%93Wales_border

Matt Wesolowski is such a gifted story-teller and wordsmith that it’s always a genuine pleasure to sit down with one of his novels and to be perfectly honest, I don’t want this Six Stories series to ever end. I may have mentioned in a previous review that I was initially wary when I heard this series was structured as if you were reading a podcast transcript and I really wasn’t sure if it would work but believe me, it works like a dream. The author manages to capture the drama and the authenticity of real people living normal lives with an other-worldly, more fantastical element. It sits so neatly and comfortably that if you were a previous paranormal sceptic, you’d start looking over your shoulder and listening a bit more to those bumps in the night. There were occasions in Changeling where some of the scenes or even suggestive moments made me quite glad I was reading this book a) in the daytime b) around other people. I’ll certainly never listen to tapping again the same way….that’s for sure!

With this latest offering in the Six Stories series, I feel Matt has “tapped” (sorry, couldn’t resist!) into a far more deeper, emotional component of his style which I fully welcomed and embraced. I appreciated the more vulnerable, heart-breaking aspects of the narrative and although it made for incredibly difficult reading at times, it’s all completely worth it by the end, I assure you. I genuinely believe that the brilliance of this series just cannot be rivalled and even potential copy-cats would have a tough job emulating all the aspects that the author manages to bring together to make this such a unique, thought-provoking and unforgettable reading experience. Will there be more? I really do hope so but even if there isn’t, Matt Wesolowski still has an immovable fan in me for whatever he decides to do next.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

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AUTHOR INFORMATION

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is
an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in
horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an
US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End
of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror
story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a
winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing
Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the
USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV
rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published
in 2018 and became an international bestseller.

Find Matt on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5303620.Matt_Wesolowski

or on Twitter at: @ConcreteKraken

Thank you so much once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Changeling will be published on 24th January 2019 and will be 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 Changeling on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40885780-changeling

Link to Changeling on Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Changeling-Matt-Wesolowski/dp/1912374579/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1547922413&sr=8-2&keywords=changeling

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Blog Tour – Hydra (Six Stories #2) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 30, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

One cold November night in 2014, in a small town in the north west of England, 26-year-old Arla Macleod bludgeoned her mother, father and younger sister to death with a hammer, in an unprovoked attack known as the “Macleod Massacre.” Now incarcerated at a medium-security mental-health institution, Arla will speak to no one but Scott King, an investigative journalist, whose Six Stories podcasts have become an internet sensation. King finds himself immersed in an increasingly complex case, interviewing five witnesses and Arla herself, as he questions whether Arla’s responsibility for the massacre was a diminished as her legal team made out. As he unpicks the stories, he finds himself thrust into a world of deadly forbidden “games,” online trolls, and the mysterious Black-eyed Children, whose presence extends far beyond the delusions of a murderess.

What did I think?:

How can I even start writing about a book that knocked me for six? I’m not even sure if any of these ramblings (ok, gushings) about the second book in Matt Wesolowski’s Six Stories series will make any sense but I’ll try my very best to be somewhat coherent and make you all want to read the book if you haven’t done so already. Hydra is the second book in the author’s series and if you haven’t read my Six Stories review yet, it’s structured like a true crime podcast where the host, Scott King, takes a troubling criminal case from the past and interviews six people involved with the victim/perpetrator to get a better idea of what happened. To be perfectly honest, I began Hydra doubting the author could pull off another novel that lived up to the dizzying heights of the first but he completely proved me wrong. This story was even more thrilling, delightfully eerie and as beautifully accomplished as Six Stories. I now consider myself a confirmed fan for sure.

In this new case, Scott is investigating the strange case of the “Macleod Massacre” and at the start of the novel, we are fully aware of our perpetrator, Arla Macleod who beat her younger sister, mother and stepfather to death with a hammer. She was convicted of murder under diminished responsibility due to a fragile mental state and is ensconced in a maximum security institution for other criminals with mental health issues. Scott is the only person who manages to get an interview with her to explain her side of the story and he also talks to other people close to Arla, either friends she went to school with or people that became close to her and could shed some light on the daily mental torments she began to suffer.

As the reader, we already know what happened in this case, unlike Six Stories but the fascinating thing about Hydra is that the author meticulously unpicks the reasons why the murders may have been committed. I’m not going to give any clues or spoilers myself except to say that there’s a lot more to this case than meets the eye and a multitude of surprises lurking beneath the surface. It really gives a wonderful insight into the delicate nature of the human mind, how impressionable teenagers can be, the importance of a solid family life and good friendships and the potential dangers of the Internet. Like Six Stories, this book also has an otherworldly, slightly paranormal feel based on urban legends and supernatural games that really reminded me of when I was a teenager myself at boarding school in Scotland. My friends and I used to terrify each other with the Bloody Mary game in our bathroom and more frighteningly, the ouija board and sometimes, I think it’s sort of a rite of passage children have to go through i.e. pushing the boundaries of what frightens them.

The scariest part for me about this novel was the inclusion of some very disturbing “black-eyed children,” that are written so hauntingly, you really want to look over your shoulder just to make sure they aren’t standing behind you or, more aptly, knocking on your door, begging to be let in. I totally believe after reading these uneasy and occasionally startling passages, if Scott Wesolowski wants to forge a career in the horror genre, he’s more than qualified. The best bit about this blog tour has to have been the amazing reviews that I’ve seen from my fellow bloggers. Their feelings and interpretations of Hydra were nothing short of stellar and only served to make me more excited before I read this extraordinary book. So yes, Scott Wesolowski, you have a new super fan and I will be reading everything you write!

AUTHOR INFORMATION

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK.
He is an English tutor and leads Cuckoo Young Writers creative
writing workshops for young people in association with New Writing
North. Matt started his writing career in horror and his short horror
fiction has been published in Ethereal Tales magazine, Midnight
Movie Creature Feature anthology, 22 More Quick Shivers
anthology and many more. His debut novella The Black Land, a
horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in. Matt was
a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime
Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller Six Stories was an Amazon
bestseller in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia.

Find Matt on Goodreads at: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5303620.Matt_Wesolowski

on Twitter at: @ConcreteKraken

Thank you once again to Anne Cater, Karen Sullivan and Orenda Books for inviting me to take part in this blog tour, I’ve had a wonderful time doing it. Hydra by Matt Wesolowski was published on the 15th January 2018 and is available from all good bookshops now.The blog tour is running from 2nd January until the 7th February so don’t forget to check out my fellow bloggers stops for some more fantastic reviews!

Hydra by Matt Wesolowski is the ninth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!

Six Stories (Six Stories #1) – Matt Wesolowski

Published January 28, 2018 by bibliobeth

What’s it all about?:

1997. Scarclaw Fell. The body of teenager Tom Jeffries is found at an Outward Bound center. Verdict? Misadventure. But not everyone is convinced. And the truth of what happened in the beautiful but eerie fell is locked in the memories of the tight-knit group of friends who embarked on that fateful trip, and the flimsy testimony of those living nearby. 2017. Enter elusive investigative journalist Scott King, whose podcast examinations of complicated cases have rivaled the success of Serial, with his concealed identity making him a cult internet figure. In a series of six interviews, King attempts to work out how the dynamics of a group of idle teenagers conspired with the sinister legends surrounding the fell to result in Jeffries’ mysterious death. As every interview unveils a new revelation, you’ll be forced to work out for yourself how Tom Jeffries died, and who is telling the truth.

What did I think?:

I have a confession to make. This book has been sitting on my shelves for quite a long time after I read rave reviews about it from my fellow bloggers and bought it in a charity shop near to where I work last year. Then it sat on my shelves looking quite lonely until the lovely Anne Cater and Karen Sullivan at Orenda Books invited me to be part of the blog tour for Matt’s second book in the Six Stories series, Hydra (coming your way on Tuesday!) I knew that I simply had to read this novel as soon as possible. Well, oh my goodness why on earth did I wait so long? When I first heard about this book, structured like a true crime podcast, I have to admit I was slightly cynical, I didn’t quite understand how it was all going to work. Well, it was quite simple really. We have the rambling thoughts of our interviewee combined with interjections from the podcast host to confirm certain points that are said, explaining things further or giving us extra, juicy tid-bits of information about the case in question.

Throughout the process of reading Six Stories, I felt like I was reading the transcript of a real-life and very thrilling crime podcast. The name of the novel comes from the fact that our host, Scott King hears the stories of six different people connected with the crime he is discussing. Our case follows the mysterious death of a young boy, Tom Jeffries at Scarclaw Fell, an area of natural beauty, a decade earlier in 1997. Tom was with a group of teenage friends at the time yet died all on his own in the early hours of the morning with his friends allegedly not seeing or hearing a thing. In fact, his body was not even discovered until much later by a separate group of friends out in the woods one night as they are brought gruesome discoveries by way of their dogs’ mouths.

Scott King makes no bones about the fact that he is not a police officer, he is merely an anonymous interloper attempting to have a discussion about a mystery that has more than a few holes in it. By speaking to the people involved with Tom Jeffries, including the teenagers who were with him on that fateful night, he hopes to get some answers behind his death. Well, he certainly does. Six Stories took me a while to get used to the narrative style but by about forty pages in I was fully invested and completely enamoured with the author’s voice. I didn’t mind at all that we were led quite slowly and methodically towards the perpetrator and by the fifth chapter, you could kind of guess who it was, but the beauty of this story is that there are so many more surprises and pieces of the puzzle to put into place than I ever would have expected and I was completely taken aback by what was revealed.

I also adored the eerie nature of the urban legends, for example the Beast of Belkeld and Nanna Wrack added an extra, delicious frisson to the proceedings and definitely made me re-analyse every little creak and bang within my own house whilst I was reading. This is such a unique and fascinating novel that I’m absolutely delighted I’ve finally read, I just want to urge everyone else to give it a try. Weighing in at just over 200 pages, it’s a short novel that packs an almighty punch and the author’s talent and style is simply undeniable and one of a kind.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):

 

 

 

Six Stories by Matt Wesolowski is the eighth book in my quest to conquer Mount Everest in the Mount TBR Challenge 2018!