All posts tagged Thriller

Short Stories Challenge 2017 – Thorn In My Side by Karin Slaughter (stand-alone)

Published May 23, 2017 by bibliobeth

What’s Thorn In My Side all about?:

It could have been just any night, and they could have just been any two brothers — but it wasn’t, and they weren’t. The scene is an Atlanta bar. The music is loud and the dance floor is packed. The good-looking brother picks up a girl. But when dark deeds ensue out in the parking lot, what happens next can only be described in two words: vintage Slaughter.

What did I think?:

Okay, so I think regular visitors to my blog are aware that Karin Slaughter can’t do much wrong in my eyes and I always get a little bit excited when one of her short stories rolls around on my Short Stories Challenge. As the synopsis suggests, “vintage Slaughter,” is perfect terminology to use as what happens during this story is shocking, compelling and disturbing, everything I’ve come to expect from the author and yet she still manages to surprise me, every single time.

This very dark, twisted little tale involves two brothers who have a very interesting relationship with each other and a are a bit different from the norm. I do want to veer away from spoilers as I really enjoyed the surprise myself when the reader finds out what makes them special but it might make writing this review quite tough, apologies for any vagueness! The brothers are called Kirk and Wayne and are as different as chalk and cheese. Kirk is the more confident, wise-cracking, brash brother that has a bit of an eye for the ladies and Wayne is the softer, more unassuming, shy brother of the two which causes its own problems for Kirk for reasons I simply cannot divulge. However, one night they pay a prostitute to ahem… service Kirk in the back of their van at a club and things go very badly. This is the tale of the relationship between a very unique set of brothers that has been simmering just below boiling point for so long, but one catastrophic set of events tips things right over the edge and changes both brothers lives forever.

Doesn’t sound too very shocking in the grand scheme of things? Think again. There’s a lot of things I’m not able to say in this review for fear of ruining the shock factor that I myself felt when I realised the direction Slaughter was taking the narrative. She has a fantastic way of writing the most loathsome characters, like Kirk, the self-assured yet incredibly dangerous brother who I loved reading about but made my skin crawl with his actions and the decisions he makes. The author describes it herself on GoodReads as a bit of a departure story for her from what she usually writes and there are a couple of lower starred reviews that may reflect this. For me however, I thought it was a disturbing yet intriguing read with many of her classic trademarks that I appreciated. Maybe it’s not a story for everyone sure, especially the more sensitive or easily offended but personally, I think she’s knocked it out of the park once again.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: The Drowned Village by Kate Mosse from the collection The Mistletoe Bride And Other Haunting Tales

Talking About The Samaritan by Mason Cross with Chrissi Reads

Published March 12, 2016 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

When the mutilated body of a young woman is discovered in the Santa Monica Mountains, LAPD Detective Jessica Allen knows this isn’t the work of a first-time killer.

She’s seen this MO before – two and a half years ago on the other side of the country. Allen begins to dig deeper and soon uncovers a terrifying truth. A sadistic serial killer has been operating undetected for the past decade, preying on lone female drivers who have broken down. The press dub the killer ‘the Samaritan’, but with no leads and a killer who leaves no traces, the police investigation quickly grinds to a halt.

That’s when Carter Blake shows up to volunteer his services. He’s a skilled manhunter with an uncanny ability to predict the Samaritan’s next moves. At first, Allen and her colleagues are suspicious. After all, their new ally shares some uncomfortable similarities to the man they’re tracking.

But as the Samaritan takes his slaughter to the next level, Blake is forced to reveal that the similarities between the two men are closer than even Allen suspects. With time running out and an opponent who knows all of his tricks, Blake must find a way to stop the Samaritan …even if it means bringing his own past crashing down on top of him.

What did WE think?:

CHRISSI: You read a lot of crime fiction. How does this book compare?

BETH: I certainly do, although less than I used to as at one time I used to read it almost exclusively and kind of over-dosed a bit on it I think! I also found everything was becoming a bit “samey,” although I expect it’s quite difficult to come up with something completely original. As to how the book compares, I don’t think it’s the best crime fiction I’ve ever read but it’s by far not the worst! Generally, I really liked the characters and the plot captured my attention in a way that made me really want to know what was going to happen next.

BETH: One of the lead characters in The Samaritan is strong-willed detective Jessica Allen. How well did you think Mason Cross tapped into the female mind?

CHRISSI: I think Mason Cross did a good job of tapping into the female mind. I liked that she was a strong-willed and clever. Mason Cross made Jessica incredibly easy to like. I appreciate that! I do have to admit though, with her being referred to as Allen a lot, sometimes I had to remind myself that she was female!

CHRISSI: What do you think of Carter Blake – hero or flawed man?

BETH: For me, Carter Blake is definitely one of the good guys. He has somewhat of a murky past as we find out in the novel, and we don’t really find out too much about his past in any great detail (perhaps there is more to be revealed later on in the series?) but he is a hero for sure. For me, it makes a story all the more believable if a character has some flaws – after all, no-one is perfect, right? In the past he may have made some bad decisions and may even make a couple of wrong turns during this particular novel but he has so much good in him that makes up for his (very few) flaws!

BETH: Did you have a favourite character in this novel and why?

CHRISSI: I didn’t really connect with the characters as much as I wanted to. That’s not to say they weren’t great characters. I just didn’t connect with them. If I had to choose a favourite character it would probably be Carter Blake, mainly because I found him quite fascinating to read about.

CHRISSI: Discuss the idea of good and evil in the novel.

BETH: Ooh, good question! In The Samaritan, there is not such a clear cut between good and evil. Take the title for example, I’m sure we all know the definition of a good samaritan as being a person that goes out of their way to help somebody else with no real personal gain to themselves. Now, our bad guy in this novel is deemed The Samaritan by the police as his M.O. seems to be helping stricken young women with car trouble. This is obviously an ironic title in itself considering he ends up bumping them off! As a reader I also found myself quite dubious when Carter Blake first shows up. He is a bit of a maverick with an interesting past as I’ve already mentioned and as I haven’t read the first book in the series, I was unsure at the beginning of his motives in taking on The Samaritan case like our lead detective, Jessica. I don’t want to say too much more for fear of spoilers but I found myself wondering whether there is any truth in the statement “born evil,” compared to “learning evil.”

BETH: Were you surprised by the various twists and turns in this novel?

CHRISSI: I was. I enjoy good twists and turns in a novel. I like to be kept on my toes and to be kept guessing about what might happen next. I felt like the twists and turns kept the pace fast and certainly kept me as a reader, turning the pages. I was eager to find out how everything would unravel.

CHRISSI:  Did it matter to you that this book was a further book in a series that you haven’t read?

BETH: Hmm. I think you might know the answer to this question already…YES! I’m afraid I’m a bit obsessive compulsive over wanting to read things in order but that’s purely a personal preference. It’s quite silly really as I don’t see any reason why this book can’t be read as a stand-alone. In some ways, perhaps it’s a bonus as I wasn’t familiar with the character of Carter Blake which made trusting him that little bit more interesting.

BETH: Would you read another book by this author? Does this book make you want to read the first in the series?

CHRISSI: I’m not sure. I don’t really enjoy this genre as a regular read and only like to dip in and out of it. I don’t think I enjoyed it enough to read the first book in the series. That’s not to say the writing or the book is bad, it just wasn’t my type of read. I think fans of the genre will lap it up!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!


BETH’S star rating (out of 5):


CHRISSI’s star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art

Short Stories Challenge – The Music of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer by John Ajvide Lindqvist from the collection A Book Of Horrors

Published March 3, 2016 by bibliobeth


What’s The Music Of Bengt Karlsson, Murderer all about?:

A widower who is still struggling to come to terms with the death of his wife attempts to connect better with his son by encouraging him to take piano lessons. However, the notes that are played on the piano bring something different and very evil into their lives.

What did I think?:

I’ve only read one novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist and it’s the most famous one – Let The Right One In which has also been made into a film. I remember so vividly the novel taking my breath away so my expectations for this story were set very high. I needn’t have worried though, this story was clearly Lindqvist at his horrific best and I thoroughly enjoyed every word I read. Our main character is a man who has fairly recently lost his beloved wife in a car accident and as well as dealing with his grief he is endeavouring to be able to communicate better with his son Robin, a battle that he fears he is losing.

Robin, like most children of his age spends a lot of his time in the virtual reality world of computer games but is quite open to bribery when his father offers to double his pocket money if he will start taking piano lessons. Things are going well and Robin seems to be enjoying the alternative way of amusing himself but it is when father and son move to a new secluded house in the forest that things start going a bit wrong. The house is smaller than their previous one so the piano sits quite comfortably in Robin’s bedroom and his father enjoys listening to him practice while he potters around the house.

One day however, Robin begins playing something a bit different. There does not seem to be a clear melody but the notes are repetitive and give his father an instant feeling of foreboding and unease. Stranger still, it has become normal to hear Robin’s voice in his bedroom as he talks to other gamers or uses Skype but one evening there is a power cut. Of course, you would expect there to be instant silence as the connections are cut – right? Wrong. Robin still continues to talk as if there were someone else in his bedroom but when his father checks, Robin is completely alone. He also continues to play those terrible notes on the piano whilst tears roll down his face as if he just cannot help himself, as if he is being forced to play the music.

I’m not going to give away any secrets about what exactly is going on in these characters lives but believe me, it’s absolutely terrifying. The author writes seamlessly and effortlessly about events that are eerie, deadly and in places, just plain grotesque. I never knew what to expect from page to page as things just seemed to get even worse for Robin and his father. I have a fairly vivid imagination and I’m certain that a few of the sentences and images that they conjured are forever etched in my memory! John Ajvide is a true master of the horror genre and it’s only made me more eager to get to the rest of his back catalogue.

Have you read this story? What did you think?

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


NEXT SHORT STORY: Dreams In The Witch-House by H.P. Lovecraft from the collection The Definitive H.P. Lovecraft.


Beth and Chrissi’s Points Of View On Point Horror – The Snowman by R.L. Stine

Published February 27, 2016 by bibliobeth

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Welcome to Round Three of our Points of View on the classic Point Horror series of books that Chrissi Reads and I loved when we were teenagers. For this year, we thought we’d have a bit of a theme and as it’s still quite cold round here we thought we’d choose something wintry to chill your bones. The book that I am hosting is The Snowman by R.L. Stine and over on Chrissi’s blog will be Freeze Tag by Caroline B. Cooney. Hope you enjoy our trip down memory lane…


What’s it all about?:

Heather feels cold all the time. Alone. Her guardian hates her. He’d like to see her dead. He’d like all her money. But for now he settles for controlling it, and making Heather’s life miserable.

Poor little rich girl, just like Cinderella…

Then the gorgeous, ice-blond guy shows up at the crummy restaurant where Heather works after school. He understands about Heather. He’s her Prince Charming. No one can get to Heather now.

Heather feels so safe. So loved. So warm…

Beth’s Points of View

  • The Snowman was one of the Point Horrors I remember enjoying but I could never remember exactly what the story was about. It all came flooding back as soon as I began reading though!
  • Heather’s Uncle James is such a horrible character and I can understand why Heather had such strong feelings towards him. However I wasn’t expecting what happened to him..
  • I was fully prepared for there to be something of the paranormal about Snowman in the way it was written. However, he is just a ordinary teenager. (If extremely warped is ordinary that is!)
  • I was slightly more cynical of the relationship between Heather and her boyfriend Ben. Perhaps it was the way she treated him but I really didn’t think she deserved him when he turned out to be the ultimate hero.

Chrissi’s Points of View

  • ​Reading this as an adult, I couldn’t believe that I was okay with the main character cheating on her boyfriend. No, just no!
  • Heather is SO gullible. I just wanted to reach into the book and tell her she was being a fool.
  • The Snowman is an engrossing story. I read it in one sitting.
  • It’s quite a bit darker than the previous Point Horror we’ve read!

Would WE recommend it?:

BETH: But of course!

CHRISSI: Of course!

BETH’s Star rating (out of 5):


CHRISSI’s Star rating (out of 5):


Why not hop over to Chrissi’s blog right now and check out what we thought of Freeze Tag by Caroline B. Cooney?

Next time on Beth And Chrissi Do Point Horror, we look at some Spring themed Point Horrors:

April Fools by Richie Tankersley Cusick AND Spring Break by Barbara Steiner.

Join us then!

Author Interview – Helen Grant on her Forbidden Spaces YA trilogy

Published January 20, 2016 by bibliobeth



Helen Grant was born in London. She read Classics at St.Hugh’s College, Oxford, and then worked in Marketing for ten years in order to fund her love of travelling. In 2001 she and her family moved to Bad Münstereifel in Germany, and it was exploring the legends of this beautiful town that inspired her to write her first novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden. She then moved to Brussels for three years, and now lives in Scotland with her husband, two children and two cats. Her most recent published novel is Urban Legends, an urbex-themed thriller set in Flanders.

Click on the books to get to the link to GoodReads!


For my review of Silent Saturday, please click HERE.


For my review of Demons Of Ghent, please click HERE.


For my review of Urban Legends, please click HERE.

Why not check out some of Helen’s back catalogue too? Here are the next two on my must read list:


Helen’s debut novel The Vanishing of Katharina Linden was published in April 2009 and was short-listed for both the Booktrust Teenage Prize and the CILIP Carnegie Medal.


Helen’s second novel, The Glass Demon was published in May 2010 and short-listed for the ITW Awards Best Paperback Original category.


I’d like to welcome Helen to bibliobeth today and thank her for her time in giving this interview.

1.) Your Forbidden Spaces novels are set in the beautiful country of Belgium. What inspired you so much about this country to use it as a setting for your trilogy?

We actually lived in Flanders in Belgium for three years, and much of the trilogy is inspired by things I experienced there (not the serial killing bit though, I’m glad to say!). When we moved to Belgium I was still working on my third book set in Germany (where we lived before that) but I was looking around for ideas for whatever I would write next. The area we had moved to was Dutch speaking so I started Dutch evening classes, and the teacher used to tell us snippets of local culture and traditions. Apparently in Flanders the day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday is called “Silent Saturday” because none of the church bells ring that day. Children are told that this is because the bells have flown away to Rome to collect Easter eggs from the Pope! When I heard this story, the first thing I thought was that if I had been a little Flemish kid I would have been dying to get into the church bell tower on Silent Saturday and see if the bells really had flown away! And that was what inspired the very first scene of the first book in the trilogy. The heroine, Veerle, who is only seven years old at the time, climbs the tower of the village church with her friend Kris. They are a bit disgusted to discover that the bells are still there, i.e. the grown ups have lied to them. Then they look out of the window and see something terrible happening in the village below. That crime reverberates through the entire trilogy.


The author, Helen Grant in Tervuren, the town where Veerle goes to school in the first novel, Silent Saturday.

Photo courtesy of author

The locations in the books – Tervuren park, the Gravensteen castle and Saint Baaf’s cathedral in Ghent, the abandoned factory, the Brussels sewers – are all real ones and I visited most of them for my book research. I really enjoyed visiting the sewers! Sewer systems are one of the most dangerous urban exploration environments of all – there are flash floods, posionous gases, the risk of getting lost and never getting out, not to mention rats and creepy crawlies. It’s all there. A very inspiring setting if you are writing a gritty thriller!


The Brussels sewer system – the perfect place for a show-down!

Photo courtesy of author

2.) In Silent Saturday, we are introduced to one of the most frightening villains that I think I’ve ever read about. Did you find it difficult to get inside the head of someone so innately wicked?

Does it sound weird if I say no? I actually enjoyed writing the scenes with De Jager (the villain) in them. That’s not because I like the things he does. He’s a monster. It’s more that I wanted to take the gloves off and create a really horrific villain. Someone extreme. In my earlier books, it tends to be all about the nasty discoveries after the crime has taken place; this time I wanted to create a real feeling of direct threat. My other villains also tended to have their reasons for killing, even if they were very twisted ones, but De Jager just enjoys hunting down other people. He doesn’t want to relate to his victims as human beings with feelings and motives at all, and one of the things I relished was his dismay when he is forced to start thinking about Veerle and Kris and what they may do.

3.) Our heroine Veerle loves taking risks and in the second novel, Demons of Ghent we see her exploring the rooftops of the city. How much of yourself do you see in our main character?

Ha! Quite a lot. I’m more law-abiding than she is, and I definitely don’t have her head for heights(!), but I totally “get” her interest in urban exploration. I enjoyed writing the Forbidden Spaces trilogy more than anything else I’ve ever worked on. It was partly because I loved doing the research trips but also because I think Veerle’s life is incredibly cool, even with the problems she has.
The other thing is Veerle’s relationship with her mother. I based Claudine on my own grandmother, who also suffered very badly from anxiety. It’s very tough supporting someone who has those kind of issues. You can love them to death but still be exhausted with trying to support them. I really empathise with Veerle’s struggle to do the right thing for everyone including herself.

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The beautiful St Baaf’s Cathedral in Ghent seen from the Belfort Tower, both of which feature in the opening scene of the second novel, Demons Of Ghent.

Photo courtesy of author

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Gravensteen Castle, Ghent where Veerle and Bram spend a night, also in the second novel, Demons Of Ghent.

Photo courtesy of author

4.) In the final book of the trilogy, Urban Legends, old ghosts return to haunt Veerle and her family is put under the spotlight like never before. Was it important for you to write about family dynamics in a real and honest way? Do you see a happy future for Veerle?

Yes, it was very important to me. I think a huge part of writing a successful thriller is to make the characters come alive. You have to care about them and believe in them for the story to be exciting and convincing. Plus the plot of the book wouldn’t happen in a vacuum – everyone has family or relationship stuff going on in their lives.
I do see a happy future for Veerle. She has had to be self sufficient at a very early stage in her life and she can be quite spiky and also impulsive. But she is brave too and she is actually a very caring person in spite of her impetuous side. There’s a moment in Demons of Ghent where she is asked to do a favour for someone she doesn’t like, who is in desperate straits, and Veerle does it even though she knows it is going to get her in a lot of trouble. I think she deserves some happiness, and I think she is going to get it in the future – I think bravery and empathy are a great combination.

5.) Are you working on anything at the moment and can you tell us a little bit about it?

Yes, I’m working on a new book unrelated to the Forbidden Spaces books. It’s set in Scotland, where I live now. I’m actually doing a lot of planning and thinking at the moment about where I want the story to go. I think it’s safe to say that it is a mystery and it has some Gothic elements to it. The part of Scotland where I live, Perthshire, is just crying out to have stories written about it. The countryside is full of history – ancient castles, ruined churches, mysterious standing stones. I want to try to make the most of that!

Now for some quick fire questions!

E book or real book?

Real book. I read in the bath! An eReader would be wrecked the first time I dropped it.

Series or stand alone?

Hmmm. Both. The one thing I don’t like though, is a series which is one story hacked into chunks. I like each book to have a satisfying conclusion.

Fiction or non-fiction?


Online shopping or bookshop trawling?

Both, but mainly online – not because I don’t want to support bookshops but because the nearest one is about 17 miles away!

Bookmarking or dog-earing?

Mostly dog-earing, except for old or rare books.

Once again, a HUGE thank you to the lovely Helen Grant for giving up her time to do this interview (and for the fab photographs!). I’m very excited now to explore some of her back catalogue and will probably start with her debut novel, The Vanishing of Katharina Linden. Look out for a review of this and her second novel, The Glass Demon on bibliobeth soon.

Urban Legends completes The Forbidden Spaces trilogy and was published by Corgi on 26th March 2015. This series and of course Helen’s other novels, are available to buy from all good book retailers now!

Urban Legends (Forbidden Spaces Trilogy #3) – Helen Grant

Published January 19, 2016 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

A group of story-tellers are disappearing one by one.

A young woman is haunted by her past.

A serial killer has one target he is desperate to hunt down.

Veerle is trying to lie low, to live as ‘normal’ a life as she possibly can. But when you’ve thwarted a serial killer, it’s hard to do this. Especially when he wants revenge . . .

What did I think?:

Urban Legends is the third and final volume in Helen Grant’s Forbidden Spaces trilogy and after the brilliance of the previous two novels, I had high expectations for this one. Well, it did not disappoint! Our heroine Veerle De Keyser is back in her home town after staying with her father and his girlfriend didn’t exactly work out, to put it mildly. Veerle is now eighteen and has matured considerably after her past traumatic experiences. Her only goal is to get her head down, repeat her last year of school and perhaps work out some more normal issues that teenage girls have. Like figuring out how she really feels about her current boyfriend Bram (whom she met while staying in Ghent) while the spectre of her first real relationship with Kris looms over her.

Each book in the series has explored a different and rather murky mystery, typically involving innocent people being killed. In this novel the author develops another compelling narrative which kicks off right from the opening chapter. It involves a group of young people who enjoy meeting up in abandoned buildings, much like the Koekoeken group Veerle joins in the first book. The purpose of their meetings is to swap gruesome urban legends with each other, in competition to become the master storyteller at the end of the night. I absolutely loved the chapters that featured the storytellers as I used to do a similar thing with friends at school and with some of the legends, it was an interesting trip down memory lane where I remembered stories I had previously forgotten (and those that still had the potential to send shivers down my spine, thanks Helen!) 🙂

So as you might have guessed, story-time isn’t exactly fun-time in this novel. Someone is picking off the storytellers one by one and brutally murdering them so when they meet again, there are less of them there to tell the stories. Strangely enough, this is connected back to an old adversary of Veerle’s we first meet in Silent Saturday and he returns darker and definitely more disturbed than before. We are also treated to chapters told from his perspective and believe me, they might make you want to check you locked the doors before you go to bed at night! Even though Veerle is not meant to see her old flame Kris they team up to try and investigate what is going on. They don’t have much time however, as the killer is determined not to be thwarted by anyone – let alone these two and will remove any that dare to stand in his path.

Helen Grant has an undeniable talent for writing thrilling novels and Urban Legends is no exception, providing an action-packed, tense and suspense-filled plot that does not shy away from the darker side of society. By the third book, I felt as if I knew these characters personally and, as a reader, it seemed like I had gone through everything with them. By the dramatic finale, I was literally on the edge of my seat, unable to put down the book for a second until everything had been resolved one way or another. This is such a fantastic series that I believe everyone, no matter what your age who loves a good thriller should read as soon as possible. I’m certainly glad I read it and am very excited to read more by Helen Grant, in fact – I pronounce her the Queen of YA thrillers!

Come back tomorrow when I’ll be featuring an interview with the author of The Forbidden Spaces trilogy, Helen Grant!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


The Demons Of Ghent (Forbidden Spaces Trilogy #2) – Helen Grant

Published January 18, 2016 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

Veerle has moved to Ghent to start a new life with her father and his girlfriend, she’s isolated and alone. But not as alone as she had thought . . .

Veerle recognises a familiar face in the crowds one day, a face connected to a past that she has been fighting to get over, a past that involved murder.

A spate of deaths hit the city but has Death followed Veerle to Ghent or is this something new?

What did I think?:

Demons of Ghent is the second book in Helen Grant’s fabulous Forbidden Spaces trilogy and one I knew I had to read as soon as possible after finishing the first, Silent Saturday. There’s always a worry with the second book in a series that it may suffer from “second book syndrome,” where it does not live up to the glory of the previous novel. I’m happy to say, this was most definitely not the case with Demons of Ghent – in fact, I think I enjoyed it even more. There’s something very comforting coming to a book where we are familiar with the characters back story, personality etc but are still very keen to discover new secrets and the author comes up with some real treasures in this second offering.

I was slightly surprised to discover that the story does not pick up directly where Silent Saturday ended but in a way, it made it more intriguing as a reader to think about exactly what may have occurred. I’m not going to give anything away for anyone who hasn’t read the first book in the series but to say Veerle De Keyser’s life has changed dramatically would be an understatement. She has been through hell and back again and when the story opens, she has moved to Ghent to live with her father and his pregnant girlfriend, Anneke. As you may be able to guess, Anneke isn’t exactly thrilled that she is having to play step-mother to her boyfriend’s daughter, especially when she is trying to cement her own new family and she views Veerle as a typical teenage delinquent who has put her father under enough strain already with her “antics” in the last novel. Never mind the trauma that Veerle has gone through, eh?

Veerle is feeling isolated enough as it is, coming to a new town and having to make new friends and when she is told that she categorically cannot see her boyfriend, Kris again she feels even more alone. It doesn’t seem to matter however, as Kris appears to have dropped off the radar completely and isn’t even answering her calls, adding to her misery. Things get stranger still when she appears to spot a girl called Hommel (who also happens to be Kris’s ex-girlfriend by the way) alive and apparently well in Ghent. The fact is, she’s supposed to be dead. All of this combined means Veerle is in desperate need of a friend. Enter Bram, a student at Ghent University and a breath of fresh air for our heroine. He is funny, kind, sensitive, a great shoulder to cry on and introduces Veerle to something connected to one of her great passions, climbing. More specifically, he clambers around the roof-tops of Ghent at night and reminds Veerle that life can be fun again, something she seriously needs.

But, you guessed it…. the fun can only last so long until Death once again rears his ugly head. There is an ancient legend in Ghent that involves demons on the rooftops and in this narrative is connected to The Ghent Altarpiece, a large piece of 15th century art that depicts the Annunciation of Mary, portraits of Christ, John the Baptist and Adam and Eve (amongst others), with the central panel showing the adoration of The Lamb of God overseen by The Holy Spirit. Veerle and Bram stumble upon the horror of people apparently being thrown off the rooftops of Ghent – but is it the work of a demonic entity or just a demonic individual?

I don’t want to say any more about the plot but I just loved the direction in which Helen Grant took this story! There are so many exciting and quite honestly, jaw-dropping moments that I could hardly keep still until I had finished the entire book and even then, she leaves us with such a beauty of a cliffhanger that it immediately had me eagerly anticipating the final book in the trilogy, Urban Legends. The perfect combination of the supernatural with authentic art history made this narrative so thrilling (and educational I might add) that I immediately had to go and research The Ghent Altarpiece after I had finished the novel. Although I needn’t have bothered, the author’s descriptive prose is so vivid, you could almost imagine you were standing in front of the piece without any previous knowledge of it.

The characterisation once again is superb, we see a different, more mature Veerle from Silent Saturday as she struggles to overcome her previous traumas while still dealing with a number of personal/family issues. I did enjoy the lighter side that Bram brought to the narrative and thought he was a fantastic antidote for what Veerle had gone through and a means for her to smile again. For those missing the intensity of Mr Kris Verstraeten however, never fear readers, he does return but things are slightly different for him and Veerle. Say no more! I finished The Demons of Ghent completely in love with this series and hugely excited for the final chapter in the trilogy. Does it HAVE to end though?

Come back tomorrow where I will be reviewing the last book, Urban Legends!

For my review of Silent Saturday, the first book in the series, please click HERE.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


Silent Saturday (Forbidden Spaces Trilogy #1) – Helen Grant

Published January 17, 2016 by bibliobeth

16110931What’s it all about?:

Seventeen-year-old Veerle is frustrated with life in suburban Brussels. But a chance encounter with a hidden society, whose members illegally break into unoccupied buildings around the city, soon opens up a whole new world of excitement – and danger.

When one of the society’s founding members disappears, Veerle suspects foul play. But nothing can prepare her for the horror that is about to unfold when an old foe emerges from the shadows… No one is safe, and The Hunter will strike again…

What did I think?:

I’m really excited to introduce everyone to an author new to me and one I’m ever so glad I discovered – Helen Grant. For the next few days I shall be reviewing her Forbidden Spaces trilogy which begins with Silent Saturday, followed on by The Demons of Ghent and finishing with Urban Legends. The day after that I shall be featuring an interview with the lady herself and hopefully by that time I will have persuaded anyone who hasn’t read her before that this is an author well worth trying!

The series is set in Belgium, a beautiful country which Helen has actually lived in herself so I was confident about the authenticity of the setting and was certain I was in safe hands with the narrative as I began to read a gripping and incredibly thrilling story that will both terrify and excite you in equal measure. The descriptions of Brussels and the surrounding area are so intricate that you leave the book feeling like you know the country inside out and I love it when I can picture a setting with such clarity.

Our heroine is seventeen year old Veerle de Keyser who when we meet her is struggling in her relationship with her mother. Claudine is extremely over-protective, relies on Veerle a great deal both emotionally and practically and is beyond paranoid about many issues, but particularly the security of herself and her daughter. Veerle loves her mother a great deal but gets very frustrated with many aspects of her behaviour so, as an outlet, she loves to visit the local climbing wall and becomes very adept at clambering around in tight positions.

As with all aspects of mental illness, there are reasons behind Claudine’s fears and one event in particular greatly affected her relationship with her daughter. It involves something terrifying that Veerle witnessed when she was younger with her childhood friend, Kris Verstraeten, that we will see in this trilogy, returns to haunt her. Kris returns to Veerle’s life after about a ten year hiatus where the two have barely spoken and introduces her to a fascinating new prospect that she cannot resist. The group is the Koekoeken (meaning Cuckoos) and they are a group of people that explore abandoned or uninhabited buildings, for example – residents who have gone on holiday, millionaire’s mansions where the owner is out of the country and a rather spooky and crumbling old castle. It’s not all law-breaking and vandalism however, the group have an unwritten rule that they do something for the house before they leave i.e. a bit of maintenance as a thank you for the use of the building.

Both Veerle and Kris thoroughly enjoy exploring various establishments together and perhaps as expected, develop feelings for each other. However, their world is about to be unbelievably rocked when one of the group is brutally murdered. When certain other members of the Koekoeken seem to be targeted by a ruthless killer with a thirst for violence, Veerle and Kris are terrified that they could be next. Can they go to the police though when they themselves have been technically breaking the law by breaking and entering several properties? The killer appears to have them right where he wants them… and he shows no sign of stopping.

On first reading the premise of this book, I have to say I was beyond excited. I loved the idea of a group exploring empty buildings but doing something nice for the owners on the way out. However, I was not prepared for just how thrilling this novel would be. We get a little insight into the killer – De Jager, or The Hunter and oh my goodness, he is one of the most dark and disturbing villains I have ever read about. I knew beforehand that this was a young adult trilogy but don’t let the genre put you off the author does not skimp on the darkness or the horror of certain situations. In that way, I probably wouldn’t recommend this series to the faint-hearted or much younger readers but then again, if you can handle a bit of heart stopping terror – go ahead, it’s perfect! Silent Saturday is a wonderful start to what I’m certain will be a brilliant trilogy. Try it…. if you dare?

Come back tomorrow where I’ll be reviewing the second book in the series, Demons of Ghent!

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):


The Well – Catherine Chanter

Published December 22, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

From the winner of the Lucy Cavendish Fiction Prize, a brilliantly haunting and suspenseful debut set in modern-day Britain where water is running out everywhere except at The Well; the farm of one seemingly ordinary family whose mysterious good fortune leads to suspicion, chaos, and ultimately a shocking act of violence.

Ruth Ardingly has just been released from prison to serve out a sentence of house arrest for arson and suspected murder at her farm, The Well. Beyond its borders, some people whisper she is a witch; others a messiah. For as soon as Ruth returns to The Well, rain begins to fall on the farm. And it has not rained anywhere else in the country in over three years.

Ruth and her husband Mark had moved years before from London to this ancient idyll in the hopes of starting their lives over. But then the drought began, and as the surrounding land dried up and died, and The Well grew lush and full of life, they came to see their fortune would come at a price. From the envy of their neighbors to the mandates of the government, from the fanaticism of a religious order called the Sisters of the Rose to the everyday difficulties of staying close as husband and wife, mother and child;all these forces led to a horrifying crime: the death of their seven-year-old grandson, drowned with cruel irony in one of the few ponds left in the countryside.

Now back at The Well, Ruth must piece together the tragedy that shattered her marriage, her family, and her dream. For she believes her grandson’s death was no accident, and that the murderer is among the people she trusted most. Alone except for her guards on a tiny green jewel in a world rapidly turning to dust, Ruth begins to confront her worst fears and learns what really happened in the dark heart of The Well.

A tour de force about ordinary people caught in the tide of an extraordinary situation, Catherine Chanter’s The Well is a haunting, beautifully written, and utterly believable novel that probes the fragility of our personal relationships and the mystical connection between people and the places they call home.

What did I think?:

I have such mixed feelings about this novel I’m hoping this review will be coherent and not a rambling mess! You’ll probably agree with me that the premise sounds fascinating and as a result, I was hopeful that it would be a good read. Unfortunately I had a few issues with it that has led to me giving it the star rating that I have. So, the story begins by introducing us to a woman called Ruth Ardingly who has returned to her home known as The Well on house arrest, guarded by three officers at all times, accused of murder. Then the story switches back to the past as Ruth recollects when she first came to the countryside property with her husband Mark, trying to escape the hustle bustle of the city life and some recent allegations about Mark (which were proved to be unfounded). Their marriage is on shaky grounds as it is and they are hoping that a new start on land where Mark can realise his dream of farming will allow their relationship to heal. Oh dear…you just know that this is not going to be the case, don’t you?

As Ruth and Mark are settling into their life at The Well, the rest of the country is experiencing the worst drought in history and life is difficult for the general population as they cope with water rations and inevitable drama that would ensue from this operation. Life gets a bit more difficult for Joe Public however when it is realised that there is one place in the country that seems to have an abundance of water and is the only place that receives precious rain. Yes, you’ve guessed it – it’s The Well. Just as Ruth and Mark are trying to re-build their marriage, they now have to deal with the jealousy, crazy people and haters who accuse Ruth of everything from water theft to plain and simple witchcraft. Ruth’s daughter Angie, an ex drug addict and her son Lucien come to stay on the property for a while in the company of some hippy-type travellers and even she is shocked by the drama that is unfolding in her mother’s life.

Following close on the travellers heels come another group of people which leads to the completely unanticipated and life-altering situation that Ruth now finds herself in the present time. They are of a new religious order, celebrating feminism and The Rose of Jericho and headed by the confident and very persuasive Sister Amelia. She manages to convince Ruth that she is something close to sainthood because of the seemingly magical flow of water to The Well and Ruth is soon thoroughly smitten with the idea, indulging in regular and cult-like devotions and neglecting her marriage and other responsibilities. Then Ruth’s grand-child, Lucien is tragically killed and Ruth immediately falls under suspicion when she cannot account for her whereabouts except for being in the throes of prayer. Fast-forward to the present time and Ruth has lost everything good in her life – her husband, her daughter, her grand-child, unless it can be discovered what really happened on that terrible evening.

Hmmm. So it wasn’t that I disliked this book. In fact, some parts of it I found incredibly poetic and moving and as I mentioned above, I was quite excited about it after reading the synopsis. Generally, I found it to be a bit of a slow burner, especially at the beginning although it did hit its stride after The Sisters Of Jericho entered the narrative. I also enjoyed how it bounced from the past to the present and loved reading about the relationship between Ruth and Boy (her favourite guard). My two main issues are the paranormal slant that the story is given which I didn’t really think went anywhere. At no time are we ever given an explanation of exactly why The Well is the only drought-less place in the country which was slightly frustrating but it’s not really explored in any great depth either and I would have liked a bit more insight into the situation across other homes and in the country as a whole which would have made the situation a bit more realistic in my eyes. Also, when the villain of the piece was unmasked, I was quite surprised as it seemed a little too easy for my liking. Unfortunately, I had already guessed it at the beginning of the novel but I immediately dismissed it as I thought the author would make it harder for me than that! If you can get past these two little niggles though it is a decent enough read and sports some beautiful passages that are so descriptive that I was able to picture the setting with ease. I would definitely be interested to see what this author does next.

Would I recommend it?:


Star rating (out of 5):

3 Star Rating Clip Art


Revival – Stephen King

Published December 4, 2015 by bibliobeth


What’s it all about?:

In a small New England town, in the early 60s, a shadow falls over a small boy playing with his toy soldiers. Jamie Morton looks up to see a striking man, the new minister. Charles Jacobs, along with his beautiful wife, will transform the local church. The men and boys are all a bit in love with Mrs Jacobs; the women and girls – including Jamie’s mother and beloved sister – feel the same about Reverend Jacobs. With Jamie, the Reverend shares a deeper bond, based on their fascination with simple experiments in electricity.

Then tragedy strikes the Jacobs family; the preacher curses God, mocking all religious belief, and is banished from the shocked town.

Jamie has demons of his own. In his mid-thirties, he is living a nomadic lifestyle of bar-band rock and roll. Addicted to heroin, stranded, desperate, he sees Jacobs again – a showman on stage, creating dazzling ‘portraits in lightning’ – and their meeting has profound consequences for both men. Their bond becomes a pact beyond even the Devil’s devising, and Jamie discovers that revival has many meanings. Because for every cure there is a price…

This rich and disturbing novel spans five decades on its way to the most terrifying conclusion Stephen King has ever written. It’s a masterpiece from King, in the great American tradition of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe.

What did I think?:

It’s time for another one of those gushing reviews about one of my all-time favourite authors, Stephen King (apologies in advance!). I always get terribly excited when a new King novel is due out and after a short hop over to the crime genre with Mr Mercedes, he is back doing what he does best i.e. settle and unnerve his Constant Readers. However, do not go into this book expecting horror, blood, guts and other mayhem, Revival is somewhat of a slow-burner that builds the narrative of a man’s life over fifty decades. It creeps up on you slowly, getting you all comfortable and familiar with the setting and the characters… then BAM! it hits you with the suggestion of things I think even those with the most vivid of imaginations would struggle to picture.

We meet our main character, Jamie Morton when he is very young, playing with toy soldiers outside in the sunshine. Little does he know that the shadow that falls over his game belongs to a man who is going to be probably one of the most influential people in his life. The man is Charles Jacobs, the new Reverend whom along with his beautiful wife, charm their way into the community and the Morton family’s lives. Jamie especially builds a strong bond with Jacobs, spending a lot of time with him and enjoying the Reverend’s teachings and experiments with electricity (his second greatest love after God). Jacobs also proves himself to be quite indispensable to the family after providing him with a gift they cannot thank him enough for, a cure for Jamie’s brothers muteness. As a result, Jamie is devastated when a family tragedy leads to the Reverend leaving town, assuming he will never see him again. He couldn’t be more wrong.

We then follow Jamie’s life over a fifty year period where he becomes devoted both to music which he ekes a small living from and then unfortunately to heroin. Jacobs and Jamie’s paths are set to cross a number of times during their lives which turns out to be mutually agreeable to both of them in the beginning. Jacobs is now earning his crust by travelling round with a circus/fair using his favourite medium, electricity to perform small “miracles,” for bewildered and excited crowds. At this time, Jamie is at rock bottom with his drug addiction and then, like the feat performed years earlier with Jamie’s brother, Jacobs manages to cure him of his heroin dependency. Unfortunately, that means Jamie is pretty much indebted to Jacobs for life. The reader gets the sense that this was perhaps this was Jacobs plan all along because he has big things planned for his next experiment. And by big, I mean huge, actually of insane proportions. An experiment that makes you question death in all its disguises, something that might have you gibbering senselessly and hoping scientists find the secret of immortality, fast!

Well, what can I say? My God, Stephen King you’ve done it again. It’s King at his absolute genius best, building a strong and solid foundation for a narrative with a main character that you really find yourself rooting for, despite a few personal demons. There’s nothing particularly “scary” about this story, it’s not another It or Pet Sematary, so don’t go into it with those sorts of expectations. The message is a lot cleverer and way more subtle, told in a way that is guaranteed to send shivers down some spines I believe. I am aware that the author has received some lukewarm reviews for his last few novels but I really believe that Revival is King back to his glorious best and I loved every minute of it.

Would I recommend it?:

But of course!

Star rating (out of 5):