‘Weird: A Henry Ian Darling Oddity’ by Julie Elizabeth Powell


Weird: A Henry Ian Darling Oddity

This is the first in a series of stories concerning the title character – Henry Ian Darling – and his adventures. The words ‘quirky’ and imaginative’ sprang to mind as I devoured this witty and distinctive tale. Having said that, when I reached the end, I wasn’t entirely sure what had happened (although I find this is often the case with short stories, so that isn’t necessarily a bad thing). Julie Elizabeth Powell has a unique and thoughtful writing style and a clear, distinctive voice. It’ll be interesting to see where she takes this character and his strange friends.

 
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‘Primogenito’ by Greta Cribbs


Primogenito

When Ashley’s husband develops a mysterious and frightening illness, she seeks out the one person who can help. However, Damian Fuentes has problems of his own to contend with, and dredging up deeply disturbing memories is the last thing he wants to do. Nevertheless, if he is to keep his family safe he must not only face reality, but the horror of his own past, and find a way to put an end to the terror that, one way or another, will eventually catch up with him.

Greta Cribbs has written an interesting tale that, though steeped in mystery and ancient magic, manages to avoid the generic elements fantasy writers usually rely on. The plot builds slowly, developing the relationships between the characters and their interwoven histories. The characters of Jenn and Damian are particularly well rounded and their anguish is nicely conveyed without over-egging the emotional custard. I also liked the character of Bob, whose laid-back style added a touch of humour. At times, the pace felt a little too slow and I found myself wanting to skip forward, but overall this is a clever and well thought-out novel that made a pleasant change from the usual clichés we find in this genre.

 
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‘Sister, Psychopath’ by Maggie James


Sister, Psychopath

Once, Megan loved her sister Chloe. But not now. When a long-held secret is revealed, Megan realises something’s gone badly wrong with Chloe. Amid cruel jibes and shocking behaviour, is a jumbled web of lies and deceit that Megan is determined to expose. But with even their mentally ill mother seeming to fall under Chloe’s spell, it looks like the young woman will get everything she wants. Can Megan discover the truth before someone else gets hurt?

Maggie James turns her usual insightful gaze to sibling rivalry in all its tragic glory. With more twisty turns than a twisty-turny thing, her plotting kept me guessing all the way to the end. The multi-layered relationships are well-drawn, with a nicely unsettling ring of truth. My only criticism (and it’s a small one), is the changing point of view, which I always find a mite irritating.

A thoughtful and clever story with plenty to get your psychotic teeth into.

 
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‘A Voice Beyond Reason’ by Matthew Félix


A Voice Beyond Reason

When a young Spaniard is thrown out of his normal, everyday existence by a family tragedy, it forces him to take a good look at life and his own future. From knowing exactly what is expected of him to suddenly having no idea how to move forward, Pablo finds help in the friendship of a mysterious stranger.

It’s not often I read books that don’t have some sort of quest, or escapade at their heart, but in this case, although there is a quest of a sort, it is more of a cerebral one, focusing on finding out who you are and what life is about. The writing is, at times, quite beautiful, with descriptions of the Spanish scenery that bring the story to life in a gentle, thoughtful way. As the young hero struggles to pursue what he believes are his dreams, he finds ideas and inspirations within himself that challenge his whole way of life.

If you’re looking for action and adventure, forget it, but this book might leave you with a lot more to think about than finding the buried treasure.

 
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