#BookReview STARVE ACRE by ANDREW MICHAEL HURLEY

ABOUT THE BOOK

The worst thing possible has happened. Richard and Juliette Willoughby’s son, Ewan, has died suddenly at the age of five. Starve Acre, their house by the moors, was to be full of life, but is now a haunted place.

Juliette, convinced Ewan still lives there in some form, seeks the help of the Beacons, a seemingly benevolent group of occultists. Richard, to try and keep the boy out of his mind, has turned his attention to the field opposite the house, where he patiently digs the barren dirt in search of a legendary oak tree.

Starve Acre is a devastating new novel by the author of the prize-winning bestseller The Loney. It is a novel about the way in which grief splits the world in two and how, in searching for hope, we can so easily unearth horror

published by John Murray

publication date – 31st October 2019

PRE-ORDER LINKS

Amazon UK  £9.35

whsmith  £9.35

hive.co.uk  £10.29

goldsboro books – signed first edition £12.99

MY REVIEW

This is a beautifully written story that looks at grief as we follow a mother and father dealing with the loss of their son in very different ways, and you can’t help but feel the pain and sorrow that they both are feeling.

The father, Richard, deals with the loss by finding a distraction. And that for him is digging up a nearby field to try and discover the roots of the legendary tree, Stythwaite Oak – apparently used for local hangings but there’s no real proof it existed other than that of woodblock prints that he uncovers amongst his fathers books. The soil in the field where it grew is dead – nothing has ever grown there, there’s no worms or signs of life, just bones. Richard uncovers the bones of a hare here and spends time lovingly cleaning them and putting them back together. Anything to avoid having to listen to his wife sobbing.

His wife has retreated to their home and spends all day crying. She sees no point in making an effort to leave the house as she feels the presence of her son at home and wants to be with him all the time. Her idea of contacting a spiritual group, The Beacons, to help her contact her son doesn’t go down well with Richard or her sister, but she’s convinced it will help her ease the pain.

So this once united couple are torn apart by grief and I found it quite harrowing at times spending time in their company, especially as there were flashbacks to times when their son was alive and well. The more of these look backs we get, the more we realise that their son Ewan had a dark personality and was involved in some unsavoury incidents at school and at home where the ‘dark talked to him’. It really added a creepy and chilling element to this story and the spooky goings on surrounding the house and tree were often unexpected and added a totally different feel to the way I thought the story was going to go!

I did find the second part of the book didn’t work quite as well for me as it did go a little too weird (and I normally embrace the weird and wonderful!) and there wasn’t enough time given to explore different elements that were revealed. I would have loved this book to go on a little longer as I think it would have been more pleasing for the whole reading experience, but I still found it to be a haunting and fascinating story

★★★★

My thanks to Readers First for the advanced reading copy in return for a fair and honest review.

#BlogTour FOXFIRE, WOLFSKIN & other stories of shapeshifting women by Sharon Blackie #BookReview #RandomThingsTours #FoxfireWolfskin @septemberbooks

Hugely excited to be taking part in this Blog Tour so thank you for stopping by today! My thanks to the author, publisher and Anne of Random Things Tours for the copy of the book and letting me be part of the Tour!

ABOUT THE BOOK

‘Part rally cry, part warning, part manifesto and all parts enchanting, Sharon Blackie’s Foxfire, Wolfskin is a deeply evocative and haunting collection. Humming with the strength of our immutable voices, each story sings with the transformation that is possible when women take agency of our lives. I want to press this powerful book into the hands of everyone I know and say, listen.’ Holly Ringland, author, The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart

‘Sharon Blackie has wrought a new-old magic for our times: glorious, beautiful, passionate myths written for this critical moment in time. They show who we could have been, and they give us a glimpse of a world-that-could-be. There’s still time to make it happen.’ Manda Scott, author of the Boudicca series, and A Treachery of Spies

Charged with drama and beauty, this memorable collection by a master storyteller weaves a magical world of possibility and power from female myths of physical renewal, creation and change. It is an extraordinary immersion into the bodies and voices, mindscapes and landscapes, of the shape-shifting women of our native folklore. We meet the Water Horse of the Isle of Lewis, the huldra, the Scandinavian supernatural forest-dweller, and Baba Yaga of Slavic folklore (but will she help you or kill you?) Here too is the Snow Queen; the wild bird-woman of the Sliabh Mis Mountains; Blodeuedd, the Welsh ‘flower-faced’ woman.

Drawing on myth and fairy tales found across Europe – from Croatia to Sweden, Ireland to Russia – Sharon Blackie brings to life women’s remarkable ability to transform themselves in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances. These stories are about coming to terms with our animal natures, exploring the ways in which we might renegotiate our fractured relationship with the natural world, and uncovering the wildness – and wilderness – within.

Published by September Publishing

PURCHASE LINKS

Amazon   

hive.co.uk

whsmith

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dr Sharon Blackie is a writer, mythologist and psychologist, and an internationally recognised teacher of the mythic imagination. Her bestselling book, If Women Rose Rooted, won a 2016 Nautilus award, and laid out a haunting heroine’s journey for every woman who finds power, inspiration and solace in the natural world. She has an international following through her online communities, and the courses and workshops she offers through ‘The Hedge School’. Her first novel, The Long Delirious Blue, was described by the Independent on Sunday as ‘hugely potent’. She lives in Connemara, Ireland.

 www.sharonblackie.net.

The Enchanted Life

If Women Rose Rooted

MY REVIEW

This is a stunning collection of magical stories that are based on myth and fairy tales across Europe, and I was totally captivated by the messages portrayed and the style of writing.  I’ve often found with short story collections that they can be a little hit and miss with the impact each story has on me, but with this collection I found something positive to say about all of them – some are short and sweet, others are a little more complex and involved but they all had the effect of just making me want to read more of the lesser known fairy tales and folklore from different places,  and that’s exactly what I will be doing!

Accompanied by many striking illustrations, each story features a theme – growing old, changes in the world we live in, grief, temptation – from the point of view of the women involved and I loved how that made you look at each story so differently.  The role of a woman and how that changes over time and how others see her, and it really gives you so much to think about. 

There are also notes at the back of the book which give the outline of the original folklore story which helps give extra meaning to the story if you’ve not heard of it before, and that was invaluable! I think fairy stories have a special place in all our hearts and as we get older we end up discovering the different layers to each story that we may have missed while reading as a child which helps give them that longevity, along with the memories they also bring back and that is always a wonderful part of reading – to rediscover and learn!  Having stories re-written like these brings about a new audience and new meaning to stories, and I’m glad to have spent time reading this and look forward to reading more from this author!

★★★★★

#BookReview The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden #PublicationDay

About the book

One girl can make a difference…

Moscow has burned nearly to the ground, leaving its people searching for answers – and someone to hold accountable. Vasya finds herself on her own, amid a rabid mob that calls for her death, blaming her witchery for their misfortune.

Then a vengeful demon returns, renewed and stronger than ever, determined to spread chaos in his wake and never be chained again. Enlisting the hateful priest Konstantin as his servant, turmoil plagues the Muscovites and the magical creatures alike, and all find their fates resting on the shoulders of Vasya.

With an uncertain destiny ahead of her, Vasya learns surprising truths of her past as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all…

Published by  Del Ray

Purchase Links

hive.co.uk  £9.89

waterstones  £9.99

MY REVIEW

A wonderful and fitting ending to an extraordinary Trilogy – if you haven’t read this series yet and you love tales of fantasy, magic and folklore, then I highly recommend these books by Katherine Arden as I’ve been captivated from start to finish, and am eager to go back and read them all again very soon!!

In this final part Vasya is back and is cast as the bad guy and is hellbent on righting those wrongs and save those she loves. There is heartbreak, humour and heroic actions throughout as she travels through different worlds, meeting the weird, the wonderful and the dangerous along the way. I laughed, I cried ( a lot!) and it was just one of those stories that took you to places you least expected, let alone you could ever imagine and Vasya seems to be one of those characters who has her flaws but still manages to get you onside. Pity anyone who crosses her!!

This part of the trilogy is definitely the darkest and the most complex of all 3 books, but such an absorbing read and I’m really going to miss the characters and world that was created – thank you Katherine Arden!! 

✮✮✮✮✮

#BookReview The Blue Salt Road by Joanne M.Harris

About the book

An earthly nourris sits and sings
And aye she sings, “Ba lilly wean,
Little ken I my bairn’s father,
Far less the land that he staps in. 
(Child Ballad, no. 113)

So begins a stunning tale of love, loss and revenge, against a powerful backdrop of adventure on the high seas, and drama on the land. The Blue Salt Road balances passion and loss, love and violence and draws on nature and folklore to weave a stunning modern mythology around a nameless, wild young man.

Passion drew him to a new world, and trickery has kept him there – without his memories, separated from his own people. But as he finds his way in this dangerous new way of life, so he learns that his notions of home, and your people, might not be as fixed as he believed.

Beautifully illustrated by Bonnie Helen Hawkins, this is a stunning and original modern fairytale. 

Published by Gollancz

Purchase Links

Goldsboro Books– signed first edition

hive.co.uk

waterstones

MY REVIEW

A beautiful book, both inside and out, telling the story of Selkies and how the wants and whims of Folk can change their destiny and their way of life. 

The author does a wonderful job of exploring the folklore behind Selkies and weaving a wonderful tale of how selfish someone can be in their desire to get what they want, at the expense of the happiness of the other person. 

The two main characters are fascinating creatures – a young selkie prince is bored of his life in the water and dreams of walking on land amongst the ‘Folk’, and Flora is sick of being on her own and hears of a way to meet the man of her dreams. As time goes by, both of them begin to question the way their lives are turning out and it is an absorbing tale that unfolds of how the past has a way of catching up with you and that the truth is never far away.

I loved the magical feel of this story and the illustrations throughout are also exquisite and add the perfect finish to this book. I loved it!

🌊🌊🌊🌊🌊

#BookReview The Story Keeper by Anna Mazzola #PublicationDay

About the book

From the author of THE UNSEEING comes a sizzling, period novel of folk tales, disappearances and injustice set on the Isle of Skye, sure to appeal to readers of Hannah Kent’s BURIAL RITES or Beth Underdown’s THE WITCH FINDER’S SISTER.

‘A wonderful combination of a thrilling mystery and a perfectly depicted period piece’ Sunday Mirror

Audrey Hart is on the Isle of Skye to collect the word-of-mouth folk tales of the people and communities around her. It is 1857, the Highland Clearances have left devastation and poverty, and the crofters are suspicious and hostile, claiming they no longer know their stories. Then Audrey discovers the body of a young girl washed up on the beach and the crofters tell her that it is only a matter of weeks since another girl has disappeared. They believe the girls are the victims of the spirits of the unforgiven dead. Initially, Audrey is sure the girls are being abducted, but then she is reminded of her own mother, a Skye woman who disappeared in mysterious circumstances. It seems there is a link to be explored, and Audrey may uncover just what her family have been hiding from her all these years. 

Published by Tinder Press

Publication Date – 26th July 2018

Purchase Links

Amazon UK

Hive.co.uk

Book Depository

Official Author Website

MY REVIEW

An enthralling mix of history, mystery, thriller and folklore that I adored and now has me itching to read more folklore tales!

I loved THE UNSEEING from this author, so have been eager to read her latest release and once more I’ve been captivated by the setting, the characters and the unsettling feeling throughout as the tale of missing girls unfolds on the Isle of Skye.

Set in 1857, Audrey is not ready for a life of conforming. An unhappy home life due to her father and stepmother, she is eager to get away so is happy to escape to Skye to fill the vacancy advertised as a collector of folktales for Miss Buchanan. Her mother used to collect stories too, so Audrey has grown up around the dark local tales and wishes to help collate more. She is initially met with resistance from a lot of the locals as they are scared to share the stories as they’ve been brought up to believe that there’ll be trouble if stories of the fairy folk are shared. This ties in with the mystery disappearances of young girls, and when Audrey discovers the body of one girl washed up on the shoreline it is only natural that the locals fear more trouble is coming their way.

There’s a great range of characters in this book – Audrey is a troubled young woman but eager to get on in life and not settle for life as a wife as expected in those days. She is desperately missing her mother and wants to know more about the way she died too and while she is back in the area she also finds out more about her. Miss Buchanan is another great character! A very imposing woman who is virtually housebound due to an accident, but still has an inquisitive mind and great hold over the locals. Her nephew Alec has been assisting her with the folklore tales but is keen to be a writer and story collector in his own right so is often distracted by his own endeavours.

I also loved the way the story of Bainne is dotted throughout this book. A story from the folklore world, it gives a real insight into the fairy life and a sense of how much power the stories had over the local communities who often ran their way of life according to superstition. And with the times they were living in being so tough it was easy to see why they put so much faith in these dark stories – as one character said ‘it’s better to be terrified than miserable’ .

I really enjoyed the slow build of this story. With various threads running throughout there was always something going on, a new story to be told, a new mystery to be investigated and combined with the bleak setting it really made this an unsettling and atmospheric read. Whenever Audrey got close to uncovering a truth there was always something put in her way to make her start questioning her own sanity, and as a reader you were never quite sure who to trust as so many seemed keen on keeping Audrey away from their way of life.

Highly recommended for those who love their tales dark and disturbing!!