Book Title The Blackthorn Key Author: Kevin Sands Number of pages: 384
“Tell no one what I’ve given you.”
Until he got that cryptic warning, Christopher Rowe was happy, learning how to solve complex codes and puzzles and creating powerful medicines, potions, and weapons as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn—with maybe an explosion or two along the way.
But when a mysterious cult begins to prey on London’s apothecaries, the trail of murders grows closer and closer to Blackthorn’s shop. With time running out, Christopher must use every skill he’s learned to discover the key to a terrible secret with the power to tear the world apart.
– Frenetically paced mystery with solvable puzzles providing an interactive reading experience
– Hist-fic world building is rustic, has medieval flair, and the tone is vividly portrayed given it’s time; mild “fade to black/off-screen” gore
– Characters and relationships (i.e. bromance) feel organic. However, there isn’t a strong female presence
– There is a pigeon named Bridget. You will have animal/pet feels
– Story is self-contained (though part of a series) and is courageously resilient, full of hilarious tomfoolery, and painfully tragic
It seems like stories with animal sidekicks will, without fail, garner 4+ stars from me. NO COMPLAINTS HEREEEEEE.
Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of The Blackthorn Key from the Book Blog Ontario Meet-Up. I extend thanks to Simon and Schuster for providing me with the opportunity to review this book.
Book Title The Dead House Author: Dawn Kurtagich Number of pages: 432
Part-psychological thriller, part-urban legend, this is an unsettling narrative made up of diary entries, interview transcripts, film footage transcripts and medical notes. Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High burned down. Three people were killed and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. Now a diary has been found in the ruins of the school. The diary belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s identical twin sister. But Carly didn’t have a twin . . .
– Story is presented through a series of evidence (e.g. diary entries, video and voice-call transcripts, news articles, etc.,)
– Unreliable narrator encourages skeptical hats be worn; revelations can be guessed at but does not dilute the end-game reveal
– There are unsettling moments but nothing crazy in terms of gore. Also, the entire story takes place at night basically, or in very dark, claustrophobic spaces
– Can be difficult to feel compassion for various characters/MC
– There is a supernatural touch to the evil within this story
Let me share some “lessons” The Dead House has taught me:
Unreliable narrators are the reason why 10-foot poles exist.
Having friends interested in witchy woo-woo dark magic means you’re setting yourself up to die.
Vlogging the supernatural is just not a good idea. “Let me just pull out some EVIL from my back-pocket…”—like, why is this even a thing?
Attending parties with underage substance use underscores bad shit happening. Moderation is a myth.
When you find out your school is connected with a hospital, you should make immediate plans to book it to Mars.
Cancel any plans you have of being a criminal profiler. Because you won’t succeed.
Schrödinger’s Cat lived and died for you, so why would you open up some sketchy artifact-diary? Just don’t. Or do? (R.I.P you.)
Full disclosure: I received an advanced reader copy of The Dead House from the Book Blog Ontario Meet-Up. I extend thanks to Little Brown Books for providing me with the opportunity to review this book.
Alternatives is the tagline feature for other forms of entertainment outside of discussing literature. These posts may encompass television, movies, games, and music with a randomized flavour of the moment approach to each post.
Alternatives Interactive Games – Escape Rooms
(This isn’t the place I visited but it gives a good visual example of what to expect with these escape rooms…even if it looks slightly cheesy.)
Monopoly is the board game that ruins friendships. Escape Rooms are the interactive games that make you want to murder them. Well, maybe.