Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of Roza Vallo, the controversial high priestess of feminist horror. Alex, a struggling writer, is thrilled.
Upon arrival, they discover they must complete an entire novel from scratch, and the best one will receive a seven-figure publishing deal. Alex’s long-extinguished dream now seems within reach.
But then the women begin to die.
Trapped, terrified yet still desperately writing, it is clear there is more than a publishing deal at stake at Blackbriar Estate. Alex must confront her own demons – and finish her novel – to save herself.
This unhinged, propulsive, claustrophobic closed-door thriller will pull you in and spit you out…
I bought this book earlier this month and just kept thinking about it and how much I wanted to read it but I was saving it for May. I then had a horrible time so I decided to listen to my heart and pick up that book that I was saving because I wanted to read it now (April is my worst month, I’m never in a good place in April). Please do not make the mistake I made; if you want to read a book, just read it. Picking up this book was the right move because I devoured it within 24 hours. I did not want to put it down!
This book is super new, it’s a 2023 release and for once, I got to a book before anyone else I knew. I know I wasn’t the first person to read this but I don’t know/follow anyone else who had featured this book other than in hauls or TBR lists. This meant that I went into this book with no real expectations other than based on the blurb. How weird it felt to read a book without being able to gauge my future enjoyment of a book based on how other people reacted to it!
I loved this book! To the point where I didn’t need to think about my rating because it was a solid 5/5. This book gave me everything I’d hoped for: strong female characters, flawed characters, drama, secluded location, murder mystery, and drama (so much drama that I wrote it twice).
This book was split into four distinct parts which I felt right. The additional part at the end worked!
Part one was the initial set up. The main character was introduced. Alex was struggling in her life, she’d had a friendship breakup and was feeling lost. I loved getting to see her and her ex bestie have a little drama because I love the drama! The writing retreat was introduced and I just thought how lovely it sounded and if my writing ever got anywhere, how much I’d love to go to a writing retreat (not this one though, no retreats with murder! Maybe I just stay at home with my wee pink keyboard?). All of the characters were introduced and I really enjoyed them. I got some spidey sense tingling from a few of them and I was excited to find out whether I was right or not.
Part two had the writing retreat in full swing. The retreat wasn’t exactly what the attendees were expecting. The location was developed and was delightfully creepy and exactly what I wanted! I love a creepy and secluded location with shadows in every corner. This is where it all started to get scary and somebody went missing.
Part three was just pure drama and I loved it! It all happened. Reveals were unearthed ane I did not see these twists coming. I audibly gasped multiple times. This book kept me guessing! There was a finale and part three is where the book could have ended but instead, decisions were made and while I was a bit confused at the time, these decisions made sense!
Part four had even more drama and the extra big finale came. This was not the ending I expected but it was the one I needed.
This book kept me uncomfortably tense just waiting to find out what happened next. I loved everything about this book and I can’t understand how it fit so much into a 300 page book!
In addition to the creepy events of the house, there were toxic relationships galore in addition to genuine friendship. I cannot recommend this book enough! It felt like it mixed together elements from multiple books that I adore (Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth, Bunny by Mona Awad, and Other People’s Clothes by Calla Hankel). I know this book wasn’t made for me but it felt like it was.
Life in a slasher film is easy. You just have to know when to die.
Aerial View: A suburban town in Texas. Everyone’s got an automatic garage door opener. All the kids jump off a perilous cliff into a shallow river as a rite of passage. The sheriff is a local celebrity. You know this town. You’re from this town.
Zoom In: Homecoming princess, Lindsay. She’s just barely escaped death at the hands of a brutal, sadistic murderer in a Michael Jackson mask. Up on the cliff, she was rescued by a horse and bravely defeated the killer, alone, bra-less. Her story is already a legend. She’s this town’s heroic final girl, their virgin angel.
Monster Vision: Halloween masks floating down that same river the kids jump into. But just as one slaughter is not enough for Billie Jean, our masked killer, one victory is not enough for Lindsay. Her high school is full of final girls, and she’s not the only one who knows the rules of the game.
When Lindsay chooses a host of virgins, misfits, and former final girls to replace the slaughtered members of her original homecoming court, it’s not just a fight for survival-it’s a fight to become The Last Final Girl.
My comfort film genre is slashy, over the top, and murdery. Classic slasher films; Scream, Halloween, Friday 13th etc. I was told that this book was an homage to the genre that I love and it really was!
The thing I love the most about slashers is that there is a formula to be followed. You know that everyone is in danger and not to get attached to any characters. I’ve been having a bit of a slump lately, April is a bad month for me, so I wanted something almost predictable and fun. I know it’s weird to describe a slasher as ‘fun’ but this book featured a slasher called ‘Billie Jean’ who dressed like Michael Jackson.
This book had an interesting format as it wasn’t quite a novel but also wasn’t quite a script. It read like someone had watched a film and wrote down everything that happened. So there were points where the book was a little disorienting as I hadn’t realised that the setting had changed. However, this didn’t reduce my enjoyment of the book.
I loved that there were multiple Final Girls because this was where the book took a turn from the usual genre. Usually there is one and you know that they will make it…at least to the sequel. But with having multiple final girls, I was left wondering who would make it!
I did not manage to guess who Billie Jean was. Even though these films are relatively predictable (this is why I love them!), this book was not. I was so surprised by the reveal as I had my own suspicions.
I really feel like this book was truly a love letter to the slasher film genre. This was my first book by Stephen Graham Jones and what an introduction! I’ll definitely be reading more books by this author.
These last few weeks have been so stressful, the end of the financial year is not a fun time. I decided that I deserved to treat myself to some new books to try to compensate for all the stress I’ve been feeling under.
Do new books make up for stressful work times? Sure! Let’s say they do. Treating myself to some new books did make me feel much better!
I had placed a click and collect for one book and by the time the working day ended, I’d decided to just treat myself. We don’t have a lot of bookshops in Aberdeen and our one branch of Waterstones is teeny tiny so this wasn’t as big a haul as it could be. It’s possibly for the best that we have a small Waterstones and no indie bookshops (other than university shops).
I’m so excited about these books as so many of them have been highly recommended to me by friends who know my reading tastes.
March has been a month! I am so happy for March to be ending although April is also going to be stressful. I love selecting my monthly TBR and I’m still loving using my TBR game to do it.
Basically I have made a board and some prompts. I roll the dice and move to a prompt and select a book accordingly. This can either end up with a wonderfully varied and achievable seeming stack of books, or a stack of books that seems daunting. The dice were kind to me and I’m very grateful as my TBR is not too large which will hopefully allow time for me to go off list. Plus what a variety! A book about salmon fishing in my hometown, a slasher, and Paris Hilton’s memoir? This is perhaps my most varied TBR ever!
This game is still in beta mode so I’m still working out some issues with it but it’s still fun for me and I hope it’s fun for anyone who watches it too
I think that I can safely say that Rumplestiltskin is one of my favouritefairy tales for the purposes of adapting. I’ve not read any bad ones yet and hope for that to remain.
I really enjoyed Serilda as a protagonist. She had been blessed/cursed by a god and this had haunted her for her whole life but I liked how she managed to turn this to her advantage. I liked the relationship she had with her father and the children in her village. She was somewhat shunned by the other adults but she seemed to be a good egg, just feared through no fault of her own.
The mysterious stranger who came to Serilda’s aid was a bit of a scamp. He was a nice boy but he was also a bit of a trickster and liked a bit of chaos. He was hiding his own secrets and they both came as quite a surprise! I really enjoyed the twists!
The setting of this book was gloriously gothic. There was a creepy castle, spooky woods, ghostly hunts. I absolutely loved the dark atmosphere of this book.
The castle was so interesting. When Serilda would arrive, to spin that golden thread, the castle was stunning and opulent. By morning, the castle was crumbling and inhabited by ghouls that were not best pleased for a mortal to be strolling around the castle. It was truly haunted.
I both loved and hated the Erlking. He was a perfect baddie! He was fierce and terrifying. He could only come to the mortal world when the veil between worlds was lifted, at that point he would go for his ghostly hunts and take no prisoners.
I really enjoyed the intrigue that this book gave me. I wanted to know more about Serilda’s gift/curse. What happened to her mother? What was happening with Gilt? Would the villagers be safe?
Enjoyed this book so much that I instantly started reading the second book in the duology…however it’s been a wee while and I just haven’t felt compelled to pick it back up. I absolutely loved this book but I’m not enjoying the second instalment, this could very easily have been a standalone novel.
While this book was inspired by a well known fairy tale, it truly made the story it’s own!
This book took a well known fairy tale but truly did make it their own.
I preordered Fern Brady’s non fiction book over a year before it was released, I didn’t even know what it was going to be about but I knew that I loved this comedian and I was excited to see what they wrote. Let me say that this book did not disappoint!
This was a memoir that included multiple tales from their youth, their time working in a strip club, their early comedy career as well as Fern’s autism diagnosis.
I didn’t know a great deal about autism when I started this book and I feel like I learned a lot. I also want to go on and learn more. I feel like this is the mark of a wonderful piece of non fiction, it makes you think but also that it makes you want to go on and learn more.
I read this book with the audiobook too, like a book on tape! I feel like this was an excellent way to consume this book and is my preferred way of reading memoirs. I like to hear the book literally in the author’s own words.
I laughed, I cried, I went down google rabbit holes. This was a very easy 5 star rating!
I am a huge fan of trashy dating shows. Ideally Netflix trashy dating shows which drop multiple episodes at a time, so that I can really binge on them. This book filled the trashy dating show hole in my life since Perfect Match ended (and while waiting for season 4 of Love is Blind).
The majority of the characters took on the classic characteristics of the classic dating show contestants. They were all hiding the real them in favour of getting more tv time. I loved that, like in most dating shows, the true ‘prize’ was no real prize and all the contestants could do better!
Patricia didn’t make an entrance until after the halfway point of the book. By this point, tension had risen and there was a lot of drama between the characters. It was the perfect time to throw in some chaos!
I loved the story of the island and the residents. I would have loved to have a had a bit more information on the star crossed lovers.
The format of this book was fantastic! Between chapters there were blog posts because every dating show has an online blog! This blog helped to fill in the gaps. There had previously been some missing hikers on the island, their disappearance was included in more blog snippets from a relative.
This book was exciting from the very beginning and I feel like I just didn’t know what direction the book was going to take. I absolutely loved the twist, I didn’t see it coming. One of my favourite things in books is to have a creepy island where chaos happens?”, this book fulfilled that brief for me and I had a great time with it.
Are you ready for a surprise? I actually finished a series! Not only did I finish a series but I competed the entire trilogy within 35 days which feels like a record for me . It’s not because I finished The Hunger Games series over one weekend in 2011 but that was almost another life! I don’t remember completing a series so quickly in recent history.
I absolutely loved this series! I gave each book 5 shiny stars.
I felt that the character development was so strong as the series followed sisters Scarlett and Donatella who really grew and came into their own. I enjoyed seeing them gain independence and acceptance that they had so sorely desired. Their sisterly bond was so strong and was beautifully written.
The world of Caraval was one of the strongest examples of world building in a series that I have read in recent memory. The world continued to expand as the series continued but I wasn’t left waiting for explanations in the earlier chapters. The world felt real and rounded and just grew to reveal new locations.
I loved the wee romances that were introduced but they felt like a second plot to the main quest element of the series.
Each book had their own mission and I found each book to be fast paced and exciting. I was left wanting more despite everything being tied up quite nicely, I just wanted more because I adored it. I feel like there wasn’t a weak link, usually there’s a slightly weaker book in a trilogy but these all felt strong and I had a great time reading this series!