After the experiences of the last year at St Aidans, Greer is no longer a lonely outsider. She has her best friend Nel (Chanel) and Shafeen, her boyfriend. And this time they are the Medievals. The events of the previous term seem to be behind them until they realise that the Stags of St Aidans are of the Dark Order variety.
Greer should be focused on her Probitiones, particularly as she is directing the drama class in a play she has yet to choose, but she sees Henry everywhere. Distracted by the de Walencourt twins Cassandra and Louis, and the first scholarship student to attend S.T.A.G.S, Ty Morgan, Greer soon finds some focus when the first act of a presumably destroyed play by Ben Jonson is delivered to her room.
When our trio hear that Cass and Loius have invited Ty to the traditional Justitium huntin’, shootin’, fishin’ weekend her they wonder if the sins of the family those of the twins? But the Dark Order of the Great Stag are the only ones with secrets.
D.O.G.S is a fantastic sequel, exploring not just the new relationships of Greer, Nel, and Shafeen. but the ancient traditions of S.T.A.G.S and a secret society. Greer becomes more complex showing her struggle to balance having a relationship, exams and auditions, her guilt for Henry, and for Ty. Nel is a force to be reckoned with embracing her Savage technology in combination with her Medieval title, Shafeen is focused and driven and conflicted as he supports Greer but wants to move forward from the weekend the bonded them all. The depth of the characters against the greater plot and secret society make me eager for more.
M. A. Bennett can be found on twitter and Instagram. Books 1-4 of the S.T.A.G.S series are already available from Hot Key Books, H.A.W.K.S is to be released July 7th 202
Made of dust and bone and imagination, Irréelle fears she’s not quite real. Only the finest magical thread tethers her to life – and to Miss Vesper. But for all her efforts to please her cruel creator, the thread is unravelling. Irréelle is forgetful as she gathers bone dust. She is slow returning from the dark passages beneath the cemetery. Worst of all, she is unmindful of her crooked bones
When Irréelle makes one final, unforgivable mistake by destroying a frightful creature just brought to life, Miss Vesper threatens to imagine her away once and for all. Defying her creator for the very first time, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard and embarks on an adventure to unearth the mysterious magic that breathes bones to life, even if it means she will return to dust and be no more
The Bone Garden
Heather Kassner’s debut The Bone Garden is utterly magical, beautiful and just deliciously dark and mysterious middle grade adventure.
Irrélle is the imperfect creation who wants to be loved and to be real. Miss Vesper is the cruel and demanding mistress who created her. With each task she is reprimanded for failing, each clumsy mistake, your heart breaks for Irréelle. In her quest to please Miss Vesper, she uncovers more than she expects and it makes her grow in ways she could never have imagined.
I throughly enjoyed The Bone Garden, as did Tiny Satan who has now re homed it to his own bookshelf where it feels right at home with Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Coraline. Heather Kassner has us hungry for more and it will come next year in the form of The Forest of Stars.
The Bone Garden was released in UK paperback on July 23rd and August 6th in US hardcover and is available in bookshops now. The US hardcover has illustrations by Matt Sanders both on the cover and inside. Julia Lloyd is responsible for the darker more gothic UK cover.
Invisible Blood is a collection of 17 never before seen crime stories compiled by Maxim Jakubowski.
All the Signs and Wonders – Denise Mina. Claire grew up hard. Now she has killed a man and she won’t say why.
The Washing – Christopher Fowler. Linda and her husband Miguel move to Spain, the washing tell the tale of her neighbours María.
Blood Lines – Stella Duffy. Pain, blood, and guilt.
Smile – Lee Child. Cameras in Heathrow airport watch as Jack Reacher works.
Fallen Woman – Mary Hoffman. A haunting by a woman in white.
Blood on the Galway Shore – Ken Bruen. Death, loss and revenge
#MeToo – Lauren Henderson. How long can you stand by and watching the casting couch claim victims? What would move you to help?
The Lifeguard – James Grady. The banker owns the town and everyone in it. But some people yearn for freedom.
The Ghost of Willamsburg – Jason Starr. Ghosting an internet date can have consequences.
Black Dog – Cathi Unsworth. Hellhounds and hauntings in hills.
Virginia Racer – Bill Beverly. How life changes after a bank robbery.
The Bell – Lave Tidhar. There’s nothing like a mother’s love.
Borrowed Time – R. J. Ellory. A promise to return to a Paris bookshop.
In The Belly of the Beast – Johana Gustawsson. A police interview is more than it seems.
In Advance of Death – A. K. Benedict. A writer receives a story of a life. Her life.
Yesterdays – John Harvey. The daughter of an old friend asks Charlie Resnick for help
Connecting the Dots – Jeffery Deaver. Evidence at the scene of the crime always leads to the killer. Doesn’t it?
Each story is a delicious bite sized mystery. Perfect for pool side lounging, or travelling around. I enjoyed them all. Like a buffet of crime I devoured Invisible Blood, and now have more favourites to looks out for!
Today is my turn to host The Spider Dance blog tour. Having read The War in the Dark, a gripping supernatural spy thriller, I could not wait to read The Spider Dance. I was lucky enough to not only be sent a review copy by Titan books, but to do an interview with Nick Setchfield.
How did you approach the fusing of so many genres to create The War in the Dark and consequently The Spider Dance?
Like the crazed scientist in The Island of Doctor Moreau, unleashing unholy hybrids upon the world… It’s a question of finding echoes and resonances between different genres. Espionage and sorcery seem to combine quite naturally but also have a wonderfully combustive quality when they come together. With The Spider Dance I was splicing the thriller genre with vampirism, which shaped the kind of vampires I had to create. Hopefully I’ve put a fresh spin on the myth of the undead.
James Bond meets Indiana Jones is one of the most recurring and incredible comparisons, how would you describe your books?
I think that’s pretty spot-on, to be honest. I’m a lifelong fan of Bond and Indy so it’s no surprise I bleed that love on the page. I’d describe the books as globe-trotting occult thrillers: visceral, romantic, a little murderous but with a vein of black humour.
Was it different writing Christopher Winter in The Spider Dance after the reveals to his backstory in The War in the Dark?
Absolutely – and it had to be. The character can’t be in stasis after what he discovered about himself in the first book. It’s his curiosity about that half-remembered past that essentially propels him through The Spider Dance. That and the chance to make some quick money by doing something very dangerous indeed…
The historical backdrops and different locations are incredible. What was it about this era that inspired you?
Thank you – they were fun to research and it’s always an interesting challenge to put the texture and atmosphere of a place on the page. I’ve always loved the 1960s. Such a vivid, propulsive, stylish decade but one with so many faultlines beneath that gleaming surface. It’s the perfect backdrop for a glamorous, fantastical spy story, which is doubtlessly why there was such a craze for espionage adventure back then.
When you write, do you plan the plot and work the setting around that or do you research the events and locations with that influencing and leading the story?
It’s not a terribly straightforward process, to be honest. In fact it can be a rather spooky one. At first the plot comes to me in flashes, like parts of a trailer, or glances at a mood board, and when those flashes begin to coalesce into something that feels solidly intriguing I begin to thread the story between those moments. Sometimes I get glimpses of a location, like there’s a compass inside me, spinning of its own volition. I knew I wanted to go to Naples in The Spider Dance. But only when I began to seriously research Naples did I realise quite how perfect it was for the story I wanted to tell. Uncannily perfect, given what’s beneath the city… It was as if my unconscious mind already knew, and had packed the passport without telling me.
If you could drop Christopher Winter into any other book, what would it be and how do you think he would cope there?
A Year in Provence, just to liven up the herbed cheeses and rural plumbing with brutal fist fights and vampire slaying.
If you could dream cast a Bondesque film franchise, who would you choose?
I interviewed James McAvoy a few years ago. He has charisma for miles – just something magnetic about his presence. On screen he can be vulnerable, funny, sweet or malevolent, whatever a moment demands. At the time he had close-cropped hair that was just growing back after an X-Men movie. In the middle of the interview I suddenly thought “My god, it’s Winter…” If we’re casting The War in the Dark then the brilliant Elizabeth Debicki would be a perfect Karina. As for The Spider Dance, we’d need to time-snatch Twiggy from the 1960s to play Libby Cracknell.
When you’re not writing, are there particular genres that you prefer? What are you currently reading?
All sorts, really. Lately I’ve found myself reading a lot of factual books about film and TV. Just finished The Man Who Invented The Daleks, Alwyn Turner’s biography of Terry Nation (another Cardiff boy, so I felt some connection with the imagination that left Wales behind for planet Skaro). It was a great insight into the life of a jobbing writer with a taste for populist escapism.
What one thing would you say to readers about The Spider Dance?
Never take your shadow for granted.
Thank you for taking the time out to answer my questions. I hope everyone enjoys The Spider Dance, and The War in The Dark, as much as I did! Thank you, Tracey – really happy you enjoyed them, and thanks for spreading the word.
After the events of The War in The Dark and the reveal of Christopher’s past, he returns to London. An underworld exchange of a sacred heart turns bloody and uncovers a new breed of supernatural.
Between succubus shenanigans and the secret of the Shadowless, Christopher discovers that British Intelligence don’t like letting go of their man. The answers to his current problems can be unlocked by exploring his recently revealed past and embracing his true self.
As with The War in The Dark, The Spider Dance is a fast paced, action packed supernatural spy thriller. You dive straight into the action and it never lets up. Incredible action, stunning descriptions, intriguing characters, and international adventures.
I utterly adore they way Nick Setchfield writes and I could read about Christopher Winter forever – please.
Thank you to Titan and Nick Setchfield for letting me be a part of The Spider Dance blog tour, check out the other amazing hosts and what they are up to on their blogs.
Both The War in The Dark and The Spider Dance are available to buy now.
Archaeologist Sage Westfield has her first forensics case: investigating the death of a teenage girl. Hidden by holly leaves, the girl’s body has been discovered on the grounds of a stately home, where another teenage girl went missing twenty years ago – but her body was never found.With mysterious links between the two disappearances, the police suspect the reclusive owner, Alistair Chorleigh, who was questioned twenty years ago but never charged. But when Sage investigates a nearby burial mound – and uncovers rumours of an ancient curse – she discovers the story of Edwin Masters, his friend Peter Chorleigh, and an excavation over a hundred years ago, that also ended in a mysterious disappearance. Still recovering from the traumatic events of her recent past, Sage will need both her modern forensic skills and her historical archaeological knowledge to unearth the devastating truth.
A Shroud of Leaves is the second Sage Westfield book, following A Baby’s Bones. Sage is struggling to balance the aspects of her life, baby Max, Nick, and her potential career in forensics in her first case. She is also suffering PTSD following the events of A Baby’s Bones which puts further strain on her relationship.
As we follow Sage and the investigation of the new body and how it may be tied to an eerily similar incident of twenty years before, we also follow Edwin and his excavation of the burial mounds. Based at the same location the stories start somewhat reversed, the current day with a disappearance and the tale of 1913 with an arrival. Both have a mystery that draws you in, are the two case tied together and how do the fit with the historical one? All three cases are resolved but can Sage solve the problem of her future too?
Rebecca Alexander is and incredible writer, two in one is always a treat! I hope to hear more about Sage Westfield and her investigations.
A Shroud of Leaves is available July 9th 2019 through Titan Books. A Baby’s Bones, where the story of Sage begins was released by Titan Books in May 2018.
I would like to thank Titan Books for providing me with a review copy of A Shroud of Leaves in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.