Hex Life

I love anything otherworldly, spooky, and supernatural. I live for Halloween and all things witchy all year round. When I heard about a collection of wicked witchcraft being brought to us by Rachel Autumn Deering, Christopher Golden, and Titan books at the beginning of my favourite month, I mean come on! And did I mention it’s gorgeous? Because it is. So beautiful.

Hex Life has tales of witch burning, of witches house – there’s one in every town, I bet you remember yours – and the widows who live there, momma’s who will do anything in their power for their children, tales of help to good to be true, of new gods and old religions. Each story as captioned bewitching as the last.

A beautiful blend of worlds and characters you know, Kelly Armstrong’s Otherworld, Rachel Caine’s Morganville, and Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark-Hunter Hellchaser, come together with new realms and realities to enchant you.

This has been one of my favourite reads this year. I gobbled each story up like a lost kid finding a gingerbread house in the woods.

The Grip Of It

The real estate agent, with his waxy hair and perm-smile, keeps stopping to listen, waving his hand, saying, “That’s just the house settling.”

New house owners Julie and James weren’t electing the move to be an easy one. A relocation from city to countryside prompted by James’ penchant for gambling – his inability to keep his impulses in check – is, in actuality, quick and seamless. Both find themselves relieved to leave behind their old haunts and habits as they settle into a quiet life in their new house between the lake and the woods.

But their new house has other plans.

The architecture becomes unrecognisable, decaying before their eyes. Stains contract and explained, mapping themselves onto Julie’s body in the form of bruises; mould taints the water that James pours from the sink. As the couple search for the source of their mutual torment, they become mired in the history of their peculiar neighbours and the mysterious previous residents of the house.

The Grip Of It, Jac Jemc

The Grip Of It starts with James and Julie looking for a new home, an escape from the city, and the chance to put their problems behind them.

But like all new homes, there are things to get used to. Strange noises, that could be the house settling. Weird mould in the water, could be from old pipes. Growing damp, maybe the real estate agent want completely honest with them.

Growing bruises, mysterious rooms, old journals, ok maybe that’s not normal.

The stress of James’ gambling and the new house are enough to put strain on any relationship. Add in the oddities and the secrets of this house and it will keep you up all night. As the chapters alternate between both Julie and James, the suspense builds, each discovering new mysteries and eerie events that they hide. Can their marriage survive the haunting of their home, and more importantly, can they?

Jac Jemc and information about books and events can be found here, twitter, Facebook and instagram. The Grip of It is available via Titan Books as of September 3rd.

Only Ashes Remain

Today is my stop on the Only Ashes Remain blog tour. I have been looking forward to this since I received Not Even Bones for Christmas. And let me tell you it does not disappoint.

But first a recap. Not Even Bones is Rebecca Schaeffer’s debut novel and Book 1 in the Market of Monsters series. A series which sees the world as it is experienced by monsters, villains and the morally grey. The main character Nita dissects the bodies of the unnaturals that her mother hunts and kills to sell on the black market. It’s a life of order that she doesn’t question until the body her mother brings back is very alive. Nita defies her mother and releases their captive, only to have him betray her. Finding herself the caged specimen on the black market, Nita begins to question her morals and lifestyle.

After escaping her kidnappers and destroying the black market where she was held captive, all Nita wants is to find a way to live her life without looking over her shoulder. But with a video of her ability to self-heal all over the dark web, Nita knows she’s still a prime target on the black market. There’s only one way to keep herself safe. Nita must make herself so feared that no one would ever dare come after her again. And the best way to start building her reputation? Take her revenge on Fabricio, the boy who sold Nita to her kidnappers. But killing Fabricio is harder than Nita thought it would be, even with Kovit by her side. Now caught in a game of kill or be killed, Nita will do whatever it takes to win.

Only Ashes Remain is a killer sequel. Starting with Nita coming face to face with the root of all her current problems Fabricio.

She took a deep breath. She was in the middle of the INHUP headquarters in Botogá. There was an agent standing right beside her. This was not the time to commit murder.

Nita upon meeting Fabricio

When INHUP transfer Nita to Toronto, she reconnects with Kovit.

Nita had never imagined herself having friends, but if she had, they wouldn’t have been psychopaths who worked as mafia torturers.

Nita on her friendship with Kovit

While Nita makes plans to free herself from the cross hairs of the black market, and to kill Fabricio, Kovit uses his Family connections to find somewhere to stay. Making Nita’s circle of monsters a little bigger and more dangerous.

“Fine.” She frowned. “But do we have any assurance he won’t drag us underwater and eat our rotting corpses?”

Nita to Kovit

The problems that Nita and Kovit face in their time in Canada escalate as both their troubled worlds collide leaving them to face difficult choices. Nita is driven by vengeance and the desire to escape the life she feels her mother forced onto her. Kovit too wishes to escape a life he didn’t choose with the Family and to find his own family, the sister he hasn’t seen since he was 10 years old.

Not Even Bones was Nita’s story, Only Ashes Remain is where Kovit’s past comes to light. Seeing them both grow and learn more about themselves as they find their boundaries and how they fit together had me hooked and hungry for more. The only thing I hated was getting to the end and knowing I’ll be hanging there until book 3!

Rebecca Schaeffer was born and raised in the Canadian prairies. Her itchy feet took her far from home when she turned eighteen, and she hasn’t returned for more than
a few months here or there since. You can find her sitting in a cafe on the other side of the world, writing about villains, antiheroes and morally ambiguous characters. Her debut , Not Even Bones, is about a girl who dissects and sells monsters on the internet. Not Even Bones received a starred review from Booklist, was shortlisted for the Sunburst Award for Speculative Fiction, as well as the Cybilis awards.
The sequel, Only Ashes Remain, comes out September 2019.

Rebecca Schaeffer’s can be found on twitter, instagram, and on the Rebecca Schaeffer website.

Strange Ink

When washed-up journalist Harry Hendricks wakes up one morning with a hangover and a strange symbol tattooed on his neck, he shrugs it off as a bad night out. But soon more tattoos appear: grisly, violent images which come accompanied by horrific nightmares – so he begins to dig deeper. Harry’s search leads him to a sinister disappearance, torment from beyond the grave, and a web of corruption and violence tangled with his own past.

One way or another, he has to right the wrongs.

Strange Ink synopsis

I love tattoos. My love of body art is beyond reason. I have been in love with it for as long as I can remember. The first tattoo I ever saw was a scroll with my name under a skull on my dads arm. These days I am fairly tattooed myself. This all leads to me being a sucker for any story that centre on tattoos. Throw in supernatural thriller and I’m all yours. Or in this case all Gary Kemble’s.

Black edged beauty and cover design by Natasha McKenzie

Harry Hendricks is a talented journalist. However that talent lead to the him crossing powerful people before he even graduated, meaning the big papers passed him over. Harry has been working at local weekly Chermside Chronicle ever since. Now with his friends wedding in days, Bec, Harry’s girlfriend of 6 years breaks up with him and Haryy moves into a new place.

Amid the boxes and confusion Harry starts to have nightmares. Each nightmare brings with it pain and a new tattoo. At first he brushes it off as a drunken mistake, but as the dreams get more intense and detailed Harry knows he has to do something. Discovering that they aren’t nightmares but the memories of a missing SAS soldier Rob finds Harry in a world of trouble. Politics, corruption, drug smuggling, biker gangs, and a story with the potential to be bigger and more dangerous than his first big scoop.

This book was a masterpiece. It grabbed me by the throat from the first line and it just didn’t stop. Fast paced action, constant on the edge of your seat tension, perfectly flowing, Strange Ink is a just one more page, up all night type of read. And that’s exactly what happened. There isn’t anywhere you want to stop, you can’t put it down, you have to know what next. And what’s next? Dark Ink on October 8th.

Gary Kemble can be found here, and on twitter. Strange Ink is available to buy now and Dark Ink can be preordered from any bookseller. Thank you to Titan Books for providing me with a copy of Dark Ink, as always all opinions are my own.

The Spider Dance – Review and Author Interview with Nick Setchfield

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.