Mini Reviews – February 2022

Starting off the month with a couple mini reviews! One is from the end of January that just didn’t get typed up before I posted my wrap up.

Thanks to the publishers for the free copies in exchange for my honest reviews

DEVIL HOUSE – John Darnielle (Released January 25th, 2022 – Thanks to MCD Books for the free copy and the matching candle)

Gage Chandler is descended from kings. That’s what his mother always told him.

Now, he is a true crime writer, with one grisly success–and movie adaptation–to his name, along with a series of subsequent lesser efforts that have paid the bills but not much more. But now he is being offered the chance for the big break: To move into the house–what the locals call “The Devil House”–in which a briefly notorious pair of murders occurred, apparently the work of disaffected 1980s teens. He begins his research with diligence and enthusiasm, but soon the story leads him into a puzzle he never expected–back into his own work and what it means, back to the very core of what he does and who he is.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

Now, here is the perfect example of “don’t judge a book by it’s cover” because I immediately got the vintage horror vibes from the cover of DEVIL HOUSE. Well, you’ll be leaving disappointed if you’re hoping for a haunted house or horror story. This is more in the books within a book genre as our main character is a true crime writer. Spending time in what has been called The Devil House to give inspiration for his newest work, Gage finds himself going through his previous works to find the answers he’s looking for. I know this won’t work for all readers – the changes in narration are enough to throw most and it did create some pacing issues for me. I did enjoy the range in this book and just want to be very clear for other readers – this is not a horror book like the cover suggests!

DARK HORSE – Gregg Hurwitz (Released February 8th, 2022 – Thanks to Minotaur Books for the free copy in exchange for my honest review)

Evan Smoak is a man with many identities and a challenging past. As Orphan X, he was a government assassin for the off-the-books Orphan Program. After he broke with the Program, he adopted a new name and a new mission—The Nowhere Man, helping the most desperate in their times of trouble. Having just survived an attack on his life and the complete devastation of his base of operations, as well as his complicated (and deepening) relationship with his neighbor Mia Hall, Evan isn’t interested in taking on a new mission. But one finds him anyway.

Aragon Urrea is a kingpin of a major drug-dealing operation in South Texas. He’s also the patron of the local area—supplying employment in legitimate operations, providing help to the helpless, rough justice to the downtrodden, and a future to a people normally with little hope. He’s complicated—a not completely good man, who does bad things for often good reasons. However, for all his money and power, he is helpless when one of the most vicious cartels kidnaps his innocent eighteen year old daughter, spiriting her away into the armored complex that is their headquarters in Mexico. With no other way to rescue his daughter, he turns to The Nowhere Man.

Now not only must Evan figure out how to get into the impregnable fortress of a heavily armed, deeply paranoid cartel leader, but he must decide if he should help a very bad man—no matter how just the cause.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

Another entry in the Orphan X series and another exciting adventure! Gregg Hurwitz never disappoints when it comes to the new missions for Evan Smoak (The Nowhere Man). I can always count on there being plenty of action, suspense, high-stakes, twists and turns, and there’s always something to add to the story and progress these characters from book to book. You don’t really need to read these all in order but I would highly recommend it.

A LULLABY FOR WITCHES – Hester Fox (Released February 1st, 2022 – Thanks to HTP Books and Graydon House for the free copy – check out my blog post here for an excerpt)

Two women. A history of witchcraft. And a deep-rooted female power that sings across the centuries.

Once there was a young woman from a well-to-do New England family who never quite fit with the drawing rooms and parlors of her kin.

Called instead to the tangled woods and wild cliffs surrounding her family’s estate, Margaret Harlowe grew both stranger and more beautiful as she cultivated her uncanny power. Soon, whispers of “witch” dogged her footsteps, and Margaret’s power began to wind itself with the tendrils of something darker.

One hundred and fifty years later, Augusta Podos takes a dream job at Harlowe House, the historic home of a wealthy New England family that has been turned into a small museum in Tynemouth, Massachusetts. When Augusta stumbles across an oblique reference to a daughter of the Harlowes who has nearly been expunged from the historical record, the mystery is too intriguing to ignore.

But as she digs deeper, something sinister unfurls from its sleep, a dark power that binds one woman to the other across lines of blood and time. If Augusta can’t resist its allure, everything she knows and loves—including her very life—could be lost forever.

My Thoughts: 4/5 stars

Another captivating read from Hester Fox is here! This is my third or fourth book by the author and I love that they’ve all been incredibly consistent when it comes to pacing and other elements without feeling repetitive. A LULLABY FOR WITCHES is beautifully written, mesmerizing, and atmospheric with well-developed characters and intertwining timelines that weave together so nicely. Always a great Gothic feel and a mix of historical fiction with the supernatural make for a quick read. I highly recommend any of her books and I can’t wait for more.

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