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Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Today’s review is for the gorgeous The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield, a magical novel based in the time running up to the French Revolution.

Book Review: The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Book Cover for The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield
The Embroidered Book by Kate Heartfield

Title: The Embroidered Book

Author: Kate Heartfield

Publisher: Harper Voyager

Genre: Fantasy, historical

Release Date: 17th February 2022

Blurb

‘Power is not something you are given. Power is something you take. When you are a woman, it is a little more difficult, that’s all’

 1768. Charlotte, daughter of the Habsburg Empress, arrives in Naples to marry a man she has never met. Her sister Antoine is sent to France, and in the mirrored corridors of Versailles they rename her Marie Antoinette.

The sisters are alone, but they are not powerless.

When they were only children, they discovered a book of spells – spells that work, with dark and unpredictable consequences. In a time of vicious court politics, of discovery and dizzying change, they use the book to take control of their lives. But every spell requires a sacrifice.

 And as love between the sisters turns to rivalry, they will send Europe spiralling into revolution.

My Thoughts

Harper Voyager excel at designing book covers that catch your eye and lure you in as if they are enchanted like many of the articles in this book. The cover made me need this book even before I became intrigued by the blurb. I love books with a magical twist but my European history is dire and my knowledge of Marie Antoinette is patchy so I did worry the plot would go over my head. I love historical fiction but with an attention span of a gnat, I have a tendency to get confused. There was no need for my concerns. With a list of main characters at the front and immersive plot I was thrown into the lives of Charlotte and Antoinette after they discover  an embroidered book of magic. The spectacular blend of magic, history and sense of place kept me enthralled.

It is an epic read of 656 pages where the two sisters have to journey through the complex politics of these turbulent times while balancing family and societal expectations when their central reason is to do anything is to do the best for their respective countries. It’s told with empathy and made me consider questions about power, class and influence.

The palaces and characters were brought to life and it was a highly visual experience reading it and would make a wonderful tv series under the right director.

Would I recommend?

Oh yes, The Embroidered Book is one to read, keep and treasure. It is as beautiful inside as out and though it’s a work of fiction it gave me a platform to build my knowledge of this era while I was immersed in magic. Full of imagination, magical world building overlaid by historical fact it is a must for fans of both history and fantasy.

It is a book for my forever shelf and will be popular for visitors to the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

Author Biography

Photo of Kate Heartfield
Kate Heartfield

Kate Heartfield is the author of The Embroidered Book, a historical fantasy novel out in February 2022. Her debut novel won Canada’s Aurora Award, and her novellas, stories and games have been shortlisted for the Nebula, Locus, Crawford, Sunburst and Aurora awards. A former journalist, Kate lives near Ottawa, Canada.

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: A Plethora of Phantoms

Book Review: A Plethora of Phantoms

Book Cover for A Plethora of Phantoms
A Plethora of Phantoms by Penny Hampson

Title: A Plethora of Phantoms

Author: Penny Hampson

Publisher: Dark Stroke

Genre: Ghost, LGBTQA romance

Release Date: 20th December 2021

Purchase: http://mybook.to/plethoraofphantoms

Blurb

What makes Freddie shiver? Is it the spooky happenings in his family’s stately home? Or is it Marcus, the handsome antique dealer who Freddie thinks he can’t have?

Freddie Lanyon has it all: a loving family, a privileged background, and a stately home filled with antiques. What his family don’t know is that Freddie is desperately unhappy.

Troubled by spirits that only he can see, Freddie Lanyon, the heir to Lanyon Park, is also in denial about his sexuality. It takes a meeting with handsome and psychic antique dealer, Marcus Spender, to convince Freddie that he might need to change. 

When Freddie’s latest purchase of an antique dressing case triggers fresh poltergeist activity, he is awakened each night by an anguished spirit seeking help. Contacting the previous owner of the dressing case leads Freddie and Marcus on a journey to Cornwall, but what starts out as a straightforward quest soon turns into a challenge to their growing relationship.

Will Freddie’s restless spectral visitor be finally laid to rest? And will Freddie find the courage to be true to himself at last?

My Thoughts

I loved this paranormal romantic novel for the acceptance by the protagonist, Freddie, that ghosts are real. It gave the book an added authenticity and allowed the story to develop quickly without him having to overcome his disbelief that the strange goings on maybe of supernatural origin. I also enjoyed the main spectre having an obsession with tidiness rather than destruction. It was a refreshing change.

Freddie was a believable character and I could feel his distress at not only keeping his psychic ability secret but also not being comfortable coming out because of his title and aristocratic heritage. The friendship and chemistry between him and Marcus made me turn the page as they went on a quest to dig into the history of the dressing case. I’ve read The Unquiet Spirit, her previous book and liked the connection between Freddie and its characters. Overlapping characters always add depth to a novel and helps immerse the reader into the fictional the world. I’m looking forward to reading more novels in this series.

Would I recommend?

Yes. Discovering the history behind the ghost rich manor and chemistry between the two heroes is a joy to read and pure spooky romantic escapism. It’s ideal weekend reading or for evening after a stressful day.

It’s on for the bookshelf at The Enchanted Emporium and will be fought over by the ghosts and witches in the Witch’s Yard.

Author Biography

Author Penny Hampson
Penny Hampson

Some time ago Penny Hampson decided to follow her passion for history by studying with the Open University. She graduated with honours and went on to complete a post-graduate degree.

Penny then landed her dream role, working in an environment where she was surrounded by rare books and historical manuscripts. Flash forward nineteen years, and the opportunity came along to indulge her other main passion – writing. Penny joined the New Writers’ Scheme of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and  three years later published her debut novel, A Gentleman’s Promise, a  historical mystery/romance. Other books in the same genre soon followed.

But never happy in a rut, Penny also writes contemporary suspense with paranormal and romantic elements. Her first book in this genre is The Unquiet Spirit, published by Darkstroke.

Penny lives with her family in Oxfordshire, and when she is not writing, she enjoys reading, walking, swimming, and the odd gin and tonic (not all at the same time).

For more on Penny’s writing, visit her blog: https://pennyhampson.co.uk/blog/

Twitter: @penny_hampson

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pennyhampsonauthor

Thank you Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: Demon by Matt Wesolowski

From a delightful romance yesterday, I am excited to share a review for a horror novel, Demon by Matt Wesolowski. I love the paranormal and crime thrillers so when I saw the blurb for Demon, I needed to know more. Scroll down to see if this excitement was justified.

Book Review: Demon by Matt Wesolowski

Book cover Demon by Matt Wesolowski
Demon by Matt Wesolowski

Title: Demon

Author: Matt Wesolowski

Publisher: Orenda books

Genre: Horror/Crime

Release Date: 20th Jan 2022

Blurb

Scott King’s podcast investigates the 1995 cold case of a demon possession in a rural Yorkshire village, where a 12-year-old boy was murdered in cold blood by two children. Book six in the chilling, award-winning Six Stories series.

In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world.

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity.

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark and fanciful stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act. And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, King himself becomes a target, with dreadful secrets from his own past dredged up and threats escalating to a terrifying level. It becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

My Thoughts

I’m a lover of podcasts so this unique format suited me and this creepy tale well. Based in the depths of the Yorkshire Moors, the descriptions captured the brooding atmospheric location and added to the eeriness of the crime. This novel has a great sense of place. Setting plays a huge part in the narrative; the old kilns left over from when the village relied on the mining industry are the forbidden playground for the village children lured there by the warnings of danger and whispering of the presence of the devil. The murder of Sidney Parsons by the Demonic Duo adds to this lore.

Scott King’s podcast focuses on this horrific crime but the true horror is revealed when listening to the six people’s versions of the events. The deeper Scott digs the more immersive it becomes and creepier truths are revealed. The spotlight on the village inevitably has consequences and tensions rise when one of the murderers new names is set to be leaked. With twists I wasn’t expecting and superb storytelling, this was a chilling read where less is more and the reader is allowed to use their own imagination to terrify themselves. While some of the threads told can be explained with logic and other versions with supernatural leanings remain unexplained and it’s only when seen as a whole the true story is told.

Not only is this a fantastic horror/crime novel, it has a deeper message about society, prejudice and the increased influence of social media.

Would I recommend?

Yes, Demon is a well-crafted story in a clever format that adds to the atmospheric terror of the tale. This is the sixth novel in the Six Stories series so I’m happy to have more books to add to my TBR. With its supernatural leanings, Demon is a horrifying addition to The Enchanted Emporium Bookshelf that will give some nightmares.

Author Biography

Photo of author Matt Wesolowski
Matt Wesolowski

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care. Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- an US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie Creature, Selfies from the End of the World, Cold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror story set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013. Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was a bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WH Smith Fresh Talent pick, and TV rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio. A prequel, Hydra, was published in 2018 and became an international bestseller, Changeling (2019), Beast (2020) And Deity (2021) soon followed suit.

Thank you Random Thing Tours for inviting me to this tour and providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

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Book Review: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

My first book review of the year is a book I looked forward to ever since I knew it was written, The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman. This is book four and the conclusion of the Practical Magic series but with a witchy world full of wonderful characters with many backstories to explore a reader can always wish for more.

Book Review: The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Book cover for The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman
The Book of Magic by Alice Hoffman

Title: A Book of Magic

Author: Alice Hoffman

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

Genre: fiction, fantasy, witchlit

Release Date: 6th Jan 2022

Blurb

‘Full of Hoffman’s bewitching and lucid prose and vivid characters, The Book of Magic is ultimately about the very human magic of family and love and actions that echo through generations… it casts a spell’  —Matt Haig

THE STUNNING, UNFORGETTABLE CONCLUSION TO THE BELOVED PRACTICAL MAGIC SERIES

For centuries, the Owens family has been cursed in matters of love. When beloved aunt Jet Owens hears the sound of the deathwatch beetle, she knows that it is a signal. She has finally discovered the secret to breaking the curse, but time is running out. She has only seven days to live.

Unaware of the family’s witchcraft lineage and all it entails, one of the young sisters of the new Owens generation has fallen in love. As the curse strikes once again, her love’s fate hangs in the balance, spurring three generations of Owens to venture back to where it all began and use their gifts to break the spell that has marked all their lives.

But doing so threatens to destroy everything the family has fought so hard to protect. How much will they give up for the greatest gift of all?

My Thoughts

I had high hopes for this book, and it didn’t let me down. From the moment Jet heard the death-watch beetle and begins a mission to stop the 300-year-old curse for good, I was hooked back into the world where reality is blended seamlessly with magic to discover whether this could be achieved.

The Rules of Magic, which follows the siblings Franny, Jet and Vincent, is my favourite novel in the series so I loved meeting them again, even if they were in their 80s. The journey to find a cure for the Owens’ curse brings the characters to Essex in England, and the descriptions and sense of place reignited my desire to visit there. It has been on my literary tour wishlist since I read Hiding from the Light by Barbara Erskine.

The strength of these books are the original characterisation, depth of magical world building and the lyrical prose that is littered with references to herbal references. This all adds to the central witchy theme.

It is a strong conclusion to a series about curses, forbidden love and redemption and this one in particular is an ode to books and libraries.

Though it could be read out of sequence, you will enjoy it more and be less confused with the multitude of characters if read in order. This could be done in order of the release dates  – Practical MagicThe Rules of MagicMagic LessonsThe Book of Magic – or chronologically –Magic LessonsThe Rules of MagicPractical MagicThe Book of Magic.

Would I recommend?

If like me and those at The Enchanted Emporium you love books about magic, witches and books, this is a series to read. With magical prose and storytelling, a unique collection of characters and immersive worldbuilding this novel gives a satisfying conclusion to a wonderful tale of revenge, love and redemption.

I look forward to having a physical copy on my forever bookshelf for rereads and I know as soon as a copy is put on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf, it will be on permanent loan by the witches of Whitby and beyond.

Thank you Simon and Schuster via NetGalley providing an advanced copy for me to review and give my honest and unbiased opinion.

Have you read this series or watched the film Practical Magic starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock? Let me know in the comments below.

Trailer for Practical Magic

Happy reading!

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Book Review: Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuznair

As we head towards Christmas and the traditional time of watching The Nutcracker at the theatre, now is the ideal time to review Midnight in Everwood by M.A Kuznair. Beneath this stunning book cover is a story loosely based on The Nutcracker, a ballet I discovered after reading this. Scroll down to see if the story lives up to the promise the delightful cover makes.

Title: Midnight in Everwood

Author: M.A Kuzniar

Publisher: HQ

Genre: Fantasy

Release Date: 28th October 2021

Blurb

In the darkness of night, magic awaits…

Nottingham, 1906

Marietta Stelle longs to be a ballerina but, as Christmas draws nearer, her dancing days are numbered – she must marry and take up her place in society in the New Year. But, when a mysterious toymaker, Dr Drosselmeier, purchases a neighbouring townhouse, it heralds the arrival of magic and wonder in Marietta’s life.

After Drosselmeier constructs an elaborate theatrical set for her final ballet performance on Christmas Eve, Marietta discovers it carries a magic all of its own – a magic darker than anyone could imagine. As the clock chimes midnight, Marietta finds herself transported from her family’s ballroom to a frozen sugar palace, silent with secrets, in a forest of snow-topped fir trees. She must find a way to return home before she’s trapped in Everwood’s enchanting grip forever.

In the darkness of night, magic awaits and you will never forget what you find here…

My Thoughts

This book is everything I ever wished for and more. I love ballet, strong female characters and magic and this novel blends all of those elements perfectly. Highly visual, the scenes appear fully formed in the mind from the start with the introduction of strong willed and determined Marietta fighting against the social norms of the time to continue ballet lessons but they become technicolour when she arrives at Everwood. The words capture the musicality and gracefulness of the ballet, The Nutcracker, which is based but takes on a darker, haunting and thrilling form as secrets are revealed.

In reality, there is no way I can convey how much I love the wonder and world building in this book. It is one of those reads you wish you can wipe from your memory so you can have the childish delight of reading it fresh so you can discover it all over again. I first read a digital advanced copy but loved it so much I had to order a physical copy to own. And wow, what a treat the physical copies are with its distinctive illustrated dust jacket that hides the gorgeous blue cover embossed with a gold ballerina underneath. My only regret is I was too late to buy a Waterstone’s edition too with the added essay on The Nutcracker, but since my copy is personally signed, I can’t grumble at all.

Midnight in Everwood is an unforgettable story that deserves to be cherished.

Would I recommend?

Yes. Yes. Yes. Not only is Midnight in Everwood a fantastic read that will become a classic in the future, the cover adds to its elegance, making it an ideal gift for fantasy lovers or those who adore ballet and The Nutcracker. Full of strong characters, set in an extravagant and magical location, the danger and suspense underpinning the beauty makes you unable to put this book down until the end. The impact of the story and Marietta lingers long after the last page.

It is one for my foverever shelf and will be reread during the festive season but it is also sits proudly on the Enchanted Emporium bookshelf.

Author Biography

M.A. Kuzniar spent six years living in Spain, teaching English and travelling the world which inspired her children’s series The Ship of Shadows. Her adult debut novel Midnight in Everwood was inspired by her love of ballet and love of The Nutcracker. She lives in Nottingham with her husband, where she reads and writes as much as can and bookstagrams as @cosyreads.

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