All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

It’s been a while since I have read a horror book, but with Halloween galloping closer, I was excited to be invited to the blog tour for The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill. With a tag line ‘ Somewhere between Iain Banks and Stephen King’, I had high expectations. Scroll down to see if it exceeded them.

Book Review: The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

The Nightmare Tree by Paul O’Neill

Title: The Nightmare Tree

Author: Paul O’Neill

Publisher:

Genre: Horror, short stories

Release Date: 10th September 2021

Purchase: Amazon

Blurb

‘Somewhere between Iain Banks and Stephen King’

The debut short story collection from a fresh new voice. Thirteen tales of horror and suspense. In the forgotten places of Scotland, terror awaits.

‘Intriguing and heartfelt’

Contains the chilling stories: The Great Slime Kings – Three’s a Crowd – The Summer Bullet – The Only Emperor – Down Below is Silence and Darkness – Guardians – In a Jar of Spiders – We the Dark Deniers – Blocks – Nightmare Soup – The Dumps – Once Upon a Flame – The Nightmare Tree (novella).

Dare you stand before the Nightmare Tree and make your wish?

‘Oh my God!’

‘Powerful

My Thoughts

I’m very glad this was a collection of short stories and not a full length novel – I do not think my nerves will have coped. Whoever quoted the tagline was not lying; while I haven’t read any Iain Banks novels this collection was very classic Stephen King-esque without the excess waffle. These compact stories make every word count and were on the edge of being too horrifying for me which is an excellent sign for horror writing especially when this wasn’t because of over the top violence or goriness.

The power of these stories is the ability to tap into the reader’s imagination and allow it to fill in the gaps of the unsaid. I found myself trapped in the scenarios and nightmares on the page.  Paul O’Neill has the ability to transform the ordinary into something disturbing and horrifying. From his descriptions of the swamp in The Great Slime Kings, snow drifts in The Only Emperor, and the leaves slamming on the window panes in The Nightmare Tree, the effects of these stories will linger and unnerve me for a long time to come. Especially on damp nights when I have to venture outside to bring Nigel, our Jack Russell, in when he finds a toad.

Would I recommend?

If you love horror, give it ago but be warned, it made me sleep with the light one and despite immersing myself into festive books, my nerves haven’t recovered. They hit the spot in tension, fear and lingering chills.

Author Biography

Photo of Paul O'Neill Author
Paul O’Neill

Paul is a short story writer from Scotland.

He is a PR / Internal Communications professional who tries not to let the horror of corporate-speak seep into his stories. |

His stories have appeared in Scare Street’s Night Terrors series, Purple Wall Stories, and Fae Corps Press’ Nightmare Whispers anthology, with an upcoming story in Eerie River Publishing’s It Calls from the Doors anthology.

You can find him sharing his love of short stories on twitter @PaulOn1984. 

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.

What are your favourite horror books? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy reading!

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: Restless Dead by David J Gatward

Book Review: Restless Dead by David J Gatward

Restless Dead by David J Gatward

Title: Restless Dead

Author: David J. Gatward

Publisher: Indie

Genre: Crime

Release Date: 29th April 2021

Purchase: Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Restless-Harry-Grimm-David-Gatward/dp/B093RZGH5C/

ISBN: ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 979-8742125907

Blurb

Be careful what you wish for.

When no nonsense retired Army Colonel James Fletcher starts seeing his recently deceased wife around the house again, his friends and family are more than a little worried.But when James turns up dead, and the accident that killed him is found to be anything but, DCI Harry Grimm and his team must uncover the grisly truth before anyone else falls prey.In a house torn in two by ghosts and betrayal, Harry may soon find that death isn’t always the end. Sometimes, it’s only the beginning . . .

Restless Dead is the fifth book in the DCI Harry Grimm crime thriller series, set in the Yorkshire Dales, and perfect for fans of L. J. Ross, J.R. Ellis, Margaret Mayhew, Jeanne M. Dams, J. M. Dalgliesh, Roger Silverwood, J. D. Kirk, Adam Croft, and Simon McCleave

Yorkshire Dales

My Thoughts

As a lover of all things spooky, the blurb and dark, foreboding cover caught my eye when I was invited to this tour. Though it’s not strictly a full-on ghost story, the creepy location of Black Moss House, a house split into two with a paranormal history gave this crime thriller a supernatural edge I enjoyed and the more I read, the more I fell in love with the characters and their world. Set in Wensleydale, Yorkshire, it mentions many places I fell in love in with a couple of years ago when I went on a writing retreat at Garsdale, adding to my enjoyment. David J Gatward brought the dramatic and atmospheric landscape to life, immersing me into the story which follows DCI Grimm and his team’s investigations into the sightings of a woman who died in a dreadful accident, and a grieving family in turmoil.

Highly visual, with a blend of warm, humorous banter within the team, realistic rural locations and thrilling crime investigations, I’m hoping my first meeting with DCI Grimm won’t be the last. Restless Dead is the fifth book in the series; I was aware many characters had a backstory I didn’t know but it was easy to catch up with their situations allowing it to be read as a standalone.

Would I recommend?

Yes. With a ragged and broody rural setting, this series is perfect for fans of George Gently, Vera and regional crime novels. Well written and littered with realistic banter among DCI Grimm colleagues while they investigate crimes, this is a series to follow and enjoy. It could easily be adapted to the screen.

With the eerie Black Moss House and its ghostly goings on, this novel will happily sit on The Enchanted Emporium bookshelf to be loved by all who visit The Enchanted Emporium.

Author Biography

David J Gatward

David J. Gatward lives in Somerset and is the award-winning author of the DCI Harry Grimm crime novels, and the Padre horror trilogy. He has also written numerous books for children, teenagers and young adults.

 You can find out more at facebook.com/davidjgatwardauthor

Twitter @davidgatward

Other blogs on this tour

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.

Take care and happy reading!

Love

All about Books, Book review

Book Review: The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

I follow some authors and order their books before I even read the blurb. You know from their backlist their new novel will provide you with hours of escapism and joy. Barbara Erskine is one of these with her unique ability of transporting you to the past with her supernatural time slip novels. I’m thrilled to share my review for new novel, The Dream Weavers.

Book Review: The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

Book Cover: The Dream Weavers by Barbara Erskine

Title: The Dream Weavers

Author: Barbara Erskine

Publisher: Harper Collins UK

Release date: 15th April 2021

Genre: historical time slip

Blurb

The brand-new, gripping historical novel from the Sunday Times bestselling author of Lady of Hay!

‘Warmth, depth, mystery, magic and the supernatural … such a beautiful book!’ bestselling author Santa Montefiore

‘A dazzling roller-coaster of a book that will thrill, enchant and intrigue those who love history and the supernatural’ bestselling author Alison Weir

Mercia, 788 AD

In the grand Saxon halls of Mercia, King Offa rules with cold ambition. His youngest daughter Eadburh is destined for an arranged marriage, but with reckless spirit her heart is taken by a Welsh prince, a man she can never be matched with and who is quickly and cruelly taken from her.

Eadburh inherited her father’s ruthless ways but it’s the gifts passed down from her mother that are far more dangerous. She is determined to carve her own place in the world, yet her path could cause war.

Offa’s Dyke, 2021

In a cottage hidden amongst the misty Welsh hills of Offa’s Dyke, Bea Dalloway is called to help Simon Armstrong, who is searching for peace. Instead he finds himself disturbed by unsettling noises and visions.

It isn’t long before Bea is also swept up by haunting dreams. The past is whispering to them, calling out for the truth to be told at last.  And as dreams and reality weave closer together, Bea and Simon must be strong to resist the pull of the past – and its desire for revenge…

The Sunday Times bestselling author returns with a thrilling tale of lost love, betrayal and secrets that have lain buried over a thousand years…

My Thoughts

According to my Kindle, reading time for this book was 10 hours and 3 mins and what a wonderful 10 hours it was. This novel is pure book heaven and showcases Barbara Erskine’s superior storytelling skills and talent at blending history with fiction and the supernatural. She is still the Queen of time slip fiction. 

It is hard to review without revealing spoilers; part of the thrill of this book is discovering the twists and turns which are always unexpected. Both the contemporary and historical settings are brought to life by the descriptions which ignite the senses. I could smell the herbs in Nesta’s herb garden and imagine being in the halls with King Offa. While reading, I was in these locations and experiencing things with the characters. It made me long to visit Wales and Hereford cathedral. 

All the characters are well developed and I connected with Bea, a modern ghost hunter, for her beliefs and desire to make things better for the ghosts. Eadburh is a complex character and one I wanted to hate but struggled to the more I discovered her story. This novel made me question along with characters, how the traumas people experienced in the past affected their reactions and future events and what would they be like if they had access to the support we have today. 

My only quibble is the novel ended too soon and maybe the end was too tidy, but that could be my hidden revengeful side showing. 

Would I recommend?

Oh yes. Like always, Barbara Erskine has researched the factual stories and seamlessly blended fiction with fact to produce a fantastic read. With Welsh ancestors, reading some of the history about Offa’s Dyke and Prince of Powys, made me want to explore the Welsh history some more. This is one for my forever shelf, and I know will be a popular book on The Enchanted Emporium’s bookshelf. 

Thank you Harper Collins for my advanced copy to review and give my honest opinion. My audio version was downloaded this morning and can’t wait to hold my physical version too.

Have you read this? Let me know what you think in the comment below.

Love

All about Books, The Enchanted Emporium's Bookshelf

#LoveMyLibaryWeek An Enchanted Library

Its Love My Library week so I want to reveal one of The Enchanted Emporium secrets.

An example of a much loved little library

Inspired by the wonderful small free libraries she saw online, Amber dragged out a small cabinet she found in the depths of the Emporium’s stock room into the Witch’s Yard. Her aim was to share recommended books with those with magical leanings to help them learn their craft when funds were low, but it grew to include any book she, Willow or Rosa adored. The only clause they discovered was the book needed a magical or supernatural thread. Without it, the book would leap from the shelf and ricochet across the yard to the nearest puddle, and the cabinet has its own impeccable taste. Rosa tried to sneak in much loved non-magic orientated books with horrifying consequences. I cannot say it that no books were hurt during her experiments. On one occasion a novel burst into flames and no, I will not say the title as it would be cruel to the book and the author. 

The cabinet is possessive over an illustrated copy of A Christmas Carol, allowing only some to borrow to take it away. There have been reports of the book placing itself on top of the borrowers reading pile and appearing near them and nudging them if ignored. Once read, it finds its own way home. Borrowing it has become a badge of honour; not only because of the worthiness of the person but who has the nerve to live with such an impatient novel. 

It’s favourites are those by Alice Hoffman including Magic Lessons, The Once and Future Witches by Alix E Harrow, The Castle Clair witch series by Sharon Booth, and Beltane by Alys West.

Books for all age groups are welcome. The other day a young child added Room on the Broom by Julia Donaldson, and the cabinet’s sigh of happiness drifted into the store for all to hear. If you have read or watched the film, I’m sure you would understand why. 

Over time, I will share reviews of some books it has on the shelves. Some of these include The Midnight Library by Matt Haig, The Woman and the Witch by Amanda Larkman, Threadneedle by Cari Thomas and The Ultimate Guide to the Witch’s Wheel of the Year by Anjou Kiernan. And I’d love your recommendations of books you love, and you think would impress this small witch library and Black Cat who guards it. 

Take care of yourself and love your library. Happy writing, reading, and stay safe!

Love

P.S Thank you A Little Book Problem for your help this week.