The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola #bookreview @1stMondayCrime @Anna_Mazz

On my blog today, I have all the details about this month’s First Monday Crime which is taking place tonight live on their Facebook Page at 19.30 p.m. UK time. But before I reveal more about tonight’s event, I have reviewed The Clockwork Girl by Anna Mazzola who’ll be appearing on tonight’s panel.

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Paris, 1750.

In the midst of an icy winter, as birds fall frozen from the sky, chambermaid Madeleine Chastel arrives at the home of the city’s celebrated clockmaker and his clever, unworldly daughter.

Madeleine is hiding a dark past, and a dangerous purpose: to discover the truth of the clockmaker’s experiments and record his every move, in exchange for her own chance of freedom.

For as children quietly vanish from the Parisian streets, rumours are swirling that the clockmaker’s intricate mechanical creations, bejewelled birds and silver spiders, are more than they seem.

And soon Madeleine fears that she has stumbled upon an even greater conspiracy. One which might reach to the very heart of Versailles…

A intoxicating story of obsession, illusion and the price of freedom.

MY THOUGHTS

The Clockwork Girl is a stunning novel by Anna Mazzola. I was transported to the streets of eighteenth century Paris. This is actually the first novel I’ve read by Anna Mazzola, but the blurb, and, I have to say, the brilliant cover drew me in, and I’m so pleased I’ve read it. Anna creates such a rich sense of place and atmosphere in her writing, which really made the setting come to life as it is viewed through the eyes of her characters. It’s what makes this book a novel to savour.

There is a haunting quality to this story and Anna Mazzola’s writing draws you effortlessly into the world she has created. Of course this is historical fiction, but there is a real sense of mystery to Anna’s plot, and Anna keeps the suspense ticking up a notch. We meet Madeleine, a young woman who has taken up a position in the household of a famous clockmaker in Paris. But Madeleine is there for an altogether different reason. There have been strange events happening all over Paris, and Madeleine is there to investigate the clockmaker, and see if there is any connection between him and what has been happening.

There are so many fascinating characters in Anna’s novel, and she really delves deep into their personalities, bringing them to life. Madeleine and the clockmaker intrigued me the most. As Madeleine becomes acquainted with her new position, Anna draws on the sense of mystery about the clockmaker, and it certainly feels as though he is hiding something. You can see clearly her determination to get to the bottom of what is going on behind the scenes, and this did make me wonder how much danger she was putting herself in, in her quest to get to the truth.

As the plot progresses, Anna whisks us away to the court of King Louis XV of France. It is here where the tension in the story is really turned up a notch, as Madeleine seeks to uncover what is happening. I really liked how Anna Mazzola used real life historical figures in her novel, and this includes, along with the King, his famous mistress, Madame De Pompadour and they both have significant roles in the story. It does make you feel as though you are reading about real events, even though this is fiction, and that is the brilliance of Anna Mazzola’s plot. It makes you even more invested in the characters and I wanted to see what the outcome was going to be for them at the end of the novel.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Clockwork Girl and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for whatever Anna Mazzola writes next. It is an utterly immersive read.

Publisher: Orion

Publication date: 3rd March 2022

Print length: 362 pages

The Clockwork Girl is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

First Monday Crime is taking place tonight live on their Facebook at 19.30 p.m. Alongside Anna Mazzola we have Simone Buckholz author of, River Clyde, Lizzie Barber author of Out of Her Depth and Gytha Lodge author of Little Sister. If you would like to watch the event, you can do so by clicking on the link below which will take you through to the First Monday Crime Facebook Page.

First Monday Crime

Daughters of Night by Laura Shepherd-Robinson #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the gripping novel by Laura Shepherd-Robinson, Daughters of Night.

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From the pleasure palaces and gin-shops of Covent Garden to the elegant townhouses of Mayfair, Laura Shepherd-RobinsonDaughters of Night follows Caroline Corsham as she seeks justice for a murdered woman whom London society would rather forget . . .

London, 1782. Desperate for her politician husband to return home from France, Caroline ‘Caro’ Corsham is already in a state of anxiety when she finds a well-dressed woman mortally wounded in the bowers of the Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens. The Bow Street constables are swift to act, until they discover that the deceased woman was a highly paid prostitute, at which point they cease to care entirely. But Caro has motives of her own for wanting to see justice done, and so sets out to solve the crime herself. Enlisting the help of thieftaker Peregrine Child, their inquiry delves into the hidden corners of Georgian society, a world of artifice, deception and secret lives.

But with many gentlemen refusing to speak about their dealings with the dead woman, and Caro’s own reputation under threat, finding the killer will be harder, and more treacherous, than she can know . . .

MY THOUGHTS

I loved Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s debut novel, Blood & Sugar when I read it a couple of years ago. I was really excited to get a copy of her latest, Daughters of Night and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get round to reading it. This is an outstanding book and Laura Shepherd-Robinson’s writing draws you into the setting and she brings Georgian London to life to well. It is so rich in historical detail that it feels as though the past has come back to life.

Following the brutal murder of a young woman, Caroline Corsham employs Peregrine Child, a thief-taker, to help her find out what happened and who murdered her. The young woman, whose body has been found, is a prostitute and most of society would much rather forget about her. There are many people high up who, it appears, are trying to cover up their tracks and prevent the murder from being solved. But Corsham and Child are determined to find out what happened, regardless of what the rest of society says. Their investigations take them into the city’s dark underbelly and into the treacherous world of prostitution and they put themselves in very real danger.

Laura Shepherd-Robinson has written a really intriguing mystery on Daughters of Night. Her writing is very immersive and although this is quite a long book, it didn’t feel like that at all, I was flying through the pages. I really admired Caro for wanting to get justice for the young woman who had been murdered, Lucy Loveless, who it feels would not have had a voice to be heard otherwise were not for Caro. Caro did briefly appear in Laura’s debut novel so it has been good to get to know her better. She is the wife of Captain Henry Corsham, the main protagonist in Blood & Sugar, and is waiting for the return of her husband, who has been abroad in France for many weeks. Although she did appear in the Laura’s last book, this book can easily be read as a standalone.

I thought Peregrine Child was also a very engaging and intriguing character. He and Caro work together really well as they both fight to get justice for Lucy. We also meet Pamela whose viewpoint the story is also told from and she is a very intriguing character as well. There are so many layers in this book which add depth and mystery to the plot. I loved how Laura brought her characters to life. They feel like real historical figures who you might read about in a history book.

Daughters of Night is a book which you can really lose yourself in. It is very entertaining and it is crying out to be turned into a television drama. I can’t wait to read what Laura Shepherd-Robinson writes next.

Publisher: Mantle

Publication date: 18th February 2021

Print length: 592 pages

Daughters of Night is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones

The Whistling by Rebecca Netley #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the new novel by Rebecca Netley, The Whistling.

The Whistling: A chilling and original new ghost story by [Rebecca Netley]

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On the remote Scottish island of Skelthsea, Elspeth Swansome takes on a position as a nanny.

Her charge, Mary, hasn’t uttered a word since the sudden death of her twin, William – just days after their former nanny disappeared. But no one will speak of what happened to William.

Just as no one can explain the lullabies sung in empty corridors.
Nor the strange dolls that appear in abandoned rooms.
Nor the faint whistling that comes in the night . . .

As winter draws in, Elspeth finds herself increasingly trapped.

But is this house haunted by the ghosts of the past?

OR THE SECRETS OF THE LIVING . . . ?

MY THOUGHTS

I absolutely loved The Whistling by Rebecca Netley. If you’re looking for a ghost story that will give you shivers then I highly recommend this one. It’s creepy, atmospheric and Rebecca’s writing draws you effortlessly into the story. It’s crying out to be a TV drama, perfect for the autumnal months and as winter draws in. 

We meet Elspeth Swansome who is taking up a new position as a nanny in a house on the remote isle of Skethsea. It is a big change for her as she has been used to living in the city of Edinburgh and the remoteness of the island comes as quite a shock to her. I thought Rebecca Netley did a fantastic job with the sitting. She managed to create the feeling that the island and islanders were cut off from the rest of civilisation and that anything could happen there. I thought this really helped in adding another element to the mystery.

As Elspeth becomes acquainted with the young child, Mary, she is supposed to be looking after, it is clear that there is something chilling and very scary going on here. Mary, who lives with her aunt, hasn’t spoken since her twin brother, William died. Shortly before William’s death Mary also lost her mother. There is a very sinister atmosphere in the house. Soon Elspeth begins to notice the strange happenings that are occurring and it terrifies her. I really wanted to know what was going on here.

There were definitely a few places, while reading this book, where I felt the same fear that Elspeth did. I could really imagine just how scared she was as she began to realise that something wasn’t quite right in the house. Rebecca Netley creates a very creepy atmosphere.

Elspeth’s relationship with her charge, Mary, grows over the course of the book and I liked how Rebecca Netley developed this. When they first met each other, I did wonder if Elspeth would ever be able to get through to Mary. I was interested to see how things would develop between them and if Elspeth would decide to stay there.

The Whistling is such a chilling read and I highly recommend it if you enjoy a good ghost story. I’m sure this is one I will return to when Halloween comes around again.

Publisher: Penguin

Publication date: 14th October 2021

Print length: 358 pages

The Whistling is available to buy:

Amazon UK Waterstones

Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys #bookreview

I’ve finally got round to reading Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys which has been on my TBR pile for a while now. I’m sharing my thoughts on my blog today.

Dangerous Crossing: The captivating Richard & Judy Book Club page-turner by [Rachel Rhys]

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England, September 1939
Lily Shepherd boards a cruise liner for a new life in Australia and is plunged into a world of cocktails, jazz and glamorous friends. But as the sun beats down, long-hidden secrets begin to surface. Her heart beats faster for the attention of handsome Edward, but is his heart already taken?

Australia, six-weeks later
The world is at war, the cruise liner docks, and Lily’s desire for Edward is untameable. But something else is awry on this ship and Lily is determined to find out ….

MY THOUGHTS

I loved Dangerous Crossing by Rachel Rhys. It’s been sitting on my TBR pile for quite some time now, and I’m so pleased that I’ve finally got round to reading it. The world is on the brink of war; tensions in Europe are rising high. It’s 1939, and Lily Shepherd has boarded a cruise liner and plans to begin a new life in Australia. She quickly becomes friends with a group of other travellers, but tensions simmer and a shadow seems to be following them in the background.

I loved the opening of this book which immediately drew me into the story. On page one, we are actually there at the point of arrival in Australia, but a woman is being led off the gangplank in handcuffs. Who is this woman? What has she done?

Then we are taken back to the starting point, and we see events in the lead up to this moment begin to unfold. I was constantly looking at the characters wondering who it was who could be this mysterious person being led off the ship by police officers. I loved Rachel Rhys’ attention to detail. I felt as though I was there on the ship and with the group in the places they visited. Rachel Rhys really brings her characters to life.

This is, of course, a historical fiction novel, but there are elements of a thriller to it as well. I wanted to know what was going on, especially when strange things start to happen in Lily’s new friendship circle on board. But an investigation conducted by the steward’s uncovers little evidence as to who could be the culprit and if the reported incidents actually took place.

Towards the end of the voyage, and as we get to understand who the woman was at the beginning of the novel and what she has done, it does feel very claustrophobic on board the ship. There is a brilliant twist that turns the novel on its head. I thought the way how Rachel weaved it into her plot was really clever.

I was utterly gripped by Dangerous Crossing. If you haven’t yet got round to reading it yet, then I highly recommend that you do so.

Publisher: Transworld

Publication date: 23rd March 2017

Print length: 364 pages

Dangerous Crossing is available to buy:

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The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton #bookreview

On my blog today, I’m sharing my thoughts on the stunning new novel by Stuart Turton, The Devil and the Dark Water.

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An impossible murder
A remarkable detective duo
A demon who may or may not exist

It’s 1634 and Samuel Pipps, the world’s greatest detective, is being transported from the Dutch East Indies to Amsterdam, where he is facing trial and execution for a crime he may, or may not, have committed. Travelling with him is his loyal bodyguard, Arent Hayes, who is determined to prove his friend innocent, while also on board are Sara Wessel, a noble woman with a secret, and her husband, the governor general of Batavia.

But no sooner is their ship out to sea than devilry begins to blight the voyage. A strange symbol appears on the sail. A dead leper stalks the decks. Livestock are slaughtered in the night. And then the passengers hear a terrible voice whispering to them in the darkness, promising them three unholy miracles. First: an impossible pursuit. Second: an impossible theft. Third: an impossible murder. Could a demon be responsible for their misfortunes?

With Pipps imprisoned, only Arent and Sara can solve a mystery that stretches back into their past and now threatens to sink the ship, killing everybody on board.

MY THOUGHTS

I was a huge fan of Stuart Turton’s debut novel, The Seven and a Half Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, so I couldn’t wait to see what he would come up with next. As I was reading his latest book, The Devil and the Dark Water, it put me in my mind of both, Sherlock Holmes and the Hound of the Baskervilles and Pirates of the Caribbean. It’s quite a long book, but don’t let that put you off, I thought the writing was highly addictive, and I flew through it. I finished it much quicker than I thought I would.

A ship named the Saardam is about to set sail on an arduous seven-month voyage for Amsterdam from Batavia. For some of the passengers, they are put up in luxury cabins, but the majority are staying in cramped and horrific conditions. But even before the voyage begins, there are rumours of a demon, known as ‘Old Tom.’ It is believed that this demon is already on board the ship. There are some who are desperate to make sure that this ship doesn’t sail. Right from the beginning, Stuart Turton creates a real sense of mystery and atmosphere. Is there really such a thing as ‘Old Tom?’ Or is this just the minds of some of the passengers going into overdrive? But it is clear to some that this ship will never reach its destination and danger awaits everyone on board. Soon mysterious things begin to happen, strange symbols start to appear, animals are slaughtered, and then a body is found. That makes everyone on this ship a suspect, and it also means that everyone else is in danger until they are caught.

Throughout the book, the pace never lets up. Stuart Turton has created a cast of characters who pull you into the story. They are all very different, and you get a real sense of palpable fear among them on board the ship. This is particularly when rumours about ‘Old Tom’ begin to swirl. It makes for some gripping reading. I began to wonder just how the passengers were going to react as the tension between them begins to grow. This is especially when they all begin to suspect each other of harbouring ‘Old Tom,’ and there are calls for executions. It appears to be the only way of making sure that ‘Old Tom,’ is vanquished once and for all.

Also onboard the ship is the world’s most famous detective, Samuel Pipps. However, he is incarcerated in chains when he first boards the ship. So when the strange happenings begin to occur on the Saardam, it is his assistant, Arent Hayes who has to do the investigating. This is what reminded me of the friendship between Watson and Sherlock Holmes as I was reading.

This book will definitely take you on a wild ride. I really enjoyed it. If you are looking for something original and totally unique, then this is the book for you. It is a read that you can purely escape in to. Stuart Turton is a master storyteller and plotter, and I can’t wait to see what he writes next.

Publisher: Raven Books

Publication date: 1st October 2020

Print length: 576 pages

The Devil and the Dark Water is available to buy:

Amazon UK Kobo Waterstones