Book Review: In the Light of Madness, by Hemmie Martin

Publisher:  Winter Goose Publishing

Publication date:  7th December 2013

Gravestones jutted out of the ground like candles on a birthday cake. They marked an occasion in a person’s life-span, but were ultimately forgotten once the ceremony was over.

The above quote is the opening of In the Light of Madness. It gives you a taster of the quality of the writing, which was a breeze to read. Its comfortable pace was set from the beginning and the short, snappy chapters allowed me to shadow DI Eva Wednesday and co. as they investigate the a murder of a teenager whose body was discovered in a cemetery. The crime appears curiously motiveless and they have the added pressure of locating the deceased’s closest friend, who hasn’t been seen since the gruesome discovery was made.

The initial impressions of the scene of crime and the manner in which challenging interviews are conducted are expressed effortlessly. The characters find their voices quickly and the little kinks in their personalities trigger quotas of rapport or friction at just the right time.

We learn that the DI shares a house with her journalist half-sister, which causes all manner of issues as the integrity of their professional and personal lives have a tendency to clash. One thing they have in common is the unpredictable presence of their mother’s illness that threatens to consume the family throughout the story. Although the DI copes admirably, the distressing situation adds more pressure to Wednesday’s woes.

It was endearing, if somewhat unexpected, to see the chain-smoking DI blush as often as she did. While this particular vulnerability made her appear more human than other ‘tough-as-nails’ counterparts playing a similar role, given her high rank I would have presumed that ideally she should have a more ‘assertive’ by default.  So kudos to the author for taking the refreshing approach of stepping away from the stereotypical tough-as-nails Detective Inspector I have come to expect.  

Murder. Missing persons. Mental health. This trying investigation unearths more questions than answers for Wednesday and her team, and there’s a terrific mix of social imperfections ranging from those with perceived class to others whose behaviour that is just plain tactless given the severity of the situation. It’s easy to scrutinise a person from their post code or a lifestyle we disapprove of, but as this story will prove all someone needs to take a life is a distorted perspective.

All in all In the Light of Madness had a solid plot that held my attention until the end. Nicely done!

Rating: 3.5/5

(Huge thanks to the author for providing a copy of their book and for patiently waiting for my unbiased review – it’s much appreciated.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

A murdered boy in a Cambridgeshire graveyard sets in motion an investigation into the local church and school, with suspicions of a cult murmured throughout the community. With their first case, DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox explore the various levels of desperation and malice that can stem from an unhappy or dissatisfied life, where no one takes responsibility for their actions. They quickly find that everyone harbours a secret which, left uncontrolled, can bring forth devastating self-destruction.

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Mental Health Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France. She now writes full time.

Hemmie created the DI Wednesday series, featuring DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, set in and around Cambridge, with fictional villages. There are four books in the series so far. Hemmie has also written a psychological thriller, Attic of the Mind, and two contemporary women’s fiction, The Divine Pumpkin and Garlic & Gauloises.

Mental health often features in her novels due to her background of forensic mental health nursing. Hemmie is a member of The Crime Writer’s Association.

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Book Review: Follow Me Down, by Sherri Smith #FollowMeDown

Publisher:  Titan Books

Publication date:  21st March 2017

Follow Me Down is an intoxicating circus of evidence vs instinct. We all have strong feelings about a loved one’s guilt or innocence, but how well do we really know them? Our gut tells us one thing, yet glaringly obvious circumstances suggest the person we thought we knew may be hiding more than we could ever know.

From the opening chapters I was sitting to attention straight away as there’s a colossal question mark dangling over the head of Mia’s twin brother, Lucas, who has not attended his interview with police concerning the death of one of his students.  Well that was just a red rag to a bull. According to popular opinion (their ex-classmates, a blight of teenagers, random strangers) his actions are as good as confessing to the murder, which is why they asked Mia to return to her home town hoping she can shed some light on his whereabouts.

The town is instantly recognisable by its suffocating tittle-tattle and is not short of complications for the next generation to endure. It goes without saying that Mia’s arrival is met with a reception frostier than the Arctic Circle, after all she is intruding on their grief and her brother is the cause of it. While she can’t battle the entire self-elected jury or convince the police to take their blinkers off she can engage in a spot of truth-wrangling fuelled by a lot of nerve, mostly boosted by prescription medication she has acquired through dubious means during the course of her job as pharmacist.

What is it people say, “when you’re in a hole stop digging?” Between fighting her corner with the locals and letting her guard down when she really ought not to, disturbing and incriminating evidence tip toes behind her as a reminder that she could be wrong, about everything.  Her less lucid or acutely buzzing moments may cloud her judgement, but this confirms just how much she relies on a random assortment of pills to resuscitate her, much like she needs air to breathe.

Elusive Lucas is conspicuous by his absence, a state that actually makes him the most intriguing character in the story! The doubt as to whether he’s a person of interest by default, or whether there is substance to the allegations, is a powerful driving force.  

It takes sixteen days to unearth the ugly truth in a small town with big troubles. Mia’s blindingly realistic first person narration allowed me to vividly experience just how her predicament veered from raging hopelessness to an optimistic hallelujah in a flash I didn’t know who or what to believe until the nerve-piercing finale of this strikingly phenomenal read. 

Rating:   4.5/5

(I received a copy of this title from the publisher and Philippa Ward with my thanks. It is my pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Mia never intended to go home again, but has no choice when her twin brother goes missing. Back to the people she left behind, the person she used to be, and the secrets she thought she d buried. Her brother Lucas, a popular teacher, has disappeared on the same day as the murdered body of one of his students was pulled from the river. Trying to wrap her head around the rumours of Lucas’s affair with the teenager, and unable to reconcile the media’s vicious portrayal of Lucas with her own memories of him, Mia is desperate to find another suspect. All the while, she wonders, if he’s innocent, why did he run?

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

S.L. SMITH spends time with her family and two rescue dogs, and restores vintage furniture that would otherwise be destined for the dump. She lives in Winnipeg, Canada, where the long, cold winters nurture her dark side. Follow Me Down is her first thriller, which has been described as an engrossing page turner by Diane Chamberlain, bestselling author of The Silent Sister.

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Book Review: The Mercury Travel Club, by Helen Bridgett #TheMercuryTravelClub #BlogTour

I’m so excited to be joining The Mercury Travel Club Blog Tour today! Thanks for stopping by 😀

Publisher: RedDoor Publishing

Publication date:  16th March 2017

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Firstly, that gorgeous cover is an invitation to abandon everything else in your life and dive right in, isn’t it?! 🍹

At fifty-three years old Angela (Hargreaves) Shepherd is adjusting to life as a divorcee. The outlook is so overcast that even a meteorologist would have a hard time fathoming what happens next. Still, she does do her best to look on the bright side even though her daughter is still coming to terms with the ‘other woman’ in their lives, as is her rebellious, larger-than-life friend, Patty. Come to think of it Angela hasn’t quite got to grips with the gravity of the situation either.

It was uncomfortable to see her shuffling into a new position as her family unit is rearranged, so I was grateful to the animated widow Patty for encouraging her oldest friend to step out of the shadows by applying a firm, well-meaning shove. Instead of floundering in self-pity, sitting in her little rented house alone, swaddled in cardigans and playing skittles with the vino empties, Angelia can embrace the opportunity to paint a different scene on the now blank canvass that is the rest of her life.

Modest social engagements (except for the odd, cringe-worthy karaoke sensation) spark some unlikely friendships, as well as new ideas for short breaks to revive bookings for the humble travel agency she works for – aaaand behold – The Mercury Travel Club is born!

How terrific to watch Angela embark on her self-made destiny as she scales life’s stumbling blocks. But no tailored vacation remains unchallenged, as a calamitous streak follows her sterling efforts – it’s a miracle she returns from her travels unscathed! As themed weekends take on a mutinous life of their own via a series of impromptu interruptions, this part-time travel shop sales assistant sees her big ideas multiply and offer their own ‘unique’ rewards.

Life’s little downpours are chased away by sunny nuances throughout. I especially liked the mysterious and endearing arrival of a gnome, and other gardening curiosities, leaving Angela wondering who is behind the sentimental helper. Seeing the people at the centre of her world breaking out of their own cocoons was inspiring too.

I’m delighted to have hopped on board this gentle-paced journey to follow the personal itinerary of our narrator, courtesy of The Mercury Travel Club. An array of unscheduled stops en route allow her to rediscover the little things that truly matter to reinforce that somehow, someway, life can reflect a contented symmetry once more.  

Lighthearted, entertaining, and a genuinely lovely read.

Rating:    4/5

(I received an advanced paperback copy of this title from the publisher, and it is my pleasure to provide this unbiased review.)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

‘Hi, I’m Angela. My husband ran off with the caterer we hired for our daughter’s graduation party. Pleased to meet you.’

Meet Angie Shepherd who, after 24 years and 11 months of marriage, finds herself divorced and driven by friends and family to move on. From hangover to makeover, Angie steps firmly away from the sensible knitwear, and launches into every adventure on offer from baking classes and book groups, to speed dating, and even ‘The Granny-Okes’, a 1980’s tribute act and YouTube sensation.

But Angie needs more than a bar of galaxy and a night in with Murder She Wrote… what she dreams of is entrepreneurial success. Channelling her inner Richard Branson, the light bulb moment happens: it’s time to take the plunge and invest her divorce settlement into The Mercury Travel Club, an exciting new business venture. But as the Travel Club gets going, things don’t go according to plan, and in this digital age a little chaos brings the fame she s been looking for.

Set in present-day Manchester, this classic mid-life journey features the 1980’s soundtrack from Angie’s youth, and sees her travel the world whilst coping with life after the Ex. Angie’s journey is the catalyst her friends need to examine their own lives; as they start to find their true callings, will Angie find hers? Witty, entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny, this feel-good debut novel shows it s never too late for a second chance.

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Helen Bridgett was born in the North-East and now lives in Manchester having stopped off at a few places in between. Following a career in Marketing, Helen took an MA in TV and Radio Script-writing and created short films before writing her first novel. She loves nothing more than a glass of wine and witty banter with friends; her love of dialogue feeds into her work and has given her the perfect excuse to eavesdrop on conversations. Helen lives with her husband and their chocolate Labrador, Angus; all three can often be found wandering the Cumbrian hills or in country pubs.

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THANK YOU FOR TRAVELLING WITH THE MERCURY TRAVEL CLUB. WE HOPE YOU HAVE ENJOYED TODAY’S STOP  🎵 🎤 🎶

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Book Review: Mystery at Maplemead Castle (Chapelwick Mysteries #2), by Kitty French

Publisher:  Bookouture

Publication date:  17th March 2017

The Mystery at Maplemead Castle is a place where ghouls rule and rival ghost whisperers duel. It’s bursting with personality, non-stop hilarity, and the eccentricities are just tripping off the page!

Chapelwick is the home of the Bittersweets, no nonsense ladies with an intuition for all things other-worldly.  There’s the champagne flute wielding grandmother, a pancake flipping mother, a converse wearing daughter and her dog she lovingly named after a fictional vampire (I’m 100% convinced that pooch could have his own series!)

Melody might be the youngest of the clan but she has fiercely inherited her ‘gift’ from a long line of independent Bittersweet women. She embraces a contented sense of fashion offset by a lack of passion sense, at least where recurring mania for the journo-inferno that ‘lights her fire’ is concerned. Yes, self-control reaches breaking point as the Melody/Fletcher connection becomes feverishly intense and risqué humour positively thrives with their dialogue exchanges.

When she isn’t failing spectacularly at applying ‘Fletcher Gunn avoidance tactics’, Melody can be found sniffing out baked goodies faster than her one-eared, keg-bellied pug, Lestat, or chasing the next peculiar presence with her ghostbusting fellowship, who are every bit as quirky as she is.

They’re a cracking bunch of individuals, with the stress on individual! A strong cast is needed to cope with the unwanted, wisecracking visitors residing Maplemead Castle, and I’m not talking about the American couple who bought the property over the internet!

What I love about the Chapelwick Mysteries is in addition to the funnies is a compassion shown for the tormented souls who linger to replay the most traumatic moment of their life. The ‘troupe’ of lodgers this time provides an assembly of raw emotions. Despite their poltergeist activities and sardonic retorts when acquainting themselves with the new people that come and go, they are driven by their own tragedy, eternally trapped by the final moment of the end of their lives.

Melody, for all her unintentional inappropriate timing and clumsy approach to life (and death!) situations, is compelled to delve into the source of conflict which is something other people often miss; people like her adversary and ex, Leo Dark, and his snarky devotees who Melody refers to as his ‘fem-bots’. The tottering clones make some fleeting but smashing appearances, and we are treated to a new performance from Leo altogether: is there a lighter side to Mr Dark?

Miss Bittersweet may be a tad unsubtle at times, sugar-crazed certainly, and so impulsive the heckles of hindsight are frequently heard, but she’s a flurry of unpredictable fun, delivering an amusing, amorous, and pretty darn awesome diversion.

Rating:  4.5/5

You can find my review for the first Chapelwick Mystery here. You’ll may notice the cover has been re-branded since my review was written, but as I have a soft spot for the original I’ve left it exactly as it is!

(I requested a copy of this title from the publisher via NetGalley and it’s my pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Welcome to Chapelwick, a leafy English town in the hills of Shropshire, where chocolate pecan cookies come with a helping of sabotage.
 
Maplemead Castle is crawling with ghosts, and the new owners need them gone. When Melody Bittersweet and the Girls’ Ghostbusting Agency arrive on scene, they quickly identify the troublemakers swinging from the chandeliers… literally.
 
A century ago, stunning trapeze artist Britannia Lovell plunged to her death, and has done every night since. But did she really just fall, or was there something more to her demise?
 
Forced to work with Leo Dark, her scoundrel ex, and infuriating, irresistible reporter Fletcher Gunn, Melody’s investigative powers are under strain (i.e. lost in a pink mist of lust and confusion). She needs her team on top form, but best friend Marina’s cake pipeline goes AWOL, assistant Artie’s distracted by a giant sausage roll, and the pug is scared witless by a lion.
 
Somewhere, hidden in the castle, is a heart-breaking secret, but what will it take to find it? And is there a chance it could set Britannia free, or is she doomed to repeat her last fateful act forever?
 
An utterly hilarious, gripping, spooktastic read for fans of HY Hanna, MC Beaton, Gina LaManna and Jana DeLeon.
 (Courtesy of Amazon UK. Photograph courtesy of publisher.)
 

USA Today best selling author Kitty French writes sexy, escapist romance hot enough to burn your fingers…

The USA Today best selling Lucien Knight series has been a hit around the world, and Kitty is now writing and releasing the Regular Sex series of half hour erotic reads, a weekly issue to make sure your weekend starts with a bang!

Kitty is also the disreputable alter-ego of a romantic comedy writer Kat French. She writes full time, and lives in England with her husband and two little boys.

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Book Review: A Dangerous Crossing, by Rachel Rhys

Publisher: Doubleday UK (Transworld)

Publication date: 23rd March 2017

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When someone has seen you at your lowest you share something with them that is almost impossible to define and harder to undo. [Quotation taken from a proof copy.]

Departure:          29th July 1939. Tilbury Docks, Essex

Lillian Shepherd experiences conflicting emotions as she boards the Orontes on an assisted passage to Australia: waving goodbye to her family as she braces herself to travel alone VS the anticipation and that delicious lure of escape from her past traumas.

a-dangerous-crossing-by-rachel-rhys-coverDespite reassurances, it appears England is on the brink of war as a fusion of difference and ignorance is thrust together for five long weeks. During her travels, Lily keeps a diary of her on-board exploits and writes regularly to her folks to keep up with news from home. As the distance between her and the English shore grows their replies bring old news, which is an unnerving prospect when you can’t be sure the world has changed by the time you reach your destination.

Lily’s adventure carries the pressing temptation to rub shoulders with a couple from the upper class deck who have taken her under their wing. Second guessing the motives of her ludicrously odd companions among the tiered system of nobodies, wannabes and the recently scandalised is a mine field in itself. Some of them are just so damned persuasive and besides, if the alternative is spending time with your matronly cabin-mate and her disapproving glare you’d be tempted to ‘forget the pecking order’ and join them too.

It was astonishing to witness the pristine etiquette, mesmerising scenery and enchanting company being swallowed up by the claustrophobia creeping along the deck. There’s no escaping people you grow to dislike or mistrust and sooner or later they will catch up with you, if only to introduce you to your new friend ‘paranoia’.  

The intensity of the voyage becomes unbearable at times, but also offers encounters from the admirers Lily attracts, usually without encouragement. Doubts about the extraordinary bonds that are being forged are reinforced as her companions temperaments bob up and down in time with the ocean, while extraordinary secrets are channelled into the journey at well-timed intervals triggering a looming sense of unease. 

Arrival:                 4th September 1939. Sydney, Australia

Lily has successfully visited the ports of misery, heartbreak, prejudice, and deception.

A Dangerous Crossing is a journey I’ll never forget. I greedily read this book in two sittings, about the same time Lily took to determine the measure of one or two people she dined with! The stunning narration and authentic sense of era effortlessly transported me from one side of the world to the other, although I’m pleased to report my reading journey was infinitely more agreeable than the experience of some of the passengers on board the Orontes.

Highly recommended!

Rating:  5/5

(A review copy of this title was kindly provided by Alison Barrow of Transworld Publications for which is is my pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

It was a first class deception that would change her life forever.

1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world on board: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.

But soon she realises her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.

By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.

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(Courtesy of Publisher’s website)

RACHEL RHYS is the pen-name of a successful psychological suspense author. A Dangerous Crossing is her debut under this name and is inspired by a real life account of a 1930s ocean voyage. A Dangerous Crossing is due to be published around the world. Rachel Rhys lives in North London with her family.

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Book Review: The Escape by C L Taylor #TheEscape

Publisher:  Avon Books UK (Harper Collins)

Publication date:  23rd March 2017

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the-escape-by-c-l-taylor-coverFirst thing you need to know is: once you start reading there is no escape from The Escape. The exhilarating pace and escalating terror is an excellent motivator for extreme reactions with unpredictable consequences. Its fiendish plot is nothing short of addictive, as it seizes every opportunity to uncover murky secrets, painful memories and a fresh menace at every turn.

Imagine the struggle of trying to recover from your worst nightmare only for it to be replaced with a more hellish one. Take Jo Blackmore, who is juggling most aspects of her life semi-efficiently just like the rest of us. Yet she has the added hindrance of agoraphobia to stop her in her tracks, leaving her exposed and vulnerable at the most appalling intervals.

And what do we all know about offering lifts to strangers? *Tuts* Well, it could be the catalyst for wrecking your entire world. Manipulative people will do anything to get you to let your guard down and Jo finds out that out the hard way when she is slapped by an emotional ambush which threatens her daughter’s safety. The surprise warning is shortly followed by a stinging examination of her parental skills and the probability that her marriage may not withstand the force of the unrelenting onslaught.

Jo is clueless as to what this stranger wants or how to stop someone planting further life bombs. The frustration radiates from every page as there is nowhere left to turn and all she knows is she must protect the only thing that remains precious to her. What would your first instinct be? You might like to think you’d try to work it out, defend yourself, reason with the authorities as the truth is on your side. But these circumstances are quite extraordinary, and I was buzzing with adrenaline waiting for the next ruthless wave to hit followed by Jo’s erratic behaviour with little time for recovery.

CL Taylor is a maestro of domestic malice and The Escape is without doubt her finest. With the perfect blend of a traumatic incidents, marital disharmony, and people willing to take full advantage of the situation, this book possesses some serious brilliance that will take some beating. It pushes its characters not just to the edge but beyond it, and I had no choice but to follow.

VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! LOVED IT!

Rating:  5/5

(I received a copy of this book from the publisher with my thanks, and it is my pleasure to provide an unbiased review.)

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

Praise for C.L. Taylor:

‘A gripping and disturbing psychological thriller’ Clare Mackintosh

‘Absorbing and disturbing’ Alex Marwood

‘Loved it’ Fiona Barton

‘Claustrophobic, tense and thrilling’ Elizabeth Haynes

“Look after your daughter’s things. And your daughter…”

When a stranger asks Jo Blackmore for a lift she says yes, then swiftly wishes she hadn’t.

The stranger knows Jo’s name, she knows her husband Max and she’s got a glove belonging to Jo’s two year old daughter Elise.

What begins with a subtle threat swiftly turns into a nightmare as the police, social services and even Jo’s own husband turn against her.

No one believes that Elise is in danger. But Jo knows there’s only one way to keep her child safe – RUN.

The Sunday Times bestseller returns with her biggest and best book yet. The perfect read for fans of Paula Hawkins and Clare Mackintosh.

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

CL Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. She studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle and has worked as a sales administrator, web developer, instructional designer and as the manager of a distance learning team at a London university. She now writes full time.

CL Taylor’s first psychological thriller THE ACCIDENT was one of the top ten bestselling debut novels of 2014 according to The Bookseller. Her second and third novels, THE LIE and THE MISSING, were Sunday Times Bestsellers and #1 Amazon Kindle chart bestsellers. Her fourth psychological thriller, THE ESCAPE, will be published on 23 March 2017. She is currently writing her first young adult thriller, THE TREATMENT, which will be published in September 2017.

Sign up to join the CL Taylor Book Club for access to news, updates and information that isn’t available on the web, as well as exclusive newsletter-only competitions and giveaways and the books that CL Taylor thinks will be the next big thing: http://www.callytaylor.co.uk/cltaylorbookclub.html

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Here are my reviews for this author’s previous books:

The Lie 

The Missing

Book Review: The Song of the Stork, by Stephan Collishaw #Legend100

Publisher:  Legend Press

Publication date:  1st March 2017

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the-song-of-the-stork-coverDistinctive, memorable and poignant. How such a slim volume can pack this much emotional punch, I have no idea. Its vivid, life-shattering horrors seized a little more of my heart with every passing chapter. 

During these uncertain times the contours of people’s bodies changed in tandem with the landscape; the deep ridges ploughed by German tanks mirror rib cages covered by streamers of shapeless rags, as persecuted human beings are reduced to scarecrows shivering in the fields they may have once owned. 

Through exceptional and sensitive narration the unbearable grief of what is to come will stir your soul. The Song of the Stork will drag you into the thicket to crouch alongside Yael, a mere fifteen year old, alone and stricken by hunger and fear as war tightened its steely grip. And yet, even when all other doors have been firmly closed to her she found the courage to prospect for one that may be open.

Under circumstances less gruelling than these it would be difficult to conjure optimism, but to convey the infinite joy of finding shelter in a chicken coop is the work of a truly gifted author. The initial reception Yael received from the owner of the coop is neither welcoming, nor hostile. Aleksei simply shows her a pamphlet as a stark warning for those breaking the law by helping the Jewish community. This non-verbal communication is his first tentative step of acknowledging her presence.

Yael has heard the rumours of this young man, of course she has. People mocked him for never uttering a word anyone, saying he was crazy and should be left alone. Witnessing the thoughtful and perceptive progression of how he adapted to the disturbance of his guest’s unexpected arrival was a pure triumph.

In a ravaged world where tomorrow may never arrive, you would be forgiven for mistaking the modest luxuries of having a floor to sleep on, or having a shallow bath of warm water to relieve your itching skin, for security or even love. As an agreeable routine lays down its roots, it is quickly followed by the first shoots of fondness which miraculously flourishes into something profoundly beautiful. But this humble, isolated life is not free from danger as unforgiving enemies continually threaten to force their way in.

The Song of the Stork captures the very essence of survivors longing for the wind to change and bring whispers of hope with it. Until then they embrace the conviction to not only salvage what remains of life but to live it, however challenging that may prove to be. An extraordinary read. Truly extraordinary. 

Rating:  5/5        

(My thanks to Legend Press for providing a copy of this title. It is my absolute pleasure to provide this unbiased review.)

Legend 100 Club

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(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

‘An elegantly crafted, beautifully written novel about love, survival and hope against all the odds’ William Ryan

‘Tightly written and suspenseful… a darkly compassionate fable of human endurance in absolute extremity’ Stevie Davies

‘…a dark jewel that holds up for examination the proximity of terror and savagery to innocence and love’ Guy Kennaway

‘Stephan Collishaw takes your hand and leads you into a world of tragic beauty, inspiring strength and delicate kindness in the midst of horror’ Aistė Diržiūtė

Fifteen-year-old Yael is on the run. The Jewish girl seeks shelter from the Germans on the farm of the village outcast. Aleksei is mute and solitary, but as the brutal winter advances, he reluctantly takes her in and a delicate relationship develops.

As her feelings towards Aleksei change, the war intrudes and Yael is forced to join a Jewish partisan group fighting in the woods.

Torn apart and fighting for her life, The Song of the Stork is Yael’s story of love, hope and survival. It is the story of one woman finding a voice as the voices around her are extinguished.

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(Courtesy of publisher’s website)

Stephan Collishaw was brought up on a Nottingham council estate and failed all of his O’levels. His first novel The Last Girl (2003) was chosen by the Independent on Sunday as one of its Novels of the Year. In 2004 Stephan was selected as one of the British Council’s 20 best young British novelists. His brother is the renowned artist, Mat Collishaw. After a 10-year writing hiatus, The Song of the Stork is Stephan’s highly anticipated third novel. Stephan now works as a teacher in Nottingham, having also lived and worked abroad in Lithuania and Mallorca, where his son Lukas was born.

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