Recent Reads

I have read some terrific stories recently (and have even more to look forward to on my to-read list!) so I decided to use my regular review blog to talk about three excellent paranormal stories that I’ve recently enjoyed.

For some weeks, I’ve been raving about the wonderful Ghosts Galore by Fiona Glass. This gently humorous tale is an absolute treat as we follow the story of Adam, a slightly downtrodden artist and proud owner of an English Manor House, complete with resident ghosts, including the recent addition of his much-loved grandfather.

To pay for the upkeep of the Manor House, Adam finds himself signing on for an episode of Ghosts Galore, (a beautifully realised pastiche of a paranormal tv programme) and finds his peace destroyed by the incursion of the brash tv crew, especially the very good looking but not very trustworthy Carl.

As it becomes clear that special effects trickery, rather than real ghostly happenings, is the order of the day, real supernatural forces are released within the manor, causing danger and chaos, forcing Adam to notice and rely on Guy, the show’s historian.

This is such an engaging story on so many levels, with great characters, both living and ghostly and a sweetly tentative MM love story shining through.

Mags Hayward’s short Gothic FF tale, Road to Nowhere, is a complete contrast in tone, as Stella, a young woman, is lost on a lonely road in a storm with no civilisation in sight apart from a spooky mansion. This familiar theme is given a fresh twist with Stella’s dreamlike arrival at a no-holds-barred party and her encounter with the compelling Madame Reynard.

The atmosphere and imagery are sumptuous and add to Stella’s increasing state of nightmarish confusion. I relished the clever twists and turns to veer between reality and fantasy, leading to valuable self-knowledge. I found so much to enjoy in this cleverly constructed and beautifully written story.

For something different again, Whispers in the Woods by K. C. Carmine is a fabulous tale. This coming of age story, set in Eastern Europe in the early part of this century, cleverly combines a real-life setting with a fantasy fae world. The author ably uses this analogy to convey the damage of prejudice, be that directed at the LGBT+ community or the community of fantasy creatures.

The central love story between Tomek and Robert, with teenage sexual confusion becoming a barrier between them, is beautifully drawn and believable. I found it heartwarming to follow the couple as they matured to challenge society’s prejudices. I also loved the description of the natural world and its importance to fae and humans, which was another important aspect of atmospheric world-building. Such a memorable and thoughtful read, and I’m already looking forward to the sequel.

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