I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Daemoniac by Kat Ross
Release date: October 12th, 2016
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Genre: Mystery, historical fiction, fantasy
It’s August of 1888, just three weeks before Jack the Ripper will begin his grisly spree in the London slum of Whitechapel, and another serial murderer is stalking the gas-lit streets of New York. With taunting messages in backwards Latin left at the crime scenes and even more inexplicable clues like the fingerprints that appear to have been burned into one victim’s throat, his handiwork bears all the hallmarks of a demonic possession.
But consulting detective Harrison Fearing Pell is convinced her quarry is a man of flesh and blood. Encouraged by her uncle, Arthur Conan Doyle, Harry hopes to make her reputation by solving the bizarre case before the man the press has dubbed Mr. Hyde strikes again.
From the squalor of the Five Points to the high-class gambling dens of the Tenderloin and the glittering mansions of Fifth Avenue, Harry and her best friend, John Weston, follow the trail of a remorseless killer, uncovering a few embarrassing secrets of New York’s richest High Society families along the way. Are the murders a case of black magic—or simple blackmail? And will the trail lead them closer to home than they ever imagined?
Over the past year, Kat Ross has quickly become one of my favourite authors. I couldn’t get enough of her Fourth Element trilogy (a must read fantasy series based on mythology and history) and was ridiculously excited to start this book. Let me say that it did not disappoint. I loved, loved, loved it!!!! The Daemoniac is a perfect blend of horror, mystery and historical fiction. It had me on the edge of my seat from the start and continuously kept me guessing. I can best describe it as a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s dark, moody and a tiny bit creepy — basically everything I adore all rolled into one!
The Daemoniac opens with Harry Fearing Pell taking on her first case as a private investigator. A couple have asked her to find their missing friend, however, Harry is not who they think she is. The couple believe that she is her sister, Myrtle Fearing Pell, a detective known for solving the most difficult of cases. Harry sees this as her chance to step out of her sister’s shadow and takes on the case. However, what initially seemed simple quickly becomes dark and complicated when it’s discovered that the subject of their investigation was involved in witchcraft and murder.
What made this book standout was its characters. Yes, the story was fantastic but it wouldn’t have been so engaging without interesting characters that I truly cared about. The story’s main character, Harry, was totally badass. She flaunted society’s expectations that of what a woman should be. Harry wasn’t necessarily running around throwing punches, but she was incredibly smart and used that to her advantage. The Daemoniac is also Harry’s coming-of-age story. It’s an examination of how sometimes we need to fight for what we believe in and how even though sometimes others don’t believe in us, we are capable and worthy. We all just need to believe in ourselves. It’s all about female empowerment!
I also loved the feel and atmosphere of this novel. It’s set in 1880s New York, a time period known as the Gilded Age, but actually takes places mostly in the seedy areas of the city. It’s really rough and tumble with street gangs, underground clubs and creepy séances. The descriptions really set the mood for the book and enabled me to imagine every setting with incredible detail. It also established this tension that kept me turning the page. What would happen next? Was what happened real? I had so many questions throughout and once I thought something was about to happen, the story took a turn elsewhere. I love these types of books. It was such an adventure and one that didn’t want to end. Thank goodness there’s a sequel because I’m most definitely not done with these characters yet!
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Haunted House Project by Tricia Clasen
Release date: October 11th, 2016
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre: Fiction, middle grade
Since her mom died, Andie’s family has crumbled. Instead of working, her dad gambles away insurance money, while her sister, Paige, has put her future on hold in order to pick up extra waitressing shifts. Andie’s afraid of what will happen if people find out just how bad things are. She’s not sure how long she can hide the fact that there’s no food or money in the house…or adults, for that matter.
When her science partner suggests they study paranormal activity, Andie gets an idea. She wants a sign from her mom—anything to tell her it’s going to be okay. Maybe the rest of her family does too. So she starts a project of her own. Pretending to be her mother’s ghost, Andie sprays perfume, changes TV channels, and moves pictures. Haunting her house is Andie’s last hope to bring her family back into the land of the living.
For anyone who loved Counting by 7s, The Haunted House Project is a journey through loss and grief, but ultimately a story of hope and self-reliance. As much as Andie has been changed by her mother’s death, the changes she makes herself are the ones that are most important.
I received this book randomly from Sky Pony Press and didn’t really think much of it. I hadn’t requested it and its target audience was middle grade. I also thought it was about a “haunted house,” so definitely not my “thing” (I really should have read the synopsis). This poor book languished on my shelf for months until I finally decided to pick it up. I needed something to read before my trip that would quick and easy to get through. Well, everything I thought that this book would be, simple, childish, silly, was completely wrong! The Haunted House Project was heartbreaking and oh so beautiful. I really enjoyed it!
The story is about Andie, a middle grader who had recently lost her mother in a car accident. All Andie wants is for things to be as they were before her life was forever changed. Her sister works long hours at a diner and has become withdrawn, quitting the sports that had once made her happy. Andie’s dad is always absent, gambling away their money and drinking heavily. So, in order to bring her family together and remind them about what her mother would have wanted, Andie decides to pretend that her mother is haunting the family.
Besides all of the family drama that Andie has to deal with, the book also discusses friend dynamics. I remember how painful it was to learn that sometimes the people you thought would always be your friend aren’t anymore. The author did such a good job navigating the complexities of friendships and how children react to things when they fall apart or don’t go their way.
This book is really a must read! My heart ached for Andie, she went through so much and her development was really remarkable. I usually don’t read middle grade books but this one taught me that I shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover or title. Sometimes you just never know what you’ll find if you give it a chance!