Book Review: Fresh Hell by David Bussell

Fresh Hell (Ghosted #1)Fresh Hell by David Bussell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This is the first book in “Ghosted,” one of the (so far) three series that Genre Reader has that are set in its “Uncanny Kingdom.” (The others are “The London Coven” and “Dark Lakes,” if your curious. I haven’t started Dark Lakes yet, but London Coven has been excellent so far.)

Jake is a fairly recently deceased ex-exorcist who hadn’t realized that when he was exorcising ghosts from haunted houses or other places ghosts shouldn’t be he was completely destroying their very essence rather than sending them on to their eternal rest, and had no idea just how much that would puss the Big Guy off. So now he’s trying to help with solving paranormaly-related crimes and get rid of a bunch of bad spirits to try and make up for his quite inadvertent bad deeds so he’ll have a chance at going Up when his time to leave Earth finally comes.

As with all of the Uncanny Kingdom books I’ve read so far, this is a great mix of laughs and thrills. Jake can be quite the rascal, but he’s still got a bit of the romantic in him (even if there’s no romance to be had) and usually tries to do the right thing. His friendship with Jazz Hands is adorable. There are a number of twists in the book – one of which was telegraphed a bit early, so the reveal want as surprising when it came – but the rest were well done and provided the intended shock. The story moves at a fast pace, and the characters are well developed.

If you’re looking for a really fun read, give this a try!

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Book Review: “Sisters of Blood and Spirit” by Kady Cross

Sisters of Blood and SpiritSisters of Blood and Spirit by Kady Cross
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

I had just recently finished reading Kady Cross’s “The Strange Case of Finley Jayne when I noticed her new book, “Sisters of Blood and Spirit” was available as an ARC, so I quickly requested it and was quite happy when I was approved for a copy. I’m even happier now that I’ve read the book.

I love the premise: Lark and Wren Noble are twins, and like many twins, they have aa special bond. There’s is a bit unusual, though, because Wren was stillborn, but her ghost has remained connected to – and grown up with – her sister. While Lark loves her sister and loves having her around, it has made life difficult for her in many ways. Because almost no-one else can sense Wren’s presence, when Lark says something to her, looks at her or reacts to something Wren has said, most people think she’s nuts. As a result, Lark has been bullied and ostracized most of her life. Even her parents don’t want to have anything to do with her, so she lives with her grandmother – one of the few who can sense Wren – instead.

Lark soon learns that some of her classmates had trespassed at an old, shut-down asylum with a reputation for being haunted. The reputation is well-deserved, and the teens have attracted the attention of a particularly malevolent ghost. They ask her and Wren for their help in getting free of him and the sisters agree to do what they can, which leads us to the main action in the story.

There are a lot of things I really liked about the book. Ms. Cross is smart by not trying to explain how it is that Lark and Wren have the connection that they do – or why Wren ages wham most ghosts don’t. It feels realistic that the girls would just accept the situation – they’ve been that way since birth – and avoids cluttering up the story with needless metaphysics.

It also feels realistic that – given Lark’s history, she’s skeptical when the other kids tell her they want to be her friends, and it adds a bit of poignancy to their attempts. Another nice touch is that Wren has some familiarity with pop culture, but also has some gaps, especially when it comes to various figures of speech. It makes sense because even though she spends a lot of time with Lark, she does reside in the Shadow Realm and isn’t totally immersed in the culture of the living.

It’s interesting to see how Lark changes as she begins to gain aa bit more confidence – helped along, in part, by some light romance – and how that affects Wren

Unlike “Finley Jayne’ this novel is set in contemporary times, and has no steampunk elements to it. It’s an excellent story, and if Ms. Cross ever feels like checking back in on the sisters, I’ll be happy to tag along.

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