The only four words in the whole wide world that can guarantee I will read a book – no other information needed, no questions asked.
The Haunted Coast by Michael Wray was the perfect November-Sunday read for me, curled up by the woodburner, snuggled inside a big woolly jumper, toasty warm but full of a horrible cold that just won’t go away and leave me alone to breathe like a normal human being. The book was forty-six pages of spooks and Yorkshire legends that whisked me away from my runny nose and aching sinuses into a world of ghosts and ghouls, mermaids and monsters, and a howling, churning, wild North Sea.
The weather for the last week here has been beautiful – sunny and warm, the air filled with bumbling bees and dancing butterflies, the ground bubbling with bluebells. When it has rained, it’s been a gentle rain of blossom trickling to the earth.
The story follows Vasya as she tries to keep her community safe from forces they themselves have awakened after they abandon the old folktales and instead rely on the fearmongering of an ambitious, beguiling priest.
The story brims with creatures and magic – it had me keeping an eye out for Domovoi in the kitchen just like The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe had me checking the back of my wardrobe (plus pretty much any cupboard in the house) for other worlds.
I absolutely loved it. It’s enchanting, beautifully written, and the creatures and characters – especially Vasya – come alive on the page.
I didn’t really want it to end, so I’m very happy to hear that it’s the first book of a series.
The Faerie Thorn by Jane Talbot is a collection of seven short stories inspired by folklore, fairytales and magick. They’re deliciously dark and gruesome – full of faeries, trolls, mermen and maids, shapeshifters, spells, dastardly deeds, bittersweet bargains, nightmarish consequences, and satisfying comeuppances.
Each story is enchanting and slightly unsettling. Their short length gives them an addictive energy that made a refreshing change – kind of apt at the beginning of springtime – after struggling my way through Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
The style of writing is unlike anything I’ve read before – it has a lyrical, poetic feel to it which I really enjoyed. I felt like I was listening to the stories being told around a flickering fire, sat right on the edge of my seat, leaning towards the flames, barely blinking, hanging on every word.