Review: Malice House by Megan Shepherd

Malice HouseMalice House by Megan Shepherd
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

After a very successful start, Malice House dropped off a cliff for me around 75% of the way in. It’s unfortunate, I hate to say it, but it happens…

This story follows an artist named Haven Marbury. Haven’s father, a very famous author, has recently passed away. Because of this, Haven travels from her home in New York City to his property on the West Coast. She has inherited his possibly haunted house and everything in it.

Having recently suffered through a very traumatic break-up, with barely two pennies to rub together, the idea of having a place of her own, far from her ex, is actually a blessing.

Once at the house, Haven meets with her father’s 0ld-caregiver, a rather disturbing woman in her own right. A woman that in the past has refused to spend one single night at the property.

Unusual happenings begin pretty much right away. It’s a big house and definitely spooky. Additionally, it’s bringing up a lot of mixed feelings for Haven.

Sifting through her father’s belongings, Haven discovers an unpublished manuscript called Bedtime Stories for Monsters, which is quite different from his previous works.

It’s dark and twisted, right up Haven’s alley. She has an epiphany. She needs money. Her father’s name on a cover will sell any book. She’s an artist. She’ll illustrate this book and pitch it to publishers as a father-daughter posthumous collaboration.

Unfortunately, a local group of bibliophiles that her father was a part of, the Ink Drinkers, start continuously trying to insert themselves into the process of deciding what to do with the unpublished manuscript. Haven probably should have kept that discovery to herself.

After that, things start to get really weird. Haven feels like they’re crazy, she wants them to stay the heck away from her. It’s her father’s work. They have no say over what she does with it, or do they?

There’s an attractive, though suspicious, neighbor. There’s potential poltergeist activity at the house. There are monsters coming to life and attacking. There are crazy locals and a dark, ill-feeling atmosphere.

As mentioned above, I was super intrigued by this in the beginning. I love the idea of fictional stories pulling through into real life. Monsters jumping off the pages and wrecking havoc. Are you kidding?! That’s amazing!

There were a few fun twists and as it began to come together as to what was happening, I lifted an eyebrow. Okay, Megan Shepherd. I see you. You are a Horror Gurlie. Me too!

At some point though, it kept going and went too far. It got so convoluted that it was hard to follow. I’m not sure what could have improved, I’m not claiming to be an author here, but it completely lost me by the conclusion.

I liked Haven as a character and enjoyed watching her discover some fairly significant family secrets. I just wish the pace could have been more even. The monstrous elements did build steadily, but they didn’t stop at a coherent point. It just devolved into chaos.

The more I think about this, as I am writing this review, the more disappointed I get. I am serious when I say, I really enjoyed the beginning. There are so many elements in this to love, especially if you are a fan of darker fiction. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t pulled through to a solid conclusion in my opinion.

With this being said, just because I wasn’t crazy about the ending doesn’t mean you won’t be. If the synopsis sounds intriguing to you, absolutely give it a shot. You could find a new favorite read within these pages.

Thank you to the publisher, Hyperion Avenue, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Even though this one didn’t blow me away, I would definitely pick up more Megan Shepherd novels.

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Review: From Bad to Cursed (The Witches of Thistle Grove #2) by Lana Harper

From Bad to Cursed (The Witches of Thistle Grove, #2)From Bad to Cursed by Lana Harper

**3.5-stars**

From Bad to Cursed is the second novel in The Witches of Thistle Grove paranormal romance series.

For those unfamiliar with this series, the books are companion novels. They take place in the small, magical town of Thistle Grove following the same timeline, but each book focuses on different main characters.

In this installment, we’re treated to Isidora Avramov and Rowan Thorn in a classic enemies-to-lovers scenerio; one of my favorite romance tropes.

With the Beltane holiday approaching, the whole town of Thistle Grove is gearing up for the celebration. Unfortunately, before it even begins, their festival prep is sabotaged by a dark magical attack and a member of the Thorn family is seriously injured.

The four families end up selecting Issa and Rowan to investigate the mysterious attack. The two aren’t happy about the pairing. They have a bit of a past.

It involves a falling out at a local animal shelter that ended in Issa cursing Rowan with a batch of evil squirrels.

Nevertheless, as they begin working together, the chemistry is evident. Before long, they’re dropping their guard and getting to know one another better. Maybe they should have done this years ago.

This was a fun story. I love the feel of Thistle Grove. It’s cozy and magical, full of interesting characters and events. I will say that I’m not sure how memorable this installment will be for me, but I definitely enjoyed it.

There were some solid steamy scenes, a compelling mystery and charming magical elements. The plot itself is low-stakes, but that’s not a bad thing. It was a relaxing, fun read and everyone needs one of those occasionally.

Additionally, I appreciated the backdrop of family dynamics. Issa and Rowan both come from close-knit families, but the functioning of those families is very different.

I like how that was explored a bit. It was sort of a great example of how there is no one set way to be a loving family; it comes in all forms and functions. Every family is different, it doesn’t mean they love less.

I’m definitely planning to continue on with this series. I like returning to the town and getting to know different people every time, but also seeing a bit of the previous characters. It feels like meeting up with old friends.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am looking forward to the next book, Back in a Spell.

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Review: Nine Liars (Truly Devious #5) by Maureen Johnson

Nine Liars (Truly Devious, #5)Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

School is back in session and Stevie Bell has finally hit her Senior Year. Unfortunately, with her boyfriend, David, overseas studying in London, Miss Stevie is that mopey, distracted long-distance relationship girl. We all know her.

Her friends are noticing the change and although they’re mostly supportive, they sort of wish she would just get back to being herself. Solve a murder, or something.

Soon enough, it’s David to the rescue, as he has hatched a fairly stellar plan. He invites Stevie, Nate, Janelle and Vi to come to London to do a study-abroad for a week. Each of them devises a schedule and specific course of inquiry for their time there.

David has secured them a place to stay. It should be easy. They just need to sell the Headmaster on the idea.

I think you know what happens because the group ends up there, in London, ready to study their little hearts out. Sure.

On their first night, they get introduced to Izzy, one of David’s closest London friends. As luck would have it, Izzy has a mystery. Stevie is winning all around, her hot boyfriend and a cold-case mystery all in one place!!

Izzy has insight on this mystery because her Aunt Angela was one of the individuals involved.

In 1995, Angela was part of a very tight-knit group of friends, collectively known as The Nine: Sebastian, Rosie, Angela, Sooz, Peter, Noel, Theo, Yash and Julien. They were all actors, artists and their lifestyle was a bit wild. They worked hard and played harder.

After their graduation from Cambridge, as a bit of a celebration, they took a trip to Julien’s family’s country estate. The morning after a drunken version of hide-and-seek, two members of the group are found dead.

It’s clear they were murdered. Very clear. Yet due to lack of evidence, no one was ever arrested for the crime.

Years later, under the influence of pain relievers following a hospital stay, Izzy’s Aunt Angela says some things to her that raise Izzy’s suspicions. Does her Aunt know what happened to her two murdered friends?

She asks Stevie to look into it and you know our Stevie, you are not going to dangle something that tempting in front of her and not have her bite.

Thus begins the London-installment of Truly Devious!

I love this series so much. This is the 5th-book and I have eagerly read them all. I’ve never been disappointed and will continue to pick them up for as long as they are released.

This was such a fun romp with Stevie and friends. I loved the change of scenery with them studying in London for a week and of course, the murder mystery solving.

Additionally, in this one, I really enjoyed the past timeline following Aunt Angela and her friends. It was such a dynamic, yet messy, group and I was living for the drama.

In the present timeline, there was also drama of course. Stevie and David navigating their relationship, taking it to new levels and all of them being focused on the college application process. I’m always interested in watching characters grow and begin to figure out their own path.

This is a bit of slow burn. It does take a while to really get into the intensity of the mystery and subsequent investigation. However, in my opinion, it was well paced and I think the payoff was worth the wait.

Ohhh, also, we’re definitely getting another book. There’s no way this is the end of Stevie’s story. Maureen Johnson wouldn’t play us like that.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who has been enjoying the Truly Devious series. For those who haven’t started it yet, and enjoy YA Mystery, what are you waiting for?! This is not a series to be missed!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Katherine Tegen Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m low-key obsessed with this series and hope for many more future installments!

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Review: Star Wars The High Republic: Starlight Stories

Star Wars The High Republic: Starlight StoriesStar Wars The High Republic: Starlight Stories by Charles Soule
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Star Wars The High Republic: Starlight Stories is a beautifully-arranged, collector-quality collection of short-stories and behind-the-scenes content for true Star Wars fans.

The short-stories come from veteran Star Wars writers, Charles Soule, Justina Ireland and Caven Scott. All are set on the Starlight Beacon, the incredible satellite station that plays a heavy role in the High Republic era.

I liked the stories a lot. They weren’t high stakes, but it was nice to see what life was like on Starlight Beacon and to see some recurring characters from the era.

Starlight Beacon is mentioned frequently in the books that I have read from this era, yet the stories don’t actually took place there. It was fun for me to see how the station was functioning and what a typical day would look like there.

The highlight of this, for me, though was actually the interviews with the contributing authors, which in addition to the authors listed above include, Claudia Gray and Daniel Jose Older. I have wondered since it was announced how they actually went about creating this all-new era.

It seems crazy complicated if multiple people are involved, but obviously it’s way too much for one person to do alone.

I really loved hearing how they all got involved in the project and the steps that went into creating it. The brainstorming sessions at Skywalker Ranch would be an absolute dream come true for me. Can you even imagine!?

I would definitely recommend this to serious fans, particularly anyone who has been enjoying the High Republic materials as much as I have.

In my opinion though, this is not a great place to start if you are interested in getting into either the High Republic era, or Star Wars in general. This is definitely more for longtime fans of this world.

Thank you to the publisher, Titan Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time with this. The artwork was stunning, the stories fun and I love the insight I was given regarding the creation of this highly-entertaining new era.

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Review: The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas

The Couple at No. 9The Couple at No. 9 by Claire Douglas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

When Saffy and Tom move to 9 Skelton Place, they’re excited about the possibilities. The property once belonged to Saffy’s Grandmother and it will take a little work to get the place just how they want it, but with their first baby on the way, they’re willing to take on the project.

As they prepare for a kitchen extension, a construction crew begins digging up the back garden. That’s how they discover the two bodies buried there.

Early analysis indicates the bodies have been buried there for about 30-years. While their presence isn’t the result of a recent act of violence, it’s quite clear that a crime, or crimes, was once committed there.

9 Skelton Place becomes a crime scene; a very unpleasant occurrence for the young couple just looking to nest.

As part of their investigation, the police ask to speak with the home’s former owner, Saffy’s Grandmother, Rose. Unfortunately, Rose is currently suffering from fairly advanced dementia.

Saffy frequently goes to visit Rose in her Care Home and can attest to the fact that some days are worse than others. It’s unclear if Rose will be able to provide any reliable information to the investigators.

Hearing of her daughter’s troubles, Saffy’s Mom, Lorna, returns from Spain, where she lives abroad with her boyfriend. Lorna has always been a free spirit, with Saffy often feeling the more mature of the two. It’s clear that Lorna loves her daughter though and she’s here to help.

The more Saffy and Lorna dig into the mystery of 9 Skelton Place, the more ominous it all seems. There are entire chunks of Lorna’s very early history that she knows nothing about. What has her mother, Rose, been hiding from her?

I liked this. It was a good time for me. It wasn’t perfect, but I found the mystery, the characters and the family dynamics quite interesting.

Once I started down the rabbit hole of the bodies in the garden, I was compelled to discover the truth. I had to know!

This story is told through both past and present perspectives. You learn about the present by following Saffy, Lorna and a man named, Theo. In the past, you learn about Rose’s time living at 9 Skelton Place.

I found both timelines interesting and like how each present section seemed to build off things discovered from the past.

Theo’s perspective was confounding to me at first. I wasn’t quite sure why it was necessary, but it did ultimately serve a purpose and I like how it all wrapped up in the end.

Overall, I thought this was an entertaining read. Douglas did a great job creating a puzzling little mystery and it was fun watching it all come together.

While this won’t be the most memorable Mystery/Thriller that I read this year, I am still happy that I picked it up. This was my first Claire Douglas and I definitely enjoyed her style.

Thank you to the publisher, Harper Paperbacks, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m looking forward to reading more from this author!

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Review: House of Hunger by Alexis Henderson

House of HungerHouse of Hunger by Alexis Henderson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

House of Hunger follows Marion Shaw. Marion has been raised in the slums of the South and her life is pretty bleak.

She works in domestic service for a grumpy old woman. Her parents are dead and she lives on the edge of poverty with her drug-addicted and abusive brother.

She does have a friend though, so that seems to be a highlight. She and this friend frequently get-together on their allotted break from work and read classified ads.

Basically, in their area, men will sometimes advertise when they are looking for a wife. It’s actually a way for some of these girls to climb out of poverty, if they find a man wealthy enough to take care of them.

So, Marion and her friend will sometimes read these ads and joke around about responding to one of them, and the odds of being selected.

On one occasion though, Marion actually sees something that piques her interest; an advert from the notorious House of Hunger, one of the richest houses in the North. It seems they’re in need of a bloodmaid.

Even though she’s practically clueless about life in the wealthy North, she applies for the position. How bad can it be? It certainly has to be better than the meager existence she currently has.

She applies and meets the Taster. A job interviewer of sorts, who tastes her blood and is blown away.

He offers her the position with confidence. The Lady of the House will go batshit-crazy over the delictableness of her blood. It’s a fine vintage, indeed.

The trip North and subsequent introduction to the House of Hunger and their ways is completely off the charts for Marion. It’s all new. She’s like a newborn baby, learning everything from scratch.

The castle is full of debauchery. The Lords and Ladies milling about live hedonistic lives. It’s an odd environment, with Marion and the other bloodmaids simply bearing witness to it all.

One scene, featuring a game called Fox and the Hounds literally gave me chills. These people are nuts. They have no repercussions for the things they do. They can get away with anything. It’s a real precarious position for Marion to be in, but honestly, what are her other options?

Marion discovers the bloodmaids have a bit of a competitive side to them. Apparently, Countess Lisavet, the enthralling Lady of the House, always has a favorite. Her go-to girl, who she’ll spoil with things the other girls don’t get.

As Lisavet begins to show a particular liking for Marion, the old favorite gets ticked. Marion definitely didn’t make a friend there. Additionally, as Marion gets drawn more and more into Lisavet’s inner sanctum, she begins to see that not all is as it appears in the House of Hunger.

This book was absolutely everything I wanted. I fell in love with Henderson’s writing and the vivid Horror imagery, including top-notch Body Horror, she was able to conjure up on the page.

There were some toe-curling scenes, anything involving teeth is gonna get me, soooo, I’m not okay. I was living for this atmosphere.

In fact, I was having so much fun that I gave daily status updates on the plot to my coworkers, and their eyes didn’t even glaze over. That’s how passionate I was about it.

I liked that Marion didn’t know anything about the North, or their customs. It offered up the perfect chance for the Reader to learn about the world through her eyes, without it seeming info dumpy.

I also enjoyed the mystery surrounding the House. As Marion begins to figure out that something is off and then the build-up to the final reveal of what was happening. I thought that was so well done.

Henderson built out the tension perfectly and kept me fully-engaged the entire way through. This narrative is vividly-described and I felt like I could picture everything perfectly. It was dark, gothic, gory and stunning. I loved it!!!

I cannot wait to read more from Henderson. Well done!

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Review: A Mother Would Know by Amber Garza

A Mother Would KnowA Mother Would Know by Amber Garza
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Valerie, a mother of two adult children, widow and former lead vocalist in a band, lives alone in her large Victorian home with her chocolate lab, Bowie. Valerie has led a busy life and is finally settling into a more quiet lifestyle.

Unfortunately, she’s also noticed some disturbing changes recently with her memory. Having lost her own mother to the horrible disease of Alzheimer’s, Valerie is very aware of the signs and symptoms. She is fearful she may be experiencing an early-onset of the disease.

Her daughter, Kendra, expresses concerns as well when Valerie seems to be forgetting plans they had made, like babysitting her grandson. Kendra attempts to help her mom with vitamins and diet suggestions.

She’s still concerned about Valerie living on her own though, with the way things seem to be progressing. Luckily, Valerie’s son, Hudson, a bit down on his luck after a recent break-up, is able to come and stay with her.

Hudson has grown distant since a traumatizing incident in high school, but Valerie loves her son very much and is anxious for a chance to reconnect with him. He’s a grown man now, surely they can finally put the past behind them.

Kendra and Hudson definitely still have a contentious relationship though, so when the entire family is together things can get tense. After a time though, they all start to settle into a bit of a routine. It’s nice.

That is until a young woman up the street is murdered in her home. For some reason, Valerie has images in her mind of Hudson being out on the night of the murder, seeing him come in late. Is she imagining this, or are these memories?

She starts to think Hudson is acting suspiciously. Could he have had something to do with this young woman’s death? How well does she even know her son?

I found A Mother Would Know highly-entertaining and addicting, much like Garza’s earlier works. I was actually late to work on the day I finished this because I needed to know the truth. I could not put it down.

Garza’s writing style is very fluid and easy to get into. I found this story to be so compelling and I had a million different theories along the way. It was so much fun trying to figure it out.

The narrative is a nice blend of Valerie’s present-perspective mixed with her remembrances of the past. A lot of the events in her current life make her reminisce on the past, both bad and good.

I think this made a lot of sense considering Valerie’s fears regarding her memory. A lot of the time, I felt like being in her head thinking about the past was kind of like an exercise for her, trying to figure out how much she still recalled and whether or not it was true.

We also get an additional, more mysterious, perspective that helps to build the tension of the story, as well as contributing to the final reveal.

I really enjoyed Valerie as a character. I know that she may not be for everyone, but I found her to be realistic and relatable. I genuinely liked her.

Valerie was in a band, a fairly successful one, and when her kids were young, she spent a lot of her time out of the home, particularly at night performing. Therefore, her husband, was the primary caregiver for the kids.

There’s a lot of unresolved issues within their family because of that and I liked learning about those things and watching them all try to navigate those sensitive waters as adults.

Additionally, I enjoyed the drama of their neighborhood. They live in a fairly high-income neighborhood, where everyone knows everyone’s business and there’s frequently someone watching and talking about what they see.

I am always down for neighborhood drama, so I felt like this was a fun backdrop from the story. Valerie and her family have a lot of history in this neighborhood too and definitely some enemies.

The mystery was compelling and I loved being along for the ride with Valerie. She was willing to do anything to figure out whether her son was innocent or not. The tension got pretty high, with a startling conclusion.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this one and will absolutely pick up anything else Garza writes.

Thank you to the publisher, MIRA, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I have enjoyed all of Garza’s books so far and am super excited to see what she comes up with next!

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Review: These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

These Fleeting ShadowsThese Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars**

In These Fleeting Shadows we meet Helen Vaughan. Helen is a girl with a murky past and a slightly haunted present.

She knows that when she was very young, she and her Mom fled their ancestral home, Harrowstone Hall, where their extended family still live, but she has no idea why.

They never discuss it. They don’t talk about the family, about why they left, nothing. It’s just a giant black hole of nothingness looming over Helen’s entire life.

Then the notification arrives that her grandfather has passed away. They’re asked to come to Harrow for the funeral and surprisingly, her Mom agrees. They’re actually going.

Once there, Helen is swept up into Harrow immediately. Meeting her strange family, the eerie house and grounds, its a lot to take in.

When she receives the news of the inheritance, it’s even more overwhelming. The grandfather she barely knew left everything to her? Everything? Really? And what’s this clause about her having to stay in the house for one-year in order to receive everything?

She decides to give it a go.

Life at Harrow is disturbing. The people eccentric, the house itself a haunted labyrinth of confusion. It’s hard to tell if there is anyone Helen can trust. Can she even trust herself?

I don’t really know what to say about this novel. There were many things about it that I enjoyed, but I also found it to be convoluted, with certain events being very difficult to track.

The premise is great. We love an inheritance story, particularly ones set at a gothic mansion. Add in bizarre family members and we’re still on the right track.

A protagonist feeling haunted, unsure if her dreams are just that, or repressed memories? I’ll grab the popcorn. I’m still here for it.

I think where it really started losing me was the nature of the house, which really is the essence of the story. The reason behind the family doing what they were doing. It just lost me. It moved from where I thought it was going to something else entirely.

At the heart of the story, this reminded me of Kiersten White’s release, Hide. There’s a similar vein running through here that ran through that novel. Frankly, I didn’t enjoy it in either place.

In the Author’s Note at the end, Kate Alice Marshall writes a bit about being inspired by Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan to write this story. It sounds like this is in fact a modern-reimagining of that tale.

I wish I would have known that before. I think that could have made this story more impactful for me. Also, I would have loved to have read that original source material prior to picking this one up.

Either way, this ended up being a mixed bag for me. I fell in love with the cover, but eventually fell out of love with the content. The beginning was great, with a very promising set-up.

I loved the atmosphere created once they arrived at Harrow. By the mid-way point though, my interest was waning and by the end, I was looking forward to it being over.

While this story wasn’t necessarily to my liking, I still love Kate Alice Marshall’s writing and the risks she is willing to take with her stories.

These Fleeting Shadows may not have been a hit for me, but I’m confident that so many Readers will absolutely love this. I look forward to seeing what Marshall will serve us next!

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Review: The Swell by Allie Reynolds

The SwellThe Swell by Allie Reynolds
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I’m going to throw out a caution flag early that this review could get extremely salty…

I’m not sure why I feel so burned by this one, but I do. Putting it mildly would be to say that The Swell didn’t hit as I expected it to.

With Publisher’s Comps being Point Break and the classic And Then There Were None, I fully expected to be pulled in by this; to be engrossed, to be intrigued.

What I got was 95% boredom, 5% tepid interest.

This story follows Kenna, who abruptly travels to Australia after her estranged best friend, Mikki, announces her engagement.

Mikki has been living in Australia for a while and met Jack there. He’s an Aussie and if she marries him, that means she’ll be living there indefinitely. For some reason, the mere idea of this shocks Kenna into action, even though she has never gone to visit Mikki there before.

After she arrives, Mikki’s behavior could be described as a little strange, maybe stand-offish. Then her new man, Jake, announces they are taking off for the beach to surf. Some discussion finally determines that Kenna shall be lucky enough to go along with them.

A remote beach, a bunch of bizarre people gathered there. It’s a big secret, no one can find out. No one! Missing girls. Thefts, drama, acts of daring. Weird people doing weirder things. Deaths. Eyes glazing over. The end.

In theory, I should have enjoyed this. The remote location and mysterious group of people, but honestly, I could not have cared less about any of this.

I really had a great time reading Reynolds’ earlier release, Shiver. I found it to be so fun and compelling. I’m not sure why this one felt so different to me. Maybe the subject matter, the characters, the execution, all of the above?

Either way, if it wasn’t for the audiobook, I never would have made it through. I wanted to DNF so many times, but pushed on because I could calculate exactly how many more hours I had left to suffer through.

Anyway, look. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Just because this didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. If it sounds interesting, give it a go!

For me, I am so happy to be checking it off my list and moving on.

Thank you to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for providing me with a copy to read and review. Even though this didn’t work for me, I would definitely be up to reading more from Allie Reynolds.

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Review: The Last Party (DC Morgan #1) by Clare Mackintosh

The Last Party (DC Morgan, #1)The Last Party by Clare Mackintosh
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

On New Year’s Day, the remote Welsh village of Cwm Coed has an annual tradition of taking a community swim in the pristine waters of Llyn Drych, or Mirror Lake.

A bit of a polar plunge, if you will. It makes sense as the lake is so much a part of life for the village.

It gets the blood flowing, the community spirit popping and overall, is a solid way to start the first day of a new year.

When a dead body is found floating in the lake in the early moments of this tradition however, it’s clear, this will be a very memorable year indeed.

On the opposite side of the lake, a new, luxury living community, The Shores, has been built. The instigator of this travesty, according to the locals, is Rhys Lloyd, an opera singer, who also happens to be a local boy himself. In fact, he inherited the land from his father.

The previous evening, on New Year’s Eve, Rhys, along with the other owners at The Shores had thrown a lavish party, to which all were invited. It appears this body may have floated over from that side, but is he, or she the victim of foul play, or just a terrible accident?

When it’s discovered the body is actually Rhys himself, this draws attention from both sides of the lake. Jurisdiction could get tricky, so a partnership is proposed.

DC Ffion Morgan, from Cwn Coed, will team up with a DC from the English-side of the lake, Leo Brady. A match made in heaven, IMO. The snark and chemistry between these two characters gripped me from the very start, which made for a super fun investigatory aspect.

This story is told through the use of many different perspectives, both from The Shores and from the village. It’s clear the stars are Ffion and Leo, but in order to get the full scope of this mystery, additional insights were required.

The residents of The Shores were all terrible people. It was captivating getting to know them and all of their various dramas. If you’re a fan of the ‘rich people behaving badly’ set-up, you will most likely end up enjoying this one as well.

We also learn a bit about both Ffion and Leo’s personal lives. I liked that. It helped to build them out and I felt like by the end, I was quite attached to the two of them. They were both sympathetic characters, who it was easy to root for.

The mystery of this was very well plotted. There were some huge reveals and twists. One in particular had my literal jaw drop to the floor. I was gobsmacked. I did not see it coming.

Overall, I would say this was fabulously fun, packed with unlikable characters, twists and OMG-moments. I had a blast trying to figure out whodunit. With a victim as despicable as Rhys, it could have been anyone!

I loved Ffion so much. She definitely stole my heart. She’s such a complex, yet likable character. I am really looking forward to more books in this series.

Of course, I am keeping my fingers crossed that the rumors are true and this actually is this first book in a series. I would definitely be down for going on more investigations with Ffion and Leo.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Landmark, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I’ve enjoyed Mackintosh books before, but this one is definitely a new fave!

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