Kait Layton Reviews The Only One Left : A Novel

altTextKait Layton checking in with a review of The Only One Left : A Novel by Riley Sager, which released this past Tuesday.

“The Only One Left” is a fast-paced thriller with a gothic feel. There is an old house that is atop a cliff that will eventually fall into the sea and the two main characters have family pasts trying to catch up to them.

You get pieces of the past through Lenora’s typed correspondence with Kit, who is the new caregiver from Lenora. Lenora was accused of killing her entire family in the late 20’s when she was a teenager, and Kit was accused of negligence due to leaving medication out while caring for her mother. Her mother took all of the pills and committed suicide. Both of these women have been accused of killing their own families and are brought together towards the end of Lenora’s life. They quickly bond over each other’s pasts and try to uncover the hidden truths of Lenora’s past together.

The first quarter of the book, I burned through. The second quarter began to drop off when Kit and Lenora were building a relationship and beginning to trust each other. But I understand as a caregiver with a new client you need to build rapport, especially one who is unable to speak. Then, you find out what happened to the last caregiver before Kit and things start taking off after that! There was a part when the fourth quarter of the book began and I just thought to myself, “Twist on twist on twist, Sager!”

This is my favorite Sager book since “Home Before Dark”! Thank you to the publishers for the digital ARC!

Official Burb

Bestselling author Riley Sager returns with a Gothic chiller about a young caregiver assigned to work for a woman accused of a Lizzie Borden-like massacre decades earlier.

At seventeen, Lenora Hope
Hung her sister with a rope

Now reduced to a schoolyard chant, the Hope family murders shocked the Maine coast one bloody night in 1929. While most people assume 17-year-old Lenora was responsible, the police were never able to prove it. Other than her denial after the killings, she has never spoken publicly about that night, nor has she set foot outside Hope’s End, the cliffside mansion where her family lived.

Stabbed her father with a knife
Took her mother’s happy life

It’s now 1983, and home-health aide Kit McDeere arrives at a decaying Hope’s End to care for Lenora after her previous nurse fled in the middle of the night. In her seventies and confined to a wheelchair, Lenora was rendered mute by a series of strokes and can only communicate with Kit by tapping out sentences on an old typewriter. One night, Lenora uses it to make a tantalizing offer—I want to tell you everything.

Author Bio:
Riley Sager is the New York Times bestselling author of six novels, most recently Survive the Night and The House Across the Lake. A native of Pennsylvania, he now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

Interested in buying a copy? Visit our website and choose whether to have it ready for pickup, shipped, or delivered!

Candice Conner Reviews The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels

Candice Conner checking in with a review of The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels by Beth Lincoln, which released on Feb 07.

My review in one word:
Extremely impressive; inspiring great admiration, apprehension, or fear

This book had me at the Author Note. Combine etymology, a twisty whodunnit with secret passages, attempted murder, a very large Family with a fascinating dictionary fixation, a very gothicy House, an absolutely delightful main character and you have the Swifts. It’s Lemony Snicket meets the Addams Family, crossbows and house fires in all!

Location: Kids: Middle Grade / Mysteries & Suspense

About The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels

Instant New York Times Bestseller!

“Knives Out feel by way of Lemony Snicket…This archly told, never muddled debut whodunit reveals a roster of distinct characters, a labyrinthine setting and plot, and a mystery that is as clever as its heroine.” – Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The suspenseful denouement is positively writhing with twists.” —Booklist, starred review

On the day they are born, every Swift child is brought before the sacred Family Dictionary. They are given a name, and a definition. A definition it is assumed they will grow up to match.
Meet Shenanigan Swift: Little sister. Risk-taker. Mischief-maker.

Shenanigan is getting ready for the big Swift Family Reunion and plotting her next great scheme: hunting for Grand-Uncle Vile’s long-lost treasure. She’s excited to finally meet her arriving relatives—until one of them gives Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude a deadly shove down the stairs.

So what if everyone thinks she’ll never be more than a troublemaker, just because of her name? Shenanigan knows she can become whatever she wants, even a detective. And she’s determined to follow the twisty clues and catch the killer.

Deliciously suspenseful and delightfully clever, The Swifts is a remarkable debut that is both brilliantly contemporary and instantly classic. A celebration of words and individuality, it’s packed with games, wordplay, and lots and lots of mischief as Shenanigan sets out to save her family and define herself in a world where definitions are so important.

Author Bio:

Beth Lincoln was raised in a former Victorian railway station in the North of England. Her childhood fears included porcelain dolls, the Durham panther, and wardrobes that looked at her funny. She grew neither tall nor wise, and never learned to play an instrument—but she did write stories, a bad habit that has persisted to this day. When she isn’t writing, Beth is woodcarving, or making a mess of her flat, or talking the nearest ear off about unexplained occurrences. Her favorite things include ghosts, crisps, and weird old words like bumbershoot and zounderkite.

The Swifts is Beth’s debut novel. It grew out of her love of etymology, the gleeful gothic, and classic murder mysteries. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne with her partner and hopefully, by the time you are reading this, a dog.

Interested in buying a copy? Visit our website and choose whether to have it ready for pickup, shipped, or delivered!

Calling All Fantasy Fans: We Have Signed Copies of Alexandra Bracken’s Newest Book!

Welcome to a thrilling journey through the world of fantasy and vengeance! #1 New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken has opened a portal to an epic adventure in her spellbinding novel, Silver in the Bone. With its vividly imagined cast of characters and the captivating landscape of the Savannah, Boston, and Cornwall, you’ll be swept away on a journey you’ll never forget.

Welcome to a thrilling journey through the world of fantasy and vengeance! #1 New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken has opened a portal to an epic adventure in her spellbinding novel, Silver in the Bone. With its vividly imagined cast of characters and the captivating locales of Savannah, Boston, and Cornwall, you’ll be swept away on a journey you’ll never forget.

Tamsin and her brother’s story begins with their life on the streets, where they must rely on their thieving foster father to stay alive. But their guardian’s disappearance sets Tamsin on a quest far greater. Rumors are swirling that her guardian carries a legendary ring from Arthurian legend, and Tamsin, with the help of her unexpected ally Emrys, embarks on a dangerous race to find the ring and save her brother’s life. The consequences of their mission, however, are greater than anyone could have expected, and the truth behind the ring’s power will awaken ghosts of the past that could shatter Tamsin’s last chance at hope.

Don’t miss out on the incredible adventure that awaits in Silver in the Bone! Make sure to grab a signed copy of Silver in the Bone which released yesterday, Apr 04!

NOTE: We will only have 9 signed copies so make sure to get yours today! We ship anywhere in the US.

About Silver in the Bone

#1 New York Times bestselling author Alexandra Bracken cements her status as one of the top fantasy authors writing today in this stunning series opener inspired by Arthurian legend and fueled by love, revenge, and pure adrenaline!

Tamsin Lark didn’t ask to be a Hollower. As a mortal with no magical talent, she was never meant to break into ancient crypts, or compete with sorceresses and Cunningfolk for the treasures inside. But after her thieving foster father disappeared without so much as a goodbye, it was the only way to keep herself—and her brother, Cabell—alive.

Ten years later, rumors are swirling that her guardian vanished with a powerful ring from Arthurian legend. A run-in with her rival Emrys ignites Tamsin’s hope that the ring could free Cabell from a curse that threatens both of them. But they aren’t the only ones who covet the ring.

As word spreads, greedy Hollowers start circling, and many would kill to have it for themselves. While Emrys is the last person Tamsin would choose to partner with, she needs all the help she can get to edge out her competitors in the race for the ring. Together, they dive headfirst into a vipers’ nest of dark magic, exposing a deadly secret with the power to awaken ghosts of the past and shatter her last hope of saving her brother. . . .

Story Locales: Savannah, GA; Boston, MA; Cornwall, UK

Interested in ordering a copy? Visit our website and choose whether to have it ready for pickup, shipped, or delivered!

Kelly McLeod Reviews The House with Good Bones

Kelly McLeod checking in with a review of The House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher, which released on Mar 28. You can find it in our Horror New Releases section.

Kingfisher writes another excellent, absolutely terrifying horror that will have you looking suspicious at some very ordinary objects. Sam comes to stay with her mother when her archaeological dig is put on hold (after she already arranged for a sublet, of course). She arrives to find that her mothers home, normally bright and cheery, has been returned to the sterility and decor that her grandmother preferred when she was alive. Sam’s mother is also exhibiting behavior that is quite unlike her.

Kingfisher managed another book where she transitions from a mundane horror, in this case the horror of an aging parent and the concern over changes in their mental state, and slides right into a more supernatural horror of the most hair-raising variety. I got a little more frustrated with Sam compared to Kingfisher’s previous horror protagonists, but the writing overall is excellent and, just. the HORROR. THE HORROR. Kingfisher just casually sneaks in these monsters that will haunt your dreams. Highly recommended!

About The House with Good Bones

A contemporary Southern Gothic from a master of modern horror that explores the deep, dark roots of family and in which grandma’s ghost haunting your house may be the least of your worries.
Sam Montgomery is worried about her mother. She seems anxious, jumpy, and she’s begun making mystifying changes to the family home on Lammergeier Lane. Sam figures it has something to do with her mother’s relationship to Sam’s late, unlamented grandmother.

She’s not wrong.

As vultures gather around the house and frightful family secrets are unearthed under the rosebushes, Sam struggles to unravel the truth about the house on Lammergeier Lane before it consumes her and everyone else who stands in its way . . .

Author Bio:
T. KINGFISHER writes fantasy, horror, and occasional oddities, most recently including Nettle & Bone and What Moves the Dead. Under a pen name, she also writes bestselling children’s books. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, dogs, and a garden with several rose bushes that she keeps a very careful eye on.

Interested in buying a copy? Visit our website and choose whether to have it ready for pickup, shipped, or delivered!

Kelly McLeod Reviews The Lies of the Ajungo

Kelly McLeod checking in with a review of The Lies of the Ajungo by Moses Ose Utomi, which released on Mar 21. This debut novella is just an excellent political allegory about a city of lies wrapped in fairy-tale-like trappings. It felt a little too short in that I wanted more, but long enough for character development and some excellent fighting scenes. I definitely look forward to more from Utomi.

About The Lies of the Ajungo

Moses Ose Utomi’s debut novella, The Lies of the Ajungo, follows one boy’s epic quest to bring water back to his city and save his mother’s life. Prepare to enter the Forever Desert. They say there is no water in the City of Lies. They say there are no heroes in the City of Lies. They say there are no friends beyond the City of Lies. But would you believe what they say in the City of Lies? In the City of Lies, they cut out your tongue when you turn thirteen, to appease the terrifying Ajungo Empire and make sure it continues sending water. Tutu will be thirteen in three days, but his parched mother won’t last that long. So Tutu goes to his oba and makes a deal: she provides water for his mother, and in exchange he will travel out into the desert and bring back water for the city. Thus begins Tutu’s quest for the salvation of his mother, his city, and himself. The Lies of the Ajungo opens the curtains on a tremendous world, and begins the epic fable of the Forever Desert. With every word, Moses Ose Utomi weaves magic. Contributor Bio(s) Moses Ose Utomi is a Nigerian-American fantasy writer and nomad currently based out of Honolulu, Hawaii. He has an MFA in fiction from Sarah Lawrence College and short fiction publications in Fireside Fiction, Fantasy Magazine, and more. His debut YA fantasy novel, Daughters of Oduma, will be coming out in early 2023. When he’s not writing, he’s traveling, training martial arts, or doing karaoke—with or without a backing track.

Kait Layton Reviews How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix – Also we have signed copies left!

Kait Layton reporting in with a review of How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix which released this past Tuesday!

how%20to%20sell%20a%20haunted%20house.jpgThis is my fourth Hendrix novel and I am a huge fan. I thoroughly enjoyed the author’s note at the beginning that states the inspiration behind the story was to get far away from the pandemic and dive into something else. I actually read this book in three days while being in quarantine, so it was exactly the distraction I needed!

I thought it was going to be a ghost story just after reading the title. Then, the main character’s family is very religious and talks about demons and I had just finished “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” and thought, “Oh no, not this story again!” However, that is not how the story ends and I was extremely surprised. It’s one of those stories where you are like, “WTF!” but you keep reading to find out what happens to the family and the house.

My only complaint is that I wish it had more gore. There are tons of creepy moments, but there is only one big scene where the main character and her brother are getting attacked and it was grisly. I just wanted more.

Puppets are creepy, especially when they move around the house independently, leave notes for you, turn the tv on, and start talking. I haven’t read a horror novel that includes puppets before, so thank you, Hendrix, for writing such a creative story that kept me entertained and distracted!

Bret Easton Ellis’s New Novel Releases Tomorrow and We Have Signed Copies!

We only have 8 copies, so if you want one, order a copy online or stop by tomorrow! Also releasing tomorrow  is Grady Hendrix’s new novel, How To Sell a Haunted House and we also have signed copies!

About The Shards: A novel

A sensational new novel from the best-selling author of Less Than Zero and American Psycho that tracks a group of privileged Los Angeles high school friends as a serial killer strikes across the city.

Bret Easton Ellis’s masterful new novel is a story about the end of innocence, and the perilous passage from adolescence into adulthood, set in a vibrantly fictionalized Los Angeles in 1981 as a serial killer begins targeting teenagers throughout the city.

Seventeen-year-old Bret is a senior at the exclusive Buckley prep school when a new student arrives with a mysterious past. Robert Mallory is bright, handsome, charismatic, and shielding a secret from Bret and his friends even as he becomes a part of their tightly knit circle. Bret’s obsession with Mallory is equaled only by his increasingly unsettling preoccupation with the Trawler, a serial killer on the loose who seems to be drawing ever closer to Bret and his friends, taunting them—and Bret in particular—with grotesque threats and horrific, sharply local acts of violence. The coincidences are uncanny, but they are also filtered through the imagination of a teenager whose gifts for constructing narrative from the filaments of his own life are about to make him one of the most explosive literary sensations of his generation. Can he trust his friends—or his own mind—to make sense of the danger they appear to be in? Thwarted by the world and by his own innate desires, buffeted by unhealthy fixations, he spirals into paranoia and isolation as the relationship between the Trawler and Robert Mallory hurtles inexorably toward a collision.

Set against the intensely vivid and nostalgic backdrop of pre-Less Than Zero L.A., The Shards is a mesmerizing fusing of fact and fiction, the real and the imagined, that brilliantly explores the emotional fabric of Bret’s life at seventeen—sex and jealousy, obsession and murderous rage. Gripping, sly, suspenseful, deeply haunting, and often darkly funny, The Shards is Ellis at his inimitable best.

Kait Layton Reviews All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham

This book ripped me apart over and over. Stacy Willingham has a way of twisting a plot that keeps you guessing until the very end!

Everyone should read this to find out what happens to Isabelle and her missing son, Mason, but also read this because Isabelle is a strong mamma jamma who deserves some recognition!

all%20the%20dangerous%20things.jpgKait Layton reporting in with a review of All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham which released on January 10th!

This book ripped me apart over and over. Stacy Willingham has a way of twisting a plot that keeps you guessing until the very end!

Isabelle Drake’s toddler son goes missing from his bed in the middle of the night while she and her husband are sleeping. A whole year has gone by and Mason is still missing, Isabelle’s husband has left her, she has not slept a full night since Mason’s disappearance, there has not been a break in the case, and Isabelle’s ex has started a new relationship and seems to have moved on from her and Mason all together.

Isabelle doesn’t give up, though. Even when everyone suspects her, blames her, shames her, and pities her.

Everyone should read this to find out what happens to Isabelle and Mason, but also read this because Isabelle is a strong mama jama how deserves some respect!

Release Geek: Bump by Matt Wallace

I didn’t ever expect to be this excited about a middle-grade book about a wrestling school, but it’s coming out tomorrow and here I am! I’ve been waiting on this to come out for months so I could tell people about it!

So it’s like this: MJ is a girl in middle school who’s being bullied in her gymnastics class and dealing with her complicated feelings about her dad, who has left her and her mom. She still loves him, but her pain and betrayal at his departure is complicating her emotions. One thing associated with him that’s still fun for her is watching professional wrestling, a shared hobby of the two of them. She’s well aware the results are predetermined, but the athleticism, showmanship, and excitement of it are all very real.

She meets an elderly next door neighbor and it turns out he used to be a respected name in the wrestling business and he still runs a training gym that occasionally puts on shows. After some cajoling aimed at her mother, she drops gymnastics to get away from the toxicity of her peers, and starts taking classes. She finds that the gym’s fellow students and staff are welcoming and supportive but the first thing she has to do is learn to take a bump: how to land and take an impact safely. There’s some tricks to it. It takes practice and cooperation to not actually break anything in some of the moves, and strength to do it reliably, and it’s the fundamental skill the rest of professional wrestling is built on.

No matter what you do, taking a bump hurts a bit. The process there teaches MJ: Life hurts, no matter what you do, but you can pick how it hurts, be ready for it, and it’ll hurt a lot less with friends to help.

The author, Matt Wallace, is a former wrestler himself and the discussions of the mechanics and backstage life are informed by his lived experience. Anyone who’s been to middle school will identify with the petty games of social dominance bullies play that MJ has to live with, and further along MJ learns about how even doing something well-meaning and the right move can cause jealousy and hurt feelings that have to be addressed and mended.

I didn’t expect to read this book and have the memories of middle school cliques wake up like they did. Matt Wallace very accurately nails the pains of that age down on page, and I think he has some lessons here that’ll help kids get ready for life. I know some of this would have helped me, back in the day.

Alex Reviews: Ring Shout – The Klan has demons, and Maryse hunts them with a sword that sings

The Klan has demons, and Maryse hunts them with a sword that sings.

That is the premise of Ring Shout. Set in 1922 Georgia, she moves through a world filled with a quiet kind of magic–it’s not there unless you know it is, but when you find it, it’s deep.

I’m a longtime fantasy reader. I love it. I read it a lot. One of the drawbacks, though, is how often you see concepts come around again. Ring Shout hit me with stuff that was new to me–and all the more impressive because of how little P. Djèlí Clark made up out of whole cloth. He drew on folklore I’d never heard of, and made some serious A-grade horror and magic happen. Seriously, y’all, some of these demons and monsters pin your imagination down, give it a big wet kiss, and promise you’ll remember them.

And the feels, man. The feels in this book. I cried at this book. Some of the writing is so beautiful, some of the feelings hit so hard, you can’t keep it back.

But despite the horror, despite the violence, despite the talks about power and punishment and penance and people, it all comes through.

And I want to read more when it comes.

Ring Shout comes out this Tuesday, October 13th, preorder it on our website at www.thehauntedbookshopmobile.com