My review: The Retreat, by Mark Edwards

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About the book:

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.

My review:

I have been a fan of Mark Edwards’ books for a while now and was looking forward to this novel.

Going straight to the point, I really enjoyed ‘The Retreat’.  I loved the setting and beautiful presentation of the place. I absolutely adore Wales and the book reminded me of my travels there. I loved all the mysteries and how the plot was revealed in a good, dynamic pace. The best quality of Mark’s books is that it is hard to guess what is really going on, there are so many twists and turns that keep the reader entertained and glued to the pages. That’s what usually happens to me – if I start Mark’s book, I can’t stop until I finish it. Work and life get in the way, but I stay focused 🙂

I also enjoyed an element of the urban legends. It reminded my childhood where we all heard some old stories and were retelling them in different words to the younger ones, adding some particularly scary details. The interesting thing about the urban legends that they founded on something real that often has a simple explanation but a complex reason.

The main character Lucas is quite relatable. He struggles with writing his next horror novel, hence, comes to this new writers’ retreat. I am always curious about the life of the authors, their challenges and successes, so it was good to read a little bit about that as well.

There was one thing that wasn’t believable for me but I keep it a secret not to spoil a book for you.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller with little flashes of horror (but not too many ;). Mark’s plots always bring something new and keep you entertained.

Books on the train: The Girl in the Ice, by Robert Bryndza

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About the book:

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?

My review: The woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

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About the book:

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

My review:

Generally, the book was quite entertaining which highly affected the score. It was an easy read, the plot is flowing well, despite obvious discrepancies and questions that never get answered, and keeping reader’s attention. It did remind a little bit of Agatha Christie’s murder style when a murderer is among a small group of people in a confined space. And that’s where the good ends for me.

I am honestly getting tired of women, the main characters, who are damaged, have psychological or substance abuse issues and who can’t get their shit together and can’t figure their own life out. It looks like the stories about ‘Girl on the train’ women attract all the action, interesting and unusual things happen to them, and it all deserves the whole plot to win readers’ hearts. Disappointing and seriously exhausting. ‘Normal’ girls (without anxiety, alcohol abuse, or broken relationships), don’t deserve to be in the books anymore. Hence, I couldn’t relate to Lo at all in this book. Couldn’t really understand or sympathise her.

The plot itself, despite being entertaining, has a lot of questions and doubts that never get resolved. It makes you think that those details were not that important if the author completely ignored answering them. Those moments also don’t make a reader wanting to fantasise about possible answers.  

My score is 3* out of 5*.

My review: The Spaces In Between, by Collin Van Reenan

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About the book:

One of the most disturbing true stories you will ever read…

Paris, 1968. Nicholas finds himself broke, without papers and on the verge of being deported back to England. Seeking to stay in France, Nicholas takes a three-month contract as an English tutor to the 17-year-old Imperial Highness Natalya. It is the perfect solution; free room and board, his wages saved, and a place to hide from police raids. All that is asked of Nicholas is to obey the lifestyle of the household and not to leave the grounds.

It should have solved all his problems…

The Spaces In Between details the experience of Nicholas as he finds himself an unwitting prisoner within an aristocratic household, apparently frozen in time, and surrounded by macabre and eccentric personalities who seem determined to drag him to the point of insanity. Much deeper runs a question every reader is left to ponder – if this tale is fact and not fiction, then what motivation could have driven his tormenters?

My review:

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book.

‘The Spaces In Between’ has one of the most interesting stories I have ever read. It has everything – the biggest mystery, love story, some Russian history and cultural features, a little bit of Paris, psychological thriller, a bit of drama and lots, lots, lots of secrets. 

The ending of the book can be disappointing for some readers, but I just liked it the way it was. Was it all fiction or not? Was it just a game of imagination? Was it a very vicious plan? And why…

Without giving anything away, I just say that I liked absolutely everything about this book. It kept my attention so much that I couldn’t wait to get on the bus on the way home or to work to start reading again chapter after chapter. The story is truly captivating. The possible truths are very interesting as well. And in my opinion, quite possible.

The cover designed by Patrick Knowles is an absolute masterpiece itself and illustrates the book so well.

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: The Girlfriend, by Sarah Naughton

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About the book:

Mags doesn’t believe her brother’s fall was an accident. In that forty-foot stairwell, he didn’t just slip over the edge.

But there is only one witness, Jody, the girlfriend grieving at his bedside.

Which is another story Mags doesn’t believe.

Because Jody likes telling stories, and this may be her most twisted one yet.

As Mags begins to unearth the secrets hidden in her brother’s wake, she finds she isn’t just looking for the truth. For Mags, this is more than a simple tragedy. This is an opportunity for revenge.

My review:

I must say that I enjoyed this book which will sound horrible because it is about some shocking life stories. Every character in this book has a hell of a childhood, upbringing and life in general.

The storyline is absolutely captivating. I had my suspicions but didn’t guess the truth.

Despite being at times annoying, Mags’ character is very likeable. She is very smart, confident and straightforward, and these qualities deserve some respect. She is also kind and caring, but somewhere deep inside. It is physically hard for her to express her feelings. But that’s the price you pay trying to be strong.

The author did a great job researching so difficult topics. Not everyone can write about these things, particularly in good depth and decency. Rape culture, mental illness, child abuse, depression, other crimes…and how all this affects a person who went through it. What protective mechanisms can be built to stay alive. 

The only trouble I had with the book is the title. In the book, it is clearly stated that Jodie was Abe’s fiancee, not a girlfriend. Maybe it wasn’t edited in my version.

I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller.

My score is 4* out of 5*.

My review: The Murder of Magpies, by Mark Edwards

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About the book:

The terrifying sequel to the #1 bestseller The Magpies.

Five years ago Jamie Knight lost everything: his home, his wife and their unborn child. But at least the woman responsible, ‘Dark Angel’ Lucy Newton, was in prison, and slowly Jamie was able to rebuild his life.

But now Lucy has been freed on appeal, and before long Jamie receives a message from a desperate stranger. Lucy is up to her old tricks—ruining lives for fun.

Jamie agrees to help. But once again, he has no idea what he is getting himself into…

My review:

Mark Edwards is one of my favourite authors, and of course, ‘The Magpies’ is one of my favourite thrillers. With no doubt I couldn’t miss a little sequel to ‘The Magpies’. So, before reading it, take a look at the first book first.

I would call this novella ‘short and sweet’. It doesn’t take long to read it, but it has everything for a successful thriller: suspense, drama and a cliffhanger.

I think ‘The Murder of Magpies’ is about many things: it’s about revenge and desire to make everything right, it’s about love and what you can do for it and it’s about letting go. Probably the last was impossible for Jamie. But can you blame him after what he and Kirsty have been through?

The story is absolutely crazy which makes it even more interesting. I actually was craving for more, so it was almost a torture to finish the book so quickly.

There definitely should be the third book that I am looking forward to already, as I enjoyed the first novel and a sequel novella.

My score is 4* out of 5*, just because I would’ve really loved this book to be longer.