The Secret of Matterdale Hall Review

Susan Mottram lives an idyllic existence until her eighteenth birthday, when her father’s sudden death plunges the family into penury. To support her mother and younger sister, Susan takes employment as a teacher at a remote Yorkshire boarding school, Matterdale Hall, owned by the radical Dr. Claybourn and his penny-pinching wife. Susan soon discovers that all is not as it seems. Why is little Mary so silent? What really happened to Susan’s predecessor? Is anyone safe in the school’s draughty halls? Through a life-changing meeting with the beautiful and mysterious Cassandra, Susan begins to uncover the truth about Matterdale Hall, and discovers the cruelty, and love, that can lie within the human heart.

Belladonna Review

Orphaned as a baby, nineteen-year-old Signa has been raised by a string of guardians, each more interested in her wealth than her well-being—and each has met an untimely end. Her remaining relatives are the elusive Hawthornes, an eccentric family living at Thorn Grove, an estate both glittering and gloomy. Its patriarch mourns his late wife through wild parties, while his son grapples for control of the family’s waning reputation and his daughter suffers from a mysterious illness. But when their mother’s restless spirit appears claiming she was poisoned, Signa realizes that the family she depends on could be in grave danger and enlists the help of a surly stable boy to hunt down the killer.

However, Signa’s best chance of uncovering the murderer is an alliance with Death himself, a fascinating, dangerous shadow who has never been far from her side. Though he’s made her life a living hell, Death shows Signa that their growing connection may be more powerful—and more irresistible—than she ever dared imagine.

October 2022 Wrap Up

This was probably my best reading month to date! Super happy with myself but also super happy with the books I read.

  • I read 15 books this month
  • Genre: 6 fantasy, 4 mystery, 2 sci-fi, 1 romance, 1 thriller and 1 non-fiction.
  • Gender of authors: 8 women, 4 men and 1 duo
  • Race of authors: 6 white authors, 3 black authors, 2 Latinx author, 1 Middle Eastern author and 1 asian author.
  • Age range: 9 adult, 3 middle grade, 2 YA and 1 new adult
  • Format: 8 paperback, 5 ebook, 1 hardback and 1 audiobook

The Daughter of Doctor Moreau – Silvia Moreno-Garcia (DNF)

A re-telling of the Island of Doctor Moreau. This was super disappointing as I have loved all the other work that Moreno-Garcia has written. I was really hoping to love this but I got about 25% of the way through and I was just bored with no connection to the characters whatsoever!

Wivenhoe – Samuel Fisher (3 stars)

Following a 24hr period after a murder is committed. I will be completely honest. I was not expecting to enjoy this book. At all. It didn’t seem like it was something I would go for but oh my goodness was it good. It was intense but so raw. A true character study which I normally shy away from. I literally read this in an hour.

A Dead Djinn in Cairo – P. Djèlí Clark (3 stars)

A mystery based in an alternate Cairo where Djinn and Human live side by side. Based on what everyone said about this short story I was expecting to enjoy it more than I did. I loved the characters and the world but the plot was a bit too rushed and I felt the format was too small too tackle something so monumental.

The Girl, the Ghost and the Lost Name – Reece Carter (3 stars)

An adventure about a ghost who goes to search for her lost name and memories. This was super fun mystery. It didn’t leave a super long lasting impression on me but I did have a fun time reading it.

The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games – Ebony Elizabeth Thomas (4 stars)

An incredibly information look at how race is portrayed in some of the most popular YA mediums. My favourite chapter was that on Rue in the Hunger Games. This was one of my first foray’s into literary criticism and looking at race and identity in literature. As a bookseller, this is a topic I want to learn more of for when I approach recommendations and how I think when I am reading.

The Twig Man – Sana Rasoul (4 stars)

A story about a boy who tries to find his sister after she went missing a year ago. I didn’t expect to enjoy this as much as I did. I was on the edge of my seat the entire time. Rasoul manages to pack in intensity, horror elements and the power of sibling love into a small package. I also adored Ari.

The Angel of Khan el-Khalili – P. Djèlí Clark (4 stars)

A story about a young girl who tries to save her dying sister. This was, in my opinion, the better of the two Dead Djinn Universe short stories mainly because I preferred the storyline more.

The Girl from the Other Side Vol. 1 – Nagabe (4 stars)

This follows a human and a monster who live together in a little cottage. This was perfect for halloween, spooky with loads of mystery. I felt it set up a lot of good points and established our two main characters very well. I am looking forward to the sequel.

Beautiful Darkness – Kersacoet (4 stars)

If you’re looking for a more creepier graphic novel for Halloween. This story follows a group of fairies who try to live amongst nature but it doesn’t go super well. This book is deceiving. On the outside the art is beautiful and you thinks its going to be a cute story until you slowly go through the pages and see the horror for what it is. I loved the juxtaposition of the story to the art and really enjoyed this graphic novel.

Belladonna – Adalyn Grace (4 stars)

This story follows 19 year old Signs who tries to solve the murder of her family member. I really enjoyed this story. For those who see it as promoted as YA it is more adult. I would say it’s new adult as there are some more mature themes in here that might not be appropriate for certain YA audiences. This was engaging, mysterious and beautifully gothic. I loved Signa’s dynamic with Death and the mystery itself was fun to solve. I personally didn’t guess the ending at all which I normally do.

The Lost Storyteller – Donna Barba Higuera (4 stars)

This was an amazing story filled with beautiful folklore tales, a strong female protagonist and a plot that had me on the edge of my seat. I loved the blend of Spanish and English in this story.

Thieves – Lucie Bryon (4.5 stars)

A super fun and beautifully illustrated graphic novel about romance and being true to oneself. I had a great time reading this, I loved the art-style, the characters and the plot.

House of Hunger – Alexis Henderson (4.5 stars)

I probably enjoyed this book more than her first one, The Year of the Witching. This follows a young woman who becomes a blood maid for a mysterious Countess but soon starts to unravel the mystery of the castle and the Countess herself. Beautifully gothic atmosphere, super intense, and while I sort of gathered how the story was going to play out, I just couldn’t draw my eyes away from the story. Lisavet was an amazing and alluring character that scared me but I was so intrigued by her and her backstory. That ending had me on the edge of my seat.

The ABC Murders – Agatha Christie (5 stars)

Now the last book of Miss Christie’s that I read ended up being a 1 star and was one of the worst books I have read this year and beyond. I did not enjoy it whatsoever so I was super nervous in reading this book. I was worried that my love for Christie was finally over. But then she wrote this masterpiece. One my biggest criticisms of Christie’s work is while I enjoy her characterisation of her staple characters, like Poirot and Hastings, I never really care for many of her side characters. But with this book, not only did she write a stellar plot, she also wrote some beautifully written, nuanced side characters that really brought the whole novel together in a way that her previous book didn’t.

A Master of Djinn – P. Djèlí Clark (5 stars)

Another great murder mystery novel but this time with a fantasy steampunk twist. This book is up there with the likes of Sanderson for me. The world building was immaculate, I loved the championing of female characters and also the diversity in the women and the plot was super fun to solve.

A Master of Djinn Review

Cairo, 1912: Though Fatma el-Sha’arawi is the youngest woman working for the Ministry of Alchemy, Enchantments and Supernatural Entities, she’s certainly not a rookie, especially after preventing the destruction of the universe last summer. So when someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case. Al-Jahiz transformed the world 50 years ago when he opened up the veil between the magical and mundane realms, before vanishing into the unknown. This murderer claims to be al-Jahiz, returned to condemn the modern age for its social oppressions. His dangerous magical abilities instigate unrest in the streets of Cairo that threaten to spill over onto the global stage. Alongside her Ministry colleagues and her clever girlfriend Siti, Agent Fatma must unravel the mystery behind this imposter to restore peace to the city – or face the possibility he could be exactly who he seems….