Estelle Reviews.. · Three on Thursday

Three on Thursday – Spooky Stories

This week for Three on Thursday I’m going to write about 3 books that I have read this week. You can catch up with of my previous book reviews here.

I picked 3 ghostly tales this week. I am kind of a wuss and I can’t really watch horror films but I do love a good ghost story, especially those set in a murky Victorian mansion. Read on to see what I read this week. I picked up all 3 on Amazon, all secondhand for a total of £5.00. Bargain.

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First up this week I read ‘The Ward’ by S.L Grey, the blurb on the back sets the scene:

Lisa is a plastic surgery addict with severe self-esteem issues.
The only hospital that will let her go under the knife is New Hope; a grimy, grey-walled facility dubbed “No Hope” by it’s patients.

Farrell is a celebrity photographer. His last memory is a fight with his fashion-model girlfriend and now he’s woken up in No Hope, alone. Needle marks criss-cross his arms. A sinister nurse keeps tampering with his drip.
And he’s woken up blind…

Panicked and disorientated, Farrelol persuades Lisa to help him escape, but the hospital’s dimly lit corridors only take them deeper underground – into a twisted mirror world staffed by dead-eyed nurses and doped-up orderlies. Down here, in the Modification Ward, Lisa can finally have the face she wants… but at a price that will haunt them both forever.

It sounded pretty promising and the first few chapters were. They built up some nice suspense, switching between the first person perspectives of Lisa and Farrell, but then it took kind of an odd turn and became almost farsical.

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I really liked Lisa, I could relate to her so I persevered with the book, I think if i hadn’t liked her character so much I would have just given the book up. It got weirder and weirder to the point where I wondered if the author was just having a laugh at my expense. That said, it was well written and if you can get beyond the insane Body Modification story line, it’s an ok read. I became a bit frustrated with the language at points and the weird turns the story took, but actually I think it was a bit of a nod to the way the world is becoming now.

If you like your horror stories to border on the science fiction, then ‘The Ward’ is definitely worth a read. If you like a story that is easy to follow and really goes somewhere, this book isn’t for you!

On Tuesday night, I read ‘The Silence of Ghosts’ by Jonathan Aycliffe

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I have another book by the same author – ‘Naomi’s Room’ but I honestly can’t remember if I have read it or not (if I have, it clearly didn’t leave an impression!) The blurb on the back has this to say:

When the Blitz starts in London, Dominic Lancaster, injured at the Battle of Narvik, accompanies his ten year old sister Octavia to the family house on the shores of Ullswater in the Lake District.

Octavia is profoundly deaf but at night she can hear disturbing noises in the house. When questioned by Dominic about what she heard, she replies, simply, ‘Voices’. Two nights later she tells him that the dead children in the house want them to leave.

As Octavia’s health begins to mysteriously decline, she tells Dominic he must go into the attic. There he realises an older, darker evil that threatens both their lives.

First things first, I have a few issues with the blurb. 1) The author seems to forget ALOT that he made his main character deaf. It’s annoying when this happens. 2) Octavia’s health doesn’t mysteriously decline, she is diagnosed about two sentences after they first mention her illness. Shoutout for pretend drama though. 3) Dominic doesn’t go into the attic until right at the end, they discover the older, darker evil way before the end.

So, this book starts from the point of view of Dominic Lancaster’s grandson who sets the scene and has cause to visit Ullswater, after this we are taken through the events through Dominic’s very own diary (who, I have to say is as bad at me as keeping a diary). I found it kind of hard to get into this book and I was never really sure what it was about, even by the time I finished, I couldn’t tell you what happened or why it happened. There were one or two parts of the book that my heartbeat quickened and I felt a bit jumpy but it all kind of faded into an almost happy ending. I was a bit disappointed.

By Wednesday night, I was pretty fed up with this weeks book choices, so I really wanted my last choice to be brilliant.

My third book of the week and thus nicely creating an opportunity for a Three on Thursday was ‘The Ghost Writer’ by John Harwood, I have also read ‘The Seance’ and ‘The Asylum’ both of which were really good, especially ‘The Asylum’ so I had high hopes.

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The blurb says:

Viola Hatherley was a writer of ghost stories in the 1890’s, whose work lies forgotten until her great-grandson, as a young boy in Mawson, Australia, learns how to open the secret drawer in his mother’s room. There he finds a manuscript and from the moment his mother catches him in the act, Gerard Freeman’s life is irrevocably changed. What is the invisible, ever-present threat from which his mother strives so obsessively to protect him? And why should stories written a century ago entwine themselves ever more closely around events in his own life?

Gerard’s quest to unveil the mystery that shrouds his family and his life, will lead him from Mawsom to London, to a long-abandoned house and the terror of a ghost story come alive.

So, this book is mostly from the point of view of Gerard (who really annoys me) wound around the letters to and from his penpal – Alice and the short stories he discovers written by Viola.

The short stories were the best part of the book. The rest seemed contrived and pointless really, almost like he had written the short stories first but didn’t have enough to fill a book, so he wrote a story around them. I wish each of the short stories written by Viola were books in their own right – that’s how good they were. Everything you want in a perfect Victorian Horror Story, so the fact Gerard kept interrupting and banging on really wound me up. Don’t even get me started on Alice. Yawn.

It all climaxes when he receives a letter in response to an advert he places requesting information about his family in London, he discovers his mother had a sister and he finally founds the family home that his mother lived in with his newly discovered Aunt. At this point, things became MENTAL. I had no idea what was going on, or why it had happended that way. It made no sense and just came out of nowhere (well sort of, I’d guessed part of it). As twists go, I guess it was a good one and came so far out of left field that it did take me somewhat by suprise.

If you aren’t as easily wound up as I am, this book is worth a read, if for nothing more than the stories by Gerard’s great-grandmother Viola.

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So that’s that. Shout out to my cats, Mallorie and Rufus who helped with the photos this week, this first one was kind of an accident, but I liked it and decided to pretend it was a theme!

Have you read any of these books? Do you agree with me? What did you think? What do you think I shoud read next? Let me know below!

 

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