#Blogtour The Creak On The Stairs by Eva Borg AEgisdottir @evaaegisdottir @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #TheCreakOnTheStairs

The Creak On The Stairs by Eva Borg AEgidottir
Orenda Books May 28th 2020

The first in the electrifying new Forbidden Iceland series, The Creak on the Stairs is an exquisitely written, claustrophobic and chillingly atmospheric debut thriller by one of Iceland’s most exciting new talents When the body of a woman is discovered at a lighthouse in the Icelandic town of Akranes, it soon becomes clear that she’s no stranger to the area.
Chief Investigating Officer Elma, who has returned to Akranes following a failed relationship, and her colleagues Sævar and Hörður, commence an uneasy investigation, which uncovers a shocking secret in the dead woman’s past that continues to reverberate in the present day… But as Elma and her team make a series of discoveries, they bring to light a host of long-hidden crimes that shake
the entire community. Sifting through the rubble of the townspeople’s shattered memories, they have to dodge increasingly serious threats, and find justice … before it ’s too late.

My Review

I do like the promise of a new crime series, the opportunity to meet new characters, a new landscape and the authors own interpretation on the crime novel. Iceland provided the backdrop, the small claustrophobic town of Akranes the location and recently returned local, Elma our Chief Investigative Officer.

Clearly recovering from the after effects of a failed relationship, AEgisdottir gave us glimpses into her past, as she slowly made the introductions. There was nothing astonishing or jaw dropping about Elma, but it didn’t need to be, she was presented as just a normal humble person, drawn back to the comfort of her home and family to recover and rebuild. And that was the thing I liked about AEgisdottir’s narrative, it wasn’t flashy, all guns blazing, it was understated, compact and measured. I loved the descriptive nature that gave us a feel and sense of the town, the characters that all seemed normal, but hid secrets, Elma’s steady but thorough investigations that probed quietly but effectively.

Sounds too quiet, not enough action? Definitely not, to me that wasn’t the authors point. Instead it showed her considerable skill in laying foundations, building a plot and story, the layers never ending as we moved from past to present. There were subtle hints as to trauma suffered that led to tragic events and consequences that rippled through the years before exploding into the present.

There was no obtuse violence just actions that resonated, and at time’s shocked as Elma dug deeper. It gave us a glimpse into her own childhood and a tentative personal connection to the murder, that gave her that impetuous to go against her boss, to ruffle feathers, and reputations in pursuit of the truth.

The truth itself was shocking, the murderer a surprise, but it was also tinged with sadness that life’s could have been so effected by the actions of one person and set of a chain of tragic events.

As for Elma, we learnt just enough to want to know more, to go with her on her quest to rebuild her life but also experience more of her investigative skills.

On that note I would only say, that I hope AEgisdottir is tapping away at her keyboard to bring us another glorious novel.

I would like to thank OrendaBooks for a copy of The Creak On The Stairs to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Born in Akranes in 1988, Eva moved to Trondheim, Norway to study my MSc
in Globalisation when she was 25. After moving back home having completed
her MSc, she knew it was time to start working on her novel. Eva has wanted
to write books since she was 15 years old, having won a short story contest in Iceland.
Eva worked as a stewardess to make ends meet while she wrote her first
novel. The book went on to win the Blackbird Award and became an Icelandic bestseller. Eva now lives with her husband and three children in Reykjavík, staying at home with her youngest until she begins Kindergarten.

#Blogtour Her Darkest Hour by Sharon Maas @sharon_maas @bookouture @BOTBSPublicity #HerDarkestHour

Her Darkest Hour: Beautiful and heartbreaking World War 2 historical fiction by [Maas, Sharon]
Her Darkest Hour by Sharon Maas
Bookouture May 22nd 2020

You and me – we’re sisters, not enemies. We’ve got a real enemy at our door and we need to focus on that – together, united. I don’t want to be fighting you as well.

In the small French town of Colmar, swastikas hang from lampposts, tanks are lined up outside the town hall, and twenty-one-year-old Marie-Claire is in love. She will do anything for her childhood friend Jacques, including spying on her German boss, Dietrich Kurtz. Anything to make Jacques see her in a new light, as something more than just a silly little girl.

But when Jacques rejects her, everything changes. Mortified and stung, Marie-Claire feels the need for revenge. She turns her back on those she loves and is catapulted into a new life.

Her little sister Victoire is aghast at her sister’s traitorous behaviour, not least because Marie-Claire is endangering Victoire’s own life-threatening mission, hiding Jewish refugees in their mother’s wine cellar. And when Marie-Claire marries Kurtz, Victoire knows her relationship with her sister has been poisoned for ever.

But when Victoire learns someone she loves is in terrible danger, her only choice is to trust the sister who betrayed her. Kurtz, Marie-Claire’s cruel and heartless husband, has key information and Victoire must persuade Marie-Claire to obtain it, even if it means risking Marie-Claire’s life. As secrets come to light and close bonds are broken, will the sisters be able to heal old wounds?

An unforgettable and unputdownable story of two sisters ripped apart by World War 2. Fans of The Nightingale and The Ragged Edge of Night will fall in love with Her Darkest Hour.

My Review

One small French town, in World War II, two very different women who had to navigate the trails and tribulations of Nazi invasion formed the basis of Her Darkest Hour.

Marie-Claire was not a woman you instantly liked, her vanity, naivety and failure to see the Nazi’s as anything but an opportunity for herself, were a sharp contrast to that of her younger sister Victoire. You felt Victoire should have been the eldest, her ability to see the harm and destruction to come, her willingness to help the resistance and complete disregard for her own appearance were almost her ticket to safety as she lingered under the radar, her involvement with the resistance hidden.

To our surprise, Maas, turned the story on its end and we watched in horror as Marie-Claire, egged on by her German colleagues, lit a flame that threatened to burn and destroy her. You wanted to shout at her to step back, listen to her inner voice that somehow knew what she was doing was wrong, but as always in life, events take over, and you have to make the best of a bad situation. In some ways it was almost a blessing, as Marie-Claire found inner resolve, determination, and bravery in pursuit of freedom and escape back to her family. Maas made you think about all the other women who would have had similar or even worse experiences as she did little to hide the atrocities inflected by the Nazi’s.

For Victoire, her sisters actions were a betrayal and Maas widened the already deep gulf that existed between them. You wondered if they would ever reconcile, if pride would stand in their way or if events would force them back together. As the war progressed, as Nazi failure loomed, events escalated, the sisters were once again pushed together, as Maas gave us some heart stopping moments, and I held my breath praying we would get a positive outcome.

Maas was brilliant at showing a France under siege, the effect on its people, the terror that existed, the undercurrents of resistance that slowly built as the war progressed. It was a claustrophobic feeling that you knew could explode at any moment and when it did it wasn’t pleasant to read, but necessary to convey the true horrors.

What I did admire was how Maas managed to cover the entire war, gave us intense snapshots as characters grappled with their feelings, with the dangers thrust upon them, without asking for our pity, instead asking us to admire their resolve and tenacity.

It was refreshing to see a war novel that focused on women, that gave them a strong voice, a voice that resonated.

Her Darkest Hour was powerful and intense but full of hope and light in the darkest of times.

I would like to thank Bookouture for a copy of Her Darkest Hour to read and review and to Books On The Bright Side for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Sharon Maas was born in Georgetown, Guyana, in 1951.

She was educated in Guyana and England. 

​Sharon has always had a great sense of adventure and curiosity about the world we live in, and Guyana could not hold her for long. In 1971 she set off on a year-long backpacking trip around South America. 

In 1973 she travelled overland to India through Europe, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and spent two years in an Ashram in South India.

Her first novel, Of Marriageable Age, is set in India and Guyana and was published by HarperCollins in 1999. Subsequent novels were published in 2001 and 2003

https://www.sharonmaas.com/
https://twitter.com/sharon_maas

Buy Links:
Amazon: https://bit.ly/2X1lW1lApple Books: https://apple.co/35ZGKdAKobo: https://bit.ly/2zEYnU5Google Play: https://bit.ly/361JE1q

#Blogtour Watermarks: Life, Death and Swimming by Lenka Janiurek @LenkaJ12 @AllisonandBusby @EmmaFinnigan @damppebbles #damppebblesblogtours #Watermarks

Watermarks by Lenka Janiurek
Allison and Busby May 21st 2020

Lenka Janiurek’s story really begins with the death of her mother when she was nine. She is the daughter of a Polish immigrant father, and one of eight children. Across the years she is plagued by the rage, addiction and despair of the controlling men she is closest to. This memoir grapples with identity, of trying to find a place in a world and within a family, that don’t feel like your own.

This remarkable story from the 1960s to the present day, describes the loss of her mother to her relationships with 2 stepmothers, early success as a playwright, extensive travel, and encounters with both extreme wealth and poverty. Throughout Lenka explores and celebrates the beauty and tragedy of living life to the full.

Watermarks is a stunning evocation of alienation, searching, and the restorative power of nature.  

My Review

You couldn’t help but feel that Watermarks was a novel, it’s characters not real but imagined, Lenka’s life experiences so varied and diverse.

The daughter of a Polish immigrant Father, an English mother, her early family life didn’t seem out of the ordinary. It was a large noisy family, until the death of her mother. The introduction of a Stepmother, a father who didn’t express emotion, a lack of love and nurturing left you in no doubt that it had a profound effect on the rest of Lenka’s life. I felt that it gave her a resilience, a determination, as she searched for meaning and indeed what her purpose and place was.

Her numerous relationships with the men she met never seemed to be successful yet they gave her her children whom she gave all the love and nurture she appeared to have missed.

Her life and that of her children was never conventional. There were spasmodic periods of normality in Bradford, the children in school, but it never appeared to satisfy Lenka. You could sense the city was not her place, too far removed from nature, from a way of life that offered simplicity, and peace. In a way nature didn’t talk back, it challenged but in a way that Lenka felt more at ease, more at home. I loved how she described the way in which water seemed to soothe and cleanse, allowed her to remove herself from life.

Her travels in India were fascinating, again a search for something, often out of reach but you had to admire Lenka’s tenacity, her unwillingness to give up.

It was the way in which Lenka described the peaks and troughs of her experiences that impressed, there was never any self pity, she never asked you to feel sorry for her, instead she would pick herself up, and move on.

I got the distinct feeling that Lenka has maybe now found some of what she was looking for, that maybe the memoir was cathartic, a release for the emotion of a rich and varied life that is still ongoing not yet concluded.

Watermarks was not your run of the mill memoir, no ghost writer in evidence just a skilled author who exercised her proven narrative ability, who successfully turned it round to examine and tell her own life story. I wish Lenka success, peace and happiness as she embarks on the next chapter of her life.

I would like to thank Allison and Busby for a copy of Watermarks to read and review and to Damp Pebbles blogtours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

LENKA JANIUREK was born in York. At the age of 17 she won the prestigious Young Writer’s Competition at the Royal Court Theatre and subsequently had three plays on at the Royal Court Theatre, a platform play at the National Theatre, and one at the Other Place with the RSC in Stratford-on-Avon. She has facilitated workshops in writing, drama, art, and well-being, in schools, colleges, at camps, and in a women’s prison. And worked as a baker, fundraiser, caretaker, green builder and researcher. She has four children. She lives close to the sea in Wales.

Social Media:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LenkaJ12

Purchase Links:

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Watermarks-Death-Swimming-Lenka-Janiurek-ebook/dp/B07YVQJ74K/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1588939919&sr=8-7

Waterstones: https://www.waterstones.com/book/watermarks/lenka-janiurek/9780749025953

Foyles: https://www.foyles.co.uk/witem/biography/watermarks-life-death-and-swimming,lenka-janiurek-9780749025953

Hive.co.uk: https://www.hive.co.uk/Product/Lenka-Janiurek/Watermarks–Life-Death-and-Swimming/24757566

#Blogtour One Year Of Ugly by Caroline Mackenzie #Caroline Mackenzie @BoroughPress @annecater #RandomThingsTours #OneYearOfUgly

One Year Of Ugly By Caroline Mackenzie
The Borough Press May 14th 2020

Having escaped crumbling, socialist Venezuela, Yola Palacios and her family are settling into their new under-the-radar life in Trinidad.
But when the formidable* Aunt Celia dies, the Palacios discover that she’s been keeping one hell of a secret. She’s seriously in debt to a local criminal called Ugly, a debt that is now theirs to repay.
He might dress like David Bowie, but Ugly’s business style is pure Pablo Escobar. What he says, the Palacios must do, otherwise: big trouble.
Ugly’s right-hand man Román is tasked with keeping an eye on the family but Yola can barely keep her eyes off him. Forbidden fruit is the original aphrodisiac, and when Yola and Román fall in lust, even bigger trouble is on the horizon… Told with raw, acid humour, One Year of Ugly is a story of family, first love and finding home. A blisteringly fresh take on the migrant experience, set in a beautiful corner of the Caribbean, and a poignant reminder that no matter what form of ugly crosses your path, there’s always a way to laugh through it.

My Review

One Year Of Ugly was an absolute joy to read. I instantly fell in with Mackenzie’s characters, with her plot, and found myself completely wrapped up in the exploits of the Palacio family.

The whole premise of naughty, dead Aunt Celia owing island gangster, Ugly a huge fortune, her family forced to pay her dues gave Mackenzie licence to send them and us on an often hilarious and sometimes serious rollercoaster ride.

It was the way in which the various members of the Palacio clan responded that intrigued and fascinated. Our main protagonist, Yola was just brilliant, intelligent, feisty, full of colour and not averse to falling for the handsome good lucks and charms of Ugly’s henchman, Roman. Their relationship may not have been Mills and Boon, but it had all the heat and tension, the will they or won’t they teaser that you want from any steamy love story and it definitely fizzed and readiated from the pages.

Yet, Yola was also a brilliant observationalist, as she noted the reactions of her family members as group after group of illegal immigrants swamped their doorsteps. And what a bunch they were, from rich hoteliers, to strippers and simple folk looking for an escape from a Venezuela that teetered on the economic edge.

All left a marked impression especially on the brilliant chain smoking Aunt Milagros, a woman who appeared to lose her mind quite hilariously, yet hid a secret that will make you laugh out loud and cheer loudly in amazement and sheer joy.

As the family became more entrenched, as Ugly’s tack changed, you wondered just where Mackenzie would take us next and oh boy, when we did get there it was brilliant. At the same time, you felt an undercurrent of danger building, that something was about to happen, that there must be some way the Palacio’s would have to extricate themselves from Ugly’s grasp. It came out of the blue, fast and furious, the tension palpable as you sat with fingers crossed, Mackenzie’s imagery just superb as engines roared, bullets flew before an unnatural calm as Yola, her family and us waited for answers. The outcomes were not necessarily what you expected, but then the whole of the novel was full of the unexpected, things and people never quite as they appeared to be.

For all its humour and fun, there was always a hint of the serious behind Mackenzie’s writing, the plight of Venezuela and its citizens very much at the heart of the novel. A corrupt president hellbent on persecuting its citizens, forcing them to flee, illegal immigrants who lived under the radar in constant fear of discovery, at the mercy of traffickers and gangsters.

What Mackenzie did in a very clever way, was to turn that seriousness into a novel full of fun, colour with a cast of characters that from the very first page will mesmerise and bewitch you. One Year Of Ugly was just brilliant, I absolutely loved it!

I would like to thank The Borough Press for a copy of One Year Of Ugly to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Caroline Mackenzie is a freelance translator living in Trinidad with her husband and son. A national scholar, she studied in the UK on an Open Scholarship for four years to qualify as a specialist translator before returning to her native Trinidad, where she began writing more extensively. Her short fiction has appeared in literary publications around the world, and in 2017 she was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize. In 2018 she was
named the Short Fiction winner of the Small Axe Literary Competition. One Year of Ugly is her first novel, and the TV rights have already been snapped up by Netflix.

#Blogtour The Mystery Of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos @DavidFoenkinos @PushkinPress @PoppyBookPR #TheMysteryOfHenriPick

The Mystery Of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos
Pushkin Press May 7th 2020

The delightful first title in a new collaboration with Channel 4’s Walter Presents: a fast-paced comic mystery enriched by a deep love of books

In the small town of Crozon in Brittany, a library houses manuscripts that were rejected for publication: the faded dreams of aspiring writers. Visiting while on holiday, young editor Delphine Despero is thrilled to discover a novel so powerful that she feels compelled to bring it back to Paris to publish it.

The book is a sensation, prompting fevered interest in the identity of its author – apparently one Henri Pick, a now-deceased pizza chef from Crozon. Sceptics cry that the whole thing is a hoax: how could this man have written such a masterpiece? An obstinate journalist, Jean-Michel Rouche, heads to Brittany to investigate.

The Mystery of Henri Pick is a fast-paced comic mystery enriched by a deep love of books – and of the authors who write them.

My Review

The Mystery of Henri Pick immediately ticked all the boxes, it had libraries, it had books and it dived into the harsh world of publishing. it’s characters were wonderfully unique, from the ordinary to the eccentric.

Foremost was Delphine, intense, and full of ambition to succeed as an editor, to discover that one novel that would make her name. Her sidekick, boyfriend, and failed novelist Frederic trailed in her wake, often seemed hapless and at times selfish.

Their discovery of the dead pizza restaurant owner, Henri Pick’s novel in the library of reject manuscripts opened up a veritable can of worms, some a little unexpected.

His wife, Madeleine, daughter Josephine were of course shocked, disbelieving, but in a way it helped them grieve his death. I particularly liked the transformation of Josephine, from miserable divorcee to a woman in charge of her future, full of colour and vibrancy.

That is what I liked so much about this novel. Yes it was the mystery of why Henri Pick or if indeed he actually wrote it, but it was also about what happened after, it’s use as a catalyst for those who crossed its path.

You could see Delphine become more focused, more single minded, a willingness to sweep away those who stood in her way as she promoted and pushed the novel. Frederic retreated more into the background, almost forgotten, their relationship placed to one side, up for scrutiny from both parties. You could almost see resentments build as the all encompassing passion of new love disintegrated, as they unearthed each other’s faults, became annoyed and disillusioned.

As the novel gained success, and notoriety so it brought about the best and the worst of human nature. Pick’s small French town reaped the rewards of those who visited, the daughter and wife financial rewards but also closer scrutiny.

You watched as the unscrupulous crawled out of the woodwork eager to discredit Pick and his family, Josephine’s ex husband hell bent on wooing her back to share her new financial gains.

There were the cynics, the journalist who dug deep, determined to get to the truth as the author sowed seeds of doubt in our minds. Was Henri Pick really an author, craftsman of a love story full of tenderness, that perhaps his wife and daughter never quite saw?

Foekonoes led us on a merry dance, teased us, as he used his characters to full effect, gave us both the serious and humourous. You laughed out loud at the characters antics, at the situations he placed them in, you admired his take on the publishing world with its bitchy back handedness before he delivered the killer punch. He turned the novel on its head, threw in the unexpected, although I did have my suspicions!

It was a novel I loved for the authors ingenuity, for his willingness to take the ordinary and turn it into something unusual and unique. It was a story that wouldn’t look out of place on our screens, with its characters brought vividly and colourfully to life, and I for one would be an avid viewer.

As they would say in France, Bravo Monsieur Foenkinos.

I would like to thank Pushkin Press for a copy of The Mystery of Henri Pick to read and review and to Poppy Stimpson for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Novelist, screenwriter and musician David Foenkinos was born in 1974. He is the author of fourteen novels that have been translated into forty languages. Several of his works have been adapted for film, including Delicacy (2011). The Mystery of Henri Pick is the first title in a new collaboration with Channel 4’s Walter Presents.

‘It has always been a dream for French writers to be translated into the English language. I am especially happy that The Mystery of Henri Pick has been selected by the ‘Walter Presents’ program because it is as much literary as it is entertaining. I wanted my book to be a playful reflection of the literary world – filled with suspense and false leads. First and foremost – it’s a tribute to books and literature and to the writers that have long been heroes of mine.’DAVID FOENKINOS

ABOUT WALTER PRESENTS:

Walter Presents is a global streaming service dedicated to showcasing award-winning foreign-language drama. First launched in the UK in 2016 the service is named after its curator, Walter Iuzzolino and is now available in the US, Australia and a number of European countries. You can watch world drama box sets from Walter Presents for free in the UK on all4.com/walterpresents

#Blogtour One Fatal Night by Helene Fermont @helenefermont #WestHarbourBooks @BOTBSPublicity #OneFatalNight

One Fatal Night by [Fermont, Hélene]
One Fatal Night by Helene Fermont
West Harbour Books May 19th 2020

One woman’s quest for revenge unearths a fatal secret from her past.

Astrid Jensen holds one man responsible for her mother’s suicide, and she’ll do whatever’s necessary to get close to Daniel Holst and destroy his life – even if it means sleeping with him to gain his trust. Astrid knows he’s not who he pretends to be. But before she can reveal his dark secret, people from her mother’s past start turning up dead, and it looks like she and Daniel are next. In order to survive, she might have to put her trust in the man she has hated for so long.

Daniel Holst has worked hard to climb into Norway’s most elite and glamorous circles, and he’s not about to let any woman bring him down. But when a psychopathic killer starts murdering people from his shadowy past, he discovers that the only person who might be able to save him is the woman who wants to destroy him.

As Astrid digs deeper into her past, she uncovers secrets long buried and realizes everything she once believed is based on lies. What began as a quest to avenge her mother’s death becomes a desperate struggle for survival and leads to the truth about what happened one fatal night ten years ago—and the surprising mastermind behind the most recent murders. 

My Review

When the past leaks into the present you know there is bound to be the potential for trouble and Fermont didn’t hang around as she let us know that was exactly was about to unfold.

Astrid, out to avenge her mother, Daniel her boss the target, set them on a trajectory that contained a whole barrel load of surprises. Fermont emphasised Astrid’s femininity, as she reeled Daniel in, yet did so in a way that wasn’t overtly stereotypical, giving her determination and intelligence, a reason for her actions.

Daniel himself, self made, a history in the darker side of business. Fermont made us dislike him, question his motives, before a deft switch, a different side, and towards the end you liked him just that little bit more.

Characters from their pasts appeared as the story unfolded, the layers sometimes complex. Fermont didn’t shy away from brutality and violence yet injected personal emotion as Astrid came to terms with her family connections both good and bad.

One thing this novel wasn’t was slow, the action never ending, the revelations quick and unending.

And that’s is what made it such a great read, in fact one you could devour in a single sitting. It may leave you a little fatigued by the end but you knew you’d been on a good ride, and enjoyed every moment.

I would like to thank Helene Fermont for a copy of One Fatal Night to read and review and to Books On The Bright Side for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogspot.

About the author

Helene Fermont

Hélene Fermont writes character-driven psychological crime fiction with a Scandi Noir flavour.

Known for her explosive, pacy narrative and storylines, she has published three novels – Because of You, We Never Said Goodbye and His Guilty Secret – and two short story collections – The Love of Her Life and Who’s Sorry Now? Her fourth novel is due for release in the autumn of 2019.

After 20 years in London, Hélene recently returned to her native Sweden where she finds the unspoiled scenery and tranquillity a therapeutic boost for creativity.

Enjoying a career as a Psychologist, when she’s not working her day job, Hélene spends her time writing, with friends and family, or playing with her beloved cat, Teddy.

#Blogtour Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald @FitzHelen @OrendaBooks @annecater #RandomThingsTours #AshMountain

Ash Mountain by Helen Fitzgerald
Orenda Books May 14th 2020

Single-mother Fran returns to her sleepy hometown to care for her dying father when a devastating bush fire breaks out. A wry, bittersweet, heartbreaking disaster-noir thriller from the author of The Cry and Worst Case Scenario.

Fran hates Ash Mountain, and she thought she’d escaped. But her father is ill, and needs care. Her relationship is over, and she hates her dead-end job in the city, anyway.

She returns to her hometown to nurse her dying father, her distant teenage daughter in tow for the weekends. There, in the sleepy town of Ash Mountain, childhood memories prick at her fragile self-esteem, she falls in love for the first time, and her demanding dad tests her patience, all in the unbearable heat of an Australian summer.

As old friendships and rivalries are renewed, and new ones forged, Fran’s tumultuous home life is the least of her worries, when old crimes rear their heads and a devastating bushfire ravages the town and all of its inhabitants…

Simultaneously a warm, darkly funny portrait of small-town life – and a woman and a land in crisis – and a shocking and truly distressing account of a catastrophic event that changes things forever, Ash Mountain is a heart-breaking slice of domestic noir, and a disturbing disaster thriller that you will never forget…

My Review

When I read the blurb for Ash Mountain I had a very clear idea of what i was expecting, yet Fitzgerald had other ideas that didn’t quite fit with my own.

You assumed it was going to be the story of Fran, of her return to Ash Mountain to care for her Father, and a past that was just waiting to be cracked open and explored. Indeed that is just what happened and you knew that Fitzgerald would make it extremely interesting, but then she did something else that made this novel clearly raise its head above the norm, she threw in a bush fire, its dangers and devastation, facts that have blazed across the world this year.

She cleverly used the characters to tell their own stories but also their role in Fran’s world. Her teen daughter Vonnie, who explored her new surroundings and her sexuality, elder son Dante, a happy go lucky drifter. Others lingered on the margins, as they played their part in both Fran’s past and present.

You could sense Fran’s reluctance to return to a town that held both good and bad memories, ones that its inhabitants somehow chose not to forget. The tight knit community that knew each others business, the grudges, the bad feelings that simmered just below its surface were magnificently magnified by Fitzgerald. You could understand Fran’s trepidation, her past placed under a magnifying glass, as her choices were examined and discussed, old school friends perhaps jealous that she manged to escape.

I admired Fran’s determination to not let it grind her down, and the twinkle of hope, of falling in love lifted the descending gloom. It was the only light in a story that explored the catholic church, the ritual abuse by parish priests of young innocent children who remained oblivious, of its hold over the community. The boarders at the local school, were treated with disdain, yet remained above rebuke for their actions, the trauma of teen pregnancy and its stigma all featured.

Fitzgerald excelled at it all but it wasn’t until the impending approach of a bush fire that she notched it up another level. She skilfully mixed it with the rising tensions between the townsfolk, a storm of emotion and discovery laid on top of a devastating natural phenomon that threatened them all. Her narrative depicted the smoke, the changing colours of the sky before the noise, heat and power swept over all and you were left wondering who had survived.

The results were surprising and devastating, a town broken, it’s inhabitants decimated, Fran alone in search of her children. Fitzgerald painted such graphic images in my mind as Fran began her frantic search. You could almost see the blackness, the ash, the smell of burnt houses, even humans.

You could feel her panic and desperation, the tension unbearable until the final page.

If she found her family is for you to find out and I urge everyone to read this stark, superb novel.

I would like to thank Orenda Books for a copy of Ash Mountain to read and review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting My Bookish Blogspot to participate in the blogtour.

About the author

Helen FitzGerald is the bestselling author of ten adult and young adult thrillers, including The Donor (2011) and The Cr y(2013), which was longlisted for the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and is now a major drama for BBC1. Ash Mountain is the second title published with Orenda Books, after Worst Case Scenario. Helen worked as a criminal justice social worker for over fifteen years. She grew up in Victoria, Australia. She now lives in Glasgow with her husband.

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