The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

ten thousandI love this story. It is what every child holds deep in their imagination. What every inner child sat inside an adult screams for. Imagine doors, just random doors in the middle of nowhere, somewhere and even here. Doors that lead to other places, countries and people. Doors driven by the invisible magic in the world, but only visible to a few.

There’s a moment in the story when Harrow balances the readers on the precipice of whether what January is experiencing is real or fiction. A fictional narrative drummed up by the trauma of grief and the pain of neglect. A young girl who has had episodes of delusions over the years or is that what Locke would have us believe.

It all seems too far-fetched to be true. Doors in the middle of fields that lead to other places.  A book that tells the story of a young girl who happens upon the opening of a door at the right time and then spends years trying to reestablish a connection made within moments. Moments that haunt her and set her on an incredible path to discover the truth.

This book has incredible depth and beauty. It’s the kind of story that inspires both the young and old, and creates readers. It allows readers to step further than they believed – one page at a time. Magic of old and blood magic of new.

It’s YA fantasy, but I would recommend it for younger readers too. Fantasy melded with historical fiction with an essence of literary fiction.

Buy The Ten Thousand Doors of January at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher: Orbit; pub date ecopy 10 Sept. 2019, Hardcover pub date 12 Sept. 2019. Buy at Amazon com.

Follow @AlixEHarrow on Twitter, on Goodreads, Visit

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

ducth housePatchett is truly a writer who knows and has fine-tuned her craft, which is especially evident within the pages of this powerful tale of family, abandonment, perspectives and above all the individuality of relationships. Not one is the same.

Each relationship we create, foster or even tear asunder is identifiable to ourselves by our own frame of reference, experiences and memories. It is never quite the same for someone else, which is why a group of us can all know a person well and yet experience relationships with that person on a completely different level and way to every other person in said group.

I think that is one of the most poignant parts of the story. It is certainly the aspect that defines the role of the absentee mother. What Danny feels and has experienced isn’t what Maeve experienced in regards to their mother, which in turn also applies to Cyril and the rest of the women from the Dutch house.

The house itself, which is integral to the plot, and the emotions which are tethered to said house become singular relationships in their own right. Once again, it takes on a different level of importance for each one of the characters.

Danny and Maeve struggle with the fact their mother just upped and left them, which is compounded tenfold when their father brings home a new stepmother and two stepsisters. A stepmother who is fascinated by the house and wealth her marriage brings with it. A woman who feels as if Danny and Maeve are the enemies.

The siblings have a strong bond necessitated by the indifference and neglect they experience. Neither of them understands the intricacies of their relationship until others intrude upon it. Towards the end Danny finally understands the measure and depth of their relationship and wherein his peace and happiness really lies.

I loved the way Patchett wove and spun this story. It’s beautiful and yet simultaneously also incredibly sad at times. It’s literary fiction, a beautiful contemporary read about altruistic relationships and family dynamics.

Buy/Pre-order The Dutch House at Amazon Uk or go to Goodreads for any other retailer. Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing; pub date 24 September 2019. Buy at Amazon comBuy at Bloomsbury.


Watching Edie by Camilla Way

watching edieOne of the most interesting elements of this story is the fact the author hasn’t created a black or white situation.

There are many shades of grey, and in this case those shades relate directly to whether the characters are good guys or bad guys. The truth is, there is no clear answer to that question.

The reader feels sympathy with Edie, because of the hard situation she finds herself in. She is a single woman, who is about to become a single mother. When the baby does eventually arrive she is overwhelmed and clearly needs a friend.

Heather seems like the great alternative to a support system, despite the troubled past she and Edie share. Seems like the perfect solution. Edie needs help and Heather wants to help. Does she really want to help though?

Heather has a tendency to stalk, get violent and blackout. She is creepy and clearly unstable. Would you want her to take care of your newborn baby?

Throughout the book Edie has flashbacks to a time when she and Heather were friends and also to some terrible event that ended said friendship.

What it comes down to is who you think is guilty of the greater crime or wrong-doing. There are things that are unforgivable or so inhumane that they leave a deep dark stain on anyone involved in them. Some wrongs can never be righted.

Watching Edie will make you question everything and everyone. It is a nicely paced and well-developed psychological thriller, and despite the fact the reader can probably guess the traumatic secret the two of them are hiding, it is still a compelling read.

Buy Watching Edie at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

The Disappearance by Annabel Kantaria

kantariaI can’t for the life of me put my finger on which writing style or book this reminds me of. There are no real surprises. It is more like sitting in the garden on a warm summer day and watching the water in the nearby river flow past. Comfortable and cosy.

Throughout the book there seems to be a disconnect between Audrey and the two children. Obviously they lack a blood bond, but after at least 4 decades you would think the three of them would have some kind of close connection.

In the end I think Audrey decides she has done her duty and it is time for someone else to do theirs. Instead of being at the mercy of John and Alex she decides to take matters into her own hands. Her choice and her decision.

It must be really frustrating when adult children or relatives decide you are too old and doddery to make your own decisions. In this case it seems to be more about how much they are going to profit from putting Audrey into a care facility.

I would have liked to have seen a little more emphasis on the domestic violence aspect of the book. It was simmering under the surface, and there seemed to be a brief view into the life behind closed doors, but we go from that to his death.

Has the domestic violence influenced the way John and Alex treat Audrey, despite the both of them not having any memory of abuse?

It’s a strange one, however I did feel relief for Audrey at the end. A sort of weird satisfaction on her behalf.

Buy The Disappearance at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Cover_AlltheMissingGirls.jpgInitially when I read the premise and the way Miranda decided to approach this, well I was a little sceptical about her being able to keep the suspense and thrill going throughout the book, despite starting at the end rather than the beginning.

Going from Day 15 backwards to Day 1. The reader knowing everything at once and finding out how we got there instead. It’s really an intriguing way to do it, if you can pull it off. So I guess the real question is whether she did or not?

As far as I am concerned, absolutely. The author leads us on a backwards scavenger hunt through time, but instead of a big reveal at the start and the why at the end, she drops clues, hints and little tell-tale signs on every corner or rather in every chapter. Hoping in the end to deceive the reader or lull them into a false sense of security about the solution. It is very cleverly done. My hat off to the author.

Nicolette returns to her home town to help her brother get their parent’s home ready for sale. Their father has been in a care home for a year, and they need the funds to pay for his care. His deteriorating mental state is the cause of the resurfacing of buried memories. In particular the memories in connection with the case of a girl who went missing over ten years ago. Nicolette’s best friend. There one day, gone the next.

Does one of their close knit group know what really happened? Her brother, her ex-boyfriend, her father or the person who gave them an alibi? Nicolette returns home and then another girl goes missing. Coincidence or part of the bigger picture?

I usually guess the whodunnit part fairly early into a book. I have to admit this one had me going there for a bit, and the end is completely unexpected. There is no such thing as a good guy or bad guy in this book. Just an accumulation of events leading to misconceptions, rumours and false allegations.

It might seem as if I am being a wee bit evasive with the details, which is really not my style. If you’ve ever read my reviews before you’ll know I have a tendency to discuss, tear apart, mutter and contemplate the books I read. Any details in this case will probably lead you straight to the answer, and I wouldn’t want to spoil the ride.

Buy All the Missing Girls at Amazon UK, Amazon US or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon&Schuster for my ARC of All the Missing Girls.

The Daughters of Red Hill Hall by Kathleen McGurl

daughtersMcGurl certainly does love to combine history, genealogy, the past and the present in her stories.

In The Daughters of Red Hill Hall the reader follows two stories. Gemma and Nat in the present, and Sarah and Rebecca in the past. The four of them have a lot in common. It’s almost like a repetition of history.

Rebecca and Sarah have been close friends for many years. They have grown up together in the same house and are like sisters. Rebecca is the daughter of the house and Sarah merely the daughter of a servant. Rebecca’s father treats them both as equals, which causes feelings of jealousy and envy. Sarah has built up a lifetime of anger against her ‘sister’ and anyone who doesn’t fit into her plans. She will literally do anything to get what she wants. The two of them become rivals, and their animosity towards each other ends in disaster.

Meanwhile in the present, best friends Gemma and Nat have a similar unequal relationship, or at least one of them thinks so. Jealousy leads to rash decisions and betrayal.

A old case with two duelling pistols connects the four women like a cold withered hand reaching from the past to grab the present to pull two more into the dark curse of Red Hill Hall. Question is whether it will end with another disaster.

There is a legal inconsistency, but that is actually pointed out by Charles towards the end and sheds a light on how powerless women were in that era in regards to having no voice and no rights. McCurl focuses on the relationships and emotional turmoil, and allows for a flexible interpretation of the era she writes in. As always a spirited read.

Buy The Daughters of Red Hill Hall at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Follow @KathMcGurl  @HQStories @HQDigitalUK


Read The Girl from Ballymor by Kathleen McGurl

Read The Emerald Comb by Kathleen McGurl.

Read The Pearl Locket by Kathleen McGurl.

Read about Kathleen McGurl here.

No One Knows by J.T. Ellison

nooneknowsAubrey has been distraught since the disappearance of her husband five years ago. Her mother-in-law blames her and thinks she has killed her son. Aubrey is subjected to the bitter attacks and suspicions, even after so many years.

A court of law decided there wasn’t enough evidence to convict Aubrey, but the shadow of suspicion still hangs over her every day.

There were a few things that didn’t gel for me. Chase turns up and a few days later he is the boyfriend. Seems a little hasty for someone apparently so upset about the disappearance of her husband. Perhaps the mother-in-law isn’t so wrong after all.

The whole Chase connection was a little daytime soap opera for my taste. A pity really, because it is kind of the weakest link in the plot.

This is one of those stories where you have to be careful how much information you reveal or it spoils the plot for other readers, so with that in mind less is more on this occasion.

The twist was good and the end a little unexpected. Not sure who I believe deserved to be punished the most though.

No One Knows has a good premise, but the delivery could have been much better.

Buy No One Knows at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

spoolThe title couldn’t be more apt, the story certainly unravels like a spool of thread. Isn’t that the way life is and why it often appears as if just a moment has passed when in reality is actually days, months and years.

For me this story was about the inevitability of old age. Almost a rite of passage.

The reader meets Abby and Red in the here and now and also gets to follow their story from the past to the present. The story of how they met and built their life, home and family together. Central to the story is the house they live in and their children.

Abby and Red have gotten to an age where they need some assistance and care. Their children wander between falling over themselves to help and trying to avoid the obvious issues.

This causes a lot of friction between certain members of the family. Old jealousy and rivalry surfaces and creates even bigger cracks within the family.

Isn’t there a Denny in nearly every family? The sibling who lives disconnected from everyone else by choice, and yet still manages to blame the entire family for his lack of connection. I found his character quite intriguing, especially when he started to try and call out the cuckoo in the nest. His jealousy and sudden interest in asserting his authority and place in the family causes a lot of turmoil in the family.

Reading this is like standing outside, peering in through the kitchen window and watching a family from the outside. It isn’t written with any dramatic soap opera like surprises or deep dark secrets. It’s just like any old family with petty arguments, responsibilities and complicated relationships.

Buy A Spool of Blue Thread at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Dead Pretty by David Mark

dead prettyUsually when I read about towns, cities, countries and even streets I don’t know I always take something away from the story. When I know the area slightly it gives me a sense of familiarity.

I wasn’t expecting to be completely distracted and irritated by the fact that I know all the towns, villages, streets and general area mentioned in this book, intimately. Strangely weird.

I found McAvoy a bit of a conundrum. On one side you have his physical description, which doesn’t gel at all with his behaviour and reactions. Then you have his obsession with crimes and the way he lets the obsession flow into his family life.

Who has picnics with his children in possible crime scenes in the hopes that he discovers a missing girl or rather her corpse. Very strange indeed. Almost macabre, at the very least just downright odd.

McAvoy and Pharaoh have a really strange relationship. I’m not sure whether it is mutual attraction or a meeting of kindred spirits. Pharaoh appears to be completely off the rails where Reuben Hollow is concerned.

Then there is the scene in the kitchen during the home invasion, and the way it was dealt with in the aftermath. Rather than worry about the fact two thugs nearly attacked his wife and Pharaoh’s family, he is more concerned by the doe eyes his wife gives the rescuer. His insecurity is quite bizarre, despite the fact he seems to have a way with women.

I found it a little disjointed at times, despite the interesting plot and memorable characters. It often seemed as if there were lots of threads going off in different directions with little connection to each other.

Mark describes it as Noir, but it doesn’t quite tick all the boxes for that.

Buy Dead Pretty at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris

behindIt happens behind many closed doors, regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality or economic standing for that matter. Physical, verbal and psychological abuse.

The insidious nature of abuse goes hand in hand with secrecy and lies. One partner is adept at pretending to be something they are not and the other partner is often too scared to speak up.

Not speaking up ends up being the Achilles Heel of the abused, because when they do finally speak out they are often not believed.

They are faced with questions like: Why didn’t you tell anyone?, Why didn’t you leave? and Why would you let someone treat you that way? A lot of fingers point in the direction of the abused, as opposed to the abuser.

Grace keeps up the pretence for her own safety and for her sister Millie. Jack keeps Grace tethered like horse or a dancing bear, the only respite being an evening of entertainment with guests now and again. He knows exactly who to use as leverage, when it comes to getting Grace to do what he wants.

During the conversations the reader or I often wondered why the guests, especially the women, didn’t find anything odd or disturbing. I know I would find that type of close and claustrophobic relationship worrying.

Kudos to the author for the last two pages, it was an excellent way to end the story. Paris combines the reality of hidden abuse with a psychological thriller, and the end result is quite a good read.

Buy Behind Closed Doors at Amazon UK or go to Goodreads for any other retailer.

Read The Breakdown and Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris