Tag Archives: fantasy horror

Skin Curse (The Gate Cycle #2) by Kristin Jacques Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young woman searching for her brother in a city of monsters must navigate her growing power and the inner workings of the city of Avergard’s politics in order to save her family and friends in author Kristin Jacques’s “Skin Curse”, the second book in The Gate Cycle series. 

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The Synopsis 

The Children of the Gate wait for the call to Rise.

Azzy Brimvine knows her brother is in the vast city of Avergard. She must find him, but time is not on their side.

In the House of Seven Smiles, Azzy struggles to understand the constraints and limits of her power. She finds the whispering voices that guided her for so long, suddenly silent. The enigmatic Lord Wallach is both a frustrating ally and a dangerous mystery, and a strange entity lurks among the household servants. The haven Azzy sought may not be as safe as she thought…but is anywhere truly safe in the Above? 

The city of Avergard is full of monsters and secrets, and a dark history festers at its root. A yawning pit nestles in the house of a scheming lord, who will use Armin’s dangerous gifts to raise history, and raze the city to the ground. As Azzy finds herself and her brother pulled into these machinations, she must navigate the politics and society of Avergard’s brutal ruling class to save her family and friends before the Gate consumes them all.

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The Review

This was a gripping and engaging story, blending everything from fantasy and horror to sci-fi and dystopian themes. While I am new to this series, I found the author did a great job of implementing enough of the first book’s story into this novel to make it feel both fresh and well-understood. 

The pacing and haunting atmosphere played a big role in establishing this fantasy world. The blend of chilling imagery that really brought Avergard to life in the reader’s mind and the narrator (Amie Lyn Hornick) really did a great job of voicing this story, establishing the mix of wonder and terror the protagonist endures throughout the novel while capturing the raw emotions and action that Azzy must overcome to save those closest to her. 

The Verdict

A brilliant, entertaining, and mesmerizing fusion of gothic horror and sci-fi dystopian elements, author Kristen Jacques’s “Skin Curse” is the perfect fantasy read for both new and established fans alike of this series. As a fan of history, I loved the backstory the author established of using one of history’s greatest villains, the Third Reich, and showed their involvement in opening the fabled Gate that let the magic and monsters into this dystopian world, as I know it is well established that one of Hitler’s mad machinations was to harness the power of the occult into his hatred and war machines. Add to this a great story with both haunting and engaging characters and a heart-pounding narrative that readers won’t be able to get enough of, this is a brilliant audiobook that can’t be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Author: Kristin Jacques

Narrator: Amie Lyn Hornick

Length: 9 hours 13 minutes

Series: The Gate Cycle, Book 2

Publisher: The Parliament House

Released: Apr. 21, 2021

Genre: YA Fantasy

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Never Never by Liz Butcher

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A seasoned detective haunted by her past finds herself drawn into the search for a missing teenage girl, and soon discovers the case has haunting connections to her in author Liz Butcher’s “Never Never”. 

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The Synopsis

More than 20 years after her abduction at the hands of the elusive Pan, Wendy Darling is all grown up and a successful detective. But when a local girl vanishes in the middle of the night, her past comes rushing back.

Grieving the death of her mother, Detective Darling wants nothing more than to throw herself back into work. When the Lord Mayor’s daughter, Rosalie, vanishes, she insists on taking the case, triggering memories of her own past abduction. For years, Wendy struggled with her nonsensical memories of her captor, who she only knows as Pan. Yet the more she uncovers about Rosalie’s disappearance, the more Wendy is convinced her worst nightmare has come true—Pan’s back. Her fears are confirmed when the girl suddenly reappears and Wendy realises she’s walked straight into Pan’s trap…

The Review

One of the best reads of 2021 so far! Liz Butcher has worked her magic once more, bringing a chilling retelling of the classic Peter Pan mythos and putting a series of twists and turns into the narrative to keep the reader invested heavily. The novel does an excellent job of pacing the story, slowly building a relationship between Wendy the protagonist, and the audience as the history of the Darling Family is revealed. 

The character development was some of the best work to emerge thus far this year. Wendy is a force to be reckoned with, fighting her past trauma while trying to find this young girl before it’s too late. Yet the revelation of the girl’s abductor and their ties to Wendy’s own case decades earlier make for some interesting developments. The author has managed to craft a new legacy for Pan himself, marking a dark and villainous turn that will shock and amaze readers. His connection to an ancient mythological being will add an entirely new depth to this rich story, making this something fans of fantasy and horror will not be able to put down.

The Verdict

A mesmerizing, haunting, and highly entertaining read, author Liz Butcher’s horror retelling of the fantasy classic in her novel “Never Never” makes this a must-read novel and a contender for novel of the year of 2021. A book that readers will flock to over and over again, a twist ending that leaves readers hanging off the author’s every word makes this reader eager to see if the author will tackle the narrative again in a sequel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Liz Butcher resides in Australia, with her husband, daughter, and their two cats. She’s a self-confessed nerd with a BA in psychology and an insatiable fascination for learning. When she’s not writing or spending time with her family, Liz enjoys road trips, astronomy, music and knitting.

https://www.lizbutcher.com.au/