Tag Archives: YA Mystery and Suspense

Fly by Night by Tara O’Connor Review

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

A young girl must return to her old hometown after her twin sister goes missing, and while clues begin to point towards a supernatural entity being the culprit, a much more sinister threat looms in the shadows in author Tara O’Connor’s “Fly by Night”.

The Synopsis 

In this environmental-thriller graphic novel with a supernatural twist, Dee must find out what happened to her missing twin. An amazing mystery filled with strange creatures, high school drama, and family, this darkly illustrated book shows us that monsters are all around us.

There are monsters in the woods.

While out searching desperately for her missing sister, Dee discovers something isn’t quite right in the woods. She is soon in a battle to save the pinelands, and she is finding more questions than answers. 

As time goes on, the only thing Dee knows for sure is that there are monsters among us. But they aren’t who we should be afraid of…

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The Review

This was such a moving and entertaining read. Equal parts mythology and crime thriller, this graphic novel really did a great job of finding a natural balance between the supernatural elements of the story and the more emotional and heartbreaking realities of the disappearance of a loved one. As an avid fan and admirer of cryptozoology and cryptids overall, it was so interesting to see the author’s take on the Jersey Devil lore and to reshape it into showing the subtle nature of what “monsters” really are in this world.

The emotional character study that this graphic novel makes is so the core of the theme and narrative of this graphic novel. Dee’s struggles as she pursues answers to the disappearance of the twin sister she regrets not talking to more and delving into her struggles with her parent’s divorce, the environmental fight she takes on, and the grim reality of what happened to her sister overall, will immediately draw the reader in and what I think the author does so beautifully here is create a story that finds representation for so many different readers out there.

The Verdict

An original, engaging, and heartfelt read, author Tara O’Connor’s “Fly by Night” is a must-read graphic novel of 2021. The stark nature of the story’s narrative and the amazing artwork somehow drawing a fantastic contrast to the unknowable nature of the universe as a whole made this story shine brightly. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Tara is a cartoonist currently residing in the New Jersey wilderness. When she’s not drawing comics, she’s teaching them. She drinks way too much tea and coffee, and on any given day there’s a 90% chance that every meal she had was cereal. 

http://www.taraocomics.com/

Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche (Enola Holmes #7) by Nancy Springer Review

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

Literary heroine Enola Holmes and her iconic brother Sherlock join forces when a young woman believes her sister has mistakenly been identified as deceased, and the hunt to learn what has happened to the young woman’s twin takes them to shocking depths in author Nancy Springer’s “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche”, the seventh novel in the Enola Holmes series.

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The Synopsis

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of her more famous brothers, Sherlock and Mycroft. But she has all the wits, skills, and sleuthing inclinations of them both. At fifteen, she’s an independent young woman–after all, her name spelled backwards reads ‘alone’–and living on her own in London. When a young professional woman, Miss Letitia Glover, shows up on Sherlock’s doorstep, desperate to learn more about the fate of her twin sister, it is Enola who steps up. It seems her sister, the former Felicity Glover, married the Earl of Dunhench and per a curt note from the Earl, has died. But Letitia Glover is convinced this isn’t the truth, that she’d know–she’d feel–if her twin had died.

The Earl’s note is suspiciously vague and the death certificate is even more dubious, signed it seems by a John H. Watson, M.D. (who denies any knowledge of such). The only way forward is for Enola to go undercover–or so Enola decides at the vehement objection of her brother. And she soon finds out that this is not the first of the Earl’s wives to die suddenly and vaguely–and that the secret to the fate of the missing Felicity is tied to a mysterious black barouche that arrived at the Earl’s home in the middle of the night. To uncover the secrets held tightly within the Earl’s hall, Enola is going to require help–from Sherlock, from the twin sister of the missing woman, and from an old friend, the young Viscount Tewkesbury, Marquess of Basilwether!

Enola Holmes returns in her first adventure since the hit Netflix movie brought her back on the national bestseller lists, introducing a new generation to this beloved character and series.

The Review

This was such an engrossing and thought-provoking read. The author does an incredible job of capturing the tone and dialect of not only the era but the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle novels following Sherlock Holmes. Yet despite the large shadow that Sherlock casts, Enola does an incredible job of outshining her brother and standing on her own as a remarkable literary heroine. 

The mystery aspect of the narrative and the setting really did steal the show on this novel. The gripping tale of a twin sister seeking the truth about her other half after rumors of her death fell off was a great hook to grab the readers, and Enola’s, attention. The clash of culture between the high society atmosphere of the missing woman’s estate and the seedy underbelly of London and its countryside as they hunt for the location of the missing woman was interesting to see play out here and really made the narrative feel alive in the reader’s mind.

The Verdict

A masterful, thoughtful, and engaging novel, author Nancy Springer’s “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche” is a must-read novel of 2021. A great springboard for the heroine to return after finding cinematic success on Netflix thanks to the highly talented Millie Bobbie Brown, the balance of character growth and the mystery was amazing to see, and what felt great was that this novel, while a continuation overall of the character’s personal arcs, was strong enough to stand alone for newcomers like me to the series to get engaged in the narrative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

NANCY SPRINGER is the author of the nationally bestselling Enola Holmes novels, including The Case of the Missing Marquess, which was made into the hit Netflix movie, Enola Holmes. She is the author of more than 50 other books for children and adults. She has won many awards, including two Edgar Awards, and has been published in more than thirty countries. She lives in Florida.

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Here is an Excerpt From “Enola Holmes and the Black Barouche”

“Is she fainted?” 

Indignant, I wanted to sit up and say I was not so easily killed and I never fainted, but to my surprise my body would not obey me. I merely stirred and murmured. 

“She’s moving.” 

I saw the clodhopper boots of common men surrounding me and smelled alcohol on the breath of those leaning over me. 

“Let’s get ’er inside.” 

“Somebody go fer the doctor.” 

Strong hands, not ungentle, seized me by the feet and shoulders. I could have kicked and yelled—I felt strong enough now—but my mind had started to function, realizing that I was about to be carried into a pub, for only in a public house, or pub, would workmen be drinking in the daytime. And normally no woman of good repute would enter a pub, or if she did, she would be jeered at until she retreated. But, my avid brain realized, fate in the form of Jezebel had given me opportunity to spend some time inside a pub—no, in the pub, most likely the only pub in Threefinches! So I closed my eyes and pretended to be rather more helpless than I was as the men hauled me inside and laid me down on a high-backed bench by the hearth. 

Someone brought something pungent in lieu of smelling salts, but I shook my head, pushed the malodourous hand away, opened my eyes, and sat up, acting as if it were a great effort for me to do so. A burly, bearded man in an apron, undoubtedly the publican who kept the place, came running with a pillow for my back, and I thanked him with a gracious smile. 

“Will ye have a nip of brandy, lydy?” 

“No, thank you. Water, please.” 

“Jack! Water for the lydy!” he bellowed to some underling, and he remained nearby as I managed, with hands that genuinely trembled, to remove my gloves. Their thin kidskin leather was ruined by the mauling it had taken from Jezebel’s reins, and my hands were red and sore; doubtless they would bruise. Grateful for the cool glass, I held it in both hands and sipped, looking around me. Half of the denizens of the place, like the owner, stood in a semicircle staring at me not unpleasantly, while the rest did the same from seats at the rustic tables—all but one. A tall man with beard stubble on his chin and quite a shock of coarse brownish-grey hair hiding his forehead had withdrawn to a table by the wall, where he devoted his attention to his mug of ale, or stout, or whatever noxious brew he might fancy. I said brightly to the tavern-keeper, “I believe I would like to stand up.” 

“Now, why not wait for the doctor, lydy—” 

But taking hold of his arm, as he stood within my reach, I got to my feet with reasonable steadiness. There were muted cheers from the onlookers. Nodding and simpering at the men all around me, I lilted, “Thank you so much. Do you suppose anyone could go out and fetch my bag, and my hat and parasol? I believe they fell along the—” 

Already half a dozen would-be heroes were stampeding towards the door. Yet, if I had walked in here under my own power, any request for help would have been met with deepest suspicion. Such is life: odd.