Quick Review: Unexplained by Richard Maclean Smith

Summary (from Goodreads)

Based on the ‘world’s spookiest podcast’ of the same name comes Unexplained: a book of ten real-life mysteries which might be best left unexplained. . .
Demonic possession in 1970’s Germany.
UFOs in Rendlesham forest.
Reincarnation in Middlesbrough.
To this day, these real life mysteries and very many more evade explanation.

Based on one of the most successful paranormal podcasts ever, with over 10 million streams and downloads to date, Unexplained consists of ten chapters focussing on a different paranormal event, from Australia to Germany, the UK to Zimbabwe, using the stories as gateways to a journey beyond the veil of the uncanny, exploring what they reveal of the human experience.

Taking ideas once thought of as supernatural or paranormal and questioning whether radical ideas in science might provide a new but equally extraordinary explanation, Unexplained is The Examined Life meets The X Files.

My Thoughts

Although the podcast that inspired this book sounds just the sort of thing I love to listen to, and I have listened to similar-sounding podcasts before, I had never come across it prior to picking up this book. But I will certainly keep my eye open for it next time I’m looking for something to listen to. Unexplained: Supernatural Stories for Uncertain Times was certainly an interesting read.

Covering ten different paranormal events, occurring all over the world, I found this collection engaging. Some of the events and phenomenon I had come across before, the most well-known (to my mind) being the mystery of the Somerton Man. But I liked that more than half of them were new to me mysteries. The one that will stay with me the longest will probably the be the first one covered, where a young boy seems to have the memories of a German pilot whose plane was shot down close to where he lived, thirty years before he was born.

The only downside to the book was that at times the chapters and writing felt overly long, which slowed down the storytelling aspect of the book, and so the pacing dragged. But that being said, the events themselves were interesting enough for me to overlook that and keep reading until the end. It is also worth pointing out that there is an element of heavy reading involved in this book, as the author discusses both complex scientific theory and philosophy in places, in an attempt to explain what might be behind some of the events. I think the book may have flowed better without it.

All-in-all, this book covers some very interesting unexplained mysteries, some of which I may have never heard of if I hadn’t of read it. If you enjoy mysteries and the inexplicable you might enjoy having a read of this.

Rating

Book Review: Wolf’s Bane by Julie Midnight

Wolf’s Bane is the second book in the Monstrous Hearts series by Julie Midnight

Quick Review:

This series isn’t the usual type of werewolf story, making it a refreshing read, and the prose is almost lyrical in places, making it a beautiful read as well. 4 / 5

Summary from Goodreads:

In the months since escaping an abusive relationship, Alice has sought peace living in the wilderness with Colton, her mysterious lover who shifts from man to wolf at will. There in the shadows of the woods, she hopes to lick her wounds and rebuild her life. But ghosts have a way of stirring from their graves, and Alice is about to learn that one can never hide from the past for long. Sometimes, the past can come back to life, and when it does, it has teeth sharper than any wolf’s…

Favourite Quote:

“Far above them hangs the moon, returned to its usual ivory glow that brings to mind wedding lace dulled with dust and bones bared of their flesh.”

(From Wolf’s Bane by Julie Midnight, chapter 15)

Review:

I read the first book in this series, Wolf’s Wife, back in 2018 (see my review for that here). Before I go any further with my review, it might be worthwhile sharing the opening of my review for the first book:

“…this isn’t the usual type of paranormal book I read.  There is a lot of mature content to be found in the story – so should you go off and read it yourself, you’ve been warned…  Neither is it full of the usual werewolf fare.”

All three points remain true this time round. One: this isn’t the usual type of paranormal book I read. Two: there is a lot of mature content to be found in the story – a lot more than I recall for the first book. Three: this story isn’t full of the usual werewolf fare.

It’s the characters which again make the story. Alice is growing, transitioning from the breakable woman we meet in Wolf’s Wife into a stronger, empowered woman who owns who she is. We also get to see a different side to Colton in this instalment as he helps Alice navigate an existence between the remnants of her old life and the unusual path they have ahead of them.

The story was well-written and the dark horror and fantastical elements blend seamlessly with the more realistic passages. And the author’s writing style gives a poetical, lyrical feel to the prose. Some of the sentences and paragraphs (like my favourite quote above) are simply beautiful.

I read Wolf’s Bane for free via Wattpad. I’m hoping to get around to reading the third and final book in the series, Wolf’s Kin soon, maybe even by the end of the month, so I can include my review with this year’s Indie Only reads…

Rating:

Book Review: Shattered Promises by Jessica Sorensen

For as long as Gemma Lucas can remember, she has felt nothing but emptiness.  It doesn’t help that she was raised by grandparents who never showed her any affection.  Things change when she starts having dreams which somehow begin to unlock her emotions.

A few weeks later, she meets a stranger on the college campus; a guy she has been dreaming about.  When they touch, electricity shoots up her arm.  It just so happens that this guy, Alex, and his sister, Aislin, are new in town and are in Gemma’s astrology class.  When the three have to work on a project together, Gemma can’t help but feel drawn to Alex, but she gets extremely conflicting messages from him.  When the monsters from her dreams start appearing in her waking life, she can’t help wonder if she’s mad.

But something isn’t right with Alex and Aislin and Gemma doesn’t know what it is.  However, as her emotions begin to get stronger, long-buried secrets are revealed.  Can she trust her new friends?  She might not have a choice…

What intrigued me about this story was that it is a re-imagining of one of the author’s other books, The Fallen Star, which I reviewed here, as part of Indie Only 2014.  And this made me curious.  The original was a YA paranormal story, whilst this re-imagining is an adult paranormal romance. I have read books where the stories remain the same but are told from a different characters viewpoint but this I had never come across.

I enjoyed this world the author created, one full of witches, vampires, monsters, demons and many other paranormal creatures beside.  And as for the characters, I thought they were well-developed and engaging.  My favourite was probably Laylen, but I thought the conflicted relationship between Gemma and Alex was gripping.  It isn’t hard to feel for Gemma as the story progresses; for her to go from feeling nothing, to feeling everything and then wondering if she will lose her emotions again is a gruelling thing to suffer.

The only problem I had with reading Shattered Promises was that I could recall too much of The Fallen Star and the stories kept conflicting in my head.  But that really doesn’t have anything to do with the book nor the author’s efforts.  After all, the books are aimed at different audiences and probably not intended to be read by both.  That being said, I did enjoy this re-imagined story, possibly more than the original.  And, if you are a fan of paranormal romance, I would recommend you give this a read or if YA is your thing, The Fallen Star.

I downloaded Shattered Promises by Jessica Sorensen for free from Smashwords.

Book Review: The Nosferatu Scroll by James Becker

The Nosferatu Scroll begins with a rather strange burial in Bohemia, in 1741.  An aristocratic lady is sent to a remote chapel on the banks of the Vltava River to be buried, rather than being laid to rest in the family vault in Vienna.  In secret, her heart is removed and when she is finally interred, it is beneath a layer of heavy stone.  The inscription that marks her final resting place is plain, and doesn’t elude to her high-born status or family.  It’s as if she has been disowned.

Back to the present, and Chris Bronson, a British policeman, and his ex-wife Angela Lewis, an archaeologist working for the British Museum are holidaying in Venice.  They decide to take a trip out to visit the Isola di San Michele, an island cemetery.  However, when they discover that a two hundred year old tomb has been opened and desecrated, their holiday takes a different turn.  On seeing a diary hidden in the tomb with the remains of a female skeleton, Angela takes it, intent on discovering why it was buried with the it’s writer.

The plot thickens when the bodies of a number of missing young women from the city start appearing in the cemetery, and it’s clear that they have all been killed in the same terrible, ritualistic way.  And then Angela disappears, and it is left to Bronson to find her before she too ends up dead.

The Nosferatu Scroll is a fast-paced, action-filled story.  The historical aspects of the book were obviously well-researched, and the exotic location was vividly brought to life with colourful descriptions.  The plot was filled with twists and turns, some I expected, others I didn’t expect.  And to my mind, the ending of the story was perfect.

One of the highlights of the book was the chapter of historical notes provided by the author after the story, entitled ‘The Real Vampire Chronicles’.  In it he discusses the history of vampire mythology and why he chose Venice as the setting for his book.  I found this just as fascinating as the story itself.

I highly recommend this to other readers of mystery, thriller and, of course, vampire fiction.  It is a very clever, well-written read.

Short Story Review: The Vampire by Sydney Horler

There were strange stories told about the newcomer to the district and his fellow creatures shunned him.  One man was his confidante, and knew his terrible secret.

The story begins with the narrator saying that he used to visit a trusted friend, a Roman Catholic Priest by profession, once a week.  During one of their conversations, the narrator began discussing a novel he was writing about vampires, when he is taken aback to hear that not only does the Priest believe in vampires, but that he had also met one.  And so the Priest goes on to recount the strange experience he had had, many years previously…

Joseph Farington had moved to the area, buying the biggest house in the best location, and spent a fortune furnishing it, sparing no expense.  From the way the man spoke, he sound as if he should be at least sixty years of age, and yet he was almost youthful in appearance and had jet black hair.

Rumours abounded that there was something strange about him.  Even the local doctor is frightened to be in his presence.  Although the man had tried to get along with the locals, they kept away, and he made no friends.

Two months later, a local beauty is found dead in a field.  She had been murdered…’there was a great hole in her throat, as though a beast of the jungle had attacked…’ Suspicion immediately falls on Farington.

Is he a vampire?  Did he murder the poor girl?  And what becomes of him?

A great short story, bringing together superstition and the paranormal.  To some it might read as a little dated, but it’s certainly worth a read.

This short story was found in Great Crime Stories by Chancellor Press.