Secrets Of The Last Castle

– A. Rose Mathieu

 

After having SO much fun with “Sins Of Our Fathers,” obviously I HAD to continue the A. Rose Mathieu way with her sophomore effort and sequel to “Sins,” “Secrets Of The Last Castle” immediately or I wouldn’t be able to go on with other titles! First off, sequels, in general, are hard to write mainly because of all the pressure of trying to top the success and quality of their originals, aren’t they? Hence it’s not commonplace for sequels to fair better than their predecessors because most often than not, creators tend to go overboard (with few exceptions, obvs!). But Mathieu not only succeeded in nailing another top-notch sophomore story but also succeeded in crafting a sequel with flying colours! Perhaps even surpassing the overall quality of the writing and storytelling of the first one, imho! In fact, for me, “Secrets Of The Last Castle,” was just superbly remarkable and extraordinary!

You know how sequels tend to be bigger and more elaborate than the first, right? Like Randy Meeks said in “Scream 2,”: “There are certain rules that one must abide by in order to create a successful sequel. Number one: the body count is always bigger. Number two: the death scenes are always much more elaborate — more blood, more gore. Carnage candy.” Mathieu did it. With remarkable effect. The plot was bigger, more sinister and infinitely more dangerous, Elizabeth and Grace’s relationship was more expanded, deeper, their roles in the plot more intricately entwined, stakes couldn’t be higher.

I was beyond ecstatic that I had the opportunity to take that fabulously thrilling ride with Elizabeth, Grace and the rest of the pack from “Sins Of Our Fathers” in this highly entertaining, superlatively weaved, darkly subversive piece of crime/mystery thriller! This time, Mathieu took her innate skill in weaving a truly splendid tale and elevated it to another level of brilliance! In this sequel, Mathieu delved even deeper into the many intertwining events and stories that formed this tale. A cerebral, intelligent, clever, ingenious plot that just kept getting more intricate at each developmental stage of the story, the characters, primary and secondary alike, the ever-changing situations and warping circumstances.

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A Bittersweet Garden

– by Caren J. Werlinger

 

Wow. I never thought I’d one day find a true, unadulterated paranormal ghost story, NOT horror-focussed like my all-time paranormal/horror, “The Haunting of Hill House,” but a pure, spirit-filled, ethereal, metaphysical-induced, classic, gothic ghost story that carries a consequential historical background that ties to the present time, in lesbian fiction!

Caren J. Werlinger‘s latest, “A Bittersweet Garden,” was everything I was looking for in a good old-fashioned classic ghost story, with a hint of romance (an icing on the cake for me, really, because of how strong the main story was written and told!) to “sweeten” the deal, so to speak! The entire feel of the story – the visually stunning descriptions of the surroundings, the architecture, landscapes, animals and nature in a country that I’ve always felt a strange affinity to all my life (Ireland), its characters and most of all, the back story, the history of the ghost story which was so richly chronicled via a series of flashbacks that were effectively positioned throughout the present story – was so utterly mesmerising that I was completely spellbound from the first page onward until the very end! I couldn’t believe just how superbly well-researched, developed and well-executed Werlinger’s story was about Nora and her life-altering, life-changing journey of self-discovery and truth. Bloody well done, Ms. Werlinger!

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As The Crow Flies

– by Karen F. Williams

After seeing a highly recommended post from a member on The Lesbian Review Book Club, and a resounding shout-out from a mate from Twitter (cheers, Amy!) about Karen F. Williams‘ latest ghostly/paranormal book, “As The Crow Flies,” obviously I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to experience it meself. So glad I did because being a huge fan of ghost stories (albeit well-written ones are few and far between, at least in me reading experience), I really wanted to sink me teeth into one that would give me the shivers or ghostly chills (like, me all-time favourites, Shirley Jackson’s “The Haunting of Hill House” or Henry James’ “The Turn of the Screw” and Yvonne Heidt’s “The Sisters of Spirits” trilogy). After reading this, I can attest to the fact that “As The Crow Flies” was a proper ghost story, a fantastically written one that not only succeeded in giving me the ghostly-feel chilling factor (AND, strangely, I must add, a feeling of peace and tranquillity which me all-time favourites didn’t!), but also presenting me with something to ponder. And that is saying something because in the horror/paranormal/ghostly genre, I’m not easily satisfied, see.

Firstly, having not had any experience with Williams’ writing or storytelling, I went in without any preconceived ideas or expectations about her style. I must say, from the start, I was taken by how she expressed herself in words! So utterly literary, I was drawn to the rhythm and flow of her expressions in richly formulated form! It was pure literary artistry. Continue reading “As The Crow Flies”