Movie Review: The Place of No Words

Title: The Place of No Words

Written by: Mark Webber

Release date: October 23, 2020

At some point in 2018, I was doing a deep dive on Instagram, looking for creature designs to act as inspiration for my novel ‘Piece of Me.’ A story set in a world of snow and ice, where a woman waits for here husband and son to return after disappearing on a hunting trip a decade prior. While searching, I came across this photo;

(Image retrieved from The Place of No Words Instagram page)

I was hooked. It had a ‘Where the Wild Things Are’/ ‘Labyrinth’ vibe and I immediately followed the page and began to follow the journey. At that time, the movie was titled ‘Freeka Reeka Sheeka Deeka and The Big Battle in the Forest.’

(Image retrieved from The Place of No Words Instagram page.)

As I began to watch this gorgeous film being made, then travel the world and become a film festival sensation, I began to feel something that I’d not felt in a long, long time.

When I was growing up, in the middle of nowhere in a small town in British Columbia, movies were my escape. Legend, The Last Unicorn, The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, and The Neverending Story were films that took me from the forest world at the base of the mountain, to these fantastical locations and worlds.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve fallen out of love of cinema and really dove deep into the fiction/literature world. I read a lot, review a lot and write a lot, but I simply struggle to find engagement in movies like I did in the past. I can count on my hands the number of movies I’ve watched over the last few years that I enjoyed and can’t even remember how many I’ve turned off after a half hour.

What I’m trying to say, is that from day one, of discovering this production, I’ve been absolutely giddy at the prospect of watching this.

Now, things change in peoples lives. I’m now a 39 year old man, struggling with life’s issues. I have a fantastic 4 year old son, an amazing wife and a wonderful dog. But life has its ways of forcing depression and anxiety down your throat.

As of writing this, we’re almost exactly four months past when my father in law passed away unexpectedly and it’s safe to say, we’re struggling with it, my wife more so.

Add in the fact, that when my son was born, him and my wife died. It’s a completely insane sentence to type, but it was an even more chaotic experience to live through. Everything was going fine, then a second later, they lost all signs of my son. My wife struggled to breathe, her face going red and ballooning. She was rushed away, a suspected pulmonary embolism deciding to take her and him away from me. I waited in agony until they managed to bring them both back. Now, every birthday is a wonderous moment.

What I’m trying to say here, is that how you’re life has been and the experiences you’ve had will directly influence how you see this movie.

As I typically review books, I’ll follow the same format as that’s how my brain functions.

First, here’s the trailer;

What I liked: The movie follows along as a father is in the last clutches of what I can only assume is Cancer. His wife and son struggle to equate the man they see with the man he used to be. The movie is told through the eyes of the son, Bodhi, Mark Webber’s real life son. Bodhi is fantastic in this and the interactions between father and son are genuinely pure joy to watch.

As the story progresses, we get some emotionally charged back pieces, moments of bliss, agony and devastation and the fantasy elements in here are so sublime.

I was going to watch this over two nights, as I typically don’t get much free time, but I was unable to tear my eyes away from this, even as they became filled with tears.

This movie is such an amazing look at both the inner workings of a four year old’s make believe mind, but also grief and the tendrils that grow out from the source.

What I didn’t like: Honestly, I loved absolutely everything about this movie, so let’s be picky! There were a few moments in this movie that were really dark and hard to see. A minor issue, but I need to find something, right?

Why you should buy this: Mark Webber and the entire cast and crew have really created something truly magical. This had odes to The Neverending Story, Labyrinth and numerous other movies from my youth. Stunning cinematography, this movie was just outstanding and one I’ll be buying once on Blu-Ray.

This is a movie that’s going to stay with me for a very, very long time.

Currently available to stream in the US and Canada at these places, I highly recommend you take a look!


More info here;

Book Review: Warding by Kev Harrison


Title: Warding

Author: Kev Harrison

Release date: December 28, 2019

I only recently had the pleasure of reading some fiction by Kev Harrison. We’d connected some time ago on Twitter and interacted a fair bit, but it wasn’t until I reviewed his recent Short! Sharp! Shocks! release, ‘Curfew’ that I’d enjoyed his prose. I do need to get reading ‘The Balance’ from him at some point here, but when he tweeted about his novella ‘Warding’ being available for free, I snagged it and dove in.

What I liked: ‘Warding’ is a truly stunning feat. Originally released in a Things From the Well Anthology, Tales From the Cellar specifically, Harrison has packed a novels worth of dread, emotion and story in about 55 pages.

Like many horror books, we dive into to Kate moving into her recently purchased house. Down in the cellar, there is an odour that she can’t place, but when her dog, Tig, comes down, there is an immediate response. The dog gets low, growls and freaks Kate (and the reader!) out.

From there Harrison gives us not only a great backstory on the house, but also on the area itself. Her dad becomes involved who then recruits a man from the local museum, which was a stroke of genius for Harrison. This allows us to get quick answers to questions that may normally need a dozen chapters to flesh out.

The writing is fantastic. I found I was unnerved the entire time, even as we start to learn just what is happening and the ending was a superb close to the story.

What I didn’t like: While Harrison did give us a fair amount of detail, I wish we’d have been given a section of backstory where we got a flashback scene to learn about what happened in the past. I want to stay spoiler free, so that’s all I’ll say. Obviously the original piece most likely had word count restrictions but with it being individually released later on, that would’ve been a nice touch.

Why you should buy this: Well, currently it is a free download, so go grab it. Otherwise, this is a fantastic story that’ll have you making sure a light is on and the covers are tucked. The story unfolds really nicely and Harrison makes sure that we get to squirm and cringe over and over. Really loved this one.

Easy 5/5

Book Review: Double Barrel Horror: Highway Hunger & Motel Madness by Calvin Demmer


Title: Double Barrel Horror: Highway Hunger and Motel Madness

Author: Calvin Demmer

Release date: October 11, 2020

Earlier this year, I read the excellent Anthology, Double Barrel Horror Vol. 3. Within was featured two new Calvin Demmer shorts. If you’ve followed along with my reviews, you know how much I love Demmer’s writing and his masterful control of short story telling.

A few days ago, he reached out to ask if I’d be keen to revisit the two stories featured in the Anthology, as they were being packaged together as a stand alone release.


What I liked: Both stories are quick reads, the page count totaling about 30 when all is said and done. Saying that, Demmer packs a ton of story into these pages. You’ll already know that if you’ve read his stunning releases ‘The Sea Was a Fair Master’ or ‘Dark Celebrations.’

‘Highway Hunger’ opens up the duology with a story that follows a man doing probation work along a stretch of highway. When they come across an injured animal, his colleague quickly informs him they need to leave and quick. From here, Demmer delivers a brutal story of an unknown inhabitant that rules the blacktop. Loved it. (5/5)

‘Motel Madness’ is just that. The second story here throws us into the deep end and we get to watch as things unravel quickly. Demmer decides to forego any sense of breathing space for the reader and instead creates a nightmare induced landscape, all within the confines of a singular room. (4/5)

As I said before, Demmer is such a master at crafting a story with as few words as possible, that you’ll feel like you’ve ingested a 300 page novel, all in a tenth of the page count.

What I didn’t like: Interestingly, I could always spout off word for word ‘Highway Hunger’ as though I had just read it, but ‘Motel Madness’ felt completely new and foreign. I remember enjoying the story the first time, but it is one that definitely didn’t stick around in my head. I think if this one could’ve had a touch more description on the why of some of the actions earlier, it wouldn’t feel so congested.

Why you should buy this: I’ve said it a thousand times, but one more won’t hurt – Calvin Demmer very well may be the greatest short story teller of our time. When all is said and done, they’ll be studying his work for decades. He doesn’t waste any words and gives us the meat and potatoes of each story. It is always a stunning experience reading his work and Demmer is absolutely a writer who is teaching me how to better tell a story, each time I read his work.

This is a perfect introduction for new fans, but a worthy addition for current fans.

Definitely recommend you get on this!


Book Review: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay


Title: The Cabin at the End of the World

Author: Paul Tremblay

Release date: June 26, 2018

Very rarely do I go into any books with any sense of trepidation. More often than note, I go in by briefly reading the synopsis or having someone comment or message that if I liked X I would probably like Y.

‘The Cabin at the End of the World’ is a book that I see a lot of chatter about. Over on Facebook, it’ll often be brought up on the Books of Horror group. Someone will ask what people thought of it and there will be several hundred responses ranging from BEST BOOK EVERRRR!! to HATED IT!!

In my own social media bubble, I’ve developed a friendship with George Rason. On Twitter he is known as Book Monster aka sshh_ImReading aka the world’s biggest Tremblay fan. He’s always insisted I should read this book and give it a fair shake.

Which is how I approach every book, no matter what I’ve heard.

So, I dove into Mr. Tremblay’s book, which won the Best Horror Novel Award in the 2019 Bram Stoker Awards.

What I liked: Recently, I have fallen in love with the seemingly sparse detailed books. Those books that create a sense of anxiety and dread from page one, all the while you never know just what is happening in the larger world around them. ‘All Hail the House Gods’ by Andrew J. Stone. ‘Foe’ by Iain Reid,’ ‘Night Train’ by David Quantick and ‘Armageddon House’ by Michael Griffin immediately jump to the front of my mind.

‘The Cabin at the End of the World’ is another book in that seemingly post-apocalyptic style where something major is happening in the macro, but the story focuses on the micro. In this readers opinion, Tremblay does it masterfully.

The story follows the two dad’s, Andrew and Eric and their adopted daughter Wen. They’ve rented a cabin in the middle of nowhere to unwind and decompress. That is, until one day, four strangers show up and tell them, a decision must be made to prevent the world from ending.

We get seven total characters in this book and Jesus does Tremblay work them to the max. House/cabin invasion stories are always tension filled, but Paul decides to add in an existential additive with the ‘four horsemen’ of the apocalypse narrative and the harrowing thoughts of family sacrificing family for the greater good.

I loved the internal narrative monologues that he gave the reader, each person struggling with their current situation as well as the world at large.

This book also goes from chaos to carnage at the flip of the switch time and time again and some of these scenes are so brutal, it will make you cringe.

For me, personally, I thought the ending was sublime. This seems to be the make-it or break-it point of the book for most people, but I thought it worked out exactly how the story had went. We get a little not a lot.

What I didn’t like: Oddly, the only thing I really wasn’t a huge fan of was the Sabrina chapter closer to the end. I found the 1st person POV shift a bit jarring and the entirety of the chapter is almost a complete run on sentence of rambling thought. I does work well for the story over-all, but for me it was a bit of an abrupt shift.

Why you should buy this: Tremblay is a stunning writer and it’s insanity to really think this is my first book of his I’ve read. The book is sweat inducing and I couldn’t stop reading it. This was a book that I couldn’t wait to dive back into whenever I wasn’t reading it. I love when a book keeps you guessing about what is to come, even if you start to formulate your own answers to questions not yet asked.

I absolutely ate this book up and truly loved it. Mileage on the ending of each reader may vary, but for me, personally, I thought it was pitch-perfect.


Book Review: Whitechapel Rhapsody: Dark Poems by Alessandro Manzetti

Title: Whitechapel Rhapsody: Dark Poems

Author: Alessandro Manzetti

Release date: October 6, 2020

Alessandro Manzetti has been a name I’ve seen pop up time and time again with his stunning Independent Legions Publishing as well as his releases and frequent Bram Stoker Award consideration.

I personally, and shamefully, didn’t take the plunge into his work until I devoured the absolutely bleak ‘The Keeper of Chernobyl’ recently.

Much to my surprise and shock, I recently received a Facebook message from Alessandro, asking if I’d be at all interested in his newest release ‘Whitechapel Rhapsody: Dark Poems.’ Are you kidding me?! Awe-struck. Manzetti is a dark fiction giant in my eyes. Truly humbling that he’d even think of me to begin with.

So, I absolutely accepted, and once it arrived in my email – straight to the Kindle where I tore through it in two sittings.

What I liked: Whitechapel, an infamous district in East London. Known for the alley way murders from 1888-1891. Home to the legend that is Jack the Ripper. It is from this set up that Manzetti dove into a retelling of the serial killers rampage. Told from a few points of view, Manzetti crafts a seemingly one-man play here. Going from sorrow to manic, gleeful and odd, we get every emotion at play as the characters come to grips with what is going on.

I am far from any sort of poetry expert. But what I can say, is that Manzetti goes from two line rhyming to three or four line spurts of prose with the ease of a painter laying down color on a canvass. It creates a sense of reading a story that is interspersed with song lyrics.

With 26 poems featured in here, I was intimidated at first to think if anything would stand out as my favorite, but when it was all said and done, the combination of FROM HELL and MARY JANE (A Violet From Mother’s Grave) truly stole the show. I hope Manzetti doesn’t mind, but look at this little snippet from FROM HELL;

Do you hear them crackle?

It’s a new sound, right?

No, they don’t feel pain anymore, but anyway they cant scream,

And open their tongueless mouths yawning smoke, before melting.

This is how all things end, 

But the hunt for the monster is always open.

I mean, really? Jesus, if that isn’t the most cinematic moment of brutal darkness I’ve ever read, I don’t know what is. Just pure filthy gruesomeness. Amazing stuff.

What I didn’t like: I mean, I created this section to try and remain fair and give a reason why some readers may not enjoy this. It gets tough when I adore a book as much as this. So, if there was one thing I would mention, it was that as much as I don’t like chapters/stories/poems with dates to indicate when they happen, I kind of wish each on had that feature here to really follow along with the timeline.

Why you should buy this: Manzetti is a stunning writer and the visual scope he created here is truly phenomenal. Each poem is layered with single poem story and over-arcing story, creating a thematic connection that really forces the reader to gallop along. I also want to mention the stunning artwork/illustrations that feature in here. Stefano Cardoselli really adds to the feel of each piece of work.

Outstanding stuff from a master at the height of his craft.

Easy 5/5

Book Review: The Original’s Return by David Watkins


Title: The Original’s Return

Author: David Watkins

Release date: June 3rd, 2013

I kind of ended up going into this book backwards. You see, I connected some time ago with Watkins on one of the various social media platforms and grabbed a few of his books.

Recently, I read his outstanding story in ‘Leaders of the Pack: A Werewolf Anthology’ and knew I needed to get to this sooner than later. Being a massive werewolf fan, I was doing myself a disservice by not reading it.

Diving in, I wasn’t sure where this would go, especially from the cover blurb.

What I liked: Meet Jack. Jack goes for a morning run every day. One day, his beloved pooch veers off the trail. Jack searches. Finds the dog who isn’t very happy, and as he attempts to get his companion to come to him… he falls down a massive hole.

From that simple opening, Watkins leads us along a break neck story that weaves between the real world stuff – being a dad, husband etc, and the lycanthrope stuff – farmer down the way has his animals picked off.

Watkins planted some little snippets of humor throughout and when things get bloody you better be wearing some protective clothing.

What I love most about werewolf stories are when they are almost timeless. You get a nod to the yesteryear as well as the present and David ensured that he took the care to craft a story that does just that.

What I didn’t like: While I did love the opening, I wasn’t a big fan of how fast things seemed to blow over at the beginning. I don’t want to spoil it, but the opening, I thought at least, was about to expand massively upon a few things and instead it kind of just happens and we move on.

Why you should buy this: Well, obviously you can never have too many werewolf books, so add this to the pile of fun reads. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a great story with a bit of ‘Dog Soldiers’ feel to it, this’ll be right up your alley.


Book Review: Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

down among

Title: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2)

Author: Seanan McGuire

Release date: June 13, 2017

Back in 2012 or 2013, I was going through a reading crisis. A voracious reader, it got to the point that even my wife noticed I wasn’t reading any of the half dozen books I had sitting beside the bed. I just couldn’t find something that stuck and drew me in. Then one day, at the power lifting gym I trained at, my friend John Wesley Cummings aka “Beardo” and I got to talking. He asked what I was reading and I shared my struggles. He told me about a book that was guaranteed to break that issue. He suggested ‘The Name of the Wind’ by Patrick Rothfuss. I was hooked. Rothfuss’ book was pure bliss. Sublime writing and great storytelling.

Why am I sharing that? Well, I may not be in any sort of reading slump, but not since discovering Patrick Rothfuss have I found a writer who has such an easy storytelling approach, set in a fantastical setting, until now. Seanan McGuire’s “Wayward Children” series has absolutely captivated me over these first two books. I really owe this series suggestion to Jen, aka @BookDen, who insisted I read them.

What I liked: Where Book One ‘Every Heart a Doorway’ introduced us to a group of characters at the School for Wayward Children, Book Two is a prequel, telling the story of how Jacqueline and Jillian became who they are. We discover the basis of their nicknames Jack and Jill and what happened when they found the door to The Moors.

McGuire deftly crafted a stand alone book, that also slots in nicely as the prequel. If you were to pick this one up with no prior knowledge, you’d have absolutely no issues reading the story and understanding the implied connectivity.

I really can’t gush about McGuire’s writing. The words leap off the page and I galloped through this one. 

For me, the most fascinating aspect was learning more about the Master and Dr. Bleak. We get a brief mention of them in Book One, but here we learn so much more and the relationship that we see Jack develop with Alexis was really well done and added an extra layer of emotional depth.

What I didn’t like: Typically, in this section, I try to say why a reader might be turned off of a book. In this case, I’m going to pivot and say that I truly HATED Jack and Jill’s parents in the real world. I see these types each day my son and I go to the park right now and it takes everything in me not to punch them. McGuire really crafted a couple of horrendous humans.

Why you should buy this: ‘Down Among the Sticks and Bones’ is a decidedly darker story than ‘Every Heart a Doorway,’ but don’t think of that as a negative or a detriment. McGuire stays true to the two characters at the center of this story and the reader is better off. This book has really elevated the series for me, personally, and now I’m going to have to beg and plead with my AMAZING wife to let me snag Book Three asap and dive in.

Can’t recommend these first two books enough.


Those Who Came Before


Title: Those Who Came Before

Release date: October 10, 2019

Here we are. The last day of Moncrieff-Mania and we’ll finish off with a bang!

There was a point where coincidentally, J.H. and myself were writing books at the same time based around Indigenous back story’s. I was working on ‘The Stranger,’ she on this stunning release – ‘Those Who Came Before.’

When it was first announced that ‘Those…’ was being released through Flame Tree Press, I was over the moon excited. The next step, the next level as Moncrieff worked towards world domination.

‘Those Who Came Before’ is not an easy read. Between the present day story of an officer trying to find out what happened to some campers and the historical elements of what happened in that area many years before, Moncrieff decided to tackle them head on and the book is elevated because of that.

For me, this was such a stunning read, that it’s worked it’s way into my all-time favorite books list. Moncrieff is a truly amazing writer and this combined so many of the elements that she excels at to combine and create an emotionally driven, carnage filled, gorefest.

Here is my 5 star review (which may contain a tiny spoiler (so sorry!)) that was featured on Kendall Reviews;

“This land is your land, This land is my land,

This land was made for you and me.”

Throughout this read, these two lines and most of the ‘This Land is Your Land,’ song played throughout my head. Originally written by Woody Guthrie, this was a rebuttal at the time to the frequent playing/airing of ‘God Bless America.’

Whether J.H. Moncrieff had this tune in the back of her mind while writing this story isn’t known, but the lyrics (and in my case the modified Canadian lyrics I grew up hearing) were synonymous with what played out.

Let’s get into the meat and potatoes of ‘Those Who Came Before,’ shall we?

Strong Lake.

Reece, his girlfriend Jess as well as her friend Kira and boyfriend Dan, head to Strong Lake to go camping during the long weekend. Unfortunately the campground is closed, but that doesn’t stop them. They bust in, find a site and decide to have some fun. A discovery of an odd tree begins a horrific story and a sprint through Native American lore. Then after the other three go to bed, Reece hears a voice, so close you’d think it was directly behind him; “You’re not welcome here.”

J.H. Moncrieff has returned with a stunning, new tale of supernatural horror wrapped in a small town’s history of bigotry and racism.

“As I went walking that ribbon of highway,

I saw above me that endless skyway;

I saw below me that golden valley

This land was made for you and me.”

I became a huge fan of J.H.’s previous work, loving ‘Return to Dyatlov Pass,’ ‘The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave,’ and most recently ‘Monsters In Our Wake.’ J.H. creates startling tales filled with characters that feel real. I love how much depth she gives even to the smallest of characters and in this story that character building shines. Sometimes to the detriment of the reader. In this case, I really couldn’t stand Reece at the beginning. He comes off as uncaring towards his girlfriend and simply staying with her because they have great sex. Same with Detective Greyeyes husband, Ben. Couldn’t stand the character. I didn’t like how flippant he felt towards their marriage or towards Greyeyes job. If you’ve married a professional athlete, you know what to expect. Same with a police officer or detective. I’d like to believe Moncrieff made those two like this purposefully, but as it played out they did their jobs effectively.

“I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps,

To the sparkling sands of her diamond deserts;

While all around me a voice was sounding,

Saying this land was made for you and me.”

The real gem of this story is the Native American folklore that this story is based on. The forgotten tribe and the story behind them was fantastic. I enjoyed learning more and more about Little Dove, Lone Wolf and then Little Bear. As we found out more about what became of them as well as the connection to the modern day portion of the story, it was really well done. The present day Chief, Kinew was a great character and Moncrieff used his storyline to the absolute limit, pushing how he interacted with Maria and then with Reece to the max and it created a great push and pull dynamic.

By adding in the arrowhead and the visions associated with it, it was a fantastic way to connect the two time lines.

Moncrieff also does a great job working in historical facts. One of the most hideous things that has come to light over the course of indigenous history is the introduction of small pox through infected blankest given as gifts. This is a book that will make you do some research after you are done reading. For me it was done before and during, due to a book release on my end, but also wanting to do some due diligence of my own. One of the most shocking statistics I found, which J.H. herself relays in the afterword, is that the last residential school in Canada closed in 1996. I always thought this was something that only occurred back in the 60’s and 70’s. How wrong was I?

“The sun came shining, and I was strolling,

And the wheat fields waving and the dust clouds rolling;

As the fog was lifting, a voice was chanting,

This land was made for you and me.”

Of course, no Native American tale like this wouldn’t be complete without the usage of a demon from their tales, and in this case the Wendigo is paramount. There was a reason for Reece going through a transformation throughout this story and with it the use of the Wendigo was a great way to create a monster that is able to move through the forests at will, but also can think and react as a human does.

Recently, when watching the movie The Ritual, based on Adam Nevill’s book (which I still have to read) the ‘monster’ character that was featured was outstanding. Moncrieff, with the description used to introduce us to the Wendigo has created a creature to rival Nevill’s. I would absolutely love to see this story be told on the big screen.

At the end of all of this, the climax and the epilogue were outstanding ways to tie it all together. Moncrieff absolutely delivers on the bigotry narrative, the interpersonal dynamics that occur between Native people working a ‘Caucasian’ job who have to then interact with Native’s. Reece’s parents were done well as were a few others, who I won’t describe to avoid spoilers. But from page one to THE END this book delivers time and time again.

Moncrieff continues to elevate her writing game and I hope this book takes everything to the next deserved level. She dedicates this book to Tina Fontaine and the book unravels from there. I’ve included a few links at the end here if you’re interested in reading a bit more on a few things alluded too throughout. At the end of the day, we need to do more and we need to be better.

While Moncrieff has already released a number of outstanding works (I still need to read The Ghost Writer series) this is her masterpiece. In this case though, I have no doubt Moncrieff will continue to churn out stunning releases. She’s one of the BEST authors out there.

Such an amazing book by an amazing author.

Have I convinced you yet to go read Moncrieff’s work? Please, seriously, go snag one of her books.

You can grab a copy of ‘Those Who Came Before’ here;

Book Review: The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff

the girl

Title: The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts (GhostWriters Series Book Two)

Author: J.H. Moncrieff

Release date: April 22, 2017

Here we are! Book Two in Moncrieff’s absolutely fantastic GhostWriters Series!

‘The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts’ picks up sometime after the events of Book One.

This one is focused more on Kate and her role as a medium. Since Book One has ended, she has worked on building a career out of helping people with issues regarding spiritual contact.

It’s through this that she is contacted to help out a mother, desperate to find a solution to what is afflicting her daughter.

What I Liked: As with all Moncrieff books, J.H. creates characters with amazing depth but also settings that play an important role. Here, Poveglia itself is a setting that brings a lot of different elements to the table.

I won’t spend much time going into Poveglia and it’s history itself, but a lot of bad things have happened there throughout history. J.H. touches on a few of them and the amazing aspect here is that the descriptions come from her own journey to visiting the island itself.

This has elements of a psychological thriller, supernatural adventure, as well as character driven drama. J.H. really crafted a fun read, one that brought another element to Kate and Jackson’s relationship.

What I didn’t like: Minor things, but I really wished we would’ve dived even deeper into the doctor’s back story and life on the island.

As well, at the beginning, I wasn’t a fan of Kate being so jealous of Jackson and a perceived relationship. Felt a bit too high-schoolish.

Why you should buy this: Well, A – Poveglia. I mean, any book set there is a must read. B – a further entry into the ongoing adventures of Kate and Jackson is always a cause for celebration! With a bunch more books already out in this series, the GhostWriters group of stories may just be the perfect thing for those looking for spooky October reads!


Book Review: City of Ghosts by J.H. Moncrieff


Title: City of Ghosts (GhostWriters Series Book 1)

Author: J.H. Moncrieff

Release date: April 15, 2017

If you’ve followed along with me on social media or with any of my reviews, you know how much I love J.H. Moncrieff and her writing. From ‘The Bear Who Wouldn’t Leave,’ to ‘Return to Dyatlov Pass,’ and over to ‘Those Who Came Before,’ Moncrieff has crafted some of the best and creepiest horror/thrillers out there.

Through chatting with her, she herself had said she wasn’t sure if I’d like her GhostWriters Series, as it’s not as horror and gore as the others, but she said these were the books closest to her heart.

When the Ladies of Horror Fiction announced their ‘Read Ladies First’ in 2020, I decided to jump on that and make ‘City of Ghosts’ as my #LadiesFirst2020 read.

‘City of Ghosts’ follows Jackson, as he travels in China on a holiday tour. He’s booked this trip to experience a country that has always fascinated him and he’s excited to see some of the tourist spots. We pick up in the fictional Hensu – a ghost city that the tour attendees are told used to be a town, but when the dam was put in, the village was relocated.

Here Jackson decides he wants to try and write a book about ghosts and decides to sneak away from the group and spend the night in Hensu, hoping to have a paranormal experience.

From here, Moncrieff crafts a fast moving thriller. Once that has as much mystery in it as ghostly happenings and she uses the country of China as a fantastic character all on its own. Things are different than in North America over there and this creates added issues, which I loved.

Along the way, Jackson meets Kate, a gorgeous red-head who he is quickly smitten with, but who he holds back his feelings about as she keeps helping him as things unravel. Normally, I wouldn’t mention any of this – but I simply need to make a point here. One of the best things that happen throughout, is that even though Jackson and Kate get closer and closer and there is some distinct chemistry between the two – Moncrieff purposefully holds off on them becoming intimate. While most authors would have these two shack up and use both the pros and cons of that as story fodder, by having them remain respectful of each other’s space and having some really meaningful conversations around the expectations put on men and women, I found the characters became elevated and I really wanted to root for them to become a couple.

I have the other books in the series and I’ve heard from a very reliable source that another book is in the works, so I’m excited to jump into Book 2 ‘The Girl Who Talks to Ghosts,’ soon.

As for those who haven’t read Moncrieff before, this is a great spot to start, but as mentioned, don’t expect too much gore, creatures or dark, dark horror. This book doesn’t suffer because of that. No, in a way, not having those features made it all that more enjoyable.