Friday, October 27, 2023

Review: Home at NIght by Paula Munier

by Paula Munier
Release Date: October 17, 2023
2023 Minotaur Books
Kindle Edition; 352 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250887894
Audiobook: B0BVKS2BKQ
Genre: Fiction / Mystery / Cozy
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.5 / 5 Stars

There’s something about Grackle Tree Farm that people are willing to kill for―and Mercy needs to figure out what before they move in. A coded letter found on the victim points to a hidden treasure that may be worth a fortune―if it’s real. She and Captain Thrasher conduct a search of the old place―and end up at the wrong end of a Glock. 

Now it’s up to Mercy and Troy and the dogs to track down the masked murderer in a county overflowing with leaf peepers, Halloween revelers, and treasure hunters and bring him to justice before he strikes again and the treasure is lost forever, along with the good name of Grackle Tree Farm….
My Thoughts
Home at Night is the fifth installment of the Mercy & Elvis series, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I haven't actually read the previous books in this series, but lack of previous knowledge of the characters and their goings-on didn't affect my enjoyment of this particular book. I do love it when authors go out of their way to give distinct personalities to animals in their books, and Elvis was no exception; I enjoyed learning about him and his previous life as a military dog, and this may be the reason why I pick up the first book in the series.
The book opens on a rather spooky note and at first, I wondered if I actually picked up a paranormal mystery instead of just a regular cozy mystery, but that was soon set straight.  The mystery itself was quite enjoyable with cryptic notes found in secret hiding spots, codes to decipher in poems,  hidden treasure, and so much more, leading to a mystery involving the previous owners of the house Mercy would like to purchase.  There were a couple of surprising twists and turns and I always enjoy it when the author lulls you into feeling calm and then ups the tension level with something unexpected. The plot itself was rather complex, and being someone who enjoys cryptic codes found in letters and poems, this was right up my alley.  I don't think I've ever outgrown the thrill of reading anything about treasure hunting.  
That being said, there were a lot of coincidences in this book and I am not a fan of the use of them to propel a story forward. When a character just happens to be friends with someone in the past and has spent time with them in the past which helps solve one of the clues in the present, and this scenario is used in this book, I just get irritated.  And Mercy seems to have that one family member who has done everything and been everywhere during the war who just seems to be able to come up with clues to whatever she needs.

The characters themselves were interesting and for the most part, I did enjoy learning more about them. Mercy was facing some major changes in her life and I liked the relationship she had with her husband. Mercy's inner monologue did irk me at times as she was constantly talking to herself about how she has to be careful and not do anything dangerous, and then goes ahead and does something dangerous and almost gets herself killed.  And yes, I rolled my eyes, I couldn't help it.  How many times does one visit the emergency room before you get the message?

Home at Night delves into the themes of greed and betrayal, leading some to commit heinous acts for the pursuit of glory as well as financial bonanza; it shows how far people will go if they are desperate. I also like the secondary story line, even better than the original one, depicting the turtles and the poaching that is happening to our endangered species.  While I did think the author only explored these themes on a superficial level, the overall story was still fun and engaging. 


Sunday, October 22, 2023

Review: When Ghosts Call Us Home by Katya de Becerra

by Katya de Becerra
Release Date: October 3, 2023
2023 Page Street YA
Kindle Edition; 368 Pages
ISBN: 978-1645679639
Genre: Fiction / YA / Horror
Source: Review copy from publisher
3 / 5 Stars
When Sophia Galich was twelve, she starred in her older sister Layla’s amateur horror movie Vermillion, which recorded raw footage of her very real reactions to scenes her sister concocted in their old Californian house on the coast―Cashore House.

In the years after the film’s release, Sophia’s relationship with her sister became more strained, while her memories of the now-infamous house fueled her nightmares. Vermillion amassed an army of fanatical fans who speculated about the film’s hidden messages, and it was rumored that Layla made a pact with the devil―her soul in exchange for fame and arcane knowledge. Sophia dismissed this as gossip…until Layla disappeared.
My Thoughts
When Ghosts Call Us Home is a story about a girl searching for her lost sister, one who disappeared in a house in which they lived five years earlier. I would not agree that this is a horror novel however, more along the lines of a paranormal investigative piece of work. While there were some interesting elements to it, I thought the story line was somewhat disjointed and the characters lacked some major development.

When Sophia was twelve, her older sister Layla filmed a video that has gained cult status around the world, showing Sophia being terrified out of her mind. The video and the things that happened left Sophia traumatized, developing mental and emotional problems due to the trauma she suffered. I began to actively dislike Layla quite early on in the book, which no real justification, except for the fact that Sophia goes on an on about how great a big sister she was to her through these flashbacks she has throughout the book. There was no motivation given behind the video-taping and I grew frustrated with the whole experience. There was also no reasons given as to why the video would gain such a cult following, nor how the video got out to the public to begin with. And I'll be honest, this whole follow the seven steps to reach whatever that is supposedly in the video seemed like such utter nonsense to me.

Sophia herself is such a one-dimensional character. I tried to really like her, but after going on and on about how great her older sister was and her only purpose was to find her sister, the whole plot device got old pretty fast. It actually made her seem childish and stubborn, not willing to listen to what was around her or be willing to open her eyes to what was around her. Sophia acts like she is uncomfortable doing the re-enactments of her sister's video, but she was the one who really initiated the entire thing, lied to everyone around her about her reasons for being there, and then wanted sympathy when she was asked to go through with the filming. I was sympathetic towards the trauma she experienced as as child and would have liked to explore that a bit more, but the author only gave the reader a superficial account of those moments, had Sophia be a little bit upset, and then moved on.  

The overall story was actually interesting, and I liked the concept of the found-footage, but I didn't think it had Haunting of Hill House vibes at all.  I did like the supernatural aspects to the story, but they weren't scary or terrifying, more in the lines of trying to incorporated something spooky because the book said it was supposed to have a paranormal element to it.  The writing style was more of a telling style, meaning the author was trying to make you think a certain way about the plot, the characters, and I am not a huge fan of this type of writing as I think it is condescending, as if the reader can't figure things out on their own, or it devalues someone if their thinking is different than what the author intended. For example, I think the author was trying to make Layla seem sympathetic to the reader, and all those little nudges by telling us to think that way actually made me dislike her in the end.  Because of this, I found the story somewhat disjointed and it was extremely difficult to form any connections or empathy with any of the characters.

When Ghosts Call us Home was an interesting blend of paranormal and mystery, but it was definitely not horror.  I did think the story was somewhat disjointed and the character development was non-existent, making it difficult to really empathize and connect with the characters.  I did enjoy the atmosphere of the house, but I always love these types of setting, so that is always a plus.  Overall, I felt this story had some really strong elements, but lacked a sense of direction as if the author wasn't sure to which genre she wanted to commit making the story feel underdeveloped. 


Saturday, October 21, 2023

Review: Starling House by Alix E. Harrow

by Alix E. Harrow
Release Date: October 3, 2023
2023 Tor Books
Kindle Edition; 320 Pages
ISBN: 978-1250799050
Audiobook: B0BVKWJ267
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Gothic / Horror
Source: Review copy from publisher

3.75 / 5 Stars

Opal knows better than to mess with haunted houses or brooding men, but an unexpected job offer might be a chance to get her brother out of Eden. Too quickly, though, Starling House starts to feel dangerously like something she’s never had: a home.

As sinister forces converge on Starling House, Opal and Arthur are going to have to make a dire choice to dig up the buried secrets of the past and confront their own fears, or let Eden be taken over by literal nightmares.

My Thoughts
Starling House was an interesting story, but not one that I thought was either horror or gothic, more along the lines of magical realism.  There were quite a few elements in this book that I enjoyed, but at the same time, there were some elements that I wished the author had developed more, including the main character.

So, let me start with our main character, Opal. At first, I enjoyed her cynicism as it seemed warranted. Her mother had died in a suspicious car accident a few years earlier and she was now raising her younger brother, Jasper, living in a motel and struggling financially.  She was worried about her brother and his future, understandably, but as the story wore on, her personality didn't change, at all, and this began to bother me about halfway through the book, especially as she was now working at the house and making a half-decent wage. I would have liked to have seen her grow and develop, take ownership over her actions, and realize she was responsible for the miscommunication between herself and her brother.  

It was about halfway through the book that I wished Jasper was the MC and not Opal. He had such an interesting perspective on life and I enjoyed the way the author developed his character. He definitely was not going to let Opal make his decisions for him nor was he going to be influenced in his morals and his ethics.  

While the plot was interesting, I definitely would not call it horror or gothic, but more in the vein of magical realism/fairy tale. Even the house had a personality, which I loved, rich in fantastical detail, and gave me such a Beauty and the Beast vibe I almost expected the teacups to start singing and the house to grow legs and walk down the main street.  But that couldn't make up for a story that was superficial and didn't really dig into the issues that plagued the town and the people. The author missed a fantastic opportunity to delve into the racial issues that existed in Jasper's world as he was being bullied by classmates as well as the racism that existed with the rich, white man who owned the mines and had black workers working for them, with little compensation, in the mines. And there were other issues that were hinted at, but glossed over as if the author was afraid of going too deep.  The author chose to focus instead on the romance between Opal and Arthur, something that seemed forced, something that I cringed at every time I read the scenes. 

Starling House had an interesting concept, and while I felt the pacing was uneven and I thought the secondary character outshone the primary characters, there was still plenty to like. The book felt more like a fairy tale than a gothic horror, but I actually didn't mind that too much as I adored the house and don't necessarily need a haunted house to be evil. Sometimes the author has no control over the marketing of their book and this may be the case.  I did think the book would have stood on its own without the romantic subplot as that is what jarred me time and again out of the story line more than anything else and I've never understood the need to throw that in as if the reader needs that in there. That being said, I would read anything by this author, so I will be picking up the next book when it is released.


Sunday, October 15, 2023

Review: Tales of Howloween by Various Authors


Release Date: October 15, 2023
2023 T.A.L.E.S.
Kindle Edition; 488 Pages
ISBN: 979-8223780045
Genre: Fiction / Short Story / Wolf
Source: Review copy from Author
A Red Moon Rises this Halloween, so heed the howls and enter a world of wonder, danger and desire. Tales of Howloween presents a thrilling collection of nine supernatural tales that will keep you guessing until the final stroke of midnight.
My Thoughts
Tales of Howloween is a collection of nine supernatural stories featuring wolves. I had the fortune of reading three of these stories, each of which I will talk about below.
Forest Fated by Jamie Dalton (High Fantasy)
Wolf shifter Cassius captures renegade mage Ariella with the intention of turning her over to the evil wizard who controls the land. Their meeting sparks an instant connection that surprises them; they decide to team up to destroy the evil for their own personal reasons setting off a prophecy that surprises them both.
I really enjoyed this story and thought the reasons behind the main character's actions made a lot of sense. Cassius was doing what he thought best to protect his pack and his family while Ariella was trying to save her mentor, and the two of them really had no reason to trust each other in the beginning. The author did a good job for such a short story to make their relationship plausible, even if at first it was simply to take down the evil wizard. I enjoyed Cassius as a character, but did think Ariella was a bit annoying at times; it was if the author was trying too hard to make her seem independent and strong when she seemed to come across as snippy and childish. However, I did think their relationship worked. This is one of those books that I could see being developed into a full-length story as I would be interested in learning more about both of these characters and seeing a lot more development in their relationship as well as a lot more world development. And I would love to learn more about Cassius and his wolf pack. The writing was strong and she managed to incorporate a whole lot into a such a small, little story.
Bloodstone by D.C. Gomez (Urban Fantasy)
The Reapers crew try to stop a cult from waking the God Set.

While I enjoyed this story, it wasn't my favourite of the three simply because I am not a fan of using money and wealth as a convenient way to solve every problem, which is exactly what happened in this story. While the story was interesting enough, I didn't feel like I really fully understood the characters and why they had certain skill sets or why they had bracelets on to protect them from their own magic.  And the wolves didn't feature as strongly in this story, something in which I was a bit disappointed. However, I would like to read something a bit longer by this author to see how she develops longer stories as there was a lot of potential here.
Celestial Rescue by Charlene Pender (Alien Romance)
Meg gets separated from the shuttle as it crashed on an uncharted planet while attempting to fix a repair on their stole spaceship. Hurt, unsure fo where she is, she is rescued by an alien wolf-shifter with whom she shares an instant attraction.
This was by far my favourite story as there was this level of tension throughout that kept me glued to the page. I enjoyed the chemistry between the two main characters and loved how they tried to communicate even though they couldn't speak to each other.  And while I didn't understand exactly how Meg had been kidnapped or how she got away, it didn't matter as what we got was quite intriguing. This short story needs to be developed into a book as there was so much going on and so much of interest that I really would love to get to know these characters and discover the politics that sent a wolf-shifter on an alien planet out on his own to warn a rival pack of danger. And the wolf descriptions!!! My, oh my!!


Monday, October 9, 2023

Review: Ghost Tamer by Meredith R. Lyons

by Meredith R. Lyons
Release Date: September 19, 2023
2023 CamCat Books
Kindle Edition; 336 Pages
ISBN: 978-0744302790
Audiobook: B0CBD43GZK
Genre: Fiction / Horror / Paranormal / Ghost
Source: Review copy from publisher
3 / 5 Stars
Aspiring comedian Raely is the sole survivor of a disastrous train wreck. While faced with the intense grief of losing her best friend, she realizes that someone is following her―and has been following her all her life. Trouble is, no one else can see him. For a ghostly tag-along, Casper’s not so bad. He might even be the partner Raely needs to fight the evil spirit hell-bent on destroying her. Raely and her friend must learn why this demonic spirit is haunting Raely and how she can stop him before he destroys her life―and her soul. Which, much to her chagrin, means she needs the help of a psychic (although she’s sure they are all charlatans) and must rid herself of the pesky ghost hunter who’s interested in exploiting her new abilities. 
My Thoughts
Ghost Tamer follows a struggling comedian who is dealing with the biggest tragedy of her life after being involved in a deadly train accident.  Grieving, healing from her injuries, she realizes that she is being followed, but not necessarily by someone or something that is living.  This story begins literally with a bang, and doesn't let go until the end. I enjoyed it quite a bit, thought the character development was fine, and was entertained by the witty dialogue and fast-paced story line.
While I did enjoy the story, and thought the plot moved along quickly, it was not quite as dark of a story as I thought it would be.  Despite the train wreck at the beginning, and the death of her best friend, this didn't delve as much into the emotional trauma of that loss as I was expecting and ended up much more on the lighter side of horror, almost to the point of being somewhat cheesy.  There were quite a bit of light, humourous moments thrown into the plot, especially between Raely and her ghost, and a lot of the dialogue was witty, but some of the secondary characters didn't necessarily ring true. The whole ghost hunter thing in which Raely got involved seemed out of sync with what was happening and although I understand the author was trying to show how conniving the world could be, it just didn't work for me, especially the aggression.  And honestly, the love interest? Where did that suddenly come from?
I did enjoy Raely's journey as she accepted the fact she could see ghosts and had one stuck to her all the time. Going through the journey with her and realizing exactly who the ghost was was interesting, and something I didn't actually see coming so I found that revelation thought-provoking.  I also found it incredibly sad, the secrets that a family can keep from one another.  The journey did lead Raely and her ghost through some interesting scenarios and I found them entertaining. Casper, the name she nicknames her ghost, was one of my favourite characters, and I am glad the author gave him a chance to develop and grow along with Raely as they discovered how they were attached to each other.  I did wish Raely had been developed a bit more though as she seemed quite childish at times and I had to remind myself she was actually a grown woman and not 16 years old. And for someone who was an aspiring comedian, I didn't really find her that funny, something for which I was waiting. I also think Lovonia was too mysterious and both Raely and Casper trusted her implicitly for no reason. Why would you trust someone you don't know, especially given the cryptic comments this person keeps giving you?
Ghost Tamer was not a bad debut; it had an interesting story line, was fast-paced, and was light-hearted. And I think that is wherein the problem lay as the themes were quite dark, but the author took a lighter approach to the story, and didn't really explore Raely's emotional state after the train crash. Some of the scenarios didn't quite fit into the story line, hoping the reader would just suspend belief and accept them. That being said, this author is quite talented, I enjoyed the overall story, and I look forward to reading more of her writing in the future.  And there were enough good things in this book that I do recommend you take a look.  


Sunday, October 8, 2023

Review: You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight by Kalynn Bayron

by Kalynn Bayron
Release Date: June 20, 2023
2023 Bloomsbury YA
Kindle Edition; 230 Pages
ISBN: 978-1547611546
Audiobook: B0BY3GZRGR
Genre: Fiction / YA / Horror
Source: Review copy from publisher
3 / 5 Stars
 Charity Curtis has the summer job of her dreams, playing the “final girl” at Camp Mirror Lake. Guests pay to be scared in this full-contact terror game, as Charity and her summer crew recreate scenes from a classic slasher film, Curse of Camp Mirror Lake. The more realistic the fear, the better for business.

But the last weekend of the season, Charity's co-workers begin disappearing. And when one ends up dead, Charity's role as the final girl suddenly becomes all too real. If Charity and her girlfriend Bezi hope to survive the night, they'll need figure out what this killer is after. Is there is more to the story of Mirror Lake and its dangerous past than Charity ever suspected?
My Thoughts
You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight is a short, fast young adult horror tale, one that I had high hopes for at the beginning, one that took a sharp nose-dive into a direction I was hoping it wouldn't go, hence the rating.  It definitely has a unique premise, one that intrigued me, even sent me on a Google search to see if the place actually existed (sadly, it did not).  The characters were fun, even making smart choices, until that deep-dive halfway through the book.
First of all, the main characters were interesting, but I especially liked Charity. I definitely like it when then MC makes smart choices, especially one who is familiar with slasher films and know what not to do when things go bump in the night. Charity and her friends work at Camp Mirror Lake and the objective is to create a scary experience for paying guests; they recreate scenes from slasher films and have the guests go through these scary things and the one left standing at the end wins a prize. I enjoyed the discussions around the difficulties creating the scenarios and what Charity and her friends had to do to fix props, create props, etc... The author definitely establishes this atmosphere of fear and foreboding right from the get-go through this whole set-up. There is also great and realistic LGBT representation in the story, and I enjoyed the funny, light-hearted comments between the characters.
The plot itself would have been great if the author had stuck to the tone of the first half of the novel. There was this element of tension and fear that had developed through little things happening, and I enjoyed Charity's mental discourse as she talked herself out of going to places alone, reminding herself what happens to girls who get too curious.  However, right at the beginning, three camp workers go missing, and this is where I started having problems with the story. Why would Charity and her friends not even think to investigate? Why would they not check their rooms or call their homes to see if they went home?  Why just assume all three just up and left? And I know this sounds picky, but I also had a problem with the fact there were no adults on the premises. I guess the responsible person in me just couldn't let that point go.
The plot takes a steep turn about halfway through and while the writing was still enough to keep me reading, I wasn't a big fan of the paranormal element in the story simply because I feel like the author wasn't committed to going that route, as if they didn't know if it was the right path to take. Personally, I thought it was strong enough to stay the more traditional slasher route and would have been a lot more fun.  I also thought the other characters lacked depth and this is probably due to the length of the book as there was not enough time for the reader to get to know all the characters.  Also, one of the tropes I hate in horror novels is one where people are told NOT to go in there or go in the lake. That one drives me nuts as honestly, that would be the first things I would do.  

You're Not Supposed to Die Tonight had a great premise, great writing, and if it had stuck to the slasher-type of story-writing, would have been great. I wish it had stayed campy, included more humour, and witty dialogue, as that it what drew me at the beginning.  However, the author is very talented and I really hope they write more horror novels in the future as I would definitely be on board.


Saturday, October 7, 2023

Review: Deephaven by Ethan M. Aldridge

by Ethan M. Aldridge
Release Date: September 5, 2023
2023 Quill Tree Books
Kindle Edition; 288 Pages
ISBN: 978-006328
Audiobook: B0BSS93TVK
Genre: Middle Grade / Horror / LGBT / Fantasy
Source: Review copy from publisher

4 / 5 Stars

When Guinevere "Nev" Tallow receives an acceptance letter to the exclusive Deephaven Academy, they know it’s the fresh start that they’ve been looking for. But things are strange from the moment they arrive—the house itself seems to breathe, students whisper secrets in dark corridors, and the entire east wing of the academy is locked away for reasons no one wants to explain. And Nev knows something ragged stalks the shadowy corridors, something that sobs quietly and scratches at the walls, waiting to be released. With the help of another first-year student, Nev takes it upon themself to unravel the mysteries hidden in Deephaven's halls. But will they risk their fresh start to bring the academy’s secret to light?
My Thoughts
Deephaven is not a particularly scary story when it comes to middle grade horror, but it was certainly very atmospheric as it takes place at an academy for students with specialized talents and interests with all the usual tropes that goes along with such a setting. However, the plot moved along quickly and the author used those tropes to develop an interesting plot and fun characters, 

I thought the plot was well-developed, and the way the author creates a scene is really good. There is this focus on the little things which really enhance the overall enjoyment of the story and also makes you feel like you are there without being overly descriptive for a middle grade novel. The story moved along rather quickly, with an evenly-paced story, and enough twists and turns that made me read this in one sitting. I also enjoyed the illustrations that were included in each chapter as you got to experience what Nev actually saw and I think they added to the whole atmosphere of the story. It was really easy to figure out who were the villains in the story and I think even middle grade readers will have no problem figure it out as well so some of the tension that should have existed was not there because of this.  It is really unclear exactly how Deephaven works however, and while there were some hints at magical realism, a lot of it was vague and left you with many unanswered questions.

Nev is a great character and I appreciated having their background story sprinkled throughout the book. And while it was great for the author to have a nonbinary person as a main character, I don't think it had any impact on the story at all. You could have switched any character in that role and you wouldn't have known. Now while the author may have wished to downplay the role, it also made it difficult to really empathize with Nev because there was this barrier, this difficulty to understanding their motivations, no understanding as to how Nev felt as they were becoming this new person, so different from the life they just left, and how confusing it must have been to make that choice.  And the other children just accept the pronouns Nev used without a thought in the world.  Considering this story is set in the 1940s, I have a hard time accepting there would be little discussion around Nev's choices. However, readers may enjoy this escape from historical transphobia.  

The supporting characters were interesting as well, but I especially enjoyed Danny's character, a character who really pushed the others to develop and grow as well as take chances.  I love it when the supporting characters are given a chance to shine. 

Deephaven was a fun, somewhat spooky read, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  It moved quickly, had interesting characters, and a story line that was engaging, but also gave me hope will continue into a sequel as so many things were left unanswered at the end, even if the ending was satisfying. This is definitely a book that many middle graders will enjoy.


Wednesday, October 4, 2023

Review: The Runemaster Homicide by Dan Jolley

The Runemaster Homicide (The Demon-Sleuth Scrolls, Book 1)
by Dan Jolley
Release Date: December 9, 2021
2021 Falstaff Books, LLC
Kindle Edition; 306 Pages
ISBN: 978-1087994017
Genre: Fiction / Fantasy / Mystery
Source: Review copy from author

4 / 5 Stars

The all-human Valconian Empire has used bronze blades and powerful rune-based magic to rule for three hundred years. But now the horned, violet-skinned, reclusive Sethyds have been forced from their island-nation home. Given no choice but to seek refuge on Imperial land. Tall. Graceful. Beautiful. Possessed of an unholy, terrifying strength.The humans loathe them. Fear them. Call them "demons." Yet the Empire's fate is about to come to rest on the shoulders of Nysska Stonegate, the first Sethyd member of the Imperial Criminal Investigation Ministry, known as the Thaumetallicon.
My Thoughts
The Runemaster Homicide is a great blend of fantasy and mystery. The first book in a series, this one focuses on developing the characters and their relationships as well as building the world and its peoples so you get a sense of the political and religious systems that are creating conflict and how this impacts our heroes. While the opening scene was fascinating, I did think it took a while for the mystery itself to get going, but once it did, the story moved along quickly, throwing twists and turns along the reader's path that were interesting and significant to future books.

First of all, I thought the plot moved along rather quickly and was really engaging, even the slower section at the beginning.  To be honest, I didn't fully understand what the earlier section had to do with what happened later other than to introduce a bit of Nysska's character into the story as well as introduce the way consequences work in this society, which was quite brutal. I thought the rune-based magic was interesting and liked the concept of how the runes were used in every day life as well as for solving crimes. But what I found particularly interesting in this story was the way the author used it to question belief systems that have been held for hundreds of years as Nysska's team members grappled with developments in the magic system they have never seen before, developments that were going to turn their entire worlds upside down. For so long, the rules were just the rules and people obeyed them through fear of the consequences, and even Nysska's team leader had difficulty grasping new concepts or new ways of investigating. I thought this was fascinating.

There were many themes in this book, but two the author began to explore, and ones I think will be explored in future books, are ageism and ableism. People who can't work have no use to society and are ostracized, living in squalor, setting up the perfect setting for revolution and resistance.  Ignoring those who are disabled as well as devaluing the elderly as contributing members of a society can be any culture's downfall, and I look forward to exploring more of this.  To be honest, I wasn't prepared for this in this book, and loved this development.

The characters were interesting although it was definitely Nysska who had the most development.  She was strong and powerful, but definitely had a softer side to her which made her empathetic and relatable. I did think there was too much secrecy surrounding Nysska and while I don't object to some things kept hidden as it helps with plot development, I am not necessarily a fan of keeping everything a secret as I didn't feel as empathetic towards the characters as I should have, and began to dote on the two cats, Flax and Jax, instead.  So, while I found the other characters interesting, I wasn't completely invested in them. However, I was invested in those cats!!!!

The Runemaster Homicide was an interesting blend of fantasy and mystery, and the author created a tale that was suspenseful and fascinating. I like the world-building and thought the character development was good, but perhaps allowing the reader to know the characters a bit better would be beneficial.  There were some good twists and turns, even a few that caught me off guard, and overall, I enjoyed the story tremendously. I am looking forward to sinking my teeth into book 2, The Black-Horned Grave.