Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley

Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne. The Brontë siblings have always been inseparable. After all, nothing can bond four siblings quite like life in an isolated parsonage out on the moors. Their vivid imaginations lend them escape from their strict upbringing, actually transporting them into their created worlds: the glittering Verdopolis and the romantic and melancholy Gondal. But at what price? As Branwell begins to slip into madness and the sisters feel their real lives slipping away, they must weigh the cost of their powerful imaginations, even as their characters—the brooding Rogue and dashing Duke of Zamorna—refuse to let them go.

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This book, based on the juvenile writings of the Bronte’s is a sweeping and imagined world. Coakley has obviously committed to research and it pays off in a lovingly crafted story that draws you into the world of the Bronte’s as strong as the worlds of Verdopolis and Gondal.

I enjoyed every page of this beautiful book. Coakley has done such a wonderful job of bringing the moors and the world of the Bronte’s to life. Delicate yet dark and a number of references (and foreshadowing characters) to their adult works that made them famous.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the Brontes, 19th Century literature, or speculative historical fiction.

5/5

 

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Black-Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I am the star of screaming headlines and campfire ghost stories.

I am one of the four Black-Eyed Susans.

The lucky one.

As a sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave.

Shocking, intense, and utterly original, Black-Eyed Susans is a dazzling psychological thriller, seamlessly weaving past and present in a searing tale of a young woman whose harrowing memories remain in a field of flowers—as a killer makes a chilling return to his garden.

An engaging, suspenseful story, Black-Eyed Susans follows the story of Tessa Cartwright, the sole survivor of a serial killer. We join the story as a group of lawyers attempt to free the convicted murderer from death row. They come to Tessa for help. Tessa, now an artist and single mother trying to leave her past behind her, reluctantly agrees to revisit her past.

I was captivated by this book. Such an engaging story line that weaves two timelines, Tessa in 1995 when she was found in the open grave, and present day Tessa. Suspects are everywhere and plot twists litter the narrative.

Tessa is a broken woman but a strong character. There is an immediate empathy as you follow this dark path into her past. If you enjoy a compelling mystery that is New Adult/Adult as opposed to Young Adult, you will enjoy this book. The language is accessible and the action demanding (in a good way!).

Supporting characters are strong and believable. Heaberlin has successfully amassed a wealth of research of a scientific nature and implemented it into her story in a way that is easy to understand. Her scientists are real and accessible. The reader never feels like they are talked down to.

A special mention to Tessa’s neighbour Effie who provides at times a comforting comic relief and always affection.

4/5