Sunday, 30 November 2014

THE KING

THE KING by Tiffany Reisz
US cover

Pages: 443
Date: 30/11/2014
Grade: 5
Details: No. 6 Original Sinners
            Received from Harlequin
            Through Love Romances and More
Kindle

The blurb:

“Cunning. Sex. Pure nerve. Only this unholy threesome can raise him to his rightful place as a ruler of Manhattan's kink kingdom.

Bouncing from bed to bed on the Upper East Side, Kingsley Edge is brilliant, beautiful and utterly debauched. No carnal act or chemical compound can relieve his self-destructive heartache—only Søren, the one person he loves without limit or regret. A man he can never have, but in whose hands Kingsley is reborn to attain even greater heights of sin.

Kingsley's plan to open the ultimate BDSM club—a dungeon playground for New York's A-list—becomes his obsession. His expertise in domination can't subdue the one man who wants to stop him. The enigmatic Reverend Fuller won't rest until King's dream is destroyed, and so the battle lines are set; it's one man's sacred mission against another's…”

My thoughts:

“Honesty was its own special brand of sadism” – Kingsley

I can’t imagine anyone who follows my reviews being surprised by the rating I gave “The King”. From the very first moment I stumbled across “The Siren” I have been mesmerized by Tiffany Reisz’s words, the world she’s created and the characters inhabiting it. The Original Sinners have captured my imagination to the extent that they are now as real to me as most of my (online) friends are. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or two of them knocked on my door and invited themselves for dinner (or one or two other activities). I’d smile, welcome them and delight in their company; which is exactly what I do whenever I start a new title in this series.

I don’t want to say more about the story than what can be found in the blurb. These stories, in my opinion, should be read with as little foreknowledge as possible. The less you know when diving into the stories, the more magical the revelations and surprises are. Emerge yourself in this world and allow it to carry you from shock to surprise, from laughing out loud to silent tears falling from your eyes, from utter joy to heartbreaking sorrow and everything in between.

Having said that, I can’t make myself stop my review there either. So I’ll share a few quotes that jumped out at me and give you my thoughts on those.

The following quote makes perfect sense, taking into account most of the story takes place twenty years ago. I can imagine how much fun Tiffany had when she put the words into this story.

“A Jesuit pope? It’ll never happen.” – Søren

When I first met Søren I wasn’t sure I was ever going to like him. Which each subsequent book my appreciation for him grew until, by the time the last book in the Red Years series came along, I’d fallen fully in love with him. In fact I was convinced there was no way I could grow fonder of him. Of course I was wrong. Søren’s words always hit a nerve with me.

“You’re the most miserable bon vivant I’ve ever met. Drinking is for celebrating, not for suicide.”  - Søren to Kingsley

And:

“You can be a new man, Kingsley. If he’s dead, then he’s dead. But you don’t have to live the rest of your life walking around inside his corpse. You can have a new life.” – Søren

Kingsley’s love for Søren is a thing of beauty, both heartbreaking and uplifting. The bond between the two men is something to envy and aspire to. You know these two will still be tormenting and uplifting each other well into their eighties and I for one, would love to present when the reminisce about the lives they’ve lived at some point in the future.

“You never hurt me. Do you know that? Even when you hurt me you never hurt me. I loved it. It wasn’t until you stopped that I felt the pain.” Kingsley to Søren

Just in case you now think this whole book is filled with heart wrenching and soul crushing moments, let me reassure you. Tiffany Reisz has, as always, found the perfect balance between deeply moving and laugh out loud funny and everything in between. Kingsley’s relationship with Sam is just one example of that.


“Are you dressed? Is it safe to turn around again. I don’t want my delicate lesbian sensibilities overwhelmed by your incredible manliness. I might get vapors, whatever those are.” – Sam

Everyone who’s read the Original Sinners books from the start is well aware of Kingsley’s trademark question whenever he gets into a car with somebody else. It was wonderful to at last discover the origins.

“Have you ever had sex in the back of a Rolls Royce, Kingsley asked, trying not to rip Søren’s shirt in his rush to  unbutton it. He needed Søren’s skin on his skin right now. No, Søren said. But ask me that question again in an hour.”

Quotes like the following are one of the reasons Tiffany Reisz has me hooked on her words for life. She manages to articulate emotions and feelings I’ve experienced but have never been able to verbalise. Her talent is a thing of beauty.

“His heart clenched so tightly, his chest hurt. No wonder he’d sought after pain all his life. It felt just like love.” – Kingsley

As the title suggests, this is Kingsley’s story. Just as Nora told the story of her early years to a relative outsider in The Saint, so does Kingsley in this book. Since the blurb doesn’t reveal who our King talks to, I won’t tell you either. Suffice to say it was nice seeing that character again and learn a little bit more about their present day circumstances. The following quote summarizes this book for me better than I ever could; better even than the official blurb.

“But his confession hadn’t been to a priest but about a priest, the priest he loved not despite all the sins they’d committed against each other but because of them, because the sins were what bound them together. And the love. Of course the love. Always the love.”

UK cover
The King has more than earned its five star rating, but here’s the thing. I adore Tiffany Reisz’s writing. Her dialogue is sharp and witty, her characters are larger than life and as real as if I personally know them, and her stories captivate me every time I read one. And yet, these White Years stories don’t quite touch me in the same way the Red Years books did. And I know exactly why that is. In the first four books everything was new; the characters, the ideas, the way the story developed. All of it was exciting and surprising, every single detail and twist kept me on my toes.

The stories in the White Years books are more detailed explorations of events mentioned in the earlier books. While we get an endless amount of new to us and utterly fascinating details we already know the basics of these stories, and, more importantly, we already know how they’re going to end. You can only read a story for the first time once, and The King made me sorry it wasn’t really my first encounter with these characters and the drama unfolding around and because of them. And that is why The King ‘only’ got five stars; the reason why I didn’t attach a few plusses or even turned the grade into a six.

Having said that, I can’t wait for the next book.





Monday, 24 November 2014

THE MASTER

THE MASTER by Kate Aaron
 
Pages: 178 approx
Date: 24/11/2014
Grade: 5++
Grade for series: 6
Details: No. 3 Free Men

The blurb:

“Being rescued was only the start.

Otiz lies in ruins. As underlord of the region, Lysander knows where his responsibilities lie. He has an obligation to the survivors to rebuild their homes and their lives. But what about his home, his life?

Kai needs help. The damage inflicted on him goes beyond the marks left when he was tortured, but healing him might require more from Lysander than he’s capable of giving. Of one thing he’s certain: Tam and Kai will never be endangered again because of who he is, even if saving them means setting them free.

All Lysander wants is to be left in peace. To recover from the horrors of his experience at the hands of his enemies. But with pressure piling up from every angle, peace is the last thing he’s likely to find. Suffocated by guilt, Lysander begins to spiral. How can he hold everything together, when inside he’s falling apart?”


My thoughts:

Have you ever felt torn between wanting to finish a book as quickly as you possibly can because you really need to know how the story ends, and wanting to draw the reading out for as long as possible because you don’t want to ever stop spending time with these characters in their world? Well, THAT.

Also...

Do you ever get so involved in a story you want to jump into it and scream at the characters that they’re getting it wrong, that if only the paid attention they’d know everything they wanted, everything they dreamed about and everything they thought they couldn’t have was right in front of them? Well, THAT too .

To say this trilogy captured my imagination would be a gross understatement. The moment I read the first few lines of The Slave I was happily and completely lost in the story. My obsession with the tale and the three characters staring in it only became stronger while The Soldier ripped my heart apart and put it back together. I counted down the days until the release of The Master, planned my writing schedule so today would be free and even put aside a book I would not have thought I’d be able to ignore for any reason.

Lysander, the Master, is the narrator in this book and at last we get explanations for actions which appeared inexplicable in The Slave, Tam’s story and The Soldier, Kai’s book. We discover that Lysander is not quite the in control Master he appears to be.

“Kai thought me a strong man, a master he could look up to. He had only ever seen me in my own house, in control. He had no idea how out of control I truly felt.”

We learn that Lysander’s actions stemmed from love; that his sacrifices as well as his seemingly harsh decisions were made out of selfless concern for others rather than misuse of power, even if Lysander himself can’t see it that way.

Before bed we bathed in the pool, and I scrubbed my skin raw but nothing removed the guilt which had eaten its way into my flesh, as thick and cloying as smoke.”

And

“I trembled with the effort of keeping everything inside, of keeping tears at bay. If I let them out, they’d consume me, and I needed to be strong. Needed to be the master everyone expected me to be.”

And yet the author didn’t portray this character as a saint anymore than she did the other two men. All three of them are recognisable in their humanity, their doubts, their jealousies and their occasionally petty actions. This doesn’t make them lesser characters, quite the opposite. It brings them to life and makes you love them all the more because they are beautiful and admirable despite and because of their faults and the manner in which they fight and overcome them.

Kate Aaron shows us things are rarely how they appear at first glance. Slaves aren’t ignorant or weak, Masters don’t always get it right and aren’t necessarily the strongest personality in the contorted relationship. The master, the slave and the soldier all have their strengths and weaknesses they complement each other even if they are slow to recognise the fact. All three need to be seen and loved for who they are rather than the role society has thrust upon them.

“Of everyone, only Tam and Kai cared about Lysander, the man, rather than what my position of power could offer them.”

I’m not going to say anything about the revelations in this book. Doing so would be a huge disservice to those who haven’t read the book(s) yet. Suffice to say it all worked beautifully and made for a powerful, at times heartbreaking, and ultimately beautiful story. Kate Aaron created characters and a world in such vivid clarity the pictures and voices are vivid in my head and safely lodged in my heart. I won’t forget the slave, the soldier or their master anytime soon and know without a doubt a smile will brighten my face whenever they pop into my thoughts.

I want to end with a quick note on the rating as shown above. Each story on its own was a solid five star read for me. The three books as a whole – the story in its entirety – warranted more than just the average of the three scores. Free Men is an exceptional trilogy and more than deserves the six star rating I’ve given it. Whatever you do, don’t miss out on what will, without a doubt, be (one of) the best reading experience(s) you’ll have this year.

Related posts:

Buy links:


Sunday, 16 November 2014

STRIPPED BARE

STRIPED BARE by Eileen Griffin & Nikka Michaels

Pages: 70 approx.
Date: 16/11/2014
Grade: 5
Details: No. 1 Cooper Mountain
Own

The blurb:

When Donovan Ramsey comes home from yet another business trip he realizes he and his long-term boyfriend, Nate Pearson, have drifted apart. Donovan is used to engineering solutions in his career, but he’s stumped on how to fix his dwindling sexual relationship with Nate.

After a late night internet search, Donovan finds a place that might be exactly what they need to rekindle the romance in their relationship. There’s just one catch: the idyllic Cooper Mountain Bed and Breakfast specializes in BDSM for couples.

Over the course of the weekend, the two men experience a taste of what the BDSM lifestyle has to offer. Will that taste lead to a stronger connection between Nate and Donovan, or will it ultimately be their undoing?


My thoughts:

“The Control and surrender are just other expressions of your need and desire for each other.”

For the sake of full disclosure I should start this review by saying that I’ve adored the words Eileen Griffin and Nikka Michaels produce together from before they ever published their first book. The love has only grown deeper and stronger with every subsequent title they released, both together and separately.

Stripped Bare once again confirmed these authors’ talent for telling a good story. As always they brought me men I could love and sympathise with, in a story that captured my imagination and left me hot and bothered on quite a few occasions.

When we meet Donovan and Nate they are a hardworking couple with little time for their relationship. It is not that they’re no longer in love, more that work pressures have allowed them to take their eyes off each other. With both men tired and stressed at the end of the day, romance has fallen by the wayside.

I loved that Donavan refused to accept the status quo. He misses the man he fell in love with and the intimacy they used to share frequently. His decision to book them a weekend away to rekindle the passion is fabulous. The fact that the Bed & Breakfast he picks for their time together specialises in BDSM both adds excitement and a dangerous edge to Donovan’s plan.

If you’re familiar with my reviews and reading habits, you will know I love a good BDSM story. Stripped Bare is definitely one of those. Donovan and Nate’s explorations are shown as a joined venture. Donovan may be the Dominant partner but he doesn’t do anything without making absolutely sure Nate is a more than willing participant. Nate on the other hand may have doubts about what his need to submit to Donovan means, he can’t deny the pleasure and relief he finds in their encounters.

I love it when authors take their time to explain the dynamic to their readers.  

“Just acknowledging what you need shows strength. Don’t let anyone tell you differently.”

For me the beauty in BDSM is found as much in the emphasis on trust and communication, the fact that true submission requires a deep strength, as it is in the very sexy scenes it tends to lead to. In this book Toby and Logan, the two men who run the Bed & Breakfast, provide a shining example of the true dynamic in this relationship format.

“Whoever said submissives weren’t in control obviously hadn’t met Toby or Nate.”

No cliffhanger at the end of this book...or is there? Let’s just say I can’t wait to find out who the main characters in the next book will turn out to be. Logan and Toby will be back, of that I’m sure since the stories take place in their Bed & Breakfast. But, will we meet Donovan and Nate again or is there another couple in need of assistance. I can’t wait to find out.

“Time for whatever helps us relieve stress and keeps us focused on what matters most. Us.”

Buy links:

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Released today: ED & MARCHANT by Sue Brown

Ed & Marchant





Ed Winters despises his job and hates everyone he works with—especially out and proud, happily in love Frankie Mason. He spends his days wishing he could dance, rather than work. 

Late to go shopping one day, Ed ends up soaked in Marchant Belarus’s spilled Coke. Ed’s humiliation increases when Marchant, the owner of a BDSM club, realizes Ed is a sub, albeit a very closeted one. Marchant’s attempts to draw Ed out of his shell release years of pent-up anger and hurt over the abuse Ed’s mother and grandmother heaped on him. 

Marchant is patient, but nothing he does seems to help until he discovers Ed’s secret love of dancing—a forbidden passion that might be the key to unlocking the confident, secure man Ed could be.

Excerpt:

In this excerpt Ed has had Coke thrown over him, been forced into having a drink with Marchant and met his arch-nemesis just as he's having a melt-down. 


"Ed reached the end of his patience. “Thank you for the drink, but I have to do my shopping now.”
“We can go around together,” Marchant said cheerfully.
“I don’t want to go around with you,” Ed said, aware he sounded petty and childish. “I have a routine.”
Marchant raised his eyebrow. “A routine? Well, I can fit in with that.”
Ed gaped at him. “What the hell? What don’t you understand? I’ve let you ruin my morning. I’ve put up with you telling me to sit, stay, and come. Now I want to do my shopping and forget this day ever happened.”
To Ed’s chagrin, Marchant didn’t seem at all bothered by his outburst. Instead he leaned forward, and unconsciously Ed mimicked his action.
“I haven’t told you to come yet, but when I do, you’ll obey.”
The breath knocked out of Ed’s chest. He stumbled back. “Leave me alone. Don’t come near me again.”
Ed fled the supermarket as if the hounds of hell were after him, all the time waiting for Marchant to drag him back. He reached his car without intervention, fumbling as he tried to press the button on the keys to unlock the door. Inside the car he clutched the steering wheel, the blood pounding in his ears. He’d been seen for what he was.
Deviant! Abomination! Pervert!"

Sunday, 9 November 2014

NOTHING VENTURED

NOTHING VENTURED by Jay Northcote
 
Length: 46000 words approx.
Date: 26/20/2014
Grade: 4+
Details: Copy received from Author
Kindle

The blurb:

“When Aiden agrees to run the Mad Mucker—a twelve-mile muddy slog over an obstacle course—he’s expecting it to be a bit of a laugh. The training will be tough, but Aiden could use the motivation to regain some fitness.

Matt is the sexy cousin of one of Aiden’s coworkers and a last-minute addition to the team. When he agrees to train with Aiden, Aiden suddenly finds the prospect of regular workouts a lot more appealing.

Soon attraction flares, and they embark on an intense physical relationship. Matt doesn’t want to fall in love with a man, and Aiden doesn’t want to fall in love at all, but despite their insistence on no strings, they grow closer. As the day of the race approaches, time is running out for them to work out how they feel about each other.”

My thoughts:

It’s hard to believe it has only been four months since I first discovered Jay Northcote’s words. Starting one of her books has become a form of comfort reading in that short space of time. I’ve come to love the men in her stories because they’re characters I recognise. It’s so easy to imagine having a pint with them, sharing a laugh and having a good time in their company.

‘Nothing Ventured’ is no exception to that rule. Aiden is nice guy and loyal friend who doesn’t believe in relationships or happily ever afters. He’s seen too many relationships go wrong to want to enter that particular minefield himself.

Matt on the other hand has no issues with relationships as such. He can easily see himself married with children...to and with a woman. He’s bi-sexual but very much in the closet. He may indulge his desire for men with occasional hook-ups; a relationship with one is not on the cards.

When their training regime extends itself into the bedroom, neither man is looking for anything beyond getting off together. And yet, as time goes by sexual satisfaction turns into something more; something neither man is looking for or knows how to handle.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s an easy to read story with characters who come to life on the page. And yet, for some reason, I didn’t connect to these characters as much as I have done to those in previous stories. Not that I disliked them; quite the opposite in fact. They managed to make me smile, infuriate me and had me laughing out loud. But through it all they managed to keep me at a distance. It is possible I felt that way because Aiden and Matt are trying very hard to keep each other at a safe distance.

I think I would have liked a bit more of a look inside Matt’s head. With the story being told from Aiden’s point of view and the two men not being the best of communicators, it was at times hard to get a good idea about Matt’s thoughts and feelings.

Other than that though, I thoroughly enjoyed this book, especially the parts involving mud for some reason. J Jay’s smooth writing style and natural sounding dialogue made this an easy and very engaging read; just as I’ve come to expect from her. I’m looking forward to reading more by this author.


For more information about the author and Nothing Ventured as well as an excerpt, go to my website, The Way She Writes, right here.


Saturday, 8 November 2014

GRACEFULLY GRAYSON

Gracefully Grayson by Ami Polonski
 
Pages: 208
Date: 08/11/2014
Grade: 5
Details: Juvenile Fiction ages 10+
  Received from Hyperion
            Through Net Galley
Kindle

The blurb:

“Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: """"he"""" is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender's body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson's true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher's wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?”

My thoughts:

In this review I will be referring to Grayson as ‘they’ because neither he nor she feels 100% appropriate. This is my personal interpretation and not meant to offend or confuse anybody. This gender issue doesn’t surface in the book itself since the story is told in the first person from Grayson’s perspective.

Up until recently twelve year old Grayson had been able to look in the mirror and see who they should be rather than who they were. Lately the strategy hasn’t been working anymore. No matter how hard they imagine and pretend all Grayson sees is the reflection of a boy rather than the image of the girl they really are.

Having lost their parents at a very young age, Grayson lives with his Aunt, Uncle and two cousins. Because Grayson holds the secret of their identity close, they haven’t been interacting with other kids their age for years. The happiness when it seems that Grayson may have found a new friend after four years without, broke my heart.

“(...) until I feel up to explaining to Aunt Sally and Uncle Evan that I have plans with a friend for the first time since second grade”.

When Grayson auditions for the female lead in a school play and gets the role it appears to be a dream come true at first glance. It isn’t long before reality comes crashing in. That reality is very well dealt with in the book. It’s not all pain and soul searching. Grayson’s life is far from easy but it isn’t unbearably heard all the time either. It would have been easy to turn this story into a tear jerking drama; easy but lazy and unsatisfactory for the reader. The way the story is told I got a wonderful appreciation of the shifts taking place in Grayson as they balance between the joy of being allowed to portray a girl and the fear of making themselves the focus of ridicule and bullying.

“Everything keeps flip-flopping back and forth, from bad to good, over and over again. Sometimes everything is light. Other times, everything is dark.”

It would have been very easy to dislike, if not hate Aunt Sally but a lot of her reasons for wanting to stop Grayson from taking the female lead in the play have to do with her worrying about them (and his cousins) getting bullied in school. Having said that, it got a bit harder to feel sympathy for her once she reflected on how Grayson’s choice would reflect on her parenting skills. Still, all those fears on Sally’s part are undoubtedly worries every parent of a transgender child would have. What did bother me though was the fact that especially the adults in this book were a bit one dimensional; either understanding and supportive or the opposite. While that may work very well for the age group this book is aimed at (and I’m not even sure about that, it’s easy to underestimate kids), it left me rolling my eyes once or twice.

I really appreciated that this book ended on a positive but not miraculous note. Grayson has come a long way but the author doesn’t suggest and the reader doesn’t walk away with, the illusion that all Grayson’s problems have been solved. This is the (very difficult) start of a complicated journey. Grayson has taken the first steps and, we are led to believe, found the inner strength to be true to their real identity. Nothing else is promised.

It was hard to read this book without comparing it to ‘Wonder’ by R.J. Palacio and I don’t mean that in a bad or derogatory wayl. Like ‘Wonder’ this book deals with a youngster who doesn’t quite fit in because they don’t conform to the norm. In both books the main character has to face their otherness in relation to the rest of the world and both characters manage to come out on the other side maybe not so much victorious but definitely intact and empowered.

“(...) when I look at myself in the giant floor-to-ceiling mirrors, I finally see myself the way I’m supposed to be - my inside self match up with my outside self. And now, everyone else will finally see it too.”

Overall this was a wonderful book I’d recommend to any reader aged 10 or over. Understanding otherness is something we can’t teach our kids or ourselves early enough.


Sunday, 2 November 2014

THE HAUNTED MAZE A Review

THE HAUNTED MAZE by Theo Fenraven

Pages: 75
Date: 01/11/2014
Grade: 4.5
Details: Novella
Own / Kindle

The burb:

“Still in his twenties, Percy Callendar is one of the richest men in the world. In an attempt to find the future love of his life—and because he likes to have fun—he builds the ultimate haunted house and assembles a select group of men to go through it. 

Sage Donovan, owner of a fledgling IT company, is the seventh applicant to receive an invitation. He figures completing the maze—something no one has done yet—will guarantee fame and maybe fortune, and he immediately accepts despite having a little problem with anxiety. 

Witches, spiders, ghosts and ghouls are the least Sage has to deal with, because before the night is over, he will face his deepest fear, changing his life and Percy’s forever.”

My thoughts:

They say good things are worth waiting for. I’m not the most patient of creatures and waiting for Amazon to get their act together and release ‘The Haunted Maze’ was very frustrating, but...I have to admit it, well worth the wait in the end. Talk about building anticipation...

Theo Fenraven amazes me. Every time I start one of his books I find myself diving into something completely new. This author doesn’t repeat himself, he flirts with genres and then moves on to the next one, always flexing his artistic muscles and pushing himself and the reader to extend their boundaries. Of course the amazing aspect of this flexing is not so much that he does it, but that he not only gets away with it but manages to own each of the genres he tackles as well as put his personal spin on it.

It’s hard not to fall for Sage. He’s presented as an honest, good and reliable young man who wants to do and be the best he can be. His perseverance when faced with his deepest fear was described so well I almost experienced his anxiety as well as his determination to overcome it.

I wasn’t entirely sure what to think or make of Percy. His scheme is, of course, utter madness and yet there is something sweet and almost innocent about his hope and belief he might find a man who will love him in the middle of a haunted house.

The same is true for Richard, Percy’s lawyer and friend. I couldn’t quite pinpoint him. Like Percy he sounds impersonal and ‘big business’ a lot of the time. And yet there are these gestures and casual remarks suggesting both men might be basically good. This of course makes the characters more interesting and realistic. While having a clear cut distinction between sympathetic and despicable characters can make a story easy to read, it rarely makes a book or the characters in it fascinating. And if Percy and his haunted house are to be described as anything, fascinating would be the word to use.

Once Sage enters the Maze the story blew me away. The various scenes, the different kinds of horror and the puzzles he has to solve were all cleverly thought out and presented so well it was possible to visualize the creatures and monsters. Sage’s internal conflicts as a result of rationally knowing everything he sees and experiences is fake and the very real fear he experiences regardless, was recognisable and made him all the more realistic. His internal dialogue as well as the comments he makes to Percy, who he knows is observing him, added a wonderful touch of humour to the story and put a smile on my face on more than one occasion.

I loved how Theo Fenraven managed to portray a burgeoning relationship between two characters who spend most of their time apart from each other. Initially the only interaction between Percy and Sage takes place without face to face contact, through short conversations over the intercom. And yet, despite the lack of direct contact the reader is in no doubt these two men are getting to know and appreciate each other more with each new horror Sage faces.

I really don’t want to say anything else about the story. Exactly what imaginative horrors Sage runs into and how he deals with them should be a surprise to the reader. The same is true for what happens when Percy’s carefully laid plans are thrown into turmoil. Reading this book is very close to visiting a haunted house. The reader, like Sage, has no idea what to expect next. Each turn of the page may bring a new surprise or shock, just like turning each corner in a haunted house would bring you face to face with something else to make you startle and scream. Very well done, Mr. Fenraven.

The Haunted Maze, despite its title, is a love story, be it that we only get to see the very early stages of the romance. In most books that would result in me wishing the story had been longer. The Haunted Maze didn’t leave me feeling disappointed though. By the time the story ended I’d seen enough of Sage and Percy to believe it was possible for them to be something special together. This was one book in which how they got to that point was far more interesting than what might happen afterwards could ever be.

As always – and I do seem to reflect on this in every review of books by this author - the writing in The Haunted Maze is breathtaking and awe-inspiring. I’ll never understand how Theo Fenraven manages to create such vivid pictures with so few, yet very carefully chosen, words. Reading his books is pure reading delight for me and I can’t wait to see what he’ll be coming up with next.