Dead Flesh (Kiera Hudson Series Two #1) by Tim O’Rourke

Another truly great read from Tim O’Rourke. ‘Dead Flesh’ is told from Keira’s perspective as well as one of her friends. Keira and her friends initially seem to be in limbo after the rollercoaster of previous events. They need to come to terms with everything that has happened and all that they have been through, at the same time as trying to understand their own personal changes and the changes of the different world that they find themselves in.

Again, we have a different type of species with the ‘skin-walkers’ being introduced. Once I completely understood these beings, they became quite fascinating creatures, but also very scary too. I could elaborate here, but would not want to spoil this novel.

The setting, a small town with its main focus on a local boarding school, takes me back to Enid Blyton with the Famous Five. As here we have a group of young people being adventurous and daring in order to seek out solutions to the mysteries surrounding them. The atmosphere through the most part is spooky and eerie, and with Scooby Doo references too,I couldn’t help but think of those great characters and storylines. However, childhood fun aside, Tim O’Rourke adds his own twist by making this novel much more terrifying, gorey and adult-themed.

That is not to say, however, that this novel is completely without any humour. On the contrary, I laughed out loud a few times when reading this book, with one of the characters rifling through woolly knickers, ideas on who ‘The Wolf Man’ may be and the general bickering between certain characters.

On a more serious note, it is obvious from the beginning that Keira and her friends are concerned for their own well-being and are uncertain of a great deal to begin with. Throughout the book the reader is hoping that the characters will focus on each other and there are compassionate moments in there with some intense scenes which will delight the reader.

One of my favourite aspects of Tim O’Rourke’s writing is that he provides enough description for the characetrs and the setting to be understood and connected with. However, there is always room for the reader to use their own imagination for some details, thus making it their own fantasy.

This series is fiction come to life as you envisage and feel whatever the characters are feeling at the time. For example, with the action scenes, you can feel the gore, the blood, the flesh. So much so that it makes you squeamish. It is absolutely fantastic. You feel that you are Keira, or at least a part of her or with her, as she deals with horrific situations and action scenes.

Of all the books in the Keira Hudson series, there are scenes here that truly belong in the ‘horror’ genre. There are spooky, eerie happenings and later on scary, gorey, pulse-throbbing scenes.This is definitely a novel whereby the reader is perched at the edge of their seat.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Vampire Hollows (Kiera Hudson Series One #5) by Tim O’Rourke

Well, ‘Vampire Hollows (Keira Hudson Book 5, Series One)’ is certainly full of surprises. It has been a rollercoaster ride of good and bad, highs and lows and the impact it has on the readers’ emotions is extraordinary.

Tim O’Rourke’s writing is as descriptive as ever regarding the scenery, so much so that it feels like you are actually there, spectating the events that unfold. I have never experienced a book that captures the soul as the Keira Hudson novels do. It is an experience that makes you feel so alive, like you are a part of the story, like you are a character in the story, assisting Keira on her journey.

Keira has gradually been changing and becoming slightly more like a Vampyrus throughout the series and because of how gradual this has taken place the reader does not disconnect with her in any way. Keira was as human as you and I during the Ragged Cove adventure (with the exception of her being able to see the most obvious and piecing it together very quickly) and it is only when looking back at the first novel that we realise how far she has come. And yet we love her, perhaps even moreso than when we were first introduced. I love the fact that she can control her new features and how she flies. The description on how she flies through the air, with the skin on her face rippling, due to her velocity and the wind blowing at her, is just exhilarating and makes it all the more realistic. Also, her seeing ability is still present as we are taken back and forth into her mind’s eye. Some scenes here are graphic and remind me of the tv programme ‘Silent Witness’.

Wherever Keira seems to end up her prize possessions never leave her: Murphy’s crucifix and her beloved iPod. The use of this iPod and the song choices, as mentioned in earlier reviews, have a very stronghold in connecting with the characters and the scene that they are used in. It does not disappoint!

Potter is by far my favourite character, even above Keira I have to say. He is like, to me, a younger version of the character Gene Hunt from the ‘Life on Mars’ and ‘Ashes to Ashes’ series. Even though he is meant to be young, he is witty, sarcastic, moody, stubborn, etc, with oldskool phrases suchas “easy, tiger” and “sweetcheeks”. He is a man of mystery and darkness, and yet he is very moral and loyal. We are constantly kept on our toes wondering if he is the traitor or not.

There are so many twists and turns that absolutely nothing is obvious. This series truly is an escape that feels so real. There are also many questions for the reader to seek answers to: is Luke still alive; will Potter resuce him; who is Elias Munn; will Keira decide to end all human life or end the Vampyrus’?

The Vampyrus truly are incredible creatures and the description of their wings sounds breathtakingly beautiful. I imagine the movie ‘Michael’ with John Travolta and the more recent ‘Legion’ with Paul Bettany when picturing their wings. They sound heavenly even though some are cruel creatures. Which leads me again to reiterate some of my earlier reviews of this series that the characters are very believable. They all say and do both good and bad, making it near impossible to find out who the possible ‘traitor’ amongst the group is.

Again, there are different types of beings to look out for with Vampyrus, Lycanthrope and half-breeds. The Lycanthrope character, Jack Seth, is a large guy, reminding me of Alcide Herveaux from the ‘True Blood’ tv series but with the moodiness and, for me, a slight disconnection like that of Jacob in the ‘Twilight Saga’.

We are also introduced to new characters, such as Coanda and The Elders. The Elders seem to hold the authority in the Hollows and nothing seems to get passed them. They cannot be fooled.

Even writing this review now I cannot escape the atmosphere of the book. The Hollows are a mix of caves and dark tunnels with some open spaces. The rocks are mostly red, like you would imagine on Mars, however some areas within the tunnels are grey and dark. Some areas are mountainous while other areas are wooded. Then there is the light from the Lighthouse, the lava, the ash and dust and the murky fog in the tunnels. If you would like adventure, action, mystery, love, and excitement this series will completely blow you away.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Wolf House (Potter’s Story) (Kiera Hudson Series One #4.5) by Tim O’Rourke

I was very excited to read this novella to understand Potter’s character more as all of the main feature novels are written from Keira’s point of view. In this novella, we have an insight into Potter’s thoughts. We find out about Potter’s history and his relationships with Luke and Murphy; his feelings on Keira; and also, we learn a little about the Lycanthrope’s character and how murderous they have and can be.

Potter maintains his dark, mysterious, moody self and behaves in an awkward manner to those around him, which I absolutely love in his character. It is rarely that his softer emotions are revealed, making him more exciting and believable. He does not suffer fools gladly, however there are moments when he should work as part of a team without being so stubborn.

Even though this novella is very informative, well written and has a good story I couldn’t help but feel that something was amiss in comparison to the main feature novels. I felt that Potter was missing some passion and rage somewhere. I didn’t quite connect emotionally to the character as I have before. This may be due to how tired I was when reading or perhaps Tim O’Rourke was holding back for the main feature.

Either way, this novella does help us understand Potter as it gives a great background of his character. I would have liked more mention of Keira but I suppose there is nothing more for Potter to think. He is very black and white with his outlook and as he admits himself, he is not a romantic.

The actual story of this novella is set in a dilapidated house in the woods, which gives it a dark, eerie feel and Potter cannot trust anyone. His investigative skills are highlighted and amid the twists and turns there is some action. This novella is still a little treat for fans of Potter and the Keira Hudson series.

I cannot wait to get my head into ‘Vampire Hollows (Keira Hudson Series One, #5)’. Will Potter find Luke? I’m off to find out!

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Vampire Breed (Kiera Hudson Series One #4) by Tim O’Rourke

If you liked, or in my case – LOVED, the first three books of the Keira Hudson series you will not be disappointed with this fourth instalment. With Keira captured and no sign of Potter or Luke the beginning of this novel appears very bleak for all of the characters. ‘Where is everybody?’ was the first question I asked myself, in fear of what may have happened to them.

However, over time we find out how Keira is and how she has been treated and as the book unfolds we are taken on an incredible journey that is both horrific and exciting. This novel, like the previous, is action-packed adventure with more beings to fear with the Lycanthrope, Vampyrus, vampires and half-breeds. This book holds many revelations for Keira and her friends, however it is difficult to be more detailed without spoiling the plot. But take it from me, this is a must-read!!!

Tim O’Rourke certainly knows how to engross his readers with passion, rage, fear, friendship, loyalty and love. The characters are amazingly strong and definitive in their own unique way. Keira is a strong heroine, whilst at the same time retains her feminine qualities. Whilst Potter, on the other hand, is still the masculine, strong-silent type with a great deal of rage and passion within. He keeps all of the characters on their toes as well as the reader and I absolutely love him. He is still dark and mysterious with his own plans of action.

There is still the use of the iPod which, certainly for me, aids in keeping the story current and more believable, especially with the song choices and their purposes/uses within the scene.  The music connects this fictional fantasy with real, everyday life and therefore brings the story alive.

I also love the connections I personally make between these novels and various tv shows and films, although I’d like to make it perfectly clear that this is in no way a copy of any of those. This series is absolutely original and unique but with just tiny similarities. For example, I like the Lot 13, which is Tim O’Rourke’s version of True Blood. There is also a strong survival aspect to this novel and Keira must survive. She has to endure thirst, hunger, being preyed upon from all walks of life with doubt on who she can trust. Mix all this up with gore and action and some specific scenario’s in this book and I am left thinking about ‘The Walking Dead’, ’28 Days Later’, ‘Survivors’ and ‘Last Train’, although remembering that this series is focused on the Vampyrus and vampires. I started questioning at some points of the book, ‘Are the characters left the only beings left alive in the world?’

Some may wonder about the gore that I have mentioned above. Yes, there are horrific moments with human flesh being torn apart, blood flowing, biting and fighting. However, the use of this is not over stated or ridiculous but believable and appropriate for the scene it has been written into. It is all very direct but understandable and quick-paced as you sense how much danger the characters are in. Will they make it though?

In contrast to the above, there are also those scenes when during capture or in hiding and shelter the characters have a chance to engage on a more intimate level and refresh themselves and reveal what course of action they are planning and maybe why. It truly is a captivating read that is highly addictive and very powerful with it’s highs and lows.

I am off to read ‘Wolf House (Keira Hudson Series One, #4.50)’ followed by ‘Vampire Hollows (Keira Hudson Series One #5)’.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Vampire Hunt (Kiera Hudson Series One #3)

I am writing this review after reading ‘Vampire Breed (Keira Hudson, #4)’ as I didn’t get chance in between due to being ill. First things first, I’d like to congratulate Tim O’Rourke on this captivating series. It is a thrilling, exciting adventure that is written to the point but with tremendous depth of storyline, characters, action and gore. Each scene creates a different atmosphere and shows great imagination and throughout the series I have been visualising different scenes to be that similar of those from various tv programmes and films but with their own unique twist and originality.

The characters of this series are very strong and unique and keep to their own personality. They are decisive with their own feelings of rage, passion, loyalty and trust. And together, as a team, they work beautifully even when having their own personal issues to deal with.

The main focus of book 3 is to find Kayla. Where have the Vampyrus taken her? What are they going to do to her? With the leadership of Murphy they set out and have an enormous amount to deal with on their journey. Can Keira trust everybody who is with her? Where does her heart lie? How will the change affect her?

The group have to travel over uneven terrain in all weathers, trusting Murphy and coping as survivors. They need shelter during the day, they need food and they need to find Kayla. The vampires come out at night, the Vampyrus will be on the hunt and we are introduced to the Lycanthrope. Do they all pose a threat?

With the change happening gradually to Keira we are all surprised at different points of this book as Keira is able to deal with situations differently than she could before. But the reader is constantly kept on their toes and nobody knows what is coming around the corner.

The scenes at the monastery are dark, eerie, scary and exhilarating all at the same time. But do they find what they seek? I hope I’ve asked enough questions for you to want to read this series of brilliance. Right, off to write my review on ‘Vampire Breed (Keira Hudson, #4’).

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Vampire Wake (Kiera Hudson Series One #2) by Tim O’Rourke

Vampire Wake is a brilliant book. With Keira back at Havensfield she is trying to come to terms with what happened at The Ragged Cove and get her life back on track. However, this is not as simple as it sounds! To begin with, there are not many people who believe her story and, therefore, her mind is occupied with trying to find any information she can on the whereabouts of her beloved mother and her Vampyrus friends: Luke, Murphy and Potter.

She is then asked to ‘babysit’ Lady Hunt’s sixteen year old daughter, Kayla, which Keira is reluctant to do at first but her thirst for work exceeds this reluctancy. Hence, life has not completely returned to normal for Keira but has provided her with something different to occcupy her time with.

Keira’s character is very alert and she is able to piece a puzzle/mystery together with her ability to ‘see’ details and process them very quickly. And it is this, coupled with her drive, determination and curiosity that makes Keira a really likeable character.

I have to say, after reading the first two novels of this series, that the character Potter is possibly my favourite. I love that his dark, impolite side can swiftly turn into cheekiness and that there is something more about him underneath his harshness. Although it is well hidden for the most part, he does appear to have a soft side.

I do feel that Vampire Wake is largely the set-up for book three, Vampire Hunt. There are more revelations in this second novel but after the build up and some brilliant action scenes the reader is left desperate to begin the third book, knowing that plenty more adventure and action scenes are on the way.

Again, there is a great connection to the readers’ reality as Tim O’Rourke writes with great imagination and knowledge of modern day Britain. For example, with current music being played on Keira’s iPod this aids the reader to connect with the characters of the book. It allows the story to have a hint of realism and therefore, makes it more believable.

I have begun reading Vampire Hunt, book three, and it does not disappoint!

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Vampire Shift (Kiera Hudson Series One #1) by Tim O’Rourke

Vampire Shift is a fascinating read. Set in a small, remote town in England with the main buildings being an inn, a police station and a church. It is surrounded by fields, cliffs and the sea. For some reason when visualising the fields and the inn I imagined the setting to be similar of that in ‘An American Werewolf in London’. The only difference being is that this novel is about vampires.

Keira was an interesting character from the beginning, having become a police officer so young and with high ambitions. When she decided to take on the murder cases and those of missing people in the Ragged Cove one of the first places for her to visit was, of course, the police station. With a very limited workforce and the sergeant sitting smoking a pipe and wearing slippers in this remote town, I couldn’t help but imagine ‘Heartbeat’ and ‘Hamish Macbeth’.

As the story unfolds it covers many readers favourite genres. For me, it began as a drama, turning into a thriller, horror, part romance and throughout is quite adventurous with a few action scenes in there too. It is an exciting read at a nice pace. There is always something interesting happening.

Tim O’Rourke’s love of modern music really shows as he mentions some songs and artists, including Adele.  This gives the story a more current feel to it. However, with phone lines down, population low, and the remote setting it also feels quite eerie, with an older feel to the story too. The difference between the setting feeling older, but with modern characters and music is exciting.

Initially, I would have rated this novel four stars but towards the end something happened that I didn’t expect and I thought that it was slightly too much for the story. This may be ignorant on my part as there are more stories in this series and it could be that what I am referring to will pick up in the next book. Maybe I have been harsh and should have given this novel four stars as was intended.

I will be reading the sequel, ‘Vampire Wake’, next.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker