*BOOK REVIEW TOUR* – A New Dark Age: A Reckoning, by Ross Patrick

#Dystopian #Speculative

 “A dark vision of our coming future where the flickering glimmer of hope is the human capacity to form relationships and help each other. This is rebel fiction.”

 For readers who appreciate Cormac McCarthy,

Nicholas Matthieu & Margaret Atwood

Publisher: Brown Dog Books

Publication date: eBook – 14th December 2021

Paperback – 27th January 2022

Blurb

When the collapsing began, in a system where scarcity was a commodity, there was always a need for the unemployed, the homeless and the hungry. When most people could no longer afford consumer goods, there were riots. The rulers called it an attack on democracy.

The riots were met with militarised, armoured police. With falling tax revenues, companies took over financing the police, so the police increasingly functioned as capitalism’s own Praetorian Guard; sometimes supporting rival business leaders, sometimes bringing about their demise, and all the while living standards fell and the state started to crumble. 
For Esme Sedgebrook, growing up in the provinces, there is no future other than an arranged marriage, motherhood, and domesticity, fleeing to join the uprising is as much about personal transformation as it is political. 

My Review

Prescient and dramatic tale of a dystopian future – 5 stars

Set in the year 2061, this novel is a bleak and dramatic tale of a dystopian future, which explores the best and worst of humanity. I found it to be eerily prescient – I could easily imagine a future world where at least some of the events come to pass, given the trajectory the planet is on at this point.

It is also a story of the journey and enlightenment of seventeen year old Esme Sedgebrook, a downtrodden young woman from the provinces, who joins the rebels in their bid to shake the foundations of a society that has become sick, twisted and corrupt. Women have been reduced to chattels and the exploitation of the populace by those in power is cruel and stark. The read is a dark one but there are shafts of light in the bonds of friendship and the bravery and commradeship of many of the characters, often at great personal cost.

The world building was excellent – I could easily visualise the people and places Esme and others encounter as the plot progresses.  This future England is still recognisable, but it is scarred, broken and decayed and technology and medicine have all but disappeared. Society is divided between the obscenely rich, isolated from the common people who eek out a living and many have reverted back to the old ways of building local community ties and religion has once again taken hold. And then there are the lawmakers and the military, who do the dirty work for those in power and finally the revolutionaries, who baulk at the many wrongs in society and devote their lives to bring the system down. 

I found it to be a deeply thoughtful read which draws on our collective memories of the Peasants’ Revolt, enclosures, the Industrial Revolution and the development of capitalism. It contains rich characterisations and descriptions and a complex plot with dark undercurrents of violence and desperation throughout, interspersed with friendship, hope and the determination to bring about change. 

I enjoyed how the lives of the various characters encountered within the story became interwoven as the book progressed and reached its conclusion. Esme is not the same person at the end of the book as she was at the beginning and she is at various points a bystander, an active participant and a victim of some of the events in between. Indeed, there are a number of violent and disrurbing scenes which are integral to the story and the development of its characters.

I know that this read will stay with me for a long time, not least because of Esme’s personal journey but also as it cautions us about what could very well come to pass if circumstances allow.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of the book was given to me by the author and I am voluntarily leaving a fair and honest review.

Goodreads

About the Author

Ross Patrick was born in the Scottish enclave of Corby in the English East Midlands. When the Steel Works started shedding jobs he moved with his family to rural Leicestershire. Introverted, Ross drifted through a grey school of tired buildings and lingering temporary classrooms to provincial universities at Leicester and then Norwich, the University of East Anglia, where he studied Literature, having previously studied History. He then “lost a decade” working in wine retail and education before a breakdown and suicide attempt in 2014. Ross learnt that people’s sympathy for mental illness is often more generous in theory than in deed. During a housebound recovery from depression and PTSD, initially as catharsis, he began writing more seriously. 

Ross lives quietly in a house by a stream back in the English East Midlands with his cat, Graham. He admits to disliking numbers, though this could be a reaction to his dad’s work in accounting: Life isn’t to be measured but to be experienced, though he says he’s mostly experienced his vicariously. He finds distraction in long walks, studying the philosophy of consciousness and the hope that we are all one dream experiencing itself subjectively from infinite disassociated perspectives. Otherwise, Ross says he suffers persistent disappointments of following Nottingham Forest, and the joyous feelgood escapism of following Ben Fogle’s New Lives in the Wild. He enjoys both cooking and eating Italian food, an inheritance from his mother’s family. He is also vegetarian; Graham the cat is not. Ross believes in the collective whilst Graham is frustratingly individualistic – these differences continue to bring some small amount of tension to their otherwise companionable existence.

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*REVIEW* – Perfection, Kitty Thomas

#DarkRomance #Contemporary

Blurb

Everyone thought I was married to the perfect man. But if Conall Walsh were perfect, I wouldn’t have killed him.

I thought I got away with it until I received an anonymous note at the ballet company I dance for:

You were a very bad girl. If you don’t want me to report what I know about last night, meet me at the old opera house after rehearsal. I will tell you the price of my silence when you arrive. If you speak of this or bring anyone with you… no deal.

But his price isn’t money. It’s me.

THIS BOOK IS A STANDALONE contemporary dark romance.

My Review

Beautiful and suspenseful dark read – 5 stars

This is a dark romance containing murder, blackmail and eroticism set within the beautiful world of ballet and I read it in one sitting. I particulary liked the Phantom of the Opera vibes of the setting where much of the action takes place.

Having rid herself of her controlling and abusive husband, Cassia falls prey to a blackmailer who threatens to tell all if she does not pay the price he demands. Rather than money, the blackmailer insists that Cassia submits to him at a specific time and place and in a manner of his choosing…

I will not reveal any more, suffice to say that there are plenty of deliciously erotic scenes where Cassia is compelled to surrender to the will of her blackmailer. What starts off as understandable fear and trepidation on Cassia’s part soon turns to compulsion as she becomes wrapped up in his twisted game. I was on the edge of my seat throughout wondering what would happen next. I also found myself craving the growing connection between the couple, despite the obvious wrongness of the situation.

The read, which explores control and submission, also contains plenty of mystery and suspense as Cassia strives to come to terms with her new reality. The twist at the end completely blindsided me! It is a super read for fans of the genre.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Purchase Links

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*REVIEW* – Logistics: A Christmas Story, by Chris Coppel

#ChristmasRead #Mystery #Fairytale #SciFi #Romance

Blurb

After being abandoned at the age of two and a half, Holly Hillman was raised without whimsy or fantasy. She was taught that there were no such things as Santa Claus, fairies, elves or any other accepted fantasies that help a child deal with the harder realities of life. Now in her forties, she is the CEO of a Fortune 400 company. She rose to the top through hard work, but also by living without distractions or social attachments. Despite her rigidly ingrained dedication, Holly was content with her life, having never lived by any other tenet. Everything was perfect until she was required to give her DNA as part of a health check leading up her company’s merger with an Asian conglomerate.

The results of her test unlocked the secret of her unique ancestry, leading to her having to confront a fantastical truth that would forever change her views on life and reality itself.

Goodreads

My Review

Uplifting and Original – Loved it! – 5 stars

In Logistics: A Christmas Story, author Chris Coppel seamlessly blends mystery and romance with a sprinkling of humour to create an original and page turning read which I loved. The protaganist, businesswoman Holly Hillman, has her life upended, after the results of a simple DNA test reveal her unique ancestry, in what is one of the most surprising plot twists I have ever read. This leads to her re-evaluating her own existence and the world around her – indeed, the book also ventures into the world of physics, but not as we know it!

I do not want to give the plot away as Holly’s origins are truly fantastical and it would take away the pleasure of reading the book. Suffice to say I enjoyed the personal and life changing journey she goes on and how she interacts with the other characters as the story unfolds. At the start of the novel, I found her to be a rather singleminded but colourless character with a tragic back story, and I was heartened by how she was slowly but surely transformed by events and her interactions with those from her past, present and future.

Logistics is a modern-day fairy tale which speaks to the reader on many different levels. I found it to be an uplifting read which underlined that it is never too late to seize what is truly important in life.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of the book was given to me by the author and I am voluntarily leaving a fair and honest review.

Purchase Links

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*REVIEW* – Delirium (Atom and Evil #1), by Myra Danvers

#Sci-fi #Romance #DarkHumour

Blurb

Living on the fringe of deep space, Iris is nothing like the woman she was Before.
She’s broken. A shadow. Running from a shady past filled with trauma and unspeakable pain, she’s lost and trying not to be found. Numbing her anguish with boredom and opium.
Because she knows he’s coming.
A vicious criminal.
The enemy she used to love.
Her biggest mistake.
Fifteen years wasn’t nearly long enough to dull the ache of what they lost. Scars branded too deep, wounds that never healed.
They say pain is temporary, that it leads to personal growth. But Iris is a creature remade in blistering agony. Forged by a drive to wreak havoc. He should have known better than to abduct and blackmail her.
She will claim vengeance, or die trying.
There are no heroes here. Only a pipe full of the good stuff and villains fighting over scraps.

My Review

Action-packed and crazy tale of vengeance – 5 stars

This is one crazy ass read from start to finish and I certainly enjoyed the ride. Iris, the protagonist, has little sense of self-preservation and even less concern for the lives of others, the men who have dared to kidnap and blackmail her. Vengeance will be hers and I just loved how the read contains scene after scene of destruction and mayhem, steeped in dark humour.

I was glued to the pages to see what she had planned next for her abductors who want to use her for her technical wizardry. There are a number of laugh-out-loud moments – her methods are certainly twisted and violent and designed to take no prisoners. If you have ever dreamed about taking revenge on your enemies then this book will feed your fantasies!

Big Evil, her ex lover, now  her sworn enemy, with whom she has a history, is the only one who understands her version of crazy and he too does not appear to be of sane mind. We are given snippets of Iris’ past and their relationship, gaining more understanding as the book progresses and I found myself trying to work out what had happened to propel her to her drug filled and solitary existence and make her despise him so.

The book ends on a cliffhanger and I am looking forward to the next instalment to see how the plot and the intense relationships unravel.

Recommended for fans of sci-fi reads who like strong, crazy anti-heroes and heroines.

Reviewed by Tina Williams

Please note, a copy of this book was given to me by the author ad I am voluntarily leaving a review.

Goodreads

Purchase Links

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Author Links

https://myradanvers.com/