Well, I have a double whammy for you today – not one but two reviews!
I’ve recently read both of Rachel Tsoumbakos’s books back-to-back. Here’s what I thought of them:
I’d heard some good things about this book and had wanted to read it for a while – I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed.
It did take me a few pages to really get into this; the meticulous world building at the beginning read like a bit of an info-dump yet the author managed to keep my interest. Once I read past this, I was engrossed.
Emeline is feisty, independent and doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s also a crack shot with both gun and bow and has a very keen sense of smell. With the exception of her brother, Warwick, all her family are dead, so when he’s murdered in their kitchen her world turns upside down.
I loved Emeline’s character. She is very well crafted as a sort of urban warrior who’s in the Australian bush. Her hardened exterior makes her a little aloof from people around her yet it’s understandable with all she’s been through. It was nice to see her vulnerable side emerge as a result of Warwick’s murder and endearing the way she grows to really care about Gwennie (Warwick’s girlfriend). When she sets out to discover why her brother was killed, Emeline has to dig deep in an effort to piece everything together whilst coping with her grief. What she uncovers shakes her foundations, especially when someone she trusts turns out to be the biggest villain of them all.
The supporting cast are equally as well drawn. Gwennie grows on you as she becomes Emeline’s companion; she has a gritty determination which blends well with her softer and more caring side. This makes her a perfect sidekick for Emeline. Milosh, the charismatic, caring and handsome leader is not all he seems and as the author’s skilled hand reveals his ‘alter ego’, we see a deliciously cold, power-driven, murderous individual who doesn’t care how many lives are lost (including that of his own brother) as long as he can continue down his chosen path. Besnik (Milosh’s brother) is a little difficult to puzzle out at first – can he be trusted or not? It is a testament to Tsoumbakos’s characterisation that she keeps you guessing as to his true intentions for a while.
The plot is well thought out and scarily believable. Tsoumbakos portrays the mutants and how they came into being in a plausible manner and the story races along at quite a pace. At the end I had a few unanswered questions, leading me to wonder whether a second book was being considered. However, there was enough closure for this to be a standalone novel and a damn good one at that. One of the things I liked most was the originality; this book is a blend of genres which work really well.
My only criticism of this very enjoyable read was the number of mistakes I found which should have been noticed and corrected prior to publication. This didn’t really spoil my reading pleasure, but did lose it one star.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this!
This second novel by Rachel Tsoumbakos is an exciting blend of fantasy, paranormal and suspense.
Isobel, the main character, is starting to get her life back together after a painful break-up with her boyfriend and losing her job. She takes up jogging, and what she finds in the grounds of an abandoned mental facility radically changes her life.
Isobel has been well-crafted. She’s strong and determined, but also vulnerable and to a degree, a little too trusting – at first. The way she deals with events are totally realistic and readers can share her burgeoning love, fear, distrust and puzzlement as things unfold. This woman could have done with a little more laughter in her life, but it wasn’t the path she was meant to tread, so you never feel that it’s missing from the story. That, to me, is the sign of a good writer.
The supporting characters were also well written, especially Lottie. She’s quite mysterious and it’s not until the end you find out who she really is and what’s on her agenda.
The setting, Larundel, actually exists. The former mental hospital, as it’s depicted in the book, is a broken down building covered in graffiti, which is slowly being reclaimed by the flora and fauna surrounding it. It’s been plundered for most of its valuable assets and now resembles a bomb site with rubble, abandoned furniture and general rubbish left around to trip up the unwary. As Tsoumbakos takes you through the halls, wards and various rooms, you get a real sense of how it looks. It’s so well depicted you can easily picture it in your mind.
I loved the blending of genres in this book and the author builds the suspense in an artful way. Many a night I read into the wee small hours, because I just had to find out what was coming next. The fantasy and paranormal side is believable and put together in an interesting concept – one that I really enjoyed.
If there was one thing I didn’t like about this book, it was the number of missing words. However, putting that aside, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this – it’s a fantastic read!
So there you have it. Rachel Tsoumbakos sure knows how to spin a tale and keep a reader entertained. I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next! If you want to find out more, or better yet get a copy for yourself, click on the titles for links to Amazon.
The lovely Rachel