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Ghosts of Gotham by Craig Schaefer

Ghosts of Gotham is a thrilling supernatural suspense novel. Fans of supernatural and mystery both should enjoy this one immensely.

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Title: Ghosts of Gotham
Author: Craig Schaefer
Series: The Ghosts of Gotham Saga, Book 01
Publish Date: April 9, 2019
Genre: Paranormal thriller
Narrator: Susannah Jones
Source
: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionIrresistibly drawn to mysteries, if only to debunk them, reporter Lionel Page exposes supernatural frauds, swindlers, and charlatans. His latest case is an obsession—at least for an ancient and wealthy heiress: verify the authenticity of a lost Edgar Allan Poe manuscript circulating through New York City’s literary underworld. But the shrewd Regina Dunkle offers more than money. It’s a pact. Fulfill her request, and Lionel’s own notorious buried past, one he’s been running from since he was a child, will remain hidden.

As Lionel’s quest begins, so do the warnings. And where rare books go, murder follows. It’s only when Lionel meets enigmatic stranger Madison Hannah, his personal usher into the city’s secret history, that he realizes he’s being guided by a force more powerful than logic…and that he isn’t just following a story. He is the story.

Now that the true purpose of his mission is revealing itself in the most terrifying ways, it may finally be time for Lionel to believe in the unbelievable.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Nervous Nellie says…

Hats off to Craig Schaefer…AGAIN.  He never disappoints with a story.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began this book, but it wasn’t but a couple of “pages” (I was listening to the audiobook), and I was throughly hooked.  I, like the main character, knew better than to get hooked up with an eccentric, wealthy, older woman who has the connections she has but yet needs someone to investigate something for her.  However, the curiosity practically killed me, so that’s why Lionel couldn’t resist.  The characters that he meets and the story that unfolds is riveting.

The narrator was fantastic.  I can say this because I barely noticed.  Once I get wrapped up in a story, the narrator becomes the characters.  It’s then that I can see the movie in my head and feel like I’m side by side with the main character.  I love narrators that give dimension to a story, and this narrator definitely did that.

It behooves me to give this book a 5 star because of the ride it gave me.  Around each corner, I never knew what to expect.  It was fantastic!

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Invested Ivana says…

This was Nell’s pick for a joint review, and it was an excellent one. Ghosts of Gotham is a thrill ride of mystery and magic. The first chapter is really compelling and hooked me immediately. I also love the relationships Lionel has with both Maddie and Brionna.

If I have one nitpick, it’s that in a story with a literal goddess and several female witches who may be thousands of years old, the NEOPHYTE MALE has to be the one to save the day. But I like this world Schaefer is building, and I like the characters, so I’m not going to get too picky about that. 🙂

I recognize the narrator, Susannah Jones, from the Kincade Strange novels by Kristi Charish. She’s an excellent narrator with a lovely voice and good character differentiation. I see she narrates a number of Schaefer’s other novels as well, so I’m looking forward to hearing more of them.

The second book in the series, A Time For Witches, came out in October of 2020. It’s available in Kindle version, but not yet in audio. I hope it does come out in audio soon, as I’m looking forward to hearing what Lionel and his coven take on next. 4.5.

A Killing Frost by Seanan McGuire

I don’t know of many series whose fourteenth book is still as good as the first. But the October Daye series is certainly one of them.

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Title: A Killing Frost
Author: Seanan McGuire
Series: October Daye, Book 14
Publish Date: September 15, 2020
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Mary Robinette Kowal
Source
: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: When October is informed that Simon Torquill—legally her father, due to Faerie’s archaic marriage traditions—must be invited to her wedding or risk the ceremony throwing the Kingdom in the Mists into political turmoil, she finds herself setting out on a quest she was not yet prepared to undertake for the sake of her future…. and the man who represents her family’s past.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Talk bubble for IvanaInvested Ivana says…

There hasn’t been an October Daye book yet that I don’t find fabulous. Between McGuire’s writing and Kowal’s performance, I am constantly surprised at the emotional response each book can provoke in me. A major theme in A Killing Frost is forgiveness, which is a theme guaranteed to spark emotions.

If you are enjoying this series, don’t miss out on this book. Each one really does build on the last, and I have a feeling there will be some big revelations coming in Book 15!

Ink & Sigil by Kevin Hearne

I’ve been so excited about this return to the world of the Iron Druid! And I’m very grateful that Luke Daniels continues to be the narrator.

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Title: Ink & Sigil
Author: Kevin Hearne
Series: Ink & Sigil, Book 1
Publish Date: August 25, 2020
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Luke Daniels
Source
: Purchased

Publisher’s Description: Al MacBharrais is both blessed and cursed. He is blessed with an extraordinary white mustache, an appreciation for craft cocktails, and a most unique magical talent. He can cast spells with magically enchanted ink and he uses his gifts to protect our world from rogue minions of various pantheons, especially the Fae.

But he is also cursed. Anyone who hears his voice will begin to feel an inexplicable hatred for Al, so he can only communicate through the written word or speech apps. And his apprentices keep dying in peculiar freak accidents. As his personal life crumbles around him, he devotes his life to his work, all the while trying to crack the secret of his curse.

But when his latest apprentice, Gordie, turns up dead in his Glasgow flat, Al discovers evidence that Gordie was living a secret life of crime. Now Al is forced to play detective–while avoiding actual detectives who are wondering why death seems to always follow Al. Investigating his apprentice’s death will take him through Scotland’s magical underworld, and he’ll need the help of a mischievous hobgoblin if he’s to survive.

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Talk bubble for IvanaInvested Ivana says…

What a delight! Ink & Sigil is a fun adventure with great characters and the excellent writing you’d expect from Hearne.

Luke Daniels did a great job, as always, bringing the characters to life with his vocal talents. I will admit that I initially struggled a bit listening to Al’s Glaswegian accent, much like I did with Owen Kennedy’s from the Iron Druid. It was a little rough on my ears until I got used to it (I say that with no nationality bias and with the full knowledge of how American English sounds to many across the world). But after listening to it for a half-hour or so, I didn’t even think about it anymore.

Whether you’ve read the Iron Druid Chronicles or not, if you enjoy really good urban fantasy, this is a book to check out. Hearne really is one of the best writers of the genre.

Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows

Everything you’ve read about Sherlock Holmes is a lie. The tale of Sherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows reveals the real story of Watson and Holmes and the work they undertook to keep this world safe from the old gods.

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TitleSherlock Holmes and the Shadwell Shadows
Author: James Lovegrove
Series: The Cthulhu Casebooks, Book 1
Publish Date: November 19, 2019, Blackstone
Genre: Urban fantasy
Narrator: Dennis Kleinman
Source
: Audible Plus Catalog

Publisher’s Description: It is the autumn of 1880, and Dr. John Watson has just returned from Afghanistan. Badly injured and desperate to forget a nightmarish expedition that left him doubting his sanity, Watson is close to destitution when he meets the extraordinary Sherlock Holmes, who is investigating a series of deaths in the Shadwell district of London. Several bodies have been found, the victims appearing to have starved to death over the course of several weeks, and yet they were reported alive and well mere days before. Moreover, there are disturbing reports of creeping shadows that inspire dread in any who stray too close.

Holmes deduces a connection between the deaths and a sinister drug lord who is seeking to expand his criminal empire. Yet both he and Watson are soon forced to accept that there are forces at work far more powerful than they could ever have imagined. Forces that can be summoned, if one is brave – or mad – enough to dare …

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Talk bubble for IvanaInvested Ivana says…

I’m not exactly sure how to classify this Sherlock Holmes/Cthulhu mash-up, but urban fantasy seems as good a description as any. There is an investigation that takes place in Victorian London, and there are elements of the paranormal, so I guess it qualifies.

The premise of this book is interesting and I like the narrator’s voice. However, I don’t feel very invested in the story or the characters.

The book can get overly wordy, which isn’t surprising for a Victorian-era story. I’m usually okay with exposition, but even I got a bit tired of it.

In this story, Watson has only known Holmes for a week or so, and yet he behaves as if they’ve been devoted friends for a lifetime. I suppose the trauma they are experiencing could be bonding them more quickly than expected.

Somehow, Holmes figures out how to use magic. That seems a little forced, convenient, and out of place.

I enjoyed Dennis Kleinman as the narrator quite a bit. He creates several easily-distinguishable voices throughout the book. There could have been a greater difference between Holmes’s and Watson’s voices. They were different, but the differences were subtle to my ear.

It’s just little things like these that kept me from truly investing in the story. It wasn’t a bad story by any means, but it didn’t draw me in enough to pursue the remaining two books in the series. If you are a particular fan of Holmesian or Lovecraftian fiction, it might be worth checking out, though.

Listen Up! Looking Glass by Christina Henry

I adore Christina Henry’s Chronicles of Alice, as you can see in my reviews of Alice and Red Queen. Though I enjoy her other fairy tale retellings as well, Alice has always been my favorite. So I was extremely excited to hear that a third book, Looking Glass, was in the works. Looking Glass rounds out the story of Alice and Hatcher completely and gives them the ending they deserve.

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Looking GlassTitleLooking Glass
Author: Christina Henry
Series: Chronicles of Alice, Book 3
Publish Date: April 21, 2020, Penguin
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Narrator: Jenny Sterlin, Gildart Jackson
Source
: Purchased

Publisher’s DescriptionIN FOUR NOVELLAS, CHRISTINA HENRY RETURNS TO THE WORLD OF ‘ALICE’ AND ‘RED QUEEN’, WHERE MAGIC RUNS AS FREELY AS SECRETS AND BLOOD.

LOVELY CREATURE

In the New City lives a girl with a secret: Elizabeth can do magic. But someone knows her secret – someone who has a secret of his own. That secret is a butterfly that was supposed to be gone forever; a butterfly that used to be called the Jabberwock. . .

GIRL IN AMBER

Alice and Hatcher are just looking for a place to rest. Alice has been dreaming of a cottage by a lake and a field of wildflowers, but while walking blind in a snowstorm she stumbles into a house that only seems empty and abandoned. . .

WHEN I FIRST CAME TO TOWN

Hatcher wasn’t always Hatcher. Once, he was a boy called Nicholas, and Nicholas fancied himself the best fighter in the Old City. No matter who fought him he always won. Then his boss tells him he’s going to battle the fearsome Grinder, a man who never leaves his opponents alive. . .

THE MERCY SEAT

There is a place hidden in the mountains, where all the people hate and fear magic and Magicians. It is the Village of the Pure, and though Alice and Hatcher would do anything to avoid it, it lies directly in their path. . .

Possible spoilers beyond this point.


Talk bubble for IvanaInvested Ivana says…

Story: There are four novellas in Looking Glass that make for perfect bookends to the Chronicles of Alice.

When I First Came To Town is a flashback story of Hatcher’s past, giving the reader a sense of who was before and how he became to be Hatcher. Lovely Creature gives the reader a sense of what happened to Alice to land her in the hospital where she met Hatcher.

Then Girl in Amber and Mercy Seat wrap up the story of Alice and Hatcher, bringing them to their (what we assume is) a happy ending.

As with Alice and Red Queen, the story is mesmerizingly horrible and beautiful at once. The voice in which Henry paints Alice’s twisted world is, in contrast, sweet and innocent. That contrast is what makes the story feel like a magical, misty fairy tale – lovely and dark at the same time.

Narration: Jenny Sterlin’s performance perfectly captures that sweet, innocent voice that makes this series so fascinating. I don’t believe I’ve listened to any of Sterlin’s other audiobook performances, but I have Sorcerer To The Crown on my TBR list, so I just might listen to that one soon. She is an amazing performer.

Gildart Jackson narrates Hatcher’s story perfectly, bringing to it that same sense of innocence as Alice has along with helping of young male bravado. Jackson already has my devotion as the voice of Alex Verus, of course. He’s a fantastic performer with a huge catalog of audiobooks and does a fantastic job in every one that I’ve heard.

badge5v5Overall: I’m so glad to have this book as part of the Chronicles of Alice. Seeing both the character’s origins and their story’s ending makes the tale feel complete. Stories told in that beautifully dark way aren’t all that common, so I treasure the ones I find.

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