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Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani

 Blog Tour Review - The Only Way Out is Death by Varun Gwalani Twelve powerful people are kidnapped and imprisoned in an empty hotel. Each one of them has three choices: Live out the rest of their days peacefully in the hotel, Die by suicide so the rest of their companions can go free, Or murder one of their companions so they alone can go free. The Only Way Out is Death follows the story of these twelve people from the perspective of a young lawyer, Kiriaki, told as the events unfold. She has to forge messy alliances, navigate complex relationships and feuds, and, above all, try to stay alive. Meanwhile, the mastermind of this death game is lurking just out of view, watching them closely, making sure they are primed for murder. Will Kiriaki find the mastermind before it's too late for her? Will she outmanoeuvre the cutthroats before they cut her throat? There are twelve selfish lives in the hotel. Will it end in twelve selfish deaths? The Only Way Out is Death is a fascinating nov

Review - The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

Review - The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey

August 1939.

As the world goes to war, Hetty Cartwright arrives at Lockwood Manor, to take up her new post for the duration of the war, as safekeeper of the natural history museum’s most treasured taxidermy animal collection, recently evacuated from London.

Yet life at the manor proves challenging for Hetty, who faces the near constant task of protecting her charges from the irascible Lord Lockwood and resentful servants, and it seems that every inhabitant has something to hide, not least Lucy, Lord Lockwood's beautiful yet haunted daughter.

But when some of the animals start to go missing, Hetty begins to suspect that someone, or something, is stalking her through the darkened corridors of the house . . .

Amongst the rumours of ghosts and curses, what else is Lockwood Manor hiding?

Oh I absolutely loved this book! It has everything! Gothic horror, queer romance, taxidermy!

Lockwood Manor looms over the whole affair, as it should in any Gothic novel. A vast manor house, slowly falling apart, as the Second World War begins. I loved the enigma and mystery of the house, the questions about how many rooms there actually are, the tower bedroom with their own princess locked away in them, the dwindling staff, all ruled over by a bully of a lord. And it's into this Gothic masterpiece that Hetty and her collection arrive.

And what a collection it is! The mammal collection from, presumably, the Natural History Museum in London, evacuated to the countryside to escape the upcoming blitz. Rare and fabulous beasts begin to fill the halls of Lockwood Manor, bringing their own mystery and creepiness to proceedings. 

This is where the haunting mystery begins to creep in. There are tales of Lockwood Manor being haunted, dreams of a white woman and her beasts stalking its hall, so it is fitting that the horror really begins with the stuffed and mounted beasts. It's slow, creeping horror too. How does the leopard disappear on the first day? Do the animals really keep moving around at night? So many little elements like this really got under my skin, had me guessing, on edge, throughout the book. Once the true horrors of Lockwood Manor were revealed, however, they left me totally shocked and shook. This is a powerful, haunting and moving book!

There's romance too, and again it is slow and subtle, beautiful in its delicacy. The pacing of this novel is perfect, and everything within it is allowed to unfold at its own speed, giving it so much impact when things finally become clear.

A beautiful, powerful Gothic horror which got under my skin and really moved me.


The Animals at Lockwood Manor by Jane Healey is out now, published by Pan Macmillan.
I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


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