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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 - Bone China by Laura Purcell

Review - Bone China by Laura Purcell

Consumption has ravaged Louise Pinecroft’s family, leaving her and her father alone and heartbroken. But Dr Pinecroft has plans for a revolutionary experiment: convinced that sea air will prove to be the cure his wife and children needed, he arranges to house a group of prisoners suffering from the same disease in the cliffs beneath his new Cornish home. While he devotes himself to his controversial medical trials, Louise finds herself increasingly discomfited by the strange tales her new maid tells of the fairies that hunt the land, searching for those they can steal away to their realm.

Forty years later, Hester Why arrives at Morvoren House to take up a position as nurse to the now partially paralysed and almost entirely mute Miss Pinecroft. Hester has fled to Cornwall to try and escape her past, but surrounded by superstitious staff enacting bizarre rituals, she soon discovers that her new home may be just as dangerous as her last…

Bone China is a dark and ominous book, and I loved it. 

It's a book about superstition, about folk beliefs in the small folk, the fairies and the pixies. This is something I've always found fascinating and I loved how it was dealt with here. The conflict between scientific progress and understanding and the lingering folk beliefs was well handled, and the power these beliefs can hold over someone brought up in them was creepy as anything! There was also that delicious uncertainty, where maybe there was something out there but it's not depended upon as an explanation. 

It's a book about madness, and this was such a powerful element of the story. Seeing characters descend into madness was hard, and the effects it can have on any body were really well realised. This combined with the superstitious beliefs in a really effective way, showing the different pressures that can really stop us thinking straight and the devastating effects it can have. 

It's a book about possessiveness and control. In many ways, this was the most subtle theme of the novel. Hester Why felt this about her former mistress, doing whatever she could to keep their relationship special, different, to keep her mistress to herself. It's echoed later in Morvoren House, where Rosewhyn is kept controlled, and there's a definite hierarchy about which servants serve which family members. It's not as openly expressed as the other elements, but so much of the strife in the novel is driven by this theme.

It's a book about how we cope with trauma, whether turning to drink or retreating into our own minds, or fighting to cure an incurable disease to prove something to the world. This is a key driver for the book, the overcoming of past mistakes, regrets and trauma. 

I loved the way the story was told too.; There's the "current" narrative, a historic tale set in Regency times of a woman running away from something to a remote house on the Cornish coast. But as the novel goes on the narrative switches to past events, first Hester's past experiences in London, showing exactly what she's running away from and why, and later events from Moroven House from forty years earlier, showing us why it is such a cold, bleak and haunted place. With Hester's time in Moroven House interspersed with these flashbacks, we get a slow unveiling of past horrors shedding an eerie light on present events.

Bone China is a chilling novel of superstition, madness and possessiveness, told with skill and perfect Gothic style.


Bone China by Laura Purcell is out now, published by Bloomsbury.

I was given a review copy via Netgalley in return for an honest review.


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