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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 - Ever Alice by H J Ramsay

Review - Ever Alice by H J Ramsay

Alice’s stories of Wonderland did more than raise a few eyebrows—it landed her in an asylum. Now at 15 years of age, she’s willing to do anything to leave, which includes agreeing to an experimental procedure. When Alice decides at the last minute not to go through with it, she escapes with the White Rabbit to Wonderland and trades one mad house for another: the court of the Queen of Hearts. Only this time, she is under orders to take out the Queen. When love, scandal, and intrigue begin to muddle her mission, Alice finds herself on the wrong side of the chopping block.

I have always been a huge fan of Alice in Wonderland, so I approached Ever Alice with a little trepidation. 

The storyline, I really enjoyed. There's quite a bit of courtly intrigue in there, with different plots and schemes and rebellions going on around the Red Queen. Alice gets caught up in it and has to figure out her place in it all, who she can trust, who she can't and how far she's willing to go to save Wonderland.

The elements in the asylums I also enjoyed. They were suitably dark and creepy and got genuinely worrying at times, as Alice was locked away and then sent for special treatment. The "Alice in an asylum" thing has been done before, but H J Ramsay did it well here.

What I really didn't like was the style of the storytelling. It was clearly aiming at a Carrollian nonsense, with people saying contrary things (news that had to be delivered quickly was "unimportant") and eating and drinking a frankly bizarre collection of foods. Characters from the two Alice books had been reimagined in differently courtly roles and beyond court, as the Walrus has somehow become Pope. There's unrest between the four card kingdoms, and some kind of religious war occurring too. 

Honestly, I just felt it was a bit much. When Carroll introduced nonsense, there was often a reason given for it, a grounding in literature or language or philosophy (such as when Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice that words should mean what he wants them to mean), whereas in Ever Alice it was just a given that everything would be nonsensical. It felt like it was aiming for whimsical and just ended up being bizarre.


Ever Alice by H J Ramsay is out now, published by Red Rogue Press.

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


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