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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

Blog Tour Review - Grim Falls Academy by Louise Forshaw

Blog Tour Review - Grim Falls Academy by Louise Forshaw

 Today I'll be reviewing not one, not two but three books! The first three books in this really fun younger-middle grade series are all being released together, and I got a full set from Maverick Publishing to review. I also got a second set to give away to one lucky winner, so go check the competition on my Twitter feed here before Thursday 24th August.

Louise Forshaw is a skilled illustrator with a huge number of book credits to her name. I came across her work last year when she illustrated the lovely Major and Mynah, written by Karen Owen. Grim Falls Academy is her author debut, as well as being illustrated by her.

Each book is fairly short and packed with gorgeous illustrations. They'd suit young readers who are building confidence and moving between chapter books and middle grade. They're set in a school for monsters and supernatural beings, focusing on Seb, a young werewolf, and his friends Victor, a vampire, and Tabby, who appears at first to be a normal human. Other students we see in these three stories include Francine, a Frankenstein's Monster type person who was reanimated by the science teacher, and Khamun, an Egyptian mummy and prince. Various teachers appear in different stories, as does the headmaster and a hilarious pair of guard suits of animated armour.

There's some focus on interpersonal relationships. Khamun is a bit of a bully, and fairly privileged, and there are friendships and rivalries we see. There's also quite a bit of humour and a fair bit of mild peril. With no one ever being permanently injured, the school is threatened by mysterious forces in each story, and our heroes have to rise to the challenge and save the other pupils, teachers and the school itself by working together and being resourceful. There's a nice emphasis on the different approaches they each take. Victor is very cautious and careful while Seb has a tendency to charge in headlong. There's also a very interesting subplot running through them all about Seb having to control his temper to avoid going "full wolf" and the role anger can play in our lives. While each story is self contained and can be read alone, they're best read as a series, particularly as the ongoing mystery around Tabby slowly begins to unfold. It's clear from quite early on that she's not quite the normal human she's presented as.

Most of the horror here is body-horror. People grow tentacles or turn to goo, or get trapped in pods. I would say that it's written well with its target audience in mind, but it's definitely something to be aware of for more sensitive readers. 

The art throughout is lovely, and it's all really well presented, with large, readable text on off-white paper that makes them really easy to read. 

Grim Falls Academy is a lovely, slightly creepy and very fun new series for younger readers.


Grim Falls Academy books 1-3 by Louise Forshaw are out on 28th August 2023 from Maverick Publishing. 

I was given a set for review in exchange for an honest review and participation in this blog tour. 


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