I’m popping in today only to share a long overdue review of a couple of books by Virginia King – one free, the other available at a special price at the moment. I’ll be returning to regular blogging – although maybe a little less full-on for a while – from next week. With many apologies to authors who may lose out in the process, I will need to re-plan my commitments a little. Many thanks for all the lovely messages, and for your understanding over the last few difficult weeks.
Back in May, I had the great pleasure of being part of the blog tour for The First Lie by Virginia King: Virginia wrote a wonderful guest post called “Barefoot with the Beast”, and you can catch up with it here. At the time, I made no secret of the fact that I thought Virginia’s writing might be a little too “left field” for our relationship to move forward any further. But I then read the free ghost story – Laying Ghosts – that Virginia had sent as a “taster” (you can download your own copy free via that Amazon link too), and I really enjoyed it – really well written, very different and highly original. So I decided I’d really like to read and review The First Lie – and I’m delighted to report that I loved it too.
Let me tell you a little more about both books, see if I can tempt you too to step outside your comfort zone. First of all, Laying Ghosts…
Ghosts used to moan. Now they … phone.
A strange message, a deserted beach house, a shocking incident from the past … Selkie Moon’s life will change forever.
When a text message from a long lost friend lures Selkie Moon to Crystal Cottage, the chilling events from a house-party four years earlier wrap her in ghostly fingers and turn her life upside-down.
Laying Ghosts is a prequel to the Selkie Moon Mystery Series, but an excellent read in its own right, and a great way to assess whether the author’s writing is to your taste. It was most definitely to mine – this was a densely packed shorter read, disturbing, exciting, unusual, very well written and perfectly readable as a stand-alone. There were elements that shocked and surprised me – particularly the sexual content and the toxicity of the relationships portrayed – but it was a really gripping story with an unexpected ending, and the supernatural elements were very well handled with just the right degree of “disturbing”. I enjoyed the descriptions too – Crystal Cottage and its surroundings was vividly described – and the story excellent and well told.
So, I moved on to The First Lie…
Selkie Moon is a woman on the run.
In a mad dash for freedom she’s escaped her abusive husband to start over in Hawaii. But her refuge begins to unravel and she’s running from something else entirely. A voice in a dream says: Someone is trying to kill you. Not that Selkie’s psychic, no way. But the threats escalate until she’s locked in a game of cat and mouse with a mysterious stalker. Entangled in Celtic and Hawaiian mythologies, the mystery becomes so bizarre and terrifying that Selkie’s instinct is to keep running. But is she running from her past or her future? And can she piece together the fragmented clues before time runs out?
The First Lie is a psychological thriller with a mythical twist, peppered with a cast of quirky characters. It’s a story about secrets, about the shadows we don’t know are driving us, from our mythical pasts and our present reality, told with a touch of humour.
Join Selkie Moon on the roller-coaster ride of her life. Roller-coasters make her throw up – but that’s the least of her problems.
“Quirky” and “bizarre” aren’t words you’ll often find in the descriptions of books I choose to read, but I’m 100% happy to recommend this book to anyone who usually shares my taste in books. The author’s writing is excellent – maybe just a tad heavy on the dialogue, but it does move the story forward and gives insight into the characters. And what great characters they are. I loved Selkie herself, caught up in so much that she doesn’t understand, desperately trying to make a success of her business venture – she’s sassy and funny, acts before she thinks (and often very unwisely) and has depths to her character and in her background that make her endlessly fascinating. The story sees her surrounded by a cast of quirky and eccentric characters, every one superbly drawn.
A book that mixes an Australian heroine and a Hawaiian setting with celtic myth and legend really shouldn’t work – but this one most certainly does. I loved the clever combining and layering of mythical past and magic with present day reality. This book is largely readable as a thriller, but with a depth and unusual slant and perspective that makes it something really different. As with Laying Ghosts, the descriptions are excellent – Selkie’s eccentric shared home, the seedier parts of the neighbourhood, and a graveyard setting to feature in your nightmares. Some of the supernatural elements – the voices, the mirror in the bathroom, the bloody footprints – certainly featured in mine. But this was a book I really enjoyed – sometimes it’s good to follow your instincts and let good writing tempt you to try something a little different, and I rather hope others might do so too.
About Virginia King:
When a voice wakes you up in the middle of the night and tells you to write a mystery series what’s a writer to do? That’s how Virginia King came to create Selkie Moon, after a massage from a strange woman with gifted hands was followed by this nocturnal message. Virginia sat down at the keyboard until Selkie Moon turned up. All she had to do was jump, the first sentence said. Soon Virginia was hooked, exploring far-flung places full of secrets where Selkie delves into psychological clues tangled up in the local mythology.
Before Selkie Moon invaded her life, Virginia had been a teacher, an unemployed ex-teacher, the author of over 50 children’s books, an audio-book producer, a workshop presenter and a prize-winning publisher. These days she lives in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney with her husband, where she disappears each day into Selkie Moon’s latest mystery. Bliss.