The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett

The People at Number 9 by Felicity Everett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The People at Number 9 is a slow-burning, character-driven story about the dynamics of friendship. Sara and Neil have new neighbours move in next door and over a period of time, they become very close to the quirky Lou and Gav.

As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Sara’s outlook on life is being subtly manipulated by this new friendship. The two couples’ children become close, and it slowly evolves into something Sara thought was for the greater good.

Lou is an up and coming screenwriter and Gav is a sculptor, they have hardly any house rules and seem to have the perfect marriage. Their lifestyle is carefree and fun, and soon Sara and Neil spend every spare moment with them, making their own lives a little less mundane and regimental.

This was an unusual read for me, I was up and down with it like a yo-yo. What I thought was going to be a slightly dark, twisty character study, actually turned out to be an extremely slow moving, intense look at how people interact with one another. It was ultimately about how changing attitudes and decisions can have an adverse impact on life, family and future.

If you’re looking for a story with lots of psychological thrills and plot twists, choose something else. However, if you enjoy reading about how relationships stand the test of time, and don’t mind feeling uncomfortably up close and personal with the protagonists, I’d recommend this.

I found at times, I was wondering if anything was ever going to happen. Did this even have a plot?! At half way through, I was contemplating calling it a day, but something was driving me on. When I got to around 70%, and still nothing in particular was going on, it dawned on me that this wasn’t the kind of book I thought it would be. What I did realise though was that I was so intrigued by the two couples relationships, I absolutely needed a conclusion.

Felicity Everett’s writing was a bit hit and miss. It was easy to read with a slow but steady flow, but occasionally I felt that the use of flowery language didn’t belong. I would be in mid-sentence and then some obscure word would be thrown in purely to try and impress the reader. Instead of adding a bit of intellect, it stuck out like a sore thumb, screaming ‘here’s a good word for you, I’m such a wordy author’. For example, when the word ‘nascent’ cropped up, I’d not heard of it and looked it up in the dictionary. When it appeared again a few chapters later, I rolled my eyes I’m afraid. Some stories suit a bit of arty-farty language, it didn’t do this one any favours.

And while I’m on the subject of the writing style, some of the descriptions made me cringe! I’m not squeamish by a long chalk, but up close and personal it definitely was.

‘….relishing the ripe, mushroom-y scent of him’.

‘….with her husband’s semen coagulating on her inner thigh..’

Urgh! No! Too much, too much! If my other half had a ripe, mushroom-y scent, I’d be suggesting a bath, or a trip to the doctor. And I really don’t want to think about coagulation of bodily fluids thanks.

Aside from my gripes, The People at Number 9 was different and I was surprised, intrigued, and irritated by it’s style. I was glad I kept at it as the conclusion was satisfying. What kept me going was the tiniest hint all the way through that some serious shit was going to hit the fan. It just took an eternity to get to there.

This story wasn’t about getting to the conclusion, it was about the journey. I can see Everetts vision with this, and she did a good job at keeping me ticking over. This book is for patient readers who don’t mind waiting for something to happen. It simmers with very little mystery, but for me, there was something that hooked me, but I’ve no idea what.

I’d like to thank the publisher, HQ, the author, Felicity Everett and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review.

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The Lost Village (The Ghost Hunters #2) by Neil Spring (A 2017 top read)

The Lost Village by Neil Spring

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

‘I have a bad feeling I can’t shake. A sense that there’s something deeper out in that village. Something darker.’

After reading Neil Spring’s The Ghost Hunters #1 last year, and thoroughly enjoying it, I was very excited to see The Lost Village (The Ghost Hunters #2) available to request on NetGalley. I was over the moon when I was accepted to read more about Harry Price and Sarah Grey’s adventures into the paranormal.

Unlike other books about ghostly goings-on that I’ve read, Spring gives the genre a bit of twist, in that the main protagonists agenda is to debunk and expose fraudsters who claim they can contact the dead.

What we get is a fascinating insight into how far people will go to convince others of the existence of an afterlife, whether it’s for entertainment purposes in order to make a few quid, or perhaps merely to ‘cover up’ something truly sinister and evil that’s occurring in this very real life of ours.

Both main characters in this story were absolutely superb, very much a chalk and cheese coupling that works a treat. Price, a bolshy individual with real focus on finding an explanation for everything, and the sweet, but spiritually sassy Miss Grey, doing her upmost to tolerate Price, but not allowing him to manipulate her beliefs in any way. Between the two of them, their paranormal investigations are meticulous and fascinating.

The story itself is written beautifully, it reads with atmosphere and injects dread and fear into the reader. There are some pretty ghastly scenes that are described with just enough detail to chill to the bone, without being unnecessarily graphic or bloody.

Spring has a real poetic ability in setting a scene. I was transported to the lost village of Imber every time I picked this up. The bleakness of Salisbury Plain and it’s typically unpleasant weather all woven into a story of mystery and multiple layers that fitted together perfectly, like a spooky jigsaw puzzle.

‘Sometimes I think locations speak to us, like our dreams do. We don’t always know exactly what they’re trying to tell us, but when those messages are imbued with meaning, we sense it acutely.’

This book undoubtedly deserves 5 stars. It is clever, educational, atmospheric and incredibly entertaining. I would recommend it to readers who enjoyed Susan Hills ‘The Woman in Black’.

Huge thanks to NetGalley, Quercus Books and the author, Neil Spring for allowing me the opportunity to read this in exchange for an honest review. It was a pleasure.

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Mr Prendergast’s Fantastic Find By John Brassey

Mr Prendergast’s Fantastic Find by John Brassey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was so pleased to win this in a Goodreads giveaway, I was in the mood for reading something light-hearted and funny and this ticked both boxes.

Dave Prendergast spent much of his retired life trawling eBay in search of the riches he’s promised to his long suffering wife Sheila. After many false starts and disappointments, he finally comes across a listing for what appears to be a pair of very sought-after Japanese vases. Dave HAS to win this auction as he can see a very lucrative future on the horizon.

What follows is a typically British tale of crazy shenanigans which kept me chuckling and thinking ‘typical Brit’ all the way through. I enjoyed the simplicity of the story, it had a number of little twists that I certainly didn’t see coming, and the characters were superbly written.

I really liked how the author portrayed the Prendergast family unit as an average family, with many aspects relatable to a fellow Brit like myself. The relationship between Dave and his wife and son was very amusing and had some lovely heart-warming moments.

Overall, Mr Prendergast’s Fantastic Find was immensely enjoyable, I would highly recommend it to anyone who’s ever dabbled with eBay in the hope of finding a hidden gem, (I too love eBay and I’m still hoping to get rich quick by this method…yeah…right!!) or if you’re in the mood for something quick, entertaining and slightly Britishly Bonkers!

I have only one tiny teeny gripe, I’m not a fan of the cover, I much prefer to visualise the characters my way and not how they look on the cover art. But that’s just me I suppose.

I’d like to thank Goodreads for hosting the giveaway, and the kind letter accompanying my bookpost from the author, John Brassey. I will treasure my signed edition for which I am very grateful.

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