The Key in the Lock by Beth Underdown

One of my favourite historical fiction books ever is The Witchfinders Sister, Beth Underdown’s STUNNING debut. When she announced on Twitter that proofs were being printed for her new novel, I was dizzy with excitement, I kid you not.

I’ve been lurking on Beths socials for a number of years, liking, commenting and generally making my presence known. So thank you Beth for putting up with my harping on about how keyed up I was (see what I did there 😉) to read your second novel, The Key in the Lock.

To my utter astonishment, (and maybe to shut me up!!) Beth kindly sent me a beautiful dedicated proof, so I instantly cast aside my TBR plan for the month, and dived straight in.

‘I still dream, every night, of Polneath on fire. Smoke unfurling out of an upper window and a hectic orange light cascading across the terrace’.

By day, Ivy Boscawen mourns the loss of her son Tim in the Great War. But by night she mourns another boy – one whose death decades ago haunts her still.

For Ivy is sure there is more to what happened all those years ago: the fire at the great house, and the terrible events that came after. A truth she must uncover, if she is ever to be free.

I’d imagine it’s very nerve-racking for authors when sending their second book out into the ‘bloggers wild’, as it were. Particularly when a debut has had such excellent reviews and feedback. A hard act to follow, perhaps? Take it from me Beth, you’ve nothing to be worried about, The Key in the Lock is brilliant.

What struck me the most about this story was how much effort had gone into the research. It is meticulously written down to the very last minute detail. So much thought is put into Beths novels, this is something I noticed when reading The Witchfinders Sister, this one has that very same precision.

From the creative descriptions to the most authentic characters, from the intricacies of plot detail, to the slow burning reveals, The Key in the Lock is top quality historical fiction.

I absolutely adored the secretive, atmospheric story-line. I often find if plots are gentle in motion, if the writing style isn’t quite ‘up to it’, I become a little bored when revelations take their time to unfold. But not here, I found it so immersive, the gothic feels, dark tension, cleverly haunting reveals, and characters so vivid in my mind, it made for some breathtaking reading.

I can count on one hand authors whose books are an auto-buy for me. Beth has been one of those authors since reading her debut in 2017. She sits comfortably alongside Sarah Waters where I don’t even have to read the synopsis, I already know I’m going to love it, it’s a given.

Thank you so much Beth for sending me a signed copy, it’s a treasure on my forever historical fiction shelf.

Beth Underdown was born in Rochdale in 1987. She studied at the University of York and then the University of Manchester, where she is now a Lecturer in Creative Writing.

The Key in the Lock is released in January 2022 from Viking books

WWW Wednesdays! 7 Oct 2020 #wwwwednesdays

Welcome to WWW Wednesday!

Hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words

Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The three W’s are:
📖 What are currently reading?
📖 What have you finished reading?
📖 What will you read next?

I’m currently reading and REALLY enjoying Hag : Forgotten Folktales Retold. It’s a compilation of traditional folk tales by some cracking women writers like Daisy Johnson, Kirsty Logan and Irenosen Okijie. It’s part of my spooky season October reads.

Staying with spooky reads, I finished reading Famished by Anna Vaught. A dark collection of short stories with food and feasting as the main theme. It’s on my best of 2020 shelf on Goodreads and has pride of place next to my (slowly growing) Shirley Jackson collection. You can read my 5 star review HERE.

Next in line, is creepy horror collection Diabolica Britannica: A Dark Isles Horror Compendium by a variety of horror authors including Sarah Budd, Morgan K Tanner and Tim Lebbon. It’s introduction is written by horror legend Ramsey Campbell and I can’t wait to get stuck in! All proceeds from the purchase of this ebook go to Covid-19 research here in the UK, so it was a no-brainer to buy this for Halloween!

So there we have it! As you can see, I’m very much into short story collections at the moment. I like how I can get the satisfaction of a whole story without committing too much time to each one.

💀 🎃 👻 🎃 💀 🎃 👻 🎃 💀 🎃 👻

WWW: Wednesday 9th September 2020 What are you reading at the moment?

WWW Wednesday is a meme hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. It’s open for anyone to join in and is a great way to share what you’ve been reading!

Current Read:

A Village Affair by Joanna Trollope

It’s a slow ol’ read, and I’m a bit disappointed as it’s my first Trollope book, and I had hoped for something more…

Recently read:

The End of Men by Christina Sweeney-Baird

My 5 star book of the year!

Sliver by Ira Levin

Another disappointing one, I usually LOVE Levins’ books, but this was too full of waffle!

Next Read: Bunny by Mona Awad

I’m joining in with the Ladies of Horror Fiction Group on Goodreads with this one! It’s been described as ‘demented’ so I’m REALLY looking forward to starting it!

It’s Tuesday! I’m talkin’ BIG BOOKS. It’s #Tomesday!

Good morning/afternoon/evening!

Today I’m chatting about books of size. Once in a while, I fancy something big and thick to hold (stop it! 😆) and I dig around my shelves for some inspiration of epic proportions.

I’ve a tendency to be drawn to mahoosive tomes, particularly when I’m in my favourite place ever, the book department in my local charity shop. (For which I have a self- imposed ban on until 2020, but that’s a whole different story).

What do you consider to be a Tome-sized book? 500+ pages? 700+ pages?

Well, Did You Know?

Tome comes from Latin tomus, which comes from Greek tomos, meaning “section” or “roll of papyrus.” Tomos comes from the Greek verb temnein, which means “to cut.” In ancient times, some of the longest scrolls of papyrus occasionally were divided into sections. When it was first used in English in the 16th century, tome was a book that was a part of a multi-volume work. Now a tome is most often simply a large and often ponderous book.

PONDEROUS. I just love that word! Here’s the gorgeous Jodie Comer from Killing Eve pondering how to kill her next victim. (Any excuse to add her to my post, I JUST LOVE HER!)

Okay, books, BIG, FAT, JUICY BOOKS THAT WEIGH AS MUCH AS A BREEZE BLOCK.

Let’s get some pictures, that’s a lovely stack wouldn’t you say?

Okay, I’ll quit messing with you, let’s get on with it. Here’s four Tomes of mine that are all 700+ pages.

Let’s start with the wonderful Kingsbridge series by Ken Follett, the first of my tomes for Tomesday. I do believe there’s a third in this series which I have yet to purchase. Just take a moment to feast your eyes on these beauts.

Pillars of the Earth is 1076 pages long, but World Without End is a whopping 1237 pages!

The Independent quotes on the cover for WWE;

‘You won’t be able to put it down’.

To be fair, I couldn’t pick it up for long either as holding it for more than half an hour gave me tennis elbow! (I’m an in-the-bath reader). Anyway, I’ve read them both, and they are ‘up there’ with my all time favourite in the Historical Fiction genre, both receiving five star ratings from me on Goodreads.

Next, I have two tomes that I’ve not read, but were bought in a charity shop for such a ridiculously low price, how could one resist?!

The Theatre of the World by C B Butler.

‘England 1586. Elizabeth I’s privateers are called into service to save England from its greatest peril’.

Another big chunk of history, the main character having been born in Southampton, my home town. I’ve got to get cracking on this one ASAP. I’ve just reminded myself how excited I was when I found it! Purchased at the British Heart Foundation for a quid! At 771 pages, it’s not as big as the two Folletts, but heavy enough to knock someone out cold.

And finally, my last tome for Tomesday is By Gaslight by Steven Price.

‘A dark tale of love, betrayal and murder from the slums of Victorian London, to the diamond mines of South Africa…’

And it is still on my TBR, I forgot all about it until today! Oh my life, honestly, I was DESPERATE to read this when I bought it. But off I popped it onto the shelves of oblivion, only to be found again today. *sighs*.

Note to self: leave it in full sight, a place where I stub my toe on it’s 731 page bulk.

So there we have it, four giant-size books, two I’ve read, two TBR.

What massive books do you own? Do you enjoy a book that you know you have to invest a lot of time into? Let me know in the comments. Or you could even do your own #Tomesday post. Don’t forget to tag me so I can pop over and have a read!

Right, I’m off, it’s sad, but I must dash. (Any excuse to use another Jodie GIF 😉😆)

Thanks for dropping by, and until next time, cheerio!

What’s in a Name? The Name Book Tag

I’ve just seen this tag over at Between the Bookends and enjoyed the simplicity of it and that it has a list of books. I do love a list, me. It’s dead easy, just spell your name out in books you have read.

Jess did it with her full name, JESSICA so listed 7 books. You can see her post HERE.

I’m going to grumble because I’ve got such a short name! LISA will only give me a four book list, which I’m not at all happy about. Instead, I’m going to do my list based on my blogger name, OWLBESATREADING! Who doesn’t love a nice long book list eh?!

Okay then, here we go…. (click on the books to find out more on Goodreads)

O ~ Others by James Herbert

W ~ We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

L ~ Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

B ~ Bright Shiny Morning by James Frey

E ~ Elmet by Fiona Mozley

S ~ Sweetpea by C J Skuse

A ~ Affinity by Sarah Waters

T ~ This is going to Hurt by Adam Kay

R ~ Raven Black (Shetland Island #1) by Anne Cleeves

E ~ Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

A ~ Ancient Egypt by David P Silverman & Peter Bently

D ~ Demons of the Deep (Fighting Fantasy #19) by Steve Jackson

I ~ In Bed with the Tudors by Amy Licence

N ~ Necronomicon by H P Lovecraft

G ~ Going Out by Scarlett Thomas

Well that was a lot of fun scrolling through my Goodreads ‘Read’ shelf! I hope you enjoyed seeing some of my past reads. If you’d like to do your own What’s in a Name tag post, don’t forget to tag me so I can have a look!

Thanks for dropping by!