Book Review: Return to the Aegean

return to aegeanThank you to E.J. Russell for sending Return to the Aegean to us in exchange for a review. I quite enjoyed reading it and it was a story that had my attention from the very beginning. Here was a fine story of a twin sister returning to her homeland to uncover the truth behind the death of her beloved brother. Return to the Aegean tells of a wonderful story of a sister’s pain and heartbreak and quest for true understanding of a traumatic event that occurred in her family 13 years prior.

Return to the Aegean is the story of Thalia, the child of Russian emigres to Greece, and of her return to the Greek island of her childhood to uncover the mystery surrounding her brother’s and mother’s deaths. Following these traumatic events she fled the island in an attempt to forget about it while pursuing a career as a marine archaeologist.  However, Thalia increasingly finds herself unable to put the past behind her and feels unsettled that something is amiss about that night they found her brother.

That wound healed long ago, but my brother’s absence never did. This love is scarred and flawed, it ripples around me, echoing the ebb and flow of my consciousness. I can’t abandon my brother’s memory to half remembered fictions any more. I need the truth.

Although it causes much pain and discomfort for Thalia and those that have remained on the island, Thalia is determined to piece together the events that led up to and included that terrible night when her brother was found dead and her mother missing. Not everyone is pleased to see Thalia’s return however and once she discovers it was murder that took her beloved brother from her, she becomes all that more determined to uncover the truth. The truth however, may not be what Thalia truly wants to discover. In the end, she is boldly able to confront those that victimized her family and covered up the truth of what happened to her mother and brother that one fateful night. In doing so, Thalia realizes the island is her true home, and putting aside those inner demons she once again fully embraces her life as it is meant to be lived, on that little island in Greece.

“Lambi had been my twin, my best friend, my protector, my inspiration to be better. Without him on the island, I foolishly believed there was no reason to stay. “

Russell adeptly draws you immediately in to the story and I found I was intrigued to continue from the very first pages. She wonderfully conveys the love, importance of family and community in the Greek culture along with the beauty of the Greek islands, and superbly describes each of her characters involved.

If you are looking for a solid story with hints of mystery, I do recommend Return to the Aegean. While there are parts containing some erotic writing, they do not overpower the story and can easily be skimmed over if they are not your taste, as I did. 🙂 Thank you again Ms. Russell, it was indeed a pleasure to read!

Review: The Haunting of Maddy Clare

Maddy Clare has been haunting the barn at Falmouth House for the past seven years. Maddy doesn’t like men, and becomes very angry and destructive when one ventures near. Mrs. Clare, owner of Falmouth House, is now frail and old. Along her housekeeper, Mrs. McCready, both just want to see her gone for good. But Maddy isn’t ready to go, she wants revenge.

Alistair Gellis and his assistant, Matthew Ryder are seasoned ghost hunters, but are also shell-shocked war veterans fighting inner demons/ghosts of their own. Maddy doesn’t take kindly to men entering her barn, which means Alistair must find a girl to help them document and rid Falthom House of its destructive ghost. Sarah Piper, living a lonely existence in London, is called by her temp agency asking if she would take an unlikely assignment.  Does she dare set aside her fears and apprehension and take it?

Falmouth House is located in the small town of Waringstoke. Everyone knows one another, and there seems to be much they wish to keep hidden. Especially the mystery surrounding the servant girl, Maddy Clare. Many believe in the ghost of Maddy, but they are also most unwilling to part with any real information to help solve the mystery surrounding Maddy Clare, her suicide and her haunting.

It so turns out that Sarah Piper is quite receptive to ghosts. Maddy immediately claims Sarah and with every presence of Maddy, Sarah is overcome with vivid images and revelations. Maddy begins to control Sarah and gives her an assignment as well.

Find them. There are 3 of them. Find where I am buried.

Therefore, with the help and knowledge coming through Sarah, her, Alistair and Matthew set out on solving a mystery Waringstoke is reluctant to reveal, and to help calm Maddy and give her peace to move on.

I was very, very intrigued by this book, first because of the beautiful cover, and as I had read a quick synopsis someone had posted that said it was like “Maisie Dobbs, Ghostwhisperer”. And whomever posted that was bang on! Throw in a touch of Hitchcock for good measure (think Birds) (lots of birds!), and you have a darn good mystery with the lead female sleuth indeed very much like Maisie Dobbs. It takes place in the same time period, post-WWI, and Sarah finds herself all in as ghost hunter/ ghost whisperer.

This was a very quick read, I read it in under 3 days, it had my full attention for much of it, as it was spooky at times, not too scary, but with just the right amount of edge & intrigue – Maddy is a very angry ghost filled with hatred and intent on destroying all for what these men did to her. But I’m taking a half star off for some of the gratutitous sex scenes thrown in that I thought were unnecessary. There were only very few really, but I felt some of the detail was too much and detracted from the characters and the time (perhaps I’m too wistful about the era?).  I’m definitely hoping we see more of Sarah Piper in the future though!

Simone St. James’ website can be found here.

Alternative reviews of The Haunting of Maddy Clare can be read from Agnes Mack’s Books, The Historical Novel Society and from The Book of Secrets.