THE DROWNING KIND by Jennifer McMahon

Be careful what you wish for.

It’s 1929, and 37- year- old Ethel Monroe, watches her husband play with the local children and is desperate to give him a child of his own. She’s tried everything, including superstitious legends about keeping a robin’s egg in your bra. Nothing is working. Until her husband takes her to a fancy hotel in Vermont where there is a spring that seems to be able to cure the sick.

The fancy new resort caters to people coming to take the waters. Well, not the town people. They know all about the springs. When the owner befriends Ethel she also tells her a secret. The spring can grant wishes. But we all know nothing is free, there is always a cost. And the cost Ethel will pay will ensure that her family and their family will always be at the springs.

Cut to now and we meet Jax. Jax is a social worker. She works with trauma victims and children. Maybe she chose that path because her sister was haunted by mental illness. Lexie hasn’t been in touch with reality for a long time so when Jax finds nine missed calls from her sister and a voice mail that is scary and manic, she ignores them. The next day Lexie is found dead. Drowned in the pool full of spring water. Black as the devil’s soul and already quite crowded.

As she cleans up the house and all the paperwork and journals that Lexie had, she realizes that Lexie was researching not only the history of their family but the history of the property and the springs. Measuring them at different times and areas and recording the depth and what she saw. Now she wants Jax to join her.

McMahon is brilliant at ghost stories. Tales we tell around the campfire and scare ourselves silly. I am not ashamed to say I lost a fingernail to this book. Spooky, ghastly, ghostly, this one is twisted and horrific. Just the way I like them.

NetGalley/ April 06, 2021 Gallery Scout Books

The Lucifer Chord by F.G.Cottam

The Lucifer Chord

Ruthie Gillespie’s efforts to find out the truth about a mysterious missing rock star lead her on a terrifying journey into the past. 

Researcher Ruthie Gillespie has undertaken a commission to write an essay on Martin Mear, lead singer and guitarist with Ghost Legion, the biggest, most decadent rock band on the planet, before he disappeared without trace in 1975. Her mission is to separate man from myth – but it’s proving difficult, as a series of increasingly disturbing and macabre incidents threatens to derail Ruthie’s efforts to uncover the truth about the mysterious rock star.

Just what did happen to Martin Mear back in 1975? Is he really set to return from the dead, as the band’s die-hard fans, the Legionaries, believe? It’s when Ruthie’s enquiries lead her to the derelict mansion on the Isle of Wight where Martin wrote the band’s breakthrough album that events take a truly terrifying turn …

It is so nice to have Ruthie and company back for a visit. Ruthie has been commissioned to do an essay on Martin Mear and his band, Ghost Legion, as part of a new boxed set and a tour of his music and memorabilia. But something isn’t right about any of this, she discovers as supernatural events force a medium to run for her life and more me she knows to end up dead.

Ruthie is no stranger to the supernatural or the occult forces in the world. She has come up against them before and lived to tell the tale, but will the third time be her last?

Ruthie is one of my favorite characters and I hope we will see more of her! Cottam’s writing draws you into the story and the characters and before you know it you are almost finished, so you slow down to make it last and still end up hurtling towards the end to find out what happens! As a great coincidence I had a text from a friend who is at this minute on the Isle of Wight so this seemed a sign of sorts, but by then I had devoured the entire book!

If you like secret societies, the occult, fact with fiction mixed in and a spooky setting,then you should read the books before this one as well.

Netgalley/SevernHouse September 01, 2018

F.G. Cottam

Reading is a cheap and totally effective way of being transported to another world. The same is true of writing. Mundane concerns only afflict your characters if you decide you want them to.
University was where I first thought seriously about fiction; hearing about Hemingway’s iceberg theory and Eliot’s objective correlative and having the luxury of time to ponder on the mechanics of the novel.
My first writing was journalism and pieces for I-D, Arena and The Face brought me to the attention of mainstream magazine publishers. In the ’90’s I edited FHM when it still majored on sport and fashion rather than Hollyoaks starlets and weather girls. Then I launch-edited the UK edition of Men’s Health magazine and then came to the conclusion that if I didn’t try to write some fiction it was never going to happen.
I read all kinds of fiction, but write stories with a paranormal element I think really because history fascinates me and ghosts allow the past to resonate shockingly, scarily and I hope convincingly, into the present.
I got off to an encouraging start but have suffered a few disappointments since then. I wouldn’t in honesty want to do anything else, though. If I write a terrible novel it’s my fault entirely. If I write a good novel, it’s entirely my achievement.