Mini Review Monday #11

As we start a rather hectic publishing week, I’m sharing another instalment of my Mini Review Mondays, after reviving it last month! In case you haven’t seen any of my previous posts, I do ‘mini’ reviews of books that I’ve read, loved and usually promised to review ages ago.

Today, I’m focusing on two stories that deserve a lot more hype than I’ve seen and coincidentally, they both publish on Thursday, starting with Are You Watching?

I managed to read it early, as I won an ARC from the author.

Are You Watching?

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Ten years ago, Jess’s mother was murdered by the Magpie Man.

She was the first of his victims but not the last.

Now Jess is the star of a YouTube reality series and she’s using it to catch the killer once and for all.

The whole world is watching her every move.

And so is the Magpie Man.

TW: murder, violence, stalking, suicide attempt, physical abuse, mentions of terrorist attack 

My Thoughts:

I am a huge, huge mystery fan, so it takes a lot to stump me, but Ralph managed it with this tightly plotted, terse thriller.

As always, writing a review for a mystery/thriller is difficult, as you don’t want to give anything away. Therefore today’s review will be short and sweet, as this is the type of book where you want to go in blind.

The concept of this book was so unique and intriguing. A big part of the draw of this book for me was the enmeshment of social media in the plot, spawning intriguing new questions about privacy and whether social media is a help or hindrance.

This book is such a phenomenal mystery. The concept is utterly unique and unnerving, then add in a compellingly tangled tale and plenty of suspense and you’ve completely got me hooked.

I devoured this in one sitting – struggling to tear my eyes away from the page even to drink my cup of tea. It just flowed so well and felt completely claustrophobic. I was totally entranced by this all-consuming story, needing to find out what would happen next! For me, that’s always a mark of a good mystery, always keeping you guessing. Ralph did this spectacularly and had plenty of twists and turns up his fiendish sleeve, with a couple totally throwing me off.

The next book I will be discussing is The Mercies, which I had the pleasure of reading early via Netgalley and with Sasha.

The Mercies:

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Trigger warnings: loss of loved ones, suicidal thoughts, rape, sexism, miscarriages, grief

Finnmark, Norway, 1617. Twenty-year-old Maren Bergensdatter stands on the craggy coast, watching the sea break into a sudden and reckless storm. Forty fishermen, including her brother and father, are drowned and left broken on the rocks below. With the menfolk wiped out, the women of the tiny Northern town of Vardø must fend for themselves.

Three years later, a sinister figure arrives. Absalom Cornet comes from Scotland, where he burned witches in the northern isles. He brings with him his young Norwegian wife, Ursa, who is both heady with her husband’s authority and terrified by it. In Vardø, and in Maren, Ursa sees something she has never seen before: independent women. But Absalom sees only a place untouched by God and flooded with a mighty evil.

As Maren and Ursa are pushed together and are drawn to one another in ways that surprise them both, the island begins to close in on them with Absalom’s iron rule threatening Vardø’s very existence.

Inspired by the real events of the Vardø storm and the 1620 witch trials, THE MERCIES is a feminist story of love, evil, and obsession, set at the edge of civilization.

My Thoughts:

This was a sumptuously written debut adult historical fiction story. Like with The Deathless Girls, Hargrave’s writing had me spell-bound. Every word felt like it had been delicately chosen to then have the most impact. It’s such a well-crafted story of small town claustrophobia, paranoia and witchcraft that I struggled to tear myself way from.

In Marin and Ursa, Hargrave has crafted two unforgettable characters – quietly strong women struggling to survive in an oppressively patriarchal society, where the slightest mistake leads to a tangled web of accusations and rumours. I really liked how slowly the net drew in, despite being able to see its edges early on. It created a sense of oncoming dread that kept me utterly hooked.

In addition to this, at the heart of this story there is a beautiful, slow-burn f/f romance that I loved watching build subtly. The little hints and glances culminate in a lovely scene that I really enjoyed.

85 thoughts on “Mini Review Monday #11

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