Recent Reads: “To Catch a Predator” Edition

Ok, bear with me on that title. Oddly enough, both of the books I read recently, though dissimilar in many ways, both featured creepy characters picking on little girls. Thanks, “Dateline”, for giving me something to tie the two together.

“Entwined”- Heather Dixon

Once Upon a Time, The King and Queen of Eathesbury took a page from the book of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and decided to take the task of populating their kingdom entirely on themselves. As such, they had 12 daughters, and named them all in alphabetical order after various forms of plant life. It’s really a toss-up as to which child would be more screwed at public school- Princess Kale or Jinger Duggar.

Sadly, the Queen of Eathesbury passes away while giving birth to Lily, sending her family and the kingdom into mourning. The girls are all devastated by the loss of their mother, and even more so by the fact that they’re forbidden to dance during mourning. Their most cherished memories of their mother are the dance lessons they took with her, and they can’t bear the thought of not being able to honor her memory in that way.

Fortunately (or so they think) for them, Eathesbury is a kingdom of magic in unexpected places. One evening, completely by accident, Princess Azalea stumbles upon an enchanted passageway to a beautiful forest and ballroom that is somehow hidden within the castle. The princesses’ woes are solved- they may dance without anyone knowing, and without ever leaving the castle.

One should always assume a magical gift comes with a price, and discovering what the mysterious Mr Keeper wants of them could be more than the princesses are willing to give.

This is a new take on the Grimm tale of the “Twelve Dancing Princess,” which was one of my favorite stories growing up. Something about the imagery of the girls sneaking off to dance through the night until their slippers wore out really stayed with me since I was a child. The addition of Keeper, the Guardian of the Pavillion, provides some great creepy moments, and romantic subplots for some of the other sisters are charming. That said, even though it was a beautifully written story, I can’t say that it ever truly grabbed me.

“Blood Harvest”- SJ Bolton

Once upon a time, in a small English Village, Alice and Gareth Fletcher decided to take a page from the book of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar and build a house next to a creepy graveyard… Aw, That doesn’t work this time. Can’t blame me for trying.

Really though, “Blood Harvest” is the story of the Fletcher family, who moves to the little village of Heptonclough to enjoy the peace and quiet of the English countryside. They quickly become aware of the fact that all in the village is not as it seems, as their children Joe and Tom start telling tales of a little girl who is following them and talking to them. They’re also unsettled by some of the local practices which pay homage to Britain’s pagan past. Things get serious very quickly when someone kidnaps their youngest child, Millie, and puts her life in serious danger.

Meanwhile, Harry Laycock (heh heh) has just been appointed the new vicar of Heptonclough’s church, and realizes that there’s a lot more to this country parish than meets the eye. For starters, there have been three mysterious deaths of little girls in the town in the last ten years, all of them connected with the church itself. The mother of one of these girls, Gillian, is treating with local psychologist Evi Oliver, who herself has her fair share of baggage.

Harry and Evi are brought together when Evi is recommended to Alice Fletcher. Alice has concerns that Tom’s tales of “the little girl” may be symptoms of a more serious mental condition. In fact, she couldn’t be more wrong.

This is the third Bolton novel that I’ve read, and all three have kept me reading late into the night (and then tiptoeing around with the lights on because I can’t sleep). Her choice of settings (typically small isolated villages), and protagonists is instantly addictive, and she uses seemingly innocent language that keeps you on the knife edge of suspense at all times. The twist in the story is one that you won’t see coming, and I can’t wait to get into Bolton’s fourth offering.

 

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