Book Review: Belinda Lyons-Lee’s Tussaud is a delightfully devious gothic mystery

It should have been Marie Tussaud’s greatest success. An automaton, rendered lifelike through her waxworking skills. It would stand, walk, elegantly wave a fan. Even sweeter that it should be Marie Antoinette; the French Revolution had cost both queen and artist plenty.

But when her business partner, a magician named Philidor, ignores her instructions, the show falls apart. Marie Antoinette is ruined, and Phantasmagoria is cancelled even before the curtain falls on opening night.

And yet, a man in the audience sees something special in the show. A proposition is placed before Tussaud and Philidor. An eccentric duke, living in isolation at the sprawling Welbeck Abbey, has a commission for them. An automaton of his own, built to his exact specifications. In return, a small fortune, and the opportunity to craft a new show, hosted in the underground ballroom of Welbeck itself.

Once settled at the estate, however, things begin to take a dark turn. Tensions with Philidor are high. And bound by the Duke of Portland’s strange rules, and his unnervingly precise list of requests for his automaton, Marie can’t quite shake the feeling that something is dreadfully wrong at Welbeck Abbey.

Continue reading “Book Review: Belinda Lyons-Lee’s Tussaud is a delightfully devious gothic mystery”

Book Review: Gina Nutt’s Night Rooms is a fascinating blend of horror tropes, poetic prose, and personal reflection

Shopping mall beauty pageants and wedding anniversaries meet true crime and Victorian taxidermy in Night Rooms, a stunning personal essay collection from Gina Nutt.

There’s likely an expectation that, given that she’s writing about it, Nutt’s life is packed with adventure or trauma or something generally monumental. It isn’t. But Night Rooms is no less emotionally resonant for it. Nutt’s relatable recollections are made electric, filled with vivid imagery and unexpected analysis.

Continue reading “Book Review: Gina Nutt’s Night Rooms is a fascinating blend of horror tropes, poetic prose, and personal reflection”

Book Review: Jamie Figueroa captivates with debut novel Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer

Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer book cover

In the tiny tourist town of Ciudad de Tres Hermanas, brother and sister Rafa and Rufina are slowly unravelling in the aftermath of their mother’s death. But, although Rosalinda has passed away, she is yet to pass on, making her presence known by banging pots and pans and kicking the walls.

Rufina sees and hears her, but Rafa – Rosalinda’s favourite – does not. And he’s taking her death the hardest, slipping away into a darkness Rufina knows he will not return from. So she offers a wager.

If they can make enough money over the next weekend, Rafa can leave this place. Take the cash, head to the islands where he was at his happiest, and save himself from this despair. And if they can’t? Then Rufina will resign herself to whatever path Rafa chooses – wherever it may lead.

Continue reading “Book Review: Jamie Figueroa captivates with debut novel Brother, Sister, Mother, Explorer