Tag Archives: historical fantasy

Book Review: Three For the Road by Justina Ireland

Three For the Road: Stories from the World of Dream Nation   

Authors: Justina Ireland

Publisher: Kindle

American release date: September 20, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Kindle/Historical Fantasy/69 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

Dread South Ever since the dead began to rise from the earth, during the Battle of Gettysburg, life in the South has been less than pleasant, but it goes on. At seventeen, Louisa Aiken knows it is her duty to marry, but she doesn’t want just anyone, and finds her mother’s suggestions somewhat questionable. But she is attracted to the good-looking Everett Hayes. And, if she isn’t mistaken, he is attracted to her himself. But the shambler situation is getting worse. What’s a girl to do? Everyone knows that the girls trained at the Schools for Colored Girls have the knowledge and the training to deal with the undead, which is why people buy them as attendants. Hire them, that is. So when Everett offers to purchase such protection for Louisa, she is flattered, of course. Which is how she meets Juliet. And suddenly, nothing is the same….

Dread Quarter The people of the French Quarter consider themselves safe from the chaos taking place outside their secure walls. But Katherine Deveraux knows nothing of life outside the Quarter, so of course it’s what she wishes, more than anything. Maman has plans for her, plans that involve going to the Full Moon Ball and finding a rich white man to protect her and her family. Such men like to have wives in New Orleans to keep them busy whilst they are there on business. That is how Maman met her first and second protectors, at the ball. But Fate has other plans for Katherine, and her pretty features have just caused her to be kidnapped, and this is not quite how she wanted to leave the French Quarter….

Letters from Home Although Sue can’t read herself, she does appreciate the value in a letter. She swiped this one from Miss Preston’s desk for reasons not entirely clear to her, but its mere presence is comforting to her.  Jane McKeene used to read to her, but she’s gone now, and Katharine Deveraux along with her. They’re working at the Mayor’s house and she misses them. The sounding of the alarm bells indicate the presence of shamblers at the school. Miss Preston attempts to lead Sue and the other girls to safety. But it isn’t going to be that easy, and suddenly heading to Baltimore doesn’t seem like a great idea either. What are they to do?

This is a trio of short stories all from the world of Dread Nation. I would definitely read those two books first before reading this one. The stories add depth to some of the characters, and fill in some back story. I enjoyed each and every one of them. They are a must read for anyone who loves Justina Ireland’s worldbuilding and Dread Nation. I sincerely hope there will be a Dread Nation 3, and more of these not-to-be-missed side stories.

Book Review: Mexican Gothic by SIlvia Moreno-Garcia

Mexican Gothic   

Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Publisher: Del Rey

American release date:  June 30, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Gothic/Historical Fantasy/320 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer:  Julie Lynn Hayes

Noemi is a pretty girl who likes to party and to socialize, happy to show off her extensive wardrobe of beautiful clothes. She’s attracted many suitors, but isn’t serious about any of them, including her latest, Hugo Duarte. She’s as fickle with her studies, having changed majors a few times, unsure what she wants to do. But when her father requests that she check on her recently wed cousin, Catalina, after receiving a disturbing letter from her, she reluctantly agrees to go. Catalina’s marriage was both shockingly sudden and secretive, and no one has even met the groom, Virgil Doyle. And now Catalina appears to be in distress, so what else can Noemi do?

Noemi travels by train to the home of her cousin and her new family. Known as High Place, it’s in a remote location, far from Mexico City. The house is huge, and at one time perhaps elegant, but now it is dark and forbidding and decaying. Besides Catalina and her husband, the other residents of the house are Virgil’s father, Howard Doyle, and Virgil’s aunt, Florence and her son, Francis.

Florence is buttoned-up and strict, and doesn’t hesitate to spell out the rules to Noemi, many of which seem ridiculous. No hot baths, only cold? No smoking? No using the car or leaving the house without permission or alone? Limited access to Catalina, who apparently sleeps a lot – doctor’s orders.  Is this a home or a prison?

Noemi tries to make sense of what is happening with Catalina, and thinks she may need psychiatric assistance. Not to mention a different physician, or at least a second opinion. The things her cousin says about the walls talking to her, and seeing things… this could be serious, beyond the ken of the family doctor, whom she doesn’t trust.

The house is dark and gloomy, a condition exacerbated by a dearth of light bulbs. But the inhabitants seem not to notice. The only person Noemi feels able to talk to, outside of Catalina, is Francis. But he’s so pale and weak, especially when compared to Catalina’s husband, Virgil, who is exceptionally good-looking. But there is something about Virgil that isn’t quite right either.

Can Noemi solve the mystery of High Place… or will it claim her and Catalina both?

Set in 1950 Mexico, this tale is both original and familiar. It kept me constantly guessing from beginning to end, wondering what was going on in this horrible place. And in the end, I wasn’t even close. Noemi might be a somewhat entitled heroine, and far from perfect, but she is engaging, and has spirit enough to match any traditional gothic heroine. I liked her as much as I disliked most of the inhabitants of High Place.

I will definitely have to read more of this author’s works, this is an amazing novel. I kept thinking it would make a great movie or series, and then I read that it is in development as a Hulu series, so keep your eye out for that. I know I will!

This is a must-read for those who love gothic novels and horror stories and appreciate twists. A definite page-turner.

Book Review: Ring Shout by P. Djèli Clark

Ring Shout   

Author: P. Djèli Clark

Publisher: Tordotcom

American release date:  October 13, 2020

Format/Genre/Length: Hardback/Historical Fantasy/192 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes


1920s Macon Georgia is a time filled with prejudice and hate… and filled with the evil that is the Ku Klux Klan. But there is something not right about these Ku Kluxers, other than the obvious. Some of them are not what they seem, demons in human form, inhuman incarnations of hate. But Maryse Boudreaux can see them for what they are. And she has a sword that can whup them real good. And lots of friends who feel the same way and want nothing more than to send these misbegotten demons back to where they came, if not worse.

Now they’re about to re-release that damned movie, that Birth of a Nation, that stirred up so much trouble, so much hate, and so much violence, the first time it saw the light of day. There’s trouble brewing in the air, and Maryse isn’t about to sit back and let it be… she’s going to do something about it, no matter what the cost… and no matter how terrified she is of what’s coming.

I literally drank in this book in just a couple of days, a fascinating, brilliant tale that combines history with fantasy, and introduces us to some damn memorable characters. I cried at the end. Was it relief or sorrow? Read the book and find out for yourself.

This is my first book by this author, but it won’t be the last. He writes with a rich colorful language that sings, much like Maryse’s sword, and it’s filled with people you won’t soon forget. Even hateful ones, like Butcher Clyde. I look forward to reading more of his work.