STEEPED TO DEATH by Gretchen Rue

Series: Witches’ Brew Mystery, #1
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: September 6, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★¼


This was an enchanting start to a new mystery series! Main character Phoebe Winchester has just inherited a spooky gothic mansion and cozy tea/bookshop from her Aunt Eudora in Raven Creek, Washington. Yep, I spent a good portion of the book trying to figure out a way to jump inside. My dream! The descriptions of the brews and baked goods were to die for.

The mystery comes into play when a deceased man is found outside Phoebe’s store, possibly murdered as he was trying to break in. What was he after, and who wanted him dead? Phoebe also discovers that Eudora was a witch (that tidbit wasn’t just a town rumor!), and she may have inherited more than just an estate from her dear aunt.

This was an enjoyable read with a little magic, romance, and a solid mystery element. Plus a delightful cat named Bob! I can’t wait for the next book. If you love witchy/paranormal cozies be sure to pick this one up.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

THE DEAD ROMANTICS by Ashley Poston

A disillusioned millennial ghostwriter who, quite literally, has some ghosts of her own, has to find her way back home in this sparkling adult debut from national bestselling author Ashley Poston.

Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem — after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

Romance is most certainly dead…but so is her new editor, and his unfinished business will have her second-guessing everything she’s ever known about love stories.

Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: June 28, 2022
Source: Review copy from NetGalley

What a sweet (and bittersweet) story! I’m usually a hard sell when it comes to rom-coms, but this one I could not resist, with a ghostwriter haunted by her handsome editor’s ghost, and a quirky small town funeral parlor setting. I wasn’t sure how a phantom love interest would work, but it did.

THE DEAD ROMANTICS is a funny, unique, sad at times, and emotional romance/family drama. I loved how the book handled grief and forgiveness as the main character dealt with the death of her father. The pacing was a bit slow in the middle, but the ending was twisty and wonderful. Recommended to fans of rom-coms that will pull at your heartstrings.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

ROAD OF BONES by Christopher Golden

An American documentarian travels a haunted highway across the frozen tundra of Siberia in New York Times bestselling author Christopher Golden’s Road of Bones, a “tightly wound, atmospheric, and creepy as hell” (Stephen King) supernatural thriller.

Surrounded by barren trees in a snow-covered wilderness with a dim, dusky sky forever overhead, Siberia’s Kolyma Highway is 1200 miles of gravel packed permafrost within driving distance of the Arctic Circle. A narrow path where drivers face such challenging conditions as icy surfaces, limited visibility, and an average temperature of sixty degrees below zero, fatal car accidents are common.

But motorists are not the only victims of the highway. Known as the Road of Bones, it is a massive graveyard for the former Soviet Union’s gulag prisoners. Hundreds of thousands of people worked to death and left where their bodies fell, consumed by the frozen elements and plowed beneath the permafrost road.

Fascinated by the history, documentary producer Felix “Teig” Teigland is in Russia to drive the highway, envisioning a new series capturing Life and Death on the Road of Bones with a ride to the town of Akhust, “the coldest place on Earth”, collecting ghost stories and local legends along the way. Only, when Teig and his team reach their destination, they find an abandoned town, save one catatonic nine-year-old girl―and a pack of predatory wolves, faster and smarter than any wild animals should be.

Pursued by the otherworldly beasts, Teig’s companions confront even more uncanny and inexplicable phenomena along the Road of Bones, as if the ghosts of Stalin’s victims were haunting them. It is a harrowing journey that will push Teig beyond endurance and force him to confront the sins of his past.

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date: January 25, 2022
Source: Borrowed from the library

★★¾

ROAD OF BONES is a paranormal horror/thriller set during winter along the Kolyma Highway in Siberia. Until this book popped up on my radar, I had never heard of this road or its cruel, gruesome history. Possibly up to a million gulag prisoners died building this highway and their bodies were buried underneath, victims of Stalin’s cruelty.

A documentarian and his cameraman head out on this desolate highway looking for ghost stories on their way to Akhust, the coldest town on Earth. Once they get there, they find the town has been abandoned except for one little girl, and a pack of murderous wolves, that are now after them.

I have mixed feelings about this book, and I think it’s because I was expecting something different based on the synopsis. There was a fast-paced “chase” element, interesting Siberian folklore, and a few creepy moments. But where were the ghosts? Unfortunately the “road of  bones” and its tragic history were lost in the chase, except for a couple of odd disjointed parts.

ROAD OF BONES is heavy on the folktale, without a lot of whys, but I was enthralled with the descriptions of the bitter cold! (Again, where were the ghosts?)

THE HAUNTING SEASON: Eight Ghostly Tales for Long Winter Nights

Eight bestselling, award-winning writers return to the time-honored tradition of the seasonal ghost story in this spellbinding collection of new and original haunted tales.

Long before Charles Dickens and Henry James popularized the tradition of supernatural horror, the shadowy nights of winter have been a time for people to gather together by the flicker of candlelight and experience the intoxicating thrill of a spooky tale.

Now eight bestselling, award-winning authors — all of them master storytellers of the sinister and the macabre — bring the tradition to vivid life in a spellbinding new collection of original spine-tingling tales.

Taking you from the frosty fens of the English countryside, to the snow-covered grounds of a haunted estate, to a bustling London Christmas market, these mesmerizing stories will capture your imagination and serve as your indispensable companion to cold, dark nights. So curl up, light a candle, and fall under the ghostly spell of winters past…

Publisher: Pegasus Crime
Published: October 12, 2021
Source: Purchased (Nook)

★★★

THE HAUNTING SEASON is a mishmash of spooky winter/holiday stories. The collection was good overall, with a few hits and a couple of misses —

• A Study in Black and White by Bridget Collins: 4 Stars (creepy chess house)
• Thwaite’s Tenant by Imogen Hermes Gowar: 4 Stars (young mother on the run)
• The Eel Singers Natasha Pulley: 2 Stars (wut?)
• Lily Wilt by Jess Kidd: 3.5 Stars (photographer falls for a dead woman)
• The Chillingham Chair by Laura Purcell: 4.25 Stars (haunted wheelchair)
• The Hanging of the Greens by Andrew Michael Hurley: 3 Stars (wreaths bring up bad memories)
• Confinement by Kiran Millwood Hargrave: 3 Stars (woman in confinement stalked by evil)
• Monster by Elizabeth Macneal: 2 Stars (again, wut?)

Laura Purcell’s The Chillingham Chair was my favorite! Abrupt ending, but suspenseful & rather creepy. A Study in Black and White was probably second. I loved the chess theme and the overall creepy gothic atmosphere. ♥