By:  Laura Thalassa
Published:  2016
# of pages: 
The Bargainer (#1)
A to Z


Goodreads description:

Callypso Lillis is a siren with a very big problem, one that stretches up her arm and far into her past. For the last seven years she’s been collecting a bracelet of black beads up her wrist, magical IOUs for favors she’s received. Only death or repayment will fulfill the obligations. Only then will the beads disappear.

Everyone knows that if you need a favor, you go to the Bargainer to make it happen. He’s a man who can get you anything you want … at a price. And everyone knows that sooner or later he always collects.

But for one of his clients, he’s never asked for repayment. Not until now. When Callie finds the fae king of the night in her room, a grin on his lips and a twinkle in his eye, she knows things are about to change. At first it’s just a chaste kiss—a single bead’s worth—and a promise for more.

For the Bargainer, it’s more than just a matter of rekindling an old romance. Something is happening in the Otherworld. Fae warriors are going missing one by one. Only the women are returned, each in a glass casket, a child clutched to their breast. And then there are the whispers among the slaves, whispers of an evil that’s been awoken.

If the Bargainer has any hope to save his people, he’ll need the help of the siren he spurned long ago. Only, his foe has a taste for exotic creatures, and Callie just happens to be one.

My opinion:  I originally rated this 4 stars, but I changed it to 3 after thinking about it for awhile and starting the second book in the series, A Strange Hymn.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun read, but too many things didn’t make sense and there was too much repetition.  I can tell that when the author didn’t quite know what to do, she just had the main characters think loving or dirty or insecure or unsure thoughts.  I wish that there had been a little more action and real progress in the book.

The story follows Callie, who is a human, but a supernatural human.  She’s a siren and is able to glamour other humans and make them do whatever she wants them to do.  Her entire life changed as she found herself in trouble 8 years earlier.  She met the Bargainer, a Fae creature, and soon after that she went to a school for supernatural humans.  Now that she’s out of school, she puts her abilities to good use as a private investigator and tries to ignore the fact that she owes hundreds of favors to the mysterious Bargainer.  However, her life is once again disrupted as she becomes reacquainted with the Bargainer.  He says he needs her help so he must claim the favors she owes him.

This sounds like a really cool story, but like I said earlier, it’s mainly just Callie obsessing about the Bargainer.  At the end, the reader discovers that perhaps he didn’t really need her help and that explains why she didn’t ever really do anything the entire book.  Callie is a fun narrator so I’m disappointed that her physical appearance is always more appreciated than her wit and intellect.  If you don’t mind graphic sex scenes and want a fun read that doesn’t require much thought, I would recommend this, but otherwise I think there are books with similar plots that are more worth reading.

Why I gave this book 3/5 stars:  Fun narrative, but not enough substance or action.

The Haunting of Rookward House

The Haunting of Rookward House

By:  Darcy Coates
Published:  2017
# of pages:  225
Challenges:  A to Z


Goodreads description:

She’s always watching…
When Guy finds the deeds to a house in his mother’s attic, it seems like an incredible stroke of luck. Sure, the building hasn’t been inhabited in forty years and vines strangle the age-stained walls, but Guy is convinced he can clean it up and sell it. He’d be crazy to turn down free money. Right?

The house is hours from any other habitation, and Guy can’t get phone reception in the old building. He decides to camp there while he does repairs. Surely nothing too bad can happen in the space of a week.

But there’s a reason no one lives in Rookward House, and the dilapidated rooms aren’t as empty as they seem…

A deranged woman tormented a family in Rookward forty years before. Now her ghost clings to the building like rot. She’s bitter, obsessive, and jealous… and once Guy has moved into her house, she has no intention of ever letting him leave.

My opinion:  I received a Kindle from my dad for Christmas.  I’ve thought about getting one over the years, but overall I’m a large supporter of physical books made of ink and paper and didn’t want to “give in” to technology.  However, since my dad was so nice and thoughtful, I figured I would give the Kindle Fire a chance and I’m really enjoying it!  It came with a month of Kindle Unlimited and had some suggestions for books on the first page.  The Haunting of Rookward House was the first cover that caught my eye so I downloaded it just to try out the Kindle settings.  I didn’t expect to actually read the whole book, but I was hooked very quickly and ended up really enjoying this book.  So far, it’s one of my favorite Gothic/ghost stories and I’ve read quite a few over the years what with taking a Gothic literature class in college and then participating in the R.I.P. challenge every year.

The story is about a man named Guy who unexpectedly finds out his mother owns an old, isolated house a few hours away.  He’s living with his mom after some sort of tragedy and he’s going crazy living with her and being unemployed.  He decides to take on the project of renovating the old house to keep himself busy and hopefully sell so he and his mom can have enough money for a fresh start.

The house is so far away from civilization that he can barely find the driveway when he goes to check it out.  As you can imagine, things go downhill from there, but Guy handles it all in a realistic way, even after he starts having nightmares about the previous owners of the house.  Eventually he realizes what he’s experiencing is more than nightmares and creaky floors, but by then it’s too late.  The past and the present have collided and Guy is horrified to discover that he’s been caught in the middle.

One of the things I’m often disappointed with in horror/ghost stories/modern Gothic tales is that authors seem to feel that they need to go overboard in the descriptions of what’s supposed to scare the reader.  Sometimes less is more and I often find myself rolling my eyes while reading instead of shivering with fright or suspense.  Also, authors in these genres tend to use the supernatural as a convenient excuse to veer away from the story or explain something afterwards instead of naturally steering the story.

Thankfully, Darcy Coates didn’t do any of these things in The Haunting of Rookward House.  It was incredibly well written and I found myself caught up in the suspense and, at times, felt a chill while reading.  Guy is a complex character and it was interesting how his recent tragedy and personality traits blended with the past tragedy that occurred in the house.  I definitely recommend this book to readers who enjoy Gothic, horror, ghost stories, and suspense.  It would be a great pick for the annual R.I.P. challenge!

Why I gave this book 4/5 stars:  Better than average ghost story, I’m close to giving it 5 stars, but it’s not quite at the same level as my other 5 stars.