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A Dark and Secret Place

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For readers of Jane Harper and Rachel Caine comes a chilling thriller from award-winning author Jen Williams about a woman who discovers her late mother had been secretly corresponding with a serial killer for decades. When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother's baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery--stacks and stacks of ca For readers of Jane Harper and Rachel Caine comes a chilling thriller from award-winning author Jen Williams about a woman who discovers her late mother had been secretly corresponding with a serial killer for decades. When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother's baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery--stacks and stacks of carefully preserved letters from notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The "Red Wolf," as he was dubbed by the press, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn't the only one to have cause to re-examine the murders. The body of a young woman has just been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did. What did Heather's mother know? Why did she kill herself? And with the monstrous Red Wolf safely locked inside a maximum security prison, who is stalking young women now? Teaming up with DI Ben Parker, Heather hopes to get some answers for herself and for the newest victims of this depraved murderer. Yet to do that, she must speak to Michael Reave herself, and expose herself to truths she may not be ready to face. Something dark is walking in the woods, and it knows her all too well.


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For readers of Jane Harper and Rachel Caine comes a chilling thriller from award-winning author Jen Williams about a woman who discovers her late mother had been secretly corresponding with a serial killer for decades. When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother's baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery--stacks and stacks of ca For readers of Jane Harper and Rachel Caine comes a chilling thriller from award-winning author Jen Williams about a woman who discovers her late mother had been secretly corresponding with a serial killer for decades. When prodigal daughter Heather Evans returns to her family home after her mother's baffling suicide, she makes an alarming discovery--stacks and stacks of carefully preserved letters from notorious serial killer Michael Reave. The "Red Wolf," as he was dubbed by the press, has been in prison for over twenty years, serving a life sentence for the gruesome and ritualistic murders of several women across the country, although he has always protested his innocence. The police have had no reason to listen, yet Heather isn't the only one to have cause to re-examine the murders. The body of a young woman has just been found, dismembered and placed inside a tree, the corpse planted with flowers. Just as the Red Wolf once did. What did Heather's mother know? Why did she kill herself? And with the monstrous Red Wolf safely locked inside a maximum security prison, who is stalking young women now? Teaming up with DI Ben Parker, Heather hopes to get some answers for herself and for the newest victims of this depraved murderer. Yet to do that, she must speak to Michael Reave herself, and expose herself to truths she may not be ready to face. Something dark is walking in the woods, and it knows her all too well.

30 review for A Dark and Secret Place

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    Yessssss! This is haunted! So bleak, incredibly dark, soul crushingly disturbing story may give you long and endless nightmares! Ladies and gentlemen, I can honestly announce that I found a great gem to read on Halloween month! Its genre is more closer to psychological thriller and mystery but there is monstrous serial killer out there to take the women into the woods, carving their hearts theme is closer to give you enough scare and horrifying screams belong to horror movies’ Queen Ms. Curtis! Yessssss! This is haunted! So bleak, incredibly dark, soul crushingly disturbing story may give you long and endless nightmares! Ladies and gentlemen, I can honestly announce that I found a great gem to read on Halloween month! Its genre is more closer to psychological thriller and mystery but there is monstrous serial killer out there to take the women into the woods, carving their hearts theme is closer to give you enough scare and horrifying screams belong to horror movies’ Queen Ms. Curtis! Poor Heather Evans in her mid thirties returns to her family house, the very same place she has left when she was 16 after losing her father and having disastrously dysfunctional relationship with her mother and she sworn not to return back ever! But now, her mother took her own life and the she suffers from guilt and grief, organizing her mother’s belongings, trapped in this humongous, eerie, gothic place which gives haunted vibes. She starts finding flower petals and bird feathers scattered around the rooms and shadows at the back garden close to the woods watching her moves and vanishing into thin air as soon as they are noticed by her. And these ominous things are just the beginning of her haunted visit to her past. She finds her mother’s correspondences with a man, the very same man called Red Wolf who is notorious, vicious serial killer, brutally took lives of innocent women and carved their hearts (as a souvenir: he might have eaten them or buried them, who knows?) And from the writing style she realizes Michael Reave a.k.a Red Wolf might be really close to her mother ( a friend or God forbid her lover maybe!?) So she decides to share this information with police and pushes her chance to talk with this dangerous man to learn more about her own mother’s secrets. Even though DI Ben Harper had second thoughts about the meetings at the prison, he reluctantly accepts it because a copy cat killer is out there kidnapping women and taking their lives and the newbie monster’s method has quite resemblances with Red Wolf’s technique. Michael Reave hasn’t said a word for years and now he is ready to talk with Heather. After her first encounter with this dangerous man, Heather quickly realizes she’s slowly dragging to the cliffs and her life is under threat! Because monsters in the wood are now coming for her so she’d better run or face her past and release her inner darkness to fight them back. Heather was quite lovable badass heroine, reminded me of Walter White’s famous line: so many times you think she is danger but you shouldn’t be worried about her because she is the danger! One of my darkest, gripping, nightmarish, riveting reading with great references of Red Riding Hood ( sometimes the girl in a red hood can be hunter and poor wolf can be a prey! ) Special thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for sharing this digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions. I truly enjoyed it!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michael David

    I really thought this was going to be a 4-star read...until everything I liked about the book vanished. Heather returns home after her mother shockingly commits suicide. There were no signs to look out for, and she can’t wrap her head around it. While clearing up her mother’s home, she finds a tin with tons of letters...written to her mom...from a serial killer named Michael Reave. Michael is serving a life-sentence in prison, even though he’s always claimed innocence. Why in the world was her m I really thought this was going to be a 4-star read...until everything I liked about the book vanished. Heather returns home after her mother shockingly commits suicide. There were no signs to look out for, and she can’t wrap her head around it. While clearing up her mother’s home, she finds a tin with tons of letters...written to her mom...from a serial killer named Michael Reave. Michael is serving a life-sentence in prison, even though he’s always claimed innocence. Why in the world was her mother communicating with this man? What was she hiding? Now, when a body is found in a similar fashion to the old ones, Heather starts to dig into her mother’s past as the police try to figure out if Michael knows more than he lets on about the current kill. What I liked: -The initial setup is gripping. I was very interested to see where the story would go. -A few parts were generally creepy, which I don’t often feel while reading. -It’s atmospheric, and the writer did a good job making me feel a sense of dread. What I didn’t like: -Heather’s dialogue was a bit obnoxious at times. -I love books with amateur sleuths, but once Heather started investigating, all of the suspense dissipated. -There’s so much going on, and it’s hard to process. The book touches on a commune (more like a cult), haunting fairy tales, a mysterious woman in a red coat, suspicious neighbors, and much more. -The ending shoved so much down my throat, and I’m still not even sure what happened. I do know that it was a bit OTT though. -There’s a sad and disturbing scene involving animals (around 30%). While I understand why it’s in the story, and that in and of itself didn’t affect my rating, I feel I should mention it. 2.5 stars. There are many positive reviews for this book, so please check those out as well if you are thinking of reading it. Thank you to Crooked Lane Books, Jen Williams, and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 4 out of 5

    preoccupiedbybooks

    A slow building, and intense psychological thriller with some dark and disturbing scenes How well do you know your family?! Heather Evans returns home after her mother, Colleen's shocking death. Whilst going through her mother's belongings, Heather discovers letters between Colleen and the notorious serial killer Michael Reave AKA The Red Wolf! Michael is in prison, who has started killing women in the same way again? Why was Colleen writing to him? Is Heather in any danger? I really liked the A slow building, and intense psychological thriller with some dark and disturbing scenes How well do you know your family?! Heather Evans returns home after her mother, Colleen's shocking death. Whilst going through her mother's belongings, Heather discovers letters between Colleen and the notorious serial killer Michael Reave AKA The Red Wolf! Michael is in prison, who has started killing women in the same way again? Why was Colleen writing to him? Is Heather in any danger? I really liked the premise of A Dark and Secret Place because I have been both fascinated and horrified by serial killers since hearing about Fred and Rosemary West. I liked that this was set in the UK, and that it mentioned infamous serial killers from here, if you don't recognise the names, do look them up! Jen Williams has written an incredibly atmospheric and sinister tale, incorporating ancient fairy tales. Parts were very creepy and chilling, giving me goosebumps. The sense of being watched was so powerful, and full of suspense! The parts written in Colleen's house, and in the woods were particularly menacing! I enjoyed the scenes in the prison between Michael Reave and Heather, with his cryptic fairy tales inspired by The Complete Grimm's Fairy Tales, although it was clearly wasted on Heather! Speaking of Heather.. The book switched between Michael's early life, and Heather's POV in the present. As a main character, I found her to be quite irritating! She was a volatile mess, even before her mother's death, and came across quite selfish and unlikeable. I rolled my eyes at the predictable and unrealistic relationship she started, and sighed as she decided to investigate the crimes because of course she would do a better job than the police! Heather then made one bad decision after another, ignoring ominous signs, neglecting to inform the police that someone may be watching her, and going to all sorts of places on her own, quite obviously putting herself into dangerous situations! It grated on me! The ending didn't satisfy me either. It felt too over the top, just too much! Strangely enough, I can imagine this working well as a TV series? *There were also a few graphic murder scenes described, and some mentions of animal cruelty* So although I did like the fairy tale links, and thought the gritty atmosphere and build up was deliciously dark and eerie, I just didn't feel this book as much as I thought I would. 🌻🌼🌺 stars Many thanks to NetGalley UK and Crooked Lane Books, in exchange for an honest review!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sheyla ✎

    A serial killer is targeting young women. After he kills them, he arranges flowers onto the corpses. He cares more about them dead than alive. The gruesome discoveries mimicked the same pattern once used by serial killer, Michael Reave, the Red Wolf. Yet, Michael is in prison, so who is killing them? Heather Evans comes back home after her mother commits suicide. She’s saddened by her loss despite not being close to her mother. She left home when she was sixteen. While cleaning her mother’s thing A serial killer is targeting young women. After he kills them, he arranges flowers onto the corpses. He cares more about them dead than alive. The gruesome discoveries mimicked the same pattern once used by serial killer, Michael Reave, the Red Wolf. Yet, Michael is in prison, so who is killing them? Heather Evans comes back home after her mother commits suicide. She’s saddened by her loss despite not being close to her mother. She left home when she was sixteen. While cleaning her mother’s things, Heather makes a discovery. She discovers correspondence between her mother and the famous serial killer the Red Wolf. She doesn't understand her mother's connection with him and she starts investigating her mother's past. A past she might not want to find out after all. I hate to say it but I didn’t enjoy this one. Not sure if it was the slow delivery or it was because I didn’t think that the characters were interesting enough. In my opinion, something was lacking with the premise. Cliffhanger: No 2/5 Fangs A complimentary copy was provided by Crooked Lane Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. MrsLeif's Two Fangs About It | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

  5. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    US title : A Dark and Secret Place. Heather Evans returns to her family home after the suicide of her mother Colleen, who leaves behind a puzzling, enigmatic note. Heather discovers some letters written to Colleen by the ‘Red Wolf’, serial killer Michael Reave and shortly after this discovery it becomes apparent a copycat killer is on the loose. DI Ben Parker and Heather investigate. The novel starts in a very chilling way, pulling you into the storyline. What unfolds is a dark, bleak and creepy US title : A Dark and Secret Place. Heather Evans returns to her family home after the suicide of her mother Colleen, who leaves behind a puzzling, enigmatic note. Heather discovers some letters written to Colleen by the ‘Red Wolf’, serial killer Michael Reave and shortly after this discovery it becomes apparent a copycat killer is on the loose. DI Ben Parker and Heather investigate. The novel starts in a very chilling way, pulling you into the storyline. What unfolds is a dark, bleak and creepy atmospheric tale which at times becomes sinister and claustrophobic as Heather steps into a nightmare. It sends ripples of unease down the spine as you sense danger but cannot see it’s source. The storytelling is intense, conveying the sensation that Heather is being watched which raises the hair on the back of your neck and makes you want to constantly look over your shoulder or check under the bed. Who is the unseen watcher? Who is playing mind games and more, who is the hunter and why is Heather the potential prey? It’s like a deadly cat and mouse game. Some of the most intense scenes are the meetings between Heather and the enigmatic Michael Reave. His fascination with fairy tales takes the storyline into thriller fantasy land and Heather learns that the monsters of fairytales are all too real. There are strong overtones in the plot of Little Red Riding Hood with wolves, red coats and so on which increases the sense of peril. The first half is an intriguing slow burn and the second half has a much quicker pace with some surprising and unpleasant twists with mystery deepening, there’s suspense and danger, interweaving the past and the present effectively. It’s graphic in places and the area of Fiddlers Wood where much of the storyline originates with a 60’s /70’s hippy commune what emerges is not a pretty tale with some deeply disturbing events having taken place. My negatives surrounding the book centre around the character of Heather, whilst her complex feelings about her mother are very understandable, she makes dubious and poor decisions and at times is very spiky. Some of the dialogue especially towards the finale strike and off note. I’m also not totally convinced by the ending, it feels a bit like we strayed into a bad movie! Overall, I enjoyed this despite the reservations. There are some sections that are extremely good, very powerful and original which justifies the four star rating. With thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins, Harper Fiction for the arc for an honest review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Mystery/Thriller. I have to say this book took me forever to get into. This is a super slow moving Thriller. I really enjoyed the middle, but I did not like the last part of the book. This was just not a book for me. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Crooked Lane Books) or author (Jen Williams) via NetGalley, so I can give honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    "Alright," I think as I start this book on Sunday night at around 8PM. "I have the week off, I'll have plenty of time to focus on this book and take care of other things. I'll take it slow." Me at 5AM: "Okay, this may not last long." So, here I am on Monday having finished the book and let me say... wow. That was a pretty intense ride. It has a slow start (I started it middle of last week and decided I needed to hold off until the weekend so I could focus on it more) but once it kicks in, the boo "Alright," I think as I start this book on Sunday night at around 8PM. "I have the week off, I'll have plenty of time to focus on this book and take care of other things. I'll take it slow." Me at 5AM: "Okay, this may not last long." So, here I am on Monday having finished the book and let me say... wow. That was a pretty intense ride. It has a slow start (I started it middle of last week and decided I needed to hold off until the weekend so I could focus on it more) but once it kicks in, the book goes fast. Chapters are short enough to give you that "just one more before bed" feeling on for you to realize that you've read a decent portion of the book. I want to stress this. I would have finished this book in one night if I wasn't so tired. I am not the fastest reader. I finish so many books more out of a love of reading, stubborn determination and because I often pick shorter novels (I rarely pick 500+ pagers unless its something I know I'm going to be strongly invested in). Again, I stress, I almost finished it in a night. I could practically close the review with that. This is a book I would love to talk about. I'd love to discuss it more, but it's really one of those books that I think the less you know going in the better. If I would give a little piece of advice first, brush up on you fairy tales. Both the standard versions of them and the early origins... it might give you a different feel for the book. This is a dark read. The sort that while it may appeal to mystery fans, I'd advise it possibly more for horror fans. It's a great ride... just be prepared. 4/5 stars My thanks to Crooked Lane Books for providing me with an amazing physical ARC. This did not effect my opinion of the book itself, but I greatly appreciate it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jayme

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. DNF at 45% No rating- Cults, Communes and Ritualistic Killings are not for me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    megs_bookrack

    After her father passed away, Heather Evans left home for a long time; only returning after her mother commits suicide. Not only is Heather plagued by the regular grief you experience after the death of a loved one, but she's genuinely dumbfounded as to why her mother would have chosen to end her own life. Reading the note her mother left, Heather is even more confused. It seemed her mother felt extremely guilty over something, but what? Also, the note is written in a way that leads Heather to bel After her father passed away, Heather Evans left home for a long time; only returning after her mother commits suicide. Not only is Heather plagued by the regular grief you experience after the death of a loved one, but she's genuinely dumbfounded as to why her mother would have chosen to end her own life. Reading the note her mother left, Heather is even more confused. It seemed her mother felt extremely guilty over something, but what? Also, the note is written in a way that leads Heather to believe it wasn't intended just for her. The context makes it seem like she is apologizing to someone else as well, but who? It's apparent her mother had secrets and Heather feels like she needs to discover them if she is ever going to make sense of her death and put it behind her. Then she finds the letters. Her mother had been corresponding for years with the Red Wold, a infamous serial killer, Michael Reave, who has been in prison for 20-years for his crimes. Heather teams up with an old friend and the two begin to look into her mother's past. Meanwhile, a copy cat killer has begun kidnapping and murdering women in their area, reopening the case of the Red Wolf for police and citizens alike. This was interesting. There was a lot going on, a lot of threads to follow. Various perspectives were given and occassionally I would forget where I was in the timeline and with who. We get Michael's past perspective, which was interesting and his past with Heather's mother is unveiled over the course of the story. I will admit to my mind wandering at times and I never felt super compelled to pick it back up once I stopped reading. Always a sign to me that I'm just not that invested in the characters, or their outcome. With this being said, this is a good book. It's a solid story that I think a lot of people will enjoy. While I won't be including it on any of my favorites lists, there wasn't anything inherently wrong with it. It appears that this author has written a lot of Fantasy novels, so this may be her Thriller debut. If that is the case, it definitely shows her skill and I would pick up future novels from her in this genre. Thank you so much to the publisher, Crooked Lane Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I always appreciate the opportunity to provide my feedback!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    I rate this UK mystery book 3.5 stars rounded up. Heather Evans, an ex journalist, returns to her mother's Home after her mother has killed herself. She makes a startling discovery: a bundle of letters to her mother from serial killer Michael Reave, known as "the Red Wolf." Reave has been in prison for 20 years for a series of grisly murders. Then a new murder takes place with eerie similarities to the Red Wolf murders. Heather contacts the police and sends them copies of some of the letters. Th I rate this UK mystery book 3.5 stars rounded up. Heather Evans, an ex journalist, returns to her mother's Home after her mother has killed herself. She makes a startling discovery: a bundle of letters to her mother from serial killer Michael Reave, known as "the Red Wolf." Reave has been in prison for 20 years for a series of grisly murders. Then a new murder takes place with eerie similarities to the Red Wolf murders. Heather contacts the police and sends them copies of some of the letters. The police ask her to talk to Reave. He has refused to talk to the police about his murders or the new murder. He will only talk to Heather. There is a sense of foreboding that builds from the very beginning of the book. It is told in 2 time frames--Michael as a young boy and Heather in the present day. I suspected part of who the present day killer was, but not all of it. This is a very creepy book and I would not describe it as a cozy mystery. If you like Tess Gerritsen or James Patterson, you will probably like this book. One problem: Heather has a friend, Nikki, who is a teacher. At one point Nikki is confusingly juxtaposed with Fiona, also a teacher, location 418 "Nikki, can I come over? I need to talk to someone" Putting the marking aside finally, Fiona smiled at the little pile of cards and presents on her desk." Fiona is also a teacher and this was the same paragraph. Since this is an uncorrected proof from Harper Collins UK, it should be easy to fix this. Thanks to Harper Collins UK and Jen Williams for sending me this eARC through NetGalley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Pat (not getting friend updates currently)

    3.5 stars rounded down. Heather returns home, to her mother’s house to put put things in order after her mother’s shock suicide. She left home at 16 and hasn’t been back since. Her mother’s suicide note was cryptic and disturbing and Heather wonders what was going through her mind. She doesn’t like staying in this house and it gives her the creeps. While searching for clues about her mother she stumbles across a tin of letters in the attic. Her mother had been corresponding with Michael Reave (kn 3.5 stars rounded down. Heather returns home, to her mother’s house to put put things in order after her mother’s shock suicide. She left home at 16 and hasn’t been back since. Her mother’s suicide note was cryptic and disturbing and Heather wonders what was going through her mind. She doesn’t like staying in this house and it gives her the creeps. While searching for clues about her mother she stumbles across a tin of letters in the attic. Her mother had been corresponding with Michael Reave (known as the Red Wolf), a serial killer serving a life sentence, for over 20 years. Stunned, she sets about learning what links this man and her mother’s early life. He has always maintained his innocence. She starts a series of prison visits to Reave, with the aid of DI Ben Parker. The police are supportive of these visits as another killing spree has kicked off, eerily echoing the earlier Red Wolf killings, and they are wondering if Reave knows anything about them. Is there a copycat? Or is Reave actually innocent? While the police have their agenda, Heather just wants to know what he can tell her about her mother. Apparently they knew each other in a hippy commune in the 80s near Fiddler’s Woods. Either way, neither of them learn very much, Reave is cryptic in the extreme. The only thing Heather really learns for sure is that she didn’t really know her mother at all. Back at the house there are signs Heather is being watched and....is someone getting into the house and leaving creepy messages? Or what? Finally she realises she needs to return to where it all started - Fiddler’s Woods. What she finds there will challenge everything she thought was true. I liked the story, I didn’t find it creepy (I rarely do) but it had a certain dark, brooding, menacing atmosphere that worked well. Heather was a strange character, she was bit volatile. The other characters were less well fleshed out. The pace was a bit patchy and the story lagged at times. But overall I did enjoy this book. It was certainly better done than many others I have read in this genre. I think what mainly spoiled it for me was the Red Wolf himself, and the whole ‘mythology’ if you like, surrounding him. The concept, which I can’t tell you about, didn’t make any sense to me. But Heather said as much towards the end. This should appeal to fans of dark fairy tales and dark psychological thrillers. I received an advance review copy for from Netgalley for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  12. 4 out of 5

    ScrappyMags

    3.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 𝗪𝗵𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝘀𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘀𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗸𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗿𝘀? 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫: Heather heads home after her mom’s mysterious suicide only to discover her mom has been writing to an infamous serial killer for years. Why? This question leads Heather to explore her mom’s veiled past while suddenly more bodies appear in the same manner as Reave’s murders. And Heather feels like she is being followed. Is this a copycat? Is Reave innocent? And how is Heather’s family tied into this craziness? 𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: Se 3.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️ 𝗪𝗵𝘆 𝗮𝗿𝗲 𝘄𝗲 𝗳𝗮𝘀𝗰𝗶𝗻𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗱 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝘀𝗲𝗿𝗶𝗮𝗹 𝗸𝗶𝗹𝗹𝗲𝗿𝘀? 𝐒𝐡𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐄𝐯𝐞𝐫: Heather heads home after her mom’s mysterious suicide only to discover her mom has been writing to an infamous serial killer for years. Why? This question leads Heather to explore her mom’s veiled past while suddenly more bodies appear in the same manner as Reave’s murders. And Heather feels like she is being followed. Is this a copycat? Is Reave innocent? And how is Heather’s family tied into this craziness? 𝐓𝐡𝐨𝐮𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐬: Serial killers. Sign me up. (What does that say about me 🤔)! I mean, I’m watching the new Son of Sam doc on Netflix and here I am reading about fictional ones. Yikes. (Therapy?) I was impressed with the length of suspense in this one - it pulls and pulls like a taut wire, chapter by chapter. Some might find that “slow burn” tedious, but I enjoyed the pace. I have a weird fascination with people fascinated by serial killers (so yes I’m fascinated with myself). What’s the attraction? (NO I’m not ATTRACTED in that way). Why do people write letters to them? (NO I wouldn’t do that). But psychologically there is a draw to the macabre otherwise Poe would have never become a legend (Phew, ok I’m normal). I figured out a bit (but not all) of the story from some too obvious clues and the characters were adequate. I’d call this a nice summer read to give you a few heebie jeebies. All my reviews available at scrappymags.com around time of publication. 𝐆𝐞𝐧𝐫𝐞: Mystery, not as “psychological” as billed, about a 3/10 on the heebie jeebies for when Heather actually meets Michael Reave in prison - very “Clarisse Starling.” 𝐑𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐨: Slow burn mystery fans who love lots of drawn out suspense. 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐫𝐞𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨: “quick and dirty” mystery reader ᴛʜᴀɴᴋ ʏᴏᴜ ᴛᴏ ᴛʜᴇ ᴀᴜᴛʜᴏʀ, ɴᴇᴛɢᴀʟʟᴇʏ ᴀɴᴅ ᴄʀᴏᴏᴋᴇᴅ ʟᴀɴᴇ ʙᴏᴏᴋꜱ ꜰᴏʀ ᴍʏ ᴀᴅᴠᴀɴᴄᴇᴅ ᴄᴏᴘʏ ɪɴ ᴇxᴄʜᴀɴɢᴇ ꜰᴏʀ ᴍʏ ᴀʟᴡᴀʏꜱ-ʜᴏɴᴇꜱᴛ ʀᴇᴠɪᴇᴡ ᴀɴᴅ ꜰᴏʀ ᴍᴀᴋɪɴɢ ᴍᴇ ꜰᴇᴇʟ ᴍᴏꜱᴛʟʏ ɴᴏʀᴍᴀʟ ꜰᴏʀ ᴍʏ ꜱᴇʀɪᴀʟ ᴋɪʟʟᴇʀ ꜰᴀꜱᴄɪɴᴀᴛɪᴏɴ.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Friends, I tried. I promise you I did. No star rating because I only made it to 35%, but my goodness even that was an effort. 10 days after starting this, I'd finished 5 other books and found myself actively dreading trying to make more progress, so off it goes into the very, very small DNF pile. Friends, I tried. I promise you I did. No star rating because I only made it to 35%, but my goodness even that was an effort. 10 days after starting this, I'd finished 5 other books and found myself actively dreading trying to make more progress, so off it goes into the very, very small DNF pile.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    Once again, I was swayed by a comparison to authors I admire - Jane Harper and Rachel Caine. But the book didn’t live up to the hype. The premise here is that a daughter returns home after her mother’s suicide and discovers her mother had carried on a secret correspondence for years with a serial killer. New copycat murders are taking place and the police ask her to meet with the serial killer to see if anything can be learned. The book has got a nice dark, creepy factor to it - think Grimm fair Once again, I was swayed by a comparison to authors I admire - Jane Harper and Rachel Caine. But the book didn’t live up to the hype. The premise here is that a daughter returns home after her mother’s suicide and discovers her mother had carried on a secret correspondence for years with a serial killer. New copycat murders are taking place and the police ask her to meet with the serial killer to see if anything can be learned. The book has got a nice dark, creepy factor to it - think Grimm fairy tales, ominous notes, weird neighbors, wild creatures where they shouldn’t be. It’s told in a nonlinear fashion - the serial killer’s early life mixed in with Heather’s present day. The book gets off to a slow start and I felt like it was sort of all over the place. And I never felt like I really got a feel for Heather. She just never seemed real to me. The ending was decent. I had put together some, but not all of it. My thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for an advance copy of this book.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Julie (JuJu)

    Monsters in the wood ”The barghest. Black Shuck. The hound that haunts the lonely places.” Take a jaunt through enchanting forests with a serial killer, while he tells you the most twisted and grisly fairytales you’ve ever heard! What more can you ask for? You really have to enjoy dark and gruesome if you read this one. I wanted it from the moment I read the synopsis, but it wasn’t what I expected. I felt like this a mix of horror, fantasy and supernatural thriller. But I don’t read fantasy, s Monsters in the wood ”The barghest. Black Shuck. The hound that haunts the lonely places.” Take a jaunt through enchanting forests with a serial killer, while he tells you the most twisted and grisly fairytales you’ve ever heard! What more can you ask for? You really have to enjoy dark and gruesome if you read this one. I wanted it from the moment I read the synopsis, but it wasn’t what I expected. I felt like this a mix of horror, fantasy and supernatural thriller. But I don’t read fantasy, so I could be wrong about that! Beware...there is some animal abuse. And just to confuse us, the title in the UK is “Dog Rose Dirt”. Why?? Heather heads back to her childhood home after her mother’s death. They didn’t have a close relationship and Heather finds herself tormented by Colleen’s suicide. When she reads the cryptic note that was left, she has even more concerns about her mother’s out-of-character behavior. But most shocking of all, is when Heather finds out that Colleen has been corresponding with a famous serial killer for decades. Heather becomes obsessed with this hidden side of Colleen, and requests to meet with Michael Reave in prison. Reave, known as the “Red Wolf”, has always claimed to be innocent. And now the horrific and ritualistic murders have started again. Could he be telling the truth? ”This man, currently serving life for chopping women up into bits, apparently knows a whole different side to my mum I’ve never seen.” You think you know your parents. But do we ever know who they truly are? I'm sure all parents have their secrets, but Colleen’s is a whopper! It’s a little concerning that I found this extremely horrendous story so entertaining! Thank you to NetGalley, Crooked Lane Books and Jen Williams for this digital ARC, in exchange for my honest opinion! My Rating: 4 ⭐️’s Published: June 8th 2021 by Crooked Lane Books Pages: 304 Recommend: Yes...but only if you like gruesome and gory serial killers. @sennydreadful @NetGalley #Crooked Lane Books @crookedlanebks #NetGalley #ADarkAndSecretPlace #Horror #Fantasy #Thriller #InExchangeForReview #NoRulesJustThrills #FairyTales

  16. 5 out of 5

    Susan's Reviews

    My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I'm going against the tide and give this one a mere 2.5, rounded down to a 2, out of 5. Parts of this novel read like a batch of bad, gory Grimm's fairy tales. - just a gruesome sell-out to those who love evisceration, decapitations, and dismemberment. Certainly not my cup of tea. The interior monologues went on and on, and Heather somehow manages to vanquish all these brutish monsters on h My thanks to the author, publisher and NetGalley for an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review. I'm going against the tide and give this one a mere 2.5, rounded down to a 2, out of 5. Parts of this novel read like a batch of bad, gory Grimm's fairy tales. - just a gruesome sell-out to those who love evisceration, decapitations, and dismemberment. Certainly not my cup of tea. The interior monologues went on and on, and Heather somehow manages to vanquish all these brutish monsters on her own. I kept thinking to myself: this is nonsense. I get that this will be a great read for horror fans, but despite a promising beginning - which even had me hooked - the rest of the story kept chasing its own tail and the characters didn't come across as real or plausible.

  17. 4 out of 5

    JaymeO

    HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY! Beware of the Red Wolf! Heather returns home after her mother shockingly commits suicide. Hidden in a tin, she finds letters from convicted serial killer, Michael Reave, known as The Red Wolf. Why was her mother writing to him? What was she hiding about her past? What could have happened to cause her to take such drastic measures and end her life? While conducting her own investigation and interviewing Reave, Heather also finds suspicious notes left for her. Who is leaving t HAPPY PUBLICATION DAY! Beware of the Red Wolf! Heather returns home after her mother shockingly commits suicide. Hidden in a tin, she finds letters from convicted serial killer, Michael Reave, known as The Red Wolf. Why was her mother writing to him? What was she hiding about her past? What could have happened to cause her to take such drastic measures and end her life? While conducting her own investigation and interviewing Reave, Heather also finds suspicious notes left for her. Who is leaving the notes and what do they know? Is Heather in danger? She must figure out her connection to the Red Wolf before it’s too late. A Dark and Secret Place is part fairytale complete with monsters and magic and part serial killer thriller, filled with suspense and mystery. Williams expertly weaves between both genres without compromising the integrity of the book and losing the reader along the way. She slowly lays breadcrumbs for the reader to follow Heather on her journey to finding out her mother’s connection to a convicted serial killer. While I had an inkling as to what was going on, I didn’t figure out how all of the pieces ultimately fit together. Kudos to Williams for pulling one over on me! This is a solid thriller that will also appeal to those who enjoyed Mirrorland by Carole Johnstone. Jen Williams is a new author to me and I really enjoyed her writing. 4/5 stars Thank you to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Publishing for the ARC of A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    A Dark and Secret Place is a twisty standalone thriller in which fantasy writer Jen Williams turns her hand to crime writing and poses the question: what would you think if your mother had been corresponding with a brutal serial murderer for many years? Disgraced journalist Heather Evans and her mother Colleen have been estranged for a long time and haven't spoken in close to two decades, so returning to her childhood home is quite the shock. However, it isn't anywhere near as baffling and inexp A Dark and Secret Place is a twisty standalone thriller in which fantasy writer Jen Williams turns her hand to crime writing and poses the question: what would you think if your mother had been corresponding with a brutal serial murderer for many years? Disgraced journalist Heather Evans and her mother Colleen have been estranged for a long time and haven't spoken in close to two decades, so returning to her childhood home is quite the shock. However, it isn't anywhere near as baffling and inexplicable as her mother, someone who had seemingly never been diagnosed with depression or mental health issues, committing suicide suddenly. When Heather first arrives she finds a note bizarrely addressed: "To you both," despite the fact that Heather is an only child. As she mourns her loss, she decides to look for answers as to who the enigmatic other person is who Colleen referred to in the letter believing they must be important and what she discovers astounds her. She is chilled by the huge cache of letters going back decades from notorious convicted serial killer Michael Reave, aka The Red Wolf, a friend of Colleen's from a commune popular in the 70s known as Fiddler's Mill and who carried out a series of ritualistic killings in which he removed the women's hearts before adorning their bodies with flowers. She has a lot of unanswered questions, but when the bodies of new victims are found with the same eerie modus operandi as Reave's her questions multiply. Reave has claimed his innocence since the very beginning but could it really be true? The copycat seems to have meticulously studied Reaves' apparent crimes and investigator DI Ben Parker asks Heather to pay Reave a visit in jail. However, although he agrees to see her and talk, he doesn't appear interested in helping the case. Can she get to the bottom of why her mother killed herself, Reave and Colleen's relationship and who is behind the targeting of new victims before another person perishes? This is a compulsive and thoroughly addictive thriller and the story Williams spins is packed full of twists and suspense. It's creepy, disturbing and so atmospheric, but be warned it isn't for the faint of heart or those who enjoy less graphic, ominous crime as it is rather nausea-inducing at times, which is testament to the author's skill. The sense of foreboding starts almost immediately and grows as the narrative progresses never letting up for even a second. Well written and quick-paced, it is told from Heather and Reave's perspectives connecting past and present seamlessly. And watch out for the explosive, stomach-churning ending.

  19. 4 out of 5

    jenny✨

    The moment I read the synopsis for A Dark and Secret Place, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. When Heather Evans’ estranged mother unexpectedly commits suicide, Heather must finally return to the insular town where she grew up, a place she left at sixteen and never thought she’d return to. But she discovers something horrifying: Colleen Evans has been corresponding with a notorious serial killer for decades. As Heather struggles to understand her mother’s connection to now-convicted Mich The moment I read the synopsis for A Dark and Secret Place, I knew I had to get my hands on this book. When Heather Evans’ estranged mother unexpectedly commits suicide, Heather must finally return to the insular town where she grew up, a place she left at sixteen and never thought she’d return to. But she discovers something horrifying: Colleen Evans has been corresponding with a notorious serial killer for decades. As Heather struggles to understand her mother’s connection to now-convicted Michael Reave—the Red Wolf who terrorized Lancashire in the 70s—a slew of missing and murdered women are turning up in the present day, bearing eerie resemblances to the killings of decades past. Interweaving past and present, we gain glimpses into the boy who became the Red Wolf, as well as Heather’s downward spiral into the sinister mystery that surrounds the sprawling lands and lore of Fiddler’s Mill, a place where evil has lurked for generations… ◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️◻️ This is Jen Williams’ first foray into the mystery/thriller genre, as she’s more widely known for her fantasy writing. I’ve never read any of her works before, but after the compulsively readable prose of A Dark and Secret Place, I am more than curious to get a taste of her spec-fic! Hidden beneath this hella basic thriller title and a cover so sparse I legitimately thought it was a temporary placeholder image for the “real” cover is actually a SPINE-TINGLING mystery, a fresh take on a genre I’ve been reading a lot of lately. This novel filled me with a pervasive, discomfiting sense of unease: the kind that raises gooseflesh on your arms. From the get-go, I was immersed in Heather’s story and the particular feeling you get when you’re being watched—no, hunted. This is the same feeling that creeps up when you realize that even your most personal, private spaces—your house, your bedroom, your own head—have been trespassed upon. IT WAS SO DELICIOUSLY SINISTER. My only complaints are that Heather made some seriously dumb decisions sometimes (like not telling ANYONE about clearly being stalked by someone who was leaving her notes and dead birds). Also, as some reviewers have mentioned, the backstory behind the Red Wolf and Fiddler’s Mill—and subsequently Colleen, Michael, and Heather—seemed to cram in a gazillion different spooky elements. Ritualized murder, fairy tale lore, cult-like fanaticism, grooming, disappearing babies… it’s a lot. Maybe too much? In all, though, I’m pleased by this story (that I managed to finish on Halloween, no less). This is my fourth book from Crooked Lane Books, and I’m starting to be VERY impressed with this publisher. Four for four: I’ve given four stars to every ARC I’ve received from them. All slot into the mystery/suspense/thriller genre, but each novel is very different from the others. There was the hilarious YA black comedy, Teen Killers Club; the contemporary thriller, They’re Gone; the Gilded Age mystery, Deception by Gaslight; and now A Dark and Secret Place, in which the mysterious circumstances surrounding a serial killer’s brutal murders have perpetuated a cycle of bloody violence for decades. Thank you NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    We all think we know our parents, but as Michael Reave (Red Wolf) points out in this book, they had lives before they had us. Heather Evans learns this after her mother commits suicide. Upon coming home after her mother’s death, she discovers that her mother had been corresponding with serial killer, Michael Reave known as the Red Wolf. Why? It seemed so out of character. Her mother abhorred violence and yet she has stacks and stacks of letters from him. Michael Reave has been imprisoned for over We all think we know our parents, but as Michael Reave (Red Wolf) points out in this book, they had lives before they had us. Heather Evans learns this after her mother commits suicide. Upon coming home after her mother’s death, she discovers that her mother had been corresponding with serial killer, Michael Reave known as the Red Wolf. Why? It seemed so out of character. Her mother abhorred violence and yet she has stacks and stacks of letters from him. Michael Reave has been imprisoned for over twenty years for the ritualistic murders of several women. Unfortunately, another woman is found murdered and her body staged as Michael Reave staged his victims. Is there a copycat on the loose or is the wrong man behind bars? Heather gets the opportunity to speak with Michael. In fact, she is the only one he will speak with. She is naturally unnerved by him and his is curious about her as her mother never mentioned having a daughter. hmmm So the plot thickens as plots often do. Naturally, Heather wants to learn why her mother committed suicide. Apparently, no one warned Heather about what happened to the curious cat! I enjoyed the "Before" parts of the book much more than I did the present day. The psychosocial aspect of his formative years. Having been a forensic therapist for years, this gets my juices flowing. The present-day aspect of the book was not as interesting to me; although I enjoyed Michael's use of The Grimm Fairy tales to tell Heather things while she is visiting him. Too bad some of it appeared to be lost on her. I wanted to root for Heather more, but I just could not connect with her character. I did; however, enjoy her scenes with Michael in the prison. I enjoyed this one, but I doubt it will be a book that stays with me. At times creepy, dark, interesting and at times frustrating. Thank you to Crooked Lane Books and NetGalley who provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All the thoughts and opinions are my own. This review has been posted on www.openbookposts.com

  21. 5 out of 5

    fleurette

    I didn’t get along with this story. I really liked the idea. The daughter returns to her family home after the suicide of her mother, with whom she has not been close for years, and discovers that her mother has been in correspondence with a serial killer - Red Wolf - for many years. At the same time, more bodies of women are found killed in the same way as Red Wolf did. This is a very interesting idea that offers many possibilities. But I don't think they have been fully used. The main character, I didn’t get along with this story. I really liked the idea. The daughter returns to her family home after the suicide of her mother, with whom she has not been close for years, and discovers that her mother has been in correspondence with a serial killer - Red Wolf - for many years. At the same time, more bodies of women are found killed in the same way as Red Wolf did. This is a very interesting idea that offers many possibilities. But I don't think they have been fully used. The main character, Heather, is probably intentionally written as a character that is not easy to like. It's also obvious that there are many things in her past that she hides, including the reason why she no longer works as a journalist. There are also some hints in this book that Heather cannot be considered reliable. Unfortunately, I missed the bond with the main character in this story. For me, her actions sometimes lacked rational explanation, for example the reason why she does not inform the police that someone may be watching her. In fact, she seems to be ignoring these obvious signs too, and I don't quite understand why as they are more then obvious, and the situation looks dangerous. The author, on the other hand, managed to create a dark atmosphere that makes you feel that something is seriously going on. Which in my opinion is because this story is linked to the darker versions of the Grimme brothers' fairy tales. As well as the stories told by the Red Wolf, and that many scenes take place in the dark. I really appreciate the idea, it's a pity this book didn't work for me. Thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for providing me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mandy White (mandylovestoread)

    I had high hopes for this book going into it. The plot sounded like my kind of book. I love serial killer stories. But sadly it wasn’t for me. It was very confusing to begin with and I lost interest. Also the daughter wasn’t the most likeable of characters. I can see that it has mixed reviews, a lot of people loved it and others not so much. Thanks for the advanced copy to read

  23. 4 out of 5

    Mara

    3.5 stars -- This was much more on the horror end of the mystery/thriller spectrum than I had expected, but I really liked the genuinely spooky atmosphere and lovey writing. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had vibed with the main character more, but this will please those who like a "is this serial killer a copy cat?" trope as much as I did CW: physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse; ritualistic killings 3.5 stars -- This was much more on the horror end of the mystery/thriller spectrum than I had expected, but I really liked the genuinely spooky atmosphere and lovey writing. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I had vibed with the main character more, but this will please those who like a "is this serial killer a copy cat?" trope as much as I did CW: physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse; ritualistic killings

  24. 5 out of 5

    Susan Z

    Following her mother's death, Heather returns to her childhood home to take care of her mother's affairs and prepare for funeral. As she sorts through her mother's belongings, she finds letters from a man. A man who is not her father. A man her mother has been corresponding with since before Heather was born. Heather decides to investigate and finds out that this man is in prison. And has been for years convicted for several murders. Heather decides to meet with the man, Michael, to really find o Following her mother's death, Heather returns to her childhood home to take care of her mother's affairs and prepare for funeral. As she sorts through her mother's belongings, she finds letters from a man. A man who is not her father. A man her mother has been corresponding with since before Heather was born. Heather decides to investigate and finds out that this man is in prison. And has been for years convicted for several murders. Heather decides to meet with the man, Michael, to really find out who her mother was and why in the world she would be communicating with a serial killer. I have always been intrigued by the mind of serial killers (don't worry, I don't have any as pen pals.) I think it's my interest in psychology that piques my interest. So obviously, a book like this pulled me in immediately. It started off very eerie, a constant creepy vibe. I'm thankful I got to read it in the daylight or the creep factor would have been too much for me. This isn't an in-your-face kind of scary, but is far more subtle which I liked. Unfortunately my interest in the story waned near the halfway point and didn't ever pick up again. I was hoping for more from the story and it didn't deliver. The characters were not developed enough and I wish the author would have continued with the air of mystery throughout, but it felt a bit lackluster after a strong start. It did pick up again in the end and I thought the ending was well written, but again I needed a little more. There are some sections with animal cruelty, and while I understood their purpose, somewhat essential to the arc of the story, they were difficult to bear and required me to skim over.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Valliya Rennell

    2 stars DNF @ 9.5% **Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, Jen Williams, and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Release date: June 08, 2021** A small town, serial killer, and family secrets? Sounded totally up my alley... unfortunately, A Dark and Secret Place is plagued by a confusing writing style, that I just couldn't get behind. I found the opening to be very disorientating with a bunch of names being thrown at you and various perspectives that I immediately had to get behind 2 stars DNF @ 9.5% **Many thanks to Crooked Lane Books, Jen Williams, and NetGalley for this ARC in exchange for an honest review. Release date: June 08, 2021** A small town, serial killer, and family secrets? Sounded totally up my alley... unfortunately, A Dark and Secret Place is plagued by a confusing writing style, that I just couldn't get behind. I found the opening to be very disorientating with a bunch of names being thrown at you and various perspectives that I immediately had to get behind. I think that you will enjoy this if you don't mind getting head first into the action, setting, characters, and multiple perspectives. For me, this was just a bit much. With so much stress going on in my life and the world, I just don't have time to read a book that makes me more confused and doesn't interest me.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a Mystery/Thriller. I have to say this book took me forever to get into. This is a super slow moving Thriller. I really enjoyed the middle, but I did not like the last part of the book. This was just not a book for me. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Crooked Lane Books) or author (Jen Williams) via NetGalley, so I can give honest review about how I feel about this book. I want to send a big Thank you to them for that.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Alexa

    This one is good for those who enjoy gritty true crime--gruesome serial killer type--and pokey British settings. It gave me European folksy detective horror vibes at points. I could easily see this adapted for TV. But it doesn't skim the grittier elements and so this won't be for everyone. Be warned going in there are POV chapters from a serial killer, on page animal death (birds) and allusion to other animal death (but not described on page), as well as POV chapters of women who are abducted an This one is good for those who enjoy gritty true crime--gruesome serial killer type--and pokey British settings. It gave me European folksy detective horror vibes at points. I could easily see this adapted for TV. But it doesn't skim the grittier elements and so this won't be for everyone. Be warned going in there are POV chapters from a serial killer, on page animal death (birds) and allusion to other animal death (but not described on page), as well as POV chapters of women who are abducted and later are brutally murdered. I'm not mad about it, per se, but there was one POV abduction chapter I really didn't need given how many biographical details I share w/ the single woman who is then horrifically murdered yay. Our main character is Heather, though mild note that this is told in third person. Her estranged mother has just committed suicide and she's tasked with cleaning up the house, planning the funeral etc. and then she finds a whole cache of letters her mother wrote to a notorious serial killer and gets pulled into a fresh investigation of a possible copycat (or the real?) killer. Right off the bat I actually had to stop reading the book and took an almost 3 month break from it: do not read this if you have lost someone, especially a parent, recently and are dealing with grief/anxiety related to that. The beginning was SO VIVID it fed into an anxiety spiral I was having. That is to the book's credit; the pathos of grief, to the horror is well done. Once I was in a better head space (this week) and dove back in, it was a brisk and engaging read. There were some twists and budding romance that made for a good read, but mostly it's a slow, creeping suspense read that will appeal to those who like long-buried secrets, family drama, and serial killer lore. That said, this should also have content warnings for depictions of/references to child abuse as well as CSA.

  28. 5 out of 5

    ABookwormWithWine

    4.5/5 I have to say that I am pretty disappointed with all the low reviews I have seen for A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams. I didn't let that deter me and I'm glad I didn't because I LOVED this book! Cultish books are so hit or miss for me, and they have to be done just the right way or I really don't like them. This was the perfect dose of it for me and added just enough to the story that it intrigued me more instead of turning me off. The descriptions of the bodies were completely distu 4.5/5 I have to say that I am pretty disappointed with all the low reviews I have seen for A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams. I didn't let that deter me and I'm glad I didn't because I LOVED this book! Cultish books are so hit or miss for me, and they have to be done just the right way or I really don't like them. This was the perfect dose of it for me and added just enough to the story that it intrigued me more instead of turning me off. The descriptions of the bodies were completely disturbing, and I wouldn't say this is a book for the squeamish reader. I loved the parts where our creepy serial killer Michael is telling dark and creepy fairy tales, and there is a great paranormal aspect that really kept me guessing. I had no idea if there was actually something supernatural going on, or if it was all made up, and that was just another part I really enjoyed. I liked Heather's present viewpoint as she digs to find out what her mom knew, but also that we end up with a couple of other viewpoints as well. Not really sure if it's a spoiler so I won't say who, but the combination kept me glued to the pages and I couldn't wait to find out what would happen next. The audiobook is narrated by Lorna Bennett, and I thought she did such a great job upping the creep factor to the novel. She might actually be a huge part of why I enjoyed it so much, and there is nothing I like more than when a narrator adds to the story. She is also a narrator for The Lost Apothecary which I loved on audio, and if possible, I think she did an even BETTER job with A Dark and Secret Place. I am still trying to decide if I was super shocked at the end, but there was definitely a major piece I wasn't expecting. This is a very dark and atmospheric book, but it also went deeper than I expected it to, which I really liked. It did leave me with a couple of unanswered questions that I would have preferred to know the answers to, but that definitely makes it all the more mysterious that way. I would honestly love it if this would be turned into a series somehow since I don't think I got quite enough of the Red Wolf. I'm sure this isn't happening, but a girl can dream, right? I loved basically everything about A Dark and Secret Place and it has added Williams to my list of autobuy authors! I received a complimentary copy of this book. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.

  29. 5 out of 5

    David Gibson

    The Short Version: A taut English mystery/thriller that evokes the feelings and atmosphere of Dark Places and Sharp Objects with the faintest whiff of The Wicker Man. In equal measure it draws you in to swallow you up then jabs at you when you’re about to get comfortable, like a large sweater knitted from pricker bushes. The Long Version: I got to listen to the Audiobook version of this book thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media in exchange for an honest review. Heather is recently unemployed a The Short Version: A taut English mystery/thriller that evokes the feelings and atmosphere of Dark Places and Sharp Objects with the faintest whiff of The Wicker Man. In equal measure it draws you in to swallow you up then jabs at you when you’re about to get comfortable, like a large sweater knitted from pricker bushes. The Long Version: I got to listen to the Audiobook version of this book thanks to NetGalley and Dreamscape Media in exchange for an honest review. Heather is recently unemployed and dealing with the death of her mother, when heading back to her hometown to lay her mother to rest, she starts digging through her mom’s old things and her life is upended when she finds out her mother has been corresponding with a notorious serial killer for years on end. What ensues is a thorny trek through the sordid past of both her mom and the killer and their intertwined pasts. This book was a gut punch in a good way. It kicks off quickly, and the investigation into her mom’s past, as well as a new rash of copycat murders is tightly paced. I didn’t want to stop listening, and I didn’t guess the final twists until they were revealed, I did suspect it, but I kept bouncing between so many different ideas I couldn’t settle in and that is a well written thriller to me. The serial killer, who we eventually meet is brilliantly constructed. He’s likable, and when he claims he’s innocent you want to believe him, even though you’re terrified to do so. He was equal parts charming and chilling but he was by far the most likable character. The prose is crisp and the story is well laid out, without anything feeling superfluous. It socialites between the protagonist’s investigation, the killer’s story from the past, and the copycat’s abductions/murders in the present. It is fairly graphic in its description of violence so this is not for sensitive readers, like not even a little. I also really enjoyed the ending, which is satisfying without being overly cheery. The biggest weakness in this story, was the main character. While she wasn’t terribly crafted and her emotions made sense with how the plot unfolded, I didn’t find her particularly likable, and I didn’t understand why people seemed to gravitate towards her when she seemed incredibly self absorbed and careless with others. It didn’t ruin the story, but if the plot and pacing weren’t strong, the main character could have caused me to lose interest. The narrator was also a drawback. She did a nice job conveying the emotion and tension in the book, however voices were not a strength of hers. All the women sounded roughly the same and so too did the men. There were times where I struggled to keep the dialogue straight as a result. She wasn’t bad, she just didn’t strengthen the overall audiobook. Overall a solid 4 out of 5. A solid recommendation for anyone who likes taut thrillers and are not afraid of a little gore. Component Ratings Concept/Idea: 5 out of 5 Protagonist: 3 out of 5 Antagonist: 5 out of 5 Supporting Characters: 4 out of 5 Plot: 4 out of 5 Pacing: 5 out of 5 Prose: 4 out of 5 Narrator Performance: 3 out of 5 Dialogue: 4.5 out of 5 Ending: 5 out of 5

  30. 5 out of 5

    Tami

    This was a slow burn type of psychological thriller in which Heather, a journalist, searches for answers as to why her estranged mother committed suicide. As she goes through the mother’s possessions she finds a stack of letters from an infamous serial killer and is puzzled by the fact that her mother would be in contact with a killer. There have been several recent copycat killings, so Heather contacts the police with the letters in hopes of finding answers about her mother and who may be doing This was a slow burn type of psychological thriller in which Heather, a journalist, searches for answers as to why her estranged mother committed suicide. As she goes through the mother’s possessions she finds a stack of letters from an infamous serial killer and is puzzled by the fact that her mother would be in contact with a killer. There have been several recent copycat killings, so Heather contacts the police with the letters in hopes of finding answers about her mother and who may be doing the recent killings. The search leads Heather to some very unexpected revelations and an intense ending to the story. This was a creepy and atmospheric tale, but it moved a bit too slow except for the final pages. Readers should know that the story refers to some gory crimes, but they are not given in any great detail. Many thanks to NetGalley and Crooked Lane Books for allowing me to read an advance copy. I am happy to give my honest review.

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