The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

Hello Readers!

In the spirit of almost-Fall, I want you to think about biting into a caramel apple. It’s sticky from the caramel, sharp from the dusting of salt, and tart from the apple underneath the layers of goodness. That’s how I’d like to present The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling – aka Rachel Hawkins, beloved former YA author, twitter aficionado, and cat mama. I recently won a giveaway on Goodreads for the kindle edition of The Ex Hex, or perhaps more widely known by it’s working title, Hocus Pocus but They F.

…I couldn’t not pre-order/enter giveaways for a book titled like that, alright? Although recently, Sterling has admitted to never actually having seen Hocus Pocus. But it’s a vibe, as the kids say. A state of mind, if you’re dated like me.

Let’s set the scene: crisp, autumn air; leaves crunching underfoot, haunted houses, ghosts, and witches. An unimaginable amount of fairy lights strung up in window displays featuring enough pumpkins to put Disney’s After Hours Boo Bash to shame. Also, there’s a sexy warlock – excuse me, witch, as it’s used for both genders now, that’s come to the little village of Graves Glen, much to the dismay of our heroine, Vivienne Jones.

Nestled in the Georgia mountains is a small village that holds a secret. It’s a hot spot for witches, and Rhys Penhallow has come to stand in for his family at the annual Founder’s Day celebration, an event that kicks off the most touristy time of year for it’s residents – Halloween. He’s also in town to charge the ley lines, which give power to the witches that reside in the village, and there’s quite a few of them as the college in town has it’s own spooky division. The normies know nothing of it, and that’s how our resident witches like it.

Vivi hasn’t seen Rhys since she threw a pair of jeans at him. After a passionate three months, Rhys announced he needed to go home and stop his father from moving forward with arranging a marriage for him. Vivi was unsympathetic to his plight, got drunk and cursed his hair, good looks, and sexual prowess. Nine years later they’re back together for a couple of days and the joke curse Vivi placed on him has come to light as an actual curse. Together, the two pair up for misadventures in attempting to contain the magic that’s been let loose on Graves Glen.

I really enjoyed Erin Sterling’s second foray into adult literature. Her quick wit, charming characters, and ability to bring a scene to life with her written words is pretty unmatched, in my opinion. And if you’re amenable, she’s pretty good at writing the sexytimes too.

This is a great read to ring in the spooky season. And I noticed this morning that Goodreads now notes this as The Ex Hex #1 – is this perhaps becoming a series? I’d be down.

Edit: Sterling confirmed there will be a sequel via her Twitter. Yay!!

Goodreads rating: 5 of 5 stars

Will I read it again? Yes! Definitely will be added into my October rotations.

Has anyone gotten their hands on a giveaway copy or arc? The Ex Hex releases 9.28, so if anyone wants to leave their thoughts on it in the comments, let’s chat.

Review: Tomb of Ancients (House of Furies #3) by Madeleine Roux

*This book was provided to me in exchange for a fair review.

The final showdown between gods and monsters was a bit hard to follow, if I’m being honest. I’m hesitant to post this, but I’m going to. The fact of the matter is not all books or book series are five star-worthy. I would rate this one three stars out of five.

The final part of Louisa’s story opens in London, where she and her friends are trying to begin their lives as normal people. How we got to London from the First City, where book 2 left off in a cliffhanger fashion, we’re not really sure, but the first few chapters of Tomb of Ancients hit hard and fast. There’s a ball and bloodshed, and the fancy ladies and gentlemen of the 1800’s get zombified, and we have an intriguing build up with Louisa’s sister but it ends up being for nothing because her memory of the aforementioned ball and bloodshed get wiped from her mind and she’s not mentioned again. And this all happens before we once again return to Coldthistle House and it’s fantastical characters who never have a chance to be fantastic, or the actual story of the third book begins.

I was so excited to receive Tomb of Ancients for review. But honestly, this entire series has such potential, but it falls so short it’s not even worth it to summarize the third book. There are such well thought out scenes that are strung together in a way that it’s obvious large cuts were done in editing without a proper final read through to make sure it all still makes sense.

It feels like the characters and world that were created were never given a fair chance.

The epilogue though. Someone who has suffered through these books please write a fanfic exploring the epilogue.

Review: Court of Shadows (House of Furies #2) by Madeleine Roux

I was not the biggest fan of the the first House of Furies book. It was slow and clunky, but within it’s lagging pages was the start of an intriguing story. I intended to read the next book in the series but wasn’t in any particular rush to do so.

Fast forward about seven months – I was in the beginnings of a summer of rereads when I was contacted to review the third book in the series, and since I knew there was potential there, I agreed. So while Tomb of Ancients sat on my shelf, I deep dove into Court of Shadows and I’m glad I did.

There’s an order to things at Coldthistle House. And though I strayed away into other lands and time, I found myself sucked back into the House, and the story it has to tell. So did Louisa Ditton. The story opens with Louisa back at the House, again working as a maid, and terribly missing her friend Mary and her relationship with Lee Bremerton.

The strange and mysterious cast of characters that reside within the house’s walls are rattled. A young woman and her fiancee’s family are the current guests when a convening of the courts is announced that spins the house into chaos. Terrifying creatures whose sole purpose is divining the truth out of you at all costs are around every corner. A vengeful ancient god arrives as the bride-to-be dies before her time. And there’s a journal that must be translated before Mr. Morningside stands trial.

Louisa strikes a deal to translate the journal and free herself and her friends from the house, and in doing so unlocks a story of what happened Before. Before Morningside came to be and before the ancients were laid to an enchanted sleep. The horror and mystery within the journal are an epic story within a story.

Court of Shadows is a considerably faster paced read than it’s predecessor, and a much better story overall. I can’t wait to start the third book and see how it all plays out. I hope we learn more about Louisa’s powers and her background, as well as more about the house’s employees.

Review: House of Furies (House of Furies #1) by Madeleine Roux

Seventeen year old Louisa Ditton is unwanted. By her parents, by her grandparents, by her school. By the general populace. She’s telling fortunes in the streets for pennies until an old crone tricks her into coming to Coldthistle House, where she begins working as a maid. But things aren’t as they seem inside the mansion, where the next day Mrs. Haylam, the old crone, isn’t quite so old or quite so cronish, and there’s a girl working that reminds Louisa a little too much of her childhood imaginary friend. There’s also the Residents, terrifying smoke-like creatures that may or may not be protecting her, but are extremely dangerous to the guests. And don’t forget Mr. Morningside, the owner of Coldthistle House, who seems to be a few hundred years old and has backwards feet, like a demon.

Coming across Mr. Morningside’s diary, Louisa starts to unravel the alarming histories of her employer, as well as those of the inhabitants of the house itself. And it’s not long before she realizes that all the guests that come to Coldthistle House don’t actually leave.

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux is a gothic novel set in Victorian times and is filled with murder and mystery, making it the perfect book to read in late September / early October. I found the side characters to be more interesting than Louisa and her love interest, Lee Bremerton, and hope they’re further explored in the next book. Unfortunately there is a lot of unnecessary plot, a lot of side plot, and not a lot of getting to the point, but the strange and weird that happens within the 400-odd pages is enough that I will pick up the second book in the series at one point.

Roux seems to be a fan of shorts within her different book universes, so hopefully we will get one featuring the Residents, and how they came to be. The hints that were dropped have me itching for more.

Review: Catacomb (Asylum #3) by Madeleine Roux

The Asylum series by Madeleine Roux is one of my favorites. I recently finished its conclusion, Catacomb, in a marathon read of about four hours. I did have to pause a few chapters in to go back and reread the first two; it had been about four years since I read them and I needed to reacquaint myself with the story, but it was absolutely worth it. Madeleine Roux does a great job with set description, particularly. I could really visualize the settings and felt myself drawn in to all of the adventures.

Full of mystery, suspense, intrigue, and New Orleans, Catacomb is my favorite book in the series. Dan Crawford and his friends Jordan and Abby have finally put their nightmare in New Hampshire behind them. Ready to road trip to New Orleans, where Jordan is moving for school, they’re looking forward to a few weeks of fun and relaxation before college. Nobody is trying to stalk them, kill them, or mind-control them. They deserve this.

Until a mysterious figure on a motorcycle keeps showing up wherever they go, photographing them. And a muscle car follows them from a campsite they bunk down in to the Quarter. And a friend starts contacting them from beyond the grave. Dan, Jordan, and Abby are once again thrust into a paranormal experience that will haunt them and connect them for the rest of their lives.

I didn’t mind that Catacomb barely ties into the first two books in the Asylum series. We revisit the same trio of characters but they are quite literally onto the next stage of their lives, figuratively and literally. One could consider the first two books the New Hampshire experience and the New Orleans setting as a stand alone novel, but I do recommend reading them in order to get the full experience of their history together. We dive deeper into Dan’s past, learning more about his parents directly, and start to see that his hallucinations are perhaps something more than that.

While their final adventure wraps up as well as it can, it’s nice that Roux didn’t spell out everyone’s happy ending. Dan does get a sweet epilogue in the end though, which was appreciated given all he was put through.