In Autumn , I conceived of this idea to re-start my readings into the spooktacular worlds of chilling Thrillers, Suspense, Mysteries and the Paranormal (with just a dash of love for Cosy Horror!) – wherein I conceived of spending a fortnight reading such lovelies and enjoying a personal readathon leading into Halloween! I fell a bit short of my goals in , even though I took it as a success – as not only did I read some rather spookified tales but I found myself wholly intrigued by the stories I was selecting to read!
By  whilst helping develop and co-host @WyrdAndWonder, I put forth the idea to name our first mini-event for #WyrdAndWonder – wherein I was hoping to let this small idea I had in  take flight, reach a bigger audience and find readers who might find their own definition of #SpooktasticReads befitting their own readerly life! Which of course meant – re-defining it to include what it celebrates now as a mainstay: Cosy Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Witchy Reads, Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and even Gothic Romance or other such tales. I still have the tendency to read Cosy Crime, Suspense and Thrillers throughout Autumn and into Winter as well.
Some of the stories of course play the theme up quite a bit for the spookier side of the genres, some of which may or may not directly (or indirectly) relate to Fantasy per se but this is one of those readathons which is open to both interpretation and the joy of having free reign to enjoy the readathon in a way each reader wants to approach it. The truer beauty of Wyrd And Wonder and SpooktasticReads is the ability for each participant to find their own readerly path and find what gives them JOY to celebrate the events we’re hosting through social and the book blogosphere.
#WitchyWednesdays is a curated collection of #WitchyReads this Wyrd And Wonder on Jorie Loves A Story. I have long held a fascination with Paranormally inclined stories involving witches and wizards as well as magic schools. I read either Contemporary or Historical releases as well as completely fantastical worlds featuring a Witchy premise and storyline. This year for Wyrd And Wonder, I’m focusing on specific stories I’ve been wanting to share and discuss either during our annual event in May OR our sister event #SpooktasticReads in October. Every Wednesday there will be a new Witchy story to discover as I share my readerly adventures into Witchy Fiction this month. I am considering keeping this a mainstay of focus both during May & October for our events for Wyrd And Wonder.
In regard to the name I chose for this showcase of reviews, I sort of stumbled onto the name when I was deciding which day of the week I wanted to feature Witchy Reads this year. I thought it was original until I ran a search online, I saw others use the #WitchyWednesdays tag however, I did not source an origin of the tag – only a collective recognition for it attributed to different creative projects or venues whilst I didn’t find an actual meme origin for it on a blog or website. If someone knows who started it – kindly let me know so I can add attribution.
Acquired Audiobook By: I started to listen to audiobooks in  as a way to offset my readings of print books whilst noting there was a rumour about how audiobooks could help curb chronic migraines as you are switching up how you’re reading rather than allowing only one format to be your bookish choice. As I found colouring and knitting agreeable companions to listening to audiobooks, I have embarked on a new chapter of my reading life where I spend time outside of print editions of the stories I love reading and exchange them for audio versions.
Through hosting for the Audiobookworm who is now known as Audiobook Empire, I’ve expanded my knowledge of authors who are producing audio versions of their stories. Meanwhile, I am also curating my own wanderings in audio via my local library who uses Overdrive and/or CloudLibrary for their digital audiobook catalogues. Aside from my libraries, I also enjoy having Audible & Scribd memberships as my budget allows. It has been a wonderful journey and one I enjoy sharing – as I am now fully expanding how many audiobooks I listen to per year whilst enjoying being a part of the LibroFM ALC programme and an audiobook reviewer for NetGalley as well.
I received a complimentary audiobook copy of “The Ghosts of Wonky Inn” from the author Jeannie Wycherley in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I simply *adore!* the #WonkyInn series:
It is quite hard to keep your composure as your listening to this story, as despite the somberness of attending a funeral at the beginning of this tale, it doesn’t take long for the sarcasm to begin! Especially when Alfhild Daemonne begins to describe her personal style and the choices she makes with her wardrobe! Most women will readily warm to her quirky way of expressing her feelings and thoughts about everything from the colour palette of choice to the fact her clothes hug her figure a bit more than they had when she was younger. On top of which, despite this being a gathering of witches to lay to rest one of their own, it was Alfhild who brought the cheekiness to the program! Complete with casting aside the fact she no longer felt this was part of her ‘life’ per se but rather a blink of a blib on the map of where her journey once had taken her as all the witchy bits felt rather ‘put to bed’ in the past.
It was here where we find the contrast between her and her late mother’s legacies – how people viewed her mother as a giving woman who loved to help people in need. She, on the other hand, had a completely different perspective on her mother’s affairs but of course, she might be bias being her daughter rather than her coven. She was still very much defensive about loving to bake with the normality of ingredients one might expect off the Great British Bake-Off show – wherein, you had a feeling her Mum would have preferred her interests to lie more towards eye of newt! The longer she spoke on behalf of her relationship with her mother, the more you understood why there was a wedge dredged between them! Ironic or not, the way she defends her preference for wearing black (ie. by eye colour or cloth) is quite hilarious – which is only one of the passages which gives you a hearty gigglement of joy to listen too!
Rather cleverly, there is a secret combination of books in the Occult section of a bookshoppe to get you into the alleyway where the witches of this world love to roost and shop for their witchy needs! I liked how Wycherley made this sound like an alternative to the shoppes you’d find in Hogsmeade. The way Alfhild discloses this part of her life, you had a feeling she was feeling constricted by the requirements needed to put her mother to rest. Once the funeral was over, she couldn’t just resume her life from where it was put on pause – mostly because of Penelope Quidwell! She was her Mum’s solicitor who came round to talk to Alfhild about the estate she needed to settle before she could consider the account closed. You had to give her credit – she kept her truer thoughts and feelings at bay from those she interacted with directly, but when it came to listening to the those thoughts in-step with her conversations gave you a wicked good volley of humour! She didn’t mind being blunt if it gave her a way to get her points across and that was what makes her such a winning character, truly!
There are subtle bits and bobbles of magic enveloping through the background of the story – such as the way Penelope’s address claimed the card in Alfhild’s hand! A dash of smoke and a pinch of ink was all it took to give her a place to arrive. What she would find there once she did however was a bit of a alarm as she didn’t give her Mum much credit for having a complicated estate as the best she remembered she lived humbly without too many assets. Before she can get into those particulars though she had to find the solicitor’s office! Laughs. This set into motion a series of laughable moments where she thought she was destined to be coo-coo clocked to death!
What endears you to Alfhild’s journey is how sincere she is making a new life for herself in this place – even if her magical abilities are questionable at best but evenso, she does what she can whenever she can to compensate for it. She sorts out whom she can trust and who are her best allies – for she is working against forces she could not have predicted would interfere with her goodwill. There was a moment where in the height of an uprising she was bringing against these forces where she reconsidered her options before realising there was only one future she would feel comfortable owning as her own. And, that felt like the greater purpose of this installment – of taking control of not just your own destiny but of embracing who you are and the inherent gifts that come with feeling proud of where you’ve come as well.
Sometimes you’re challenged past the point you feel you can overcome what blights onto your path – but as Alfhild found, if you dig deep, stay positive and align yourself with people who give of themselves for the greater good of everyone else – you find a strength you never had. Alfhild’s parents would be wicked proud of her efforts and of the courage she encountered the moment she realised that the power to change her own destiny lay inside the power she had within herself. And, that should be something all readers takeaway from this story – aside from the advice given how to defeat one’s enemies as truly that is one of the oldest pieces of wisdom I think more people ought to be reminded of as so much truth is held within how that is one of the most powerful tools we all have to use ourselves.
If you wanted to get a good view of Wycherley’s humour, the way she paints the life of Alfhild as a witch attempting to live amongst the rest of us as if there was nothing unique or different about her is a proper bang-up riot! She also shows her heart such as the scene where she gives a twenty spot to a witch down on her luck whilst taking the commuter rail. The dialogue is sharp and the quickstep pacing of the story being delivered is a treat for your ears (if your listening to the audiobook, such as I had been) – everything is running a bit on hyper-speed, as the lead character has this hyper personality that comes through quite clearly. It adds to her charm though, because she’s the kind of bold character you look forward to meeting and can’t wait to know further!
The hilarity is in high order- Wycherley has such a prime way of carving out a bang-on brilliant romp of humour, you can’t stop laughing before you run into the next snarky bout of humour arriving in your ears! She’s written a right smart emotionally raw and honest character who speaks her mind, says what she means and means what she thinks who has a way of warming your heart for her forwardness! The way she’s written this Cosy Mystery is a bit unsuspecting as it feels much more like a Women’s Fiction exploit in how to put your life together at an age where everyone expects you to have your druthers in order whilst at the same time, there is a case of mystery right in the midst of Alfhild putting her life back to rights!
The way she’s conceived of this neverending home repair property to rankle the patience of Alfhild is just part of the folly as once you get into the groove of the audiobook, you’ve already embraced her cheeky humour and the dramatic way she involves us into this witchy Cosy!
A note of apology to Ms Wycherley
& an explanation of the delay in this review
being featured on Jorie Loves A Story:
I have been trying to bring this review to Jorie Loves A Story for the last three years as when I originally listened to the story I was unable to compose my thoughts about it directly as I heard it. I was going through quite a lot back then and for whichever reason, listening to a story on audio was far easier than pooling my thoughts about it as I heard it. This novel and the first Trans-Continental novella by E. Chris Garrison (ie. Girl in the Gears) was heard the same year and both are reviews I’ve been wanting to write and share on my blog ever since. Both of them were so wickedly brilliant – both in scope of the writers who wrote the stories and the performances of the narrators who expertly brought both worlds to illuminated light for me.
In different intervals and conversations, I did let both authors know the personal impact these audiobooks had on me but as I’ve become an audiobook listener (and audiophile, let’s be real!) I’ve enjoyed conveying my reactions the listening to stories read aloud, performed by narrators and blogging my thoughts about the joy of hearing a story lit alive through narration. It has been an interesting journey these past six years (since 2016) and I’ve grown a lot as both a reader and as an audiobook listener; even if I feel I have only scratched the surface of genres and literary realms to explore in audio – I’m comfortably confident to say I have curated quite a few favourites along the way! And, these two authors and their narrators are at the top of the expanding list which is now past ten faovurite narrators!!
I’ve tried several times to re-listen to both over the years – tying them into different events (ie. Witchathon, #SpookasticReads or even #WyrdAndWonder or #SciFiMonth) which they would naturally fit inside and yet, it wasn’t until this 5th Year of Wyrd And Wonder where I had conceived of the idea for a #WitchyWednesdays showcase wherein I could tuck closer to the #WitchyReads I love seeking out and talk about those stories directly on a Wednesday. I had planned to feature 4x #WitchyWednesdays this May but as life and work threw me offline more than I expected to be this month, I had to reduce my plans.
However, there is some good news to share! This series has expanded quite a heap since (2019) as back then there were 8x releases and now there are a wickedly brilliant 15x!! Plus, four Christmas Specials which reminds me dearly of my beloved BBC serials which oft do the same! I also noted more of the audiobooks have released which is why between now and October (for our next #SpooktasticReads event hugged into the final fortnight of the month in a chase up to Halloween) I’ll be gathering those audiobooks myself to continue my adventure into a world which bewitched me as soon as I first entered it!
I might have taken the longer road back into the Wonky Inn series but I am evermore grateful to the author who first enchanted me with her series and now has me hungering after new installments! I’ve marked which of the stories are now released into audiobook as well for those who would prefer to listen to the series as I do vs reading them in either print or ebook. I have known ever since I first ‘heard’ Alf that this is a series I have to always listen to in audio – I cannot even fathom how I would read a story set in the Wonky Inn world without Kim Bretton in my ears! Except to say for the Christmas Specials – as I’m uncertain if those are going into audio which is why I noted on this review I’ll be collecting those in print editions. If they do go into audio that would be a wickedly sweet surprise for me!!
I cannot apologise enough to the author for the long gaps in communication and for stalling in my progress to make this review a reality. I cannot wait to listen to the third novel Weird Wedding at Wonky Inn ahead of the Christmas Special and the next two audiobooks in sequence right in time for #SpooktasticReads this October when I resume my #WitchyWednesdays!! The blessing of course is how cosy comfortable this series has become to me and how lovely it is to return as if I’ve simply gone away for a spell and now have chosen to return ‘home’.
I should also mention – portions of this review were previously written during my first listening of the story and also, during my second – whilst this is my third listening of the story and I’ve done my best to make this a cohesive review as I combined all the thoughts I had to share on its behalf.
🎧 The Ghosts of Wonky Inn (book two) → heard thrice!
🎧 Weird Wedding at Wonky Inn (book three) → next in line!
The Witch Who Killed Christmas (A Wonky Inn Christmas Special)
🎧 Fearful Fortunes & Terrible Tarot (book four)
🎧 The Mystery of the Marsh Malaise (book five)
The Mysterious Mr Wylie (book six)
The Great Witchy Cake-Off (book seven)
Vengeful Vampire at Wonky Inn (book eight)
Witching in a Winter Wonklyland
(A Wonky Inn Christmas Cozy Mystery)
A Gaggle of Ghastly Grandmamas (book nine)
Magic, Murder and a Movie Star (book ten)
O Witchy Town of Whittlecombe (A Wonky Inn Christmas Cozy Mystery)
Judge, Jury and Jailhouse Rockcakes (book eleven)
A Midsummer Night’s Wonky (book twelve)
Halloween Heebie-Geebies (book thirteen)
Owl I Want for Witchmas is Hoo:
A Wonky Inn Christmas Cozy Mystery Special
Oh Mummy! (book fourteen)
Pieces of Hate (book fifteen) ← forthcoming August, 2022!
NOTE: I marked which installments are released into audiobook with a headphone emoji whilst I changed the colour of the text to reflect the Christmas Specials which are only currently released into print or ebook formats. I’ll have to gather the print of those stories to read before I proceed forward into the next stories released into audiobook. For instance, I’ll be purchasing my first one after listening to “Weird Wedding Wedding at Wonky Inn” before I purchase a copy of “Fearful Fortunes & Terrible Tarot”.
I believe there is a spin-off series called:
MISTER MAGIGI’S MAGICAL EMPORIUM
Sugarplum Scary (book one)
*as I read somewhere online this is a story connected to Alf
as she asked a favour of the character whose featured
Converse via: #WonkiestWitch + #AudioReads, #Audiobook
and #WitchyWednesdays during #WyrdAndWonder
OR #loveaudiobooks, #Paranormal #CosyCrime
About Jeannie Wycherley
Genre-hopping introvert and word witch living somewhere between the forest and the sea in East Devon, UK.
Jeannie finds inspiration everywhere: in myths, stories and songs, while people watching, a word here, a look there. However, her main inspiration comes from the landscape. Devon has it all - a rocky coastline, pebble and sandy beaches, narrow winding lanes and picture perfect cottages, steep cliffs and an abundance of forest.
A good day for Jeannie means a blustery wind, racing waves and salty rain. She lives with her husband and two dogs, makes a lot of soup, plays too many computer games and loves watching movies.
Acquired Book By: Every so often I am blessed with Review Requests which come directly via my Review Policy on my blog. There are some months where I fall behind on my responses to the requests – due to life and work obligations – however, in this instance, I was wicked fascinated by this particular premise and as it fit into the stories, I was seeking out for our 5th Year of #WyrdAndWonder, I took a chance on the ARC being pitched would still be available to request. Thankfully I was granted the review opportunity and the book arrived in time to coordinate with my Wyrd And Wonder plans this May. I knew, too, with this being a re-telling of a beloved classic story (ie. “Beauty and the Beast”) this would fit in well with my Wyrd And Wonder takeover of #RomanceTuesdays which is a regular feature of my blog.
I received a complimentary copy of the book direct from the publisher Dancing Lemur Press, LLC in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I enjoy fantastical re-tellings & am curious about werewolves:
Even before I realised there was a werewolf connection, I surmised it through the cover art! The only werewolf I truly have had any experience or knowledge of previously was Harry’s Uncle. Werewolves are typically on my list of creatures I’m not as comfortable reading about and thereby make choices case by case as I find stories which involve them. Now, when I realised this is a re-telling of Beauty and the Beast with a window into Druid & Celtic Histories and a potential curse unearthed by an archaeologist on a dig – wells, let’s just say that felt quite a fanciful new direction to take the original canon!
I have been reading re-tellings of Classic Literature ever since the very beginning of Jorie Loves A Story (9 years ago this past 31st of March) – which you can observe via my Story Vault as those stories are listed closer to the top of the list of archived reviews. I have also read variants of Beauty and the Beast previously whilst I LOVED seeing the rendition of the live-action film starring Emma Watson not so long ago now (2017 wasn’t it?). In fact, in that film the hardest scene for me to reconcile was when the ‘beast’ no longer had his fur! Even Mum agreed (as it was a surprise viewing with her) it was hard to shift past who he was before he transformed back into being a human because we all were lost in the story and had come to become quite fond of him in his beastly state of presence! Laughs. Which I believe is why Emma Watson’s character mentioned him growing a beard at the end and where he implied that would never happen! Laughs heartedly.
The key reason I LOVE retellings is because you get to see a different perspective on the original story and the original intentions for that story by the original author. The new variants of the Classics also offer new passageways into those characters’ and into those worlds; some even re-invent the whole experience if you take into account my listenings of the Jane Austen Dragons series! (see also Review) The beauty of course is finding which authors have an entrance point which first enchants you forward and then, entertains you the most whilst you take up residency in the new world they’ve created in homage to the original.
Now, once upon a time I had a huge interest in Archaeology, Anthropology and all routes interconnected to both disciplines — however, now I entertain those interests through reading Fiction and Non-Fiction alike and enjoy the adventures from afar. History has played a strong role in my life as well – which is why you’ve oft found me chasing down timescapes and windows of History through my extensive readings of Historical Fiction over the last nine years as well. And, yet I always feel there is something new to discover when you merge the past with the present and angle a story through the excavation of the past.
With werewolves – those are a bit trickier for me to feel cosy comfortable around – though, in truth, I am sure most of them are misunderstood or in the case of the one in Druid’s Moon – perhaps caught inside of a curse he/they cannot extract themselves from!? Ah. Alas, I felt this might be an interesting and intriguing story to add to my selections this #WyrdAndWonder and that is why it is being featured during my Wyrd And Wonder takeover of #RomanceTuesdays as in effect a Beast needs his Beauty and there lies the romance!
Lyne Vanlith, an archaeologist who seeks a logical explanation to any mystery, discovers an ancient Druidic curse on her first dig. When the signs foretold by the curse descend on her, Lyne can’t find a reasonable interpretation.
And that’s even before a Beast rescues her from a monstrous sea-creature. She drops a grateful kiss on the snout of the Beast, who transforms into a man, Frederick Cunnick, Baron of Lansladron. Lyne is meant to be Beauty to his Beast—and break the curse forever.
Now both spellkeeper and monster are targeting Lyne. She must take up her legendary role, to defeat the curse and save Frederick—and herself. Instead of logic, for the first time, Lyne must trust her heart.
Converse via: #FantasyRomance, #ParanormalFantasy or #Fairytale Re-telling
as well as #BeautyAndTheBeast or #WyrdAndWonder
About Deniz Bevan
A firm believer in burning the candle at both ends, Deniz Bevan is generally writing a new novel while editing another and blogging about her reading and research adventures. Other days, she tries to stay off the web altogether, as she delves into the history, mystery, and romance of her characters’ lives.
Acquired Book By:I happily crossed paths with Ms Jackson via Twitter which is kindly one of the best ways I’ve been meeting authors who are being featured during @SatBookChat! This has remained true the past six years I’ve been hosting the chat and I am thankful authors continue to reach out to me socially as it makes hosting the chat such a pleasure of joy for me. I also reach out to authors I know as I read their stories but it is nice when authors who find the chat are inspired to talk to me about their books, ask to be added to the #SatBookChat schedule and kindly give me the chance to ‘meet’ their story ahead of the chat itself if it is possible to have the print or audio sent to me before their chat date arrives. Thus, this is how I met Ms Jackson and became introduced to her PNR (ie. Paranormal Romance) and Paranormal Suspense style of writing.
I received a complimentary copy of “The Devil’s Bride” direct from the author Emma S. Jackson in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
On why I wanted to read “The Devil’s Bride”:
I have had a bit of a hankering for ghost stories over the years and of course one of my top favourites was House on the Forgotten Coast, mostly because you don’t even realise its a ghost story! This particular narrative felt uniquely different in of its own and one that I felt would keep me up at night surely because its a bit of a Darker Paranormal Suspense novel and that would give way for me as a reader to see how dark I can handle my PNR stories!
When it comes to Historical Fantasy co-merging with the paranormal, authors tend to have different approaches to how they want to address that merger. I still remember the creative vision found within To Live Forever. Whilst that particular story was a clever one as it was also connected to the authors own walk and journey on the Natchez Trace. Sometimes I find stories go a bit too far for me when it comes to the paranormal which was true of my readings of Haunted. Yet, I still try to reach past my own comfortable zones of the genres and seek out stories which might push me a bit as a reader to see which writers are curating stories I can enjoy during the Autumnal months when I prefer to read these kind of spookier reads!
This story was given to me to be read in the Spring of 2020 and it wasn’t until Autumn 2021 I found I was able to re-attach inside it. During our annual #SpooktasticReads, I found the inspiration to re-begin several stories I was reading at different marks of progress and realised I was quite determined to finish them now rather than to put them off for later. This particular story was one I wasn’t sure if I could finish as I found myself curiously wondering what the next page and chapter would reveal to me – as it reads a bit darker than other stories and of course, I am always a bit on pins to find out how dark a story will become by its conclusion. It was a good way to kick-off my #SpooktasticReads, that is for sure!
No one goes near Edburton Manor – not since the night in 1668, when demons rose from the ground to drag Lord Bookham’s new bride to a fiery death. Or so the locals say.
That’s what makes it the perfect hideout for the gang of highwaymen Jamie Lorde runs with.
Ghost stories have never frightened her. The living are a far more dangerous prospect, particularly to a woman in disguise as a man. A woman who can see spirits in a time when witches are hanged and who is working hard to gain the trust of the most ruthless, vicious man she has ever known because she intends to ruin and kill him.
But when the gang discovers Matthew, Lord Bookham’s illegitimate brother, who has been trapped by a curse at the Manor ever since the doomed wedding, all Jamie’s carefully laid plans are sent spiralling out of control.
Converse via: #SpooktasticReads + #PNR, #ParanormalSuspense
#HistFic or #HistoricalFiction, #HistoricalFantasy, #ghoststory / #ghoststories and #17thC England
Available Formats: Paperback and Ebook
About Emma S. Jackson
Emma Jackson is the best-selling author of A MISTLETOE MIRACLE, published by Orion Dash. A devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old, she joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association on their New Writers’ Scheme at the beginning of 2019, determined to focus on her writing. Her debut novel was published in November 2019.
When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished.
THE DEVIL’S BRIDE is her second novel, published by DarkStroke as Emma S Jackson. She hopes to continue working across sub-genres of romance, as she believes variety is the spice of life.