Over the course of twenty (almost twenty-one) successful books, Nancy Atherton’s Aunt Dimity series has become enormously popular. Now, with the first two mysteries in one volume, Introducing Aunt Dimity, Paranormal Detective makes it easy to get a taste of the ghostly sleuth’s delightful début. In Aunt Dimity’s Death, Aunt Dimity’s American niece, Lori Shepherd, had long thought her mother’s childhood tales of Aunt Dimity were merely comforting bedtime stories. But when a pair of lawyers informs her that her mysterious aunt has just died and made the down-on-her-luck Lori a rich woman, she finds a reason to believe. Aunt Dimity and the Duke finds the benevolent spirit helping Emma Porter, forty, fat, and frumpy,tame a Duke’s overgrown garden and discover romance along the way. These two tales continue to enchant Atherton’s devoted fans and, packaged together, are sure to attract even more new readers to the series.
Bubby: There are a few series that I just took to heart from the moment I opened the first book. The Aunt Dimity series is one of these. This first book in the series, Aunt Dimity’s Death, was named one of the best mysteries of the 20th century by the Independent Mystery Booksellers Association. This is for good reason. It starts out as a standard cozy mystery; down on her luck girl gets mysterious letter alluding to some sort of inheritance and off she goes to England to figure it all out. The twist comes in the form of Aunt Dimity herself. She is dead but her spirit lives on as she magically writes to Lori through the pages of a blue leather journal.
Sissy: The promise of intrigue piques one’s interest as we discover clues having to do with WWII, long-lost loves, and the London Zoo. Mata Hari monkeys? Hyenas on a heist?
Bubby: Pretty sure Mata Hari was WWI, Sissy. It seems that our dear Aunt Dimity has left some task undone and Lori must fix the situation so that Dimity’s spirit will be at rest. I really enjoyed the love interest in this book – he is not your typical tall dark and perfect romantic lead – in fact he has several faults.
Sissy: Like being pudgy, bespectacled, and unfashionable? Those are the ones who have money, my dear Bubby. And I sometimes like our dear Bill better than main character Lori.
Bubby: He does seem like a very sweet man, doesn’t he. I think that his father, Mr. Willis Sr., is my favorite character – he starts off as a bit of a curmudgeon but ends up being the father Lori never had.
Sissy: Yes, and it is fun how throughout the series different women in the local village try to entice him romantically. Now, Bubby, would you like to know my pros and cons about this series?
Bubby: I rather think you’ll tell me whether I want you to or not, so go ahead!
Sissy: I Shall start with the cons, so you can rebut. Lori is a bit of a flibbertigibbet. She also ends up with a fairly cushy life, but still complains (“Oh, I’m so flustered with this mystery, I can’t decide what to ask cook to prepare for dinner and I might have to put off my cuticle polishing appointment”). Also, how many murders can one village have? I live in a village-like small town, and the last murder we had was 27 years ago. But having said that, I’ll back pedal a little. Lori learns and grows throughout the series, and I’ve learned and grown quite fond of her. And I can overlook the multitude of murders thing because the story lines and writing are so very enjoyable.
Bubby: Actually, there are NO murders in this first book. And she doesn’t have a cook. Just saying. She does seem a bit entitled in some of the other books (and yes, she does get a nanny eventually), but let’s just focus on this one book, instead of dissing the series as a whole, shall we?
Sissy: Bubby, you try to spoil all my fun! Here are my PROs for this book (and series, neener, neener). These books are solidly good mysteries and the Aunt Dimity ghost angle is a very unique premise. The plots are fun and varied, and I know I’m in for a good read when I pick one up. The setting in a picturesque English village is a plus, and the villagers are idiosyncratic in the usual English villager sort of way. I would love to live amongst them and eat currant buns.
Bubby: Ooh, yes, currant buns. And scones or perhaps crumpets! With clotted cream! Oh, sorry, I got distracted there for a moment in my fantasies of English tea time. I do love the characterizations of the villagers – the quiet horsey couple next door, the elderly twins who finish each other’s sentences and the busybody who runs both the town and her husband!
Sissy: As I said, the villagers are very English villager-y, and if you don’t know what that means, dear reader, you clearly need to watch more BBC.
Bubby: It’s a great book and a great series. I adore them all. In fact, below is a full list of the Aunt Dimity books by Nancy Atherton (plus there’s Aunt Dimity and the Buried Treasure, coming in May of 2016!). Try them–you will be knee-deep (waist deep in Sissy’s case) in great reading material for a long time!
1. Aunt Dimity’s Death (1992)
2. Aunt Dimity and the Duke (1994)
3. Aunt Dimity’s Good Deed (1996)
4. Aunt Dimity Digs In (1998)
5. Aunt Dimity’s Christmas (1999)
6. Aunt Dimity Beats the Devil (2000)
7. Aunt Dimity: Detective (2001)
8. Aunt Dimity Takes a Holiday (2003)
9. Aunt Dimity: Snowbound (2004)
10. Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin (2005)
11. Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea (2006)
12. Aunt Dimity Goes West (2007)
13. Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter (2008)
*Introducing Aunt Dimity, Paranormal Detective (2009)
14. Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon (2009)
15. Aunt Dimity Down Under (2010)
16. Aunt Dimity and the Family Tree (2011)
17. Aunt Dimity and the Village Witch (2012)
18. Aunt Dimity and the Lost Prince (2013)
19. Aunt Dimity and the Wishing Well (2014)
20. Aunt Dimity and the Summer King ( 2015)
Click HERE to buy Introducing Aunt Dimity, Paranormal Detective by Nancy Atherton
The caveat here is that neither one of us love REALLY scary stuff, and especially not slasher or satanic themes. So while our pick of “creepy” novels may seem tame to others, they are still guaranteed to be Halloween appropriate and VERY entertaining! Read on! (This post contains affiliate links for our reader’s convenience).
Cue the creepy music (a la from the shower scene in Psycho), grab your blanket and your flashlight, and get ready to be scared! The Haunting of Sunshine Girl is under the “teen and young adult horror” section on Amazon, but we would think of it as more paranormal ourselves. Much more creepy and spine-tingling than horror. Anyway…Sunshine, our main character was named that because she really has the role of taking people to the light. If you like a good scare but are not wanting truly horrific stuff, this is the book for you. Great storyline, a tiny bit of romance, and a great ending all happen here, but we must warn you! Just when you think most things are resolved, the very last part throws a whopper of a twist at you, leaving you longing for…BOOK TWO. Hate it when that happens (at least until book 2 actually comes out March 8th, 2016).
This was just a fun read. Bubby wasn’t sure what to expect when Sissy presented her with a book titled Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters. Were they his biological daughters? Or were they creatures that he had created in the lab and was just calling his “daughters”? But no, they are the real flesh and blood daughters of the good doctor. We were thrilled that this book had a unique concept and was a bit bizarre (Sissy was especially thrilled when Bubby gave her the look that means “what drivel have you dug up this time?” and then she read it and had to say those precious words “you were right!”). Witty and peculiar, Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters kept us guessing all the way through. We would love to see a sequel, but due to certain culminating events in the story, we don’t know if it’s possible. But you never know. They are, after all, Dr. Frankenstein’s daughters. Ooh, the possibilities that are now percolating in our brains! But we forbear to speak of them lest we reveal the plot too much. Oh, and by the way, this book has a gratifyingly disturbing twist at the end. Shocking and goosebumpy!
We thought when we picked up this book it would be the same old mediocre magical quest/adventure thing and that we might not like it. Wrong! We were drawn into the story immediately and couldn’t put the book down through magic and plot twists, a storyline we couldn’t predict, and a true romance that was not immediately apparent. Unlike some people who might be (scaredy cats), Sissy read it late into the night. Bubby enjoyed The Witch Hunter during daylight hours, and really connected with Elizabeth and her journey to determine which side of the struggle she was going to be loyal to (or maybe she connected to Elizabeth because of her secret dagger-throwing and sword-wielding skills–we’ll never tell!). The relationship between Elizabeth and John was one of our favorite things about the book–so different but so meant to be, we think. Time will tell. This book was so entertaining–it is the fantasy trifecta of witches, ghosts, AND pirates, all in one place! Excellent paranormal fantasy début! The sequel, The King Slayer, is set to be released in June of 2016
And now for our creepiest pick of all…(drumroll, please):
Sissy read this book first and warned Bubby to not read it at night, as she would have nightmares and not be able to sleep. Bubby, of course, went ahead and read it one night while her husband was at work late, the kids were all asleep on another floor, and she was all alone. And about 15 minutes in she was terrified out of her mind. It was all she could do to force herself to open up her bedroom closet the next morning for fear that a psychotic ghost would be waiting inside. (She wished she had listened to Sissy!) Even though Bubby is a first class scaredy cat, in the case of Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto, the fear is well justified. Sissy also read this book alone at night (well, everyone was asleep but her). She went to bed (translation: ran terrified to her bedroom) only to find her dear hubby snoring loudly. Normally she would have gone down to the guest bedroom to escape the snores, but she was so petrified by the thought of Isobel the creepstash swamp-thing jumping out from anywhere en route or in the guest room closet that she simply attached herself to the ghost conquering snorer and lay awake but safe. Let us add, lest you get the wrong idea, that we really liked this book. It was full of drama, excitement, romance, and enough ghostly encounters to scare the holy pantalones off us. Just look at the cover–it’s like Heathcliff meets 21st century teenage medium. Keep in mind that the ghosts in this book are your standard “made bad decisions in life and can’t let go” ghosts, not “evil spawn of Satan” ghosts–We don’t go there. Anyway, our favorite part of Ghost House has to be the ending. Alexandra Adornetto wraps up the story so nicely – all the loose ends are tucked away neatly and everything’s back to normal. And then, in the very last two sentences of the book, BOOM! Massive cliffhanger. Yup. All in all, Ghost House is an absolutely flesh-crawling yet terribly enjoyable read.
Click HERE to buy The Haunting of Sunshine Girl by Paige McKenzie
Click HERE to buy Dr. Frankenstein’s Daughters by Suzanne Weyn
Click HERE to buy The Witch Hunter by Virginia Boecker
Click HERE to buy Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto
After the loss of her mother, Chloe Kennedy starts seeing the ghosts that haunted her as a young girl again. Spending time at her grandmother’s country estate in the south of England is her chance to get away from her grief and the spirits that haunt her. Until she meets a mysterious stranger… Alexander Reade is 157 years dead, with secrets darker than the lake surrounding Grange Hall and a lifelike presence that draws Chloe more strongly than any ghost before. But the bond between them awakens the vengeful spirit of Alexander’s past love, Isobel. And she will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who threatens to take him from her. (From Goodreads.com)
Bubby: Sissy read this book first and warned me to not read it at night, as I would have nightmares and not be able to sleep. I, of course, scoffed at her because I am a strong and powerful woman and nothing scares me! So I went ahead and read it one night while my husband was at work late. The kids were all asleep in their beds (none of which are on the same floor of our house as my bedroom, by the way) and I was all alone. And about 15 minutes in I was terrified out of my mind. It was all I could do to force myself to open up my bedroom closet the next morning for fear that a psychotic ghost would be waiting inside. I should have listened to Sissy!
Sissy: Let’s see–“I should have listened to Sissy”—Ding, ding, ding! That should be the mantra for your life (everyone’s life, really, except it would read “I WILL listen to Sissy.”). Also, the part where you said “nothing scares me” is, of course, a complete lie. Readers: Bubby is a first class scaredy cat. In the case of Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto, however, the fear is well justified. I also read this book alone at night (well, everyone was asleep but me). I went to bed (translation: ran terrified to my bedroom) only to find my dear hubby snoring loudly. Normally I would have gone down to the guest bedroom to escape the snores, but I was so petrified by the thought of Isobel the creepstash swamp-thing jumping out at me from anywhere en route or in the guest room closet that I simply attached myself to the ghost conquering snorer and lay awake but safe. Let me add, lest you get the wrong idea, that I really liked this book. It was full of drama, excitement, romance, and enough ghostly encounters to scare the holy pantalones off me. Just look at the cover–it’s like Heathcliff meets 21st century teenage medium.
Bubby: We should make it clear here that these are your standard “made bad decisions in life and can’t let go” ghosts, not “evil spawn of Satan” ghosts. We don’t do them Satanic sorts of things – I mean, there’s scary and there’s afraid for your immortal soul scary. We don’t go there. Anyway, my favorite part of Ghost House has to be the ending. Alexandra Adornetto wraps up the story so nicely – all the loose ends are tucked away neatly and everything’s back to normal. And then, in the very last two sentences of the book, BOOM! Massive cliffhanger. Yup. I literally dropped my Kindle on the floor and yelled “What the heck?!?”. I did. You can ask my kids. And the worst part? Ghost House was just barely published. So now I have to wait to find out what on earth is going to happen next. Well played, Alexandra Adornetto. Well played. 4 absolutely flesh-crawling bubbles of creepy from me.
Sissy: There are many characters in this story that we haven’t mentioned; Chloe’s dad who sends her and her brother Rory away because he can’t handle parenting after the death of his wife, the aforementioned Rory, who I wonder how he gets through all this without psychological problems of his own, Granny Fee, who owns “Ghost House”, and Joe, Chloe’s sympathetic English friend. All in all, a terribly enjoyable read. For daylight only! 3.75 ghostly orbs.
Click HERE to buy Ghost House by Alexandra Adornetto at Amazon.com © Bubble Bath Books 2014