Book Review – Helena by Claire L. Smith


There are times when you read a story, become lost in the moment and simply enjoy the words as they are presented. It’s only afterwards, as you ponder just what happened, you feel its rotten fingernails scraping over your worthless soul as it grips you tightly and mercilessly. This is exactly what happened to me with this book.

I throw the word ‘creepy’ around quite a lot in my reviews, but this book is certainly one deserving of this description. I suppose a gothic novel involving a woman who runs a funeral parlour with an ability to see ghosts, is going to bring da chills, as it were. But a good horror story needs to be more than just a collection of things and scenarios that ‘could’ be creepy.

Thankfully this story managed to entertain and frighten in equal measure (OK, maybe a 60/40 frighten/entertain).

Helena, the main character as you may have guessed, lost her parents at a young age. In the prologue she visits their graves as a child with her grandparents where she sees a most hideous and rotten version of her old dad. This really was a great opening, setting the standard for what was to follow.

Things don’t let up from there. Fast forward to Helena running her death business where she moves into a home much nearer to her place of work (ie. a graveyard). I don’t want to sound condescending or anything, but come on, Helena, don’t live next to a graveyard with your gift. I jest, I was very happy for her to do this; moving into a mundane city centre house would have been pretty boring.

Anyway, moving on. The house belongs to a pair of twin dudes and their sister who have recently lost their father. By all accounts he was a right bastard, and this personality trait has been passed on to one of the twins, Christian.

Helena tries her best to avoid him and befriends his brother Eric and sister Audrey who she forms quite the bond with. Audrey shares a great secret with Helena.

While all this is going on Helena’s business is doing a roaring trade, mostly thanks to a local serial killer doing their thing. These crimes are pretty brutal, and the details are displayed in all their grisly detail, which was great and perfect for all you lovers of gore out there.

Suddenly, for some unknown reason, Helena becomes chief suspect. She is questioned by DI Jude who comes across as having an irrational fascination with her being the killer. At times it seemed ludicrous that he suspected her, his reasons being rather far-fetched. But this only made things all the more creepy; what does he know, why is he pursuing her like this? Is there any way to prove your innocence when the police are convinced you are responsible?

The finale plays out to a horrifying conclusion, where all questions are answered. There is blood spilt, secrets revealed, and some serious questions on where people’s loyalties lie.

If your a fan of gothic horror then this should be right up there on your TBR list.

Categories: book review

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4 replies

  1. YES, I’m a fan of Gothic horror! I just put Helena on my TBR.:-)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have put it on my TBR list too, sounds good! x

    Liked by 1 person

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