In 1995, the picture-perfect village of Ussalthwaite was the site of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, in a case that shocked the world. 

Twelve-year-old Sidney Parsons was savagely murdered by two boys his own age. No reason was ever given for this terrible crime, and the ‘Demonic Duo’ who killed him were imprisoned until their release in 2002, when they were given new identities and lifetime anonymity. 

Elusive online journalist Scott King investigates the lead-up and aftermath of the killing, uncovering dark stories of demonic possession, and encountering a village torn apart by this unspeakable act. 

And, as episodes of his Six Stories podcast begin to air, and King himself becomes a target of media scrutiny and the public’s ire, it becomes clear that whatever drove those two boys to kill is still there, lurking, and the campaign of horror has just begun…

Continuing the unique, explosive Six Stories series, based around six podcasts comes a gene-defying, compelling and utterly original read, and a bleak and distressing look at one of the most unimaginable of crimes -the child murderer. Demon will hook itself under your skin and you will never be rid of the spell it casts.

Are you ready to immerse yourself in a story you won’t be able to look away from?

brown animal skull

When a  #SixStories episode lands on my doormat, you might as well write off that entire weekend as these books have never made it onto my TBR yet – as soon as they arrive I dive straight in and Demon was no exception! . I absolutely love this original and compelling series and Demon absolutely lived up to my level of anticipation and I might even go as far as to say that it’s my favourite in the series

Matt Weslowski has a rare talent for creating a fictional world that always feels chillingly and unfailingly real and I barely looked up until I’d turned the final page.

man in black and white striped shirt sitting on brown concrete wall

I love the way that Matt’s books give us a diverse range of voices so that we build up a steady accumulation of detail, just like you would in real life. I’m a real true-crime junkie and this series has definitely filled the gap that #Serial has left in my life. Scott is such a unique and credible character that you really feel like you have got to know across the series and you can absolutely ‘hear’ his voice as he uncovers more and more details about this story.  In the same way that I felt a strong connection with Adnan after reading Serial, I really felt like I’d come to know these characters by the final page and although I’m firmly committed to my ‘No Spoilers’ rule, I can promise you that you will not be able to stop once you’ve read that first chapter!

It’s even the kind of book that is a physical pleasure to read – they say that don’t judge a book by the cover but this Orenda books series has such gorgeously terrifying covers that they are all works of art in their own right – it’s not just the story that made me love it so much but the book as an actual physical object. Just look how beautiful it is – I mean, these are the kind of book covers that you’d want to frame as a set, they’re so stunning. And the writing itself is just as memorable and striking as that cover…

Opening up a new ‘Episode’ of Six Stories always gets me really excited and I really can’t emphasise how much I loved this chilling and atmospheric read. The quotes on the cover are definitely not hyperbole as ‘captivating’ is not the word for some parts of this book. The fact that you are made to think beyond the headlines and not just dismiss this case as prosecuting ‘monsters’ makes it even more thought-provoking. Wesolowski wants us always to see the humans inside the crimes and whatever darkness he reaches into, he wants to take you there and remind us that this is a darkness that lives within humanity. We all have our demons, and here we meet some of them face to face…

garden fork near burning wood during daytime

Scott King is a fantastic character – even though on a conscious level I know that he is a device to keep the story going and to stitch all of the interviewees’ perspectives together I absolutely love the way that his questions dive beneath the surface and bring us new perspectives on cases that we think we might have all heard before. I am a huge fan of podcasts in general and particularly true crime and murder podcasts. Six Stories feels absolutely real in every way and I almost feel like I am ‘hearing’ the book that I’m reading like a podcast in the night – it really is so evocative – and several ‘episodes’ in, I’m no less fascinated to see where each tale will take me.

black crow on white wooden fence

I also liked the way that like the very best True Crime podcasts – Weslowski allows space for us to think hard about the bigger ‘story’ behind the story and asks us to question the way we might consider these cases when we see them in the headlines. The ideas behind ideas like ‘demonic possessions’ cannot just be tied up in a neat little package with the ‘why’ on top. There is enough room for us to ask ourselves questions about our responses to the seemingly ‘impossible’ that provokes not just deep thought but a genuine opportunity to question our former prejudices and immerse ourselves in this dark and unearthly tale. I found myself genuinely being convinced to see things from a constantly shifting perspective as the novel bore me towards the conclusion and this was a rollercoaster ride that I definitely didn’t want to get off…

woman in black long sleeve shirt lying on brown dried leaves

This book has a little bit of everything – demonic possession, social commentary, a ‘true crime’ feel, a captivating narrative structure, credible characters and a real sense of darkness that creeps insidiously into your reading psyche and won’t let you go.

As you can probably tell, I loved Demon even more than Matt’s previous books and have urged almost everyone I know to buy it. It is a series of books that you’ll want to pass on to other people so that they’ll have had the same experience you did, reading them for the first time. If you haven’t read Matt Weslowski before – First of all, why NOT? And secondly, make sure you check him out as he could be your favourite new writer. Buy yourself a copy of Demon here so that you can find out how brilliant it is for yourself

I’d like to thank the lovely Anne Cater for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, it was such a privilege to be part of the blog tour for a series of books that I’ve loved reading so much. Karen from Orenda told me herself about hearing Matt’s pitch for the first time and yet again, her unerring feel for discovering unmissable writing talent hits the bullseye.

I bloody love this whole series and cannot recommend it enough. Get out there and experience it for yourself as soon as you can! #SixStoriesFanclub forever

Writer On The Shelf

Matt Wesolowski is an author from Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the UK. He is an English tutor for young people in care.

Matt started his writing career in horror, and his short horror fiction has been published in numerous UK- and US-based anthologies such as Midnight Movie CreatureSelfies from the End of the WorldCold Iron and many more. His novella, The Black Land, a horror set on the Northumberland coast, was published in 2013.

Matt was a winner of the Pitch Perfect competition at Bloody Scotland Crime Writing Festival in 2015. His debut thriller, Six Stories, was an Amazon bestseller in the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia, and a WHSmith Fresh Talent pick, and film rights were sold to a major Hollywood studio.

Twitter: @ConcreteKraken
Facebook: @Matt-Wesolowski
Instagram: @MattJWesolowski


Bitter Flowers Blog Tour

PI Varg Veum has returned to duty following a stint in rehab, but his new composure and resolution are soon threatened when three complex crimes land on his desk.

A man is found dead in an elite swimming pool. A young woman has gone missing. Most chillingly, Veum is asked to investigate the ‘Camilla Case’: an eight-year-old cold case involving the disappearance of a little girl, who was never found.

As the threads of these three apparently unrelated cases come together, against the backdrop of a series of shocking environmental crimes, Veum faces the most challenging, traumatic investigation of his career.

A stunning, sophisticated, tension-packed thriller – the darkest of hardboiled Nordic Noir – from one of Norway’s most acclaimed crime writers.

Bitter Flowers is published in just a few day on 21st January by Orenda Books.

Fresh from rehab, Norwegian PI Varg Veum faces his most complex investigation yet, when a man is found drowned, a young woman disappears, and the case of a missing child is revived. The classic Nordic Noir series continues…

‘As searing and gripping as they come’ New York Times

‘One of my very favourite Scandinavian authors’ Ian Rankin

‘The Norwegian Chandler’ Jo Nesbø

***Now a major TV series starring Trond Espen Seim***

body of water near rock mountain under cloudy skies

So many reviewers have commented on the way that Bitter Flowers has absolutely blown them away – and that is exactly right. It’s got touches of so many of my favourite genres: it’s set in Norway, so it’s got many of the chillingly atmospheric details that I love as well as a character like Varg, who is sure to become one of your stand-out investigators if you haven’t met him already. Add all of that together and consider the fact that it also features a cold case – and I was absolutely sold, right from the get-go…

multicolored village wallpaper

Varg is someone that you won’t easily forget and I quickly became caught up in this new, post-rehab era of his story. He’s a character with strong principles as well as his very visible flaws, and I got completely drawn into his story all the more because of his complexities and challenges. He is a driven and intelligent man who will let nothing stand in the way of trying to establish what is behind the present-day deaths, and the long neglected cold case and I was absolutely gripped by his dogged determination to work through the twists and turns of this interwoven tale and get to the heart of the matter.

aerial photography of houses between body of water at daytime

The fact that some of the interwoven strands of this mystery are not quite as clear cut as you might wish added a disturbing, dark, and addictive element to this novel that was satisfyingly chilling and definitely not for the faint-hearted. Through the mystery, we get insights into wider societal themes such as alcohol abuse, environmental crimes, and the impact of trauma, which I thought added real depth to this novel and made it stand out head and shoulders above your more run of the mill ‘missing persons’ mysteries and gave it a really atmospheric feel that added to its addictive nature.

red and white wooden house in front of body of water

Many novels in this genre are all about composing the twists and turns of the plot and can display a real disregard for the writing itself. Not so Gunnar Staaalesen, expertly and beautifully translated by Don Bartlett: his writing is evocative and vivid showing a real talent for transporting you to the beautiful nordic landscapes as well as the grittier side of the investigations. The sections of the novel which describe the emerging relationship between Varg and Siv was stunningly well written and really stood out in the middle of the investigations as being both credible and very moving.

body of water surrounded mountain peak

The sure touch that Gunnar Staalesen brings to the Nordic noir genre makes for a satisfying, gripping and addictive read that drew me in completely. I can’t wait for Mr OnTheShelf to finish reading it so we can go for a long walk and talk our way through the twists and turns of this tale as I found its unique atmosphere and added human element to be absolutely gripping. The fact that he’s also engrossed speaks volumes as he’s not generally a fiction reader and Bitter Flowers really has him as engrossed as I was.

Norway flag standing on cliff

I have absolutely no doubt that in Varg I’ve found a new protagonist that I’ll be telling absolutely everyone about and I’ll definitely be looking out for the rest of his adventures. Bitter Flowers was the perfect blend of strong characterisation and cracking plot and the quality of writing made it hard to put down. Particular mention to the translator Don Bartlett who fully evokes the wonderful country it’s set in and makes me want to visit more than ever

brown wooden house on lake near green mountains under white clouds and blue sky during daytime

#TeamOrenda have rounded up a series of amazing bloggers for this novel and I’m honoured to be part of Anne Cater’s tour Check out the #BlogTour poster to see who else is creating the buzz around Bitter Flowers.

Make sure that you order your own copy and find out how much you didn’t know about Nordic noir for yourself…

Writer On The Shelf

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies.

Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour). Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for Nordic Crime Fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted for the award in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.

The German Wife

The German Wife Blogtour

Germany, 1939: Annaliese is a doctor’s wife, living in an elegant grey stone house with ivy creeping over the balcony. But when her husband is ordered to work at the Dachau labour camp, her ordinary life is turned upside down by the horrors of war. And Annaliese finds herself in grave danger when she dares to fight for love and freedom…

America, 1989: Turning the pages of the newspaper, Annaliese gasps when she recognizes the face of a man she thought she’d never see again. It makes her heart skip a beat as a rush of wartime memories come back to her. As she reads on, she realizes the past is catching up with her. She must confront a decades-old secret – or risk losing everything…

Germany, 1942:Annaliese’s marriage is beginning to crumble. Her husband, Hans, has grown cold and secretive since starting his new job as a doctor at Dachau. When a tall, handsome Russian prisoner named Alexander is sent from the camp to work in their garden, lonely Annaliese finds herself drawn to him as they tend to the plants together. In snatched moments and broken whispers, Alexander tells her the truth about the shocking conditions at the camp. Horrified, Annaliese vows to do everything she can to save him.

But as they grow closer, their feelings for each other put them both in terrible danger. And when Annaliese falls pregnant she has to make an impossible decision between protecting herself and saving the love of her life…

Inspired by a true story, this is a heart-stopping, unforgettable tale of ordinary people fighting for survival in the darkest of times. Fans of Orphan TrainThe Tattooist of Auschwitz and My Name is Eva will be utterly gripped by this beautiful, tragic, World War Two novel.

The German Wife  is one of the most humbling and devastating books I’ve ever read and I’m so grateful to have been invited onto the blog tour to learn from Annaliese’s incredible story of resilience and survival. It allows us a real insight into the many thousands of people across the world who lost everything,  fled their homes, and went through unimaginable suffering at the hands of the Nazis. The fact that there has been a swathe of Auschwitz books of late should not deter you from picking this up – it’s by far the best one I’ve read in the last few years and really stands out through the strong narrative voice, guiding you through this devastating period of time with grace and dignity. I didn’t know much about the Dachau before reading this book and I think that this book reinforces the fact that we must keep talking about these things if we wish to ensure that it never happens again.

open gray wooden door

This unforgettable and affecting read allows us an unforgettable insight into the lives of these characters, whilst we see at close hand the devastating impact of the Holocaust from the perspective of the people who lived it. This period is brought vividly to life as a place full of people just trying to survive as Annaliese travels back in her memories to this time of turbulence and personal change in the face of human brutality and evil in a place like Dachau.

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The characters in this compelling read spring to life from the page and remain in your heart long after you’ve finished–  it’s impossible to close the final page of this book and not feel a strong connection to them and a real sense of having bourne witness to the fates of the many hundreds of people at Dachau who did not survive it to tell their story. I was painfully aware all the time I was reading it that Annalise’s story is one voice out of the many thousands of women who lived during this time on the periphery of evil – and I could not stop thinking about those who did survive but sometimes wished that they hadn’t.

The difficult and challenging thing whilst you are reading a book such as this is that it is packed full of real stories of suffering and human endurance that are still happening in some places across the world.  The power of the narrative with its simple lyrical words to convey such powerful truths is an important part of why this novel has stuck with me and why I really think that you should read it too. The book is published more than 75 years after these camps’ liberation, but even though all of this time has passed, these characters are very much still alive in my mind and I can’t forget their story. Those of you who read my blog know that I often go off and do my research after reading a book I’ve absolutely loved and I was fascinated to read about this tale and discover some more shocking details of what went on in this camp and some more stories about people who survived– Read about it here

pile of assorted-color leather shoes

This is an important read and I can’t recommend it highly enough. A powerful insight into the strength of love, suffering and the lengths we will go to to protect the things that are most important to us. This is not an easy read, but it’s a very important one and it’s one that I unreservedly recommend. I will definitely try and use some of it in school when we are teaching The Holocaust. I am so grateful that I got the chance to read it and have really learned a lot from Annaliese’s honest, heartfelt and moving narrative.

Buy yourself a copy here and make sure that you follow the rest of the tour to hear the thoughts of the other bloggers on this Tour.

Writer On The Shelf

Debbie Rix has had a long career in journalism, including working as a presenter for the BBC. Her first novel, The Girl with Emerald Eyes was set around the building of the tower of Pisa and she has since released Daughters of the Silk Road and The Silk Weaver’s Wife. Debbie writes heartbreaking historical novels about love, tragedy and secrets.

The Italian Island

My darling girl, don’t make the same mistakes as I did. Now that my life is coming to an end, take your grandmother’s bracelet, unlock the secret of our family history, and discover who you are…

As the hazy sun sets on golden sand, twenty-year-old Annie arrives on the stunning Sicilian island of Galatea, her father’s final wish playing heavy on her heart: she must solve the mystery of her grandmother who disappeared during World War Two. Her only clues are the delicate gold band around her wrist and directions to Villa Onda – House of the Waves – where her grandmother once lived.

As she climbs the winding road up to the cliffside villa, Annie’s path collides with handsome local fisherman, Salvo. His sea-blue eyes sparkle with recognition at her bracelet, and Annie can’t tell if it’s his warm touch or the sun-kissed villa’s vine-covered splendour that takes her breath away. Swept into the warm arms of Salvo’s family, it’s not long before she finds herself dancing the night away in the cobbled piazza and finally beginning to heal.

But one afternoon she finds an antique gramophone hidden beneath a dusty sheet in her grandmother’s bedroom. Setting the needle, she unlocks a long-buried secret… And, through Salvo’s mother, starts to unravel the truth about the bracelet and her grandmother’s heart-shattering wartime sacrifice.

With Salvo’s first kiss lingering on her lips, Annie knows she must dig deeper into the scars that haunt this beautiful island. But can her fragile new-found love with Salvo survive uncovering the truth? Will she ever be able to move on with her life until she does?

An absolutely heart-wrenching page-turner about how the catastrophic consequences of war can echo through generations, and the power that true love has to save us all.

From the author of million-copy bestseller, Watch Over Me, and Amazon Number 1. bestseller, The Italian Villa, this is the perfect one-sitting read for anyone who adores Fiona Valpy, Victoria Hislop, or The Letter by Kathryn Hughes.

photo of house near cliff and body of water

If you love a historical epic, then The Italian Island might be your new favourite read. I love books that carry me across time, weaving skilfully between the past and the present and Daniela Sacerdoti manages this superbly, leading us with Annie between the end of the war and her modern-day exploration of her family history with consummate ease

concrete house on cliff

I love books that transport me in time and place and I read this during the chilly winter break– totally losing myself in balmy Galatea as Sacerdoti’s fantastic sense of place is so deftly realised in this immersive read.

high-angle photography of blue beach

But even beautiful Sicily is no refuge from the past and now in the present day, Annie has to face up to secrets from the past that begin to raise their head once she starts to explore her family history. This book is set in two very diverting periods and I felt that they were both drawn with equal attention to detail and I happily moved between them in the novel.  I really enjoy it when books let me see historical periods through the eyes of the same characters and the fact that we see Annie’s family through life from several different perspectives was fascinating and really kept me engrossed.

landscape photography of concrete structures on top of mountain

The Italian island opens with Annie fulfilling her father’s last wish by travelling to Italy to try and uncover the truth behind the disappearance of his mother all those years ago.   But as Annie discovers, sometimes the past refuses to be neatly laid to rest. Each of the succeeding episodes in the novel drip freed us more information about  what might have happened in the past, at the same time as she begins to fall in love with the people as well as the location of her family’s roots.  This narrative form was very more-ish and several nights kept me up much later than I’d intended with a real sense of ‘just one more chapter…’

gray concrete building during daytime

The strong plotting and skilful characterisation combine to draw you into a story bursting with secrets and the stunningly evocative setting – where you could swear that you can hear the Mediterranean beating off the shore all combine to keep you turning the pages. I really liked the way that we are left to discover things for ourselves and the novel credits the reader with a bit of intelligence, rather than spelling everything out straight away as we follow events to their moving conclusion. It’s hard to write about The Italian Island with no spoilers, but I’ve tried really hard as this is a book that you really need to experience for yourself.

clothes hanged on clothesline

If you like a historical saga,  you’ll love this book and I know that my mum’s definitely going to be pinching it from me for her holidays. I’d like to thank Sarah Hardy at Bookouture for inviting me to take part in the Blog Tour, I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s a fantastically enticing read that will be hard to tear yourself away from once you get started.

Buy yourself a copy here

Writer On The Shelf

Image of author Daniela Sacerdoti

Daniela was born and raised in Italy. She studied Classics, then lived in Scotland for fourteen years, where she married and taught in a primary school.

She writes beautiful, haunting and bestselling fiction for adults (the Glen Avich series), young adults (the Sarah Midnight trilogy) and children. Her novels have been translated in twelve languages.

Her debut novel Watch Over Me was named the eighth bestselling Kindle book of all time in 2015, when she was also ranked as the eleventh top-selling Kindle author.

She lives in a small village in the middle of nowhere, with her Scottish husband and family.

Daniela’s Website

Daniela on Twitter