Cover Image: The Stranger Times

The Stranger Times

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Member Reviews

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for this ARC.

I really enjoyed this book - it was a romp from start to finish. Exactly what we need at the end of this rubbish year! The characters were slightly cliched at times but (assuming this is the start of a series) I imagine that will develop as more is written. The story was well-paced and engaging, and the cliffhanger will definitely have you coming back for more! Perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Ben Aaronovitch.
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This is one of those weirdly, quirky, slightly eccentric, mad-cap books and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

Hannah has left her husband, she is has gone from being a socialite as such married to a man with plenty of money but who doesn't know how to keep it on his pants. She now searches the bargains in the food aisles and hoping she will soon find a job. 

One interview is at The Stranger Times newspaper, a paper that reports weird and wonderful stories. Alien abductions, Elvis being alive, you know the sort! More esoteric rather than mainstream to say the least. But, it is a job. If the paper wasn't weird enough then the other employees are definitely filling the void that is left, in a rather fun way.

The story itself is of two deaths. The first is that of a homeless man, the second is a suicide. Both are quickly dealt with by the police. One officer, however, is not convinced and neither are the staff at the paper. What follows is a mix of chases, strange occurrences, weird events and even weirder circumstances as the hunt for the truth pans out.

This is such a fun read and it was one that caught me by surprise as I didn't read the synopsis before picking it up. I mean I did read it when I first looked at the book, that was several weeks before I started reading it though. The surprise was one that had me wondering what on earth was happening and wondering where the story was going, but through this, I still found myself eagerly turning the pages of this quirky and bizarre story that is a mix of urban fantasy and mystery.

I completely enjoyable read that had me sniggering to myself on several occasions. It has characters that I adored and I am really looking forward to seeing what this series hold in the future. A fun read and one that I would defiantly recommend.
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Caimh McDonnell moves from Dublin to Manchester for his latest book The Stranger Times. We’re first introduced to Hannah who has recently abandoned her philandering husband and her privileged lifestyle and is consequently forced to seek gainful employment. Her second job interview leads her into a former church that houses The Stranger Times, a newspaper with a remit to publish stories focussing on the weird and weirder. The editor Vincent Banecroft, is a bad-tempered man with an unhealthy predilection for whiskey and he has a small team comprising Grace, Ox, Reggie, Stella and Mannie. This rich cast of characters is the strongest aspect of this book although there is also magic, folklore and many dark happenings to contend with such as two “suicides” which the police seem to want to dismiss as such. There is dark humour and gruesome events all occurring in Hannah’s first few days as the newly appointed assistant editor despite her total lack of job experience. I really enjoyed reading this book, although the second half was better, and look forward to reacquainting myself with this tremendous cast of characters when the sequel is published. Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin for the ARC.
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The Stranger Times is the first book by C.K. McDonnell – but let there be no secrets here, C.K. McDonnell is a pen name for Caimh McDonnell. This is the first “traditionally published” book by the author. It is also very different to the books he has written previously (which, if you have been following my reviews for any length of time you will know I am a massive fan of).

The Stranger Times is an urban fantasy novel set in Manchester. It combines Caimh’s brilliant wit and humour, with the strange happenings you sometimes hear on the grapevine. It’s a bit like Terry Pratchett mashed up with Manchester based urban myths – which is coincidentally where the book is set.

In The Stranger Times we start with the story of Hannah. She has gone from rich socialite to pauper after discovering her husband’s many infidelities and needs a job, pronto. With few options available to somebody with no apparent experience she arrives at the offices of The Stranger Times. The newspaper is not a run of the mill red top or broad sheet. The stories it contains are more out there. Think of the newspapers that run stories about the ghost of Elvis living inside a persons cat, or aliens choosing a small house in Salford as their base of communications, then you’ll get the idea. With little option, Hannah is roped in as the latest of what appear to be many “assistant editors”.

While Hannah is at times the focus of this story, it is the collective who work at the newspaper who shine brightest (in my opinion), they are an eclectic bunch to say the least. Starting with the editor who is a chain smoking alcoholic, with a mouth that would have been washed out with dishwater many times over by my gran. He seems to have his own ideas about the paper, and while he may not believe the stories his journalists are publishing, still wants to ensure that the paper is of the highest quality. He also lives in his office.

His long suffering assistant, Grace, is the glue that holds the whole system together – if anything she is his polar opposite – and while their relationship is hilarious at times, it is clearly built on a strong friendship.

Our other main characters include two journalists, Ox and Reggie, (who are constantly at odds with each others strong beliefs and stances on UFO’s, government conspiracies and more) Stella (a runaway who got a job by…. breaking into the building…), and a (mostly) naked Rastafarian man named Manny. So yes, as I have said, a wild a eclectic bunch.

While the backdrop to this novel may seem crazy enough the author also has to throw in a plot to match and has done so superbly. There appears to be a rogue magician on the lose who is using his powers in ways which are not acceptable. His goal is revealed over the course of the novel, however, his actions have lead to the deaths of two people and it has not gone unnoticed. Enter the staff of The Stranger Times. While the paper normally deals with the outrageous, they find themselves embroiled in an investigation into these deaths, one of whom is close to the staff. The paper all of a sudden goes into “proper investigation” mode to try and find out answers to the burning question of just what is going on – while fending off the eyes of the police.

Filled with fantasy, humour and intrigue this is a fantastic novel. Don’t let the urban fantasy tag put you off if you are not generally a fan of the genre. Caimh has really pulled out all the stops here, and as I was reading it felt as if he was creating the characters and the world he really wanted to. I can’t wait for him to explore these characters more. I was gripped from the word go, and I felt really invested in the characters and the story. I highly recommend you check this out upon it’s release next month.
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wow i really enjoyed reading this book. Couldnt put it down at times. Really different, kept me thinking and enjoying the characters, their own characteristics and what was going to happen. 
Great ending.
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This was just brilliant. I read a review saying that it felt like a mash-up between Mick Heron and Ben Aaronovitch which prompted me to read, and I agree.
There's a really well layered plot, with fantastic characters and some belly laughs along the way.
Inspired by the British newspaper, The Fortean Times; home of "Strange phenomena — curiosities — prodigies — portents — mysteries" this is an adventure into the world of The Folk, of magic and the supernatural. At the helm is Banecroft, who has to be the most cantankerous of bosses. He is joined by Reggie, Ox, Grace, Stella, Manny and new girl Hannah. There is murder, mystery and revelation upon revelation; this is the first of a new series and I'm really excited to read what comes next.
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When Hannah Willis finds herself in need of a job she stumbles across The Stranger Times newspaper, which reports the weird going-ons in the UK, whose staff are just as eccentric as the stories they publish. When a tragedy strikes the real investigative journalism begins, which leads them to the shocking revelation that some of the “nonsense stories” are terrifyingly real.

This book is such a fun read. The writing style is very humorous and had me laughing out loud at certain points. The author is a former stand up comedian, and that comes through in his writing style, especially with some of the situational observations the characters make in the book. The book doesn’t take itself too seriously, is a little bonkers and a little daft, but in a fun and really entertaining way, and I flew through the chapters.

Of the staff of The Stranger Times there wasn’t one character I didn’t like, even Banecroft, the foul-mouthed editor. He might shout and bully his staff, but he is so ridiculous and his life is such a shambles, it is hard not to enjoy his character. Most of the story is told through Hannah, who brings the reader into the strange world of the newspaper. After a couple of days floundering in her new job she really steps up and takes the new discoveries in her stride. The scenes between the staff were some of my favourite parts of the novel, and had me wondering how they ever manage to get an edition out on time.

The story outside the newspaper builds well, if not a little confusingly, until the characters learn the truth of what is going on in Manchester. The book starts a little slow, as the world and characters are introduced, but as they start to investigate the pace really picks up, and the story becomes a lot tighter. There are some dark moments and some brilliant twists and turns in the story, and it sets up a world of magic and power, which will continue into a second book.

This book reminded me a lot of the Rivers of London series, which I love, so if you’re a fan of Peter Grant, or other urban fantasy novels, this is one to check out. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Penguin Random House, Transworld Press and CK McDonnell for this ARC to read and review. Book published  14th January 2021 (UK)
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The first chapter of this one info dumped a lot of back story and really should have started from the end of chapter one, but it was interesting when it got going from that point.

Hannah Willis goes to the newspaper office for The Stranger Times, which reports on the weird and wonderful. What she doesn't expect is a ragtag bunch of characters who run the paper. Her interview had me howling with laughter and sure I was really going to like this book. Just calling the phrase 'vegetarian meal' an oxymoron had me in stitches.

It only gets better from there, but then a fantasy magic subplot enters the fray. In some ways I found it a distraction from a strong character driven story, but it ties in to give the strange subjects the paper deals with some reality and the humour was amazingly done all through.

I followed the link at the end to the website set up for the world of Stranger Times and found several 'news' stories of the sort the paper publishes, some of which featured in the plot. There's also a disclaimer to reassure the reader that it's all fictional. I get the impression there will be more books in this world, but to my joy the story finished with proper closure. That's the sort of series I like and there's a good chance I'll read more books as they come out. Very enjoyable.
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This was definitely a fun read! The writing style was humorous, not taking it too seriously. I really enjoyed it. 
The story was cool, the plot moved smoothly. Characters were interesting. I'd be curious about more books by the writer. 
Thanks a lot to NG and the publisher for this copy.
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When Hannah finds herself almost penniless in Manchester, and in desperate need of a job, she unwittingly finds herself thrust into the crazy world of the strangers times newspaper. Her new boss an eccentric and incredibly moody Irish man, quickly has her doubting her choices. But desperate times call for desperate measures and at this point, what has she got to lose. 

This book is full of vivid and exciting characters and will keep you laughing from the very first page, to the very last. 

McDonnell is a talented writer, who has a knack for keeping you intrigued, and a very unique and wonderful writing style. 

I've not come across his books before but would certainly be interested in reading more of his books in the future. 

As always a big thank you to NetGalley, C.K. McDonnell and his publisher, for allowing me to read an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Interesting comedy/fantasy novel.  Didn't really know what to expect from the book blurb, but found myself absorbed by the storyline, which moved along with some pace (which I like) and the humour kept it entertaining.  This wouldn't be one of my usual choices, but I really enjoyed it and would look for other titles from this author.
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C. K. McDonnell is new to me, but I’ll certainly be in line when the next Stranger Times novel comes out next year sometime. I thoroughly enjoyed this, the first in a series of books revolving around the newspaper The Stranger Times. The paper’s reason for being is to report on any and all weird phenomena occurring across the globe. 

Unsurprisingly, this paper is run by a group of weirdos, misfits and ultimately flawed individuals (my absolute favourite kind). 
We experience the story via Hannah (or, the new Tina) as she lands herself a job as Assistant Editor while still reeling from a messy break up and the loss of her wealthy lifestyle. To be fair it’s not as impressive as it sounds as the advert reads ‘Publication seeks desperate human being with capability to form sentences using the English language. No imbeciles, optimists or Simons need apply’. 

When tragedy strikes the real investigative delving begins and the mayhem ramps up. I loved this fusion of urban fantasy, mystery and comic moments it was like curling up in your favourite chair with a hot chocolate. Not just any hot chocolate but one with much whipped cream and marshmallows on top. A real treat of a book.

Thanks to Netgalley for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
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Hannah is down on her luck, her husband cheated on her and her life is falling apart.  She finds herself no longer living in the lap of luxury and for once having to fend for herself.  She needs a job quickly.

After an unsuccessful interview she finds an ad looking basically for someone who can string a sentence together coherently, fed up she decides to go for it and when she arrives at the location of the job in Manchester she is met with a man threatening to throw himself of a building and an another man making no effort what’s to talk him down.  Odd?  Definitely, but nowhere near as odd as what is inside.  

The building is the office of The Stranger Times, a newspaper dedicated to the weirder things in life.  Ghosts, Ghouls, Elvis, you name it, they’ll probably report it.  Hannah discovers an odd group of people headed up by the most impossible man known to life, Banecroft the editor.  Picture the most obnoxious person you can think off and then double it, you get the idea.  Her interview, however unorthodox ends up with her getting the job and the editor making a trip to the A & E, her career at The Stranger Times has begun.

Despite zero journalism knowledge she quickly gets stuck in and in the first week she experiences a a whole new world of craziness she never knew existed.  This includes a spate of strange murders, so strange they can’t possibly be true.....can they?  It’s up to the Stranger Times to report the news!

It’s bonkers, picture a blend of Jasper Fforde, Douglas Adams and Ben Aaronovitch and you get the idea.  It’s funny, it’s scary and it’s a cracking read.

Thanks to Net Galley for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.
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‘Publication seeks desperate human being with capability to form sentences using the English language. No imbeciles, optimists or Simons need apply.’

Hannah Willis is struggling. It turns out that throwing parties for her wealthy businessman husband doesn’t count as work experience. When she discovers that he’s been sleeping with basically every woman around (including their marriage counsellor!), she burns his clothes, leaves with nothing more than her phone and a few clothes, and starts divorce proceedings.

In dire need of an income, she applies for the position advertised in the local paper, oddly worded as it is. Fortunately, the Stranger Times is in equally dire need of an Assistant Editor – it seems that the foul-mouthed, alcoholic shambles of an Editor is causing a high staff turnover in that position – so Hannah finds herself joining the team of misfits and weirdos at Manchester’s weekly purveyor of stories such as ‘Nessie is the Father of My Child’, and ‘Virgin Mary Halts Terrorist Attack’.

When a mysterious American comes to the city, unexplainable things begin to happen. Luckily, those are just the sort of stories that The Stranger Times exists for…

I have an admission to make. I enjoyed this book so much that I accidentally read it straight through and forgot to take any notes, so I’ve had to read it a second time to be able to review it. C.K. McDonnell is a new author to me, so I had no expectations other than from the back of the book blurb on the review site. I initially thought this was a debut novel, but the author usually writes under the name Caimh McDonnell, and has a fair few titles to his name already.

I honestly can’t think of anything remotely negative to say about The Stranger Times. The story rolls along at a good pace, and the characters are just brilliant. It’s oddly satisfying to watch Hannah find her feet and grow into herself as a discrete person, shaking off the dutiful wife persona and taking on the bullish and obnoxious editor, Banecroft. Grace’s character is fantastic, too, and I can’t be the only one who’s worked with a Grace – the secretary or office manager who’s got eyes in the back of her head, ears in every wall, and a heart the size of a small country, and without whom nobody would be able to run the company. 

The style reminds me of Heide Goody and Iain Grant, and a little of Douglas Adams in Dirk Gentley mode. It’s daft enough to keep a smile on your face but not so daft that you lose the darkness inherent in the story. The Stranger Times sets a solid foundation for a substantial series, and I can’t wait for the next instalment.

I received an advance reading copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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**Thanks to NetGalley and the Publisher for an advance copy of this title in exchange for a fair and honest review**
I enjoyed this book. The writing style and storyline reminded me of Good Omens, which is definitely a good thing. I'd be interested in any sequels as I grew to care for the characters. They felt fully-formed and realistic, despite what was happening around them.
I also think this would make an interesting title to adapt for the screen.
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Having previously read many of the Bunny McGarry books by the same author, I was really looking forward to some spooky shenanigans (a la Terry Pratchett style) served up in the permanently wet setting of Manchester.

Whilst there was a certain amount of hilarity – for me, it did not match the author’s previous outings of the banjaxed Irish copper – but can still can stand alone as a genuinely good read.
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This is the first in a new series, set around a newspaper which focuses on the paranormal , housed in an old church in Manchester.   We meet the inhabitants of, “The Stranger Times,” through the eyes of Hannah Willis, who has walked away from an unhappy marriage with a wealthy man and now finds herself in the position of needing a job.   This need is mirrored in the job description, “Publication seeks desperate human being with capability to form sentences, using the English language.  No imbeciles, optimists or Simons need apply…”

Having had a previous, cringe-worthy interview, it seems life can get no worse, but, oddly, “The Stranger Times,” is where Hannah will find her new home.   There is Grace, the kindly office manager, Reggie, the flamboyant feature writer, computer whizz, Ox, young runaway, Stella, Simon – who lurks outside (see job description) and the Jackson Lamb like, Vincent Banecroft – not to mention the actual printing press and the man who encourages it to perform its magic in the basement.

I haven’t read anything by Caimh McDonnell before and, to be honest, found some of the dialogue a little stilted, which meant I took a while to get into it.   However, by the middle, I was totally engrossed.  For, while, “The Stranger Times,” has been seen as a publication full of odd stories and run by some crazy characters, there may be more fact than fiction in the bizarre events that seem to be occurring in the city.   When a homeless man is killed in strange circumstances, and the unpopular and ambitious D I Tom Sturgess insists on investigating, the scene is set for the bizarre to need to be believed. 

I think the test of any series is whether you would read on. Certainly, I would read the second in this series, which suggests it will be a success.   I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.   Great fun and possibly just what is needed in these troubled times.
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Well I am going to be buying this as a gift for everyone I know throughout 2021.

What we have here is a brilliant, sparkly well-written irreverent comedy about the staff of a small newspaper focused on the publishing of weird happenings and strange beliefs. The Stranger Times finds itself somewhere between The St Mary's Chronicles and the Rivers of London series, but has a wholely original cast of compelling characters ready to charm your socks off. It also expertly sets up enough mysterious threads for future installments that I'm already dreading the wait for the next one, because it simply can't come soon enough.

A new favourite series!
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This is a welcome addition to the urban fantasy.

Having left her cheating husband and extremely privileged lifestyle, not before setting fire to their house, Hannah applies for a position in The Stranger Times. This is a newspaper based inside an old church that investigates incidents such as a locally possessed toilet. Somehow the team of The Stranger Times fall into a plot involving sorcery, werewolves and an interesting take on vampires.

C.K McDonnell has filled his book with some brilliant comic moments and lines, as well as a bunch of characters who are not just there as scenery for the story but come almost fully rounded. The story flies by with enough twists, turns and mysterious characters to keep you hooked and wanting to find out more. Brilliant.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Bantam Press for giving access to this E-ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Following all things weird and wonderful, The Stranger Times centres around a newspaper filled with magic and shenanigans while investigating unexplained deaths. The novel is humorous at all the right moments and shows a new and exciting take on urban fantasy.

The characters, from newest employee Hannah - our main character - to the drunken editor, Banecroft are enjoyable to read and well varied to keep the reader on their toes. 

The book seems to be split in two, with the first half not quite gelling and stylistically seeming less slick however the second half of the novel corrects these issues, ups the pace and creates a much more enjoyable reading experience.

However, as fun as this tongue-in-cheek fantasy is, it lacks real punch and, as a result, it won't be one I'm recommending.
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