Cover Image: A Gingerbread House

A Gingerbread House

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Member Reviews

This was a weird book. It has 2 stories running in parallel and they have nothing to do with each other until almost the end of the book. Somehow it was a downer for me, as it got confusing.

The story was quite slow to pick up, and very fast o end. I would have liked a bit more at the end, the premises were so good and the ending was washed out too quickly. It would have been very interesting to have it analysed better.

Thank you Netgallery and the publisher for an ARC in exchange of an honest review.
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I’m afraid I’m going to have to cut straight to the point with this one. While I wanted to love A Gingerbread House, I just couldn’t. There were three main reasons for this. The first that it was a slow burn, much too slow for my enjoyment. To be honest, I was at the point of giving up when things finally started to happen. These “things” were enough to keep my interest and got me though to the end.

Secondly, there were two stories running parallel. While they do eventually intersect, it felt a little too late and unrealistic, if you want my honest answer. Saying that, both stories had great potential in their own right and this might have made a stronger book of the author just focused on one of them.

Finally, I wasn’t fully satisfied with the ending. Although I got the action I craved, it felt that things were explained enough. I would have liked that little bit more depth and clarity to neatly wrap this book up.

I really don’t enjoy writing these less positive reviews but I owe it to myself and anybody that reads to be honest. Just bear in mind that is is just my opinion. On Goodreads, there are many people that enjoyed A Gingerbread House. I suggest checking in with them before making a decision.
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This is a book of almost two halves. On one side we have the story of women who meet someone and then go missing. On the other we have Tash who finds out something she’s not meant to and investigates, but not in a way you might expect.

This is a book where I spent most of it wondering what was going on. We get given a lot of information but not all of it is accurate and given we see the perspectives of only the missing women and Tash, understandably their viewpoints are limited. I didn’t really warm to Tash in the same way I did to most of the other characters. I didn’t fully understand what she was doing and why which didn’t help but I also found her irritating generally and but I think that’s maybe just me.

What I did really like was how the missing women dealt with their situation. They went through all the emotions you would expect people to deal with in situations like that. The descriptions were really clear and it was easy to understand why they felt as they did. I don’t want to say much more on this as I don’t want to risk giving anything away but these parts of the story were brilliantly written.

As I said I did spend a lot of the book wondering what was going on but that was also what kept me reading. I felt I was given enough information to understand some of the story, but I had so many questions and had to keep reading to find out the answers. There was just something about it that meant I had to keep reading to the end.

This is not going to be a book for everyone, there are some descriptions that aren’t for the easily squeamish, but if that’s not you and you like a psychological thriller then this is worth checking out.
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This is a gently paced story that follows four women whose lives are inextricably linked. The scene is set in a macabre way, and graphic and gruesome description is a feature of this story. It's about abuse, evil, identity and loneliness and these relevant issues resonate throughout. The story has a great sense of place, and this adds to its atmospheric qualities.

The gingerbread house with its fairytale connations is the perfect foil for this story which focuses on evil in many forms. There is an underlying ethos of sadness in this story that highlights the vulnerability of the three women drawn into the gingerbread house.

This is not an easy read, the themes are disturbing, and parts take on a nightmarish quality, but it is cleverly plotted with well-crafted characters who evoke empathy and dislike in the reader.

I received a copy of this book from Severn House Publishers/CanongateBooks via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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McPherson's novel is a story within a story. First we meet Tash, who grows up learning the family business, and is horrified when she discovers that the firm, and the family she loves, is involved in human trafficking. Then we meet three women, who are individually lured to a strange house, where they are each drugged, half starved, and kept prisoner in a basement. But when the two stories collide, the novel becomes totally engrossing!
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4,5* rounded to 5
The witch in a fairy tale lives in a gingerbread house. The evil in fairy tales always disguise its intention beyond a friendly mask.
This is a slow burning, creepy and riveting thriller, a story of how evil can prey on your weakness and imprison you taking hope away.
Three women are kept in a basement, one woman is trying to save her family business.
I’m a fan of Dingy Diller and Last Ditch series but it’s the first thriller I read by Catriona McPherson.
I was a bit confused at the beginning as I couldn’t understand Tash and I didn’t like her. I felt sorry for Ivy, Laura and Martine: they are lonely women, nobody will miss or search them. I felt for them and hoped that they could be freed.
The book slowly grew on me as the growing tensions and things started happening.
There are some very tense and creepy moments, the author did an excellent job in describing the relationship of the three captive women 
There are some lovely descriptions of Scotland that made me wish I was there.
Ms McPherson is a talented storyteller and this story kept turning pages till the last twists and the solution.
An entertaining and gripping story that I highly recommend.
Many thanks to Catriona McPherson, Severn House and Rachel's Random Resources for this digital copy, all opinions are mine.
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Shy, lonely middle-aged Ivy Stone meets Kate, who claims to be her long-lost sister, she is skeptical but agrees to travel to the fairytale cottage to meet her twin.  But Ivy vanishes and is the first of several women who do so.  In the other storyline, Tash Dodd gets a shocking revelation about her family's trucking company.  She is ready to snitch to the police but gives her father a week before she does so.  In the meantime, Tash goes off the grid and hides in an Airbnb that overlooks the creepy gingerbread house.  

Unfortunately, neither storyline really engaged my interest.  As a thriller, the story moved too slowly for me.  And the way that Tash encounters the missing women in the end was too abrupt and convenient for my taste.

I received a digital ARC from Netgalley and Severn House (Canongate) with no requirements for a review.  I voluntarily read this book and provided this review.
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I'm going to be in the minority here and say I was disappointed in A GINGERBREAD HOUSE. The premise offered something so much more exciting and I had my appetite whet for edge of your seat thrills...but nothing got my adrenaline pumping here. I found myself trapped within what appeared to be the underbelly of a crime family and then something strange happening with a 54 year old woman claiming to be the doppelganger of her twin sister! It was just...weird. And not in a good way.

Tash got on my nerves and I found her to be off-putting and strange. No, I found everyone to be off-putting and strange. And the entire book was just justa discombobulated convoluted mess that was I was thoroughly confused as to what was actually happening. I love a good Scottish thriller...but not this.

It is a slow thriller...so slow it is stagnant. I tried skimming ahead to where others say it picked up but for me is just never did. The story stayed confusing. Everyone just got stranger. And I just wasn't enjoying myself.

Life is too short to read books that you don't enjoy...so I moved on. NEXT!!

I would like to thank #CatrionaMcPherson, #Netgalley, #RachelsRandomResources and #SevernHouse for an ARC of #AGingerbreadHouse in exchange for an honest review.
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I was so disappointed by this one... I read Strangers at the Gatte and it was weird but I really liked it. So needless to say I was expecting an unusual storytelling style going in. The premise of this one, along with the opening bits of Tasha's letters apologizing for all that happened, really intrigued me and I was really looking forward to digging in. Then the book started in earnest. Or, I should say the pages started to turn in earnest, but the story never seemed to go anywhere. 

I found Tash oddly off-putting and strange,  even by McPherson standards, and a lot of the book quite linguistically confusing. I am not up on Scottish slang, and I felt like every third expression was something I had to stop and Google or else just gloss over because I had no idea what they were trying to say. The bits with Ivy and Kate were all over the place for me and I struggled to stay in the think of them also. 

After reading a bunch of other reviews, I tried skipping ahead to the point at which people kept saying it picked up - but for me it just never did and I stayed confused, like I was reading two or three different books jammed into one.  New women were introduced. Kate and Gail got stranger. The Tash storyline remained a mystery. It all felt like so much work,  trying to figure what was supposed to be happening and why... It never gelled for me in a way that made sense or held my interest, and at 50% I gave up - not even curious enough to see what it all meant through skimming.  I just couldn't get into this one...
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Well... this was a little different to what I was expecting. And in a good way!
First we meet Ivy who is a bit shy. She is waiting to meet a new friend she met online when she finds out that she has a long lost sister. A twin to boot. Some accident at the hospital. Something like that. Too good to be true... maybe? But it could be, so she puts her trust in her new friend and sets off to meet her long lost family. But she doesn't return.
Turns out, she is only the start of things. Two other women a similarly approached. Similarly not returning to their lives. But no one is paying any attention to their disappearance. Their captors have picked well. No one that is until Tash starts to look into things... Tash whose family run business has been used for nefarious things and she is hell bent on exposing the situation... But what can she do?
This is a slow burn of a book which had me wondering what in heck was going on and where in the heck are we going, pretty much all the way through. But there's tension among the confusion. A layer of intrigue that bubbles slowly under the surface. I say slowly, it is slow initially but does ramp up quite a bit as we race to the end. Delivering a cracking ending that was well worth the wait, and not quite what I was expecting! Satisfying nonetheless.
My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.
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Kate's got some serious problems. She's been inviting women- four of them- to her house and then imprisoning them in the basement.  She played on something important to each.  Now, Ivy, Martine, and Laura are in deep trouble,  So is Tasha. who has figured out that her father has been trafficking in humans.  She. however is the one who figures out what's happened and who helps the other women. It's creepy and a bit odd.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Not what I expected.
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A bit of a slow burn, A gingerbread House turned out to be terrific! I can't say I really liked the characters, but that very rarely matters to me! Good writing, a compelling story and a lot of twists and turns. I enjoyed this so much!
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A lady in a fairytale house, three missing women and a search....I was drawn in by the synopsis and title of this novel. It seemed to me to be a kind of Little Red Riding Hood retelling. 

I liked how the name The Gingerbread House evoked something cosy, trustworthy and safe. Every character was well created and original. Every one was lured inside by Kate's welcoming and friendly attitude. 

Little do they know, they won't come out.....

I liked this novel but in some parts, like the beginning, the setting description is too descriptive and I felt very scared. I didn't know if it was going to be my kind of novel and was not sure if I wanted to finish it. I was, however, so gripped by wanting to know what was going to happen to each character out of genuine worry for them that I continued. 

Some descriptions of the cellar of the house were graphic and a little gruesome. 

The thriller is slow burn, which I think helps build tension.

Thanks to Catriona McPherson, Severn House and Rachel's Random Resources for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars.
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4.33 stars 
Enjoyment 8/10

 Ivy is pretty lonely, vulnerable, and sad. All she wants is to belong and to be part of a family. Her prayers are answered when Kate mysteriously appears in her life, claiming to be her long-lost sister, and invites Ivy to come to stay in her cottage so they can get to know each other... Her isolated cottage. Ivy goes in and never comes out. The book promises us Ivy is the first, but not last!

A Gingerbread House was one of my most anticipated 2021 books, and it did not disappoint. McPherson’s prose is so engaging. I just couldn’t put the book down. I needed to know what was going on! I feel it’s a book to go in blind as the story unravels slowly - kind of like one of those pixel puzzles that the image starts blurry and gets clearer as it goes. 

I do have to say that most characters were well developed. It’s hard to name them and not spoil the book, but I am impressed with Catriona’s character work. I think that is why I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get more of Kate and Gail’s background. 

The solution also got me conflicted. Usually, I care a lot about fairness, and A Gingerbread’s House wrap-up had some information previously not disclosed to the reader. Somehow, though, I did not mind. Since we knew the antagonist, I didn’t care much about the why as long as someone stopped them! For this reason alone, I will be picking up more books by the author. She made me not care about my number one pet peeve! I thoroughly enjoyed this book—bonus point for a primarily female cast of characters, including the serial killer.

 I am putting in the release date of my copy. I thought A Gingerbread House had been released on July 1, but now it says August 3, 2021. Either way, I find this will make a great summer read.

I was surprised by this book. I will admit that I was confused about the Tasha chapters. In the beginning, they felt disjointed. Halfway through the book, the stories interconnect organically, and everything comes together. I will be lying if I didn’t admit that I loved the Fairytale Cottage chapters way more, though! Kate was a fascinating character, as was everyone who ended up falling for her trap. (Won’t name them all because, again, it might spoil the book). 

Even though I felt like the end was a bit rushed, I enjoyed it at the same time. McPherson tied up all the loose ends and offered a tightly closed book. There is still a part of me that wants to see Tasha again, despite knowing this is a standalone book!

Disclaimer: I first read it as an ARC. In exchange for an honest review, I am thankful to Severn House, Catriona McPherson, and NetGalley or providing me with a copy of A Gingerbread House
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Disclaimer: Catriona McPherson’s A Gingerbread House is dedicated to me, Kristopher Zgorski, so some readers may justifiably feel that I would be biased in my opinions of the novel. However, I am confident that the following review retains the high level of honesty and objectiveness as all reviews on BOLO Books, but I did want to be as forthcoming as possible with this unique situation, allowing readers to make their own decisions on whether to read on.

Once Upon a Time…

on Loch Road in Hephaw, Scotland there was a fairytale cottage nestled among growing vegetation – separated from society, but still a part of it. In this home, two sisters lived. Some would call them odd, some would say eccentric; but everyone knows there is a thin line between peculiar and bad-shit crazy.

“Dead people don’t talk.”

In small communities around the area, three single women are going about their lives. Ivy Stone, Martine MacAllister, and Laura Wade. They are as different as can be – different ages, different races, different backgrounds, and different desires – but they are bonded under the umbrella of womanhood. It is this part of their nature that brings them to the doors of that fantasy house on Loch Road, but nothing could prepare them for what they find inside.

“Dead people don’t need anything.”

Natasha Dodd is a working stiff, who is about to make a discovery that will shatter her idyllic vision of the Dodd Family. She will use the delivery van – a symbol of the empire her father has built – to expose the truth, but little does she know that a passing glimpse of a lonely woman heading out on a date will lead her down a twisted path to an even more shocking final act.

And they all lived happily ever after…perhaps.

Catriona McPherson nails the fairytale motif in A Gingerbread House. What we often think of as charming bedtime stories to read to our children are in fact morality tale designed to elucidate hidden truths. In the case of A Gingerbread House, it is a reminder that women are always in danger, that life is lived with the burden of fear in constant proximity, ready to rear its ugly head at the most unexpected – and opportune – moments. In particular, women of a certain age and sociological situation become invisible and have no one to advocate for them. They can be easily forgotten and overlooked by the masses and media, despite society’s tendency and inclination to make everything as dramatic and ominous as possible.

But A Gingerbread House also shows that women are resilient, no shrinking violets among them, and when they put their minds to something, nothing can hold them back. Readers will see examples of how society fabricates these illusions and fantasies that in retrospect seem impossible to achieve – and even almost undesirable when examined too closely. Readers will then see how women can band together to break free of these artificial constraints, to forge a new path through the forest.

A Gingerbread House is a creepy read. The early chapters are written with cliffhanger endings designed to leave the reader wondering what in the hell is going on. As the threads of the story begin to intertwine, the reality of the situation dawns on the reader and the suspense level – already bubbling under the surface – skyrockets. One wonders if McPherson will be able to stick this landing, but rest assured she does so in spades – answering all the questions readers have, while leaving enough wiggle-room for personal interpretation. This is an unusual novel and as such, it is likely that not all readers will want to take this journey. In particular, the final act can be too much to bear. The truth of the matter is that these characters are in dire circumstances and the only available solution feels too horrific to imagine, but needs must and Catriona McPherson is not afraid to go there. Those that do make it to the other side are justly rewarded, though likely to run straight to the shower all the same. A Gingerbread House is one of those books that will linger in the reader’s memory long after finishing. In many ways, it works as a perfect companion novel to Come To Harm, one of Catriona McPherson’s earlier successes.
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Tash is the character driving the story. We don’t know much about her or what she is actually doing except she is hiding something from her father while trying to decide to go to the police.

Kate and her sister Gail are older and live in a fairy tale cottage. They are also crazy as loons. Kate lures young women in with a story of them being switched at birth and she found out they are her sister. First, are women that dumb? No.

The story of the missing women runs along with Tash’s story until they intersect and everything is tied up nicely.

I could not get into this until about a third of the way through and then things played out as expected.

This was like a good recipe for a scary story but not so great execution.

NetGalley/August 3, 2021 Severn House
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Catriona McPherson excels at creating cleverly plotted, tense stories with just the right amount of creepiness. A Gingerbread House is the latest.

Three women are looking for something that’s missing in their lives. The oldest, Ivy, who has never had a family or friend she could count on, becomes involved in a community of cat lovers. Martine turns to genealogy to figure out where she came from and who her father was. Laura just wants what everyone else seems to have—a husband and children—and she puts her hopes in a unique dating service. Their desires eventually lead them to each other, and to a situation that seems more hopeless—and more deadly—with each passing day.

Tash has been a player in her family business for years. When her father, the company’s CEO, is down with the flu, Tash decides to clean up his stacks of paperwork and happens upon something that indicates the company may have ventured into illegal—and reprehensible-- territory. She makes it her mission to save the company from ruin and to bring her father to justice. Tash’s quest ultimately involves her in the plight of the other three women in intriguing and dangerous ways. And that’s when the story really picks up speed and intensity.

McPherson’s writing may initially send you to Google to interpret her Scottish vernacular, but you will soon get into the rhythm of her story. Her originality is unmatched; her choices are never predictable. If you enjoy a story that is unsettling but (probably) won’t keep you from sleeping at night, this one is for you.

My thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for giving me the opportunity to read the book in exchange for an honest review.
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A dark and captivating tale structured around two different stories that run parallel but successfully collide during the last part of its clever plot. Set in contemporary Scotland the first story follows Tash Dodd a young woman who suspects that her family run business might be involved in some rather unsavory activities linked to human trafficking. As she starts investigating her parents' shenanigans and unbeknownst to her, the second story, also set in Scotkand, starts to unfold and it's centered around the mysterious and hard to explain disappearance of 3 single women who end up being kept prisoners in a ramshackle house under very harsh conditions. Slowly but surely, the two stories will cleverly end up merging.... Fascinating & suspenseful from start to finish, this slow burning journey into hell and madness kept me on pins and needles for a few hours. A riveting take on violence against women and human loneliness. Bleak, scary and utterly terrifying this masterful thriller should definitely be discovered and enjoyed without any moderation.

Many thanks to Netgalley and Severn for this terrific ARC.
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Tash Dodd works in her family business and lives in her family home in a town called Grangemouth between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Tash was a worker happy driving a van, a forklift and all aspects of the family business. One day when her father was sick and most of the staff were off work sick, Tash was in the office looking for some important paperwork when she accidentally intercepted a phone call on a secret phone meant for her parents.
Tash discovers her family are involved in dealings that could bring down the family business so Tash sets to work gathering evidence and finding a way to hide it until she can use the evidence against her family to gain control of the business before her family ruins the business.
Meanwhile not far away there is an evil creepy crime in progress and Tash is close to discovering what is really going on in the quaint little house next door.
This was an evil creepy thriller about missing people, families and lonely people.
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This is one of those books that concerned me at first.  My problem was Tash.  I just didn’t understand her.  It wasn’t that I necessarily disliked her, but for some reason, her character just seemed so…alien to me.  Something about the way she spoke and the way she thought.    

I kept going, though, because of the other women.  As we got to know them, I worried so much about them.  And as we got to know them, I also got to know and love Tash.

The book was intense.  As our story lines merged, I simply didn’t want to stop reading.  I needed to know what was going on and if our women would end up okay.

And on a personal note, I loved that our author put a diverse character in an important role – in the middle of Scotland – and gave her a story line and personality that defied stereotypes, while still noting that her ethnicity was an important part of who she was.  Well done.

I really liked this book and I’d happily read the author again!

*ARC provided via Net Galley
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