Cover Image: A Gingerbread House

A Gingerbread House

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Member Reviews

A Gingerbread House, a thriller by Catriona McPherson is deliciously disturbing. Characters are an artful mix of sweet and spicy, just the way you expect a good gingerbread to turn out. The story follows four women, all losing their way in the world. Our main focus is on Tash Dodd, the daughter of a successful shipping company owner. Big Garry is your typical big fish in a little pond, setting up his business outside of the major metro areas. Even though Tash has known a privileged life, she chose to focus on the work, viewing herself as the worker bee of the family while her brother got stoned, her mom upgraded their house, and Big Garry grew the business. But when an unexpected phone call on a hidden phone overturns everything she thought she knew about her family, their business, and the world they’ve built for themselves, Tash makes a run for it. As she travels through rural areas of Scotland, giving the reader little appetizers and tastes of the country, her path crosses with three other women, women who are about to be plunged into a hellscape with very little chance of rescue. The reader will find themselves urging Tash on, willing her to find these vulnerable women and many like them, before it’s too late. 

The suspense of this novel is pitch-perfect, starting out at a steady, even clip and building until you simply cannot stop turning the pages. McPherson’s Scottish voice is wonderful, never too complex so that you can’t follow, even if you don’t know the slang-du-jour. The evil lurking on the pages of A Gingerbread House is both in plain site and hiding behind a veil of secrecy. McPherson will keep you guessing until the final pages. I simply loved this thriller and I think thriller fans everywhere should grab this one as soon as it’s available. 

Huge thanks to Ms. McPherson, NetGalley, and Severn House for an advanced copy in exchange for my review.
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I didn't know what to think of all the little stories about people, who seemed to have no connection whatsoever, when I started to read the book. 

All at once, the book off in a way that completely captured my attention. The story lines were beginning to connect, and the characters seemed to be lured into dangerous directions. Even though, they weren't the most likable people in the world, I had started to care about what happened to them, and that's a difficult place to be with a book like this, because sometimes, people don't make it out alive. You never know. 

By the end, I was completely engrossed in the story and it covered two major problems in our world, so I felt that was really clever component. I'd enjoy reading more books by this author.
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This book was not my favorite, the story was interesting and the suspense was definitely there. The authors style of writing was just different than my taste but I enjoyed it.
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Thanks Netgalley and the Publisher.   Not sure what to write about this book,  it was an okay read with an okay storyline and okay characters and that's about all I can say really.
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The Dodd family is comprised of Big Garry Dodd, the founder of  several ‘BG’ Companies that started life as one van with a hand-painted BG logo on it.  Married to Little Lynne they had involved into a big deal.  Their son, Bazz (Sebastion) was the ‘outreach and PR Manager’ to the organisation and their daughter ‘Tashie’ (Natasha)  considered him a waste of space.  Meantime she considered herself a worker bee – at the coal face, driving a van on the road or a forklift in the warehouse.  

So here she is at the coalface – Big G is temporarily laid up and Tashie is trying to make sense of all the paperwork in his office – he is an old-fashioned man and prefers to put his faith in paper; mountains of it and this is what Tashie is doing – trying to sort it into logical piles to be dealt with.  She is interrupted by a phone ringing but she cannot locate it – and then finds it taped under his desk.  Curiouser and curiouser.  

Later as she watches the news which recounts the discovery of  a people smuggling ring -  40 people, 17 being cared for in a French hospital, Big G shouts for his wife in a panic.
And so it begins…

Absolutely brilliant book – I read it so quickly – didn’t have time for sleep.  ‘I must just read this next bit’.  Really couldn’t put it down and I do not hesitate to recommend it.

Thank you to the author, publishers and NetGalley for providing an ARC via my Kindle in return for an honest review.
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Thanks to NetGalley and Severn House for ARC.  

Tash works for her father's successful haulage business in the less-than-glamorous Scottish industrial town of Grangemouth, learning the trade from the ground up.  
She uncovers something that makes her rethink her relationship with her family and determined to put the business on a different footing, so she sets off on a quest around the country to build skills and courage.  
Across the country, Ivy, lonely in middle age, is told that she has a long lost sister and sets out on a quest of her own, which seems to be a fatal misjudgement.  Who will miss her?  Who will miss the other women who go missing in Scotland every month, every year?  
  
This is another of Catriona McPherson's spooky standalone thrillers, with a terrific sense of place, eerie atmosphere, plenty of Gothic touches and escalating suspense.  It's packed full of interest, intrigue and characters you can't help cheering on, while touching on some very real societal ills along the way.  
There are a few coincidences that stretch credibility and the villains of the piece are not sketched with the same attention to detail as the plucky protagonists, but it doesn't detract from the suspense or the resolution.  
The final stage of Tash's quest is bone-jangling in the extreme.
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Although this book was not my favorite, the story was interesting and the suspense was definitely there. I think the authors style of writing was just different than my taste but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
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Many thanks to NetGalley and Severn House Publishing for this suspenseful, intense ebook in return for my honest review. The story is told in two parts. One is focused on Tash, who discovers shocking criminal activity in her family's business. When she threatens to expose it, she fears her father's reaction and retaliation.

 The other part of the story involves three women who go missing in successive months. The first is Ivy, a woman in her early 50s. She was befriended by a woman, Kate, who claims to be her sister. Ivy was longing for someone to love and had been thinking of getting a cat to make up for any affection in her lonely life.   Now hoping she had found a new missing part of her family, she was thrilled to be invited to Kate's cottage, which resembled a dwelling out of a fairytale. Martine always wanted to meet her father, who was always missing from her life. Her mother refused to discuss him. Kate said she had a connection with him, showed her some blurry photos of the man, and invited her to a genealogical society meeting. Like Ivy, Martine vanished. Laura thought she had found the ideal man on a dating app. She carefully dressed in her most upscale clothing and left her quiet home to meet him with some trepidation and excitement. While waiting for him, she is kidnapped.

 The three missing women now find them together, locked in and trapped in the filthy cellar of the Gingerbread House. They are dirty, underfed, and there is a sewer drain in the room which the captives must be used for a toilet and disposal of trash. The odour is repellent and sickening. It is cold, and they have no way to keep themselves clean. The house is attached on one side to a large building, and the stink is permeating the business there. Their conditions are gruesome, and some readers may find the descriptions repugnant.

 Meanwhile, Tasha is moving around a lot, fearing the wrath of her father. She has no idea how much danger she is going to face. She has been doing an internet study of missing women. She finds a connection between the three locked in the cellar of the Gingerbread house. Each one lived alone, worked from home, and had no family or friends who might report them missing or come looking for them. They all were discontent with their lives, longing for something absent for their fulfillment. Their disappearance at different times has been a low priority for the police.

 Kate tells the captives that she has taken them on her sister's orders and hints that the sister intends to keep one and murder the other two. They have had quick glimpses of the menacing sister, a large woman wearing a net curtain hiding her face like a veil and carrying a knife.

 Tasha is determined to find the three women if they are still alive.  This brings her search to a terrifying and grotesque conclusion, with some daring, nasty action scenes. I was deeply engaged in the story in hopes that the 3 victims could be saved.  I felt that Tasha's story could be condensed, as there seemed to be unnecessary filler. There were some words I guessed must be Scottish slang that was unfamiliar to me. 
  This was a gripping story of madness, suffering, and the pain of trying to survive under loathsome conditions.
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Slow to get going and somewhat unbelievable at the end but a good solid read. Interesting premise- not sure about the diagnosis 
3.5 stars
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I love this authors books.  The premise is always so original.  This book is about a woman who trust the wrong person.  It’s definitely a thriller but it’s terrifying to read.  I enjoyed it immensely.
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Thank you Netgalley and Canongate/Severn House for the eARC.
Tash Dodd works at her father's successful business when, horrified, she finds out something shady and nasty is going on and decides to do something about it.
Meanwhile, 3 lonely women who work from home and don't have much of a social life, decide to change that and join social groups.  Each of them meet a woman who claims to have a connection to them.  All of them end up visiting the little 'fairytale cottage' in Hephaw, Scotland.
It was a tense, psychological read that was really hard to put down.  My dread kept increasing, as my fear for Tash and the 3 women ramped up, at first not understanding how they connected to each other and then, wham, the race to the end began as  I had my 'aha' moment.  Terrific ending!  Great read that I highly recommend!
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Ivy wants a family so much, she puts her doubts about Kate aside when the woman claims to be her sister. Kate has a beautiful cottage deep in the forests of Scotland, a cottage so “fairytale” it looks almost like something a witch would use to lure the unwary into her lair. Ivy enters into the cottage with a heart overflowing with love and hope. She never comes out. Kate has an agenda and nothing and no one is going to stop her. Then Tash enters the picture. A creepy, Gothic tale to read with the lights on
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