Book Review: Endless Night by Agatha Christie

Name: Endless Night
Agatha Christie
Number of Pages:
292 (ebook)
October 14th 2010 by Harper (first published October 30th 1967)
Genre:  Mystery


Agatha Christie’s disturbing 1960s mystery thriller, reissued with a striking cover designed to appeal to the latest generation of Agatha Christie fans and book lovers.
Gipsy’s Acre was a truly beautiful upland site with views out to sea – and in Michael Rogers it stirred a child-like fantasy.
There, amongst the dark fir trees, he planned to build a house, find a girl and live happily ever after.
Yet, as he left the village, a shadow of menace hung over the land. For this was the place where accidents happened. Perhaps Michael should have heeded the locals’ warnings: ‘There’s no luck for them as meddles with Gipsy’s Acre.’
Michael Rogers is a man who is about to learn the true meaning of the old saying ‘In my end is my beginning…’

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

I think I went into this expecting something a little different than I got, and that probably affected my enjoyment. Reading the description, which was different than the one I’ve included above, I mistakenly thought there’d be a house, an old place with character into which our characters would move unsuspectingly and then the creepiness would begin. That’s not what happens at all. And I sort of hoped for the house.

This is a tale narrated by Michael Rogers, a young man who dreams of a house of his own, a dream house, and his perfect companion with which to share his dream and his life. He recounts, in a very conversational fashion, meeting Ellie, their love for each other, their marriage and the purchase of a plot of possibly cursed land. There is a house, eventually, but it’s not an old, creepy house; the ruins of a previous residence are actually removed and a new dream home is constructed under the supervision of Michael’s architect friend Rudolf Santonix.

There’s certainly an air that something is not right, and many intriguing characters, from Santonix the architect, to Ellie’s good friend and companion Greta, and that kept me reading even as I realised this wasn’t going to be the kind of story I thought at the outset. The pace picked up for around the last quarter of the novel as the truth came to light.

It’s hard to say too much without risking spoilers but I will say that there was such an air of something not right about a certain situation that I questioned a lot of what was going on and I did suspect at least one thing. When the revelations finally came I was partially right but had suspected so much that the main surprise wasn’t such a great shock. The signs were there, although I was surprised at the depth of it all. Also, trying to be vague here, a similar thing had happened elsewhere in another novel, and that time it definitely got me, it was marvellous. Here, I didn’t have that same sense of amazed disbelief.

Endless Night probably isn’t going to be one of my favourite Christie novels but I’ve enjoyed quite a few now so it was inevitable there’d be one I enjoyed less. I am hopefully going to read Halloween Party soon as October is upon us, and I’m looking forward to that.

Book Review: Wakenhyrst by Michelle Paver

Name: Wakenhyrst
Michelle Paver
Number of Pages:
368 (ebook)
April 4th 2019 by Head of Zeus
Genre:  Historical, Gothic


“Something has been let loose…”
In Edwardian Suffolk, a manor house stands alone in a lost corner of the Fens: a glinting wilderness of water whose whispering reeds guard ancient secrets. Maud is a lonely child growing up without a mother, ruled by her repressive father.
When he finds a painted medieval devil in a graveyard, unhallowed forces are awakened.
Maud’s battle has begun. She must survive a world haunted by witchcraft, the age-old legends of her beloved fen – and the even more nightmarish demons of her father’s past.
Spanning five centuries, Wakenhyrst is a darkly gothic thriller about murderous obsession and one girl’s longing to fly free by the bestselling author of Dark Matter and Thin Air. Wakenhyrst is an outstanding new piece of story-telling, a tale of mystery and imagination laced with terror. It is a masterwork in the modern gothic tradition that ranges from Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker to Neil Gaiman and Sarah Perry.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Wakenhyrst is an Edwardian era gothic tale of mystery, folklore, secrets, tragedy and a young woman growing up amidst all this.
It starts out setting the scene wonderfully through an article and some letters; they’re mysterious and full of the horrors that occurred when the troubled Dr Stearne ran from his house and committed murder, a crime that saw him imprisoned for the rest of his life, during which time he dedicated himself to creating a series of surreal paintings. The eerie isolated house, the fens that surround it, the scary paintings, the connection to another painting from years gone by, all this made me want to read on.

The narrative goes back many years and settles into the story of Maud, who grows up witnessing her mother’s repetitive cycle of pregnancy, miscarriage and stillbirth, which eventually results in tragedy.
Maud becomes enchanted with a rescued magpie, Chatterpie, who becomes almost like a friend to her for a time.
On her wanderings Maud encounters Jubal Rede, who apparently  lives out in the fens and may know something about her father’s past, and she becomes friendly with the young under-gardener, Clem Walker.
Alongside these everyday events and at the centre of Wake’s End is Edmund Stearne, Maud’s father, who becomes increasingly preoccupied with interpreting The Book of Alice Pyett, whilst becoming ever more disturbed by the house and the grounds and whatever may be lurking outside.

I love the atmosphere of the book – the house, which almost becomes a character itself, shrouded in ivy and surrounded by the countryside, the wilderness, the wildness and the suggestion that there may be something out there in the wilds of the fens. The superstitions of the locals contrast with the firm beliefs of Maud’s father, whilst Maud herself loves the natural surroundings and the tales of local folklore.

Maud is clever and curious and forced to see certain truths after finding and reading her father’s notebook, which holds many revelations and the key to the tragic events that transpire. The use of the notebook is a direct view into the thoughts of Edmund Stearne, although Maud’s secret and continual reading of these private, blunt writings is sometimes awkward and you can see why it fuels her hate and hurt. She goes from wanting to help her father in his work, believing that he values her company and thoughts, to finding out that his opinions on women in general and Maud in particular are far from what she imagined. Worse still, when she attempts to use the notebook to gain help as things start to take a dangerous turn, it ends in failure.

Wakenhyrst has mystery, drama, tragedy, an element of eeriness, a great central character in Maud, and a range of interesting supporting characters. I enjoyed discovering the tale of Wake’s End and all that happened there so many years ago. An ideal read for a dark autumn night for anyone who enjoys the gothic or historical in their reading.

Book Review: The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3) by Blake Crouch

Name: The Last Town (Wayward Pines #3)
Blake Crouch
Number of Pages:
294 (ebook)
July 15th 2014 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery


Welcome to Wayward Pines, the last town.
Secret Service agent Ethan Burke arrived in Wayward Pines, Idaho, three weeks ago. In this town, people are told who to marry, where to live, where to work. Their children are taught that David Pilcher, the town’s creator, is god. No one is allowed to leave; even asking questions can get you killed.
But Ethan has discovered the astonishing secret of what lies beyond the electrified fence that surrounds Wayward Pines and protects it from the terrifying world beyond. It is a secret that has the entire population completely under the control of a madman and his army of followers, a secret that is about to come storming through the fence to wipe out this last, fragile remnant of humanity.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

The Last Town is the third and final instalment of the Wayward Pines trilogy. As such, this review contains spoilers for things that have gone before, and what a lot went before!…


In the aftermath of the fête and it’s unanticipated revelations David Pilcher apparently reached a new level of cruelty and did some pretty bad things, knowing what was beyond the fence and what would happen. A tense way to end, and a guarantee that I would move swiftly onto book 3.

And so we witness the inevitable carnage and chaos that comes from that decision as the viewpoint switches between the main characters we’ve come to know over the last two books and various people and families who’ve been living in Wayward Pines with no clue about the danger only to meet a grim and gory end.
It’s action from the outset and the pace rarely lets up as residents flee for their lives despite the odds being so stacked against them.
Ethan and Kate do have a plan to try and save as many people as possible, and Ethan also decides to go after Pilcher, the man behind the chaos.

I found this final volume hard to put down, from the non-stop action to the constant wondering how on earth it could all possibly end and whether anyone at all would actually survive. There are no disappointments on the surprises front as even in the latter stages, just when it looks like things might start to calm down, yet more strife and seemingly impossible dilemmas to tackle arise. Right up until the closing stages I had no idea how this whole saga would conclude.

I’ve really enjoyed my first Blake Crouch novels and without giving anything away I wish there was more in this series. Fast-paced, full of action, many twists and turns along the way, I read the whole trilogy really quickly because I couldn’t wait to get back to the story.

Book Review: Wayward (Wayward Pines #2) by Blake Crouch

Name: Wayward (Wayward Pines #2)
Blake Crouch
Number of Pages:
311 (ebook)
September 17th 2013 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery


Welcome to Wayward Pines, population 461. Nestled amid picture-perfect mountains, the idyllic town is a modern-day Eden…except for the electrified fence and razor wire, snipers scoping everything 24/7, and the relentless surveillance tracking each word and gesture.
None of the residents know how they got here. They are told where to work, how to live, and who to marry. Some believe they are dead. Others think they’re trapped in an unfathomable experiment. Everyone secretly dreams of leaving, but those who dare face a terrifying surprise.
Ethan Burke has seen the world beyond. He’s sheriff, and one of the few who knows the truth—Wayward Pines isn’t just a town. And what lies on the other side of the fence is a nightmare beyond anyone’s imagining.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Wayward is the second book in the Wayward Pines trilogy and as such it’s really hard to talk about this next episode without spoilers for the first book. If you just happened upon this post haven’t read Pines I probably wouldn’t read any further, just in case. I don’t want to ruin the surprises from the first book.

I had so many questions upon finishing Pines. So, this is the truth, this is what Wayward Pines is hiding, but what next? If that really is it, then what for the people of Pines, those there and those still to come? What happens if the secret is known, and how do the people deal with that? I was fascinated to find out what lay in store for Ethan, now serving as sheriff and apparent agent for Pilcher.
The observed becomes the observer, but only in part, because all of the revelations so far do not sit at all well with Ethan. Knowing what’s going on, the lengths of surveillance and control those at the top have, and having go back into town and live a life pretending that he doesn’t, and that all is well, puts Ethan in a unique position.

It was interesting to watch further events in Wayward Pines unfold. The unnerving atmosphere and sense of dead pervades as newly introduced residents try to come to terms with their new home, which evokes every response including trying to escape.
There’s an ominous air as Pilcher and his team strive to keep control and various residents have their own secrets and plans, yet there are also moments of hope and nostalgia in this grim and unsettling reality. A murder investigation takes up Ethan’s time and throws him into the path of a face from his past, all while he tries to keep himself and his family safe from dangers on both sides of the fence.

The threat from outside remains as fierce as ever, as witnessed by new character Tobias.
Threats, secrecy, general unease from all sides and ever increasing suspicion drives Wayward on to an ending that saw me reach for the concluding volume of the trilogy right away. Can’t say more for now, I have to know how all this is going to turn out in the end.
What an intense, exciting and frightening ride it’s turning into. I can’t remember the last time I read books at this rate. Onward to The Last Town.

Book Review: Pines (Wayward Pines #1) by Blake Crouch

Name: Pines (Wayward Pines #1)
Blake Crouch
Number of Pages:
309 (Kindle)
August 21st 2012 by Thomas & Mercer
Genre:  Thriller, Mystery


Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels?off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact? He may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. Intense and gripping, Pines is another masterful thriller from the mind of bestselling novelist Blake Crouch.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Welcome to Wayward Pines. Tranquil, peaceful, idyllic, a town of picturesque houses surrounded by woods and mountains and just very, very… wrong.
There’s definitely something afoot in this too good to be true setting, just follow the adventure of Ethan Burke and you’ll see what I mean.
Ethan wakes up in Wayward Pines, no recollection of how or why he is there, or even who he is at first.
After various strange events featuring trips to hospital, a bartender who vanishes without trace, and discovering that the outward perfection is a facade, Ethan recalls his life, his family, and his purpose in coming to Wayward Pines.
And then he tries to leave, to contact his family, to take the road out of town in a hot-wired car and get back to normality before he starts to question his sanity.
And that’s when things really take a turn…

One sign of a good book is that you can’t wait to get back to reading, and that definitely happened for me with Pines. I always wanted to read just one more chapter, and found myself trying to find more reading time in my day because with each surprise and revelation things just became more strange and inexplicable.

The writing is engaging and fast paced, and the mystery only deepens the further you read and the longer Ethan remains in Wayward Pines. The mounting questions kept me reading on, and there were many of them. The tension builds and after some wonderfully eerie moments Ethan’s precarious situation escalates into a dangerous fight for life.

I could go on about this book, but a lot of the excitement comes from not knowing, and guessing at what’s going on, and watching as Ethan slowly uncovers the secrets that Pines and some of the residents are trying to keep hidden. It races to such an unanticipated conclusion that it made my mind up to carry on with the series straight away. I’d wondered whether to read something else in between volumes but I have so many questions about what’s going to happen next that it’s on to Wayward to find out. I hope the rest of the trilogy is as good as this first book.

Book Review: The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2) by Terry Pratchett

Name: The Light Fantastic (Discworld #2)
Terry Pratchett
Number of Pages:
293 (Kindle)
November 24th 2009 by Transworld Digital (first published June 2nd 1986)
Genre:  Fantasy


‘What shall we do?’ said Twoflower.
‘Panic?’ said Rincewind hopefully. He always held that panic was the best means of survival.
As it moves towards a seemingly inevitable collision with a malevolent red star, the Discworld could do with a hero.
What it doesn’t need is a singularly inept and cowardly wizard, still recovering from the trauma of falling off the edge of the world, or a well-meaning tourist and his luggage which has a mind (and legs) of its own.
Which is a shame, because that’s all there is…

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

The Light Fantastic is the second book in the Discworld series and features the further adventures of Rincewind the wizard and Twoflower, the first tourist to Discworld. The duo were last seen falling off the edge of the world, yet it transpires that something has other plans for the pair, and so by way of magic their adventure continues.

The end of the Discworld may be nigh if the ominous red star that appears in the sky is anything to go by. The wizards are concerned, the locals are afraid, and guess who’ll be called upon to save the day?

There are trolls, wizards, druids and all manner of people either searching for or accompanying Rincewind, who has one of eight Spells, which may possibly save the world, lodged in his head. Oh, and of course the ever-persistent Luggage charges around desperately seeking Twoflower, devouring would-be thieves and generally providing moments of humour throughout.

As with the previous story there’s a lot going on, but this time the plot has a central focus – the imminent end of the world and the unlikely heroes who can hopefully save the day.
It’s comic, charmingly written and I still find the Luggage scampering around funny. Discworld is an enjoyable, colourful, sometimes bizarre world that I look forward to returning to.

Book Review: The Sleep Tight Motel by Lisa Unger

Name: The Sleep Tight Motel
Lisa Unger
Number of Pages:
48 (Kindle)
September 27th 2018 by Amazon Original Stories
Genre:  Short Story, Mystery, Thriller


A woman on the run finds refuge in a motel at the edge of the woods, with plenty of vacancies. Check in for the night with New York Times bestselling author Lisa Unger.
Eve has a fake ID, a .38, and a violent lover receding in the rearview mirror. He’ll never find her at the isolated motel, and its kindly manager is happy to ease her fears. But if Eve is the only guest, whom does she keep hearing on the other side of the wall? Eve won’t get a good night’s rest until she finds out.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

The Sleep Tight Motel is part of the Amazon Dark Corners series, a collection of short stories. I usually go for long books and I fancied something different, something I could read in one sitting, and this book was just what I was looking for. At 48 pages it occupied an overcast afternoon, although once I’d finished I almost wished I’d savoured it during an autumn evening close to Halloween, the time at which the story takes place. And what a great story it was…

A woman on the run from an her ex finds herself on a dark road at night and comes upon the Sleep Tight Motel, an isolated place surrounded by woods where she decides to stop temporarily. There was definitely something a little eerie in the set up which sets the tone right away.

I don’t want to say too much about the plot, it’s such a short story after all, and yet there’s a lot going on in a short space of time. Mysterious, eerie, great atmosphere, and a need to know exactly what is going on in the room next door, from which Eve hears screams and dragging sounds on more than one occasion despite there being no other guests staying at the motel kept me glued to this for the duration. If you’re looking for a short read with a great story and plenty of atmosphere then check out The Sleep Tight Motel.

Book Review: Opium and Absinthe by Lydia Kang

Name: Opium and Absinthe
Lydia Kang
Number of Pages:
379 (Kindle)
July 1st 2020 by Lake Union Publishing
Genre:  Historical, Mystery


New York City, 1899. Tillie Pembroke’s sister lies dead, her body drained of blood and with two puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker’s new novel, Dracula, has just been published, and Tillie’s imagination leaps to the impossible: the murderer is a vampire. But it can’t be—can it?
A ravenous reader and researcher, Tillie has something of an addiction to truth, and she won’t rest until she unravels the mystery of her sister’s death. Unfortunately, Tillie’s addicted to more than just truth; to ease the pain from a recent injury, she’s taking more and more laudanum…and some in her immediate circle are happy to keep her well supplied.
Tillie can’t bring herself to believe vampires exist. But with the hysteria surrounding her sister’s death, the continued vampiric slayings, and the opium swirling through her body, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a girl who relies on facts and figures to know what’s real—or whether she can trust those closest to her.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Tillie Pembroke’s life is altered forever when her sister is found dead, drained of blood with puncture wounds on her neck. Bram Stoker’s Dracula has just been published and the comparison with events from that novel lead to Tillie wondering whether vampires could actually exist.
An accident whilst out riding sets Tillie on a further darker path as pain from her broken collarbone leads her into an addiction to opium.
With all this, she remains determined to find out who or what killed her sister.

Opium and Absinthe is a Victorian era murder mystery. Tillie is a good central character. She’s interested in the world, in learning and reading, and loves consulting her books in search of new facts. The usual pursuits of a suitable marriage and a good match are less concerning for her, despite it becoming the central focus for her overbearing family, particularly her grandmother.
Tillie wants to know the facts, solve the crime, and to live her own life, and possibly become a journalist like her heroine Nellie Bly, to whom she addresses various letters throughout the course of the story, never certain she’s writing to the right address.
She goes from one dangerous situation to another, risking her own safety, her own reputation, sneaking out at night in search of answers. As she fails to make real progress in identifying the killer the risks she takes become more extreme, such is her determination to find out what happened to her sister.

There are secrets and revelations throughout, and an assortment of characters all worthy of a mention here including Ian, a newsie whom Tillie befriends and who helps her in her search, despite her family’s attempts to keep them apart, saying it’s scandalous as they’re both unmarried. A more suitable alternative? James Cutter. Lucy’s former fiancé is soon on the scene as a suitor for Tillie, encouraged by her family but not particularly by Tillie herself, who has more pressing concerns than making a good match.
Dorothy and Hazel are family friends, although in Hazel’s case you do end up wondering whether friend is really the right word.
Then there’s Tom, the doctor’s son, a young man consumed by illness with whom Tillie becomes friendly during her own visits to the doctor.

The storyline kept me guessing until the end as to who or what was responsible for Lucy’s murder. I also liked the inclusion of quotes from Dracula at the beginning of each chapter, it’s made me want to read that book again as well. Tillie is a likable character who grew in confidence as the tale progressed and her discovering the truth made for an eventful tale.

Book Review: A Cosmology of Monsters by Shaun Hamill

Name: A Cosmology of Monsters
Shaun Hamill
Number of Pages:
448 (Kindle)
June 2nd 2020 by Titan Books (first published September 17th 2019)
Genre:  Horror, Fiction


Stephen King’s It meets Stranger Things in a tender and terrifying coming-of-age tale of haunted houses and the monster at the door.
Noah Turner’s family are haunted by monsters that are all too real, strange creatures that visit them all: His bookish mother Margaret; Lovecraft-obsessed father Harry; eldest sister Sydney, born for the spotlight; the brilliant but awkward Eunice, a gifted writer and storyteller – the Turners each face their demons alone.
When his terminally-ill father becomes obsessed with the construction of an elaborate haunted house – the Wandering Dark – the family grant his last wish, creating themselves a legacy, and a new family business in their grief. But families don’t talk about the important things, and they try to shield baby Noah from horrors, both staged and real.
As the family falls apart, fighting demons of poverty, loss and sickness, the real monsters grow ever closer. Unbeknownst to them, Noah is being visited by a wolfish beast with glowing orange eyes. Noah is not the first of the Turners to meet the monster, but he is the first to let it into his room…

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

A Cosmology of Monsters. Catchy title, isn’t it? It stuck in my mind for a while before I eventually decided I couldn’t wait any longer and had to start reading the book. Cosmology. Sounds magical.
And the cover. Simple, striking and a little bit ominous.
Add to that a great synopsis detailing haunted houses and monsters and a mention of Stranger Things and Stephen King’s It and it was inevitable this book would catch my attention.
You could say I was looking forward to starting this.

Our narrator is Noah Turner, youngest member of the Turner family, and he recounts the family history; from the initial courtship of his parents and their visit to a haunted house attraction to their very own haunted house project in which the whole family becomes involved, there is a detailed picture of family life that makes these characters so real. You care for them and endure their trials and struggles whilst hoping everything will be alright for them in the end.
There are interludes throughout the main narrative, The Turner Sequence, in which each family member has a surreal experience with the mysterious City, imagined horrors mixed with memories from real life. At first this seems strange, but it all starts to pull together as the story progresses.

And, of course, there’s a monster. Wolf-like and menacing, it appears that other members of the family have encountered the strange being, but it’s young Noah who actively encourages it. He’s curious and unafraid, and befriends the strange beast, calling it My Friend.
As well as literal monsters there are other horrors of real life – broken relationships, serious illness, a family becoming more divided, unexplained disappearances and not knowing what happened to that person – and it’s perhaps these horrors which take centre stage for the most part.

The haunted house project becomes a source of income for the family as they construct and develop The Wandering Dark over the years. Immersive and involving, it involves various scare rooms, all with a different theme, and all the family contribute something to the place, later working there as actors in a live-action horror experience.

The relationship between Noah and My Friend is intriguing, and kept me wondering and speculating for a while.  What is the monster? Where did it come from? Is it real at all or just a fantastic imagining? So many questions, so much going on and it’s so very hard not to say more about all this!

There are few if any jump scares (is that what you’d call it in a book, it certainly is in a movie?) throughout the book, but there is a sense of fear and menace that grows as the story progresses and we watch this family for whom we’ve come to care experience all manner of heartbreak and distress. They certainly don’t have it easy.
There were so many unexpected things throughout the story, taking the narrative in new and increasingly surreal and strange directions, but I don’t want to say too much more and risk spoiling the read.

A Cosmology of Monsters is an intriguing blend of family life mingled with horrors both everyday and otherworldly, and I would give it a try if you’re looking for something a little different, a little strange, a little scary and a little mysterious.


Book Review: Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Name: Lonesome Dove
Larry McMurtry
Number of Pages:
964 (Kindle)
Pan (first published 1985)
Genre:  Historical, Western


A love story, an adventure, and an epic of the frontier, Larry McMurtry’s Pulitzer Prize— winning classic, Lonesome Dove, the third book in the Lonesome Dove tetralogy, is the grandest novel ever written about the last defiant wilderness of America. Journey to the dusty little Texas town of Lonesome Dove and meet an unforgettable assortment of heroes and outlaws, whores and ladies, Indians and settlers. Richly authentic, beautifully written, always dramatic, Lonesome Dove is a book to make us laugh, weep, dream, and remember.

My Rating:

My Thoughts:

Lonesome Dove is a real sprawling epic of a saga.  For the first 100 or so pages we meet the members of the Hat Creek Cattle Company in their day to day life – occasionally rustling cattle from across the border, working hard (Call), or relaxing and drinking (Gus), and whiling away the days.
Also part of the company are Pea Eye, who has accompanied the Rangers on their many adventures, Deets, an excellent tracker, and Newt, a young man who may have a family connection to one of the men.
Then comes Jake Spoon, a former member of the group with stories of fortunes to be made in Montana and so the idea to gather a cattle herd and drive it north becomes more than an idle dream.

I laughed several times observing the daily routine of this group, from Bolivar the cook and his constant clanging of the dinner bell to announce dinner, to Gus and his wit in creating the company sign, which becomes something of a massive undertaking as the wording has to be just perfect.  The characters are so well written they’re almost real which is great  as we’re so long in their company.

Gus, his laidback ways belying a steady dependable man when trouble arises, quickly became a favourite and remained so throughout, and I couldn’t wait to get back to chapters featuring him.  He’s brave, riding into trouble when the odds are vastly against him.
In complete contrast is Woodrow Call, his long time friend and fellow Ranger, just as capable and ready to face challenges and hard work, but distant, brooding and unknowable.  He’s introverted and a great foil to Gus and his theatrics.  They balance each other really well.  I’d love to read of their earlier days together in the Rangers.

A varied cast of supporting characters added to the central narrative of the vast trek across the country, and of course provided many dramatic moments as during such a long and dangerous journey I don’t think it’s spoiling anything to say that not all of them make it to Montana.

There’s July Johnson, a sheriff tasked with bringing Jake Spoon to justice over a crime committed in his town, but July’s problems escalate when he finds out his restless wife Elmira left town around the same time he did, and he decides to try and find her instead.  Roscoe, July’s deputy, becomes involved, venturing out to search for July and ending up with more than he bargained for along the way.  He’s a man ill-suited to trekking across the wilds, but a girl called Janey helps him.

And Jake Spoon, the cause of so many problems.  For the heroics and admirable qualities of Gus, Call and others, there’s Jake, the absolute opposite.  I can’t say I liked Jake but he certainly drove the story.  His initial idea sets the company off on their travels, and drags a young woman called Lorena into things, before he abandons her in dire circumstances to go off gambling. He has little interest in Lorena or the cattle drive.  His further adventures guarantee his eventual fate, but I won’t say more and spoil the story.

There are two women who feature prominently, mostly in Augustus’s life.  Clara is the woman that Gus imagined he would marry, the one that got away, and part of the reason he decides to accompany Call on the journey.  He wants to see Clara again even though they’ve been apart for many years and Clara is married with a family.
Lorena is the young woman who longs to escape her life in Lonesome Dove and dreams of going to San Francisco. She is encouraged to leave Lonesome Dove with the group, but once Jake abandons her Augustus takes a more prominent role in her life.

There are a host of other characters too – mean-spirited soldiers, one of whom excites Call’s rage to great extremes, cruel gangs intent on murder for no reason, rough but sometimes kind buffalo hunters, the fearsome Blue Duck, two different camp cooks, both with their own eccentricities.  Then there are the cowboys of the Hat Creek outfit, along for the trip, drawn together from different backgrounds, united in their aims to undertake this massive trek.

Through hailstorms, dust clouds, a plague of grasshoppers, encounters with grizzly bears, searing heat and endless wilderness, desolate places and many extremes, I journeyed with these characters and shared their joys and despairs.  Lonesome Dove is long, so long that at times I almost felt as if I actually was experiencing it all in real time.  It’s also not a fast paced novel, meandering at a leisurely pace, but even though it took me a long time to read I was sad to finally reach the end and leave these characters behind.

I would have liked more closure for certain characters.  There were so many things I was left wondering about regarding Newt, Lorena, Clara and Call.  I know there’s a sequel so perhaps some of these questions will be answered but having spent so long with the characters I would have loved to see their eventual endings in this tome.  Despite this I enjoyed the time spent reading Lonesome Dove and would recommend it to anyone looking for a character-driven epic journey of a read.