Book Reviews

Danse Macabre Book Review.

  • Danse Macabre.
  • Laura M. Hughes.
  • 56 pages.
  • Fantasy / Horror / Horror Thriller.
  • My Rating: 5 stars out of 5.


Book Blurb:

The dead beckon and the little girl obeys. Night after night she answers the graveyard’s call, though she dreads her encounters with the creature that dwells there.

But she’ll soon come to learn that memories are much more dangerous than monsters…

Book Review:

I’m not normally a fan of novella’s, I much prefer a hefty tome that takes days of engrossed reading to finish rather than a short story that takes just over an hour to read. Saying that, I came across this thanks to the Grimdark Fiction Readers and Writers group on Facebook.

And, wow, am I pleased I did! This is a stunning read, in just 56 pages Hughes crafts a fully fledged story with a captivating main character in Blue and a fitting if somewhat tragic ending. Being a novella you know that words and space are to a premium and Hughes utilizes these perfectly, giving you a tale that keeps you intrigued, guessing and mesmerised. It’s dark and ominous with an underlying tone of tragedy throughout.

In short, Blue is a young girl, tormented by memories, each night she visits the village cemetery and the graves of her lost loved ones. Each time, there is a man waiting for her there, Blue strikes a bargain with him and thus her tale of revenge and redemption is set. 

“You’re right: most of it is shite. But mamma always says that we should try an’ abide by the Ten Commandments, and I reckon she’s right. What’s so shite about a world where no one ever lies, or steals, or kills each other?”

Blue as I mentioned is a captivating character, the struggles she faces, the actions she must take and the consequences of those actions are all gripping. Even without a single line of dialogue she’s a character that you really feel for. As the story progresses we see some flashbacks of Blue’s, these help you as the reader feel drawn to her even more as you experience events that she has had to go through in her past.

Along with Blue there’s also a few other characters, Snail and Crow are by Blue’s side for her story, her sidekicks, offering advice and acting as her conscious. There’s also the man who haunts Blue, he comes across as sinister and menacing and when his true intentions are revealed late on takes on a nightmarish aspect to.

The world building is also top quality, it’s only a novella so we aren’t given detailed and multi layered areas full of history and lore but what we are given works really well. While we don’t actually know when or where the story takes place Hughes creates a vividly dark setting for her tale that fits the tone perfectly.

The book starts at chapter 10 and ends with chapter 1, this may seem strange at first, it did to me but it ties in well to the story and as you progress you will have an “ah” moment when you realise why the chapters are labelled in reverse.

Hughes writing is also praiseworthy, weaving together elements of fantasy, horror, ghost stories and thriller her style is dark and creepy yet she never goes overboard with the descriptions or gore for the horror elements, sometimes we don’t need gallons of blood with viscera spraying everywhere and that old saying “less is more” is apt for Danse Macabre. Sometimes it’s what you’re not shown rather than what you are that allows you as the reader to imagine the scenes in your head as you read them. This means that those of you who would normally shy away from the genre can easily give this a go and treat yourself to this read.

“Blue never liked words much. She had met many people who had used words to trick, to hurt. To lie. But this one was different. This one didn’t just give her words. He gave her numbers too. And though Blue had never been skilled with either words or numbers, numbers had always seemed more honest to her. Numbers couldn’t lie.”

Hughes has a way with words that borders on the poetic, she manages to create vivid imagery and emotion for her main character in Blue.

I don’t read many novella’s but this is the best one I have read, Danse Macabre outstanding, it is an atmospheric, haunting and evocative read that I highly recommend.

Purchase Danse Macabre:

Amazon UK  /  Amazon US

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45 thoughts on “Danse Macabre Book Review.

  1. Wow, that novella sounds fantastic! And I am super intrigued by the Chapters going from 10 to 1… hmm… the endless possibilities… what I am most interested in though is the whole dark setting of it- the graveyard, the man, the cover and title are fabulous and I feel lured in!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks so much, Drew! I’m honoured to receive such unexpected praise. This is perhaps the best review Danse Macabre has received so far – and an incredible start to the year. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I picked it up! I am tempted to read it now just so I can get that rush of a finished book. But as I am almost done with one of my current reads, I think I will concentrate on it and save this for when I need a quick read. Excited to check it out!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Now in my Kindle :p It’s not every day a book from the genre is good for easily-scared people too, haha! I can’t wait to discover the reason behind the reverse chapters. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wow! this sounds really good , Not to mention I love books that try to do something unorthodox and makes you feel uncomfortable at first and by the time you end your reading it all makes sense and you feel amazed .

    That’s how I fell in Love with Malazan book and Dark Tower series . Fantastic review as always Drew 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I can understand , besides as you know from my reviews , I am still having inconsistent feeling for the Dark Tower series , at times it’s really good , at other times it’s dissapointing

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I’m really not a novella fan but saw it in the grimdark fantasy facebook group and gave it a go as it’s currently free on the kindle, found it to be great. 🙂 Ha, yeah, I agree it’s still weird saying last year at the moment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I really love short form books. There is something about a complete story in fewer than 100 pages which makes me so happy. So many authors are verbose; these often feel like a breath of fresh air! I’m so glad you enjoyed this novella. While horror isn’t my jam, I can certainly appreciate this. Great review, Drew!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. 🙂 It really surprised me how much I enjoyed it, I’m not a novella fan but may well read more after this. Agree about authors being verbose, guess I’m used to it though with the general length of fantasy books and the waffling within them. 🙂


  6. So…prob not a lot of romance in this one? 😂🤣😂
    No HEA? I like my books fluffy. Jk. This one looks kinda interesting…and I’m not a novella person either. Not normally enough time to develop a story, you know?

    Liked by 1 person

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