(Deathly Insanity #1)
Publication date: April 23rd 2014
Genres: Gothic, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy
When Andee Tilbrook’s husband died, her preoccupation with death turned to obsession. Thanks to her unique ability to commune with the dead, her husband remains all too close, yet never close enough.
Mired in grief, she clings to James’s spirit, slowly losing touch with the world, her friends, and any desire to continue living. But when her friend Josh becomes the target of Natalya, a jealous, capricious and violent Russian beauty, Andee somehow finds the strength to free herself from her misery long enough to help him.
They soon discover that Natalya is wanted by the police for her involvement in a series of grisly murders, and Andee is dragged into the inquiry by the same man who investigated her own husband’s death. Torn between new feelings for Josh, and fear that he might be involved in the murders that seem to threaten anyone who comes close, Andee must face the realities of her life, her past, and her very nature-and do it all in time to save her own life.
••☆••*´¨`*•.☆••3.5-4 stars ☆••*´¨`*•.☆
Chasing Azrael by Hazel Butler is a paranormal thriller with a little bit of romance thrown into the mix. Intriguing, and distinctly gothic, Chasing Azrael is a dark and haunting story.
Chasing Azrael is told in a first-person narrative. It is set in the UK, and there is a fair bit of colloquialisms. There is a lot of violence, mild sexual content, and a modicum of bad language. The plot is action packed and steadily proceeds at Mach 1 from the first page to the last. There is a long list of characters, and they are reasonably well developed.
Andrea, known as Andee to her friends, is an archaeologist and professor who sees and speaks with ghosts. She is a loner and rather prickly; she even refers to herself as a hedgehog. Her high intelligence is offset by her social awkwardness. She reveals little of herself to her friends and co-workers. Through flashbacks of her life with her late husband, James, readers glean some insight into Andee.
Robert McFarlan is a renowned detective from Wales. He is known not only for his case-solving abilities, but also for taking on rather peculiar cases. Coincidentally, Robert met Andee when her husband, James, committed suicide by jumping off a bridge. He is a calm, mature presence, and he openly accepts and encourages Andee’s ability to speak with the dead. I hope this very likable and interesting character has a bigger role in future books in the series.
I found Joshua, best friend to Andrea’s late husband, quite unlikable. Overall, I couldn’t find a reason to care about this character. He was so controlling of Andee, and he mocked her ability to see/speak with the dead. I couldn’t fathom why she tolerated him at all. Throughout the reading, I waffled between believing he was a good guy or a bad one. Andee’s other good friend, Lily, was my outright favorite character. She is a great blend of smart and sassy!
Chasing Azrael takes on a few heavy issues including grief, depression, and mental illness. The treatment isn’t disrespectful, and the author doesn’t delve too deeply into those issues.
In addition to mental health issues, ghosts, murders and police investigations, Butler includes some well-researched fairy tales, Russian folklore, and legend. These tales are expertly and organically included without feeling like a lecture or a data dump.
Chasing Azrael has a unique premise. It is well written and never boring. There is never a dull moment due to all that is packed into the story, and overall, I found it to be a good fright and a good read.
About the author: Hazel is an author, artist and archaeologist from Cheshire, England. She is currently in the final year of her PhD, which focuses on Gender Dynamics in Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Britain. She has two archaeological papers published in international journals, as well as several research papers published through Bangor University and the University of Vienna.
Hazel has also published Out of the Dark (an edited volume of Gothic art work, showcasing over thirty artists from around the world), All the Night-Tide (a collection of Gothic/Steampunk fusion short stories based on the poems of Edgar Allan Poe), and ‘Grave’, a short story included in Willow, Weep No More, a fairy tale anthology giving female characters more agency in their roles. Her new novella, Bleizgeist, is a Dark Fantasy tale about a young woman’s isolation and social ostracism due to her unique magical abilities, and her struggle to accept her true nature.
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