Monday, June 17, 2013

Blackbrooke II Blog Tour: Review & Character Interview

Welcome to our stop on the blog tour for Blackbrooke II: The Guardian by Emma Silver! Today we're both reviewing this thrilling sequel to last year's Blackbrooke, as well as welcoming back Denzil Rathbone, one of Blackbrooke's coolest residents, for another character interview.

Blackbrooke II: The Guardian by Emma Silver
Blackbrooke II: The Guardian
By Emma Silver
Crooked Cat Publishing
Amazon | Goodreads

* A copy was provided by the author for review.


Liberty’s fight continues.

After she had discovered the truth behind "walk outs" in her hometown of Blackbrooke and forced to sacrifice her best friend, Liberty Connor thought she was finally free.

But her nightmare was only just beginning.

Taken to the Institute, a research facility dedicated to Blackbrooke, Liberty finds herself under the watchful eye of sinister Blackbrooke guardian, Mr. Jones. Things aren’t as they seem. Familiar faces provide little comfort, and she soon realizes the Crits aren’t the only specimens under the microscope.

Determined to escape, Liberty is once again plunged into a world beyond her comprehension. The one thing she knows for certain is: trust no one.

Friends become strangers, but help is at hand from unexpected quarters. Forced to confront her real enemy, Liberty is left with one familiar choice.


Ally's Review:

The ending of the first installment of the Blackbrooke series truly left my head spinning. I was teased with the sweet promise of closure and justice only to have that ripped away from me. I had to wait in suspense to find out what happened to Liberty and the rest of the gang. Blackbrooke II: The Guardian was no better when it came to rewarding the reader with answers and compensation for all the emotional trauma he or she has to undergo when reading about the Crits in all their ungodly glory.

In my opinion, the best thing that happened in this book was the change of setting. Blackbrooke is an awesome place to read about with all of its mystery and sketchy people. It’s too crazy not to love. But like the old saying goes, too much of a good thing . . . . I just know I would have been claustrophobic if the scenery didn’t change from the first book. The Institute was new and interesting. It opened a door for the introduction of new characters and some character development. It also gave some answers to the questions floating about in my mind, yet it did raise some new questions of its own. It was nice to take a break, and it also gave the reader the opportunity to miss the wacky, old town.

The characters were just as great. It was super easy to fall back into step with the gang. It was sad having Noah gone; he was one of my favorite characters, but with all the stuff Cassius and Liberty were dealing with, it was easy to get all caught up in the action. Liberty was tougher and more independent this time around. She didn’t let the Crits scare her and she wasn’t afraid to speak her mind. Cassius, on the other hand, has always been harder for me to relate to. With the reappearance of Gabriel, Liberty’s ex-boyfriend, I found Cassius slightly annoying. Cass was so insecure about his relationship with Liberty that it made me sick. I lost count of how many times Liberty had to tell him that she loved him. And Gabriel wistfully lurking in the background was just plain ridiculous and wasn’t helping the situation. I get that Cassius didn’t want to have to go through losing Liberty again, but he needed to man up. In reality, I don’t think Liberty really needs a guy.

The action and conflict in book two were much more interesting. Instead of just fighting against the Crits, who are creepy as all hell, the gang had to go toe-to-toe with Mr. Jones and the town itself. But even with the new opposition bearing down on Liberty’s shoulders, there were small miscellaneous gaps of nothing dotting the story. There were times when nothing of interest was happening, and they dragged the book down. If I wasn’t so pumped about taking down Mr. Jones and the Crits, I think I would have been disappointed with the fluidity of the story.

Blackbrooke is one of the best horror series I have ever come across. It’s really hard to scare people with words alone, but Blackbrooke does its job. I did my best to read it in highly lit areas with several other people around, but when I was reading alone at night I had to put a lot of effort into remembering that it was all fictional. The first installment in the Blackbrooke series was amazing, and the sequel didn’t disappoint.

All in All:

Blackbrooke II: The Guardian was creepy, action-packed, and loads of fun. If it’s even possible, I’m left with even more questions than I had when I started.

Lee's Review:

Liberty Connor and her trusty, Crit-slaying axe are back, and I was very happy to see them both. Horror is a genre I don’t read too often due to being a gigantic chicken, but I really enjoyed the first Blackbrooke. Emma Silver has a way of writing horror that gives me a severe case of the creeps yet eager to read more of it.

Blackbrooke II: The Guardian continues in the scary footsteps of its predecessor. I loved what Silver did with the sequel, opening with a flashback to the chilling details of an event from Blackbrooke and then picking up in the present with Liberty at Blackbrooke’s Institute, where she was taken after her and Cassius’s run-in with the Queens. The Institute is a research facility that ostensibly works to improve the lives of Blackbrooke’s citizens, but of course Liberty is too smart to fall for that line. She distrusts the place and most of its staff. Quite a bit of the book focuses on what’s going on at the Institute, and I was totally into all of the government conspiracy-type stuff. For a small town, Blackbrooke certainly has a lot of secrets.

The book’s antagonist, Jonathan Jones, is the very definition of the word. How I wanted to see him get devoured by a Crit. He’s the type of bad guy who thinks he’s smarter than everyone and who revels in his villainy. Luckily, Liberty’s not the type of heroine who backs down without a good fight, even with Mr. Jones going out of his way to terrorize her.

Just when I thought that the book wasn’t going to set foot outside of the Institute—hello, plot twist! It was a clever one, too, and in general, the book held me in suspense over where it was heading next. The plotting in Blackbrooke II was top-notch; I was constantly surprised and didn’t feel that any part lagged, which was something I did occasionally experience while reading the first book. This is a finely tuned sequel that expands on the original premise and pushes it to a new level, all while continuing to give me a terrific fright. And I am fully ready and willing to be scared all over again with the next book.

All in All:

If horror’s your thing and you haven’t checked out this series yet, then you really need to. Returning to Blackbrooke was even more awesome than I’d hoped it would be, even when I was trying to clear my mind of images of the Crits before I went to sleep at night.

** Our Interview with Denzil **

We're thrilled to once again have Denzil Rathbone, Blackbrooke resident and proprietor of Tales from the Crits, the place to find all of your favorite Crits-themed merchandise, here on the blog. Denzil was kind enough to answer a few questions for us and to talk about what's been going on since we last chatted with him.

Welcome back to Rally the Readers, Denzil! It’s been a while since we last spoke to you, and it looks like a lot has been going on in your life since then. Can you bring us up to date a little on what’s been happening with you since that night Liberty took Cassius to the Queens?

Whoa, it's been interesting. I want to tell you it's been a thrill ride but there was nothing thrilling about it. The night the kids walked out is one of the worst of my life. I should have known they weren't going to come back. Maz was crying and I kept telling her over and over again they were going to come strolling through the door. She managed to fall asleep on the floor of the shop but I sat, wide-awake, staring at the door until the sun came up. I wanted them all to come back, even Cass which would have defeated the point of them going out in the first place. I actually felt sorry for the Crits having to go up against Noah. Did you see the lad? I wouldn't have messed with him. But, more than anything, I wanted Lib back with every ounce of my soul. When I realised that wasn't going to happen, the situation went from bad to worse . . .

You and Liberty have been through some harrowing adventures together. Out of all of them, which one would you say has been the scariest?

Yeah, we've had some . . . interesting encounters. I'd have to say there was nothing more scary than seeing her leave the shop with Cass and Noah but that didn't really involve me. I was scared in the tunnels, of course. That was really messed up. Everything about that night was.

Have you ever met Liberty’s family?

No. Her dad came to the shop to try and persuade her to come home after we formed our version of the Scooby Gang but other than that, I've never spoken to them. I'm surprised they didn't scope me out seeing as I'm a bloke who spends a lot of time with their teenage daughter but I know from the bits Lib told me that her family has a few issues. I don't probe. She comes to work to escape and if that's the only thing I can offer, that's cool with me.

You aren’t on the friendliest of terms with Jonathan Jones, Blackbrooke’s mayor and the headmaster of Blackbrooke Academy. Is there any truth to what he said about you being a troublemaker during your school days?

Let's get one thing straight, I wasn't a troublemaker. I didn't seek out or cause problems but I did supply my classmates with contraband and I was scruffy. Jones had my card marked from day one and hauled me into his office for any reason he could find. He must have known the story with my home life but he did it anyway. And what's worse is that he seemed to enjoy it. We of course now know the reason why he did it. He got what he wanted.

What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to say to Mr. Jones?

You wouldn't be able to print the things I'd like to say to that man. Think of the worst expletives and you get the idea. On a serious note, after everything that's happened recently I'd want to laugh in his face, but then I remember the man stole twenty years from me and I'm back to reigning offensive insults again.

What went through your mind when you were left in that cattle field?

I hope this is quick. I expected to start thinking about my life and all that crap but I didn't. I was surprised at how practical my mind worked when facing certain death. I was even feeling grateful to Blackbrooke police for making me bleed because it meant the Crits would smell me and kill me quickly. I was cursing the rain for washing it away. It was very strange.

If you could swap places with any character from a movie or a book for a day, who would it be and why?

I'd be Bruce Campbell from ANY movie he stars in. That dude doesn't die. He kicks everyone's ass, gets the girl and still has time to deliver the best one-liners in cinema history. He's my hero. If my life were a Bruce Campbell movie, I'd be one of the poor swines who bit the dust really early. I'm not meant to live to the end of any story. Sounds morbid, right? I know, it's just a feeling I have that my days are numbered. Bloody hell, that was one of the more fun questions and I still made it depressing. Sorry guys, it's been a rough week . . .

If you could have one of your dreams come true, which one would you choose?

Living in a beach hut with the woman I love and watching the sun set every night. Maybe Lib could be there to serve us drinks. She'd love that. I think she secretly dreams of being my slave.

What's your ideal future for Blackbrooke?

Blackbrooke doesn't have a future. Get everyone out and bulldoze the place. I used to think the shop meant everything to me but it really doesn't. I also used to think I couldn't care for another soul in the world after losing so many but Liberty Bell saved me from that nonsense. Things and places mean nothing if you don't have the people you love around you. God listen to me, I've gone all soft . . .

Thanks so much for your time today, Denzil! We really appreciate it, and we wish you the best of luck!


  1. Lovely reviews, Ally and Lee. I love "Things and places mean nothing if you don't have the people you love around you", softies are cool, especially in horrors.

    1. Ally and I are such big fans of Denzil's; he's such a caring, loyal friend, as perfectly illustrated by that quote. Oh, and he's quite hilarious, too! :)

  2. Loved both reviews! I was so anxious for this book and it lived up to my expectations, looks like it did for you guys too. Ally ~ you're right, the setting change made a huge difference in the story and was a needed aspect. Lee ~ no lag is right. I was on the edge of my seat the entire book! Ahhh, can't wait for more!!

    1. I finished the book and instantly thought, need the next book- NOW! I love when sequels take what I loved about the previous book and make it even better, and that was definitely the case here.


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