Book Review: Chasing Azrael by Hazel Butler

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Chasing Azrael (Deathly Insanity Book 1)
by Hazel Butler

Release Date: 26th April 2014

Paperback: £8.99 eBook: £1.99
Pages: 364

Ande Tilbrook has always had an unhealthy interest in death. As an archaeologist, and a person who regularly sees ghosts, she has comforted herself with the thought that this is somewhat understandable. When her husband James dies however, Ande’s preoccupation becomes an obsession that consumes her life.

It is only when her friend Josh is threatened by the presence of a strange woman in his life that Ande is forced back to reality. Her’s gut tells her something is wrong, and she’s soon proven correct. As a string of grisly murders rock the quiet coast of North Wales, Ande is reunited with the Detective who investigated James’s death, and is somehow enlisted in his inquiries. He is convinced Josh is somehow involved in the murders, and Ande must unravel an increasingly enigmatic puzzle in order to keep the people she loves safe.

I am going to be brutally honest here, this is not the type of book I would ordinarily choose to read. For a start, there's no guarantee of battle scenes, the main character isn't the detective, and worse, there are no Vikings!

However, there are two main reasons that I read this book. The first reason, is that I know the author. Let's be realistic, a friend of yours offers out advanced copies of a book that they have written in return for an honest review... yeah, I'm going to read the book!

Secondly, and I think the better reason, is that I am supposed to be widening my choice of reading matter. I need to read stuff that isn't already on my bookcase!

So there you are, you know that I know Hazel, which is how I have convinced her to do an interview for me (see my next blog post).

So, the book then.

The book starts with a prologue, a very short chapter, which begins to introduce the back story. I like this, I like how it tells you just enough to make you interested, to give you hints, but not enough to ruin the plot. Chapter one begins two years later and introduces the protagonist a little more. We are introduced to her friends, and to the fact that the protagonist can see ghosts.
There is another short chapter between chapters one and two, which carries on from the prologue, again, this aids with the backstory, but it builds both on the prologue, and what we have learned from the first chapter. The book continues in this way until we have all of the backstory. I should point out that some of the backstory makes for quite harrowing reading, but don't let that put you off. I've certainly read much worse, and it actually adds to the book, it feels real.

The characters are, to my mind, believable, the plot moves at a good pace, and the story neither drags, nor races, but it keeps you interested.

Right, there are ghosts in the book. Unlike other books (I once read one where Elizabeth I saw Anne Boleyn at the end of her bed, which was both utterly ridiculous and very uncalled for), the ghosts in this book feel sympathetic, although I have to be honest and admit that I missed the fact that one of them was a ghost for a while, I thought that she was a mildly annoying co-worker! It was probably me being dim, but I figured it out eventually. My favourite is Simon, you'll like Simon too. I probably feel most for Simon, because I can see myself dying the way he did! (No spoilers here)!

One scene where I felt the plot raced a bit more than I would like, was towards the end of the book, when Andee and Robert are in a car racing towards a farm with a lake and Andee is on the phone to her friend Lily, Lily needs to impart a lot of information while they are in a car moving quite fast. This just makes the pace go a bit quicker and you can cope for one scene, it was probably intentional!

There are a few plot twists in the book too. I didn't catch a fair few of them, and that's good. I like formula sometimes, but it's always better to be surprised.

As for the end, well, I've already said no spoilers... but to be fair, for a good proportion of the book, you aren't sure what would make a happy ending, and I wasn't sure exactly which way to root... but it does become obvious, and you are in suspense wondering how this will work out, right up until the end... this book isn't over until it's over, and I like that. I do so hate when you reach a point in a book and think, ok, that's all wrapped up nicely, what to you mean there are 20 pages still to read?!

Obviously, this book is the first in a series, and I will certainly read the rest of the series, and not just because I am lucky enough to know the author, but because I am interested in where the series will go next.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and gave it 4/5 stars.

Don't forget to check out next week's blog when I have an interview with the author, Hazel Butler and if you fancy reading Chasing Azrael for yourself, it's available to pre-order from Amazon, Waterstones and most other bookshops and is released later this month. Let's be honest, £1.99 for an e-book is less than the cost of a beer in most pubs now, so go on and treat yourself!


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