Review: Refuge by Kirsty Ferry

refugeRefuge by Kirsty Ferry

“A legendary dagger in the hands of a vampire slayer… A nineteenth century girl with nowhere left to turn… A modern-day field trip to Lindisfarne… When worlds collide and the only way out is a choice nobody should have to make, where do you find your refuge? Set within the sanctity of the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, off the Northumbrian coast, Refuge is a story interlinking modern day with a dark and terrifying past – and the story of the immortals who carry their hatred with them throughout the centuries.”

This is a multilayered book that spans many timelines. Normally that is very difficult to pull off but not only did Kirsty Ferry pull it off, she left you saying “Ahaa” at the end. This book was so well written, it was almost sculpted. From the start you can feel the gothic atmosphere and it immediately made me think of Stoker.

This really isn’t your predictable Vampire story- anything can happen and it often does, when you least expect it. Kirsty Ferry put a fresh spin on a tired genre by making her characters homicidal – verging on psychotic but yet, devilishly seductive. The relationship between Cassandra and Veva is a very complex and bizarre relationship; it reminded me of Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn in “Death becomes her”.

Refuge is steeped in historical details and it is a thrilling ensemble book who characters all come together for different reasons on a vampirical pilgrimage. These day walking vampires, have centuries of intertwining pasts together but it isn’t until they reach the Refuge, that it all comes to a climactic end.

I loved this book because it was fresh and interesting. I found the characters compelling and exciting. I highly recommend.


I was lucky enough to catch up with the author for some questions and answers:

EPBR: What inspired you  to write Refuge?

KF: It started from a romantic pocket novel I tried to write which was terrible – I ended up hating the characters and said jokingly to my cousin at my birthday party, ‘I hate them so much I just want to kill them off . In fact, I might just turn them into vampires or something to get rid of them.’ So she said ‘Do it!’ And I thought, ‘Hmmmm, yep, that would work.’ I wanted to write a story about a local place as well, having used Hadrian’s Wall in my previous novel, and thought I could centre the story on Holy Island – the last place you would expect to find a creature of the night. It all just fell into place from there. And I actually love my characters now. They are far more suited to the dark side of love!

EPBR: Do you have any other vampire plans for more books?

KF: I left Refuge open-ended. There is potential there for another story – I have a couple of characters who I kind of left hanging there subtly to bring them back from the undead again – but I haven’t thought about a plot yet. Maybe one day…

EPBR: Who is your favourite Vampire?

KF: Angel from Buffy- just has to be!

EPBR: What is your favourite book/ and or vampire film?

KF: Oh it has to be bookwise – Berni Steven’s Dance Until Dawn and filmwise, Johnny Depp’s Dark Shadows.

*Tommorow I will be reviewing Berni Steven’s Dance Until Dawn

Also by Kirsty Ferry:

snow kirst

“Three eras. Three young women. Three Guardians, separated by centuries. Aemelia: the Christian daughter of a Roman Commandant. Meggie: accused of witchcraft in the seventeenth century. Liv: a twenty-first century teenager, intent on finding information for a project. When horrors from the past threaten her, Liv discovers she is a Guardian of the mystical Coventina’s Well. She must work with the spirits who linger there, and use their combined power to banish evil from the sacred spring. Set amongst the wild landscape of Hadrian’s Wall in Northumberland, the Guardians must confront the tragic past and the potential future in order to help each other survive.”


venge of the modern vampire-

A strange metamorphosis has occurred to the vampire over that past 30 years. Vampires went from the mediaeval scourge of the darkness to vegetarian emos. That is a huge gap after all those centuries. So what happened?

Vampire have always been depicted as the spawn of Satan throughout history. From Vlad Tepes to Elisabeth Bathory- Vampires have always been evil predators that would kill you in seconds. I think it all started with Lord Byron’s Vampyre. He was the first to romanticized the vampire. Then came Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Still a bad boy, but he used seduction rather than brute violence to get his pray. However, when the first motion picture of Nosferatu hit the cinema in 1922, he was played by a rodent faced Max Shrek that in no way could be considered sexy.

It would take another twenty years before Bella Lugosi. Bella did make his Dracula a bit more sexier, but the character was still the evil villain. Twenty more years later we have the Hammer years with Christopher Lee reinventing the genre for a whole new audience.. Twice as sexy as Bella Lugosi but also twice as evil, not entirely at the modern vampire yet.

For another twenty years, vampires continued to be evil blood sucking bastards, but then “Interview with a vampire” hit our screens. The book had a cult following since it’s release in 1976 but it was not until Tom Cruise was mentioned that people took notice. Anne Rice’s vampires had humanity, albeit, possibly a soul. The talked openly  about regrettable mistakes and loss. Although widely remarked as being homo-erotic, here were vampires you could relate to.

The the flood gates opened- Vampire were cool and hip for the first time in history. “Buffy the Vampire” even made them quite lovable. Angel struggles with his vampire identity while trying to maintain relationships and his soul. For the first in history we have a non threatening male vampire would you would want to be friends with.

Charlaine Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse novels and the subsequent television show brought us deeper into the political of vampirical hierarchy  and further de-mystified them. Then it happened- Twilight. If you listen closely, that sound you hear, is Vlad Tepes turning in his grave. With twilight we have the first emasculated vampire who would rather listen to emo music in a darkened room than feed off the villagers.

Yet again Vampires are repulsive- not because they have rat faces and feed of you like a parasite; but because they are angst ridden, emotional crippled teens. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the Twilight books, but they did nothing for Vampires Street Cred.

Maybe it is human nature to parody that which scares us, or we just reached a point where there is nothing more that can be added to Vampire mythology. Either way- the only vegetarian vampire that I will take seriously is Count Duckula and twilight sparkles should be left to My little pony. I am hoping that Guillermo Del Toro’s The Strain Television series bring some gravitas to genre and some much-needed Vampire P.R. Luckily the Queen of Vampires, Anne Rice is here to save the day by releasing a new Lestat book called “Prince Lestat” It could not come at a better time to kick-start the vampire genre again.

This week I am very lucky that I am reviewing Four new vampire books this week. Each with its own unique spin on the genre. Vampires will always be with it, as they have been for centuries- but with the help of authors like Kirsty Ferry, Dan Ribot, Berni Stevens, Jane Lovering and Sarah Tranter;  Vampires can be exciting again.


I also caught up with the lovely Katie Oliver, Author of the “Dating Mr. Darcy Series” for some vampire Q&A:

prada-and-prejudiceEPBR:Would you ever write a vampire novel?

KO:I would!  I love a good vampire yarn (Anne Rice’s “Vampire Chronicles,” and Matt Haig’s The Radleys, about a vampire family trying to ‘pass’ as normal, are genius).  But with so many great books already out there, the challenge is to write within genre conventions and still deliver a story with a twist. It’d be a LOT of fun to try, though..
Perhaps I could pen a vampire chick lit novel, with a female vamp who spends eternity shopping for shoes, and the perfect shade of… BLOOD? MWAH ha ha…

EPBR:What is your favourite vampire book and or film?

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice is evocative, scary, moody, and unforgettable. I fell in love with the nineteenth-century New Orleans setting – the moss-draped oaks, the antebellum mansions, the French Quarter, and the dark, mournful beauty of the bayou.  Sting read the book and liked it so much he wrote a song about it – “Moon Over Bourbon Street.”

EPBR: Who is your favourite vampire?

KO: As far as movie vampires go, Frank Langella was the first actor to bring sensuality to the role of Dracula, giving the famous fiend a sexy new dimension. For laughs, you can’t beat George Hamilton in “Love at First Bite” or the campy Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins in “Dark Shadows.” But my favorite literary vampire is Bram Stoker’s Dracula. As a suave gentleman of means by day and a ruthless bloodsucker by night, Count Dracula is diabolical and unparalleled in fiction. But my favorite vampire of all?  It’s got to be Sesame Street’s The Count, of course! One! One vampire bat! Two! Two vampire.


Here are some other great books for you to enjoy:

the radley'sThe Radleys by Matt Haig

“Move over, Cullens! The Radleys are an average family living in the suburbs –
they just happen to be vampires. As funny as it is scary!” (Bliss) “A refreshing
alternative to much of the paranormal fodder out there.” (The Bookseller) “We
should expect something different from the fare provided by Stephenie Meyer and
her numerous imitators. And we will not be disappointed.” (The Irish Times)
“Pointed, clever and witty.” (The Independent)”





discoveryA Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

‘Intelligent and off-the-wall, it will be irresistible to Twilight fans’ — The
Sunday Times ‘A bubbling cauldron of illicit desire…all the ingredients for an
assured saga that blends romance with fantasy’ — Daily Mail ‘An inventive
addition to the supernatural craze… Historian Harkness’s racy paranormal
romance has exciting amounts of spells, kisses and battles, and is recounted
with enchanting, page-turning panache’ — Marie Claire ‘A romp through magical
academia’ — Guardian ‘…a grand romance smartly dressed up in the fashion for
the occult…Sauced up with magic as well as being intelligent, the novel will
be irresistible to Twilight fans’ — The Sunday Times


princePrince Lestat by Anne Rice

To Be released October 30, 2014

The Vampire world is in crisis — vampires have been proliferating out of control and burnings, huge massacres, have commenced all over the world. Old vampires, roused from their earth-bound slumber, are doing the bidding of The Voice: which commands that they indiscriminately burn vampire-mavericks in cities from Paris to Mumbai, Hong Kong to Kyoto and San Francisco.

 We are back with the worlds and beings of Anne Rice’s legendary Vampire Chronicles — in present-day New York and Ancient Egypt, 4th-century Carthage, 14th- century Rome, Renaissance Venice; with Louis de Pointe du Lac; Armand the eternally young, whose face is that of a Boticelli angel; Mekare and Maharet; Pandora and Flavius; David Talbot, vampire and ultimate fixer from the Secret Talamasca; and Marius, the true child of the Millennia. These come together with a host of new, seductive supernatural creatures in this large, luxuriant, fiercely ambitious novel, to seek out who — or what — The Voice is, and to discover the secret of what it desires and why.

 And, at the book’s centre, is always and forever the seemingly absent, curiously missing hero-wanderer, the dazzling, dangerous rebel-outlaw — the great ‘hope’ of the Undead, the dazzling Prince Lestat…

Don’t forget to check out the Facebook page for news, freebies and other fun.

Today’s quiz is “Are you a Vampire” from the BBC Cult website. Don’t forget to post
your results, as we love hearing from you!


New Release: Mansfield Lark by Katie Oliver

manslarkHappy publication day to Katie Oliver:


Gemma Astley has succeeded where so many others have failed. She has somehow managed to tame tearaway rock star Dominic Heath and stop his womanising ways for good. But just as they find happiness, Dominic’s secret aristocratic past becomes public knowledge, and jeopardises everything.

Dominic is actually Rupert Locksley, heir of Mansfield House, a crumbling stately home that needs major financial investment to save it from ruin.

Dominic’s mother pleads for his help, but his father, the Earl, is on the verge of disinheriting him. Meanwhile Dominic’s new status as Mansfield’s long-lost heir attracts the attention of cut-throat socialite Bibi Matchington-Alcester, who means to make him hers at any cost.

Gemma and Dominic will need to test the strength of their foundations – as well as those of Mansfield House – if either are to remain standing.

Review: Love and Liability- Katie Oliver

loveandliaLove and Liability is the second book in the Dating Mr. Darcy series by Katie Oliver. This book features Holly James, previously mentioned in Prada and Prejudice. The book starts off when Holly is due to interview “Henry Barrington” for BriTeen again. She is expecting an old duffer, but he is really Alex, the gorgeous.

Holly bungles things at first, and the whole first encounter is adorable. Later disaster strikes as Holly’s job is being sabotaged. Her relationship with Alex heats up along the way and even manages to salvage every thing by the time she meets Zoe.

Although Love and Liability can be comedic at times, there is a more serious under current with  Zoe’s story line. The mystery of Erik’s merchandise is dark and gritty; which highlights an important subject matter with realism.

It just gets better and better as the series continues. The gaffs are funnier and the men get more delicious. Katie Oliver out did herself and I am preparing myself to be blown away by the next book in the series, Mansfield Lark.

Mansfield Lark hits shelves Monday, March 3rd, 2014. Pre-order it now.


The most recent televised adaptation was “Death comes to Pemberley” by PD James. It is a perfect example of an “Austen After”. Although critics did not like the program, I think it is worth a view.

Over the years, there have been many spoofs and quite frankly, a few very bizarre adaptations. Here are my picks in the category:



zombiessea monsters



misey memeYou can see the plot of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice in almost every modern romance book. Usually is about a young woman who meets a man above her station. I know what I sound like and it does nothing for women’s lib, but you do have to admit there is an abundance of “Lords” and “Billionaires” in modern romance. Even though it is apparent to everyone the hero is above the heroine in Class stature and monetarily wealth, the heroine is far superior to the hero in virtue and in character, she out shines him.

The world was a different place two hundred years ago when Jane Austen wrote her novels, but certain things never change – like the human heart.

We continue to identify with these characters because their wants and our wants are so similar. We recognize ourselves in their insecurities, longings and failure to find love. More often than not, they are successful in love, but it is their humanity that makes Jane Austen’s characters timeless.

wetcolmemeAlthough, the class structure isn’t as stringent as it was in Jane’s days, there are still limitation in the world today. The landed gentry of yesteryear could be today’s CEO. The relevancy has just been shifted and adjusted to modern life.

Every modern heroine as a bit of Elizabeth Bennett in her, because Lizzie is what we all aspire to be. She is quintessential, every woman.

One of the most successful Pride and Prejudice adaptations, is the Bridget Jones franchise. Jane Austen is so engrained in our culture that we did not even questions it as being an Austen plot.

From Bridget Jones to Pretty Woman, Jane Austen the Grandmother of romance is everywhere. Her popularity has not waned in two hundred years and will stand the test of time. As long as there is love, Jane Austen will endure.

The BBC has a great article about the Janeites: The curious American cult of Jane Austen.

In production news: Longbourn by Jo Baker, “A new novel that retells the story of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from the point of view of its servants”. Looking forward to that Regency Upstairs Downstairs, I even heard rumours that it will be snapped up for film or tele soon.




shadesI did come across this book on my travels and I thought the series was worth a mention. I know it isn’t an “After Austen” but it is set in that time. When I saw this book I knew I had to have it, I then went and bought the whole series. I am hoping to review it very soon. These are some of the things that are being said about:

The Glamourist Histories are comedies of manners and magic, and a whole new way
of looking at an era that we only thought we knew before. (John Scalzi)

With magic, manners, mayhem, and no small measure of derring-do – the Glamourist Histories are everything you could wish for in a sleek, fashionable fantasy series. A shimmering adventure for history buffs and glamour enthusiasts alike. (Cherie Priest)

A beautiful, lyrical, tightly woven meld of Jane Austen, Jane Eyre and Beauty and the Beast – I couldn’t put it down! (Lili St. Crow)

Shades of Milk and Honey could easily fit into Austen’s canon… Kowal has captured both the style and content of an Austen novel, adding her own speculative fiction twist. Readers who enjoyed such novels as Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell will find this novel appealing as well. (The Jane Austen Centre)

If Jane Austen had written a fantasy novel, [this] would have been the result. Written with painstaking attention to detail, Kowal’s prose is serenely evocative of the time period, and the fantastic elements are a seamless fit. The characterization is extremely well done and Jane is a sympathetic, strong and intelligent heroine whose
devotion to her family trumps nearly every other concern.= (RT Book Reviews, 4 ½ stars, Top Pick!, Seal of Excellence winner)

Today’s quiz is “Which Austen heroine are you?” Make sure to post us your results because we love to hear from you.

Please visit and like our Facebook page, for additional recommendations, freebies and fun.


Feature: Katie Oliver- Prada and Predjudice

To celebrate Jane Austen’s 200th anniversary of publishing Mansfield Park, we are having a full week of a special theme “After Austen”. For over 200 hundred years, fans have delighted in Jane Austen books and even added their own special touches to it. To kick off the week, Katie Oliver stopped in for a chat to discuss her books. Let’s start with my review of Prada and Prejudice.

prada-and-prejudice    Prada and Prejudice is loosely based on Sense and sensibility. There are familiar themes and even some familiar character and names, but the rest is all Katie Oliver’s wonderful imagination.

The book starts off with Natalie, who is heir to a failing department store and London socialite. Spending more money than she can ever hope to make, her grandfather puts her to work on the sales counter.

After being dumped by her train wreck of a rock star boyfriend, she meets Rhys Gordon. I’d say more like ran into Rhys. Rhys was called in to save the store and as soon as he met Natalie, it was handbags at dawn.

It is love/hate relationship between Rhys and Natalie, with a sexual tensions you can not miss. Rhys has this stoic Scottish thing, that is totally irresistable. He manages to tell Natalie off a few times but in such a charming way, you could almost see a glint in his eye.

It is a glitzy world of “WAGs and Eurotrash” that is so recognizable as real life but so detached from our own life, that it makes the book pure escapism.

im free

“I’m free” John Inman as Mr. Humphries in “Are you being served?”

Katie Oliver adds so much humour that I found myself laughing out loud . The book really is a light-hearted romp. It is filled with designer labels, stroppy fashion designers and iconic London locations – It made me feel as if I was actually there.

Natalie’s grandfather reminded me of Mr. Grace from “Are you being served?” and whenever I pictured the declining Department store, I always thought of Grace Brothers.

With financial whiz kid Rhys Gordon on the case, and with Natalie’s help they get things off the ground. Things escalate between them and it gets very steamy.

Prada and Prejudice isn’t just a book, it is an adventure. There is intrigue, blackmail, buried secrets, and back stabbing. There are quite a few bombshells along the way and you will be kept in the action right to the very end. You don’t have to be a fan of Austen’s to appreciate this fresh, funny and exhilarating  romance.

Also by Katie Oliver:

love and liaSometimes your sensibilities make absolutely no sense!

Holly James is looking for her big break. A young journalist for BritTEEN magazine, she is dying to write about something more meaningful than pop stars and nail varnish. So when she spots a homeless teenager outside the office, she feels compelled to tell her story. But her evil boss Sasha has other ideas…
Holly is sent to interview a city solicitor she has never heard of. But Alex Barrington turns out to be the very opposite of fusty and boring and Holly’s interest struggles to stay strictly professional!
With Sasha sabotaging her every move, and her story about teens on the street leading her into London’s dark underworld, Holly is chasing both love and success at the same time. But happy endings like that only happen in books don’t they…?



Gemma Astley has succeeded where so many others have failed. She has somehow managed to tame tearaway rock star Dominic Heath and stop his womanising ways for good. But just as they  find happiness, Dominic’s secret aristocratic past becomes public knowledge, and jeopardises everything.

Dominic is actually Rupert Locksley, heir of Mansfield House, a crumbling stately home that needs major financial investment to save it from ruin.

Dominic’s mother pleads for his help, but his father, the Earl, is on the verge of disinheriting him. Meanwhile Dominic’s new status as Mansfield’s long-lost heir attracts the
attention of cut-throat socialite Bibi Matchington-Alcester, who means to make him hers at any cost.

Gemma and Dominic will need to test the strength of their foundations – as well as those of Mansfield House – if either are to remain standing.


Stay tuned for an exclusive interview with Katie Oliver.

janebbc The BBC is also commemorating the anniversary in a new radio production:

The Mysterious Death of Jane Austen Episode 1 of 5

15 minutes
First broadcast: Monday 24 February 2014

Twenty-six years have passed since the death of Jane Austen. Armed with a lock of Austen’s hair as perhaps her best clue, Anne Sharp, former governess to the Austen family and Jane’s close friend, has decided at least to tell her story-a story of family intrigues, shocking secrets, forbidden loves, and maybe even murder.

Upon its publication in the UK, Lindsay Ashford’s fictional interpretation of the few facts surrounding Jane Austen’s mysterious death sparked an international debate and uproar. None of the medical theories offers a satisfactory explanation of Jane Austen’s early demise at the age of 41. Could it be that what everyone has assumed was a death by natural causes was actually more sinister? Lindsay Ashford’s vivid novel delves deep into Austen’s world and puts forth a shocking suggestion-was someone out to silence her?

Andrew Davies, who has a phenomenal track record in adaptation, has collaborated with Eileen Horne in recent years, first as writer and producer on a new TV version of Room with a View (2007) and as writer and editor on The Purple Land for Radio 4 (2011).

Written by Lindsay Ashford Adapted by Eileen Horne and Andrew Davies


alan rickmanFor many of us, Emma Thompson’s 1995 film is the version we most identify with. There were a lot of great actors such as Hugh Grant, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman and Greg Wise. Emma Thompson later married fellow Greg Wise- Lucky girl!

Each of us has our favourite Darcy, but who is your favourite your favourite Col. Brandon? For me it is David Morrissey from the 2008 television adaptions. I asked Janet Gover author of Flight to Coorah Creek, and was featured last week in two articles and reviews- Who was her Austen hunk? She is a big Alan Rickman fan, so for her it is him every time.  I have to admit, he does look very dashing .
There have been many adaptions over the years and each of them have their own merits. I found a television version from 1981 that features Tracey Childs of Howard’s way fame and babe of her day.


Now what we have all be waiting for my exclusive interview with Katie Oliver:

katie oliver

EPBR: Will there be anymore Dating Mr. Darcy books after “Mansfield Lark“?

KO: I’m currently furiously scribbling away on a new story featuring Natalie and Rhys, Gemma and Dominic, and a couple of brand new characters. The book is set in a small village in the Scottish Highlands.

It’s just before Christmas, and a blizzard has brought everyone together at Draemar Castle, the ancestral home of Natalie’s friend Tarquin Campbell. There’s conflict – Gemma is insisting that Dominic set a wedding date, now – and newly-married Natalie wants to have a baby straight away, but Rhys is adamant that they should wait.

Add in a mysterious groundskeeper, a female guest who isn’t quite what she seems, and a family secret, and you have the makings of…well, I can’t reveal the title just yet. But I promise, it’ll be a fabulous read!

EPBR: What else are you working on and how is it different?

KO: I have a couple of other books on the back burner, each featuring an American heroine and a sexy European hero. The first book is set in Baltimore, Maryland, and features an Irish-American family. Shauna has a brand new degree. But jobs are few and far between, and she’s returned home to work in the family’s sports bar, waiting tables until she finds something better.

When Declan Quinn comes in with a rowdy group of Irish rugby players, Shauna’s life is turned completely upside down…

The second book takes place in Manhattan. Lauren is an art director who falls for the sexy Italian barista who owns the coffee shop around the corner. Their chemistry is through the roof. But will Luca’s secret stop their romance in its tracks before it even gets started?

These books are different from my others (Prada and Prejudice, Love and Liability, and Mansfield Lark), in that they’re set in the USA, not the UK; but they still promise to be fun, romantic, page-turning reads. That will never change!bridget

EPBR: Which is your favourite Jane Austen Book?

KO: Oh, unquestionably Pride and Prejudice. I never tire of the story of Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. My heart aches for Elizabeth, who believes herself cruelly snubbed early on by Mr Darcy; but I feel even more for Darcy himself, who comes across as snobbish and judgmental, despite the fact that he’s a fine and honourable man who gradually grows to love Elizabeth with all his heart.

I love Emma, too – because even though Emma Woodhouse is a terrible snob and an incorrigible busybody, I can’t help but root for her, as she always means well. As most busybodies usually do…


EPBR: Which is your favourite Jane Austen film, and it can also be an after, like Bridget Jones?

KO: Oh, how can I pick anything but Bridget Jones?

Colin Firth as handsome-but-stuffy lawyer Mark Darcy is comedic perfection, and Renee Zellweger as Bridget…well, she’s hilarious and she gets it exactly right. Add Hugh Grant as the office sleaze, Daniel Cleaver, and you’ve got a perfect, funny film. The blue soup…the granny knickers…the Tarts and Vicars party that isn’t, actually…who will ever forget those scenes?

EPBR: Which actor makes your Darcy?

KO: Colin Firth. He’s number one. That white shirt…that pond…that damp, manly chest…LOL!

Coming in at a very close second, however, is Matthew Macfadyen. In fact, I prefer the film with Matthew and Keira Knightley over the BBC miniseries (although it’s very good, too).

Thank you so much Katie Oliver, and remember Mansfield Lark is being released on March 3rd, 2014. Pre-order it today.

Please visit the Facebook site for other Austen themed books and links. Tomorrow we have more treats in store, but for now I will leave you with a Vicar of Dibley Sense and sensibility joke.