book review

Read with your eyes // ‘Shelbourne’ by Craig Phoenix

I’ve been meaning to write this book review since November of last year. November! Of last year!
And that’s no reflection on the book in question, as I actually devoured it in a matter of days whilst I was sunning myself on holiday in Greece. It’s just me being super busy as always (oh, to be able to run Le Blow full time, eh?) and wanting to do the book justice in a decently written review.


book review

Shelbourne by Craig Phoenix

It’s a shame – every time I write Craig Phoenix I do the Bo Selecta style ‘Craig David!’ in my head. I’m an idiot.

I needed a book to read on holiday, and I normally find myself buying titles with pink glittery covers from the WH Smiths at the airport, only to have finished most of them by the end of Day One and having to pick up dog-earred Jilly Cooper novels from the resort’s ‘lending library’ (AKA a wonky shelf next to the beach towel kiosk) on Day Two.

It was therefore delightful coincidence that the week before I flew out, Lois Waller AKA @Bunnipunch on Twitter asked if anyone fancied doing a book review on their site. Yes to the please! Said I.

And so that’s how I came to hold a copy of Shelbourne in my hands. With it’s murky looking cover and shaky ghoulish font, I started to wonder if I’d make it past page one.

Shelbourne by Craig PhoenixSynopsis

Beryl Wallace is a famous medium, doing a tour as advised by her agent to support her third book telling the story of a spirit, which she’s writing live as the action happens on stage. On the opening night Beryl connects with a restless, fairly agitated spirit, Mark who certainly has a story to tell.

He ends up making an appearance via Beryl every night, leaving her feeling increasingly weak after channelling his angry spirit. Yet Beryl can’t seem to work out why she has such a strong connection with him nor why he has such a hold over her.

Mark died after tinkering about with Dark magick in his grotty old flat, trying to rid the estate – Shelbourne – of gangs of chavvy youths running riot and terrorising the residents. He calls them ‘The Wolves’ and the little bastards took his wife and kids away from him, so he’s pretty pissed off with them, to say the least and is seeking revenge.

Via the interwebs, he manages to team up with four intriguing chaps who are essentially darker than Darth Vader’s under-carriage and boast more wizardary than Merlin. But uh-oh! Little does Mark realise just what he’s getting into. Dark magick is a powerful force when wielded and the consequences can be catastrophic… DUM DA DAHHHHH!


Phoenix, a self-published author, effortlessly flips back and forth in time like Marty McFly on acid. He also expertly weaves Beryl and Mark’s stories together, in such a descriptive way that you’re able to transport yourself straight into the scenes as if you were there. The plot is tense and thicker than your nan’s ankles with unexpected turns leaving you gripped to the very end. And when you do get to the end, you’ll feel like your head has just been royally fucked.

I was trying to decide what genre Shelbourne could be neatly filed under, but it’s part thriller, part mystery and part Black Magic for Beginners. I’ll be totally honest and admit I probably wouldn’t have ever picked this book up voluntarily but I’m so glad it was pressed into my hands as it was certainly un-put-downable < that’s an industry term, right there.

The only teeny tiny negative for me, as a life long member of the Grammar Police, is that there were a few typos and grammatical errors but they certainly didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the story. And speaking of which; the story is pretty unbelievable – but surely that’s what good fiction is all about? Just don’t read it when you’re home alone. And maybe keep the lights on, too…

Shelbourne by Craig Phoenix, £6.50 from Amazon (where you can also buy the Kindle version for £4.50)
Phoenix has published three books including Shelbourne and look out for a new release later this year…

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