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You know that person who constantly interrupts when you’re trying to speak so that there’s no flow or balance in the conversation? That’s the narrator in this story. For the first couple of chapters I found it so irritating that at one stage I was tempted to give up on it, the only thing that swayed me to persevere was my curiosity to see whether the original style used to tell the story would add anything extra to the experience but, in the end, I was somewhat disappointed. The characters were wishy-washy and what began to take shape as a curious storyline fell flat right at the last hurdle. I’d give it two and a half stars if I could because the middle of the book got into an enjoyable rhythm that seemed promising but, as said, was let down with an ending that was, for me, a bit silly.
When I heard Kate Moloney of Bibliophile Book Club recommending Six Stories on the #TwoCrimeWritersandaMicrophone podcast just before Christmas, it went straight on my wishlist. When the lovely Karen Sullivan (Mrs Orenda Books) asked for volunteers for the blog tour and my extremely accommodating and Noelle at #Crimebookjunkie said I could host a stop on the tour, I was a very happy bunny. Little did I know what I was letting myself in for.
Six Stories is written in a very different way to 99% of books I’ve read; six podcasts each separated by a chapter of dialogue. The podcasts are essentially interviews with a group of people who were friends as teenagers but drifted apart when tragedy struck the group on a weekend away a hunting lodge when one of their friends goes missing. The interspersed chapters come from the perspective of the son of the owner of the lodge and who found the missing boy’s body in the surrounding marshland.
It took me a chapter and a half a podcast to get into the story, just because it was written so differently – everything is in the first person so it jumps perspective between the chapters and the podcast interviews. But once I settled into this atmospheric novel, I could see what Kate meant about the story. Normally I am a skim reader, have been all my life (and yes I do take in the story this way) but Six Stories made me slow down and savour the dark tale. The story deserved my full attention so I didn’t read in the same way I’ve read most of my other books. I couldn’t dip in and out of it, I had to wait until my boys were in bed to be able to give it my total concentration and attention. I had to make sure I got to the end of a podcast or the end of a chapter – I was reluctant to stop reading part way through a section, even if there was a break in the story telling.
Oh lordy I can’t continue without mentioning the very sinister mythical Naana Wrack. This legendary individual sent shivers down my spine as she appeared more throughout the story! And oh the goosebumps for the finale of the story!!!! Matt Wesolowski has created a creepy tale that keeps you guessing!!
I’m not a huge fan of audio books but given the way this story is told, I think it would make very interesting listening. This was reinforced when I heard the author doing a reading at the recent Orenda Roadshow when he put on different voices for his reading!
A massive thank you to Karen Sullivan of Orenda Books for giving me a copy of Six Stories. Six Stories is a creepy tale that will stay with me and will more than likely be one of my #TopReads for 2017!!
I am an avid reader and crime is, undoubtedly, my favourite genre. Over the years, it is unusual for me to say that the book I was reading was truly something different, but I really think this is a bold and original novel and it works really well. The novel is set out as a series of podcast episodes, rather like “Serial,” in which the mysterious, masked host, Scott King, takes cold cases and interviews those involved to allow listeners to come to their own conclusions.
This novel is, therefore, set out as six podcast episodes, interspersed with musings from Henry Saint Clement-Ramsey, who discovered the body of the victim near the Woodlands Centre, owned by his father at the delightfully named, Scarclaw Fell. The basic premise is that twenty years ago, the body was found of a missing teenager, who had been staying at the Woodlands Centre with a group called Rangers, which consisted of parents who visited the centre with children and teenagers, to introduce them to the wonders of nature.
Of course, as you can imagine, all is not as idyllic within the group as it appeared from the outside. One of the adults, Derek Bickers, whose daughter Eva was on that particular trip, has long felt blamed for events. Others, like local man, Haris Novak, were viewed with suspicion and, indeed, any of those interviewed could be suspects… As the podcasts continue we hear of the dynamics between the teenagers on that fateful visit, of what Henry and his friends were doing that night when they discovered the body of Tom Jeffries and of the rumours of the Beast of Belkeld, said to warn children from the dangerous fells.
This is a very original debut from author Matt Wesolowski. I will certainly look out for this promising authors new work and I enjoyed this very much. A must read for crime fans.
Wow! Right, where to begin? I have never before read a book quite like this one. It is written as a podcast, entitled 'Six Stories', presented by Scott King, who works hard at hiding his identity. It is a true crime podcast, where over six episodes, Scott looks back at an old crime, wherever had an element of mystery to it. Each episode includes the testimony of someone connected in some way to the incident or individual involved.
In this case teenager Tom Jeffries went missing from an activity weekend with other teenagers and a coup couple of adults, but his body was not found until some time later. In each episode, we learn something new and can draw our own conclusions as we go along. And some of what we learn is very creepy and scary indeed.
The podcast presentation is genius. I totally felt that I was listening to it rather than reading the words on the page. R could hear the voices of the speakers. It was totally absorbing. And Scarclaw Fell is a character in itself. Man, that place is terrifying and threatening! Made me shiver big time! It feels very real - I googled it to see if it existed - I'll leave you to check yourself.
Likewise, all the people featured seem so real - the dialogue reads just as you would hear people taking part in a conversation. And as we learn more about Tom Jeffries and that fateful night, we earn more about these individuals, with the exception of Scott King himself.
The story shows a familiarity with folklore and takes of witchcraft. The tales featured again seem very real but, this time, I was too spooked to check! I know I'll be hiding under the covers the next time the wind gets up though!
It wasn't a surprise to discover that Wesolowski has a background in horror - it shines through - but as a genre debut, this is phenomenal. It's well paced, intelligent, absorbing, beautifully written, atmospheric, dark and creepy as anything. And I did not see that ending coming - blew me away! I can't believe I waited so long to read it, and I can't wait to read the next books in the Six Stories series.
I was drawn into this dark, suspenseful powerful thriller almost immediately and it held my interest throughout. Hard to believe that this book is a debut because it is just so good. The writer must have been hiding away for years perfecting his craft, or he's a natural born writer. I suspect the latter applies. Something that is known to most police officers or anyone connected to the legal profession is the disparity between eyewitness accounts to any event. This difference of accounts is the core of the narrative and builds up the tension, while we the reader tries to decide who was the guilty party and what exactly happened on a fateful night when a young man went missing, only for his body to emerge a year later. A group of young people, The Rangers, some of whom have known each other for years via family connections gather every so often at a remote lodge to enjoy the countryside and their shared friendship. The dynamics of the group are altered with a tragic outcome when a troubled young man with a history of minor offending joins their group. Some years later, each member of the group, plus the parent who organised the meet-ups, and the current owner of the land, gives their account of events leading up to the night one of them went missing via Skype to a Podcaster whose podcasts about the incident cause a resurgence in public interest, with the nation eagerly keeping up with the Six Stories and hoping to find out at last what exactly had happened. In the background to this, almost as a sub-plot, is the belief that there was some ethereal, unwholesome, evil being roaming the area, a belief built up by local rumour and exaggerated scary tale telling that all adds to the spooky tense feel of the book. I just wanted everyone to go away while I was reading this and leave me in peace to read it. Outstanding 5***** from me. Thanks to Orenda publisher for my copy in exchange for an honest review
Six Stories is unlike any mystery novel I’ve ever read. It’s not a high-octane thrill ride, but more of a constantly interesting and always intriguing case that you don’t want to put down.
I’m a huge podcast addict so the ‘told over the course of six podcast episodes’ format really appealed to me and I feel the author worked it really well in that respect.
You get the feeling, at the start of every chapter that each person is either going to be average and uninteresting or just tell you the same story over and over for 300+ pages. Fortunately, that’s not the case. Each story is similar, yet, due to being viewed from a different set of eyes, distinctly different.
Six Stories feels like you’re reading a true crime that isn’t a true crime. You also get a sense of empathy with the characters. I, personally, was glad the dead kid was dead from the start (that’s no spoiler, it’s in the blurb) and, because I kept getting that true crime feeling I kept feeling bad for the whole ‘thinking ill of the dead’ thing. Then I’d realise it wasn’t real and I could go back to being happy he got what he got.
I normally judge a thriller/mystery based on if I can guess who did it or what’s going to happen. If I can guess the end, completely, then it’s never going to score above a 4 as, to some extent, the book has failed. With Six Stories I felt that I knew what was going to happen, felt proud for working it out, only to discover what I guessed was only half of a pretty damn unpredictable ending. So, 5 out of 5.
Six Stories is a mixture of clever storytelling and clever POVs (the modern day land owner POV was particularly interesting and a nice touch.
All in all, it was one heck of a read and I look forward to carrying the series on in the future.
My only real complaint is that it’s got quite a few typos. Either the editor/proofreader needs to be worked harder or paid less.
It has one hell of a clever and beautiful cover. Love how the trees double as a sound wave.
This audiobook and book demands your respect and your time! I can imagine reading this book was intense but listening to the audiobook was just crazy! As the book is a series of podcasts, each chapter depicting the events from a different person’s point of view with interludes to the past and the discovery of the body. When listening to the audiobook, each character was “played” by a different actor and giving life to them. The fact this was an audiobook, you can not speed through the book, you have to wait for the narration to play out so when the intensity is ramped up you have to wait patiently for it all to play out. So when the fall out happens it shocked me and I think a few time I said Holy frogs in my car. I was forever wishing for traffic on my way to work so I didn’t have to stop listening! I also had to keep googling Six Stories because it felt so real. I felt like this podcast was telling us a story that actually happened, this is kudos to Matt’s writing for sure!
It is great to meet Scott King and his introduction to his podcast, taking us down memory lane to an unsolved murder that happened 20 years ago, not trying to solve the crime and discover the murderer of Tom Jeffries but to understand what happened that fateful day. Scott is there to put the demons to rest, or he is there to stir them up again?
I love the character building in this. You have a podcast episode devoted to the one person and Scott interviewing them. You learn about what makes them tick and slowly but surely they drop bombshells in their interview, revealing things they probably shouldn’t be. Could one of them be the murderer? From the initial interviews, it is clear that not everyone remembers everything clearly that happened that night. Memories get twisted and confused and information is withheld. Information to help us make more informed decisions, every one of them is a liability, and who doesn’t love the unreliable witness!
This book was creepy with the folklore around the marsh and this is one thing that Matt does so effortlessly. He blurs the line of reality and the paranormal, making you question what happened that night with Tom? There were times when I had goosebumps with the more supernatural side of things, two words – Nanna Wrack and this is something I love, I mean who doesn’t enjoy a good scare!
Six Stories is such a compelling read and listen, I loved the format of the podcast, to me, it was refreshing. I was hooked, the parts were played perfectly and everyone got the voices to a T. The fact as well that I was enthralled by everyone’s story, the mystery behind Tom and what happened that night that when there was a big reveal I just DID NOT see it coming! And again those frogs that are holy appeared!! It is creepy and atmospheric, you feel unsettled and cold especially when you experience the nights around the marsh. It gets completely under your skin and I love a book that can do that to you. I am glad I listened to this because one of the main things I loved, which I also moaned about, is the speed at which everything unfurled. The fact it was dictated to me to how fast the book went added to all and trepidation that I felt.
I still have Hydra to read, but after Six Stories and Changeling, I am WAY excited for Beast and to see what is in store for us next!
A very dreary read. Same story told by six different people, personally I'd heard enough after the first telling. All the voices are indistinguishable, they all sound the same, adult, child, male female they are just the same. The podcast thing is an interesting premise but all it does is narrow the storytelling to voice only, and as the voices are mostly young it has the feel of a teenage diary and who wants to read one of those, never mind six. All the characters are unlikable, including the victim so it is impossible to feel anything for them, or their outcome. The attempts to create a bogeyman wandering the landscape is frankly laughable, and the authors attempt to big up his fictional podcasts to national importance are a joke, honestly the shipping forecast is a better listen. Felt like a first draft, or the outcome of a creative writing course.
It’s a few weeks since I finished Six Stories, a book I’ve been looking forward to reading for a while. I wouldn’t usually wait this long before writing a review but I’ve found myself having conflicted feelings about the book. Partly this is because it’s had tons of glowing reviews which made me wonder if I’d missed something. Partly because I found myself not blown away by the book as much as I expected, or as much as others clearly have been.
The first of my many quandaries was whether the idea of a book that apes the format of a podcast – at least most of the time – is either brilliantly innovative or flawed. The idea of a podcast investigating unsolved murders is clearly not original and even the book blurb acknowledges the debt Six Stories owes to the wildly successful (although previously unknown to me) Serial podcast (which as it happens is about to start Series 3 soon). The character Scott King of Six Stories even has the same initials as the creator of Serial, Sarah Koenig. Plus it was pointed out to me that 'koenig' is the German for 'king'.
I’ll admit the author works hard to create convincing and distinctive dialogue for each of the people Scott King interviews as part of his investigation of the crime. However, because we’re reading the words rather than listening to them, the author has to interject facts that would be obvious to a listener, such as that a character has a ‘high voice’ and ‘a distinctive way of talking’ and at a couple of points has to clarify to the reader the identity of a speaker. Perhaps the experience of listening to the book as an audiobook would address this but shouldn’t a book work in either format?
I also found myself getting a little bored with the amount of time spent questioning the various characters about the dynamics of the group, although the reason for that fixation does become understandable at the end of the book. Ah, the twist and the ending… I did actually have a suspicion about the nature of the twist for quite a while although I’ll admit I didn’t get it completely right. I also found some of the scenes at the end frankly a little weird. As for the revelation of the culprit, let’s just say I couldn’t see the person having the intelligence to carry off what they were supposed to have done.
Having said all this, the book kept me wanting to turn the pages to discover the solution to the mystery so the author definitely succeeded in that respect. It is a compelling read in many ways. Now perhaps you can see why I feel so conflicted about this book. Would I read another book by this author? Probably. It has definitely made me want to take a listen to the Serial podcast.
The first book in the series introduces us to the slightly unusual format of the series, which takes the form of a podcast where the ‘host,’ Scott King revisits an old crime with the aim of exploring whether the accepted public story is actually the true one. He does this by allowing six different individuals connected to the case to tell their story, and for the ‘listener,’ (us, the reader) to draw our own conclusions. Anyone who has listened to the phenomenally popular podcast, Serial, will get the idea (in fact, Matt references Serial in the book.) As I was a massive fan of Serial, this premise really drew me in and, once you get your head around this unique approach and separate in your head who is talking throughout the chapters, it works brilliantly.
The author has a fantastic way of creating a menacing and claustrophobic atmosphere as he sets the scene, so the reader is immediately on edge and drawn in to the horror story that is unfolding before their eyes. And it is a horror story, but one written in a unique way, balanced with a mystery and a thriller and an exploration of teenage friendship dynamics and personality traits that can be hidden beneath a benign facade. This book sets up the premise that continues as a connecting theme throughout the series – things are not always as they seem on the surface.
Once I got in to the rhythm of the storytelling, I was completely hooked on the story, the tension, the twists and turns, the unexpected revelations that are cleverly unfolded as we hear stories from each of the individuals which come from different perspectives, which divert the reader down one path, then another, drawing us through a maze until we reach the heart of the story.
It is so clever and fresh and gripping, I absolutely loved it and could not wait to read the next one.