Monday, December 22, 2014

REVIEW: Chasing Azrael (Deathly Insanity, #1) / Hazel Butler

TITLE: Chasing Azrael (Deathly Insanity, #1)
AUTHOR: Hazel Butler
AVAILABILITY: Amazon (e-book), Amazon (paperback)

Fantasy - Urban Fantasy / Paranormal

Chasing Azrael tells the story of Andee, a young archaeologist who sees ghosts – including that of her husband, who killed himself two years before the start of the story. Haunted by his spirit and unable to move on, Andee becomes obsessed with death and barely able to cope with the real world. She turns to her two best friends for support, but when one of them, Josh, becomes the target of a strange and dangerous woman wanted for several murders, Andee is dragged into the investigation.

Part ghost story and post mystery-thriller, Chasing Azrael is an intriguing and atmospheric read that evokes a distinctly gothic feel. The word that kept coming to mind when I was reading it was creeptastic. Creeptastic descriptions, creeptastic paranormal elements, creeptastic plot. Butler draws you into this dark yet strangely enchanting story that, while set in contemporary times, feels otherworldly. The references to angels of Death and other dark legends, the shadowy tone that envelopes the whole book, the twisted plot – it all comes together to form a sometimes disturbing yet overall entertaining read.

As a protagonist, Andee is relatable yet far from perfect. She's a brilliant university lecturer yet rather awkward and something of a loner. Her personality comes off as prickly and detached at times, yet it's understandable. After all, it can't be easy being haunted by the spirit of someone you love. All kinds of thoughts and emotions swirl beneath the surface, and yet it seems she reveals little of the real Andee to those around her.

All in all, Chasing Azrael is a creeptastic (that word! again!) paranormal mystery and contemporary gothic tale. There are romantic elements, and yet the story isn't an outright romance. I think this book will appeal to anyone who likes their books veiled in shadow and tinted black.

Hazel is a twenty eight year old author, artist and archaeologist from Cheshire, England. She is currently in the final year of her PhD, which focuses on Gender Dynamics in Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Britain. She has been studying archaeology since she was sixteen, attending The University of Manchester for her Undergraduate course in Ancient History and Archaeology, then Bangor University for an MA in Celtic Archaeology and on to her PhD. She spent two years between her MA and PhD doing Corporate archaeology and research excavations, both in Britain and in Austria, and has two papers published in international journals.

Since 2010 she has been working on a series of Gothic Literary novels, the first of which, Chasing Azrael, was released in April 2014. While her primary interests are in Gothic and Fantasy art and fiction, she reads a wide range of subjects and enjoys most forms of art. She also has a great love of dogs, and her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel, Dexter (yes, after the serial killer), is her near-constant companion.

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