Danse Macabre by Laura M Hughes

"All angels are men, all men are crows, and all crows are liars."

Danse Macabre is Laura M Hughes's debut outing and at only 56 pages I was able to read this novella in about an hour. It follows a seemingly innocent and shy young girl called Blue who has to complete a mission given to her by a disfigured being claiming to be an angel. This shadowy fiend haunts a graveyard and states that Blue has to murder ten sinners and upon completion, her deceased mother and sister can escape purgatory and ascend unto Heaven.

It had a really intriguing beginning with a young boy telling a tale around a crowded bonfire regarding an apparently evil old man who dwelt in the neighbourhood and a couple of events that happened in this gentleman's immoral past. Blue remained lurking and listening in the shadows whilst this was taking place and then her story really begins. After this, the narrative follows Blue's actions and reveals important sections of her haunting past. Within a chapter, it would sometimes change between past events to present happenings to actions at a different place in the present and at certain points, I did feel slightly disorientated. I kept with it because I have seen nothing but good reviews for this book and fortunately it all worked out for the better with the different threads of the story all combining together quite nicely. I am unaware what era this is meant to be set within but not knowing doesn't affect the story. Whilst reading, I imagined it taking place in the early 1900's in an outback village somewhere.

Hughes's writing is masterly, with lovely poetic prose and an utterly captivating and suspenseful ending where all is wrapped up nicely. I did predict one of the "twists" (spoiler removed). The descriptions of some events throughout the narrative (such as certain deaths) are not that detailed or thorough but this allowed me to imagine the action for myself instead of being told exactly what was taking place and for me, that is quite a refreshing way to read sometimes. There are not too many characters either and the players who are involved are not too complex due to the length of the book, however; I liked following Blue's thoughts and antics and I enjoyed it when crow and snail turned up at certain occasions before one of Blue's victims were disposed of. This is a pretty good debut outing full of wonderful imagery, a great amount of tension of the macabre variety and in my mind, it definitely seems to have a dark fairy tale feel to it. Laura was giving this book away free on Amazon when I purchased it which was a bonus but even at full price it is under £1.00 and it can also be read on Kindle Unlimited so it is 100% worth checking out.

7/10 100% worth checking out

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