#BloodhoundsChristmasCrackers #TheBitterEnd by Ann Evans and Robert D. Tysall #BookReview

Paul finally has his life back on track. After losing his wife, Helena in a horrific car crash, he has found love with Sally and moves into her country cottage.  
As a former high-ranking Naval Officer, Paul now works as Head of Security at MI5.
Paul has no memories from before he was ten years old. An accident left him in a coma for 9 months.  But was it really an accident?
Soon Paul starts to have flashes of childhood memories, all involving his childhood friend, Owen.
Sally introduces him to her friend, Juliet, the owner of a craft shop. Paul is shocked when he is introduced to Juliet’s partner, his old friend Owen.
Flashes of memories continue to haunt Paul, particularly the memory of his first wife Helena burning in the car crash.
As dark things start to happen, and local people begin dying in horrific accidents, Paul must face his past and will end up fighting for his life.

I'm thrilled to be taking part in the Bloodhound Christmas Crackers Blog Tour today. Every day leading up to Christmas, Bloodhound Books have incredible deals on many of their fabulous books. Back in July I really enjoyed The Bitter End by Ann Evans and Robert D. Tysall and I'm delighted to be able to share my review with you again.

Well, this was a far creepier book that I was expecting from the blurb. I thought it was going to be a tense psychological thriller but though certainly not short on tension, The Bitter End is actually a dark supernatural story that has very definite horror elements to it. The prologue takes place in 1944  and it very quickly becomes apparent that malevolent forces are at play which have been active in manipulating the lives of humans for many years.
The book then fast forwards to 1980 with two young boys, Paul and Owen playing in the woods. Owen is the more dominant of the pair, even bordering on bullying Paul as he urges him to carry out acts ranging from animal cruelty to the malicious harassment of an old woman who lives in a cottage in the woods, who they suspect is a witch. A tragic accident results in Paul ending up in a coma for 9 months but it later transpires that the events of that day had even longer repercussions than a head injury. As the timeline moves forward again to 2012 we learn that though Paul survives his childhood accident, he is destined to face yet more horror when he witnesses a terrible crash which kills his wife, Helena. As readers, we are not given any time to know Helena but it's obvious that they shared a deep love and he was left utterly bereft by her death.
Most of the action in the book takes place in 2018; Paul has found love again and the story sees him returning to the village he grew up in as he moves in with Sally. At this point in the proceedings, I could really picture The Bitter End as a horror film. The suspense builds gradually with just the odd hint at first that things aren't quite right. Paul and Sally seem to have an almost idyllic relationship but even though there are plenty of scenes which underline their love and desire for one another, there is always a feeling that things are not as perfect as they may seem. Even at this stage in the novel, there's an ominous sense of foreboding; we know something terrible is going to happen but we don't know how or when. It's almost a relief when the first death does occur although it's a short-lived respite as Paul gradually begins to understand that though he has years of experience dealing with dictators and terrorists, he now facing a far more dangerous enemy.
The story is mostly told in the third person from Paul's perspective but there are occasional snippets from the evil being which help to ratchet up the fear factor that bit more as we realise long before that characters that they are considered to be little more than puppets,  ready to do the bidding of other forces. I liked Paul, he's not perfect but as a young boy and as the man he grows in to, he is obviously principled and prepared to stand up to those stronger than he is when necessary. There's something enjoyably macabre about wondering which of the other characters will fall victim to the supernatural terror because not everybody will make it to the end of the book...
The pace of the story increases towards the end with the concurrent escalation of tension meaning I almost needed to read through my fingers. The Bitter End is a spine-chilling and unsettling novel with a clever plot which I can easily see being expanded further in subsequent novels. I thoroughly enjoyed this rather scary read and look forward to being unnerved in the future by Ann Evans and Robert D. Tysall.

The Bitter End is published by Bloodhound Books and can be purchased here.

Many thanks to Bloodhound Books and Emma Welton from damppebbles blog tours for inviting me to take part in the Christmas Crackers blog tour. Check out more great reviews to discover your next read!

About the Authors
Ann Evans was born and bred in Coventry, West Midlands, and started writing just for fun after giving up her secretarial job to have her three children.
Having caught the writing 'bug' there was no stopping her, and as her children grew up, she continued to write for a variety of genres. She spent 13 years at her local newspaper as a Feature Writer as well as working freelance on magazine articles.
She also writes books for children, young adults, reluctant readers and some romance. (Ann Carroll) Her first adult crime novel, Kill or Die was published in 2017 by Bloodhound Books.
Having worked with writer/photographer Robert D. Tysall for many years through magazine work, Ann and Rob teamed up to write the supernatural thriller, The Bitter End – Ann’s first collaboration with another writer.  This will be published by Bloodhound Books in the summer of 2018.
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Robert Tysall was born and brought up in Rugby, Warwickshire, and played the sport the town is famous for in his youth, until he discovered a passion and talent for photography, music and writing poetry and song lyrics. His career so far has been a busy mix of being lead vocalist and percussionist in bands plus working as a professional freelance photographer. He is currently in a 60s, 70s & Beatles duo, and lives in Warwickshire with his wife, Heather. He has two grown up children. Rob is multi published on the photographic side of things with countless magazine articles, generally working alongside writer Ann Evans.
For many years he has dabbled with ideas for stories and finally the time felt right with this book. It seemed a natural turn of events for both Rob and Ann to team up and write The Bitter End together.
With his debut novel completed, now there’s no stopping him, and two more book collaborations with Ann are currently in the pipeline.
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