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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

With Love for Horror Books: The Ghost House & The Secrets of the Shadows by Helen Phifer - Book Reviews, Interview & Giveaway

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 Review by Suze
Annie Graham needs some time to recover and when her brother leaves the country he allows her to stay in his house and look after his dog and his property. Her brother's farmhouse is close to a dilapidated mansion. When Annie enters it to do some exploring she experiences something strange. Then she finds an old diary and takes it home with her. The diary tells the story of a servant who used to live in the large house. What is the matter with the house and has Annie made a mistake checking it out?
Annie is looking for some peace and quiet, but instead trouble finds her again. What is the connection between the house, its former inhabitants and several present day murders? Annie has finally found some happiness and she has to fight hard not to lose it all before she has the chance to actually enjoy it. Will she survive everything that comes her way?

 The Ghost House is spooky. Annie is a cop and even though she isn't able to work for a while, there is something only she can solve. I could picture the creepy house and its former inhabitants very well, because Helen Phifer's writing is so vivid. Annie is damaged, but she's tough and resilient. She wants to find a rational explanation for what's happening to her, but when she finds out what she's seeing and feeling is real she doesn't shut her eyes. Instead she starts doing her research. Her strong will and character are making her a great heroine.

The Ghost House is an incredibly creepy and gripping story. What happens and happened in and around the house is spine-chilling. The story constantly kept me on the edge of my seat and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough to find out what would happen to Annie. The ending is spectacular and made me want to read more straight away. The Ghost House is a magnificent read and it's perfect for those who have a strong stomach and nerves of steel.

Review by Suze

Sophie is scared because of a creepy man in the shadows. The man terrifies her and he smells really bad. He wants something from her and he isn't going to leave her alone. Father John is taking her family in as soon as he finds out about the reeking man in the shadows, but unfortunately Sophie isn't strong enough to fight against what she doesn't understand and the man in the shadows manages to take her.

When Annie Graham sees a little girl she has the feeling something is wrong. Annie instantly knows the girl is a ghost. Her colleagues at the police station are working on a murder case. A young woman is being found at a cemetery. Her murderer took the time to artificially drape her over a gravestone. What's the motive behind this horrible act of violence? Annie is doing something else to get some rest, but somehow she still finds herself involved in the frightening new case. Why is Annie seeing that little girl all of a sudden, what message does the ghost have for her? Will Annie be able to stay safe this time or is her life in danger again?

The Secrets of the Shadows is another gripping book about Annie Graham. Annie has some personal problems and therefore she isn't actively involved in the case her team is working on, but something isn't right and she has to find out what it is. I was intrigued from the start and was anxious to find out more about both the shadow man and the mysterious murder. Annie Graham is a brave and tough woman. She has such good instincts, she always finds a way out of dire situations and she's incredibly clever. Her cases are fascinating and eerie at the same time.

Helen Phifer writes in a fabulous descriptive way. I could almost smell the man in the shadows and it was easy to picture every single detail of the story. I was genuinely afraid because of the evil that can effortlessly find access to someone's house and take whatever he wants. It's a fantastic subject for a story and I liked the execution very much. The Secrets of the Shadows is a scary story both set in the past and the present and I found each of these parts equally compelling. There are many surprising elements, which made me want to keep reading without pause. I absolutely loved this amazing haunting crime story.


The Annie Graham series is a great choice for readers who love crime series with paranormal and horror elements. I'd advise you to start with the first book and read the stories in their correct order.

About Helen Phifer

I was a member of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Scheme in 2012 and it is brilliant. If you are an unpublished writer on a quest for publication I cannot recommend it enough. I met my lovely editor Anna at my first RNA conference in July of the same year for a ten minute appointment which changed my life. I am very proud to say that I am now a full member of the RNA and I am very excited to have been able to join the Crime Writers Association and The Society of Authors.

I have been reading and writing since I was very young, devouring every book in school and at home that I could get my hands on. I loved Enid Blyton and the Famous Five in my pre-teen years and spent many a Sunday afternoon whisked away to somewhere far more exciting than my small bedroom. In my teenage years I progressed to Stephen King who would scare the living daylights out of me and I could never get enough. I devoured everything he wrote along with James Herbert, Dean Koontz, Graham Masterton and many more.

I love to read books which are page turners and make the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, unfortunately these books seem a lot harder to find than when I was a teenager so I set about writing my own. The Ghost House has taken about eight years from start to finish and I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have enjoyed writing it. The Secrets of the Shadows was written in just six months and I enjoyed writing that even more. I have the most amazing readers who take the time to Tweet and Facebook me to tell me how much they have enjoyed reading both books and it's fabulous. They tell me how they couldn't go to bed because they had to finish the chapter they were reading and that is exactly what I hoped for.

Author links



1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m 46 years old married with five grown up children and four adorable grandchildren, I work for the police and I write every spare minute I can. I love coffee, cake, chocolate, champagne and everything that makes life worth living.

2. What makes your heart beat faster?
 Reading a scary book or watching some of the ghost programmes on the television, I’m quite partial to a good horror film as well. I recently watched The Conjuring 2 and it scared the living daylights out of me.

3. Which horror monster do you fear the most?
That would have to be Pennywise the Clown from Stephen King’s It, my all time favourite book.

4. If the zombie apocalypse would happen today, what would you do?
Board up my house, stockpile as much food as possible and make as many weapons as possible. I wouldn’t go down without a fight.

5. What's your favorite horror movie?
Ooh that’s a toughie, probably The Shining with Jack Nicholson. I loved his portrayal of Jack Torrance, he has those crazy eyes which made him perfect.

6. What's your worst nightmare?
Waking up and being paralysed with fear because some spirit is pinning me down and I can’t see them or get them off me. I’ve had this a couple of times and I’ve tried to scream knowing that my husband is next to me and he can’t hear me to help.

7. If your book was made into a movie, who would play the lead characters and why?
It would have to be Simon Baker for Will Ashworth, Luke Evans for Edward and Julia Roberts would make a pretty good Annie.

8. What inspired you to write horror stories?
Ever since I was a kid I’ve loved ghost stories, when I was a teenager I discovered Stephen King and Dean Koontz. That was it, I was hooked. I loved the fact that I could read a story that scared me half to death and they did, very much.

9. What do you like the most about the horror genre?
The fact that just about anything goes, I like the scope for stories. I love haunted houses, hotels, train stations. There is so much inspiration in every abandoned building I see. I like being able to scare people the same way I was scared as a teenager. I’ve had a few of my amazing readers tell me that they couldn’t get up in the night to go to the toilet which is amazing.

10. What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m currently writing the second book in a crime series which has no ghosts or ghouls in sight, but I have so many ideas for scary stories that as soon as I get a moment I’ll begin writing them because there are so many people who need scaring.


One very lucky reader of With Love For Books will receive a signed paperback copy of The Ghost House by Helen Phifer.

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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.


  1. I love crime series with paranormal and horror elements so these books would be perfect for me.

  2. What intriguing books! Lovely covers for such creepy stories. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh yes. This is so my kind of stories. I love haunted houses and the idea of a cop being confronted with something supernatural intrigues me. A nice twist. Would love to read these!

  4. Sounds really great, I love paranormal aspects in stories.

  5. Heard a lot about this book. Sounds fantastic. Lovely interview.

  6. This book sounds awesome. I love reading ghost stories!

  7. Hello Helen! Your books sound great. I'm looking forward to reading them. Thank you

  8. The Ghost House sounds amazing! I love horror and am definitely going to check out some more of Helen's books. :)

  9. I love horror, psychological thrillers, suspense, whatever will chill my bones, lol I think I've found a new author to follow :)

  10. Wow, this sounds very intriguing. Crime with suspense and horror? Great combination.

  11. Even before reading the post I could tell from the cover illustrations that these are books I would love. They are so atmospheric.

  12. It sounds very interesting! Thank you!

  13. Sounds so good and just love the cover would love to read and post reviews on facebook and amazon !

  14. Thanks for the review and giveaway!

  15. Thank you for this giveaway!

  16. I got goose bumps :) Thank you for posting, I have to read it.

  17. Looks like a wonderfully chilling read - just my scene!

  18. love a book that sends a chill down my spine!!

  19. This sounds like a really good book! I'd really enjoy reading it!

  20. Simon Baker & Julia Roberts are great choices.