Shantallow by Cara Martin Review AND GIVEAWAY!!

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This post is part of the Shantallow Blog Tour as you can probably glean from the banner. This post features a review of the book, followed by entry to the giveaway where the winner will receive a signed copy of the book as well as a $25 amazon gift card. This giveaway is open internationally!!

If you would like to follow the tour of this book, please find the tour schedule here 🙂



Shantallow by Cara Martin

Published by: Cormorant Books
Publication date: May 26th 2019
Genres: Horror, Young Adult

My rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

I received a copy of this book from Xpresso Tours as a part of a blog tour promotion and giveaway and in exchange for an honest review, this has not impacted my opinions of the story itself.

Misha has been having nightmares. In fact, recurring nightmares. It’s always the same. So when he’s on a job and spots the literal girl from his nightmares, he can’t help but stare. She’s real. This draws Misha to her when it should be sending him running as fast as he can, but he can’t help it. She’s intoxicating, smart, beautiful and his doom, all in one. Their relationship is a dream, until it’s not, turning stormy, bordering on abusive, topped off when they are kidnapped and held captive against their will. Only it’s not the kidnappers they need to worry about, there’s something else, something stalking them, trying to weave it’s way into their minds, trying to break them, Misha, Tanvi and the kidnappers find themselves fighting against the supernatural horror from Misha’s nightmare, the only thing is, Misha doesn’t know how it ends…

I LOVE horror stories. Especially those with a supernatural twist. I’m a sucker for a good ghost story, a haunting, a demonic possession. So when I read the synopsis of this one on the Xpresso Tours sign up page, I. Was. In. However, it didn’t play out exactly how I expected it to. The story opens in the present, where we have no clue who these people are or what’s exactly going on at the time, we are then catapulted roughly 10 months into the past so we can catch up. The first 40% of the story runs less like a horror story and more like a teenage drama. We have Misha, who has been having a recurring nightmare for so long now, it’s all he knows. When he’s at a job for the lawn company he works for, he sees Tanvi, the girl he’s been dreaming about. Of course he stares, and of course she’s put off, initially. What follows is Misha’s obsession to know this girl from his nightmares. He’s drawn to her in a way that becomes quite frightening if I’m honest. When I say he has an obsession to know this girl, I mean it, he is obsessed, she’s all he can think about. Once they finally meet and things progress, they begin a budding romance which seems to be everything they’ve dreamed of, until things turn sour and Misha turns into, the only way I can describe it, a psycho ex. This part of the story wasn’t super riveting and I was a bit worried that I would have to DNF this book, because I really didn’t want to do that as it’s for a blog tour. So I pushed through and I’m glad that I did, because I can assure you, the story does take a turn for the horror and it’s well written. Once I got to the 37% mark, things started to really pick up and I was glad that I’d held out and kept going.

I guess when you think about it, the way that Misha reacts to Tanvi after their relationship goes South could be seen in a vein of horror as well. He becomes unstable, he’s fighting through the emotions that he wants to let out. He shares her nude photographs online. He feels glee when he has power over her. Thinking about that after the fact, it is quite terrifying and could be seen in the way of a stalker thriller type story. But that was not what I was here for. I was here for the supernatural force that’s been haunting Misha’s nightmares. It took a bit to get there, but we did it and it was worth it.

The supernatural part of the story was so well written. I can creep vibes reading it at night before sleep, I had a couple of instances of “should I REALLY be reading this right before I go to sleep?” The feeling of oppression from the supernatural force is conveyed beautifully. And that twist at the end, Oh My! I was living for it. It wasn’t super shocking, but I had a “hoollllyyy shiiiitttt, no kidding!” moment when I read it. Martin knows how to write horror, that’s for sure.

Tanvi was an okay character, but I struggled to like her at times, it felt like she would rush into situations just to feel something. Misha I have to say I hated a lot more than I kinda liked him. He was brash, obsessive, stalkery, scary and an all around dick, and he can’t blame his nightmare for that. It’s just who he is. The way he reacted when things went sour with Tanvi made me want to punch him in the throat and scream at him to wake up to himself and stop being a psycho. We are bombarded by the fact that he hated his Dad for the childhood he had, for the pain, tears and bruises that were caused by this man, he is so adamant that he will not be this person, but I feel like he railroaded himself down the same track. He was so hellbent on not being like his father, that he almost became like him. I feel like this was meant to be a part of the story, but it just made me really want to punch Misha and I just struggled to like him at all. The other characters we met were well written and had pivotal roles in the story itself which was nice. All characters had distinctive personalities and voices.

The story starts off, as I stated earlier, like a teenage drama, which turns dark then all of a sudden we are tumbling straight down the damn rabbit hole into a land that is much darker than what I was anticipating, and I freaking loved that about this book. I just wasn’t too crazy about the pacing problems in the first half of the book, the main reason that I pushed through was because I had read a couple of reviews that stated the first half of the book was a struggle but the second part is so worth it. So I knew that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. If you pick this book up and are sorely disappointed in what you’re reading, just hold on, keep going, wait until you hit that 37% mark because I promise you that it picks up, gets better and turns into that horror read you were hoping for.

View all my reviews

…:Purchase from:…

…:About The Author:…

Cara Martin

Cara Martin is the author of several acclaimed novels for young people published under the name C. K. Kelly Martin. Her most recent novel, Stricken, was released in 2017. A graduate of the Film Studies program at York University, Cara has lived in the Greater Toronto Area and Dublin, Ireland. Within the space of 3500 miles she’s worked a collection of quirky jobs at multiple pubs and video stores, an electricity company, a division of the Irish post office, a London toyshop, and an advertising analytics company. She’s also been an image editor for a dot-com startup that didn’t survive the 90s, and a credit note clerk for Canada’s largest national distributor of General Merchandise. Cara currently resides in Ottawa, Ontario with her husband and is still afraid of the Child Catcher from the film adaptation of CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG.


The following giveaway closes on the 3rd of October 2019. It is powered by rafflecopter so click this link to enter! Don’t forget, it’s open internationally! Win a signed copy of Shantallow by Cara Martin and a $25 Amazon Gift Card!



Thanks to Xpresso Tours for having me as a stop on this tour! I can’t wait for the next one 🙂


2 Comments Add yours

  1. xpressoreads says:

    Thanks for being on the tour! Great review! 🙂


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