Review: The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell

Book Details and Links

Author: C.K. McDonnell
Publisher: Bantam Press
Release Date: 14th Jan 2021
Page Count: 320



There are Dark Forces at work in our world (and in Manchester in particular) and so thank God The Stranger Times is on hand to report them. A weekly newspaper dedicated to the weird and the wonderful (but more often the weird) of modern life, it is the go-to publication for the unexplained and inexplicable . . .

At least that’s their pitch. The reality is rather less auspicious. Their editor is a drunken, foul-tempered and
-mouthed husk of a man who thinks little (and believes less) of the publication he edits, while his staff are a ragtag group of wastrels and misfits, each with their own secrets to hide and axes to grind. And as for the assistant editor . . . well, that job is a revolving door – and it has just revolved to reveal Hannah Willis, who’s got her own set of problems.

It’s when tragedy strikes in Hannah’s first week on the job that The Stranger Times is forced to do some serious, proper, actual investigative journalism. What they discover leads them to a shocking realisation: that some of the stories they’d previously dismissed as nonsense are in fact terrifyingly, gruesomely real. Soon they come face-to-face with darker foes than they could ever have imagined. It’s one thing reporting on the unexplained and paranormal but it’s quite another being dragged into the battle between the forces of Good and Evil . . .

The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell


Yep, I loved it. The Stranger Times is pretty damn awesome.

I have always had mixed feelings with urban fantasy and I think it lies with the fact that I link fantasy with medieval settings and the such like however recently I have really started to enjoy the genre and The Stranger Times has just tipped me over into the category of loving urban fantasy. I have come to love the idea of the fantasy world hiding behind the veil and spilling over into our world. It makes me feel like a kid again. Seeing the unexplainable things in the corners of your eyes. A reason for the unreasonable. The lost worlds that are not lost after all and just hiding in plain sight.

The Stranger Times by C.K. McDonnell approaches the genre a little differently than most. Our main character is a journalist working for… you guessed it, The Stranger Times, a weekly newspaper aimed at bringing the weird and wonderful to light. I love this approach and it still allows the much loved trope of investigating the supernatural that is a staple of the genre and like many this read is humour filled. I just love the back and forth between the cast of characters on offer. The line-up is also nice and diverse which is always a plus.

It’s no lie that I enjoy a good bit of humour in my reads and McDonnell delivers extremely well on this. Whether it be snappy one liners between the characters or internal character dialogue it all served the book well. It had me laughing out loud and that is exactly what the world needs right now. To take a step back, pick up a book and just escape for a few hours. You can do that with The Stranger Times. My worries sunk beneath the surface while I journeyed through the back streets and alleys of Manchester.

Going back to our line-up of characters and its diversity I just want to mention we have everything and everyone one. Not only are they from different cultural backgrounds and genders, the main character being female, but they also have very differing personalities. McDonnell does a fantastic job of patching together this mix match of characters and it somehow works really well where it really shouldn’t.

Oh and check out that cover. At first glance it kinda looks plain but take a second look and you’ll soon see some hidden secrets. I love it when a cover serves more purpose than just a title page.

I am just going to recommend The Stranger Times to every fantasy lover, every mystery lover and every thriller lover. This read delivers on multiple levels and I really am looking forward to reading more from The Stranger Times.

The Stranger Times is just too damn funny not to award a Top Pick banner. Beautiful!

Professional Reader

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