Blog Tour: Shantallow by Cara Martin | Review

Blog Tour: Shantallow by Cara Martin | Review

I think this is my second ever blog tour for Xpresso Tours? Thank you so much for this opportunity, and I did not think that I would be able to read a YA horror book again since I apparently scare myself but this one was definitely interesting. I’m glad I took a chance with it. Be sure to click on the banner to see the other stops on this blog tour!

Let’s get started, shall we?


by Cara Martin
Publisher: Cormorant Books
Release Date: May 26, 2019
Genre: YA Horror

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Tanvi isn’t the girl of Misha’s dreams; she’s the girl from his nightmares. She has appeared in his chilling dreams before he even meets her; when he DOES meet her, he falls for her.

Their relationship turns stormy, bordering on abusive, and takes a dramatic turn when they are held captive by a group hoping to extract money from Tanvi’s wealthy family.

But there is something more sinister at work, and the kidnappers and their victims find themselves struggling for survival as a supernatural force from Misha’s nightmares makes itself known in the real world.

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.

Disclaimer: I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Thank you to Cara Martin, Cormorant Books and Xpresso Book Tours  for this free copy.

Kidnapping, Supernatural Elements,
Toxic Relationship, Strong Language,
Sex (off-screen)
POC, Trans

You know that saying “never judge a book by its cover”? Well… I guess I shouldn’t have done that here. Part of me was right though, this book got creepy as heck and I was a little scared to keep going, but then I did and it got way creepier than I thought it would be. The title and the cover didn’t give me any real indication on what this would be about, and the blurb really doesn’t tell me what I was in for. Either way, I’m glad that I had this opportunity.

One of the things that was hard for me to deal with when reading this book was the relationship aspect of this novel. Seeing the blurb calling it borderline abusive had me worried because I didn’t want to be triggered in a way that I wasn’t going to be able to expect or handle. I did have to take some time to read this one though because of it, and mentally prepare myself for whatever was going to come. Luckily, I think that not having it cross that threshold of what an abusive relationship at its worse could be kind of helped, but it did still hurt to read.

When things go bad you’re supposed to walk away from them and stay away. It’s survival instinct.

You don’t poke around in the mess, dragging your hands through it like a four-year-old with fingerpaint.


Something about this part really stood out to me, because this is the very beginning. You would think that with Misha logically knowing that his survival instincts should be kicking in when it comes to Tanvi, he ends up making the complete opposition decision. Even though he specifically said that you’re supposed to walk away and stay away. I get that you can’t always help who you fall for, and sometimes you don’t realize how toxic someone can be until you’re already in it and have to experience it for yourself, but I feel like he warned himself from the beginning and still wanted to see if it would really hurt.

I feel like he put himself in a bad situation even though he warned himself not to get in that situation, which makes it even worse because he could have avoided all of this if he stuck to his guns.

While I personally don’t like it when timelines jump back and forth, I get why authors try to do it that way. I honestly forget the terminology that it’s called when you come in to the middle of a story intentionally, but that’s what happens here. It kind of makes the reader want to know “so what’s going on, and what happened that led these characters to this point of the story?” It’s a good thing that Martin does end up going backwards in time to explain, but maybe it would have worked in a different way? I’m not sure. It didn’t take away from me finishing the novel or enjoying it in any way, just a personal preference.

Oh. Revenge porn. Not good. Just saying.

So I think that this was a pretty interesting novel. Like some of the other reviews that I’ve read, we are left with some unanswered questions in the end, so the story doesn’t tie up in a pretty bow afterwards. Sometimes that’s okay, and leaving a story open ended can leave room for some cool imagination. In this one, it makes me wonder if there’s going to be another book, but I don’t know if it would be long enough to be considered a sequel, or maybe just a novella. Either way, I’d love to see some of our unanswered questions… answered. You know?

15 thoughts on “Blog Tour: Shantallow by Cara Martin | Review

  1. That cover makes me not want to pick it up, haha. It terrifies me. I agree that it sucks when books are so open ended that there really isn’t much answered. Great review as always!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. As crazy as it may sound, I am always pulled to books about toxic relationships (romantic, platonic, family, etc). I think it’s because I read so many fluffy contemporaries that sometimes I want to read the other, worse side of relationships, if that makes sense? Anyways, this was a great review! I think I’m going to check this one out because I loveeee creepy stories and it’s so hard to find them in the YA genre!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad you went in mentally prepared and did self care with this book xoxox Great review, this is very much up my alley but a couple of the things you mentioned make me a little on the fence about it. Maybe something I’d check out eventually though. Cover is nice and creepy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah I’m really glad that certain people brought up some of the content warnings when I was browsing around so I knew what to be aware of. I really, really, really can’t wait to hear what you think about it! I thought about you when I wrote this because I thought this would be something you’d end up reading.


  4. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one that got uncomfortable with some of the issues in this book. I’m glad you put some warnings in there. The horror elements – you can expect certain things and be prepared for them, especially since it is marketed as a YA horror novel. The toxic relationship stuff – that is the really scary stuff, at least for me. Still, I thought it was very well written. Some relationships are like that and should be discussed. And then throw both of them in a haunted house, why not!

    Great review 🙂


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