Release Day Book Review: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal by KJ Charles


Title: The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal
Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Release Date: June 16, 2015

The Breakfast Octopus’ rating: A+


A story too secret, too terrifying—and too shockingly intimate—for Victorian eyes.

A note to the Editor

Dear Henry,

I have been Simon Feximal’s companion, assistant and chronicler for twenty years now, and during that time my Casebooks of Feximal the Ghost-Hunter have spread the reputation of this most accomplished of ghost-hunters far and wide.

You have asked me often for the tale of our first meeting, and how my association with Feximal came about. I have always declined, because it is a story too private to be truthfully recounted, and a memory too precious to be falsified. But none knows better than I that stories must be told.

So here is it, Henry, a full and accurate account of how I met Simon Feximal, which I shall leave with my solicitor to pass to you after my death.

I dare say it may not be quite what you expect.

Robert Caldwell

September 1914


I adored KJ Charles’ The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal. It’s the story of a long-running partnership between two men, both as colleagues and lovers.  Simon Feximal is a ghost-hunter, and Robert Caldwell is a client of his at first, but things quickly change.

Other reviewers have already commented on Robert and Simon’s lovely relationship, and how authentic the Victorian setting feels.  The episodic nature of mysterious cases suits the long-running storyline.  Although I’m not sure that all of the stories would be able to stand on their own without something missing, some certainly can, as both “The Caldwell Ghost” and “Butterflies” were released on their own.

I loved the sly drop-ins of other books and stories of that time period. I especially appreciated that there was a guide at the end so that anyone who doesn’t immediately make the connection to the “Fat Man” and the Diogenes club could look it up and be enlightened.

What most struck me, perhaps, is how well Charles relates her stories of the Victorian occult to modern life without ever feeling anachronistic.

[This part is a bit spoilerish for one of the stories but reveals nothing major, and contains a small political rant] Continue reading  

Release Day Book Review: The Devil’s Only Friend by Dan Wells


Devil's Only Friend Cover


Title: The Devil’s Only Friend
Author: Dan Wells
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: June 16, 2015

The Breakfast Octopus’ rating: A

Dan Wells’ The Devil’s Only Friend is a rollicking adventure/horror story told from the point of view of a teenage sociopath.  It’s the fourth book in the John Wayne Cleaver series, which kicked off with I am Not a Serial Killer in 2009. Before Tor Books sent me this latest book, I’d read the first novel, which was helpful but not necessary to follow and enjoy The Devil’s Only Friend.  You can definitely read this without having read the others. However, this review contains spoilers for all previous John Wayne Cleaver books. Continue reading