Having set up a copywriting consultancy and banging on a fair old bit about the importance of clear communication, solid strategy and forward thinking in business, Marilyn felt obliged to put her money where her mouth was. So she wrote the Little Black Business Book series.
She subsequently found herself working on several book projects with different clients and felt, the least she could do, was gain scars and the t-shirt for herself. Hence Relatively Strange, which came out at the end of 2013, followed by the sequel, Even Stranger in 2016. Her new novel Witch Dust is a stand alone.
Loved This!!!! Could not put it down. Well written, clever storyline. Totally recommended!
by Heidi Rankine - NetGalley
I am a bit of a fan of this author having absolutely loved the two books so far in her Strange series - Relatively Strange and Even Stranger, especially the main character Stella so, when I started this book, there was already a high bar to reach. To say that was met that would be true, truer still would be to say that this book completely exceeded all my expectations!
In this book we meet Sandra, the daughter of Adam and Ophelia; an illusionist and his assistant. Growing up has not all been a bed of roses for Sandra as her parents are a little bit different to say the least. One day, Ophelia turns up at Sandra's home and promptly declares that she has left Adam, who has clearly gone a step too far with his wandering shenanigans with a chorus girl! Ophelia then goes on to inform Sandra that all she had previously told her about her family is pretty much a lie and that she has a whole host of relatives that she has yet to meet. But not for long as the two set off to visit Ophelia's old family home. What happens next is a mixture of magic and mayhem as Sandra is introduced to the most eclectic mix of relatives. She should turn tail and run but she really can't help herself as she tries to save the family hotel business. Throw in a documentary crew, the local psychic society, a quirky journalist, and a wolf and you got yourself one heck of a scary, thrilling and at times, rather amusing ride.
I already mentioned that I love Stella from the Strange series, well... I now love Sandra equally as much. I connected with her right from the word go. I admire her guts, her tenacity and her ability to take whatever is thrown at her completely in her stride which, in this book is pretty much anything and everything.
As well as her and her parents, we have a brilliantly quirky cast of, shall we just say, interesting characters. All very well described and, even given the quantity, all very individual and easy to get to know properly as the books progressed.
I can't believe I have got this far in my review without using the word "bonkers". I am still on my (probably) one woman campaign to make bonkers a genre in its own right. I'd even settle for it as a sub-genre if I have to - and this book would definitely be included within it. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not (my jury is still on the fence) everything in the book is introduced and handled in a way that it really doesn't matter at all whether you do, there is so much humour, mostly of the black variety, and dead pan tongue in cheek stuff here that even the die hard sceptics would probably have a good time reading about it.
The story itself had me gripped from start to finish. I, like a lot of people, have a massive tbr but I started as soon as I got my hands on it, it basically point blank refused to wait its turn. To be honest, I didn't put up too much of a fight and, after the first page, I was totally powerless... It was OK though as I didn't actually put it down again until I had finished. It pretty much flew off the pages for me. I got totally and utterly immersed in what I was reading. And, once finished, I was completely satisfied.
I believe this was originally a stand alone book but, although I really want/need more Stella, I think I'd love a bit more Sandra too. Or, better still... Stella meets Sandra... oh my - my head really is spinning now...!
by Kath Brinck
I absolutely love the Strange series so when I knew this book was coming out I was slightly dubious, thinking well its not going to be Stella is it.Well no it isn't but it is another glorious fun book filled with wacky interesting characters and a wonderful story, and I loved it.I think this is almost a new genre it is described as a supernatural thriller, and it is that but I love the humour and the totally mad family that makes the Adams family look perfectly normal and it is as another reviewer described a cozy mystery too, I think its a genre bender and its unique . I thought Sandra was a wonderful character, I loved the various other people like the cook who channels Nigella, Jamie and Gordon, that is just so genius its very clever and very funny.I loved the wolf , the hotel, creepy house setting and every one of the mad characters.I also agree with the reviewer who thinks it would be brilliant if Sandra met Stella , wow now that is an idea.Imagine if those two got together they would be like a supernatural Cagney and Lacey how cool would that be, I would definitely want to read that book, and watch the film....... I didn't stop smiling when reading this book from the first page until the last although I didn't want it to end I really enjoyed it and can't recommend it to other readers enough.
by Angie Thomas-Davis
This book was an absolute breath of fresh air. Marilyn Messik took me on an enchanting, fairy-tale ride – think Harry Potter cum Night Circus. Her writing crackles with spark and humour. So beautifully did she conjure up this magical world that I was completely engrossed and unquestioningly drawn into the realms of the extraordinary. Great characterisation – the main character, Sandra, is fabulous, as are all the other nuttily odd characters. I had been on a bit of a psychological thriller binge, and perhaps that made this book, by contrast, stand out even more. It has its mystery, and is a bit of a whodunit, but the real joy was simply the incredible storytelling. I loved it.
by Sue Purbrick
It's the first time I've tried a book by the author and I wasn't disappointed! Great book and great characters! A fast moving story , perfect for the holidays.
by Sapna Chamaria
Another cracker from Marilyn Messik. This book is quite different from the "Strange" books, not least because the main character in this one is not strange, which cannot be said for the rest of her newly discovered relatives. Once again, Marilyn had me laughing at some points, reading between my fingers at others, as she combines humour, terror and an element of who dunnit! Can't wait for her next book ...
by Michele Young
From the first page your rushed into an awesome world that is mysterious and the characters are dynamic! The plot was great and I couldn't stop reading!
by Pepper Smart
A glorious cornucopia of plot elements ranging from haunted house to magic via disruptive family and uninformed do-gooder. Luckily, our narrator is an inventive and multi-talented problem-solver who leaps from one crisis to the next taking advantage of every bizarre coincidence, surfing across each mounting situation and dodging looming disaster.
This riotous escapade leaves the reader little time to draw breath as Marilyn Messik throws out new snags at every turn, cleverly keeping lots of plates spinning at once and baffling with her expertise in keeping (just) within the boundaries of her own world logic. Hopefully, Witch Dust is merely our introduction to these characters as there seems plenty of scope to revisit them.
by Ursula Rutherford
A red gash of a mouth rimmed with impossibly tiny, razor-sharp teeth yawned wide, then swift as a snake, she bent and struck..
For Sandra, daughter of illusionists, Adam and Ophelia, life’s never been run of the mill! But when Adam’s wandering eye lights on yet another conquest, it proves a chorus girl too far, and Sandra’s caught in the reverberations of her parents acrimonious parting. Coerced into restoring her depressed Mother to the bosom of a family Sandra never knew existed, she’s sucked into a situation that even for her is unnerving.From being without a single relative, she suddenly acquires several she’d rather do without, and learns a few home truths she’d prefer not to know. Ophelia, it appears, has not been entirely honest about any number of things. There’s no doubt in Sandra’s mind, the sooner she puts as much distance as possible between herself, her newly discovered nearest and dearest, their peculiar tendencies and their failing hotel business, the happier she’s going to be.Dire straits call for desperate measures and Sandra reluctantly rises to the occasion. A hanged housemaid, a fly-on-the-wall documentary, The Psychic Society and a quasi co-operative journalist all handled correctly should, she reckons, get the family business up and running, which will allow her to do the same – as fast as she can, and in the opposite direction. Things unfortunately move swiftly from bad to farce and then get a hell of a lot darker. One moment Sandra’s struggling to save the family’s income, the next, she’s battling to save their lives. Turns out, some darknesses, once buried, are best left undisturbed.
A fantastic read with brilliant characters. I loved Sandra. How she was with her parents. I really enjoyed this book. 5*
by Sue Wallace
When I saw Marilyn's third book was up to be reviewed, I jumped at the chance as I enjoyed the last 2 books. Witch Dust pulled me in from the first page and it was one of those books that I didn't want to finish. The story is full of humour and is subtly dark at times. Would suit those into paranormal/fantasy..or if you fancy something different to your usual genre.
Highly recommended and I look forward to reading more from Marilyn
by Kerry Foyle
Serenissima/ Sandra parents were Adam and Ophelia are a famous illusionist act that have a stage shows but aren’t there a lot for Sandra.But Sandra was not neglected but some people just aren’t natural parents but there was never a shortage of loving hugs and expensive gifts. As a child she had been left behind at hotels, stations, or airports but it was from absent mindedness on her parents part when it came to Sandra. But Sandra also knew sooner or later someone would come back in a panic to get her and her parents apolitically coming briefly to her. But then Murray showed up for all her events as an adopted parent. It was Murray Sandra ran to she was hurt in any way physically or mentally. Murray had been with Sandra’s parents since their careers took off. Murray didn’t talk about his past and didn’t even take off holidays from what Sandra seen. Nurra ruled their lives with an iron fist with an iron glove. Sandra adored Murray but she had to admit pessimism was his middle name, misery was his mantra and hypochondria his hobby.
What Adam and Ophelia did today was studied hard by peers and aspirants alike. Sandra’s father loved to quote “ All the world’s a stage” and to her parents it was. All Sandra ever wanted to do was live a little more average. Adam had looked at one too many chorus girls and Ophelia decided to separate from him. So then it is up to Sandra to take her depressed mother to see her family that Sandra didn’t even know existed before her parents split. They are definitely an odd and magical bunch. Even though Sandra wants to run the other way she decides to stay and try to help her relatives get their failing hotel business back on it’s feet even if it is haunted. Then some witchcraft is threatening Sandra and her family’s life and it is up to her to keep them all alive.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a light hearted fun read that did make me laugh at times. I loved Murray and all he meant to Sandra as well as her parents. This was a little different kind of book for me even though I have read and loved reading a lot of paranormal books. This was just a little unique. This was well written and fast paced and I liked that a lot. There was a lot to this story: an illusionist act with extra magic at times, a magical family, haunted hotel, witchcraft meant to hurt people, drama, Psychic Society, an odd journalist, failing family business, wolves, witches, unknown relatives, and so much more. This book grabs you right from the beginning and doesn’t let go until the end. This did remind me of Bewitched in a way. I loved the characters and the ins and outs of this story and I recommend.
by Angel Hatfield
Having read two books written by Marilyn Messik and loving them, I was very keen to get stuck into this one.
It was a joy to read, a fun story beautifully written.
I can't wait to read more. This one gets another 5 stars!!
by Michelle Driscoll
A regular feature and fiction writer for national magazines when her children were small; Marilyn set up her first business, selling toys, books and party goods - initially from home - before opening first one shop then another.
When she sold the shops, she moved into the travel market, focusing on accommodation in New England, USA. Her niche Advisory, Planning and Booking Service - sourcing unique hotels, country inns and B&Bs – flourished and she concurrently set up a publishing company, producing an annual, full-colour Accommodation Guide.
The success of the service and the guide led to speaking invitations at industry conferences across the U.S. and a place on the board of various professional bodies. Her accommodation guide was eventually bought out by Thomas Cook Publishing.
In 2007 she set up Create Communication, a copywriting consultancy, to help businesses shape their messages to optimum effect. She now spends her time writing website texts; press releases and leaflets as well as creating business strategies and working on book publishing projects with clients.