Saturday, November 8, 2014

Hunting in Bruges by EJ Stevens: Guest Post with Book Review


Hunting in Bruges, the first novel in the Hunters' Guild series, is set in Bruges, Belgium and author E.J. Stevens is taking us on a spooky trip to Bruges' Top 10 Spooky Places.  Let's see what terrifying places E.J. has planned for our tour.

Top 10 Spooky Places in Bruges

The charming medieval city of Bruges, Belgium may seem like an unusual
setting for an urban fantasy novel.  The city is known for its tranquil
canals, historic buildings, and romantic vistas.  But the moment I saw a
picture of Bruges, my mind began populating its cobblestone streets
with bloodthirsty vampires, flesh eating ghouls, monstrous fae, and
wailing ghosts.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered that there really was something
sinister in the city's bloody history.  My research into Bruges began in
earnest, and last year I completed my book research with a trip to
Belgium.  The pictures included with this post are from that research
trip.  These photos are taken during daylight hours, but I can assure
you that the atmosphere becomes decidedly spooky when the sun goes down
over West Flanders.  Do ghosts walk the streets of Bruges?  I will let
you decide.

The Canals

The canals play an important part in my novel, Hunting in Bruges.  Jenna
Lehane, a Hunter with a troubled past, arrives in Bruges to discover
that something is killing humans and disposing of their bodies in the
canals.  Not only are the canals filling with corpses, but there are
supernatural horrors that call the canals their home.  While I was
visiting Bruges, the canals were the watery grave for more than one
unfortunate creature.  Did these ducks, pigeons, and small mammals die
from natural causes, or is there something deadly lurking within these
dark waters?

Jerusalem Church (Jeruzalemkerk)

I have to admit that I was completely unprepared for the experience I
had within the stone walls of Jerusalem Church.  The macabre altarpiece
and tomb were ghoulish, but the truly terrifying part of this church lay
in a crawlspace in the vaulted chapel in the back.  A cloth wrapped
body is on display, and though I've read that this is a replica of
Christ's tomb, there is something chilling about that small chamber.  My
travel companion bolted out the door...and I wasn't far behind.  (Note:
No pictures came out of the rear tomb.  The photos were completely

Beguinage (Begijnhof)

Beguines were lay sisters who lived and dressed as nuns, but did not
take vows.  The Beguinage continues to be a place of silence within the
bustling city--a silence that can seem downright eerie.  During my trip,
the courtyard was filled with a field of wilting daffodils.  Beauty with
an edge of decay seemed to be the common theme of this place.  One
house has been preserved in its original rustic state and visitors can
wander the maze of tiny rooms filled with antique furniture and aging
lace to see the way in which the Beguines lived.  I swear that someone,
or something, was watching me during my entire visit.  With every creak
of the old wooden floors, my unease grew and I made a hasty retreat to
Minnewater Park.

Basilica of the Holy Blood (Heilig-Bloedbasiliek)

12th century basilica located on Burg square in the heart of Bruges. 
The church houses the relic of the Holy Blood.  The Holy Blood is
venerated daily, and is paraded through the streets of Bruges during the
Procession of the Holy Blood on Ascension Day.

Saint John's Hospital (Sint-Janshospitaal)

This place is not for the faint of heart.  The 11th century hospital is
one of the oldest in Europe and contains the often grotesque artwork of
Hans Memling, as well as many antique surgical implements.  The artwork
and objects of torture are absolutely horrifying and the depictions of
nuns in their traditional garb had me jumping at my shadow. 

Another five notable places to add to any ghost tour of Bruges are the
Spookhuis, Retsin's Lucifernum, Belfort, Blind Donkey Alley, and a
viewing of Heironymous Bosch's haunting triptych The Last Judgement at
the Groeningemuseum.

To learn more about E.J. Stevens and her books, connect through Goodreads, Twitter, and sign-up for her newsletter.  There is an interesting article about Hunting in Bruges in the Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad.  Hunting in Bruges releases November 11th and is available for pre-order on Amazon.  You can add the Hunters' Guild series here on Goodreads.

Readers, was this your first visit to Bruges, Belgium?  Have you
experienced anything supernatural in and around Bruges?

What did you think of E.J. Stevens' picks for spooky places?

Hunting in Bruges (Hunters' Guild #1) by E.J. Stevens.
Release Date:  November 11, 2014

Genre:  Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

Pre-order on Amazon.

Add to Goodreads.

The only thing worse than being a Hunter in the fae-ridden city of Harborsmouth, is hunting vamps in Bruges.

Being shipped off to Belgium sucks. The medieval city of Bruges is quaint, but the local Hunters' Guild is understaffed, the canals are choked with dead bodies, and there's no shortage of supernatural predators as likely suspects.

On second thought, maybe Bruges isn't so bad after all.

With a desire to prove herself, protect the innocent, and advance within the ranks of the Hunters' Guild, Jenna Lehane hits the cobbled streets of Bruges with blades at the ready. Someone, or something, is murdering tourists and dumping their bodies in the city's scenic canals.  With the help of a mysterious stranger, Jenna begins to piece together clues that are dotted throughout the city like blood spatter.

Determined to stop the killings, Jenna delves into a bloody local history that only raises more questions--but some secrets are best left buried. Jenna must put her combat training to the test as she struggles to unearth the truth about an ancient enemy.

Hunting in Bruges is the first novel in the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series set in the world of Ivy Granger.

About the Hunters' Guild Series

The Hunters' Guild series is an urban fantasy series written by E.J. Stevens and set in the world of Ivy Granger.  The series is told in the first-person point-of-view of Jenna Lehane, a Hunter with a troubled past, a proficiency with weapons, and an intolerance for monsters who target the innocent.



A creepy, oppressive atmosphere prevails throughout the entire book.  This gothic malevolence was the perfect backdrop for Jenna’s exploits; traversing the city of Bruges attempting to find out who or what is carrying out an escalating killing spree.  To make matters worse, the local Hunters’ Guild takes extraordinary measures to let Jenna know her presence is intrusive and unwelcome.  With only the help of a single, oddly attired fellow who seems to make sudden appearances and disappearances, Jenna sets out on her mission defiantly disobeying the Guild’s provisory leader.

As the story progresses the past and present intertwine.  There is no shortage of suspects as Jenna unlocks ancient secrets and explores moldy, stinking tunnels.  Jenna’s strong moral code is tested as she does her utmost to bring order and a sense of renewed pride to the dysfunctional and corrupt local Hunters’ Guild. With a little help from her mostly unreliable backup Jenna fights to  protect the innocent citizens of Burges who have become pawns in a sinister turf battle.

Jenna is a scrappy, young Hunter who has assisted Ivy Granger, psychic detective, in previous books.  I enjoyed finding out more about her in this adventure and will love to see Jenna and Ivy reunited in a new adventure.

An ARC copy of this book was provided to me in exchange for my honest review.

Reviewed by Laurie-J

About the Author

E.J. Stevens is the author of the Spirit Guide young adult series, the bestselling Ivy Granger urban fantasy series, and the Hunters' Guild urban fantasy series.  When E.J. isn't at her writing desk she enjoys dancing along seaside cliffs, singing in graveyards, and sleeping in faerie circles.  E.J. currently resides in a magical forest on the coast of Maine where she finds daily inspiration for her writing.

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