Author: T. Kingfisher
Genre: fantasy, horror
Age Group: adult
ARC?: Yes

After years of seeing her sisters suffer at the hands of an abusive prince, Marra—the shy, convent-raised, third-born daughter—has finally realized that no one is coming to their rescue. No one, except for Marra herself.

Seeking help from a powerful gravewitch, Marra is offered the tools to kill a prince—if she can complete three impossible tasks. But, as is the way in tales of princes, witches, and daughters, the impossible is only the beginning.

On her quest, Marra is joined by the gravewitch, a reluctant fairy godmother, a strapping former knight, and a chicken possessed by a demon. Together, the five of them intend to be the hand that closes around the throat of the prince and frees Marra’s family and their kingdom from its tyrannous ruler at last. 


Review

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an e-arc of this book in exchange for an honest review.

So I have previously rated Kingfisher’s books three stars. And this one sounded really good to me. It had all the hallmarks of being a book that would keep my attention. As a note, this book has horror components as do most of Kingfisher’s works, but the horror in this book takes place in a fantasy world that is much like a fairy tale. Grimm fairy tales really. So, saying that, there are dark parts of this book, but they’re not terribly dark I would say. There are a few CW like domestic abuse, being buried in a coffin that might be triggers for some people.

I felt that this book was engaging, it made you keep wanting to turn the next page and find out what happens. It is very much an adventure story, but the framework to me feels like how fairy tales are formatted. Even some of the writing felt like that as well. It made the story work! But there were parts too where it turned fairy tale conventions upside down, and I thought that was well done as well.

I enjoyed the writing immensely, as well as all the characters in the book. Marra was such a great character, and I loved the way she looked at the world, and how she acted. I felt she was a well-rounded character that was likeable, as were the others. They all had distinct personalities that shone through and made the characters feel real.

I found that they were intriguing, and there were some good moments throughout the book, and humor woven in as well, despite the darkness of the tale.

Where this book really succeeded was the atmosphere. It was dark and it was creepy and it gave me the chills. I kept shivering through certain parts.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this book! I think fans of retellings, dark fantasy, horror and fairy tales would probably enjoy this book!

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Author: Krystal Sutherland
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: horror
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: no

Seventeen-year-old Iris Hollow has always been strange. Something happened to her and her two older sisters when they were children, something they can’t quite remember but that left each of them with an identical half-moon scar at the base of their throats.

Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Grey, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, Iris learns just how weird her life can get: horned men start shadowing her, a corpse falls out of her sister’s ceiling, and ugly, impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.

As Iris retraces Grey’s last known footsteps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind, it becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children.

The closer Iris gets to the truth, the closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous – and that Grey has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years.


Review

I’ve recently started to like horror books more and more. Not if they’re more dystopian though, so when I saw the cover for this one I was very intrigued and curious. I waited quite a bit before I read it because I was so hesitant. I read Horrid last year and I liked it, but wasn’t blown away. This book and cover reminded me a bit of that. Therefore I was quite hesitant to go into this book. Now that I’ve read it I feel that it is the perfect spooky book for fall. There are a lot of spine-tingling aspects of this book that sent chills down my spine.

What about it was so good? Well, first off the writing was excellent. It was an easy to read book, and I felt that it brought a lot to the table in terms of writing. The atmosphere that Sutherland evoked was excellent. It kept you on the edge of your seat the whole time you were reading this book. I couldn’t stop turning the pages because I wanted to know what was going to happen next. In this way the pacing of the book was also so good. It was page turning for sure. Can I call this book Stephen King lite? It felt a bit like that to me. A tiny bit of gothic aspect also made me think Mexican Gothic. Anyways, as I said the whole theme of it was excellent. Or like TJ Kingfisher.

The plot had me guessing all the way through. I never would have guessed the ending it made my mouth pop open in surprise when I got to that part! I absolutely could not believe it!

I enjoyed the characters and the sisterly relationships as well, they were done well and made the book so much spookier. This book wasn’t heavy on romance at all which was nice. I felt like it made the book mostly about the sisters and their relationships with each other, rather than romances they had.

Family played a huge roll in this book as do other worlds. I felt that the aspects of family that were incorporated were interesting and heightened the tension in the books, between the sisters and the sisters and their mother.

 I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys spooky page-turning reads and doesn’t mind a bit of mind-bending in the process.

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Author: Riley Sager
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: horror, mystery, thriller
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

It’s November 1991. George H. W. Bush is in the White House, Nirvana’s in the tape deck, and movie-obsessed college student Charlie Jordan is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Josh Baxter, the man behind the wheel, is a virtual stranger to Charlie. They met at the campus ride board, each looking to share the long drive home to Ohio. Both have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the murder of her best friend, who became the third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. For Josh, it’s to help care for his sick father. Or so he says. Like the Hitchcock heroine she’s named after, Charlie has her doubts. There’s something suspicious about Josh, from the holes in his story about his father to how he doesn’t seem to want Charlie to see inside the car’s trunk. As they travel an empty highway in the dead of night, an increasingly worried Charlie begins to think she’s sharing a car with the Campus Killer. Is Josh truly dangerous? Or is Charlie’s suspicion merely a figment of her movie-fueled imagination?

What follows is a game of cat-and-mouse played out on night-shrouded roads and in neon-lit parking lots, during an age when the only call for help can be made on a pay phone and in a place where there’s nowhere to run. In order to win, Charlie must do one thing–survive the night.


Review

Survive the Night isn’t my first Riley Sager book. In fact, I read a lot of his other ones as well. I enjoyed Home Before Dark but found Final Girls lacking on so many levels. So going into this one I was a bit nervous. I didn’t know if it was going to be more like the one I liked or more like the one that I didn’t. The concept of the book seemed interesting to me – it sounded like something that would catch my attention and hold it for a period of time. Usually, I can finish Sager’s books quickly. This is because they are often fast paced and don’t take much “critical thinking” to read.

This doesn’t mean they’re bad – they’re not. But I don’t have to sit there are parse through things. I can read and guess at the mystery or what’s happening which is enjoyable for me to do. I’m usually wrong about everything, which is quite amusing to me. I’ve never been a terribly good guesser at these mystery books. Maybe that’s why I like them so much. In the end this book ended up being more like Home Before Dark for me, especially with the twists in this one.

I 100% did not guess the twists right AT ALL in this book. I said I was bad at it, I was really bad at it. But the twists were interesting, because Charlie and her mental health issues made her a very unreliable narrator so you wondered how much was true and how much was in her imagination in this book. Most of this  book is told from Charlie’s perspective but at about halfway through we switch to Josh’s POV. Adding in his POV made the book become a lot more spooky, because you’re wondering about his motivations. Is he the serial killer or not? He’s clearly lying about something…and Charlie struggles to figure out the truth on this long car ride.

What makes the book more eerie for me is the fact that it takes place in 1991 – which means, yes, there are no mobile phones for regular use – only payphones. I think this book evoked a fear in me – of being without a phone and with a (maybe) serial killer. But that made the book a lot more atmospheric. Just the whole tone of the book as well really added to the feelings the book gave me. It was certainly really interesting.

The ending was VERY surprising. It was a twist within a twist, and it was that second twist that I didn’t guess, but I guess I should have with all the hints that were dropped. Or maybe there weren’t and it was out of the blue. This book also took place in a very short span of time, just over the course of a night.

At the same time I was really annoyed with Charlie – because girl, some of your decision making skills are seriously lacking. I mean SERIOUSLY. I guess that the whole premise of this is based on Charlie just not making the greatest choices. In the end though, that’s the premise of the story and what makes the story good is Charlie’s lack of thinking skills. Or ability to tell the truth from a lie.

Overall, I liked this book. It was a firm 3 star read for me. It was an enjoyable few hours that I spent reading it. It isn’t a book that I would reread though, as I think that it was best read once, and after that it lacks the same “shock” value.

As another reviewer said, going into this book blind is the best.

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Author: Catriona Ward
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: horror
Age Group: adult
ARC?: yes

This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think…


Review

First off, this book was nothing like I expected it to be; so don’t go in thinking this is a traditional horror book – or mystery – it isn’t. I’ve not read any of this author’s other works, so I was going in a bit blind here. I saw it on NetGalley and it looked interesting, and so I requested it. I think perhaps I might not have been the right audience for this book, or perhaps I just wasn’t reading it at the right time. I definitely didn’t love it the way that other people have. There are some aspects of it that make it stand out – but I do suggest when you finish the book that you read the Author’s Note. I tend to skip those, but I felt that it was important to this book and understanding/resolving the thematic elements of this book.

There are a lot of people who loved this book way more than me, so I feel a bit like the odd one out!

So, first off, I felt that the book presented what happened in an interesting way. There were lots of moments in which you’re shown one POV, only to go back in a later chapter and be shown another. Sometimes all the characters can be a little confusing, but my only advice is to pay close attention. There are lots of little clues spread out through the book that will have you guessing and wondering what is going to happen next.

The characters felt distinct, and Olivia was definitely one of my favorite characters. The writing itself helped distinguish each character from the next.

I’m not sure what to say about this book without talking about spoilers; because once I’ve finished it is hard to go back and think of the rest of the book now knowing the ending.

Overall, I think the book was a good one. I gave it three stars because it was interesting and it was definitely a mystery, but not in the way the summary makes you think. This isn’t like a Stephen King horror or even like a Riley Sager, it reads more as a commentary on the horror genre itself, so bear that in mind when you’re reading this book.

There are some topics this book covers such as child abuse, murder, assault, mental issues, and various other darker topics that some people may find triggering. Just be aware that these are all important aspects of the book, but may make it difficult for some to read.

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Author: Erin A Craig
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: horror
Age Group: young adult
ARC?: yes

Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.

As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames. 


Review

This is a book I was really excited for. I loved Craig’s debut, A House of Salt and Sorrows and when I went into this book I was looking forward to it. I’m honestly not sure what went wrong for me to be honest. I was into it in the beginning, and I think that it was an intriguing idea. But something…somewhere it fell off for me and about midway I was starting to struggle through it. So you can imagine I am so disappointed I didn’t like it more than I did. But this will definitely be a book for some people. To be clear it was a good book, it just wasn’t what I was expecting and parts of it didn’t work for me.


First off, I think people who like Stephen King or lite horror will love this book. It certainly was atmospheric. Another book that has similar vibes is Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton. They both have this eerie feeling that builds as the book goes on. Small village, cut off from the rest of the world, something lurking beyond the borders…those are the main parts of this novel. Like I said, it is atmospheric and moody which were major points. Craig is really great at doing things with atmosphere.


The major issue I had I think was the pacing. The pacing felt off to me. It’s supposed to build and unfortunately, I think it built a little too slowly for my tastes. I felt instead of building it dragged a bit by the middle. Some parts felt a little too repetitive. It get what the aim of it was, but it still didn’t totally work for me. And that I think was the main crux – the pacing didn’t work for me which made the later parts of the novel not as interesting.


I also didn’t love the romance aspect of this book. I felt that it was a bit strange addition, especially the further we get into the book. I also felt the characters didn’t hold up as well as they could have. I don’t mind that Ellerie didn’t figure out what was going on, but I did have issues because it felt like once something happened nothing happens for several more chapters.


What I did like about the characters is you’re suspicious of everyone. You have no clue who is who or who is bad or who is good and I really liked that aspect of this book. It was well done because it kept you guessing all the way until the end of the book. I certainly didn’t see the twist coming at the end, and I was surprised.
The other thing is this book feels like it’s supposed to be a fantasy world, but it also feels like it is supposed to be set in our world, which is a little confusing for me to be honest.


Craig is a great writer, and the writing is good, and enjoyable to read. I don’t feel like I was struggling with the writing at all. It was clear and concise and helped as I said build up such a creepy atmosphere. I could see this as a good story for the summer or the fall. It is definitely mystery/thriller/creepy/horror lite.


Overall, I think it is a good book and will hit the spot for some readers and miss the mark for others depending on what you like. For me, it just didn’t go far enough and then in some ways it was too slow. Apparently, this was supposed to be a partial fairytale retelling, but I didn’t get that in this book. I wouldn’t say it was a retelling. My final comment is I think I enjoyed it, but not as much as her debut book.

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Author: Alexis Henderson
Series: Bethel
Series #: 1
Genre: horror, fantasy
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

A young woman living in a rigid, puritanical society discovers dark powers within herself in this stunning, feminist fantasy debut.

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy. Her mother’s union with an outsider of a different race cast her once-proud family into disgrace, so Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol, and lead a life of submission, devotion, and absolute conformity, like all the other women in the settlement.

But a mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood surrounding Bethel, where the first prophet once chased and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still lurking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the journal of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by the secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realizes the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And she starts to understand that if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her.


Review

I will admit I did not read the summary before adding this book to my TBR or my hold list. Instead I was captivated by the title and cover and went WITCHES and thus ends the story of why I added this book. Yet, this book is misleading in some ways, it is not only about witches, but is rather MORE than that. And it is hard to explain without giving too much of the plot away. I think that there is something to be said for this book, as it takes several ideas and intersects them in a feminist way. I personally felt that this book was well done.

This book brings you into a society and it is almost dystopian in a sense. It feels like it could be us living there, but it isn’t. It doesn’t even take place in our world, but perhaps a different version of it? I never could put my finger on that aspect. But see, that didn’t matter. It was only crucial to the story in the aspect that it was meant to represent a society (see: cult) that was self-contained and didn’t really interact with the outside world. Bethel is where the majority of the story takes place, and where all the action happens. It doesn’t need to expand outside of that.

Immanuelle is a great character. Her mother’s actions were the driving force behind the story for the most part, and then as it expands from that it becomes more and more intriguing. I really liked her character arc throughout this book. I found her a powerful character and a great one at that. I was so invested in her story. And the story of the people in Bethel too. I liked how they were both really intertwined with each other, and that there was no simple answer. I felt that though juxtaposition with her mother and past events was well done within Immanuelle’s own life. I also appreciated the themes of friendship and family that ran throughout the book.

I enjoyed the intersection of racism and feminism and how women are viewed. I think it brings home some points, even today, how women are perceived, and how they can be misunderstood. There are definitely some good moments in this that I think will resonate with women.

I also very much liked the writing in this book. It was evocative and atmospheric. I think that there are many parts of this book that had me wondering what was going to happen next and cheering for the people on the “right side”.

I will say at times I felt the pacing was off, but overall I really enjoyed this book.

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Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Series: n/a
Series #: n/a
Genre: horror, gothic horror, historical, mystery
Age Group: adult
ARC?: no

An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . .

From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes a novel set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newlywed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She’s not sure what she will find – her cousin’s husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.

Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She’s a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she’s also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: not of her cousin’s new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi’s dreams with visions of blood and doom.

Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family’s youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family’s past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family’s once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.

And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.


Review

First off, I have heard nothing but good things about this book. And I was really excited to read it despite not loving The Beautiful Ones. I loved the writing in that book, and I felt that this book would give me everything I could want. Suffice to say, this book should be on everyone’s lists who likes scary stories, gothic horror, or just a good paranormal mystery. There is so much to love about this book, and from the first few pages I was enthralled with it. There was nothing else except this book when I was reading. I finished it late in the night because it was so good that I could not put it down.

Our fearless heroine (who is absolutely delightful) finds herself in a creepy house with creepy people and it doesn’t get much better from there. She went to rescue her cousin, Catalina, but nothing is as it seems, and something is off…and this book was the perfect book to ring in spooky season with. It wasn’t a gory (or descriptive gory) book, so I was glad, because that I do not do totally well with. This book however was full of suspense, partially because we were very much learning as Noemí does.

Noemí, as I said, is a delightful character. She is very stubborn, and very true to herself. She is also determined to do right, and is aware that something is not right. This story really was a complicated one, and as you read there are little pieces of the past doled out and you’re trying to figure out what is going on, and how it all connects. It was very much my type of book. The plot of it was stupendous and I cannot speak about it without wanting to shove it at everyone. It had such a great impact, and kept me turning pages.

And that’s the thing – the pacing was amazing. You were almost wary as you turned pages, unsure of what was going to happen next…never quite sure what to believe, and you are held captive by this book and the story that is being woven.

Other things I loved was how atmospheric it was. It would send shivers down my spine, and it was creepy. And that’s in part thanks to the characters themselves. The characters were chilling. You never knew who was good and who was bad, who was real and who was not.

I am so thrilled with this book, because the writing is just so fantastic, and the book was absolutely amazing. I cannot speak well enough about it. This is one of those books that I would purchase for myself and recommend to friends that it left such an impact on me.

A great gothic horror story set in 1950’s Mexico – it had everything it needed to succeed. What a great book!

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I  received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Author:     Emily Duncan
Genre:    YA/Fantasy/Dark Fantasy/Horror
Pages:    432
Format:   E-ARC
Rating:  

Description:

Darkness never works alone…

Nadya doesn’t trust her magic anymore. Serefin is fighting off a voice in his head that doesn’t belong to him. Malachiasz is at war with who–and what–he’s become.

As their group is continually torn apart, the girl, the prince, and the monster find their fates irrevocably intertwined. They’re pieces on a board, being orchestrated by someone… or something. The voices that Serefin hears in the darkness, the ones that Nadya believes are her gods, the ones that Malachiasz is desperate to meet—those voices want a stake in the world, and they refuse to stay quiet any longer.

Continue reading “Ruthless Gods”