Review: The Angel of Indian Lake (The Indian Lake Trilogy #3) by Stephen Graham Jones

The Angel of Indian Lake (The Indian Lake Trilogy #3)The Angel of Indian Lake by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Angel of Indian Lake is the final book in the Indian Lake Trilogy. It’s also my most anticipated release of 2024.

I finished this a week ago and have been sitting with my thoughts ever since. I find myself thinking of the story at random times during the day, and trying to decide how I would explain my overall experience with this trilogy.

I really haven’t come up with anything that I think serves it justice. At this point, I’ve come to terms with the fact that this is just one of those 5-star reads that I may never end up writing a full, thoughtful, and analytical review for.

It simply is what it is. I love this series with my whole heart. It’s special to me, because in a way, I feel like this series validates my passion for the crazily nuanced genre of Horror.

Stephen Graham Jones is such a talented storyteller. His nostalgic, yet edgy-style, brings a distinct voice to his stories, while also bringing heart and emotion. We swoon.

While I recognize this trilogy won’t be for everyone, for the people it is for, for the people it resonates with, it’s truly a gift. My heart hurts that it’s over. Is this really the last time I’m going to spend with these characters I love?

I know I can read it again and again, as I do with my favorite King books, but still, I’m going to miss them nevertheless. SGJ is clearly a life-long Horror lover, a student of the genre, and someone that can tell one hell of a story.

I’d love to hang out with him around a campfire…

I highly recommend this series to Horror Readers. Particularly to Horror Readers who have been turning to the genre their whole life for comfort and to face fears. Perhaps you’ll see a little of yourself in here too.

Also, coincidentally, I did happen to rewatch Scream III while reading this and loved coming upon Randy’s rules for Slasher Trilogies, which definitely could be applied here. It was great to hear those again from him whilst reading this.

So perfect. We love making beautiful Horror connections!!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I already can’t wait to read this one again!

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Review: Bad Like Us by Gabriella Lepore

Bad Like UsBad Like Us by Gabriella Lepore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Bad Like Us is the most recently released YA Mystery from Gabriella Lepore. This fast-paced novel hit shelves in early March and I couldn’t wait to get to it.

After enjoying this author’s last two novels, I was expecting a certain vibe and it delivered exactly what I wanted.

In this story, we’re following a group of teens setting out together to spend Spring Break at a rustic lodge on the Oregon coast. The lodge is owned by one of the teen’s Uncles, making it free and all theirs for the week.

Unencumbered by adult supervision, the kids are looking to party, spend time together and just relax, shaking off recent stressors, of which there are many.

The group, in and of itself, has some complications. At the heart of most of the drama seems to be Piper. Her constant live streams and pot-stirring attitude have everyone on edge. Can’t she give it a break?

It’s not solely Piper though, there are definitely other tensions brimming just under the surface that make the environment, shall we say, touchy.

Our main perspectives are Eva and Colton. I enjoyed both of these characters and the audiobook did have dual narrators which was great for making their voices distinct.

After a night featuring a campfire on the beach, some adult bevys, and high levels of interpersonal drama, one of the teens is found dead the next morning. The police swoop in and a tense investigation into them all begins.

I enjoy the way Gabriella Lepore builds out teen friendship groups. This is a feature of all of the books that I have read from her and I always get pulled into their lives easily. I also feel like the mysteries are always solid and engaging.

I loved the setting of this one and the set-up of the teens being on Spring Break. A lot of secrets are being kept amongst the group and it ended up going much deeper than I initially anticipated, which I appreciated.

Overall, this was another fun one from Lepore. I’ll continue to pick up all of her releases. If you enjoy YA Mysteries, and haven’t read her work yet, you should give her a shot!

Thank you to the publisher, Inkyard Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

Lepore never fails to entertain me and I’m looking forward to picking up whatever she puts out next.

Bad Like Us is available now!!

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Review: Diavola by Jennifer Marie Thorne

DiavolaDiavola by Jennifer Marie Thorne
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first thing that attracted my attention to Diavola was this stunningly-disturbing cover. What does it even mean?

I had to know.

Then I read the synopsis, which completely sold me. A Gothic-feeling Travel Horror novel, set in Italy, full of family drama and haunted happenings. Yes, please.

I was lucky enough to receive an audio copy, and definitely recommend that format.

The narration style of Andi Arndt was absolutely perfect for this story, and as a representation of the MC, Anna’s, voice. I was transported into the Pace family vacation via this audio.

We follow Anna as she meets her family in Italy, where they have rented a gorgeous historic villa near the tiny town of Monteperso. As Anna tries to settle in, the atmosphere is tense. Her family is complicated.

Mom is always passively-aggressively nagging at Anna about her life choices. Dad seems distant, except when he would like to remind everyone of who paid for their vacation. Nicole, Anna’s sister, has their entire itinerary mapped out to the second, and god forbid anyone question it.

Nicole’s two daughters are also there, as well as her husband. They seem to be the only ones in the family Anna even remotely gets along with. Thank goodness for them.

Then there’s Anna’s twin brother, Benny, attending with his arrogant, asshat of a boyfriend, Christopher.

Anna and Benny’s relationship is the most difficult to figure out. As twins, their relationship has always been a special one, but it is definitely strained at this point. At times it seems good, at other times, not so much.

Honestly, that’s the best way to describe this vacation: strained. Unfortunately, it’s not just the family though. The villa itself, is strange and seems to be affecting everyone.

There’s a locked tower room, odd noises and an ominous atmosphere that’s downright oppressive. I would certainly need a vacation after this vacation.

I was impressed with how immersive this ended up being. When I was in it, I was really in it.

I went through a whole range of emotions and was astounded by the direction it ultimately went. I wasn’t expecting a lot of what occurred in the later half of the story. It fleshed out so many layers that were there all along that I feel like I missed initially.

I am already looking forward to reading it again. I would love to annotate it and really just spend some more time with it. It’s beautifully executed!

I can’t stress enough how gripping and haunting this is. My mind was left reeling, trying to interpret all of the events that went down. The atmosphere is top notch, but it never overshadowed the characters, or the emotions that were raging between them.

I would recommend this to any Horror fan, particularly if you enjoy Travel Horror, or Horror featuring complicated family dynamics. I feel like I know the Pace family inside and out. I’m practically one of them at this point.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Dreamscape Media, for providing me with copies to read and review.

Diavola has been my greatest surprise of 2024 thus far. I cannot wait to read more from Jennifer Marie Thorne!

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Review: The Good, the Bad, and the Aunties (Aunties #3) by Jesse Q. Sutanto

The Good, the Bad, and the Aunties (Aunties, #3)The Good, the Bad, and the Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Good, the Bad, and the Aunties is the third, and reportedly final book in the Aunties series by Jesse Q. Sutanto.

This is an Adult Contemporary Fiction series that leans heavily into the humor. I have enjoyed all of the books and actually feel really sad that it’s over.

In this third installment, we travel along with Meddy, her husband, Nathan, her Ma and three Aunties, as they travel to Jakarta to visit their extended family for Chinese New Year.

This is the second novel I have read from Sutanto this year that is set in Jakarta, and I love how she brings both the place and culture to the page. You can tell it’s a place near and dear to her heart, it feels special.

Meddy was nervous about the trip, as it was Nathan’s first time being there and meeting her large, high-energy family. She should’ve known he would take it like a champ.

I loved meeting Meddy’s extended family and learning about the traditions they have surrounding their Chinese New Year celebrations. It’s at one of these parties that the big blunder at the heart of this story occurs.

A old beau of Second Aunt arrives, bearing a bevy of gifts. Unfortunately, one of them was actually an important document he was intending to gift to a business rival to cement a new partnership. This packet gets mixed in amongst the other gifts and accidentally gets handed out.

Once the mistake is discovered, it seems simple, just track down the person who received the gift and they’ll give it back. But we all know Meddy and the Aunties could never be that lucky, or simple.

It seems the packet didn’t go to any one of the Chan family members. There was a teenage girl who stopped by to visit one of Meddy’s younger cousins, and she’s the one who ended up with it.

The business rival is not happy and serious repercussions are threatened if this document isn’t found and given to them. Now it’s a race against the clock to clear up this mess before one, or more, of them get hurt.

I thought this was so entertaining. I love the relationships in these books. It’s the family vibes. They get me. They drive each other crazy, but they love each other so much and would do anything for each other.

I also have enjoyed watching Meddy and Nathan’s relationship blossom. She’s truly found her person. He’s helped her to relax and feel comfortable being herself. He’s so patient with her family as well; huge plus.

Determined to get the document back, Meddy, Nathan and the Aunties end up interacting with some of the most powerful people in Jakarta.

Their scheming, plotting and overall efforts, OMG, they’re so funny. Only the Chans. And I actually think it humbled Big Aunt a little bit being around some folks more powerful than herself. It made me so happy.

As I was reading this, I actually didn’t know it was slated to be the last one and I was coming up with a bunch of great ideas for the fourth book: Abi and Second Aunt’s wedding, Meddy and Nathan starting a family, Big Aunt rekindling her singing career, etc.

Sadly, it seems like this is it. Regardless, whatever projects Sutanto is working on next, you know I will be reading them. She’s definitely become one of my go-to authors over the last few years. I love it all!

Thank you to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m sorry to be parting with the Chans, but they’ll live on in my heart!

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Review: Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Where Sleeping Girls LieWhere Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Where Sleeping Girls Lie is a 2024-YA Mystery from Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé, author of the successful 2021 YA Mystery, Ace of Spades, which I’ve heard incredible things about.

Even though it’s been sitting on my shelves since 2021, I haven’t yet picked it up, so when I received a surprise Audio ARC of this new book, I was beyond excited to finally be checking out Àbíké-Íyímídé’s work.

In this story, we follow Sade Hussein, who has recently been enrolled in Alfred Nobel Academy. ANA is a prestigious boarding school. Sade is in her third year of high school and ends up starting the school year a little late, following the death of her father.

The action kicks off on Sade’s very first day at the school, as she sees it for the first time and meets Administrators, some students and also her roommate, Elizabeth.

I have to say, I was drawn into this extremely quickly. I love a ‘new girl’ trope and this author nailed it. My favorite aspect of that is just learning about the setting and other characters right along with the new girl.

Previously, Sade has been home-schooled, so this type of environment is completely new to her. She’s a little anxious, still grief-ridden from her father’s passing, but all things considered, the transition seems to be going fairly smoothly.

That is until Elizabeth disappears. The school claims Elizabeth left, that she needed a break, but Elizabeth’s long-time best friend, Baz, isn’t buying it. Sade and Baz begin to bond and Sade agrees that Elizabeth’s sudden departure is suspicious, but why the lies?

Rumors are swirling, drama is occurring and Sade finds herself in the center of a lot of it. When another student is found dead, events are really kicked into high gear.

I thought it would take me a long time to read this book, because it’s a pretty good-sized Mystery, coming in at 416-pages. That wasn’t the case at all though. I flew through it.

It’s such a gripping story, with complex characters, intriguing mysteries, as well as great tone and atmosphere throughout. It’s an incredibly well-written story.

I loved and appreciated how Àbíké-Íyímídé took her time creating the setting and putting Sade’s arrival there in good context. Sade is a character you can really sink your teeth into; there are so many layers to her story.

I also found the mysteries both very intriguing. First, Elizabeth’s disappearance, from what you learned about her in the short time that she and Sade got to know one another, it seemed shady as heck. She wouldn’t just leave.

And the death of the other student, in the context of everything else going on, was shocking. There were definite jaw-drop moments throughout this one for me.

This story gave me everything I wanted. There was a sense of foreboding oozing from every page. I was scared, but in a way where I didn’t even know what I was scared of. I never knew what was going to be revealed next.

The entire story was so compelling. If you enjoy stories set at Private Schools, full of Drama, and wealthy character behaving badly, you have to pick this up.

Additionally, if you enjoy nuanced mysteries with dark shadows lurking around ever corner, you have to pick this up. Or if you just want to see if the hype is real, you have to pick this up. In short, pick it up!

Thank you to the publisher, Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This was a delightful surprise and I can’t wait to read more from this author!!

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Review: The Hike by Lucy Clarke

The HikeThe Hike by Lucy Clarke
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Maggie, Liz, Helena and Joni have been a fabulous foursome for a long time. The women have history, friends since childhood, who have stuck together through thick and thin. Even when life took them in unexpected directions.

They’ve been good about keeping in touch and even have a tradition of taking trips together, just the four of them. It’s a great way to reconnect and recharge.

Their most recent excursion is going to take them far from the beach trips they are used to though. This time around, the women are heading to the majestic mountains of Norway to go hiking.

A hiking trip!? Some of them are more prepared than others, but let’s be honest, none of them are truly prepared for a serious trek through the mountains. Nevertheless, they persist and head for the wilderness.

This is a little slow to start, as we’re introduced to the different ladies and get the scope on their current life status, as well as their relationship to all the other women.

There are some strong personalities in the group, but they seem to all get along for the most part, and provide a lot of support and encouragement for one another. But no friendship group is perfect, and this one has it’s cracks.

In addition to interpersonal dramas, dangers on the trail are many; some of them coming in the most unexpected forms.

Clarke took this story in directions I definitely wasn’t expecting, and you know what, I really enjoyed it. She succeeded in keeping me on my toes and entertained.

When the women travel to Norway, they stay in a small town adjacent to their trailhead the night before they set-out on the anticipated 4-day hike. It’s there we meet some of the locals, and we do end up following some of the local drama, as well as the perspective of one of the local men.

I was surprised when we got that perspective, and initially it seemed a little odd and out of place. Clarke did bring it around and tied everything together fairly seamlessly in the end. Although, admittedly, I did have trouble differentiating between a few of the male characters.

For me the highlight of this book is the relationships amongst the women and the fact that they undertake this crazy hike. I love hiking and being out in nature, so that also tends to be something I have fun with in fiction.

There’s a lot of time to think on the trail, and if you’re with other people, a lot of time to talk and bond. I think these women were in over the heads and the pressure starts to show early. That brought out some issues that needed addressing, and boy do they get addressed.

While this did start slow, the pace steadily increases throughout. By the end, it’s going top speed, as you try to ascertain who’s going to make it out alive!?

This is the second novel that I have read from this author, the other being One of the Girls, also a girls getaway story. I didn’t enjoy this one quite as much as OOTG, but this has definitely solidified Lucy Clarke as a go-to author for me.

If you enjoy Travel Thrillers, or stories that involve female friendships, you should definitely give this one a shot. It’s exciting, intriguing and made me want to go to Norway even more than I already did. Job well done by Clarke.

Thank you to the publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m seriously sorry it took me so long to get to it.

It was a trip!!

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Review: Dead Girls Walking by Sami Ellis

Dead Girls WalkingDead Girls Walking by Sami Ellis
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dead Girls Walking is a recent YA Horror release. One that I had been very anxious to pick up. The publisher’s synopsis, as well as the intriguing cover, had my full attention.

It looks like this is a debut novel for author, Sami Ellis, and while I can appreciate the author’s creativity and ambition, the story did not work for me, unfortunately.

I considered giving it 3-stars, but I have to be honest about my experience. For me, a 3-star book is something I liked, but that didn’t blow me away and may have minor issues. I just don’t think this one reached that status for me.

I’m not going to say anything about the plot. Please read the synopsis for more info. I barely understood what was happening and had to refer to the synopsis multiple times to try to get my bearings. Because of this, I feel I have nothing further to add in that regard.

And here we come to the heart of the issue for me. I found this narrative style confusing as heck. It felt like being dropped off at a movie halfway through, taking multiple bathroom breaks, and still being expected to understand what’s going on. Spoiler Alert: I didn’t.

It never succeeded in grabbing my attention. Additionally, the cast of characters, besides our MC, Temple, all blended together for me, and by the end, I just wanted it to be over.

With this being said, just because this one didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. I have seen some great reviews, I just feel like it was a miss for my tastes.

Thank you to the publisher, Amulet Books and RB Media, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

I am interested it picking up more from this author in the future. I feel like maybe a different concept could help me engage more with their writing style.

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Rereading a Favorite: Don’t Fear the Reaper (Indian Lake Trilogy #2) by Stephen Graham Jones

Don't Fear the Reaper (The Indian Lake Trilogy, #2)Don’t Fear the Reaper by Stephen Graham Jones
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Another 5-stars upon reread? Who’s surprised?

After I finished Don’t Fear the Reaper for the 2nd-time, I thought about all the things I wanted to say about it. All my new take-aways from my reread.

Then I thought, I don’t have time for all that. Seriously, it’s times like these when I wish I had a BookTube channel, so that I could just talk about it naturally, as thoughts are streaming through my head.

Honestly, I could talk for hours about this book. There are so many gorgeous themes touched upon, all mixed amongst Grade-A Slasher action and lore.

My Heart is a Chainsaw is a love letter to Slasher Horror. In this story, one of the aspects I enjoyed the most was the relationship between Jade and Letha; how it had evolved.

I also loved how between the two books, SGJ demonstrated one of the best aspects of Horror for me and many other life-long Horror fans. That is the way the genre offers a sense of solace and escape. It’s a way for you to face your own fears in a safe way. It’s a way for you to find order, to find rules, in a world that often seems to have none.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t enjoying Horror in some form. From such a young age, it has always made me happy. I’m not exaggerating when I say it is my absolute comfort zone; and the Horror community is fantastic as well. We’re small, but we’re ardent.

I feel like Horror can often be an underrated and misunderstood genre. First is just the fact that it is assumed ‘one’ genre, with the main intent to scare each and every person that takes it in and if it doesn’t, it’s thought to have failed in some way.

To me, that is too simplistic a view for a genre that has too many subgenres to count, is full of nuance and explores a vast array of different themes and topics.

In The Indian Lake Trilogy, Jones brings all the emotion that is Horror to the page. He shows its power to help and to heal, to be a safe place ((believe it or not)) where one can hide, as well as how it can kick some ass, build esteem, face down monsters and slay some demons.

Why am I going down this tangent, you may be wondering. Believe it or not, I do feel like it’s important as a way to frame what you’re gonna get in this series.

In the first book, we discover Jade, as a teen, who views the world around her through a prism of Slasher lore that she has built up over many years.

There are reasons why she started to do this and a new friend in her life sees it as a call for help. Jade battles against that. No, no, no, she just wants to help this friend, Letha. She wants to teach her all she knows, to protect her; as a way to save their town, Proofrock.

At the start of Don’t Fear the Reaper, Jade returns to town after being away, in lock-up following the events of the 4th of July massacre. She’s had space from Proofrock and no longer has her biggest monster breathing down her neck. She now tries to keep herself from falling back into her past mindset and thought patterns.

Letha, on the other hand, has remained in Proofrock, where she has since gotten married and had a child. In spite of the happy family life, Letha was changed by the 4th of July massacre. She was left traumatized, both emotionally and physically, maimed in a painful and life-altering way.

We see that either consciously, or subconsciously, Letha has turned to Slashers as a source of comfort for herself during her recovery. IMO, she had picked up that that is what Jade had done, and she had learned by example. I feel like she did find a lot of comfort there.

When the two women reunite, it’s such a fascinating dynamic. The Padawan has become the Master. Letha tries to bring Jade back to her roots and ultimately, it’s Proofrock, she’s going to end up there.

With all this being said, this trilogy fills my heart in a way that’s really hard to explain. It is a nostalgic feeling, like coming home, and one that always makes me feel more passionate towards my favorite genre.

If you are a life-long Horror fan, I highly recommend this series if you haven’t started it yet, or the work of Stephen Graham Jones in general. He’s a genius and has such love for the genre. It’s truly a joy to read!


Don’t Fear the Reaper released just in time for Valentine’s Day. Be still my Slasher-Loving heart. This was everything!

Stephen Graham Jones is a genius. His writing style is completely unique, distinct and is an absolute master class in Slasher lore. I’m hooked. ((pun intended))

In anticipation of this release, I recently reread the first book in the trilogy, My Heart Is a Chainsaw. I love that book and honestly, was concerned that nothing could top it.

Somehow, defying the general law of sequels, this was bigger, badder and more blockbuster than the first!

It’s been 4-years since the Independence Day Massacre. Jade, now going by her given name of Jennifer, has spent those years in prison. When her conviction is overturned, Jade returns to her native Proofrock.

As Jennifer’s luck would have it, on the very night she returns, a prison transport van carrying convicted serial killer, Dark Mill South, flips over in a blizzard. Dark Mill escapes and heads straight for Proofrock.

Back in town, Jennifer is reunited with her previously chosen final girl and dare I say, friend, Letha Mondragon. It’s a bittersweet reunion for the two women. They’ve both changed dramatically since that brutal night four years ago.

Very quickly bodies start dropping in harsh and creative ways. Is Dark Mill responsible for these killings? What would his motive be here? If not him, who?

True to character, Jennifer and Letha dive head first into the action, putting themselves in incredible danger. They essentially saved the town before. It looks like they’ll have to do it again, but if there’s really just one final girl, who will make it out alive?

This book starts with a bang and never ever lets up. Not for a moment. It has the classic slasher opening scenes, where stuff is already hitting the haunted ceiling fan.

In addition to all the phenomenal Slasher connections and references, I absolutely adored the character development displayed in this one. For both Jennifer and Letha. The padawan has truly become the master.

Also, I enjoyed getting more of the twins, Ginger and Cinnamon. I feel like their interactions with Jennifer and Letha added a lot to the narrative. It was like the older generation passing on the torch of horror to the next generation.

Not that Letha and Jennifer are that much older, they aren’t old at all, but the experience of the Independence Day Massacre has certainly provided them with knowledge and seniority when it comes to being able to survive a Slasher.

I have no idea when the next book is slated to be released, but I do know I’ll be regularly stalking SGJ’s author page until we find out. I’m super anxious to learn the title and see the cover.

This series is everything I have ever wanted. Having grown up on a fairly steady diet of Slashers, thanks to my super cool older siblings, these stories bring me so much nostalgia and joy. I love the entire vibe.

While I recognize that this series may not be for everyone, I know that with the people it resonates with, it’s going to really hit. I cannot stop thinking about this. I’m really looking forward to reading both books again just prior to the release of the third.

If you love Horror Cinema, and Slashers in particular, and you haven’t picked up this series yet, I cannot recommend it highly enough. You don’t want to miss out on this!

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, Gallery / Saga Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This was my most anticipated release of 2023 and it didn’t disappoint for a moment. Chef’s kiss!!

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Review: Behind the Door: The Dark Truths and Untold Stories of the Cecil Hotel by Amy Price

Behind the Door: The Dark Truths and Untold Stories of the Cecil HotelBehind the Door: The Dark Truths and Untold Stories of the Cecil Hotel by Amy Price
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Behind the Door: The Dark Truths and Untold Stories of the Cecil Hotel is a Memoir written by Amy Price, who was the manager of the Cecil for a decade.

I really enjoyed this. As memoirs go, I feel it was quite interesting and it kept me engaged. I completely understand why Amy felt compelled to share her story.

I’m sure many of you are familiar with this historic L.A. property. While I knew that the hotel was considered a haunted place, steeped in dark history, including as the place the Night Stalker was staying during the time of his killings, I really knew nothing else about it.

I learned so much and have a new appreciation for the complicated purpose and history of this hotel.

If you arrive with this book in your hand and you are expecting a strict True Crime story, maybe focusing on the infamous case of Elisa Lam, you may be disappointed, because that is not what this book is.

Amy was the manager of the hotel during Elisa’s stay, and she does discuss it, but it is by no means the focus of this books. It is one amongst many tragic stories that Amy watched first hand play out and relays here.

As mentioned above, I completely understand why Amy would want to tell this story. Particularly after the Netflix documentary on the Lam case released. I think it was easy for people to sort of vilify Amy as the person in charge, and say she should have done more when Elisa was exhibiting unusual behavior.

But I feel like when you hear the greater context of the hotel, its function, it’s location, the types of things that happened there on an all too regular basis, you’ll come to maybe understand that Elisa’s behavior really wasn’t that unusual at the Cecil. It was just another day.

I wasn’t reading this for the Lam case, so I didn’t mind that it wasn’t focused on. I was reading it more for the history of the hotel and what it would be like to work there.

Amy delivered those things to me very well. I walk away with a better understanding of this property that has become as infamous as The Overlook in pop culture.

Thank you to the publisher, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This was a quick read, and a fascinating glimpse into a place I will most likely never see first hand.

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Review: The Gathering by C.J. Tudor

The GatheringThe Gathering by C.J. Tudor
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The easiest 5-star rating I have given thus far in 2024. I adored every moment of reading this story.

C.J. Tudor has explored new territory here. I can’t wait for more. It’s so good, and C.J., if you happen upon this review, this book was everything…

I basically fell in love with this book the very first time I set eyes on this eerie snow-covered cover. Added to that, the publisher created a fascinating Horror Mystery synopsis.

They had my attention. It was giving me heavy Bone White ((one of my favorites ever)) vibes and I was all over it!

Luckily, I was blessed with an early copy and although I tried to push it off closer to release date, here we are.

In this story, we follow Detective Barbara Atkins, an experienced specialist in vampyr killings. She gets sent to the very small and remote town of Deadhart, Alaska, to investigate the brutal murder of a teen boy.

Deadhart has a Colony of vampyrs living on their periphery with which they have an unsettling history. This most recent murder is the literal match to the wick. The townspeople are fired up and calling for a cull.

Barbara is tasked with determining whether or not a vampyr was responsible for the brutal slaying of the teen, and if so, does that solitary act necessitate a cull.

Needless to say, some of the townspeople don’t warm to Barbara’s presence. They’re a small, tight-knit community and don’t feel they need outsiders dictating how they handle their town and it’s adjacent Colony.

As the Reader, you go along with Barbara as she inserts herself into this town and really digs into this specific case, as well as anything else that may help her make her determination in regards to this Colony.

I was immediately intrigued with this set-up. I enjoyed how it’s essentially our world, with one major difference, vampyrs are real and they live openly amongst humans.

They may live in their own Colonies, but everyone knows they exist. It’s an interesting set-up to imagine.

I think Tudor did a great job of developing this. We learn slowly the details of the relationship between humans and vampyrs, historically, so it doesn’t weigh you down with major descriptors right off the bat.

It’s strictly a need to know basis and I liked that. I never felt like I needed more information. I had exactly what I needed to feel completely enraptured by this world.

I also loved the way the setting of Deadhart is portrayed. The atmosphere is so rich. It’s dark, uninviting and feels dangerous. I was shivering and wasn’t sure if it is from the cold coming off the pages, or the fear. Tudor created a real sense of dread; my love language.

We do get some other perspectives, so you aren’t locked in with Barbara the whole time. The back and forth kept the story going at a nice clip and I felt each perspective added a lot to the build-up.

One of my favorite aspects of this was Barbara’s relationship with the local law enforcement, particularly a former deputy, Tucker. They made a great team. Their relationship felt very natural and I enjoyed their coworker energy.

As you get past the mid-point, the pace really kicks up. You can feel the tension rising in the whole town. You can just tell that everything is going to come to a head.

I was nervous. You do start to care about some of the characters and the dangers were everywhere. I was so concerned for everyone that I cared about. I wanted everyone to make it out unscathed.

Overall, this was just so fun. It was well constructed and super gripping. I honestly hope this sets a new trend for vampire stories. It was unsettling realistic.

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine Books, for providing me a copy to read and review. I cannot wait to pick up a hard copy for my shelves!!!

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