Review: Wasps in the Ice Cream by Tim McGregor

Wasps in the Ice CreamWasps in the Ice Cream by Tim McGregor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Wasps in the Ice Cream is a captivating Coming of Age Horror novella that quickly reminded me why I love this subgenre.

It’s the Summer of 1987 and Mark Prewitt spends his time working at the local ice cream shop, avoiding his parents, tinkering on his dream car and engaging in miscellaneous hijinks with his best buds.

When the other boys stage a prank on the mysterious Farrow sisters, it goes too far and one of them gets hurt. Mark is riddled with guilt after the fact. He should have stopped it, but he didn’t.

Seeking to make amends with the girls, he ends up befriending the middle sister, George.

She’s unlike anyone he has ever known and he’s drawn to her like wasps to ice cream. The more time he spends with George, the less time he has for everyone else.

Mark finds himself keeping a lot of secrets, but he should have known in a town this small, it was bound to blow up in his face. What happens when you fall for the girl everyone hates? Mark is about to find out.

Spoiler Alert: It’s not good.

Y’all, I really enjoyed my time with this story. I know when some people think of Horror books, they think, scary books, things that scare me, and then if they don’t get scared by a book, they say, this isn’t Horror.

For me, Horror is a much more nuanced genre than that and thinking only books that literally scare you can be classified as Horror is simplifying the genre unfairly.

A good example of this is one of my fave subgenres of Horror, the Coming of Age story. Wasps in the Ice Cream is a perfect example, channeling all of the essential vibes. This basically transported me back to the Summer of 1987.

Coming of Age always hits home for me. Literally nothing could be happening and I still find myself so invested.

There’s something about the innocence and feeling of possibility in viewing the world through that lens. The emotional traumas and challenges the protagonists have experienced up to this point in their lives only scratch the surface of what the world will ultimately dish out for them. It’s such a special time. Nostalgia for days.

Also, it’s in the presentation. You generally have an Adult narrator, who is reflecting back on some pivotal moment in their life. Something that impacted them so deeply, it helped to shape the adults they became; good or bad.

There also tends to be powerful friendships and the exploration of sexuality. All of this is mixed together with deeper things that scare us; sometimes supernatural, sometimes not.

I felt McGregor did an amazing job telling Mark’s story. It felt so authentic. I believed everything I was being told and understood how the events of this Summer shaped Mark’s future, choices, wants and desires.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys an engaging Coming of Age Horror story. If you are just looking for scares though, you’d be best looking somewhere else.

Thank you so much to the publisher, RDS Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. The audiobook is fantastic. The narrator truly captured Mark’s character. Well done!

View all my reviews

Review: Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

Black MouthBlack Mouth by Ronald Malfi
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jamie Warren left Sutton’s Quay, West Virginia, as soon as he was old enough, unfortunately leaving his disabled brother, Dennis, behind.

Jamie was running from a lot of things, but no matter where he goes or how much time passes, the memories of his traumatic childhood continue to haunt him.

When he receives a call that his Mother has passed, he has mixed feelings. In spite of Jamie’s complicated relationship with his Mom, he knows he has to go back.

The property will need to be dealt with. Dennis can’t do it himself, so Black Mouth here he comes.

Upon returning to the family farmhouse, Jamie is shocked by the state of it. He can’t believe that his brother and mother had been living in these conditions.

Additionally, his brother has been picked up by the police. Dennis had been walking along the highway, clearly distressed. Sadly, that’s how they’re reunited.

While all this is happening, states away, Jamie’s best friends from childhood, Mia and Clay, are also experiencing things that are drawing their attention back to Black Mouth; the name of the area on the outskirts of Sutton’s Quay where they all grew up.

The trio are pulled back into each other’s lives like moths to a flame, and like many close friends, once they’re back together it’s like no time has passed at all.

Together with Dennis, the three begin to investigate a mysterious man who had a huge impact on their lives all those years ago.

A man who lived in the woods and showed them magical and disturbing things.

Through past and present perspectives you’re drawn into an exceptionally twisted story with horrors great and small. Everything about this was mesmerizing to me. The writing is lush, the imagery is distinct and the atmosphere is intense.

Black Mouth took me for a ride and ultimately left me with tears in my eyes, wondering how long it would be before I read it again. It’s that good.

I’m so glad I preordered a copy of this because I need it gracing my shelves. The story is incredibly detailed and I’m sure there are little things that I missed as I rushed towards the conclusion. It will be an absolute joy to revisit.

There are so many aspects that I loved about this book, but first and foremost would be the phenomenal quality of the storytelling. It’s delicious.

As a King Constant Reader, I couldn’t help but notice things that reminded me of some of my favorite King works. I don’t know anything about Ronald Malfi, but just for me, I liked having all these little reminders of King’s work.

I honestly don’t know if any of it was intentional, like if it was a doffing of the cap, but I sort of hope it was. All the elements brought together was magic for my mind.

Without saying too much, it was in the details, like Dennis reminding me of Duddits, Mia’s name, the carnival vibe, a group of outcast kids fighting evil, even some of the supernatural aspects reminding me of the Bill Hodges trilogy.

Please note, I am not saying this in a negative way. I hope I am explaining myself appropriately. I don’t intend any shade toward Malfi by making these comparisons. I was beyond impressed by Come with Me, my favorite book of 2021, and over the moon excited about this one.

I highly, highly, highly recommend this story for fans of coming of age horror novels. This is absolutely exceptional.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Titan Books and Tantor Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. This could potentially end up as my favorite book of 2022. It’s certainly in the lead for now!

View all my reviews

Review: Scream All Night by Derek Milman

Scream All NightScream All Night by Derek Milman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When Dario Heyward receives a phone call from his older brother, Oren, inviting him to return to the home he fled three years ago, he is filled with trepidation.

Moldavia, the iconic castle that was Dario’s family home, also serves as the set, studio and home for the cast and crew of Moldavia Studios.

His father, the studio’s enigmatic director, is in poor health and apparently, there will be some mysterious, over-the-top ceremony to honor him and his first film, The Curse of the Mummy’s Tongue.

After being legally emancipated from his father, Dario has been living in the Keenan Group Home, where he has been steadily gaining in confidence and autonomy.

While he’s concerned about returning to Moldavia, he feels like he can finally face all that happened to him there. He needs that closure. Additionally, he’d love to see Hayley again, his childhood friend and crush.

At Moldavia, it seems to be life as usual. People buzzing around everywhere, working on strange projects. The whole scene like some sort of morbid hotel with quirky characters and equally zany props.

At the ceremony, true to his father’s normal drama, something horrifying occurs with disastorous consequences. Just like that, Dario is sucked back into Moldavia, and the life he thought he left behind. Now he needs to try to help save the floundering family business.

Scream All Night was a delightful surprise. A heartfelt, coming-of-age story for true Horror fans.

I loved the whole idea behind Moldavia Studios. The setting at the castle had such a vibe, macabre and eerie, made even more haunting by Dario’s early-childhood experiences there.

While this story does include some fairly heavy topics, including the abuse and neglect that Dario suffered while living with his family, as well as the death of a family friend, there was also a great amount of humor incorporated.

Milman had me laughing quite a bit. I loved his witty, sarcastic, dry humor and the way Dario thought about and processed the world around him. Dario is such a compelling character, one that is very easy to get behind and support.

Overall, I was really impressed with this. I fell in love with Dario and the setting of Moldavia. The tone and humor were creative and the storyline captivating throughout.

I definitely plan to pick up more from this author!

View all my reviews