Review: Horror Movie by Paul Tremblay

Horror MovieHorror Movie by Paul Tremblay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

We’re all someone’s bad guy eventually.

Brilliant. I can’t express how much I love this book. IMO, this is Tremblay’s best work yet. A Horror Lover’s dark and heartbreaking dream.

Additionally, one of the best audiobook productions I have ever experienced and trust me, this is an EXPERIENCE.

It’s so funny. I read this book in less than two days over a week ago. At the time that I read it, I hadn’t looked at, or listened to, any reviews yet. The whole way through, I knew this was gonna be a 5-star for me.

Additionally, I seriously thought it was going to be a 5-star for everyone. Now that over a week has passed, and this book seems to be everywhere, I have seen a lot of reviews, and admittedly, some of them aren’t great.

I was shocked. Am I living in my own little Horror bubble? It’s possible. It really is, but regardless, having thought about it more, I can see this might work best for a certain niche market. Luckily, I happen to be a part of that niche.

I’m happy to stake my flag on outlier island and fully anticipate this making my Best Books of 2024 list. I’m already excited to read it again someday.

I loved how it was constructed. From the present perspective, that had a confessional feel to it, to the actual screenplay sections, to the flashbacks of making the movie, I found it all so gripping. It felt like an origin story to me, but was equally a love letter to this oft misunderstood genre.

I loved the idea of the whole low-budget movie-making process and even though, only certain scenes were released, that it still managed to turn into a cult-sensation even decades later. That’s absolutely something that would happen in the Horror community.

I also liked the idea of the movie itself being cursed. Our narrator is actually the only surviving member of the original production. This brought to mind Poltergeist and the curse that is said to surround the making of that trilogy.

For me, Poltergeist, which originally released in 1982, is part of that golden age of Horror cinema. It’s the first movie that genuinely traumatized me as a child, instilling in me an ever present fear of clowns, and I love it so much not in spite of that, but because of that.

In my opinion, this is a good fit for Readers who end up loving I Was a Teenage Slasher by Stephen Graham Jones, a book I absolutely loved a couple months back.

Basically for me, these two books felt a bit like Tremblay and SGJ had a conversation, maybe about the origins and influences in modern Horror, maybe about why we are attracted to and love Horror, or maybe on how Horror seems to be having a resurgence at the moment…

And then they both walked away from the conversation, inspired to a degree, and wrote books encapsulating those themes. Obviously, I am not saying that’s ACTUALLY what happened, but I felt, as a life-long Horror Lover, seen by these books, validated by them in a way.

They both examine so many different aspects of the genre, or why people may be drawn to it, and they both contained so much heart. They may be dark hearts, but they’re there nonetheless and both books broke mine.

I would recommend this to everyone who thinks it sounds interesting. Give it a shot. Go in knowing as little as possible. The synopsis really says everything you need to know about the plot. I feel like it’s a pretty even mix on opinions right now, so you could end up loving it as much as I did.

Also, I cannot recommend enough reading a physical copy while listening to the audiobook simultaneously. It’s a very unique reading experience and should be attempted if you do have access to both formats.

In summation, (haha) I think Paul Tremblay is a genius.

I love his imagination, his dark humor, his ability to write characters that I care about and the fact that he keeps surprising me. I find his stories smart, gripping and unpredictable. I look forward to whatever he gives us next!!

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Review: Cuckoo by Gretchen Felker-Martin

CuckooCuckoo by Gretchen Felker-Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Cuckoo is an Extreme Horror novel following a diverse cast of Queer characters trying to survive a Conversion Camp and its aftermath. Kicking off in 1995, this book gets in your face and stays there. Warning: there are no limits!

It’s guaranteed to make you uncomfortable, cringey, angry, and hurt for 99% of the time that you are reading it. If you’re not, you may want to check your pulse.

This is the kind of book that makes me wish I had a BookTube channel, because I could talk about this book for hours. It made me think a lot and really analyze everything that’s going on here.

Sadly, my patience for typing isn’t as robust as my patience for talking, so I promise, this won’t be too long. Most likely, you are wondering what this is all about. The cover doesn’t reveal too much and the title could mean anything.

Basically, this story starts in 1995, it introduces us to a group of characters, all Queer, who are forcibly sent to a Conversion Camp by their families.

The very beginning of the novel is interesting, because as you’re meeting the various characters it was delivered sort of via vignette style, which I’m not necessarily accustomed to. In a way, it made it feel like I was getting short stories for each of the major players.

Once they are all moved to the conversion camp, we then follow the various atrocities that occur there. Unsurprisingly, as the characters are being submitted to daily abuses, they begin to bond and form connections to one another.

Ultimately, a plan to break out is formed.

In Part II, we fast forward to where these teens are now adults, and they’re brought together once again to try to fight the old evil they were exposed to at the camp. What they’ve come to call, the cuckoo. They want to save the next generation of teens suffering like they did.

The story is much more complex than this basic synopsis lets on, but it is best to go in knowing as little as possible.

However, with this being said, I want to stress that this is an Extreme Horror novel. I feel this is a very important distinction for me to make, because I’m not sure the synopsis, or the way it’s currently being marketed, really makes that clear enough.

My concern for this book is that people are going to pick it up thinking it is a Queer Horror novel, which, yes, it is, but there is a very big difference between a mainstream Horror book and an Extreme Horror book.

I feel like people who have never read Extreme Horror before, or maybe aren’t aware that is even a subgenre, will pick this up and be traumatized for life.

I read this subgenre regularly, so nothing here surprised me, especially having read Felker-Martin before, I knew what I was getting myself into. I signed up knowingly, willingly and I really enjoyed the journey of this story.

I just want to throw out a friendly warning to anyone else who may not be so prepared. This is extreme, it’s graphic, both in a violent and sexual nature, and holds absolutely nothing back.

I wouldn’t say this is quite as Splatterpunk as Manhunt, and I actually enjoyed the trajectory of this story more than Manhunt, but this is still full of Felker-Martin’s signature style of extreme writing.

One small issue I had though was the pace. I felt like in the beginning, it read fairly slowly, and then by the end, it was progressing too quickly. The lead-up to the final events, I actually wish was more drawn out. While I appreciate the intensity built throughout, I actually would have preferred a more even pace.

Also, I really loved Part II, which followed the characters as adults, but it didn’t start until around 70%. I would have loved a more 50/50 split, between following them as teens, and then following them as adults.

Overall, I thought this was great. It was engaging and thought-provoking. I feel like as a piece of Extreme Horror Fiction, it was creative and very well-written.

I enjoyed this more than Manhunt, which was quite a memorable reading experience, and feel like Felker-Martin’s style is fine-tuning into something that is distinct in the subgenre. She is wildly-imaginative and not afraid to explore very difficult topics. She pulls no punches.

Thank you to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I will definitely be picking up whatever this author writes next!

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Review: The Girls on Floor 13 (Detective Maria Miller #3) by Helen Phifer

The Girls on Floor 13 (Detective Maria Miller #3)The Girls on Floor 13 by Helen Phifer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Helen Phifer’s Detective Maria Miller books are all super solid, page-turning Paranormal Mysteries. These books follow Maria Miller and her partner, Frankie, as they investigate cases that lack a normal, scientific explanation, and trust, these stories get DARK.

Located in New York City, there’s certainly no lack of bizarre happenings for them to investigate. Maria and Frankie have quickly become one of my favorite detective duos.

In this, the 3rd-installment to the series, Maria and Frankie are summoned to the Parker Hotel, an infamously haunted NYC-hotel, after the bodies of two teenage girls are found murdered in one of the rooms on the 13th floor.

The girls are laid out on the twin beds, as if on display. It’s a gruesome scene. As the investigation begins, the hotel manager shares some information with Maria that surprises her. A newspaper article reporting on an almost identical double murder that occurred in the hotel decades earlier.

In fact, a lot of people have suffered a tragic end at the hotel, some of the spirits reportedly still stalk the halls. Is there possibly some connection to the past in this case?

The more time they spend at the hotel, the more it seems to be effecting Maria. It feels like something has poisoned her body. It’s truly a race against the clock as they try to find the murderer, before they have the opportunity to strike again.

I found this mystery very intriguing. Phifer wastes no time diving into the main case we’re going to be examining. I appreciate how Phifer’s not afraid to get graphic. This one is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I loved the inspiration I felt from IRL Haunted Hotels. I know the author had a particular hotel in NYC in mind, but it immediately made me think of the Cecil Hotel. I mean, the watertower connection…

There’s def some creepy imagery in this. I feel like Phifer excels in that area. Let it be known, this is a true Paranormal Mystery. It’s not one of those, is it, is it not, cases. Go into this knowing it is absolutely, 100% Paranormal.

As with many Adult Mystery series, you can read this as a standalone. I would recommend reading the other books in the series though, as there is a lot of great character development for Maria and Frankie, as well as some really fun side characters, over the course of the three books.

With this being said, you could actually read this one first and then if you loved it enough, go back and read the other two. I would certainly have no problem with doing that.

This gets absolutely wild at the end. It’s so gripping. It’s compelling throughout, but the pace and the stakes really increase the closer you get to the end.

Overall, this was an entertaining, fast-paced, creepy mystery. I love how Phifer pulls a historical perspective into her stories as well. The back and forth and the way everything builds out is just very pleasing.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys Paranormal Mysteries, or Horror Mysteries. Maria and Frankie are like the Mulder and Scully of the NYPD.

Thank you to the publisher, Storm Publishing, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I can’t wait to see what comes next for these characters!

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Review: The Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley

The Midnight FeastThe Midnight Feast by Lucy Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Midnight Feast is easily one of my most anticipated releases of 2024, coming from one of my go-to Mystery/Thriller authors, Lucy Foley. I love her classic style, her sense of place, as well as her dramatic characters.

The moment I read this synopsis, I needed it.

This story follows four different perspectives: Francesca, the founder, Owen, the husband, Bella the mystery guest, and Eddie the kitchen help. On first observation, you may think four perspectives it a lot, but honestly, it never felt like it here.

They’re all equally interesting in their own right, and so well developed. Additionally, each play an important role in the events that play out over the course of the story.

We join these characters on the first night of the grand opening weekend at The Manor, a luxury retreat that Francesca has created, along with the help of her husband, Owen, upon her familial coastal estate.

The unique property is sold out for the weekend and all guests are expecting the best of the best, to be pampered and low-key treated like royalty. Francesca is pulling out all the stops, no expense has been spared, but will it all come off without a hitch? She’s beyond stressed.

It doesn’t take long after you meet all the characters for the ominous tone to set in. There are some mysterious things happening and the property itself seems to be mired in a darkness. It’s unsettling; wicked and wild.

The abutting woods feel like they are looming over the resort, like they may harbor secrets and other disturbing things. The local lore surrounding these woods certainly doesn’t help matters. This atmosphere got under my skin fairly quickly and I was eating it up.

Further, I loved the construction of this story. The chapters are short and you alternate between all of these perspectives. With each chapter you’re learning more and more about what is actually going here, the history and connections.

We also get some journal entries, which take us back to the property, I believe, 15-years prior, and the horrific events that happened there at that time. Through these journal entries we learn a bit more about some of the players in our modern timeline. Enlightening stuff.

I was at the edge of my seat the entire time I was reading this. I found the story to be so gripping. As each chapter ended, it felt like another puzzle piece falling into place.

I was scrambling to get through it. I had to know the truth behind all the connections and what was going to happen on the night of the Midnight Feast. It was a real race to figure everything out. I had so much fun with it.

I’m trying not to give too much away about what happens. It’s best to just go in and be surprised. This definitely went places that I wasn’t expecting.

I can’t stress enough how great this atmosphere felt though. I’m an atmosphere-girlie through-and-through. That’s the number one thing I want out of my stories and Foley delivered it in spades here.

It felt rich, dangerous, hedonistic, and a bit pagan in nature. It almost toes the line into Folk Horror territory, if I’m being honest, and you know I love that.

This was wildly-engaging and non-stop entertainment. There’s no lulls ever in the forward progression of the narrative and mystery of The Manor. The conclusion was exciting and included more than one jaw-dropping moment.

In my most humble opinion, this is Foley’s strongest work yet. Everything about this gets top marks from me. I literally have no complaints.

It comes with my highest recommendation. If you haven’t already, you need to add this to your Summer TBR. If you love atmosphere, clever plot development and non-stop twists and turns, you are sure to enjoy this as much as I did.

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, William Morrow, for providing me with a copy to read and review. As mentioned above, this was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and it far exceeded my expectations.

Well done, Lucy Foley. Well done!

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Review: Love Letters to a Serial Killer by Tasha Coryell

Love Letters to a Serial KillerLove Letters to a Serial Killer by Tasha Coryell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Love Letters to a Serial Killer is like nothing I have read before. This one is truly in a category all of its own, and the more I think about it, the more I think I enjoyed it!

This story follows Hannah, who in her 30s, finds herself in a rut. Her job is a bore, she feels disconnected from her soon-to-be-married best friend, and the guy she’s been in love with has moved on to someone else.

Hannah is lonely. She needs a change. When four women are killed in Atlanta, apparently by an active serial killer, Hannah discovers True Crime forums. She’s immediately hooked into the energetic community of online sleuths.

When a handsome lawyer, William, is arrested for the crimes, Hannah’s interest quickly becomes obsession.

Captivated by the case, Hannah decides to write William a letter as a way to air all of her frustrations and anger. What harm could come of it? It feels like a great way to express herself, and no one else will ever know anything about it.

Unexpectedly, William writes back. His letters are surprisingly charming and he seems so interested in her. It’s hard to reconcile his beautiful letters with the horrible monster the world is claiming him to be.

As mentioned, this whole thing has become an obsession of sorts for Hannah. It takes over her life. After losing her job for poor performance, she decides to leave her life behind and head to Atlanta to attend William’s trial.

The trial is a media frenzy, but in spite of the chaos, Hannah attends each and every day. She ends up befriending some other attendees and eventually begins to feel more at home there than she ever did in her old life.

When a 5th-woman is murderer while the trial is underway, it throws everything into question. How can William be the guilty party, if women are still being murdered the same way while he’s locked up?

With this huge development, and the prosecution having nothing more than circumstantial evidence against him, the jury has no choice but to find William not guilty. Guess who he calls upon after?

That’s right. Hannah. The two move in together and officially become a couple. Everything is great. William is so supportive of her, she doesn’t even have to get a new job.

All the more time for investigating him, because Hannah still suspects William could be a serial killer, acquittal or not.

Honestly, Love Letters to a Serial Killer is an odd little story. Even though I didn’t like Hannah, or her bonkers choices, I still found it to be ridiculously compelling.

I could not stop reading!

I feel like this one is going to garner some strong opinions upon its release, and I’m definitely interested to read them all. I found it to be completely original and wickedly fun, but it definitely tackles some taboo topics.

It did take me a minute to commit to the story. Hannah seems so desperate in the beginning. It annoyed me. I thought to myself, no wonder she is going to fall for a serial killer. She was just looking for any attention AT ALL.

Once it got to the point where she discovered the forums though, I was hooked. Then there was the letters! Was she nuts? He hadn’t even gone to trial yet. She was thinking he’d be locked up forever, but that’s never guaranteed.

Her choices were just a string of, WTF, Hannah?!?, moments, and I was eating it up.

As it goes along, it gets more and more wild. The family gets involved, other people, and then their relationship. OMG, I just, I’m not really sure how to sum up my thoughts on it.

It’s sick, it’s twisted, it’s slightly deranged, but I liked it. Hannah is like the Carole Ann Boone of the Romantic Thriller genre.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review.

This is an incredibly memorable one for me and I can’t wait to get more from this author!

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Review: Scythe (Arc of the Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe, #1)Scythe by Neal Shusterman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Scythe is an incredible book. Everything about it is top notch. I wish I could give it a million stars…

I’m close to the last person to read this Shusterman golden child, yet I am still going to rave about it nevertheless!

Set in a futuristic version of our world, where natural death no longer exists, Scythe, follows two young people, Citra and Rowan, who are chosen to apprentice with the powerful and well-respected, Scythe Faraday.

Scythes are granted the power to end life. The Scythedom is a world-wide community of individuals who have trained, passed trials and taken an oath to serve as Scythes, an ultramodern version of grim reapers.

As the Reader, we go along with Citra and Rowan as they meet Scythe Faraday and become his apprentices. We learn about the Scythedom as they do, which made the world come together naturally, versus an enormous info dump.

I always enjoy when an author can frame their world creation in this way. I know it doesn’t work with every story, but I love to learn things right along with our protagonists.

The further they get into it, the clearer it becomes that there is currently a schism building within the Scythedom. There are followers of the more traditional ways of the Order, and others who would like the shake up the status quo.

The system does indeed begin to shake, quite violently, and both Citra and Rowan find themselves right at the heart of it. The stakes are extremely high, as each teen struggles to make it through unscathed.

I loved the overall concepts presented in this book, as well as the characters and actions. It’s so well plotted and absolutely hooked me from the start.

Citra and Rowan were fun to get to know. They develop a bit of an unlikely friendship over the course of their apprenticeship and I really started to look at them like opposite sides of the same coin.

There are a lot of twists and turns throughout, some that I didn’t see coming from a mile away. Maybe I’m dense, but I’d like to think that it was because I was so in the moment with this story, that I wasn’t thinking further ahead.

I love too how philosophical Shusterman can get with his writing. I finished his Skinjacker trilogy not long ago, and encountered the same types of themes and issues explored there as here. It’s really first-rate stuff that makes you think and leaves you with a lot to consider.

At the conclusion of this installment, we had some fairly major revelations that left me chomping at the bit to get to the next book.

Luckily, I already have the entire series waiting for me on my shelves, so shall be getting to Thunderhead this month. I’m so excited to get back into it!!

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Review: Grey Dog by Elliott Gish

Grey DogGrey Dog by Elliott Gish
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The first line of the Publisher’s synopsis for Grey Dog, by Elliot Gish, promised me the following good time:

A subversive literary horror novel that disrupts the tropes of women’s historical fiction with delusions, wild beasts, and the uncontainable power of female rage…

There is no way I could walk away from that and I’m so glad I didn’t. This has probably been my most surprising read of the year in the best ways possible.

Words cannot express what I felt after reaching the conclusion of this novel. Grey Dog delivered EXACTLY what I was promised. I absolutely loved it!

It’s 1901 when Ada Byrd, described as a spinster, schoolmarm and amateur naturalist, accepts a teaching post in the remote town of Lowry Bridge.

We get told this story through a series of Ada’s journal entries, beginning as she arrives in Lowry Bridge for the first time. We follow along with her as she settles into her home and begins to navigate life in this new environment.

She arrives a wee bit before the school year starts, so she does have time to meet people and acclimate a bit to her surroundings. Ada is very happy to have this chance at a fresh start, around folks who know nothing of her past.

Ada makes friends, gets to know her students and explores the lush natural setting of the small farming community. Everything seems to be going swimmingly, but then Ada begins to notice odd things around her.

Like insects and animals behaving in unnatural ways. Her senses tell her to be afraid. The longer she’s there, the more unsettled she seems to become. It starts to weigh heavily on her mind. It’s taking a real toll.

How much of Ada’s story can we believe though? She’s a tainted woman, after all. Maybe it’s in her head, the result of some previous issues? Or is there something actually evil lurking in Lowry Bridge?

I had the pleasure of listening to this on audio and highly recommend that format. The narration of Natalie Naudus was perfect for the voice of Ada.

Being presented as journal entries, and listening to it, it made it feel so personal; like I was getting a secret glimpse into Ada’s life. It made for a gripping reading experience.

In addition to this, I found Gish’s writing style, in and of itself, to be a fantastic fit for my tastes. It was very fluid and engaging. Highly readable. The historical feel of this was spot on. I felt transported.

When I was reading this, I was so invested. When I wasn’t reading this, I was thinking about it and wanted to be.

I liked how it felt subtle and understated. There was an overall gothic-sort of feel that stayed eerie throughout. I felt ill at ease frequently without being able to pinpoint why.

I wouldn’t say it delivers earth-shattering levels of action, or suspense, but it’s just uber-intriguing, the human nature of it all. It gets under your skin and stays there.

Overall, I was very impressed with this. The ending had my jaw on the ground and a wicked laugh escaping my lips.

It was a perfect conclusion; wow. I definitely plan to get a hard copy for my collection. I’d love to reread it someday and annotate.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dreamscape Media, for not only providing me with a copy to read and review, but also for introducing me to the talent of Elliott Gish.

I cannot wait for more!!!

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Review: The Eternal Ones (Deathless #3) by Namina Forna

The Eternal Ones (The Gilded Ones #3)The Eternal Ones by Namina Forna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**4 5-stars**

The Eternal Ones is the final installment in Namina Forna’s Deathless series. I’m walking away an emotional mess.

I wasn’t ready for this to end.

I’ll admit, this series intimidated me at first. It took me a while before I dared to pick it up, but once I did, Forna laid those fears to rest. With this being said, this is heavy and a bit complicated; it’s not an easy read by any stretch.

You need to be focused and paying attention at all times, but if you do, it pays off in spades.

I’m not going to say anything about the plot here, as I am seriously at a loss for how to describe this book without spoiling the events in the previous two.

My experience with this was very positive. I was a little nervous that it’s been a few months since I read The Merciless Ones, the 2nd-book, and I was concerned I wouldn’t remember enough about how that one left off.

Again, I should have trusted Forna’s skills more. She provided a perfect, natural-feeling recap that helped to jog my memory so well. I really appreciated that aspect. It was concise and gave just what I needed to get me back in the proper headspace for this series.

As mentioned above, this is complex, and by that, I mean the world is complex. You are being dropped into a fully-formed, beautifully-developed world and while I may have thought I knew everything about it by this point, I was wrong.

We had some great new developments here, with Deka and her friends traveling to the edge of the world and discovering a whole new realm. It’s there they glean some information needed for the final showdown and meet some promising new potential allies.

I was surprised by the emotional levels that Forna was able to bring to these books. In each one, I always felt for Deka, but in this one in particular my heart was with her. It was a roller coaster, for her and for me.

I just couldn’t imagine going through everything she had been through. It’s tumultuous. It’s like Deka can never catch a break, it’s one thing after another, but she had to travel the path she did. She really had no choice. I respect her courage throughout this series.

In addition to the fabulous main character that Deka is, I also love her best friend, Britta so, so much. She’s like Samwise Gamgee level perfect sidekick.

Their friendship is actually one of my favorite aspects of this entire series; the way it is written. Like when it is just the two of them having a private moment, it’s so cute. In those moments, you can really see their humanity; just two teen girls caring about each other. Britta is just such a light to me, in an otherwise fairly dark narrative.

I also enjoy Keita, Deka’s love interest. Their relationship is sweet and definitely hit me in the feels.

He has been through a lot in his life, like Deka, so I think it’s easy for them to relate to one another and find solace in one another. Even though their experiences are very different, they can appreciate what they’ve each been through.

One of the most powerful scenes in this book, IMO, involves them returning to Keita’s family home. Y’all, you better have your tissues ready. There was something so moving and believable about that scene for me.

Lastly, the Found Family element, created over the course of the series, for me is shining its brightest in this book.

This group is tight, and with what they’re facing in the final scenes, it couldn’t have come at a better time. The camaraderie, the good spirits as a group and the ability to communicate well and work together, it’s so well done.

I’m sad this is over. Frankly, it’s such a beautifully-imagined world Forna’s created here, it’s a shame to use it just for these three books and never see it again…

That’s why I’m proposing a prequel following Deka’s Mom and White Hands. Forna, if you’re out there, we need this.

To the rest of you, write your Congressman, your mayor, pass around petitions, let’s make this happen!

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Review: The Forest Demands Its Due by Kosoko Jackson

The Forest Demands Its DueThe Forest Demands Its Due by Kosoko Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**


The first thing that attracted me to The Forest Demands Its Due was the stunning cover. It’s 100% my go-to aesthetic.

The colors, the imagery, even the font, I had to know what it was about. After reading the synopsis, I wanted it ASAP.

In this story, set in Winslow, a small town in rural-Vermont, we follow Douglas Jones, a recently enrolled student at the prestigious Regent Academy.

Douglas differs from the other students. He’s there because his Mom works there and he got in a bit of trouble elsewhere. He’s a scholarship kid. He’s not rich like the other kids, and really doesn’t expect to get the same experience out of Regent as they do.

Douglas simply wants to keep his head down and quietly make it through the year. Unfortunately, some of his peers are bound to make that goal challenging.

Douglas is on edge at Regent as it is, but after the mysterious death of a fellow student, one which only he seems to remember, Douglas is more sure than ever that something is off at the ivory-towered school.

When he meets Everett, the groundskeeper’s son, and discovers that Everett remembers the murdered boy too, Douglas decides he needs to find the truth. What in the heck is going on at Regent?

In his search for answers, Douglas uncovers a giant horde of secrets kept by the locals. Not only that, he’s awakened the horrific entity hiding at the heart of the forest surrounding the school.

Will Douglas be able to harness his inner power and defeat this formidable enemy before all of Winslow is destroyed?

He doesn’t know, but he’s certainly going to try and his new friend, Everett, plans to be with him every step of the way.

This isn’t a perfect book, but I did enjoy a lot of what the author created here. Douglas was great MC to follow and learn about. I loved his narrative voice. Additionally, the ideas behind the Horror elements were strong.

I enjoyed the blending of Social Horror with the Folk Horror-evil forest elements. The private school setting was well done and Jackson successfully set an ominous tone from the start. I think this truly deserves a higher overall rating, which is why I decided to round up.

At the beginning, it was giving me heavy We Don’t Swim Here vibes, which I enjoyed a lot, so that really helped to grab my attention early. The way Douglas was noticing things at Regent that other people either weren’t noticing, or weren’t admitting to noticing, was hella intriguing.

It felt menacing and heavy. What was going on?

I will admit, some of the plot was hard to track, particularly towards the end when the pace increased. I think some of the confusion came from the magical elements. I never felt like I had a full grasp on the magic system.

Overall though, I felt like the characters and setting were well done, and I enjoyed thinking about the different social topics explored.

I would recommend this to anyone who enjoys YA Social Horror, or Haunted Forest stories. Also, if you are looking for a Diverse, or Queer YA Horror read, this is a strong recommendation.

Thank you to the publisher, Quill Tree Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am looking forward to reading more from Kosoko Jackson.

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Review: Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep #0.5 by Mira Grant

Rolling in the Deep (Rolling in the Deep, #0.5)Rolling in the Deep by Mira Grant
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rolling in the Deep is the prequel to Mira Grant’s sensational killer mermaid story, Into the Drowning Deep.

I read Into the Drowning Deep in February of 2020 and absolutely LOVED it. There’s something about Aquatic Horror that I find so disturbing. Maybe it’s the fact that I live on a island…

Regardless, in that book we follow a ship crew sent out on a mission to investigate the mysterious disappearance of the crew of the Atargatis. The events of the Atargatis had occurred 7-years prior and one of the main characters had a sister who was part of the Atargatis crew.

You hear a lot in that story about the Atargatis, of course, but this novella covers the full story of that crew, their goals, actions and interactions leading up to their disappearance.

I love Grant’s use of mixed media to tell both of these stories. It makes it feel surprisingly realistic. I also feel like Grant excels at including science-based content in her stories. Both of these books are so well written.

I wish this would have been a full length novel. I know that wasn’t the point, but I just love these stories so much, I wanted more!

I definitely recommend these books to any Horror fan who hasn’t had the chance to get to them yet. You’ll never think of mermaids the same way again.

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