Review: You Know What You Did by K.T. Nguyen

You Know What You DidYou Know What You Did by K.T. Nguyen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

You Know What You Did is an intensely-suspenseful Mystery/Thriller debut from a hot up-and-coming author, K.T. Nguyen. And what a crackling debut it is!!

This story follows a fascinating-MC, Anh Le, who goes by Annie. She’s married, and the mother of a teenaged daughter. Annie is also an artist, although she’s feeling unsatisfied with her career lately.

In fact, a few aspects of Annie’s life are beginning to derail after the passing of her Mom, a Vietnam War refugee, who Annie had a contentious relationship with.

Annie’s mother had been residing in an out-building on their family property, so she had been a fairly constant presence in Annie’s life.

The loss impacted Annie in a lot of unexpected ways. Her severe-OCD comes roaring back and the dark fixations of her mind seem to be morphing into her reality.

When Annie’s most wealthy patron goes missing, shortly after Annie visited her home, the police come knocking.

The disappearance is shocking and it has Annie questioning everything, even herself. She can’t seem to keep current events straight in her mind.

She’s confused about many things and it’s scary. She begins to distance herself from her family and friends.

With Annie’s husband traveling for work, and her daughter off to summer camp, Annie is left to her own devices. As you can imagine, that doesn’t go well.

Waking up in a hotel, with a lifeless body beside her, Annie has officially hit rock bottom. The police are back and she doesn’t have answers that make sense, not even to herself.

Y’all, I loved this. I found it completely engaging, creepy and thought-provoking. K.T. Nguyen delivered all the tense, claustrophobic, desperate, unreliable narrator vibes that I could ever hope for.

I found it so easy to connect with Annie. I felt everything she was feeling. It made me incredibly anxious, but in a good, entertaining way, if that’s possible. There were times that I was crawling out of my skin of anticipation.

I was sympathetic to Annie’s character from the start, particularly since I couldn’t stand her husband, or her daughter. It often felt like they were ganging up on Annie and were just not giving her any slack.

I was happy when they both left, so Annie could be alone. Although it definitely didn’t help her mental state.

It’s funny, I was Buddy Reading this with a friend and she mentioned, like how much is what Annie is relaying to us about her husband and daughter true? Could it be her paranoia? Part of her mental spiral? Or were they really being that rotten to her?

It’s so funny, I didn’t even consider that before she said it, but yeah, Annie’s mental state definitely added so much to the suspense of this story. It was an exceptionally well-executed unreliable narrator situation.

I absolutely loved Nguyen’s writing. The character work in particular, I was so impressed. I enjoyed not only the suspense and mystery of this story, but Nguyen also chose to tackle some difficult topics, such as the immigrant experience and mental health.

I enjoyed the levels of depth that these topics added to the story. This is more than just your standard Popcorn Thriller. This story has meat and I enjoyed every bite.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a taut, engaging and emotional Mystery/Thriller. Particularly, if you enjoy an unreliable narrator.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Dutton, for providing me with a copy to read and review. If this is her debut, I cannot wait to see what Nguyen delivers next!!!

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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: The Obsession by Jesse Q. Sutanto

The ObsessionThe Obsession by Jesse Q. Sutanto
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Obsession is an intense YA-Thriller from one of my go-to authors, Jesse Q. Sutanto. This novel was released in 2021, and I’m so happy I dipped into my backlist for it.

Totally worth it!

In The Obsession we follow two teens, Delilah and Logan. Logan falls in love with Delilah on sight. She’s perfect. Everything he has ever wanted and he will have her.

He learns everything he can about her by doing things such as watching her at school, studying her social media, and aiming a hidden camera at her house.

You know, all totally normal things.

For her part, Delilah is attracted to Logan, but then they go out on a date and he’s way too intense. Like over-the-top intense. She’s had enough of controlling men in her life. She has no room for one more.

Delilah distances herself, thinking he’ll get the point.

Logan is desperate. He feels Delilah slipping away from him, but wait, she can’t exactly get away from him. He knows what she did. The worse thing she has ever done in her life. He knows. In fact, he has it on video.

He’ll just let her know, she rethink distancing herself from him real quick. But Delilah is not going to be as easily swayed as Logan anticipates. Who will end up the cat, and who will end up the mouse?

I listened to the audiobook for this and definitely recommend that format. The dual narration provided the perfect back-and-forth for Delilah and Logan’s perspectives.

I loved how in your face both of these characters were. There’s not a lot of apologizing for their thoughts or actions. It is what it is with these two.

I flew through this story. It takes turns alternating between the two MCs and at the end of each chapter, I wanted to know more. I had to keep going. How was this possibly going to be resolved? It felt impossible.

Initially, I was so disgusted with Logan. That kept me going, but then I see Delilah come in and I’m like, eyebrows raised, okay, you’re not as sweet and innocent as you first appear. It’s hard not to root for Delilah once you hear her story.

Logan on the other hand, my feelings never changed for him, but he was an interesting antagonist for Delilah’s overall story arc.

I’ll admit, I didn’t read the full synopsis before starting and I recommend you don’t either. Reading it over now, there are some things revealed that surprised me when I came to them in the story. I feel like I would have been bummed if I had gone in knowing those things ahead of time.

This had such a satisfying conclusion for me and it actually really made me think about what makes a villain.

Sutanto never fails to surprise me. Whether it’s by jaw-dropping twists, witty banter, or thoughtful character work, I keep on coming back and will continue to do so.

I’m so glad that I finally took the time to pick this one up. It was a lot of fun. I need more YA-Thrillers from Sutanto!

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Review: Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror, Edited & Intro by Jordan Peele

Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black HorrorOut There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror by Jordan Peele
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Out There Screaming: An Anthology of New Black Horror is a project brought to us by writer and director, Jordan Peele.

I’m sure you’re aware of Peele’s work. He has left quite the stamp on pop culture with his brilliant movies and television work. His popularity catapulted this collection onto many TBRs before it released this past October.

I was highly-anticipating this Anthology and am so happy to report, it’s great! Peele was able to bring together an impressive list of authors to contribute to this collection.

I loved how unique each story felt. Within the Horror genre, you really have almost every subgenre represented here. There’s something for everybody.

I’ve written before on the difficulty of rating Anthologies super highly. You’ll always have some stories you connect with more than others. I try to base my rating on the reading experience as a whole.

It’s clear, every contributor here is a gifted storyteller, and whether or not you vibe with the exact content of each story, you’ve got to appreciate the level of skill and heart that each author brought.

Whether you are a fan of SF-Horror with futuristic concepts, Speculative Horror with supernatural elements sprinkled throughout regular life, Mermaids, Historic Horror, or Social Horror; you will absolutely be able to find a story within this collection to sink your teeth into!

If you are interested, some stand-outs for me were: Eye and Tooth by Rebecca Roanhorse, The Other One by Violet Allen, Lasiren by Erin E. Adams, Dark Home by Nnedi Okorafor, Flicker by L.D. Lewis, The Most Strongest Obeah Woman of the World by Nalo Hopkinson, A Bird Sings by the Etching Tree by Nicole D. Sconiers and Hide and Seek by P. Djèlí Clark.

While these are the stories that resonated the most with me, as I mentioned before, this collection truly has stories for every type of Horror Reader.

It’s super diverse, extremely fast-paced, well-arranged and will keep you on your toes throughout.

Overall, this is a well-rounded collection. Every person who reads this is going to have a different experience. I think it would be really fun to read this with friends, or a book club. There would be so much to discuss!

That’s what it’s all about; making your own connections and interpretations, having fun and learning from others perspectives, cultures, traditions, folklore and experiences.

I think all of the contributors to this Anthology should be proud of the work they put forth here. Everyone was bringing their A-game.

I’m happy to have been introduced to a some new authors that I can follow, as well as getting to read more from some of my tried and true favorites like P. Djèlí Clark, Nnedi Okorafor and Rebecca Roanhorse.

I definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Anthologies, Horror stories, or Speculative Fiction in general. I’ll remember this collection for a long time!

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Review: Murder and Mamon (Tita Rosie’s Kitchen Mystery #4) by Mia P. Manansala

Murder and Mamon (A Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mystery Book 4)Murder and Mamon by Mia P. Manansala
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Murder and Mamon is the 4th-book in Mia P. Manansala’s Culinary Cozy Mystery series, Tita Rosie’s Kitchen.

This series, set in the town of Shady Palms, follows Lila Macapagal and is full of food, friends and family drama. I have vibed with every book in this series so far and have really enjoyed getting to know Lila, her family and friends.

In this installment, Lila’s godmothers, April, Mae and June, lovingly known as the Calendar Crew, are embarking on a fresh business venture; a new laundromat.

Also new is that Ninang April’s niece, a recent art school graduate, gets sent from the Philippines to Shady Palms by her family. She’ll be staying with Ninang April and the plan is for her to help out at the laundromat.

Instead of the Macapagals celebrating their grand opening though, they find their building vandalized and April’s niece lying dead with a threatening message scrawled beside her.

Devastated by all that’s occurred, the Aunties are beside themselves with grief and fear. Who would target them like this? According to the threatening message, it appears that perhaps their well-known meddling and gossip may have finally pushed someone over the edge.

With the local police making little progress, Lila feels compelled to begin her own investigation. She’ll do whatever she can to protect her family.

With one family member dead, Lila isn’t willing to just sit back and risk more.

I really enjoyed this. It was exactly the fun-spirited story that I needed right now. There’s just something about returning to a beloved Cozy Mystery series, reuniting with characters that feel like friends and solving oftentimes OTT-cases with them, that I will never grow tired of.

I’m a true sucker for this series. I will never stop reading them. As long as they’re published, I’ll be picking them up. It’s just my kind of Cozy.

While this wasn’t my favorite in the series, I do think it is a super strong installment. I liked getting to know even more about the Aunties, as Lila is forced to dig a little more into their personal lives in this one.

I also found the conversations regarding why the victim came to the United States in the first place rather interesting. It involved a bit of a scandal and Lila had to try to figure out the ins-and-outs of that as well.

The mystery had me stumped. I had a lot of suspects, everyone seemed suspicious and I even questioned if the victim was who the killer intended to take out. At the end of the day, it was just a lot of fun. Pure entertainment.

I would recommend this series to any Cozy Mystery fan, particularly if you enjoy Culinary Cozies. There’s a lot of food talk in these books, with vivid, mouth-watering descriptions. If you don’t walk away hungry, you may not have a soul.

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

I’m such a fan of this series and am already anticipating the 5th-installment. I cannot even begin to imagine what sort of craziness the Macapagal family is going to get involved in next, but you better believe I want a front row seat!

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Review: Gwen & Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher

Gwen & Art Are Not in LoveGwen & Art Are Not in Love by Lex Croucher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gwen & Art Are Not in Love is a Queer Medieval YA Rom-Com that is absolute sugar to read. I walked away feeling light and airy on its sweetness.

This is a YA-debut for this author, and I’m really hoping we’ll be seeing more from them in this space. I feel like this one definitely succeeded in what it set out to do.

This story follows Gwen and Arthur, who have been betrothed since they were kids and they’re not happy about it. The only thing they’ve had in common over the years is the ability to annoy one another.

As they reach marriageable age, Arthur travels to Camelot to stay for the Summer in the lead up to their impending nuptials. It doesn’t start off well, as Gwen catches Arthur kissing a boy, and Arthur discovers Gwen’s long-held crush on the kingdom’s only lady knight, Bridget Leclair.

It’s now clear that it’s more than general disdain keeping them apart. Having a new found understanding for one another, and their predicament, the two make a pact to cover for each other as they pursue their love interests.

This was adorable and so much fun. I think this would be a great fit for Readers who enjoy the style and feel of the Lady Janies books, such as My Lady Jane, or My Contrary Mary.

I definitely recommend the audiobook. There is dual narration for Gwen and Arthur, which is incredibly well done. The narrators captured the spirit of these characters.

The dynamic between Gwen and Arthur was the highlight for me. It was a bit of a journey of self-discovery for them both and I enjoyed watching them open up to one another.

Through their honesty with themselves and each other, they were able to develop a much needed support system in their new friendship group. There is a strong found family element to this story, so if that is something you enjoy seeing, you’ll definitely find it here.

I enjoyed the level of humor that Croucher brought to this story and that it didn’t get steamy at all. It’s fun, playful and flirty, but without being drowned out in unnecessary details for characters who don’t feel ready for all of that just yet.

For me, I could have used a bit more action, intensity or intrigue in the overall plot, it was just lacking a little of that for me. That is 100% personal taste though, and you may not feel that at all when you read it.

The action did amp up a bit right at the end, with a battle and some political changes, I just feel like I sort of needed a little more during the bulk of the story if I were going to give this a 5-star rating.

At the end of the day, this is a hugely enjoyable story. It’s heart-warming, it’s fun and I would definitely recommend it to Readers looking for a fun Queer story, or for Readers who enjoy witty dialogue, or a Medieval setting.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I will be picking up more from Lex Croucher!

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Review: What the River Knows (Secrets of the Nile #1) by Isabel Ibañez

What the River Knows (Secrets of the Nile #1)What the River Knows by Isabel Ibañez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pitched as the Mummy meets Death on the Nile, Isabel Ibañez’s latest release, What the River Knows, is a lush YA Fantasy set in Egypt in the 19th-century.

In this story we follow Inez Olivera, who lives in Argentina, mostly with her Aunt and cousins. Inez’s parents spend the majority of their time away from their Argentinian home, traveling and researching in Egypt.

Because of this, it has always made sense for Inez to stay behind with her Aunt.

As she has gotten older though, it has started to make less sense to Inez. Why won’t they take her with them? She knows that plenty of children travel and live aboard with their parents. Why can’t she?

Before she is able to get to the bottom of these questions, she receives terrible news. Her parents are dead, lost in the desert of the country they clearly loved so much. That is all the explanation Inez is given.

Inez’s head is left spinning. How could something like this possibly happen? What were they doing unaccompanied out in the desert? Her parents were experienced travelers, in Egypt in particular, they wouldn’t have unnecessarily put themselves at risk.

When everyone in her life refuses to answer her questions, Inez decides to take matters into her own hands. Under the cover of darkness, she decides to set out on the journey that will change her life forever.

Setting sail for Cairo as a young woman traveling alone, Inez has to be extra resourceful just to get by.

Once in Cairo, she’s reunited with the Uncle she barely knows, her Mother’s brother, Ricardo, who had been a large part of all her parents’ expeditions. She also makes quick acquaintance with her Uncle’s assistant, Whit, who though handsome, becomes a big thorn in her side, dogging her every move.

Inez begins looking for clues immediately, trying to discover the truth about what happened to her parents. Her Uncle wants to send her immediately back to Argentina, but Inez isn’t giving up without a fight. She’s not leaving until she finds the answers she seeks.

This story is an absolute roller coaster ride. You go through it with Inez. Her emotions are palpable throughout. I had such empathy for her. Although she is smart and strong, there’s also something about her that is just so innocent, you want to protect her.

I loved the initial set-up and the small details of magic that Ibañez wove throughout. There is magic in this world, but it is just touches and it never overwhelms the story in any way. It’s Fantasy Light.

This story is a bit of a slow burn, and it did take me a while to read, but there was never a moment when I wasn’t enjoying it. I think the story, as it is, is just built out beautifully and although it may seem a little long, there’s nothing I would take out of it.

I loved learning about these characters, watching the relationships evolve and also trying to figure out what actually happened to Inez’s parents. It was all compelling.

The mystery does successfully build in intensity over the course of the story and I definitely suspected everyone at one point or another.

Overall, I was impressed with the scope of this adventure. I also appreciated the commentary included on colonial powers and tomb raiders, or treasure hunters, in Egypt.

Ibañez included a lot of different layers in this story, but they all worked so well together. Finally, I will just say, when I first learned about this novel, I do not believe there was anything said about it being a part of a series, so I did not know that going in.

I genuinely thought this was a standalone, then I get to the ending and I’m like, jaw on the floor, guess freaking not!?

Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I was looking forward to this and it was just as wonderful as expected.

Ibañez is an incredibly talented writer. Her stories truly come to life on the page. I can’t wait to see where this goes from here. This is one ending that I will not forget!

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Review: The Merciless Ones (Deathless #2) by Namina Forna

The Merciless Ones (The Gilded Ones, #2)The Merciless Ones by Namina Forna
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Merciless Ones is the second-book in Namina Forna’s Deathless series. Admittedly, it took me a minute to recommit to this story, but Forna definitely got me in the end.

I’m glad I waited until now to read it, as the next book is releasing just a few months from now, in February 2024. This had an exciting conclusion and I can hardly wait to find out what is going to happen next!

This book picks up 6-months after the final events of The Gilded Ones. We continue to follow Deka, who is currently residing in Otera with her new friends. They’ve freed the goddesses, but should have known in a world as brutal as this, their fight was far from over.

When strange happenings begin to put all they’ve fought for at risk, and signs point to a dark force growing in the kingdom, Deka and her crew need to figure out what’s going on ASAP. Known now as the Gilded One’s, Nuru ((explained as a bit of a chosen one)), Deka feels it her duty to continue to lead the charge.

The investigation into what is happening takes the group on quite an adventure and of course, puts them in a lot of additional dangers.

Most surprising, a few figures from Deka’s past pop up and the reunions are not warm and fuzzy. Yet again, Deka goes through it in this story. The hits, they just keep on coming, and by the end, I had gained even more respect for this hella strong and resourceful character.

This story is interesting. It started slowly for me and through the initial set-up, I couldn’t see where it was going. After finishing, it’s no wonder I couldn’t. I never in a million years could have guessed some of these revelations.

The final portions of this book contained so many jaw-dropping moments. It pretty much took what I thought was well-established about this world and flipped it on its head.

It was an extremely exciting conclusion, and as mentioned above, I am so glad that the next book is releasing fairly soon. I can’t imagine having to have waited like a year to find out what is going to happen next.

Overall, I wasn’t as crazy about this sequel as I was the first-book, but honestly, that happens to me a lot. I just get so immersed in the initial world-building, that I fall in love.

Then when it starts to slow down a bit, in order to build up tension, or establish future conflicts, I begin to lose a bit of interest, or connection.

Nevertheless, I’m still pretty obsessed with this series and this book blew my mind by the end. Forna’s world-building is incredible. It’s a fairly complex system, but written in a way I feel is accessible to a wide-range of Readers.

I’ve found it easy to empathize with Deka. I’m definitely rooting for her. Her character saw a lot of growth in this installment and even some shifts in her powers.

I don’t even think we know yet the true extent of her powers, and I’m so anxious to learn more in the next book. I also love the friend group, more of a found family, that Deka has gathered around her. They’ve bonded so deeply after the hell they’ve been through, and those bonds run deep.

If you haven’t started this series yet, now is the perfect time to do so. The world and characters are so well developed, it’s easy to get swept up in the action.

Forna has created a brutal world and doesn’t pull punches in her action scenes. You’re going to read some things that will make your toes curl. For me, that’s a plus. It gets me even more invested. You can feel how high these stakes are.

I love Deka and am so excited for The Eternal Ones!!

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Review: Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations #2) by B.B. Alston

Amari and the Great Game (Supernatural Investigations, #2)Amari and the Great Game by B.B. Alston
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Amari and the Great Game is the 2nd-book in B.B. Alston’s Middle Grade Fantasy series, Supernatural Investigations.

The 1st-book in the series, Amari and the Night Brothers, completely stole my heart when I read it in 2021. It was one of those spectacular cases where the story meets the hype. It was just as great as I had anticipated.

It was one of the most engaging Middle Grade stories I had read in a while and I was excited for more!

Amari and the Great Game released in August of 2022 and because I had listened to, and enjoyed, the audiobook for the 1st-book, I wanted to continue with that format moving forward with the series.

Y’all, the library loan wait was real. She was long.

It finally came through at a time when I could utilize it; my annual Thanksgiving solo-road trip. Perfection.

The well-narrated audio was a great way to pass the hours, and the miles. I was swept up again into this world and loved the new aspects and feel that Alston delivered.

This story follows Amari after the tumultuous events of the 1st-book. Her life has completely changed and she finds all sorts of new responsibilities and worries on her plate.

We deal a lot in this one with magicians and the sort of negative associations many in the Bureau have of them. We also get treated to the Great Game, a magical competition, that puts all competitors at risk.

I will say, for me, this did have a different feel than the first book. I think mainly because of the nature of the story. Amari has grown up so much since the 1st-book and she’s now a fairly confident and astute young practitioner, who knows how to fight the good fight. It’s bittersweet.

In the 1st-book, her character was more the kind that you want to shelter and protect. She was like a baby bird, who has now grown so much, she’s ready to leave the nest.

Because of that, I don’t think I was able to form the same emotional attachment to the story. Hence the 4-star rating here, versus the glowing 5-stars of that 1st-book.

Also, middle book syndrome being what it is, this did feel like we were building a lot towards something. With this being said, I am really looking forward to the 3rd-book, which I expect to be absolutely epic.

Regardless of my slight, and I do mean very slight, diminished enjoyment, this is still hands-down one of the best Middle Grade Fantasy series on the market currently. If you haven’t started it yet, and love this genre, you need to.

Alston knows how to bring the action and the world-building is so well done. This is sure to have you at the edge of your seat, cheering for the heroes and wishing you were there alongside them.

I can’t wait to see where Amari’s story goes from here. She’s an absolute forced to be reckoned with and I know at the end of the day, she’s going to make me, and her family, proud!

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Review: Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology, Edited by Shane Hawk & Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr.

Never Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction AnthologyNever Whistle at Night: An Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology by Shane Hawk
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Attention Dark Fiction fans: if you only read one anthology all year, it should be this one; an amazing collection!!

Never Whistle at Night is exactly what the subtitle says, an Indigenous Dark Fiction Anthology. From the moment I heard about this release, I was stoked for it.

The synopsis sold me. I was also so excited to see the incredible group of authors contributing and that there would be an introduction by one of my all-time faves, Stephen Graham Jones!

I love all things Dark Fiction. It’s definitely my comfort zone and I truly enjoy exploring Dark Fiction inspired by cultures other than my own. I just love learning about the different dark lore/stories that various cultures around the world tell, or incorporate into their broader fictional narrative.

I am no writer, so I’m probably failing miserably in explaining what I mean, but hopefully you get the gist of why I was so excited for this particular anthology.

After the introduction from Stephen Graham Jones, the deep storytelling vibes are set and it’s time to dive in. I was immediately impressed with the variety and depth of the stories included. I had chills by the time I had finished the first story, always a good sign.

Anthologies and short-story collections are always a little hard to rate highly, as it’s very rare to vibe with all the stories included in a 5-star way. You’ll always have some you enjoy a lot and maybe a few that aren’t to your taste.

While I would say that is also true here, overall, for me, this was definitely a 5-star reading experience. Even though not all the stories were tailored to my particular tastes, I could still appreciate just how well they were written, and how each author truly brought their heart and their A-game to this collection.

If you are curious, some of the stand-outs for me in this collection were: White Hills by Rebecca Roanhorse, Quantum by Nick Medina, Snakes are Born in the Dark by D.H. Trujillo, Scariest. Story. Ever. by Richard Van Camp, The Prepper by Morgan Talty, Sundays by David Heska Wanbli Weiden and Collections by Amber Blaeser-Wardzala.

My favorite story of the collection was actually written by one of the editors, Shane Hawk. The story is titled Behind Colin’s Eyes and follows a boy and his Dad embarking on what should be a regular day of hunting, but ends up being anything but that. This one creeped me the heck out. It gave me chills and the whole thing is seared in my brain now. I won’t unsee this. Great work!

Overall, there is so much to love about this collection. There’s definitely something for everyone in here. As mentioned before, the stories cover a wide-range of topics and you can tell that these authors took a lot of care with the stories they were sharing.

Never Whistle at Night is a must read for anyone who enjoys Dark Fiction. Available now!!!

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