Review: Reprieve by James Han Mattson

ReprieveReprieve by James Han Mattson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this. I don’t read a lot of stories that feature this sort of Literary Fiction mixed with strong Social Horror.

I felt like this author did a great job constructing this one. I feel like with the people it’s going to hit with, it will really hit. Reprieve has the power to stay on your mind.

I listened to the audiobook and found it immersive. The tone of J.D. Jackson’s narration was, despite the content, soothing and very easy to get swept up in.

This story is set in 1997 and is constructed via a few different style elements. The idea is that there has been a murder at a full-contact, horror-inspired escape room called Quigley House, and we learn about the individuals involved, as well as the aftermath of the crime.

You get a few different character perspectives leading up to their involvement with the fateful night at Quigley House. You also follow along with the group of four contestants making their way through the different levels of the escape room process. Finally, you get court transcripts from the trial following the murder.

An aspect I think some Readers may dislike are the fairly large sections from the different perspectives in the before portions, that are pure character development. They provide context for the various characters ending up at the escape room, but they’re not particularly exciting, or thrilling, if I’m being honest.

With this being said though, I actually really enjoyed the author’s choices in constructing it that way. There were little hints provided throughout these sections that gave you insight into how they were all ultimately going to be connected. I liked watching it all come together.

Additionally, I enjoyed that sort of slow build-up of the eventual relationships and connections. I felt James Han Mattson gave real care to the creation of these characters and it gave it a certain level of authenticity that I appreciated.

The Social Horror was strong, particularly involving race and social status. Those themes branched throughout all of the different sections of the story and I feel like the author did a great job with it, bringing a slightly different perspective than I have read before. Jaidee’s experience as a foreign student coming to the U.S. was eye-opening.

Even though I had a great experience with this one, I do understand why some Readers aren’t connecting with this like they wanted. I think if you go into it expecting a fast-paced and exciting Horror-Thriller set in a escape room, you may be let down by the slow-build and focus on non-escape room content, of which there’s a lot.

I think if you enter this one with the right mindset though, and allow yourself to just settle into the character’s personal journeys, you could end up enjoying this as much as I did. Hopefully, this review will help you decide whether it will be for you or not.

I will definitely be picking up whatever James Han Mattson chooses to write next!

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The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

The Year of the WitchingThe Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

In The Year of the Witching we follow a young woman, Immanuelle Moore, who lives in a Puritanical-feeling settlement known as Bethel.

Immanuelle is an outsider amongst the group. She is accepted for the most part, but no one is really warm and fuzzy towards her.

This stems back to Immanuelle’s mother, who had an affair with an outsider, a man of a different race, the result of which was Immanuelle’s birth.

Immanuelle’s Mom’s life had a tragic ending. Because of this, and the stigma attached to her very being, Immanuelle tries her best to just get along and fly under the radar. Unfortunately, no one can do that forever.

After a mishap leads Immanuelle to the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds the settlement, she encounters the spirits of powerful witches killed years before. These spirits gift Immanuelle the journal of her dead mother.

This may sound puzzling, but trust me, in the context of the rest of story, it flows nicely.

Intrigued by the journal, Immanuelle becomes focused on discovering the truth behind her mother’s life. The more she digs, however, the more she stands apart from the rest of her society. It becomes clear that the history of Bethel isn’t as clear-cut as the leaders try to make it.

The Year of the Witching is a very solid story.

While I didn’t personally find it to be as successful as House of Hunger, I still enjoyed the eerie atmosphere and dark, vivid imagery Henderson brought to the page.

The initial build-up was strong and captivating. I liked meeting Immanuelle and learning a bit about her family history and the beliefs/traditions of Bethel.

Some of the insights into Immanuelle’s Mom made me sad. I felt for Immanuelle. She definitely was not dealt an easy hand. Reading of her overcoming and finding her power within herself was definitely satisfying though.

I did find some of the action towards the end difficult to track. There were moments where I couldn’t picture anything that was happening.

Overall though, I did really enjoy this. It’s a powerful story with some interesting themes explored. Immanuelle was a sympathetic main character; easy to get behind.

I am hoping that Henderson does end up releasing a sequel to this. I know that was sort of up in the air for a while, but I would love to see more with these characters!

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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!

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Review: We Don’t Swim Here by Vincent Tirado

We Don't Swim HereWe Don’t Swim Here by Vincent Tirado
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of reading Vincent Tirado’s 2022-YA Horror debut, Burn Down, Rise Up.

First, let me say, if you are a YA Horror fan who enjoys stories involving urban legends, settings with a dark history, as well as a deep sense of place in the storytelling, you really should pick that one up.

I had a lot of fun with it and was instantly drawn in by Tirado’s creativity and writing style. I loved how quickly the action kicked off, no wasted time whatsoever.

Additionally, there was some fantastic horror imagery within that story that really got under my skin. Not too long after completing that book, I heard some buzz for Tirado’s latest release, We Don’t Swim Here.

I immediately made it my mission to get my hands on it.

I was so blessed to receive an early copy of the audiobook from Tantor Audio…

And I’m not even lying to you, when I say I listened to it twice this weekend. Explanation as to why I listened twice: I was on a long solo road trip and had a lot of steering wheel time and it was that good.

The narration of the audiobook is FANTASTIC. I absolutely recommend it as a format. The narrator, iiKane, was able to channel a overriding sense of urgency to the entire story. It had my pulse racing, even when nothing overtly scary was happening.

This story follows two cousins, Bronwyn and Anais. Their grandmother, LaLa, is in ill health and because of that, Bronwyn’s father, moves their family to the small Arkansas town, Hillwoods, where he grew up and into LaLa’s house, while she is in hospital.

Anais calls Hillwoods home. Her Dad and Bronwyn’s Dad are brothers, but because their two fathers have a strained relationship, Bronwyn and Anais, don’t know each other all that well, even though they’re cousins.

Bronwyn takes the move pretty well. She’s a good girl. Her biggest disappointment is that she was a really successful swimmer at her old school, and this school doesn’t have a swim team. In fact, in seems like there is no place to swim in the entire town.

While that’s a major bummer, as soon as she starts school, Bronwyn is more distracted by how weird everyone is acting to care too much about the whole swimming thing.

One overly-enthusiastic girl befriends her and seems to be hovering around like an annoying fly every time Bronwyn turns around. Additionally, other classmates are super strange and elusive. It’s like they’re all hiding something from her; some giant collective secret.

This story is fast-paced and it involves a lot. That’s why I didn’t mind listening to it two times in a row. I was sure there were little things I might have missed the first time through, in my haste to get to the bottom of what was happening in Hillwoods.

Overall, this is a solid read. It’s quite trope-filled, but honestly, for YA Horror, that’s what I’m here for. It did have some of my favorite things too.

There was a lot of local lore, missing outsiders, odd acting locals, the new girl, a found diary, a nosy reporter digging into the past and an older character guiding the younger ones, whilst also providing a bit of levity.

Mystery, intrigue, dark imagery, a spooky town, it has it all. It felt like a mix of the 90s movie, The Faculty, with Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt + diversity. It’s so freaking mysterious. I had no clue what was going on in the beginning and it had me disturbed.

My slight criticism is that it almost did too much. I could have delved more into certain areas, while leaving other areas out, if that makes sense. Digging deeper into certain aspects could have made it feel more tied up at the end; more focused.

This is just my opinion though and at the end of the day, I know nothing of writing and certainly could never have created what Tirado did here. Also, I read it twice and gave it four stars, so clearly, I still really enjoyed it.

For a sophomore novel, this showed growth and I’m super stoked that Tirado stayed in this lane. I’m so glad to have a new voice in the YA Horror space that I can obsess over.

Thank you to the publisher, Tantor Audio, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I definitely recommend this one, as well as Tirado’s debut.

Also, if you have enjoyed Tiffany D. Jackson’s Horror novels, I think you’ll enjoy this as well. The synopsis definitely got that comp right.

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Re-Reading Stephen King’s Carrie, Review

CarrieCarrie by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Carrie, Stephen King’s first published full-length novel was released in 1974 and at this point, I think it’s fair to say it’s a modern classic. This novel has been adapted to film four times, the most well-known being the original 1976-release starring Sissy Spacek as Carrie.

Incidentally, I did decide to listen to the audiobook for this reread, as I had only read the print copy before, and the audio was narrated by Spacek.

It was fantastic and I highly recommend that audio-version. Spacek clearly has an intimate connection with this story and with Carrie in particular. I felt like it made the audio experience extra special.

Assuming most people at least have a general idea of what this story is about, I will keep this short and simple. This story, through the incredible use of mixed media, tells the story of Carrie White, a bullied teen who lives in the small town of Chamberlain, Maine.

At the beginning, there’s an infamous scene taking place in the girls locker room at school, wherein Carrie experiences her first menstruation. Raised by a single-mother, religious fanatic, who believes only women who sin grow breasts, Carrie has no idea what a period is.

She’s frightened at the sight of the blood and panics. Her peers, who have already been bullying her mercilessly for years, are brutal in their reaction to the event, pelting her with feminine products and screaming at her.

It’s awful. The girls are awful. Carrie gets sent home for the day and the young women involved in torturing her are given a light slap on the wrist.

It’s at that time, under distress, that the first public signs of Carrie’s powers appear. At least since that rock incident when she was a child…

The plot progresses from there, advancing Carrie’s story from that point forward, as well as filling in some of her backstory, including her gut-wrenching, abusive relationship with her mother.

When one of the girls involved, Sue Snell, starts to feel remorse for the locker room incident, she concocts a slightly hair-brained and uber-naive plot wherein her popular, jock boyfriend, Tommy Ross, will take Carrie to the Spring dance instead of her.

Tommy isn’t crazy about the idea. Not because he has anything against Carrie, he’s not that kind of guy, but because he doesn’t feel like Sue’s tepid attempt at ridding herself of guilt will make any real difference in Carrie’s life.

Nevertheless, he loves Sue and is willing to do anything she asks. If only he hadn’t…

I had such a blast listening to this. I haven’t read this story in over 20-years and it was so great to revisit one of King’s earliest hits. Imagine reading and reviewing this in 1974, like ‘this Stephen King guy is an author to watch.’

I was struck immediately by the creative use of mixed media. I have read from other authors who have mentioned how this novel influenced them with that format and I can see why. It is so incredibly well done here. IMO, definitely still one of the best displays of that format published to date.

I think it is important to keep in mind how unique that would have been at the time of publication.

There have been numerous novels in the past few years that have embraced that narrative style, particularly if you think of all the ones including podcasting elements. It seems now an obvious choice as a way to tell a story, but it’s really not traditionally.

I’ll be honest, it did make me sad reading this though. I was reminded why I have never reread it until now. There are certain King’s, mainly this and Cujo, that are so good, yet so painful to read, because of how much empathy I feel for the characters involved, that I sort of avoid them.

As a Horror story, one could categorize Carrie as the ‘evil’, but you feel for her and I would assume that 99.9% of Readers will be on her side.

To me, it’s a bit like Frankenstein, another book I could only read once because I felt so damn bad for Frankenstein’s monster, and in a way, Carrie is the Frankenstein’s monster of modern times.

Carrie was created by the abuse of her mother and the constant harassment and ridicule of her peers. Sure, there’s an argument in the book that her powers are genetic and I get that, but having telekinetic powers doesn’t necessarily equate to killing hundreds of your peers and burning down your entire town.

I feel like there could have been other options for Carrie if she hadn’t been treated like complete trash her entire life.

I loved how this wrapped up too, how the speed that the mixed media jumped around in the aftermath of prom night increased the intensity of the conclusion. I just thought it was so well done and then that final little snippet, PERFECTION.

I’m so happy that I took the time to reread this one. Even though Carrie’s story is a painful one, it’s also powerful and absolutely one that will stick in your mind once your done.

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Review: The Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro

The Haunting of AlejandraThe Haunting of Alejandra by V. Castro
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Haunting of Alejandra is a slow burn. One which, I’ll be honest, initially, I wasn’t sure was going to be for me.

I am happy to say that this slow-burner is well-worth the wait. It ended up really grabbing me. It is such a powerful story; so much more than a pretty cover.

In this story we follow, Alejandra, wife, mother and homemaker. When we meet her, Alejandra is struggling. She feels trapped, like she has no control over her life. She feels judged by her husband, used by her children and overlooked by the rest of the world.

Alejandra has no close family for support either. She was adopted when she was just a baby, by a super-religious family, she has since broken ties with.

She has found and contacted her birth mother though and was starting to build a relationship with her. Unfortunately, due to her husband’s work, they had to move and now her bio-mom lives far away.

Alejandra is having visions. She is depressed, in a black hole she sees no way out of. It’s difficult to read at times. I could definitely see her side, but man, was it bleak.

This is a story of generational trauma as well, so even though Alejandra doesn’t know a lot about her ancestors, or their lives, we get to follow some of them through different historical perspectives.

I did enjoy this. Some of these perspectives were more interesting than others, but where they really succeeded was in shining a light on the similarities of these women’s lives.

No matter how far they were separated in time, they all struggled with the same issues. The largest being, lack of choice and a battle for personal autonomy.

The Horror elements in this stem from Alejandra’s haunting by a spirit appearing as La Llorona, the Mexican Folk Demon, seemingly attached to Alejandra’s family.

This is the first novel I have read by V. Castro and I was impressed with the level of Horror imagery brought to the page. Toe-curling in some sections, visceral and biting, it definitely made me cringe.

Additionally, I loved how tied the haunting was to Alejandra’s culture. As mentioned above, she didn’t know a ton about her heritage initially, but believe it or not, I felt like what happened to her inspired her to learn more; to be more in touch with that part of herself.

Overall, I am so glad that I stuck with this one. It was a little tough to get through at first, but Castro made it worth it. There was a plan behind it all and it paid off big time. This will stick in my mind for a long time.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Del Rey, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I am looking forward to reading more from this author!

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Review: Welcome to Dead House (Classic Goosebumps #1) by R.L. Stine

Classic Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead HouseClassic Goosebumps: Welcome to Dead House by R.L. Stine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Welcome to Dead House is the first installment in R.L. Stine’s Classic Goosebumps series. Originally published in 1992, this story channels all the vibes of the series.

We follow brother and sister, Josh and Amanda, who are moving into a new home in the town of Dark Falls with their parents and the family dog.

From the start, the kids aren’t having a good time. The dog keeps fleeing in terror, Amanda is seeing people who aren’t there and Josh is just grumpy about the move in general.

Their parents think the dog’s and kids’ reactions, are just due to the disruption of their regular life. They’re in a new, strange place and the house is old, it’s gonna have some creaks and groans. They’ll get over it.

They try to settle in the best they can. Josh and Amanda are even able to befriend some local kids, who although a little odd, seem nice overall.

Even with others in the neighborhood accepting their arrival, the siblings can’t quite shake the feeling that something is off. There’s too many eerie things happening and yeah, the other kids are saying weird things and continue acting strangely. What gives?

It turns out, Dark Falls has a dark history with dark secrets, but will Josh and Amanda succumb to its dark aims?!

I have been feeling nostalgic lately for the Middle Grade and YA Horror of my younger years. When I saw that my library had the 2015-audio version of this book available yesterday, on a whim I decided to listen to it.

It was so fun and I easily listened to it in a couple hours.

There’s an overall feeling of menace in this story that legitimately gave me the creeps. I would think that some kids would be scared by this one, but in a fun way. It’s not gory, or overly descriptive in the Horror aspects, but still very compelling.

I would recommend this one to Readers of all ages. It has Stine’s goofy-brand of Dad humor sprinkled throughout. A few times I rolled my eyes, but often I laughed out loud.

Overall, I am super glad I gave this one a listen and plan to pick up more of the Classic Goosebumps series very soon!

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Review: Lone Women by Victor LaValle

Lone WomenLone Women by Victor LaValle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Lone Women follows Adelaide Henry as she leaves her life in California behind and starts again in the wide-open spaces of Montana.

It’s 1915 and Adelaide is essentially fleeing from her previous life, leaving death and destruction behind her. At least that is what she is hoping.

In Montana, she’ll be a lone homesteader. On her journey, she’s conspicuously dragging with her an overweight steamer trunk. That’s not suspicious at all…

This story is steeped with mystery from the very first pages. A tragedy occurred on the Henry farm and Adelaide is on the run, but you have no idea what happened.

Adelaide is rushed and confused, she’s full of anticipation and doubt about her chosen path. Can she actually do this? It won’t be easy. The landscape is brutal, unforgiving.

Will she even be able to survive her first month on her own, let alone a lifetime? She feels ill-prepared.

Something is going on with the trunk. She’s so concerned about it. Double, triple-checking that it’s securely locked; that no one goes near it. It gave me anxiety.

What is in the trunk!?!?

As the Reader you follow along as Adelaide stakes her claim in Montana and begins to figure out a path to survival. She makes friends and begins to fall into a pattern.

She should know though, it won’t stay uneventful forever. She should know better, that soon enough, you know what is gonna hit the fan and boy, does it ever.

In addition, to Adelaide’s own secrets and demons, she also has to contend with those of others. It seems like a lot of people came to Montana running from something.

These homesteaders are essentially forging their own society. There’s going to be some good actors and some bad. Adelaide runs into them all.

I enjoyed this as a story of female rage, power, will and spirit. Adelaide is such an interesting main character to follow. I loved watching as the truth of her life slowly unfolded.

There were some interesting developments towards the end that I’m not quite sure what to make of yet. I feel like I could read this story a few times and pick up different points every time. LaValle packed a lot in and I’m sure a bit of it has gone over my head.

The dark elements in this were really well done, but I enjoyed them most in contrast to everything else. I liked how they added such an odd layer to the overarching plot. It made everything seem more perilous.

I also liked how those same dark elements made me question Adelaide herself; her nature, whether I really knew her at all. It was definitely compelling. I had to keep reading because I had to know more.

Additionally, I found LaValle’s writing style extremely fluid and easy to read. I feel he really succeeded in bringing a lush and historical atmosphere to this story.

In fact, the historical details were so well done, I felt like I was being transported to another time and place while reading. I was hungry, I was cold and I was scared once the sun went down. That’s a great reading experience.

I would definitely recommend this to anyone who enjoys creative Dark Fiction, or Historical Horror stories. Even though this is a relatively short-story, there’s so much great content packed in here.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Nightfire, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I had a ton of fun with this and look forward to reading more from LaValle!

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Review: A House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher

A House with Good BonesA House with Good Bones by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars


A House with Good Bones is the most recent release from T. Kingfisher, one of my favorite authors. With this being said, it’s probably unsurprising that this is by far one of my most anticipated releases of 2023.

Happily, this peculiar Southern Gothic tale didn’t disappoint for one single second. I loved it from the first sentence.

When Sam’s brother calls her, expressing concern about their Mom’s health and state-of-mind, Sam figures it couldn’t come at a better time. With her archaeological dig site temporarily shut down, there’s no time like the present to travel home to North Carolina for a visit.

It’s been a while. She loves her Mom. Why not go stay with her and see what she can see. If her brother is right, Sam wants to be able to help.

Once back in her childhood home, Sam can feel it. Something is off. It’s not just the changes that Mom has made to the house, she’s acting different. It’s slight things, but they definitely don’t go unnoticed.

Sam senses her Mom is afraid of something, but what?

The mystery is deep enough that Sam is compelled to get to the bottom of it. There’s no way she’ll be able to leave her Mom like this. Further, Sam is prepared to kick the butt of whoever is the cause of her Mom’s secret distress.

Digging into it, however, requires digging into her own past and the past of her family. You never know what you’re gonna find when you start digging.

That Sam knows is true. She’s an archaeo-entomologist after all, but even she didn’t expect the Mason Jar full of human teeth buried under the rose bushes…

With help from some new friends, Sam gets elbows deep in her sordid family history and tries her best to rid her mother and their property from its long shadow.

Y’all, this was such an intriguing and engaging story. At this point, reading a T. Kingfisher for me is like story-time with an old friend. Her writing style is so distinct.

She’s like the Axel Rose of Dark Fiction. You can tell it’s her from just a few lines.

I always connect with Kingfisher’s main characters. I think it is the sense of humor. It’s the way I think and view the world, so it’s super easy for me to fall into step with their thought patterns and choices.

This main character, Sam, was no exception. I just got her, wow. I loved how on it she was with her Mom. She wasn’t willing to look the other way. She didn’t look upon her task as a burden.

Something was wrong here, her mom had sacrificed so much for her, and gosh darn it, Sam wasn’t leaving until she helped her in return.

I appreciate how quirky and unique Kingfisher’s side characters are. They contribute so much. In this one, Phil, her Mom’s kind-of-cute handyman and Gail, the eccentric neighbor, who owns a one-winged vulture and may-or-may-not be a witch, were stars of the show.

Gail fit nicely into one of my favorite Horror character archetypes. Let’s see if I can explain this correctly…

The older character, who comes into the orbit of our protagonist and teaches them, or guides them in what they need to know to survive/defeat/overcome the obstacles/issues/horrifying creatures they’re dealing with, all whilst providing incredible comic relief.

The atmosphere was fantastic. I loved learning about the house and all the different little things that Sam was noticing. There are some fun scenes with bugs as well.

The ending got crazy. It reminded me a little of The Twisted Ones. Not so much in the content, or what happened, but just sort of how it all unfolded leading up to the conclusion. I loved that book and loved this one too.

Also, the audiobook is great. I absolutely recommend it. Once I started, I couldn’t stop. The narrator brought this story to life for me!

I would recommend this to anyone who has enjoyed T. Kingfisher’s work in the past, or anyone who enjoys Southern Gothic tales, or stories that bring humor to Horror.

Finally, if you are new to T. Kingfisher, I actually think this would be a strong place to start.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I had so much fun with this and can’t wait to read it again someday!

A House with Good Bones is available now!!!

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Review: Churn the Soil by Steve Stred

Churn the SoilChurn the Soil by Steve Stred
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**


Churn the Soil kicks off with a bang and doesn’t let up; not once. In the beginning we have a murdered young girl, mutilated in a somewhat sacred area at The Border.

Basco PD officers get alerted to the gruesome crime and travel to The Border to investigate. At this point, you may be asking, what the heck is The Border?

The Border is an area outside of Basco and the border with the Yukon territory. There is a community of people there that have chosen to cut themselves off from the rest of society. They’re none too trusting of authority, particularly the local police.

When Officers Brown and Reynolds arrive, the Border dwellers are less than forthcoming about the dead girl. Luckily, Officer Brown actually was a resident at The Border when he was child and still has one friend within the settlement, a woman named, Nancy.

Nancy wants to help. She realizes something is off with the general flow of life at The Border. This type of thing hasn’t happened in recent memory. She wants to get to the bottom of it as much as the next guy.

Little do they know, it’s about to get worse. Wayy worse.

Churn the Soil is a high octane Horror story. Stred somehow seamlessly blended an Action movie with Folk Horror and a good old fashioned Police Procedural into one work. I’m not sure how he did it, but he definitely pulled it off.

I am not going to say too much more about the plot, because frankly, I feel like it is best going in knowing next to nothing, as I did. This story is full of surprises.

I will say one little thing for Readers who have tastes close to mine. There is a dog in this story. The most perfect Cane Corso that the world has ever seen. He is a K9 police officer named Bruiser and he plays a significant role.

If this concerns you, if perhaps animal content is triggering for you, please read the following: (view spoiler)

I was impressed with how quickly Stred hooked me. There’s no unnecessary build-up, or silly filler, and I was really digging his writing style from first few pages. I am looking forward to picking up more of his stories.

Additionally, this is one of those cold-weather Horror stories that will have you adding an extra layer to your wardrobe while you’re reading. I feel like Stred really succeeded in building-out a powerful setting. The backdrop of this landscape gets under your skin.

I’m not going to lie, this gets wild. W-I-L-D. The threat feels real. In fact, it almost seems hopeless. These characters are up against an incredible evil. I definitely wondered how anyone would make it out alive.

Overall, this story kept me up well into the night. It’s a creative and creepy Horror tale. Solid work from new-to-me author, Steve Stred. This was a lot of cringe-worthy, run-faster, don’t look behind you, fun!!

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