Review: What Feasts at Night (Sworn Soldier #2) by T. Kingfisher

What Feasts at Night (Sworn Soldier, #2)What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

What Feasts at Night is the 2nd-release in the Sworn Soldier series by one of my favorite authors, T. Kingfisher.

When I read the 1st-book in this series, What Moves the Dead, an atmospheric reimagining of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher, I believed it to be a standalone novella.

Having loved it as much as I did, imagine my surprise when I learned we were going to be getting more stories following the witty, charming and delightful MC, Alex Easton.

Alex has quickly become one of my favorite character perspectives to read from. Kingfisher channels her signature sense of humor beautifully into this character and reading their perspective feels like you are sitting with a friend, as they tell you the most horrifying vacation stories ever.

In this installment, Alex, along with some of the best side characters ever, including Hod, Angus and Miss Potter, travel to Alex’s family’s hunting lodge, deep in the dark, cold forests of Gallacia.

When they arrive the rest and relaxation they were hoping for is impossible to find, as the caretaker has died and the property is in disarray.

The local village is a titter, claiming that a breath-stealing monster, coming in the cover of night, has taken up residence at the hunting lodge.

While Alex generally doesn’t put much stock in local rumors, or the monsters of lore being real, having just survived what they did at the Usher manor, it’s hard to write off the possibility entirely.

Soon things that Alex could have never imagined, nightmare-like situations, begin to become reality. Maybe something is going on in the lodge after all?

I loved this. I’m already excited to read it again and to get a hard copy for my shelves. I’m not sure what the plans are for the Sworn Soldier series, but I truly, truly hope this is not the last we are going to see of these characters.

Whether there is one more to come, or sixty more, I am here for them all!!

Kingfisher succeeded again in making me care so much about these characters and what was happening to them. Even though this is just a novella, it packs a punch. The atmosphere, plot progression and horror imagery, were all so well done.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a dark, gothic story, following fun and engaging characters. If you enjoyed the first book, I definitely think you will love this one as well.

Thanks to the publisher, Tor Nightfire and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review.

I will be keeping my fingers crossed for more Alex Easton!!

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Review: Your Shadow Half Remains by Sunny Moraine

Your Shadow Half RemainsYour Shadow Half Remains by Sunny Moraine
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Your Shadow Half Remains is a difficult book to talk about. Frankly, I’m not sure I really understood it. At least not in the way the author intended. Nevertheless, I shall try…

Regardless of how much I actually comprehended though, I still enjoyed the reading experience. It’s a puzzler.

This is presented as a sort of post-apocalyptic world, where a virus has caused those infected to go into a violent, murderous rage if they look into another person’s eyes.

Our main character, Riley, hasn’t looked at, or interacted with any other humans in at least two years, maybe more. In fact, Riley hasn’t even dared look in a mirror, just in case.

She’s done a great job at keeping herself shut off from the rest of the world, if there’s even a rest of the world left. That is until she stumbles across a new neighbor.

Ellis, the newcomer, throws a kink in Riley’s routine and causes her to feel things she hasn’t in a long, long time. Unfortunately, this new swell of emotions causes her to question reality in the most extreme ways.

How much does Riley really know about the world around her? Can we trust her perspective at all, or is it all just the jaded creation of a diseased mind?

We are give the story entirely through Riley’s perspective. Initially, she seems confident in what she is relaying to the Reader. She seems to have a good handle on her situation, even though some details are hazy.

Once her interactions with Ellis begin though, Riley’s grip seems to slip. Before you know it, you are hurtling along through a fever dream of Riley’s own making. It’s unsettling to say the least.

For the most part, I enjoyed trying to decipher what exactly was real in this world. It was confusing, but not in a way that I found to be grating, or annoying.

I was surprised how much the author was able to pack into so few pages; it felt complete. I think it’s a great example of their skill as a writer, because this makes quite an impact in under 200-pages. That’s hard to do.

Overall, I found this to be eerie, disturbing, confusing and compelling. I was initially drawn to this because of the cover. It was giving me serious The Dark Half vibes and I was totally down for that.

While it’s a completely different kind of story than that, I feel like the unsettling cover still matches this story perfectly. I’m glad I picked this one up.

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

I’m really looking forward to reading more from this author!

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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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Review: In the Scrape by James Newman and Mark Steensland

In the ScrapeIn the Scrape by James Newman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In the Scrape is a 2019-Coming of Age Horror novella co-authored by James Newman and Mark Steensland.

James Newman is one of my faves, so when I was gifted an ARC-copy, I was super stoked. Then like a huge jerk, I never got around to it…

As I was considering what to pick up this past Halloween week, this gorgeous Autumnal cover popped into my mind. Now is the time.

In hindsight, I’m irked I had this 5-star read sitting on my Kindle for years. How did I not pay this story the attention it deserves? Hopefully this review will be an impetus for some of you to pick it up. That would help my guilt.

In this story we follow two young brothers, Jake and Matthew. The boys live with their abusive father and dream of nothing but escape. Their plan is to make their way to California, where they can be reunited with the mother they miss terribly.

We are told the story by Jake, who is 13-years old at the time the events take place. He gives us the details of the family dynamic and takes us through the days leading up to their planned escape.

The boys have been very strategic about it, saving money and waiting until the right time. Even during the worst of the abuse, they stay focused on their plan. They see an upcoming family hunting trip as the perfect opportunity.

Unfortunately, just prior to the trip, Jake has a bloody altercation with his arch-nemesis, which not only puts a damper on the funds he was hoping to save, but also brings local law enforcement sniffing around.

Nevertheless, their Dad is determined to make it out to their cabin for the first day of deer season, so off they go. Little does he know that first night is going to find him tied to a chair as his boys forge their escape.

Dad is a beast though, will the boys be able to subdue him enough to actually get away? What if he catches them? Who will survive the night?

This is such an incredible story. I loved it. I immediately could tell this was a Newman; I adore his writing. I’ve never read from Mark Steensland before, but I trust if Newman is working with him, he’s nothing short of brilliant.

Coming of Age is a subgenre of Horror that I tend to vibe with really well. 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 more nuanced genre than that and thinking only books that literally scare you can be classified as Horror is simplifying the genre unfairly.

I’ve mentioned this before in other reviews, but this story did such a great job of channeling all of the essential vibes of the subgenre, that I felt it was worth repeating here.

This basically transported me into the lives of these two boys while they were living through what could arguably be the most pivotal year of their childhoods.

In addition to the superb writing, it made me feel so much. By the halfway point, I was commenting how it was breaking my heart. I could feel the pain and desperation of these boys.

The brother’s relationship was beautifully done. I could feel the love between them and the push and pull that made that relationship as special as it was. Given their circumstances, it was clear that they were beyond lucky to have one another.

I also loved how the authors continued to build the tension throughout the story as the end approached. They pulled me in, made me 100% committed to the characters and then got my pulse racing with my sights set on the conclusion.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys Coming of Age Horror, or to anyone who is looking to try the subgenre for the first time.

I mean, Coming of Age Horror novellas really don’t get much better than this. These authors knocked this out of the park. They made me love Jake and Matthew with my whole heart. In short, this filled my soul.

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

My only regret is that it took me so long to get to it.

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Review: Christmas Presents by Lisa Unger

Christmas PresentsChristmas Presents by Lisa Unger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

This was solid. I definitely enjoyed it light-years beyond Secluded Cabin Sleeps Six, so that’s a plus and makes me open to picking up more from this author.

I wish this could have been a little longer, honestly. I felt a little clipped. I would have enjoyed learning even more about this group of characters. Maybe their stories will be continued, or elaborated on, at another time?

In this story, we are following a few different characters. Madeline Martin is a bookshop owner in Little Valley, who in her teen years survived a brutal attack that left her best friend, Steph, dead. Madeline has been living with the shadow of that night looming over her ever since.

Harley Granger is a True Crime Podcaster, who arrives in Little Valley looking to speak to Madeline about the night she would just as soon forget.

It seems Harley has been in contact with Evan Handy, the man convicted of murdering Steph and plans to explore these crimes on his Podcast. Since Evan’s conviction, three other women have disappeared, casting doubts on whether or not he worked alone.

Finally, we follow Lolly, an exotic dancer who gets thrown into the drama unfolding in the small town. Even though we do get Lolly’s perspective, Madeline and Harley are definitely the stars of this show.

The story is comprised of current day sections, as well as glimpses into the past, in particular surrounding Madeline’s life and the night of the crimes.

I listened to the audiobook for this, and while I enjoyed it quite a bit, I do feel the story could’ve been better served by having two, or even three, different narrators. This is personal preference though, but I think it could have helped to delineate between perspectives.

With this being said, I did think the content and set-up were very interesting. The characters were well-developed and easy to follow.

At the same time, since this was so short, I feel like I could have been even more connected, and enjoyed it even more, if it had been a tad longer. That way, all facets could have been taken a little futher. For what is here though, it is well done and I think a lot of Readers are going to really enjoy it.

An added bonus was the setting. The Christmasy-Winter-feel was great and it definitely put me in the mood for some colder weather reads!

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

I definitely recommend this one to Unger fans, or anyone looking to try her work for the first time. I think this one would give you a great feel for her writing style.

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Rereading a Favorite Horror Novella: What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher

What Moves the DeadWhat Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5-stars yet again!

This was exactly what I wanted for my first read of October, which is why I chose to reread a tried and true favorite Horror novella by one of my favorite authors, T. Kingfisher.

My goal was to set a tone for the month and What Moves the Dead certainly succeeded in that. It’s more than just a gorgeous cover. Kingfisher creates such an eerie, fun and mysterious tale in under 200-pages. She’s a marvel.

As with many other rereads, I think I was able to enjoy the details of this story even more this time around. Since I knew where the story was going, I could concentrate a little more on the finer points.

My biggest take-away this time through was how much I truly enjoy reading from Alex’s perspective. I love how Kingfisher brings her signature sense of humor to every main character she writes and Alex is no exception.

Alex is such a unique protagonist. They make you feel like you are sitting with a friend who is telling you a story of their last vacation. Granted a really messed up and horrifying vacation, but entertaining nonetheless.

I’m super stoked that Alex is coming back in February in the sequel to this book, What Feasts at Night. It sounds like it is going to contain the same sort of horror-based mystery for Alex to investigate.

Personally, I am counting down the days until I can get my hands on that. It’s definitely one of my most anticipated releases of 2024.

If you love Horror, but haven’t picked this one up yet, what are you doing with your life? Seriously? Get to it! This is the perfect way to kick off your Spooky Season reading!


In What Moves the Dead T. Kingfisher expertly reimagines Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher.

That fact alone sold me on this book, well that and the fact that T. Kingfisher is one of my favorite authors, but then this cover dropped.

A masterpiece shall grace our shelves. Mine for sure because I’ve already preordered a copy and you should too!

The year is 1890 and Alex Easton has just received word that their childhood friend, Madeline Usher, is on the brink of death. Thus, Easton heads off to the countryside to the Usher family estate to be with Madeline and perhaps provide some support to Madeline’s brother, Roderick.

Arriving at the once lavish estate, Easton is shocked that the manor home has fallen into such a horrible state of disrepair. It’s unnerving to say the least.

Equally unnerving is the state in which Easton finds Madeline. They knew Madeline was quite ill, but her behavior belies any illness that Easton is aware of. Madeline’s behavior, speech and appearance are bizarre. She’s actually frightening to be around.

Denton, an American doctor and friend of Roderick Usher, is staying at the home as well while tending to Madeline. It’s clear that Denton has no explanation for Madeline’s mysterious illness.

Additionally, Roderick Usher isn’t quite himself either. He’s not sleeping and claims to be hearing things in the walls of the home. Could he be succumbing to whatever has infected Madeline?

In addition to our main cast we also get some great side characters. Hob, Easton’s trusty horse, was of course my favorite. No one writes animal companions quite like Kingfisher. She gives them such strong personalities, which for anyone who has an animal companion of their own will seem quite relatable.

Another favorite was the intelligent and plucky Miss Potter, a local woman who spends her time researching and painting specimens of fungi. Easton and Potter meet and develop a quick rapport. Easton ends up learning a lot about the local area, lore, flora and fauna from Miss Potter.

The classic gothic vibe of What Moves the Dead meshed so well with Kingfisher’s fresh and witty humor.

Picking up a new Kingfisher story is so comforting for me. It’s like settling in for story time with a horror-loving friend. That’s exactly the feeling I got from this one. It’s eerie and sinister the entire way through, while also somehow managing to keep me laughing.

I loved going along with Easton on their investigation into the mystery surrounding the House of Usher. There is some truly horrifying imagery included that was so well done.

I could picture, smell and taste the decay of this property. It definitely got under my skin.

Thank you so, so much to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with a copies to read and review.

As I mentioned earlier, this was absolutely one of my MOST ANTICIPATED releases of the year and it did not disappoint. Kingfisher is knocking them out of the park in 2022!!!

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Review: The Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw

The Salt Grows HeavyThe Salt Grows Heavy by Cassandra Khaw
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Salt Grows Heavy is a good novella. The writing is gorgeously-dark, with a lot of solid body horror, but it was just a little too abstract for my tastes.

((^^^ Clearly kidding ^^^))

My opinion matters not at all. If this sounds intriguing to you, definitely give it a shot. In fact, I want to be clear, I did enjoy this. I liked it. It’s a solid novella. I just could not tell you the point, or really what happened at all.

I think it is a fresh, yet horrific, take on The Little Mermaid, but I’m only pulling that from the publisher’s synopsis. Honestly, I would never have guessed that while reading this story, if I hadn’t been prompted ahead of time.

I think Cassandra Khaw is an incredibly smart and creative human. Khaw is most likely too smart for me. I do really appreciate their horror imagery though. It’s always a bit body horror, always a bit wildly-detailed and it never fails to make my toes curl.

I am going to continue picking up Khaw’s stories. Every time I am impressed with the creation. Some aspects hit, some aspects miss, but it’s always intriguing.

This is a bit of a short review for me, but this novella is just over 100-pages and I really didn’t understand 98-of the pages, so not sure what else to say.

Writing = beautiful; concept = over my head.

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

As mentioned, I find Khaw’s stories captivating, if a bit confusing. I definitely look forward to seeing what they deliver next!

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Review: Thornhedge by T. Kingfisher

ThornhedgeThornhedge by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Thornhedge, T. Kingfisher brings her lush, humorous and whimsical storytelling to a quick and adorably-reimagined Sleeping Beauty origin story.

Kingfisher is one of my favorite authors. I have loved everything of hers that I have ever read and after reading this, it doesn’t appear that is going to change anytime soon.

I will try to write an unbiased review, but it will be difficult. I’m a fan girl, what can I say?

In this story we meet Toadling, who as an infant was stolen and transported to live in the world of the faeries. They treated her well, and her early life was undeniably warm and comfortable. She couldn’t lodge many complaints.

Once she came into adulthood though, the faeries asked a favor of her that ended up changing everything.

She is asked to return to the world of humans to bless a newborn child. A little girl. A bumbling, beautiful baby girl…

A century later, a knight approaches a wall of brambles, an impenetrable fortress of thorns. He’s heard legends of a cursed Princess high in a tower. He’s here to save her, as knights do.

Toadling, however, has different thoughts on this so-called curse and she’ll do anything to uphold it. You’ll have to read this enchanting story to find out why.

This was a super fun and quick read, which I did listen to on audio. It has a nice, cozy feel to it, that I definitely need every once in a while to break up my darker reads.

I enjoyed how Kingfisher gave us enough of the original tale that you could figure out what she was alluding to, yet she brought her own original twist that caused me to view the fairy tale in a while new light.

The twist itself was fascinating to me. Darker than I expected, but whimsical at the same time. I was really impressed with it.

I think it is a great example of Kingfisher’s skill as a writer. I also highly enjoyed the narration of the audiobook. This story is pure, engaging entertainment.

I would recommend it to any Reader who enjoys twists on classic tales, whimsical, cozy fantasies, or Kingfisher’s work in general. There is no way this story isn’t going to bring a smile to your face.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Tor and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. T. Kingfisher is a gift. She has a gift and she is a gift!

I will continue picking up every single thing she writes.

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Rereading 1922 by Stephen King

19221922 by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

1922 is the first novella included in my favorite short-story collection, Full Dark, No Stars.

This is the second time I have read this story and its impact was not diminished with repetition. In fact, I think I appreciated it more this time around.

One thing I had actually forgotten about this story is that the entire thing is told via a written confession. Epistolary format generally does work for me anyway, but in King’s capable hands, it elevated this to a higher level.

The quality of the writing makes you feel like you are actually listening to a haunted man tell his story. In this case, that man is Wilfred James, a farmer from the Hemingford Home area of Nebraska.

King’s Constant Readers may recognize that name from other works, most notably, The Stand.

The publisher’s synopsis for this story explains it best: A powerful tale of betrayal, murder, madness and rats, 1922 is a breathtaking exploration into the dark side of human nature. That’s exactly what this is.

The story flows organically and steadily, while unsuspectingly gettin under your skin. Before you know it, you’ll be flinching at the smallest noises around you. Any little scratch or scatter could be the rats coming for you.

I frequently mention that when I reread King’s works that my attention is drawn to different elements each time. With the initial horror of the story out of the way, I found myself more able to focus on the relationships this time through.

The relationship between Wilf and his son, Henry, of course, but also the relationship between Henry and his young love. Additionally, I felt more drawn to Wilf’s inner turmoil after the horrors began. It’s like a 1920s-Midwestern version of Crime and Punishment.

Overall, the way this story is told, it’s absolutely captivating. Even the gruesome bits will have your eyes glued to the page, dreading whatever will be coming next.

Readers are cautioned to scenes of animal hurt, or harm, but truthfully, it’s a farm and the circumstances involved are things that would, or could, occur on a working farm. I will admit to skim reading some of those scenes though.

As with the rest of the stories included in the Full Dark, No Stars collection, 1922 is ultimately a story of ordinary people finding themselves in extraordinary, and gut-churning, circumstances.

If this sounds at all intriguing to you, I absolutely recommend checking it out. I’m so happy that I took the time to reread this. It’s definitely secured itself in my mind as one of my top novellas ever.

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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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