Review: The September House by Carissa Orlando

The September HouseThe September House by Carissa Orlando
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

**4.5-stars rounded up**

The September House, a debut novel from Carissa Orlando, is delightfully dark, entertaining and unique. Perfect for fans of Rachel Harrison and T. Kingfisher.

I was blown away and completely impressed by this!!!

Having received a copy of this month ago, by the time I got around to it, I had forgotten what it was about. Instead of re-reading the synopsis, I decided to jump straight in.

That was a great decision and I highly recommend going into this knowing as little as possible. Clear your mind and just dive in. You won’t be disappointed.

In fact, I am so committed in this belief that even I, the over-sharer that I am, am going to say as little as possible about this plot. I will say that it follows a woman, Margaret, and you get told the story fully from her perspective.

Margaret is living in her dream home. From the curb, it’s enviable, but things have slowly gotten out of hand. Mainly in September. Septembers are hell. Fed up with the living situation, Margaret’s husband, Hal, leaves.

Surprised by her Dad’s sudden absence, their daughter, Katherine, who has never visited the home her parents have lived in for the past four years, decides to pay a visit. She’s determined to figure out why her Dad left.

Katherine is suspicious as heck. Why would her Dad just leave, and why won’t her Mom provide her with any substantive information? What happened?

I absolutely love how Orlando chose to write this story. Being inside Margaret’s head as you learn the truth about the house and the things happening there was completely engaging. I was surprised how quickly it kicked off, dropping us right into the heart of it.

Additionally, I loved Margaret’s narrative voice. There was such nuance to it; it was funny, charming and completely heartbreaking at the same time, as all is revealed.

The introduction of Katherine into the house was an absolute delight as well.

I always find mother-daughter relationships interesting, but this one felt particularly well done. They are completely different people and at first, I thought, well, I can see why they really haven’t visited much in the past four years.

Katherine can seem a bit abrasive and honestly, at times, Margaret’s a bit doormat-ish for my tastes, but as the story evolves, and you learn their history, the true nature of their relationship was laid bare.

I was moved by it. Their relationship felt real to me. I became completely invested in them. It’s funny, even with all the horror elements, the truth behind Margaret and Katherine’s lives was the thing that almost broke me.

So yeah, the horror. Let’s discuss. This is a Horror novel, after all and boy, did Orlando impress me with her grasp of horror imagery and her ability to bring it to the page.

If this is Orlando’s debut, I cannot way to read her next book, and her next and her next, and so on and so forth, for what I know will be a long and successful career.

If you love haunted house stories, but are looking for something fresh, powerful and also slightly humorous, you absolutely, positively, definitely need to pick this up.

You might be wondering why I didn’t give it a full 5-star rating if I am swooning about it this much. My only slight nit-pick criticism is that somewhere, around the middle, there were times it felt slightly repetitive and dragged just a wee bit for me personally.

Nevertheless, a sensational debut. I am super stoked to read more from Carissa Orlando. I hope she stays in this lane, the deep, Cozy Horror vibe of this story is something I always enjoy and seek out.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Berkley, for providing me with a copy to read and review. This will remain in my mind for a long time to come!

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Review: It Found Us by Lindsay Currie

It Found UsIt Found Us by Lindsay Currie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


It Found Us is the latest release from my personal Queen of Spooky Middle Grade, Lindsay Currie.

Upon seeing this cover, I knew I would need to get my hands on this ASAP. I mean, look how creepy it is. It’s stunning!

In this story we meet 12-year old, Hazel Woods, an aspiring detective, who puts her skills to the test while trying to solve the case of a missing teenager.

Hazel has always wanted to be a detective, but her biggest dream currently is to start her own podcast focusing on cases she’ll solve. So far, her cases have been small. That’s really all her neighborhood has to offer.

That is until the night her brother’s best friend, Everett, mysteriously disappears.

On the night Everett disappeared, he’d been at the local cemetery, playing an epic game of hide-and-seek with Hazel’s older brother, Den, and some other kids.

Hazel, who had overheard the boys plans, had sneaked after her brother, unbeknownst to him to observe what would happen in the purportedly-haunted cemetery. She saw it as the perfect opportunity to do some sleuthing on whether or not it is actually haunted.

At the conclusion of the game, all the other hiders were found by the seeker, but Everett seemed to have just vanished. As scared as they were, the kids knew they had to let some adults know and an investigation begins.

Hazel and Den believe the police aren’t looking in the right places though, so they decide to undergo their own investigation, along with Hazel’s best friend, Maggie.

The kids dive into the history of the cemetery and the lives of some the souls that may be buried there. Will their chilling search for evidence reveal what happened to Everett? And will they be able to get him back before it’s too late?

This was so cute and fun. It reminded me a lot of Scritch Scratch as far as the mystery elements went, so if you enjoyed that one, you should definitely check this one out.

Hazel was a fabulous MC. She’s so determined to start her podcast and even though she hasn’t been able to convince her parents to allow her to do it yet, she’s not giving up.

I love watching characters work hard toward a goal and Hazel was overflowing with grit and optimism. I also loved her sleuthing skills. The way she tackled the mystery and her clue journal were impressive.

Her clue journal was also a great device for helping to track the progression of the story. Hazel would go through the list of clues they had discovered so far in relation to the mystery. I thought this was a really fun aspect, particularly for the younger readers.

I also appreciated how Currie connected the history of this town and cemetery into the story. She always brings some interesting historical aspects to her stories that are so fun and compelling.

There’s also great atmosphere and healthy relationships amongst the characters. I loved the kids working together, particularly Hazel and Den. It’s always refreshing to see siblings get along and support one another.

Overall, I found this to be well-written, engaging and lot of fun. I would definitely recommend this to all readers of Spooky Middle Grade, regardless of age.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Sourcebooks Young Readers, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I will pick up anything Lindsay Currie writes and this book is a perfect example of why.

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Review: Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & Delight, Editors — Shelly Page and Alex Brown

Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & DelightNight of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & Delight by Shelly Page
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Night of the Living Queers: 13 Tales of Terror & Delight is a fun, spooky-time YA-Anthology full of great representation and diverse stories.

This is the perfect collection to get you in the mood for Fall!!

Editors, Shelly Page and Alex Brown, did an incredible job bringing together a great assortment of authors to contribute to this collection.

I loved how each story takes place on Halloween night, when there is a rare Blue Supermoon. It’s thought this special occasion could open up our world more easily to all sorts of supernatural and creepy occurrences.

It was fun to see how each of these authors took that prompt, that setting, if you will, and created something unique and engaging, all of their very own.

Anthologies can be tough sometimes, because it’s rare to connect with each and every story equally, but for me, this was well-rounded and exciting enough to keep me hooked throughout.

Of course some stories fit my personal tastes more than others, but I can absolutely see how every single Reader will be able to find something within this collection to enjoy and connect to.

I really enjoyed so many of these of stories and cherished how different they all were from each other. It never felt repetitive, or overdone.

Some of the standouts for me were: The Visitor by Kalynn Bayron, A Brief Intermission by Sara Farizan, The Three Phases of Ghost Hunting by Alex Brown and Nine Stops by Trang Thanh Tran.

My favorite story overall was Anna by Shelly Page. This one just had everything I love to get myself geared up for a solid spooky season. It had a babysitter, twins, a ouija board, an attic and a ghost. I mean, what is not to love about that!?

Finally, I will just say how much I appreciate the thought and care these editors and authors put into this collection. The vast and inclusive representation is so important and I feel like they all did a great job creating super fun and creepy stories, while also being mindful of the original intent of the collection.

I would absolutely recommend this anthology as a way to get yourself in the mood for the Spooky Season. It’s the most wonderful time of the year and books that showcase that are my favorite kinds!

Thank you so much to the publisher, Wednesday Books, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’d love to read more from every one of these authors!

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Review: House of Roots and Ruin (Sisters of the Salt #2) by Erin A. Craig

House of Roots and Ruin (Sisters of the Salt, #2)House of Roots and Ruin by Erin A. Craig
My rating: 4 of 5 stars



House of Roots and Ruin is the second book in Erin A. Craig’s tremendous YA-Fantasy series, Sisters of the Salt.

I looooooooved the first book, House of Salt and Sorrows, so much and I couldn’t wait to return to this beautifully-eerie world. It was one of my most anticipated YA-releases of 2023 and it did not disappoint.

This story takes place years after the conclusion of the first story. In this one, we’re following Verity, who I believe is the youngest of the remaining Thaumas sisters.

Verity is 17-years old and has spent her whole life living at the family estate, Highmoor, now run by her older sister, Camille. The rest of the remaining sisters are all all living in various places around Arcannia.

While Verity loves Camille and loves Highmoor, she’s beginning to feel stifled. She wants more.

Any time she broaches the subject of leaving the estate with Camille, however, her hopes are quickly dashed. It seems her sister wants to keep her trapped there, but why?

It’s as Verity is struggling with this issue that she receives word from her sister, Mercy, that the Duchess of Bloem is interested in hiring Verity to paint a portrait of of her son.

Verity is more than intrigued. This sounds like exactly the kind of opportunity she needs and the son, Alexander, is a young man just her age. This could be just what she needs, but how will she ever convince Camille to let her go?

As the sisters battle it out, the truth about why Camille wants to keep Verity at Highmoor is revealed, leaving Verity more confused than ever and more determined.

Verity decides she can’t wait any longer. Under the cover of darkness she flees, making her way to Bloem.

Once there, she’s entranced and impressed with her new surroundings. Bloem is stunning. The Duke is a celebrated botanist and the entire estate is replete with vibrant gardens and active greenhouses.

Additionally, Verity is smitten with Alexander. He’s handsome and charming. Their days together fill her with a sense of happiness she has never felt before.

Unfortunately, before long, Verity begins to be plagued by nightmares and dark feelings. Is her past catching up to her, or is something more going on in Bloem?

Reading House of Roots and Ruin was such a beautiful journey. It’s different than the first book, because of the setting. We’re now removed from the sea and thrust into a more botanical scene, but I still really enjoyed it.

In my opinion, Craig’s brand of gothically-infused horror imagery is unmatched in the YA genre. She brings such a rich atmosphere and the spooky imagery is A++.

The romance between Verity and Alexander was so pure and it was sweet watching it evolve. Verity has never had any sort of relationship like this, so she struggled a bit fitting her experiences with her expectations.

I thought that felt very real for a young woman and I enjoyed how Craig let her work through that versus just following a standard romance format.

I also enjoyed very much the complexity of the familial relationships, both Verity’s and Alexander’s. While the atmosphere was the highlight for me, I think the character work and the way the relationships played out deserve top marks as well.

We know a lot of Verity’s family history from the first book, and we do get a bit more here, but learning about Alex’s family, the Laurents, was so intriguing. Without giving too much away, I sort of feel like their last name should have been Moreau…

Craig did a great job of steadily building intensity. There is also an overriding mystery that kept me on my toes.

As the end approaches, everything begins to move at warp speed. I couldn’t put it down until I got to the end. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out and there were some twists getting there that I definitely didn’t see coming.

I would absolutely recommend this to anyone who enjoys a darker Fantasy story, particularly if you enjoyed House of Salt and Sorrows. While I could see people enjoying this as a standalone novel, I think it would be most impactful if you read the first book prior to this one.

Thank you so much to the publisher, Delacorte Press, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I’m not sure if there are going to be more books in this world, but if there are, I will absolutely be picking them up!!

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Re-Reading The Shining for the 4th-Time!!!

The ShiningThe Shining by Stephen King
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was my 4th-time reading The Shining.

You read that correctly, the 4th-time. I’m aware rereading isn’t for everyone, but I am a huge supporter and fan of rereading, especially tried and true favorites.

I know a lot of people feel it is a waste of time, but for me, when a story is special enough to you, each time with it is like a whole new experience. That’s exactly how I feel every time I open the pages of this book.

Additionally, I feel like where I am at in my life plays a huge role in what I take out of a reading experience.

For example, the first time I read this, I was in high school. You better believe that 14-year old Meg walked away from this having picked up on different things than 44-year old Meg does, reading it now.

My experiences have shown me that rereading allows me to focus on different areas of any particular story. This time around, for me, I felt myself really drawn to the private thoughts and emotions of this cast of characters.

Jack’s experience, in particular, as he struggles with the position he finds himself in, his loitering addiction and the love for his family, hit me hard this time. Instead of seeing his horrible aspects front and center, I thought more about what was going on with him internally.

There were moments of clarity for him, when he could see beyond the fog of the hotel’s power, moments where he cherished his son and wife, but they would slip away like mist. It made my heart ache for the whole family.

This experience also reiterated for me how much I love Wendy and Hallorann. They got played dirty in the movie adaptation and we all know it. Not by the actors, the acting was fantastic, but yeah, they feel like completely different people in the book, IMO.

Again, I was beyond impressed with some of the scenes in this still having the ability to scare the shit out of me, even after all these years. The perfect example would be the first time Jack tries to trim the topiary.

That freaking scene gets my pulse racing every time!

I also felt like I paid more attention to the history of The Overlook this time through; like when Jack is looking into it. I really felt focused in those sections and loved being reminded of its intensely lurid history.

Finally, I would just give all the stars in the universe, yet again, to King’s sense of place with this one. His ability to transform a hotel into an actual character in the story is just a masterpiece. It’s basically the standard to which I compare atmosphere in all other stories.

I’m so glad I took the time to reread this. It was exactly what I needed to re-energize my reading. You better believe, this won’t be the last time either!


Here’s the thing, July hasn’t been the best reading month for me. I’ve had a lot of 2-to-3-star books. I’m frustrated. I’m getting disgruntled and burnt out on it honestly.

I have never been in a reading slump before, but I definitely feel myself drifting into that territory…

I feel like in an effort to keep that from happening, I am going to reread one of my top-3 favorite books of all-time. If anyone can shake me out of this funk, it’s Jack Torrance. I hear the fourth times a charm!!!

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Review: Are You Afraid of the Dark: The Tale of the Gravemother by Rin Chupeco

Are You Afraid of the Dark?Are You Afraid of the Dark? by Rin Chupeco
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Many of you probably remember, hopefully fondly, the 1990s-Horror Anthology television series for young people called Are You Afraid of the Dark? I loved that show and all things related to it.

Recently, I binge-watched The Midnight Society on Netflix and it made me hugely nostalgic for this series. As I was searching the web for more content, I stumbled across this book about a week before its release date.

Seeing Rin Chupeco’s name on the cover sealed the deal, I ordered it immediately. Having read YA Horror from Chupeco before, I knew this would be good. I just knew it!

Spoiler alert: I was right.

In this story we meet Levi, who is the new boy in town. He gets the opportunity to try out to be a member of the Midnight Society. This book is the story he tells around the campfire that night.

First, let me just say, Levi is definitely getting in and deservedly if this is the story he is telling. I became so immersed in this and loved how it all played out.

The story follows Zane, who is also a new boy in town, after his family inherits a haunted mansion. He moves to town with his Dad and his little sister, Emma.

Local legend says the property is haunted by the Gravemother, a woman who was apparently suspected of kidnapping and harming local children.

It doesn’t take long before Zane comes to believe the legends are true. Even though they aren’t living at the property, it needs some heavy renovating, they do spend time there and Zane starts to see and experience things he can’t explain.

Along with his new friend, Garrett, who started out as a bit of an enemy, Zane digs into investigating the legend for himself. Are the stories about the Gravemother true? And even if they are, how can they help her to rest?

I really enjoyed this story. It had so many fun elements and was written really well. Zane’s friend Garrett has his own ghost-hunting team. How could you not love that?!

I think Chupeco did a great job transitioning into the Spooky Middle Grade genre. There is quite a difference between YA Horror and Middle Grade Horror and I feel like they navigated that so well.

The imagery was great, the story fluid, fun and engaging and there was also great messages about family, friendships and personal growth. I felt like it was so thoughtfully written for the target audience.

The highlight of this for me was the friendship between Zane and Garrett. I feel like Chupeco nailed the natural progression of new friendships.

In the beginning, I thought Zane and Garrett were going to have real issues; like a bully situation. Happily though, they were able to advance past that and become supportive friends. They also acknowledged it and communicated their feelings to one another.

It was nice to see and I think in a MG story, it sets a great example for Younger Readers. This is more than a spooky story, there’s substance here.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading this. While I don’t think it will stick in my mind for years to come, I had a great time with it in the moment and that’s what I was looking for.

I’m hoping this is a start of an all-new revamp of this series. I would love to see future installments from other talented writers like Chupeco.

I would definitely recommend this to any fan of the original series, new fans, or any Young Readers who enjoy a spooky story. This was a lot of fun!

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Review: The Hotel by Louise Mumford

The HotelThe Hotel by Louise Mumford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

10-years ago, Bex and her best friend, Leo, were set to explore the remote and abandoned hotel, Ravencliffe, as a way to celebrate the end of school. Bex’s new boyfriend, Richard and his best friend, Oscar, end up weaseling their way into the trip as well.

Four went there, but only three returned. Leo was lost that day, from a high cliffside, never to be seen again.

Richard, an aspiring filmmaker, recorded their entire doomed exploration of the old property. The footage of that day has become a Horror Cult Classic; think The Blair Witch Project had it been real.

A decade later, the trio of survivors have drifted apart, living very different lives and each coping with the events of that fateful night in their own way.

As the ten-year anniversary approaches a documentary project is proposed wherein Richard, Oscar and Bex will meet up and return to the property, to face the demons of their past once and for all.

Our main character, Bex, has lived in isolation in London for many years. She’s cut herself off from everyone, haunted by the past. Leo was her best friend. She has so many unresolved feelings stemming from that night.

Even though she’s against it initially, Bex ultimately decides that returning to Ravencliffe may provide her with the opportunity to get answers about what happened to Leo. So, begrudgingly she agrees to take part in the project.

Bex, Richard and Oscar are reunited just prior to filming and return to the property from whence all their nightmares stem; along with a whole host of crew members for the documentary, of course.

The property seems just a malevolent as ever and incidents aplenty occur as they begin to film. Will Ravencliffe end up taking more lives?

While I did see one of the reveals coming a mile away, there was quite a bit about this book that I found compelling.

I loved how Mumford told this story mostly using just Bex as the narrative voice, but providing both present and past perspectives. I really enjoyed the present perspective, but was equally as interested in the past, which followed the characters from the time they planned the fateful trip, up through Leo’s disappearance.

It was a slow build initially, but I didn’t mind it. I loved Bex as a main character, even though I understand she probably won’t be every Readers cup of tea.

Personally, I love a main character who is flawed in some way, maybe haunted by their past and deals with it by isolation, self-sabotage, or self-medicating. I also always enjoy when these same characters decide they finally need answers and go back to their hometowns, or some other remote location, to investigate the past.

In this way, The Hotel was made for me.

I would say this continued the slow build until about the halfway mark and then events began to escalate more quickly. Regardless of the slow burn, I was never bored and disengaged from the narrative.

The atmosphere was incredible. I loved the remote, stark setting of the hotel, as well as its dark history. It had a solid is it supernatural, is it not supernatural-feel, which I enjoy. Give me all the dark, spooky things.

Overall, I thought this was a super-entertaining read. The plot elements kept me engaged and I loved the overriding tone and feel of the story. Even though it was slightly predictable in places, it was still a great time nevertheless. Well done by Mumford!

Thank you so much to the publisher, HQ, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I really enjoyed this one and am looking forward to picking up more from this author!

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Review: All Hallows by Christopher Golden

All HallowsAll Hallows by Christopher Golden
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

All Hallows, Christopher Golden’s upcoming Horror release, is set in Coventry, Massachusetts.

More specifically, all the events contained within this story surround Halloween Night, 1984, in the solitary neighborhood of Parmenter Road.

The energy in the neighborhood that day is electric, as everyone puts the last-minute touches on the night’s events, decor and costumes.

The Barbosa Family will be hosting their annual and this year, their final, Haunted Woods event. Tony and his daughter, Chloe, have been pouring their hearts and souls into this event for years; setting up just the right props and scares for neighbors and strangers alike to enjoy.

Also that evening will be the typical door-to-door trick-or-treating by neighborhood kids, as well as a block party hosted by the Koenig Family. There’s a lot happening.

The Reader follows the unfolding events via multiple perspectives of individuals living in the neighborhood, including both children and adults.

As the night begins to build, more and more drama is exposed on what one might suppose is a quiet little street. Parmenter Road, like many small town streets, contains a lot of people harboring a lot of secrets. A few of which are about to be brought to light in a big way.

On this night in particular, there are outsiders added to the mix as well. Children dressed in old-fashioned costumes, a Clown, a Scarecrow and a Raggedy Ann, begin to insert themselves into the activities, pleading with the local children for help.

They need to hide, just until midnight from The Cunning Man. Will anyone help them?

I had a lot of fun with this. I love neighborhood-focused stories and this one night on Parmenter Road gave me all the spectacle and intrigue that I could want in that regard.

There was just the right amount of family drama, 80s-references, kills, gore and creepy imagery to keep me 100% invested all the way through.

There are a lot of perspectives, which I feel like not everyone will be crazy about, but for me it made perfect sense. Considering how the story plays out, I actually can’t imagine it being told any other way.

I also loved the atmosphere. Golden brought me back to the Halloween Nights of my youth. Traipsing around with the other neighborhood kids under our claustrophobic masks, carrying plastic orange pumpkins, hitting up as many houses as we could, walking a little faster through the dark spaces between homes.

The strange children and the idea of The Cunning Man definitely brought the chills as well. Nostalgic and scary, I definitely enjoyed the unsettling vibes.

Thank you to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, for providing me a copy to read and review. I always enjoy checking out Golden’s new work, sure to be full of creativity and frightening imagery.

Hallow’s Eve is being released on Tuesday, January 24, 2023. Preorder your copy now!!!

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Review: The Wakening by J.G. Faherty

The WakeningThe Wakening by J.G. Faherty
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

**3.5-stars rounded up**

Greetings Geeks & Ghouls!

Halloween Weekend is FINALLY upon us. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Am I right?!

If you love possession stories, if you love an exorcism, if you love an exorcism gone wrong, may I present J.G. Faherty’s, The Wakening, for your consideration. This could be the perfect weekend read for you!

This story follows a group of individuals, pulled together through an eerie set of circumstances, trying to save one small New York town from the grips of an ancient evil.

The story actually began over 50-years ago in a remote Guatemalan village, when a young Father Leo Bonaventura was called to assist a friend with a complicated exorcism.

Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well. In an effort to learn from that day, Bonaventura brings some evidence of that exorcism back with him to the United States to be studied. Ultimately depositing the objects at a University in upstate New York.

The University is in the small town of Hastings Mills. Over the years the town witnesses multiple atrocities, including an extremely vivid scene taking place in the abandoned attic room of one of the University buildings, when a group of students gathers to perform a seance.

I’m talking, extremely vivid. This was honestly my favorite scene of the entire book. It got my pulse racing. It seriously creeped me out. I could picture it all and the horror imagery was absolutely fantastic!!

It’s a little difficult to explain the set-up of this one, but after the background of the paranormal activities of the town, we begin to follow a group of paranormal investigators who get called to assist with a young girl, Abigail, who appears to be possessed.

Stone Graves is their leader and he is the host of a reality paranormal show. The group gets to Abigail’s home, much to the relief of Abby’s father, a single-parent, and immediately begin filming.

It’s clear that Abigail’s issues are no farce, the adults find themselves in a true battle, not just for their lives, but for the lives of the entire town. How can one little girl be so powerful?

Father Bonaventura, now well past his prime, just may be the key to it all.

Dun, dun dun. Y’all, this book was pedal to the floor the entire way through. I hope I have given an intriguing enough synopsis to get at least some of you Horror fans interested.

I don’t think it gets enough love yet, but we can change that. I appreciated the set-up of this so much. You can literally watch the timeline unfold of the horrors of this town.

And trust me, there are a lot of horrors happening with Abby’s house being the center of it all. When I mentioned above it is pedal to the floor, I meant it. There are no pages and pages of nonsense waiting for something paranormal to occur, it is in your face all the time.

Sometimes, maybe it was too much. I can see how some Readers may feel that way. My one small criticism would be that I did feel it was a touch too long. There was so much happening at Abby’s house that on occasion it began to feel a bit repetitive.

Also, this didn’t bother me at all, but I feel like I should provide a caution for others, the entity involved is sort of a demon of lust and chaos. Therefore, their power seeping over the town can cause blatant acts of hyper-sexualization.

To be clear, you will find that on page. Again, didn’t bother me, but if you feel you are sensitive to highly-sexual content, this may not be the book for you.

With this being said, I did love the build-up, including the set of characters that were brought together to battle the evil and the entire possession element. Even though it was a touch too long, I feel like it was worth the investment of my time.

I absolutely plan to pick up more of J.G. Faherty’s work. I was impressed by the imagery he was able to evoke with his words. Yikes.

Overall, The Wakening is an entertaining, pulse-racing, toe-curling, gag-inducing possession story!

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Review: Daphne by Josh Malerman

DaphneDaphne by Josh Malerman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of the best parts of any sleepover is scaring yourself. Whether it’s with scary movies, games or just scary stories told amongst friends, there’s no denying it’s a fun way to pass the time.

In the small town of Samhattan, when the girls basketball team gets together for a sleepover, one of the girls decides to tell the story of a local legend, Daphne.

Daphne attended their high school a few decades ago, around the same time as many of their parents actually. She was a 7-foot tall, social outcast, who wore Kiss makeup for no apparent reason and made a lot of people, children and adults alike, very uncomfortable.

Legend has it that she died tragically, at the hands of classmates and ever since that time will haunt anyone who dares to think about her. Daphne allegedly appears and kills with her bare hands.

The concept is along the lines of Bloody Mary. We all know her, many of us fear her, but this is worse. With Bloody Mary, you have to be consciously summoning her, saying her name, doing certain things that are said to bring her forth.

With Daphne, all you have to do is think about her though. Everyone knows that the more you try not to think about something, the more impossible it becomes. Thus, Daphne is now pretty much an inevitability for these teen girls.

Kit Lamb, one of the star players, has a really hard time not thinking about Daphne. As a matter of fact, she even asks the rim about her; a tradition the girls have.

She asks the rim if Daphne will kill her. The ball goes in. I think you can all deduce what that means. Then it is a non-stop terror train of thoughts about Daphne for poor Kit. How can she possibly shut these thoughts off?

Will any of the girls basketball team survive knowing Daphne’s story? Honestly, it’s so awful. How could they not think about her after being told?

Daphne was a weirdly-fun and captivating story. Even though I wasn’t crazy about some of the structural choices, it felt quite disjointed to me due to odd perspective shifts, overall, I really enjoyed it!

Truthfully, Malerman’s work has been hit or miss for me; we have a 50/50 relationship. I was actually thinking this would be the last shot I was going to take. Regardless, I’m glad I took the chance as this story paid off.

I really appreciated the exploration of anxiety through Kit’s perspective and also enjoyed the whole idea behind this town and Daphne’s legacy. The idea that it could collectively be blocked from the town memory, without anyone pushing for that to be so, was a really interesting concept.

That something so heinous and traumatic, a piece of history, could be swept under the rug, with everyone just pretending it didn’t exist. That sounds pretty true to life, doesn’t it?

The horror was fun. The concept of Daphne was very creative and well-imagined. There were scenes that definitely got my pulse going.

Additionally, this had some twists towards the end that I didn’t see coming. That absolutely contributed to my enjoyment. I was pleasantly surprised by this one. I’m looking forward to more Malerman now!

Thank you to the publisher, Ballantine, for providing me with a copy to read and review. I definitely recommend this one to Slasher fans, or anyone looking for a thoughtful, spooky, fun read!

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