Teeth in the Mist by Dawn Kurtagich

Before the birth of time, a monk uncovers the Devil’s Tongue and dares to speak it. The repercussions will be felt for generations…

Sixteen-year-old photography enthusiast Zoey has been fascinated by the haunted, burnt-out ruins of Medwyn Mill House for as long as she can remember–so she and her best friend, Poulton, run away from home to explore them. But are they really alone in the house? And who will know if something goes wrong?

In 1851, seventeen-year-old Roan arrives at the Mill House as a ward–one of three, all with something to hide from their new guardian. When Roan learns that she is connected to an ancient secret, she must escape the house before she is trapped forever.

1583. Hermione, a new young bride, accompanies her husband to the wilds of North Wales where he plans to build the largest water mill and mansion in the area. But rumors of unholy rituals lead to a tragic occurrence and she will need all her strength to defeat it.

Three women, centuries apart, drawn together by one Unholy Pact. A pact made by a man who, more than a thousand years later, may still be watching…(taken from Amazon)

In the interest of full disclosure, I will say: I did not finish this book. However, since I made it over two hundred pages in before calling it, I’ve decided that I’m an expert on the subject of this book. Okay, maybe not, but I’m still about to spew my opinion. You have been warned.

This book reminded me of a less mature version of Penny Dreadful (basically, the author adios-ed the nudity) smashed together with The Blair Witch Project. It did not work for me at all.

First of all, the present day part of the story bored me. I couldn’t find it in me to care one iota about Zoey, or her friend. The whole video diary thing is been there, done that. I’m assuming that if I finished the book, there would be some reveal about who she is and how she’s involved in the hauntings (I’m assuming she’s related to Roan, one of the main characters from the 1851 storyline), but…so what?

The 1851 storyline, involving Roan, was so choppy that there were several occasions where I was convinced I’d skipped pages, only to find out that I hadn’t. There was one part where Roan told a character she needed to speak to him as all the other characters left the room, only for that talk to not happen until much later.

The switches between the different timelines were done in a way that felt very odd to me. Chapters didn’t seem to end naturally, as much as just stop almost mid-thought. Don’t get me wrong, the premise was interesting. I just didn’t enjoy the execution at all.

After I decided that there was no reason for me to continue reading a book that is most definitely not for me, I read the author bio in the back. It turns out that she’s the author of another book that I did read all the way through, and didn’t care for. So, I guess it’s just a matter of her writing style not working for me. And that’s okay. But, seeing as all the reviews I’ve read of this book are raves, I thought I’d post my flip-side thoughts, just to see if anyone else had the same experience.

Have you read this book? Did you think it lived up to the hype?

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The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove by J.S. Bailey, Mackenzie Flohr, Elise Manion, D.M. Kilgore, et al- ARC Review

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Graves Grove isn’t your ordinary town…

Nestled within the folds of the Canadian Rockies, Graves Grove probably isn’t the picturesque place you’d like to stay for long. Peculiar things happen here. The citizens seem normal superficially—they function well enough. But each one is deeply disturbed, wrapped in secrets and neuroses which drive them to strange behaviors.

And then there are all the missing children. And why is everyone afraid of that sycamore tree?

The Whispered Tales of Graves Grove is an anthology of stories taking place throughout the history of this mysterious town, from its founding to its future. Read them…if you dare. (taken from Amazon)

                    This book was provided by Netgalley, in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available on October thirteenth.

If Twin Peaks had a more horror-based neighboring town, Graves Grove would be it. Bizarre and creeptastic, this shiver-inducing collection of short stories is a blast to read. I love reading stories that have a common thread, but still showcase each author’s individual style. That’s what this collection did: while all the tales were part of a larger narrative, each one was individualistic and creative.

There were many stories that I loved, and just a few that were “meh”. A couple of them mentioned fairies which didn’t seem to jive with the rest of the book, but they were still interesting even though they felt a bit disjointed.

I loved Where’s Matheson Lam and The Flash in particular. The both left me with that feeling of what if?, which is so much fun in supernatural and horror books. I also loved that there’s a distinct lack of over-the-top gore.

This book collection was a lot of fun. I highly recommend it.

The Somnambulist by Johnathan Barnes

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“Be warned. This book has no literary merit whatsoever. It’s a lurid piece of nonsense, convoluted, implausible, peopled by unconvincing characters, written in dreadfully pedestrian prose, frequently ridiculous and willfully bizarre. Needless to say, I doubt you’ll believe a word of it.”
                                                                                                                                  -The Narrator

I don’t think I’m smart enough for this book. It’s set in London, in the late Victorian era. It’s about Edward Moon, a has-been magician and amateur detective. Together with The Somnambulist, a huge, silent man who doesn’t bleed when stabbed, Edward Moon sets out to solve what may be their last big case.

It starts as a simple murder, but soon evolves into a complicated morass that is simultaneously interesting and incredibly confusing. I’m honestly not sure how I feel about this book. There are good things about it- like the unreliable narrator-, but there are also things I really didn’t like (there are a ridiculous amount of unimportant characters to try to keep track of). I’m not entirely sure I even understand the ending, although that might be because I was sick and groggy when I finished the book.

Usually, I love ambiguous endings, but this book left so many threads dangling, that I’m left unsure as to whether or not it actually ended. There is a sequel, but it was written many years later. I wonder if it was written specifically to answer some of the many questions remaining.

Regardless, the author is very talented. Whether you end up enjoying the book or not, you will be unable to deny that it is one of the most original out there.

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky- ARC Review

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This book will be available to purchase on October first.

As soon as I started this book, I was presented with a problem: Do I read it as quickly as possible to see what happens next? Or do I drag it out as long as I can, enjoying Stephen Chobsky’s fantastic writing? I’m sure you, reader, have been in this position before. Ultimately, the choice was made for me; I couldn’t put this book down.

I’ll start with the characters. They were wonderfully three-dimensional, every one of them. Christopher was such a sweet little boy and I absolutely loved his mom. She was a fighter in every sense of the word. With the many characters this book had, the fact that they were all well developed and had distinct personalities was impressive, to say the least.

In this book, Christopher goes missing for several days. He shows up again, thanks to “the nice man”, whom no-one else has seen. He’s not the same, though. He has a friend that no one else can see. Thanks to this friendship, Christopher learns that he has a very important job that only he can complete. If he doesn’t finish by Christmas, all hell will break loose.

Normally at this point in a horror review, an excellent writer will be called “the next Stephen King”, or some such thing. I can’t do that, though. Chobsky’s writing is so unique that there’s no comparing it to anyone else. His book was very cerebral. To be honest, it got under my skin. He has a knack for knowing exactly what wigs me out. There are layers upon layers in this book, and it kept me fascinated from start to finish.

I won’t give any spoilers, but I will say this: this is a horror book and some people do horrific things. There might be things that would trigger some, so be aware of that as you read. Normally, some of the things touched upon would really bother me, but it was written in a way that I was able to handle.

For those who haven’t recognized the name, Stephen Chbosky is the author of the absolutely incredible The Perks of Being a Wallflower (if you haven’t read it yet, you really need to rectify that problem. I’ll wait). The fact that he is able to write such disparate genres speaks highly of his ability to weave a tale. He also somehow managed to make me tear up at parts, then scare the living daylights out of me a chapter later. He is a master in his craft.

Read this book.

The Furies by Katie Lowe- ARC Review


This harrowing debut is the story of a girl trying to fit in, whose obsessive new friends and desperation to belong leads her to places she’d never imagined…dark, dangerous, and possibly even violent.

In 1998, a sixteen-year-old girl is found dead on her boarding school’s property, dressed in white and posed on a swing, with no known cause of death. What happened to her? And what do her friends know? To find out, it is necessary to go back to the beginning.

The school is Elm Hollow Academy, an all-girl’s boarding school located in a sleepy coastal town, with a long-buried grim history of 17th century witch trials. A new student, Violet, joins the school, and soon finds herself invited to become the fourth member of an advanced study group, led by the alluring and mysterious art teacher Annabel.

Annabel does her best to convince the girls that her classes aren’t related to ancient rites and rituals, and that they are just mythology. But the more she tries to warn the girls off the topic, the more the girls start to believe that magic is real and that they have the power to harness it.

Violet quickly finds herself wrapped up in this addictive new world. But when she comes to learn about the disappearance of a former member of the society, one with whom Violet shares an uncanny resemblance, she begins to wonder who she can trust, all the while becoming more deeply entangled in her newfound friendships.

Was it suicide, or a foul play more sinister? How far will these young girls go to protect one another…or to destroy one another? (taken from Amazon)

                    Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. This will be available to purchase on October 8th.

**Be aware: there is a theme that could be very upsetting. I have mentioned it below in the vaguest way I could, but please read at your own discretion.**

Dark and unsettling, this was a hard book for me to read. In fact, I almost gave up on it. Sexual assault was a driving force in this book , and that’s something I try to avoid reading at all costs. I only finished because I felt that I owed it to the author to provide feedback for their pre-release. Now that I’ve written that, let me rush to add that I am going to do my absolute best to separate my distaste for parts of the book, and focus on it as a whole.

This book felt to me like it was going for a Virgin Suicides-meets- The Craft vibe. Violet wants desperately to find a group of friends, a fact that is noticed- and exploited by Robin- a girl who is on a headlong rush into disaster. This book explores the depths some people can fall to when love, lust, revenge, hurt, and loss collide.

Although there’s nothing incredibly new about the plotline, the story itself is well-written and hard to escape, if that makes sense. Part of what makes this book so disquieting is that there is no good guy to cheer for, and no redemption for any of the characters at all. Don’t go into this expecting a quick, fun mystery with a hook.

Aside from the unexpected and unwelcome impetus, my big complaint would be the ending. Throughout the book the author did a very good job of drawing things to a breaking point, then pushing them a little further. However, the ending felt rushed and didn’t fit in with the rest of the book at all.

This book was disturbing and thought-provoking: if that was the author’s intention, she succeed magnificently. However, if I had known before starting this book that there would be a theme of assault, I would not have read it. So…I guess the verdict is: this book is one to read if you like things on the harsher side. For me- I wish I’d skipped it.

The Devouring Gray by Christine Lynn Herman


Imagine if the show Stranger Things focused more on the Upside Down. Picture the sense of growing desperation when those meant to protect people from The Gray are unable to do so.  Add a group of town Founders who are definitely not what they seem, and teens with uncanny abilities, and you’ve got the perfectly creepy cocktail that is The Devouring Gray.

After the unexpected death of her sister, Violet Saunders and her mother move to the small town of Four Paths. There, she learns of The Gray- and the horrible monster that lives there. She also finds out things about herself that she hadn’t known before, things that are a wee bit unsettling, to say the least.

Along with Justin Hawthorne, Isaac Sullivan, and Harper Carlisle, children of the founding families with secrets of their own, Violet is thrown into the midst of a violent struggle against The Gray.

This book was eerie fun! It’s familiar enough that there’s no exposition necessary, (family member dies, teen dragged to small town), but different enough to be engaging. In fact, halfway through I realized that I didn’t want to put it down. 

The characters were all interesting, and each had their own separate issues they were dealing with, which meant that none of them was superfluous. I would love to learn more about Isaac; I feel like there’s a lot more to him just waiting to be revealed.

Another fantastic thing about this book is the angst was kept to a manageable level (on a scale of 1- Toby Mcguire’s Spiderman, it was about a 4), and it focused on other types of relationships, making the story much more three-dimensional. By the end of the book, I got annoyed any time I had to pause to rejoin the real world.

This is a creepy, fun book that’s absolutely worth reading. I suggest picking it up the next time you’re at the bookstore. 

Have you read this? What did you think?

The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin – ARC Review

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Every tree in the sacred Forest of Laida houses a soul. Though each of those souls will return to the mortal world for many future lives, not all of them deserve to. 

Seycia’s father told her this story as a child―a story of the most holy place in the Underworld, The Forest of Laida, where all souls go to rest before embarking on a new life. But Seycia’s father is dead now, and his killer has put a target on her back. 

After being chosen for her village’s human sacrifice ritual, Seycia is transported to the Underworld and must join forces with Haben, the demon to whom she was sacrificed. Together, they journey to the forest in the Underworld where all souls grow, in a quest to destroy the tree of the man who killed her. (taken from Amazon)

Thank you to Netgalley for providing me with this book, in exchange for my honest opinion. It will be available to purchase on July 16th.

I don’t know what exactly I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I got. And that’s a very, very good thing. This book was utterly engrossing, drawing me into a world both stark and fascinating.

This is a book to commit to. If you are looking for a quick afternoon read, this is not that book. This book has a slow-burning plot-line that was obviously incredibly well thought out. The descriptions were so amazing, and the pictures conjured in my mind were so  realistic and full of detail, I had to pause from time to time, just to let it all sink in.

It did take about five chapters for me to feel fully invested in the characters, but that was simply because there was so much that needed to be set up–and the time spent setting up the world, and the characters, as well as what motivated them- more than paid off.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve read a book that took place in any version of the underworld (Hell, Limbo, or what have you) but this was absolutely unique. I loved that Haben was as much a victim as Seycia was, only in a different way.

The characters were fascinating, the world dark and atmospheric, and the story itself went in completely unexpected directions. I highly recommend this book if you like your fantasy gritty and rich in detail.

The World of Lore: Dreadful Places by Aaron Mahnke

         Sometimes you walk into a room, a building, or even a town, and you feel it. Something seems off—an atmosphere that leaves you oddly unsettled, with a sense of lingering darkness. Join Aaron Mahnke, the host of the popular podcast Lore, as he explores some of these dreadful places and the history that haunts them.
 
Mahnke takes us to Colorado and the palatial Stanley Hotel, where wealthy guests enjoyed views of the Rocky Mountains at the turn of the twentieth century—and where, decades later, a restless author would awaken from a nightmare, inspired to write one of the most revered horror novels of all time. Mahnke also crosses land and sea to visit frightful sites—from New Orleans to Richmond, Virginia, to the brooding, ancient castles of England—each with its own echoes of dark deeds, horrible tragedies, and shocking evil still resounding.
 
Filled with evocative illustrations, this eerie tour of lurid landmarks and doomed destinations is just the ticket to take armchair travelers with a taste for the macabre to places they never thought they’d visit in their wildest, scariest dreams. (taken from Amazon)

          This book was spooky fun! There were ghosts, unsubstantiated rumors, and eerie feelings aplenty, all layered over true historic events. Not only were there the “haunted houses,” but Mahnke also explored lost travelers, castles, tragedies blamed on wizards…basically any place that is rumored to have a dreadful past.

What sets this book apart, in my opinion, is the unbridled enthusiasm which Mahnke obviously put into both his research, and his writing. It shines through on every page, making what could be ye random book of ghost stories into an engaging commentary on the lore, we- as humans- create to explain the inexplicable or the horrible.

The book reads like a conversation with the author. At the risk of sounding like a terrible person (the book is, after all, about the macabre), I found it highly enjoyable. This isn’t a hide-under-the-covers sort of horror. It’s the sort of book that I’d read around a campfire while eating s’mores. That’s infinitely better, I think. I’ll be looking for the other two Lore books. If they’re half as good as this book was, I’m in for a dreadfully good time.

Have you read this book? What did you think?

The Twisted Tree by Rachel Burge

This book was fantastic! Steeped in Norse mythology, and utterly creeptastic (add that to your vocabulary: if “fleek” can be a word,  “creeptastic” can be too), this was just what I needed .

Martha senses things about people just by touching their clothes. It started after she fell out of the twisted tree at her Mormer’s (grandmother’s) house, and became blind in one eye. Trying to get answers for this disturbing development from the one person she suspects might know something about it, she runs away to see Mormer- only to learn that she’s dead and that a teen boy has been living in her house.

The book quickly picks up an incredibly eerie atmosphere: out in the middle of nowhere with a huge storm coming, something outside (a wolf- or worse?), ghosts inside, and questions that need answering,  Martha has to face the truth of the Twisted Tree and who she is.

At less than four hundred pages, this is a quick read, perfect for an evening cuddled up with your warm drink of choice. Actually, the shortness of the book is the only thing that I felt even a little negatively towards, and that’s simply because I enjoyed it so much that I wanted it to continue.

The book builds to a crescendo, the mythology aspect is incredibly interesting (although a few liberties have been taken), and the relationship between the two main characters is one of the few I’ve read in a long time that didn’t annoy me. It was natural-feeling, and didn’t distract from the plot-line at all.

This is Rachel Burge’s debut novel, and I sincerely hope it won’t be her last. If you’re looking for an eerie read, this book is for you.

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Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker

 

Admission: I’ve read Bram Stoker’s Dracula three times throughout my life and I still don’t like it. I find that it drags. But Dracul looked so enticing, I had to give it a go. I was not disappointed.

While Dracul is written in the vein (pun intended) of Dracula, I found it to be much more interesting. Its gothic atmosphere and slow build worked in its favor, making it eerie fun. The authors chose to follow firmly in the Dracula mythos, eschewing Anne Rice’s additions to the genre (she’s a brilliant author, by the way).

Why did I enjoy this book, when I don’t like Dracula? Honestly, I think it’s because the female characters in this book have spunk. They aren’t helpless at all, and they move the story along. In fact, without Ellen, there would be no story.

The switch-off between different character’s points of view was a fascinating choice, and the fact that some parts were told as letters made it easy for pertinent information to be included without boring the reader to death (again-pun intended. I’m having way too much fun with this).

I found the Author’s Note at the end to be extremely interesting. It talked a lot about the Stokers, and gave the most enthralling information. If you enjoyed The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, chances are you’ll want to sink your teeth (Bwahaha!) into Dracul.

I included a picture of the author bios below because Dacre Stoker’s was so interesting. Have you read this book? What did you think?

 

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