To rend and tear the world apart: Reviewing The Lights of Prague by Nicole Jarvis

Hi everyone! I hope you are not too chilly as the winter slowly creeps its way in. I’ve just been up to the usual; reading books and listening to the same five songs over and over until I get sick of them. I have two books that I definitely want to finish before December as well as before I publish my annual favorites list. I like to think at least someone enjoys that list. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I tend to always forget what media I have consumed by the end of the year. Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now. Let’s talk about The Lights of Prague. (Content warnings will be at the bottom).

At night, the streets of Prague are haunted by spirits and monsters of all sorts who are out for blood. Lamplighters are the ones tasked with protecting the citizens from such supernatural threats. Domek Myska has spent most of his life fighting against the pijavice, ruthless vampiric creatures. One night, Domek encounters a spirit known as the White Lady. This leads him to a will-o-the-wisp, a powerful and sentient being, that has been trapped in a strange jar. This discovery leads Domek to a conspiracy amongst the pijavice to walk in daylight and unleash terror on the world. With the help of the beautiful and mysterious Lady Ora Fischerova, Domek must race against time to stop the conspirators from using science and alchemy for their own twisted gain.

Dark and atmospheric, The Lights of Prague is a gripping historical, supernatural thriller with plenty of twists and turns. Nicole Jarvis does an excellent job of creating tension through all parts of the narrative. You don’t have to be an expert in Czech folklore to appreciate how Nicole Jarvis incorporates these stories into her novel. (I do recommend doing some research if you do read this novel. It was very interesting.) I have a soft spot for the vampire genre, particularly vampire novels set in the past. This novel nails the best parts of what makes a good vampire story, while still setting itself in a unique perspective by incorporating different folk tales. Any fan of vampire novels or supernatural stories will be sure to love The Lights of Prague.

Content Warning: Blood and Some Gore, Violence, Sexual Content, Mentions of Domestic Violence, Some Harsh Language

These bloody thoughts, from what are they born?: Reviewing The Alienist by Caleb Carr

Hi everyone! Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate it. I continue to be thankful for every book I have ever read. Some notes before I start this review: I have re-joined Tumblr since Twitter is going downhill and will also post my reviews there. If you want to, you can follow me @please-consider-me-a-dream on Tumblr. Second note, I am cheating a little bit with this review because I did watch the tv adaptation (also called The Alienist) before reading this book. I still recommend checking out the show, though; you can find it on HBO Max. There will be some trigger warnings and then we can get into The Alienist.

Trigger Warnings: Graphic Descriptions of Death, Violence, Harm Against Children, Discussion and Depiction of Sexual Assault, Discussion of Domestic Violence, Drug and Alcohol Abuse. Use of Racist and Homophobic Language, Depictions of Sex Trafficking

1896, New York City. John Schuyler Moore is a newspaper reporter who is summoned by his friend and famous psychologist, or “alienist,” Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, to view the mutilated body of a young boy found on the unfinished Williamsburg Bridge. When more young boys are killed in a similarly horrific manner, the two men decide to do something revolutionary to catch the killer – they create a psychological profile of the criminal based on the details of his crimes. With the help of some unlikely friends, Moore and Kreizler find themselves up against many dangerous men and must face down these threats in order to stop this murderer.

This was quite an intense and interesting mystery. My favorite thing about this novel is just how committed it was to historical accuracy, including the worst parts of history. I appreciate the honest and gritty depiction of New York City that Carr lays out in this narrative. The characters themselves are as remarkable as they are flawed in the most human ways. This is a rather long read and sometimes tends to ramble on a bit about history, so if you don’t like that then you have been warned. However, if you want an exciting and gritty historical mystery, then I am going to go ahead and recommend The Alienist, particularly if you like history regarding psychology and criminology.

Gun to your neck, blood on my hands, saints against God: Reviewing Nona the Ninth (Book Three in the Locked Tomb series) by Tamsyn Muir

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I am actually recovering from COVID and feeling a lot better. That really sucked, though. I had been so lucky and managed to avoid it for a long time. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I felt like I had a terrible head cold the whole time. I struggled to get anything done for the last week, but reading was a pleasant enough distraction. I’ll stop complaining about my illness and get on to reviewing the latest book in The Locked Tomb series, Nona the Ninth (Content warnings will be at the very bottom).

To the outside world, Nona seems somewhat ordinary. She has a loving family, a job at the local school enjoys walks on the beach, and always looks forward to meeting new dogs. Nona, however, is far from normal. She woke up in the body of a stranger six months ago and will have to give it back soon enough. As Nona fears the inevitable end, the city she lives in is under siege and the planet is collapsing. A militia group known as the Blood of Eden surrounds the last Cohort facility and waits for commands from God himself. The leaders from BoE want Nona to be the weapon that saves them from the Nine Houses. Nona would much rather plan her birthday party, but she fears she will not be able to celebrate as the end swiftly approaches.

Tamsyn Muir does it again with this thrilling third entry in the Locked Tomb series. Nona is an unlikely hero who ends up fitting nicely in this complex and intriguing narrative. Muir does certainly answer more questions but still leaves plenty of mystery for this series. I love the way that this series is so fluid and has gone to so many places that I never had expected. I personally love books that just throw you into the “deep end” and let the story unravel in a rather unexpected way. I am absolutely going to recommend The Locked Tomb series if you want an intense and thrilling sci-fi/fantasy series with plenty of interesting world-building, compelling characters, and a roller coaster of a plot to keep you hanging on until the very end.

Content Warning: Gore, Violence, Self – Harm, Some Harsh Language

The woods were full of madmen: Reviewing Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher

Hello everyone! I was not expecting to be back this soon, but here I am with yet another review. T. Kingfisher is quickly becoming one of my new favorite authors, so I definitely plan to read more of their books in the future. In fact, I know that they are coming out with another book so that is going to be Southern Gothic. It is on my too long list of books I want to read that is constantly being updated. Feel free to check out my review of What Moves the Dead. Let’s continue on by talking about Nettle and Bone. (Minor content warning at the very bottom).

Marra is the third born daughter of the king and queen and has never been comfortable with being royalty. Her parents send her away to a convent, where she gets to be free of the duties of a princess. Her two older sisters, though, are not so fortunate. After her eldest sister dies at the hands of a prince, her other older sister is quickly married to him. Marra quickly realizes that something sinister is afoot. She decides to take matters into her own hands to save her sister and her kingdom. With the help of some unusual characters, Marra sets on an impossible journey to take down an entire kingdom.

Kingfisher crafts together a unique heroic journey off the bones of fairytales that are reminiscent of the Brothers Grimm. There was something so different yet so familiar as the story follows a rather traditional fairytale structure, but with a darker feminist narrative built in. Marra is a relatable protagonist who confronts her fears in a way that readers may find relatable. This is also a pretty quick read, coming in at 240 pages. If you are looking for an interesting dark fairytale, then go ahead and check out this novella by T. Kingfisher.

(Content Warning: Discussions of Abuse, Discussions of Miscarriage, Death of a Child)

Monsters were never beyond her: Reviewing Harrow the Ninth (Book Two of the Locked Tomb series) by Tamsyn Muir

Hello everyone! I stayed awake to finish this novel rather than actually relax. Who needs a healthy sleep schedule anyways? Regardless, I am excited to hop back into this series again. I actually bought the newest (and third) installment before I even finished this one. I have actually never really been a huge fan of book series but I am so glad I found this one. Now, without further ado, let’s get into Harrow the Ninth. (Content warnings will be at the very bottom of this post).

Harrowhark “Harrow” Nonagesimus, the last necromancer of the Ninth House, has been made a Lyctor and fights alongside the Emperor Undying. As the youngest of the Lyctors, Harrow must work twice as hard to perfect her skills. Her training, however, is proven to be extremely difficult as her health starts fail her, her teachers try to kill her, and her mind is seemingly know longer her own. Harrow soon finds herself facing a seemingly impossible task as the ghost of a murdered planet is chasing after her. As the universe seems to be ending, Harrow finds herself confronting some uncomfortable truths as she begins to question what her real purpose is.

Wow. At no point in this novel did I fully understand what the heck was happening. I mean that in a good way too. Muir keeps the reader thoroughly engaged in this sequel. The narrative jumps around in time at random and changes narrative styles without warning. I found myself having to re-read parts to make sure I was processing everything correctly. The world – building in this novel is intense, to say the least. Nothing lets up as Harrow plunges further and further into wild scenarios. I was truly impressed with just how this novel tangled and wove into something that made sense in the strangest way possible. I really don’t want to spoil too much. I will just say that this was definitely a very successful sequel to an incredible series.

Content Warning: Graphic Violence, Gore, Harsh Language, Some Sexual Content

It makes us into monsters: Reviewing A God in the Shed by J-F. Dubeau

Hello everyone! Welcome back to another book review by yours truly. With this one, I will be officially wrapping up my horror novels for the month of October. Since I won’t be posting on Halloween, I will wish you all a Happy Halloween two days early. Whether you are partying, staying home and watching scary movies, or you are going trick – or – treating, I hope you have fun. Now, let me give you another horror novel suggestion (I got this one via Book Tok) with A God in the Shed.

Trigger Warning: Graphic Violence and Gore, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Harm against Children, Harm against Animals, Gun Violence, Body Horror

The small town of St-Ferdinand, located in Montreal, is a seemingly sleepy place for farmers and other hardworking folks. A darkness, however, lurks beneath. Inspector Stephen Crowley finally catches the St-Ferdinand killer, who leaves behind a gruesome crime scene that hints at something even more sinister lurking in the town. That sinister thing reveals itself to unsuspecting teenager Venus McKenzie. She quickly learns that this dark entity is deeply woven in the history of St-Ferdinand and has something much darker in store for everyone.

This was quite a unique novel with a plot that I had never encountered before, which made me want to push through. The pacing is a little slow, though, but what made up for it was the fact I had no idea where this novel was heading at any moment. I appreciated how Dubeau utilizes multiple POVs in order to enhance the story. The characters were all interesting in their own way and all contributed to this chilling tale. I’m pretty sure that this novel is a part of a duopoly too. I would be interested in checking out. Anyways, I would certainly recommend checking out this supernatural horror if you want something a little more intense and twisty.

There’s a magic there, something that haunts the far woods: Reviewing Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow by Christina Henry

Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoy the chilly fall weather that has befallen us. I don’t know if I have mentioned this before but Sleepy Hollow has been one of my favorite stories since I was kid. I loved the animated Disney version and watched that every year. Later on, I fell in love with the movie “Sleepy Hollow,” with Johnny Depp. There was a tv show, also called “Sleepy Hollow,” that I loved. I have even visited the actual town around Halloween and it was awesome. I would highly recommend a visit. Anyway, I think the story is ripe for the adaptation so, without further introduction, let’s talk about Horseman: A Tale of Sleepy Hollow.

Trigger Warning: Gore, Violence, Misogynistic Language

Ben Van Brunt, the grandchild of Brom Bones and Katrina Van Tassel, has always been fascinated with the legend of the Headless Horseman. Even though Brom insists it’s just a tale, Ben has always believed that there is magic in Sleepy Hollow, One day, while playing in the woods, Ben and a friend stumble across the gruesome sight of the headless body of a boy from the village. Ben begins to believe there is more truth to the legend of the Horseman than Brom and Katrina let on. As Ben investigates, it becomes clear that something far more sinister may be lurking in Sleepy Hollow.

This was very interesting take on the story when compared to the other adaptations I have seen of Washington Irving’s most famous ghost story. Christina Henry reshapes the tale while keeping true to many iconic aspects of it. There were certainly plenty of chilling moments along with more emotional moments that I did not initially expect. I don’t want to go on too much longer because I don’t want to accidentally spoil anything. Definitely check this one out if you want a historical horror novel with plenty of supernatural elements that are perfect if you are in the mood for something a little more on the classic side.

Everybody makes their own destiny: Reviewing Black Mouth by Ronald Malfi

Hi everyone! Wow, I am really on a roll right now. It turns out you can finish a book pretty quickly when you focus on only one book at a time. Don’t worry; it is still a scary one. I haven’t stopped reading my horror books and, at this rate, I should be through all of them by Halloween. I do have quite a few popular books lined up for the rest of the year but they are longer, so don’t worry if I go radio silent. I work full-time and try not to worry about how many books I read in any given period of time. Now, enough chit chat. Let’s talk about Black Mouth.

MAJOR Trigger Warning: Domestic Violence/Abuse, Drug and Alcohol Abuse, Strong and Offensive Language, Graphic Depictions of Violence, Violence Against Children, Violence Against Animals, Disturbing Imagery

After a traumatic childhood, Jaime Warren is trying his best to run from his demons. A tragedy brings him back home to face his past, starting with the younger brother he abandoned. As strange and haunting events dredge up the past, Jaime ends up reuniting with his childhood best friends, Clay and Mia. Now, together again, they all must face down the terrible events that happened to them nearly twenty years ago and face the monster who been hunting them for so long.

I’m going to begin by saying that if you like Stephen King, you’ll probably enjoy Ronald Malfi. This book thoroughly creeped me out with its nightmarish plot that is terribly fantastical and terribly real at the same time. Malfi’s narrative smoothly transitions between different points of view while also providing jarring revelations. It was more of a mystery than I thought the book would be and I honestly enjoyed that part the most. I really didn’t know where this book was headed at any given time, which is what made me keep reading. I definitely want to read more Malfi novels in the future and I would recommend this one for the intrepid horror fan as well. (Do seriously heed the content warnings, though, and do your own research if you are a little more sensitive to certain subject matter.)

Let the pain and blood run free: Reviewing Your Mind is a Terrible Thing by Hailey Piper

Hello everyone! How are you all doing? I hope you are just continuing to thrive, regardless of the circumstances. I’m working my way steadily through my horror novels before the end of the month and have two more novellas alongside three full-length novels for anyone in the mood for horror. After that, my TBR will lighten up, content-wise, but I’ll still be delving into the macabre. This is my second cosmic horror read I’m bringing to you, so let’s get into it.

Trigger Warning: Body Horror, Gore, Scenes involving surgery, Some harsh language, Some sexual content

Alto is a communications specialist onboard the M.G. Yellowjacket. Their shift goes from interesting after having an intimate encounter with a fellow crewmate to a nightmarish experience. They find that their crew has seemingly vanished. Strange creatures made of brains are taking over the ship, being controlled by a sinister entity calling itself the Messenger. Riddled with anxiety and too underqualified to be dealing with this, Alto has no choice but to face these gruesome intruders who can invade a person’s mind and create horrors beyond human comprehension.

My first note about this book (and a positive one) is that this is the first novel I have read with a non-binary character as the main character. Alto is a unique yet relatable protagonist who I was rooting for the whole time. Hailey Piper certainly has an interesting way of portraying intense emotions and I mean that in the best way. There is no denying that this is certainly a gruesome novel but it is unlike anything I have read before. Cosmic horror is a very tricky genre but Piper maneuvers it masterfully. I would love to read more cosmic horror novels in the future and, if you are looking for somewhere to start (and have a strong stomach), then I would definitely recommend giving this novella your deserved attention.

…never known my knees to tremble and flesh to creep…: Reviewing The Woman in Black by Susan Hill

Hi everyone! I hope you are all keeping warm as the autumn chill sets in all around us. I am retreating into hoodies, blankets, and sweaters at this very moment. Those aren’t the fun chills, though. Let’s get into spooky chills. If the title of this novel sounds familiar to you, it is because there is a movie based on this book that I highly recommend. For those of you who love a good jumpscare, then definitely check out the movie adaptation. But if you want to go to the source, then continue to my review of The Woman in Black.

Trigger Warning: Some graphic depictions of death, Loss of a child, Grief, Mourning

Arthur Kipps is a young solicitor in London who is eager to take on bigger challenges in his career. His employer sends him off to the countryside village of Crythin Gifford to settle the affairs of a client, Mrs. Alice Drablow. Arthur decides to remain at Mrs. Drablow’s estate, Eel Marsh House, which is isolated in the middle of the marsh with only a causeway connecting it to the village. Unaware of the tragedy that once befell the isolated house, Arthur finds himself in the middle of a horrifying ordeal as the horrors of Eel Marsh House surface from below the bog.

What I greatly appreciated about this book is how Susan Hill captures the essence of gothic Victorian literature without the lengthiness of a typical Victorian-era novel. The Woman in Black has all the trappings of a classic ghost story with a chilling atmosphere and plenty of suspense. It is also a pretty short read with the novel being 163 pages exactly. I am biased because I have an affinity for gothic Victorian literature. (It was a big part of my Masters). You don’t have to be into Victorian-era literature, though. The Woman in Black is a perfect addition to your TBR if you want something macabre and unputdownable for spooky season.