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.

We’re all a little haunted: Reviewing This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno

Hi everyone! I hope you are all just living your best lives right now. It can be hard to do that sometimes, though. We all deserve a break now and then. There is no shame in taking a little bit of time for yourself. Spooky season is still afoot and I am still working my way through all of the horror novels in my pile. Some of them may roll into November, but that is totally fine. Let’s continue Spook-tober with This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno.

Trigger Warning: Loss of a Loved One, Mourning and Grief, Some Strong Language, Animal Death, Gore, Self-harm, Drug Use

Vera and Thiago, a young couple, finally move into their condo and decide to buy an Itza, a smart speaker that can answer and do just about anything. Things grow strange very quickly as their Itza seems to respond to no one and orders bizarre items that neither of them requested. Neither Vera nor Thiago think much of it, assuming it’s just a glitch. Everything changes, however, when Vera is killed in a freak accident. Deep in grief, Thiago moves from Chicago to rural Colorado. Thiago, though, can’t escape his sorrow and guilt. He finds himself fighting against a strange, evil presence that is feeding off all of his pain and using it to find a way into this world.

This book was a wild ride. Short but frightening, Moreno eloquently and honestly portrays grief while also delivering a unique and chilling narrative. I have not read a ton of possession stories in the past and have always found the idea to be truly scary. Moreno certainly delivers on just how truly terrifying such an experience would be. The added element of technology being an active part of the haunting makes it all the more interesting. (Itza is this novel’s version of an Echo Dot/Alexa). I enjoyed how creative this novel is and would love to read more unique horror like this. Definitely go ahead and give This Thing Between Us if you want to read a horror novel unlike any other.

Sharp and Deep and Merciless: Reviewing Gone to See the River Man by Kristopher Triana

Hello everyone! I hope you are still making your way diligently through your TBR list and not buying more books right now. I need to put myself on a book-buying ban, but I don’t have that level of self-control. I stumbled upon this particular novel via “Book Tok” and did not even bother looking up the synopsis before buying it. I did not realize that this fell under the category of “splatter punk,” which is reserved for only the goriest of books. If you have a weak stomach, I am going to tell you to stop reading this review right now. If you are a braver soul (or just kind of weird), then join me as we talk about Gone to See the River Man.

MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING: Graphic scenes of violence, Extreme Gore, Offensive Language, Explicit Sex Scenes, Eating Disorders (Do further research if you are still interested in reading this novel)

Lori is a young woman trying to find solace from her dreary life and she does so by befriending serial killer, Edmund Cox. After gaining his trust, he entrusts her with an important task: she must go to his hometown, find a hidden key, and give it to the River Man. Lori undertakes the task with zeal, but must take her sister with her. The trip turns into an odyssey of nightmares that forces Lori to confront her dark past. As she and her sister journey to find the River Man, Lori realizes that they are facing a being much more powerful and terrifying than she could have ever imagined.

This was the first book I have read in a while that genuinely made my stomach turn. For better or worse, Kristopher Triana knows how to write a gory thriller that will make you morbidly curious. Honestly, though, I find the best horror media to be the ones that mess with your senses. Gone to See the River Man certainly succeeds in that with its incredibly graphic imagery and taboo subject matter. Being that is my first time reading a true “splatter punk” novel, I was not disappointed. I would recommend not going into this one blind like I did. My trigger warning is a little vague on purpose. Do a little more research if you are still semi-interested. If you are looking for something that will make your skin crawl, then I would definitely have to say go ahead and read this short but disturbing novel.

Without memory, there can be no retribution: Reviewing My Heart is Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

Hello everyone! I hope you are all living your best lives and find yourselves curled up with a good book more often than not. I am trying to get through as many horror novels as I can by the end of this month. I am incredibly excited because I have so many good recommendations that I’m hoping to get to before the end of the year. I also rearranged my bookshelves recently to make room for even more books! Now, let’s add another to the shelf and talk about My Heart is a Chainsaw.

Trigger Warning: Graphic Violence, Blood and Gore, Self – Harm, Discussions of Sexual Assault

Jade Daniels has always turned to the slasher movies of the 1980s to escape her rather bleak existence. She is an outsider in her small hometown of Proofrock, which is home to Camp Blood, the site of a massacre that happened fifty years ago, and Terra Nova, a development for the Uber-rich and mildly famous. When the bodies of a teen couple turn up by Indian Lake, Jade knows in her heart that this is the start of a slasher. There are patterns that these movies follow and Jade has the encyclopedic knowledge to help her survive whatever or whoever is piling up bodies. She takes it upon herself to train the final girl to survive what may come and finds herself taking a much bigger role in this would – be slasher flick.

Though I am not a fan of slasher films, I can appreciate the thought and care that Stephen Graham Jones put into this novel. Within My Heart is a Chainsaw is a pretty interesting analysis of the slasher movie and why the structures are so important to the genre. This is wrapped up in a gory and fast-paced story about a misunderstood girl just trying to find some semblance of control in her life. This was certainly unique compared to other horror novels I have read recently. You don’t have to be a fan of slasher movies to appreciate this film, but if you are a fan of bloody, gory horror, then this is certainly the novel for you this spot season.

They’re closer than you think…: Reviewing Parasite by Darcy Coates

Hello everyone! I hope you are finding enjoyment in all the ways that matter to you. This is your reminder to step away from the internet (for at least a little bit). Before I begin, I have to say that I weirdly stumbled across this book. I had never heard of Darcy Coates until I saw her books occupying most of the same space as Stephen King’s books. Obviously, I had to give her a shot for the spooky season. This was the only book I found of hers that wasn’t set in a haunted house. Please let me know if you have read other books by her and enjoyed them. In the meanwhile, let’s talk about Parasite. (Minor trigger warnings at the bottom)

A small crew on a remote station on a desolate planet stumbles across a parasitic alien creature that wears its victim’s skin and can mimic them perfectly. Humanity is blindsided by this invasion, leaving little hope of getting rid of this deadly species. It is up to a small group of unique individuals to fight against the ever-growing threat or face total extinction.

This book was very much Ridley Scott’s Alien meets John Carpenter’s The Thing. Overall, I enjoyed the plot of the book as I love space/sci-fi horror, but can’t seem to find a lot of novels in this genre. Coates certainly delivers a fast-paced and suspenseful narrative that made me want to keep reading. It was very plot-driven, though, so there wasn’t a lot of opportunity to get attached to any one character. In fact, this novel was more like three stories mashed together and I kind of wished the novel just focused on one particular part. There also isn’t a ton of scientific explanation or an attempt at it, if you like that in your sci-fi novels. At the end of the day, I did enjoy this novel for what it gives and would recommend it if you want something more unique to read in the horror genre.

Trigger Warning: Violence, Gore