All the ghosts were home too: Reviewing Nothing but Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. The weather is finally nice and seem to realize how much more productive I feel during the warmer times of the year. Why do I open up my posts with comments about the weather? I’m bad at conversation, even on the internet. But I don’t let the warm weather stop me from enjoying the thrills and chills that come with a good horror novel. I do have some reviews for longer books in the near future, but I thought I would give you this novella review in the meanwhile. With that being said, let’s talk about Nothing but Blackened Teeth.

A group of young, thrill – seeking friends decided to stay the night at a crumbling Japanese manor. The manor is haunted by a ghost bride and girls sacrificed to keep her company. It’s the perfect place for a wedding. After a night of drinking and eating, nightmarish figures begin to appear, including the ghost bride and she is tired of. being alone…

This was a fairly short novel with just over one hundred pages, but that doesn’t make it any less creepy. Khaw doesn’t hold back on any of the gruesome details that comes with the traditional Japanese folklore in this novella. There is a self – reflective element of this novel that I particularly appreciate when it comes to the horror genre. I do have a particular love for Japanese folklore and wish I could properly pronounce everything in this novel. Even if you don’t know anything about Japanese horror, there are plenty of this in this novel to research. If you are looking for a quick, biting, and exciting horror novel, then I will go ahead and give you my recommendation for this delightfully nightmarish read.

Hot, Hungry, and Haunting: Reviewing Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo

Hi everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I am coming to you, yet again, writing a review instead of sleeping. I can either read a book in a month or in a day; there is no in-between. I am not sure if I have ever said this before but I am a fan of American Gothic/Southern Gothic literature. It is a very underrated genre, in my personal opinion. When I found Summer Sons while browsing Amazon, I quickly saved it to my list. Now that I have finished the book, it’s time to get spooky (yet again) and talk about it.

Andrew’s life is turned upside down by the apparent suicide of his closest friend, Eddie. Having known each other since childhood, Andrew thought he knew everything about him. That is until Eddie left him abruptly to attend graduate school. Now, Andrew must sift through the remains of his dearest friend’s life, only to discover a horrifying phantom that latches onto him. Desperate to be free of this curse, Andrew recruits Eddie’s enigmatic friends to help him discover the truth behind his death and lay him to rest once and for all.

If you are looking for a book that is part Southern Gothic horror with a touch of dark academia, then look no further than Summer Sons. Maybe I am a bit biased towards this novel because it reminds me of the early seasons of Supernatural (which Mandelo lovingly references), but I loved the way that Mandelo captures the atmosphere and aesthetic that is so crucial to crafting a Southern Gothic novel. Some people may find the attention to detail to be a bit too much, but I enjoyed how visceral this particular version of a haunting was in the novel. What I particularly liked was the way that Mandelo blends together the human elements with interesting drama and the inherent tension of a lurking supernatural threat. I personally would recommend this book if you are looking for a fresh take on the Southern Gothic genre with the welcome addition of LGBTQ+ representation.

A Focused Kind of Madness: Reviewing The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

Hello everybody! I am here, writing this review, instead of sleeping. I have always been a bit of a night owl anyways. Besides, who among us hasn’t stayed up to finish a good book? I may or may not have mentioned this before but I am actually quite a big fan of horror literature. Weirdly enough, I don’t like horror movies, though. I will happily read gory details but won’t watch anything with blood. I feel like that is a “me” problem, though. Let’s get into my latest spooky read, The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling.

Jane Shoringfield is a practical and quiet young woman with a fascination for numbers who knows the best way to secure her future is through marriage. She approaches the timid Dr. Augustine Lawrence with her unusual proposal for a marriage of convenience. He agrees but with one condition: she must never stay in his family home of Lindridge Hall. Jane agrees, but a freak storm leaves her with no choice but to stay in the crumbling manor. On that night, she has a frightening encounter with Augustine and quickly realizes that he is not the man she thought he would be.

This was a lovely homage to the gothic romances which I have studied over the years. I loved Caitlin Starling’s elegant, yet gruesome, take on the horror genre. The novel slowly becomes something that I absolutely did not expect and I enjoyed every twist and turn. Jane is a captivating heroine who utilizes her strengths in the face of the unknown. Like I said, I loved Starling’s unflinching look at some of the gorier moments of the novels and how they are not just bloody for the sake of blood. With that being said, if you do have a weak stomach then this novel might not be for you. If you are, however, looking for chilling experience then I would definitely recommend The Death of Jane Lawrence.

To be a woman is to be a sacrifice: Reviewing The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson

Hello and Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping we have a year full of pleasant surprises and better fortune. But now, I am coming to you with my first review of the year. I wanted to review this book back in October because it seemed more appropriate for the spooky season but I decided that spooky season can be all year long if you don’t care about anyone else’s opinions. Let’s kick off 2022 with The Year of the Witching.

Immanuelle Moore has struggled all her life to fit into Bethel, a strict religious society where the Prophet rules with an iron fist. Immanuelle was born of a relationship between her Bethelan mother and a father of a different race, which makes her very existence a sin. Because of this, Immanuelle does her best to remain faithful to the Father and follow the Holy Scriptures so that she might be accepted. That is until she stumbles into the Darkwood and finds her mother’s journal, which she learns that she is connected to the witches that live in the Darkwood. With this knowledge, Immanuelle sets out to uncover the corruption of the Church and the Prophet before Bethel is destroyed by its own secrets.

The Year of the Witching sets out to make a statement and a statement it makes. Henderson creates a chilling atmosphere with horrifying revelations about the society of Bethel. You certainly feel for Immanuelle’s struggle and root for her as she uncovers the horrific truth of the male – dominated religion that she is surrounded by. I could write an entire essay about the themes of this book. It gives a lot to think about, particularly if you know anything about cults or cult – like organizations. If you are interested in the Salem Witch Trials, then this book is right up your alley as it delves in to the relationship between women and religions. I don’t want to go on for too long or spoil anything so I will end this with saying that I ended up loving this book and I definitely recommend this for all of you witchy types out there.

The Shape of Things Could Not be Defined: Reviewing Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno – Garcia

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well and staying cool this summer. Remember that there is no such thing as bad reading weather. This particular book has been on my radar for a while now and for no real reason other than it sounded intriguing. In case you didn’t know, I am a huge fan of Gothic novels and I love seeing it translated by different authors from different cultures. I find it all so interesting how so many of these tropes and trademarks are almost universal. Before I rewrite my entire thesis, let’s talk about Mexican Gothic.

Noemi Taboada is a socialite who spends her days attending lavish parties and studying anthropology in Mexico City. She is drawn away from her carefree life when she receives a distressing and cryptic letter from her beloved cousin. Suspecting her cousin’s new husband is behind this, Noemi travels to the remote estate of El Triunfo. While there, Noemi is plagued by visions of death. With the help of the youngest son of the family, Noemi must uncover the dark secrets that lie within the manner before she too falls victim to something terrible.

The main reason why I loved this novel was that it gave me similar vibes to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House and Charlotte Perkins- Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper. Moreno – Garcia does an excellent job creating suspense as the setting is so claustrophobic for the characters and the reader. It is so atmospheric, which is something I always love to see when I’m reading. The novel takes some wild turns and I mean that in the best way possible. Visually speaking, the descriptions are equally gruesome and beautiful. The build up to the end absolutely pays off in the best way possible. I really enjoyed Mexican Gothic as it presented a fresh and interesting take on the horror genre in a way that I never expected when going into the novel

(Content Warning: The novel does contain mentions of assault, attempted assault, body horror, gore, and violence. Just a heads up in case you are not comfortable with the aforementioned topics)

‘…Men are Only Another Kind of Primate…’: Reviewing Devolution by Max Brooks

Hello everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your summer so far. It is still pretty overcast where I live so I’m just waiting to see the sun again. All weather is good reading weather, though, and I have been itching to finish this novel. I did read Brooks’ most notable novel, World War Z, a while ago in the height of the “zombie craze” and did thoroughly enjoy it. I personally love novels that are told through letters, interviews, etc. because I find them to be the most immersive. It has taken me far longer to finish this novel than I care to admit but I am more than happy to talk about Devolution, or its full title: Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre.

The unthinkable only leads to the horrifying after Mount Rainier erupts, decimating the newly founded, environmentally friendly community of Greenloop. In the aftermath of the explosion, the journals of resident Kate Holland are discovered and reveal a horrifying encounter with giant, ape-like creatures. Max Brooks inserts himself into this story in order to make sure Kate’s harrowing tale is told, while also confronting the horrifying truth that the creature known as Bigfoot is very real and very dangerous.

Max Brooks has a real talent for making these stories about the ridiculous seem the most realistic. While Bigfoot plays a huge part in this book, the focus of the book is the people and how they react to this situation. We all like to think that we could pull ourselves together during the worst case scenario, but that is rarely the case and Brooks does an excellent job demonstrating the range of ways a person could react to such an extreme situation. It did remind me quite a bit of Jurassic Park in the best way The novel challenges the idea of people thinking that they could truly live in harmony with nature, which is always an interesting topic. I should add that the novel does begin rather slowly but when it gets going, it gets good. Devolution is an interesting read for Bigfoot believers and non-believers alike. If you want a violent tale of survival, then this is the book for you.

Poor strangers, they have so much to be afraid of: Reviewing We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Hello everyone! I’m back at it again with another book review. I have been enjoying my break and needed to ease back into reading. I wanted to read this one for October since it is a horror/mystery novella, but stuff happens. Hopefully, I can get in one more novel before the New Years. Anyways, here’s my review of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

Mary Katherine Blackwood, who is affectionately known as Merricat, lives happily on the edge of town with her sister Constance and Uncle Julian. Merricat’s quaint little world is shattered when their estranged cousin Charles Blackwood comes into town in hopes of gaining his inheritance. Now, Merricat and Constance must come to terms with their gruesome past in order to deal with their uncertain future.

Shirley Jackson uses some great techniques in her writing, as she lures you in with something seemingly ordinary but leaves you questioning who or what the real threat is. There is an interesting element of not knowing who to be afraid of by the time you finish one of Jackson’s stories. We Have Always Live in the Castle left me questioning who I should sympathize with and I loved that aspect of the story. It’s short but complicated in the most interesting way possible. There is a lot of reading in between the lines for this novel. You really have to pay attention, particularly since the story is told through Mary Katherine’s point of view. Jackson’s novellas and short stories are endlessly re-readable and We Have Always Live in the Castle absolutely fits the bill.

It’s dangerous for people who shine: Reviewing Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

Hi everybody! I am here, I am alive, and my mental health is more stable than it has been. I don’t know why I have been dragging my feet with book reviews since I have had so much extra time on my hands. There was a time in my life when I could read three to four books in one day, but that day has passed and technology is partially to blame. Admittedly, I have mostly just been watching Hamilton on repeat. I am a week out from returning (albeit remotely) to university. I am trying to get in as much fun reading as I can before that. Though I am not technically finished with the novel yet, I am close enough to the end where I feel I can give you all a solid opinion. Let’s talk about Doctor Sleep, the sequel to The Shining.

Dan Torrance has spent his entire adult life trying to escape from the aftermath of the Overlook Hotel. After relying on drugs or alcohol to silence his “shine,” he decides to start clean by getting a job as a hospice worker, where he uses his abilities to comfort the dying and elderly patients, which earns him the nickname “Doctor Sleep.” Everything seems to be going alright for Dan until he encounters Abra Stone, a remarkable young girl with the same abilities as him. The unlikely duo must work together to stop a murderous and immortal cult called The True Know, who prey on kids who “shine.” Now, Dan Torrance must battle this group of murderers while also facing the ghosts of the Overlook.

Before I begin, I will encourage you to check out my review of The Shining. Spoiler: I did enjoy that book so I was a little skeptical, but hopeful, as I am with all sequels. I will start by saying this is a slow but carefully plotted novel. King has always had a knack for build up and this novel was no exception. The scariest parts of this novel are in the smaller details, along with the use of repetition. Like its predecessor, this sequel focuses on the idea of inevitability, which is what makes it so suspenseful. You always feel like you’re waiting for that jumpscare (metaphorically speaking), but the scariest part is that it never comes. When the horror happens, it hits fast and bloody. It doesn’t feel like the most necessary sequel, but it fits nicely next to the suspenseful nature of The Shining. If you’re a Stephen King fan, then definitely read this novel as it is reminiscent of The Shining while still holding its own as a great horror novel.

The world must bow before the strong ones: Reviewing Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker

Hello everyone! I hope you all are doing well and staying healthy during this time. My university is moving to online classes at least until the end of March. While it is scary, I prefer caution over anything else. The only bright side I am finding is that I can do some catching up on my TBR pile. Why not combat scary with something scarier? I have mentioned previously that Dracula is one of my all time favorite novels so I was very excited to find this gem amongst the other spin-offs. Let’s talk about Dracul.

As a child, Bram Stoker was bedridden with a mysterious illness and his only company was his nanny, Ellen Crone. Ellen Crone, though, is not what she seems. When mysterious deaths begin to happen around town, Bram and his sister Matilda begin to put together a pattern but their nanny disappears. Years later, Matilda reveals her ongoing investigation into Ellen to Bram. Now, as an adult, Bram must confront the mystery of his childhood and the deeper, darker secrets that put everything he knows and loves in dangers.

I was mostly drawn to this novel as it was co-written by Bram Stoker’s great-great-grand nephew. I am normally hesitant with spin-off novels like these but I was thoroughly impressed with this one. It is equal parts creepy, gory, and suspenseful. The writing is great as it hops back and forth through time, increasing the mystery. The first part of the book does drag on a bit, if you ask me but the ending makes it worth the wait. The novel definitely harkens back to the classic horror I love so dearly. Dracul was thrilling and enjoyable for me and any fan of horror literature. I would definitely recommend giving this one a chance, if you are unsure like me. (Just a heads up, though: There is some serious gore in this book so be wary).

This Is My Design: Reviewing Red Dragon by Thomas Harris

Hi everyone! I hope you forgive my absences. I am bogged down with academic reading now that (obviously) has to be a priority. Thank you all so much for 400 subscribers! Wow, I still can’t believe any of you are interested in what I have to say. Since I have your attention, I will be giving you my review of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon, which is the novel that first introduced the world to Hannibal Lecter. I am a huge fan of the television show, “Hannibal,” so I had to read one of these novels. Also, since we are creeping towards October, it felt appropriate to do a horror/thriller novel.

Will Graham risked everything in order catch the ingenious and dangerous Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Graham was ready to start a normal life when he was called upon to catch a killer called the Tooth Fairy, who has murdered entire families. In order to find him, Graham must first understand him. Only Hannibal can help him enter the killer’s mind. Will Graham must risk it all, once again, in order to catch this new monster

I had read this novel previously and, upon revisiting it, forgot how genuinely uncomfortable it made me. I mean that in the best way, though. Any good murder mystery novel should give the reader visceral feelings and Harris succeeds at that. Even though Lecter isn’t technically a threat, he still looms over every page of this novel. It feels as though we are watching Will Graham outrun him while still trying to catch the “Tooth Fairy.” Graham and the other “good guys” are relatable and sympathetic while still being morally grey. The novel is wonderfully suspenseful. It is not afraid to reveal the gruesome details. Even in a clinical language, the descriptions of the crimes still give you chills. The cat-and-mouse game keeps you hanging on until the end. I would then recommend Red Dragon as a good fall read for anyone looking for a thrilling and complex mystery.

If you want me to talk more about “Hannibal,” the television show, I will happily create a post about that where we can have a discussion.