If there’s a way into hell, someone will always find it: Reviewing The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well for all of you. I’m still trudging along with books and music to keep me entertained in the meantime. In case you haven’t noticed, this is now the third book I am reviewing by T. Kingfisher so it is safe to say I’m a fan now. Feel free to check out my two previous reviews, both of which are novellas, if you are so interested. Now, let’s talk about The Hollow Places.

Kara has hit a low point. After a messy divorce, she is dreading having to move back in with her overbearing mother. She is released when her Uncle Earl calls and offers her a place to stay. Uncle Earl is a lovable eccentric who operates the Glory to God Museum of Natural Wonders, Curiosities, and Taxidermy in a quaint little town. Having spent many summers working there in her childhood, Kara decides to help her aging uncle. One night while she is closing, Kara finds a strange and impossible hole in the wall that leads to an entirely different world. She and her friend Simon decide to venture there and discover a horror with an insatiable appetite for the living.

Compared to the last horror novel I read (American Psycho), this one was genuinely fun and not too upsettingly creepy. T. Kingfisher does an excellent job creating atmospheric horror by utilizing natural settings, like a forest, to make a wonderfully creepy experience. I enjoyed Kara as she was a relatable narrator with a sense of self-awareness that made the reading experience all the more enjoyable. I would also argue that this novel had a sense of magical realism to it that added to the mystery at the heart of the plot. Overall, this was yet another great novel by T. Kingfisher. If you want a horror novel that is a little more PG-13 or is just looking for a good place to start in the genre, go ahead and start here then go read What Moves the Dead, a horror novella by T. Kingfisher.

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.

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.

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.)

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.

We are nothing if not absurd: Reviewing Alice Isn’t Dead by Joseph Fink

Hi everyone! I hope you are all still doing well and just enjoying every big or small piece of happiness in your life. Books tend to fit that criteria, at least for me. If you know me, you know I have talked about my love for the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. I have read three books based off of said podcast and co-authored by Joseph Fink, so feel free to check those out. While Alice Isn’t Dead isn’t part of the Night Vale universe, it is a podcast by the some company with a similarly dark and intriguing premise which I highly recommend you check out if you are interested. Let’s talk about its novelization. (I will be putting trigger warnings at the very end of this review, by the way.)

Though Keisha Taylor had her own struggles, she had finally settled into a quiet and comfortable life with her wife, Alice. Alice, though, disappeared while on work trip and was presumed dead, leaving Keisha in a deep depression that she couldn’t seem to escape. Just as she begins to feel herself moving forward with her life, Alice appears, showing up in news stories covering different tragedies. Keisha begins to investigate Alice’s past, which leads her to taking a job as a long haul truck driver. Using her job as a cover, Keisha discovers a dark, hidden secret within the heart of America. Because of this, she finds herself being targeted by a seemingly inhuman serial killer who is trying to stop her as she finds herself in the middle of a war that extends beyond even time and space – all this because of one woman’s sudden disappearance.

Jospeh Fink creates an exciting and bizarre mystery woven together strange sort of comforting nihilism that is fairly common to Night Vale and Night Vale – related pieces of media. Fink does a great job with pacing and changing the perspective while keeping true to the heart of the story: a hopeful, but tragic tale of love. I am normally not a huge fan of road trip stories, but I loved the way that Alice Isn’t Dead had this fantastically dark atmosphere overlaying the journey. If you are American and/or have taken a road trip through America, then you will definitely appreciate the way this novel highlights those weird sights that catch your eye as you travel. Even if you are not American nor have travelled here, Fink does a great job capturing the unsettling atmosphere of manufactured towns. This is definitely just creepy and thrilling enough to be a good read for spooky season but I would recommend Alice Isn’t Dead all year round.

Trigger Warnings: Violence, Gore, Racism and mentions of racism, Graphic Death, Strong Language

The Dead Don’t Walk: Reviewing What Moves The Dead by T. Kingfisher

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all good today and in the subsequent days. I am officially just vibe-ing with life right now. Everything has officially settled in and I’m in a better place than I have been in a moment. Now that I have used my good vibes, I shall send them your way if you need them. Enough with this sappy talk because it’s time to get spooky once again. I’m trying to get through the novellas in my TBR pile so I have something to give you all while I work through the longer books. One day, I am going to commit to a really long book but that is for another day. Now, let’s talk about What Moves The Dead.

Alex Easton, a retired lieutenant, decides to visit his childhood friend and fellow soldier, Roderick Usher, after receiving a concerning letter from Roderick’s sister and Alex’s other dear friend, Madeline. Upon arriving at the crumbling manor, Alex realizes that something is deeply wrong with the towering structure and its occupants. In the surrounding woods, the lakes glow, the wildlife act possessed, and a strange fungus keeps appearing nearly everywhere. With Roderick seemingly going mad and Madeline sleepwalking, Alex teams up with an American doctor and British mycologist to get to the root of the problem, only to find something deadly in the House of Usher.

Being a big fan of Edgar Allan Poe, I was drawn to Kingfisher’s adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” That story is already creepy in and of itself so I was genuinely surprised when Kingfisher finds a way to make it creepier. What Moves The Dead is a well-paced and chilling novella with plenty of mystery and a touch of body horror. There’s plenty of mystery with a touch of body horror. You have been warned if you have any fears or phobias relating to nature. It was a delightfully chilling read that reminded me of why I love Poe’s original writings so much. I would definitely recommend this if you are looking for a quick and spine-tingling read that is sure to get you in the mood for all things spooky.

One Flesh, One End: Reviewing Gideon the Ninth (Book One in the Locked Tomb Trilogy) by Tamsyn Muir

Hello everyone! I hope you are doing well under the worst heat arguably ever. I’ve had some positive life changes in the last week, so I’m in a good mood right now. Though we are still little ways out from spooky season, that won’t stop me from delving into the creepy and macabre. Without further pretense, let’s get into Gideon the Ninth, the first novel in the Locked Tomb trilogy.

Gideon Nav grew up in the Ninth House, a place known for its dreary atmosphere, ossifying nobility, and strict religious conduct. Her only dream is to be free and enlist as a soldier. Her plans for her escape are thwarted by her childhood nemesis and the Reverend Daughter of the Ninth house, Harrowhark Nonagesimus. Harrow is called upon by the Emperor to join the necromancers of the other eight houses to be tested in deadly trials. The remaining heir will become a Lyctor, the immortal right hand to the Emperor. Harrow offers Gideon an ultimatum: serve as her cavalier and she will be free from her servitude. With Harrow’s advanced magic and Gideon’s sword, the two find themselves facing a challenge far greater than imagined and death isn’t even the worst outcome if they fail.

Content warning: body horror, gore, violence, language

With that warning out the way, I may have found my new favorite sci-fi horror novel. Granted, it isn’t necessarily scary, but Gideon the Ninth was certainly a thrilling read. Gideon herself was a great protagonist and I loved her playful banter and sarcasm. The novel itself was a rather cinematic one with an interesting magic system, fleshed-out characters, and big action set pieces. It is also a fairly classic whodunnit mystery at the heart of the novel. I do enjoy those types of mysteries so I might be a little biased. I am going to go ahead and give Gideon the Ninth my personal seal of approval and encourage you to try this one if you want a book that’s equally creepy and fantastical.

Treat that place as a thing unto itself: Reviewing House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski

Hello everyone! I hope you are all dealing with this heat in the best way you know how. Remember to drink water and take care of yourself. So, this is the longest it has ever taken me to read a book. I was determined not to DNF this and I am actually kind of proud for making it through such an interesting and challenging novel. I have a lot to say about this one. Let’s get into House of Leaves.

Award-winning photojournalist, Will “Navy” Navidson and his wife, Karen Green, had a simple desire to move into a nice house on Ash Tree Lane to raise their family. One day, their two young children stumble across something strange. In the house is an impossible door that leads to an impossible room that defies all laws of nature. Navidson takes it upon himself to explore and record his impossible house. Soon, the house takes on a life of its own, both literally and figuratively. Navidson and Karen’s fight to survive in their house becomes the subject of many scholars who can only speculate on what truly happened on Ash Tree Lane.

First of all, I am going to give a major content warning on this book as it does contain strong language, graphic violence, graphic sexual content, death, mental health discussions, drug abuse, and self-harm. With that being said, wow. Never before has a book genuinely made me feel anxious. That is a compliment, though. This was one of my most difficult reads and that is very much on purpose. Danielewski layers and layers different narrative styles onto this already bizarre story. I don’t think I could do this novel justice by just describing it. It is truly something that needs to be experienced. I love novels that go outside the box and House of Leaves does nothing to contain itself to one narrative. If you want a challenging and immersive reading experience, then I would certainly recommend House of Leaves.

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.