Those born of darkness will carry it in their nature: Reviewing The Foxglove King (Book 1 of The Nightshade Crown series) by Hannah Whitten

Hey everyone! I’m still around and still reading diligently. Adjusting to a new sleep schedule is never easy at first. I’m also back with a fantasy novel for the first time in (what feels like) forever. Feel free to read my review of Hannah Whitten’s The Wilderwood Duology if you are so inclined. I don’t want to ramble on too much more so let’s talk about The Foxglove King.

Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Death, Some Harsh Language, Some Sexual Content, Discussions and Depictions of Substance Abuse

From a young age, Lore has honed her wit and cunning to survive on her own. She was able to survive by running poison for a local cartel that gave her a second chance. Lore has also had to hide her ability to channel Mortem, a substance used in death magic. When a job goes terribly wrong, Lore finds herself in front of the Sainted King himself. Instead of sentencing her to death, King August offers her something else. Whole villages are being wiped out by some kind of death magic. The king suspects that his only son is somehow behind this. Lore must use her magic to find out what is happening or be sent to the pyre. Thrown into the world of court intrigue, Lore must carefully navigate the suspicious nobles. What she finds, though, could mean the beginning of the end.

I might have said this before but I think what I enjoy the most about Hannah Whitten’s books is that they remind me of the young adult fantasy series I used to enjoy, like The Mortal Instruments or The Vampire Diaries. This book, however, is elevated to a more “adult” level with fun yet complicated characters and circumstances. I like the way that this book incorporates bits and pieces of tropes (like a love triangle) but avoids making them cliche. I personally really liked how dark magic was at the center of this novel and how it wasn’t villainized in any obvious way. This was a fun, dark escapist fantasy and I will definitely keep an eye out for this rest of this series.

Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find: Reviewing The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward

Hey everyone! I’m back sooner than I thought I would be with another review. I also realized that I read a lot of books that deal with pretty dark subject matter. If you mind that at all, I completely understand. I don’t always intentionally seek out dark books, but I do have an inherently morbid sense of curiosity. This is also another book I saw circulating on people’s must reads for horror/suspense novels. If that is what you are looking for, stick around and listen to my review for The Last House of Needless Street.

Content Warning: Death of Children, Graphic Bodily Injury, Discussions and Depictions of Mental Illness, Alcohol Abuse, Death of Animals, Self-Harm

Ted Bannerman has done his best to live a quiet life. He keeps his daughter, Lauren, safe despite how much she fights him. His cat Olivia lives her own life, napping and reading the Bible when no one is around. A terrible secret is what keeps them together. Their secret is at risk when a neighbor moves in across the street and seems to know that Ted is hiding something. The thing is he is trying so desperately to hide, however, no longer wishes to be buried.

I am just going to come right out and say that I felt that this book was also a bit of a swing and a miss for me, as far as being a compelling horror or thriller. That is not to be too negative, either. I really did enjoy the different character voices that Catriona Ward utilizes and the ways that those voices begin to blend together was one of the best parts of the novel. It is also an atmospheric read with plenty of visceral and unique details that make the writing all the more interesting. I am, however, unsure how obvious the “twist” of the novel was supposed to be. I’m honestly feeling a little conflicted overall on this book. Spoiler Warning: The main “twist” comes from one of the character’s mental health conditions. I always get wary whenever something along those lines is being used as shock factor, in any capacity. I understand that the author was coming from a place of sympathy, based on the afterword. I tend to stay away from any sort of horror media that utilizes metal health or mental illness as something “shocking” or “scary.” I am not going to say to not read this book since, overall, it wasn’t a bad book by any means. I am saying, though, that sometimes we need to step back and think about what we find “shocking” or “scary.”

A Ghost Ship, A Salvage Crew, Unspeakable Horrors: Reviewing Dead Silence by S.A. Barnes

Hey everyone! I hope all is going well for you. Things are starting to look up in my little world so I’ve been in a better mood as of late. I am starting some longer fantasy series and have finally started Priory of the Orange Tree, but don’t expect that review any time soon as I still have a ways to go on that book. Dead Silence, however, has been on my TBR for a hot minute now. I’ve been really getting into horror and I definitely plan on reading some intense novels in the future. If that is not your type of thing, I totally understand. I do have other non-horror novels I intend to read soon. In the meantime, let’s talk about Dead Silence.

Content Warning: Graphic Depictions of Death and Bodily Injury, Violence and Gore, Self-Harm, Depictions of Mental Illness Involving Hallucinations, Harsh Language, Drug Use

Claire Kovalik is the captain of the LINA, a small salvage ship that is meant to go back to Earth soon. Doing that means that Claire will no longer have a job and no longer have a purpose. That is what ultimately drives her to investigate a strange distress signal. The stress signal is coming from the Aurora, the first luxury space cruiser that disappeared over twenty years ago with no explanation. This discovery would give Claire and her team instant fortune and fame. When the crew goes onboard the Aurora, they find that all of the crew and passengers had met with a horrific and mysterious fate. In order to find out what happened onboard the luxury cruise liner, Claire must hold onto her sanity during her investigation, or else face the same gruesome fate.

I am still on the hunt for a mind-blowing, spooky sci-fi horror novel. I had really high hopes for Dead Silence as I kept seeing it popping up on almost everyone’s recommendations for horror novels. I will say that I thought the writing was good and that the first 80% of this novel was really suspenseful and seemed to be heading for a good plot twist. While, yes, there is a plot twist, I found it kind of underwhelming. There is a rather abrupt shift in the novel and, while I get why it happened, I just felt that it took away some of the “investigation” portion of the story. When it comes to a novel that involves some sort of haunted location, I always look forward to the investigation part and seeing that mystery unravel. This novel just didn’t deliver as much as it could have, in my opinion. I’m definitely not going to call this novel “bad” at all, but I will call it “mid,” as the kids say nowadays.

She is a thing on fire: Reviewing Bunny by Mona Awad

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well and you are enjoying life as it is, even though you sometimes wish it were something different. I’m not going to lie to you all: this was yet another “Book Tok” read. I can be rather easily influenced at times. I do get tired of the “you liked it because it was popular” discourse at times. Most things that get popular do so for a reason, you know? Also, I am really getting into the “unhinged woman” genre. You really can’t go wrong with female rage. Now, if you are so inclined, let’s discuss Bunny.

Content Warning: Violence and Gore, Disturbing Imagery, Harsh Language, Mentions of Sexual Assault, Drug Use, Animal Death

Samantha Heather Mackey is a scholarship student who has created her own dark little corner for herself in her cohort. Her writing is often criticized for being too off-putting or dark by her fellow students at the elite Warren University. In particular, Samantha is tired of dealing with a group of rich, cutesy girls who call themselves and each other Bunny. They are so similar and so different, seemingly existing as one entity. One day, out of nowhere, one of the Bunnies invites her to their “Smut Salon.” Samantha finds herself strangely compelled to join them, despite the warnings of her friend Ava. The Bunnies lead Samantha into a strange world where they partake in strange rituals to create their dream man. Samantha finds herself in over her head as reality begins to shift and she must find a way to escape the Bunnies’ sinister world of blood and glitter.

The best way I can describe this book is as a combination of Mean Girls and The Secret History. Mona Awad certainly doesn’t hold back on the disturbing aspects of this novel and, honestly, I thought it was going to get more disturbing than it ended up being. With dark academia becoming a little oversaturated, it was nice to see a shakeup in the genre. It also definitely gave me similar vibes to My Year of Rest and Relaxation with the narration. Samantha as the narrator is still sarcastic and blunt while also being a sympathetic character. I liked the overall complexity that Mona Award imbues in her novel. I am going to go ahead and give this my stamp of approval but I would especially recommend this one for a group read or book club as there is plenty to discuss within Bunny.

Beauty is beauty in whatever shape it takes: Reviewing Radiant Sin (Book 4 of the Dark Olympus Series) by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! I hope things are looking as good for you as they are for me. I realize that this is the third “spicy” book that also happens to be related to Greek mythology in a short period of time. I promise I’m not only reading spicy books. I did try to read Katee Robert’s other book, Court of the Vampire Queen, but decided to DNF because it was for an audience that was not me, so to say. I do also have others in the pipeline that are not “adult” in that sense. I will say that I do have other Greek mythology related books, as well as other books inspired other mythologies. I can’t help it; I’m just drawn to these books. Now, let’s get into the latest installment of the Dark Olympus series. This is 18+ content, so keep scrolling if you are under 18.

Content Warning: Explicit Sexual Content, Violence, Semi-Graphic Depictions of Death

Cassandra Gataki has spent most of her life keeping her head down and trying to stay our of the spotlight. Her family has an infamous reputation for attempting to assassinate one of the Thirteen, which ultimately cost her parents their lives. The only thing keeping her safe is her job as the executive assistant to Apollo, who she has been secretly attracted to for years. One day, Apollo approaches her with a proposal: to be a fake relationship with him at a week-long, exclusive party being held by Olympus’ newest power player. Cassandra agrees on the condition that she and her sister are allowed to leave Olympus unscathed. Even though Apollo is the city’s official spymaster, he has always been a kind man with good intentions and that only draws Cassandra further. The two trust each other explicitly and their fake relationship turns scorchingly hot. As the party they’re attending turns deadly, the two must figure out who is trying to overturn the fragile balance of power in Olympus.

To be completely honest, this one was probably the most underwhelming entry in the Dark Olympus series. I know some people really love the “fake relationship” and/or “forbidden workplace romance” trope and, if you are one of those people, then you will probably enjoy this book. This was actually the least spicy of the books too. By that, I mean that there weren’t as many “spicy” scenes. The spicy scenes were still good though, so don’t get it twisted. I don’t want to come across as too harsh. Katee Robert still does a great job building tension, creating steady pacing, and having good pay off. I will say that this is a much nicer retelling of the original myth of Cassandra and Apollo. I kind of wish it was a little closer to the original story, but that is just my opinions. I will say that what I really appreciate how Katee Robert always keep the stakes high in each story. The life-or-death story that she incorporates in this series keeps pulling me back for more.

Kiss me. Touch me. Ruin me: Reviewing A Game of Retribution (Book 2 of the Hades Saga) by Scarlett St. Clair

Hello everyone! Let me begin with a minor pet peeve I have regarding books. If a book is a part of a series, there should be some indication on the book as to its place in the series. I don’t understand why publishers don’t put the number on the spine or have “Book (insert number here) of this Series.” Ugh, it just bothers me to no end. End of rant. Anyways, I have more mythology – related book ready to go that are not just Greek mythology. As much as I love Greek mythology, I want to read about mythologies around the world. I developed this obsession as a kid and never quite grew out of it. This is also not the last spicy book I am bringing to you either. So, if you are not 18 or over, keep scrolling. Now, let’s get into A Game of Retribution.

Content Warning: Explicit Sexual Content, Violence and Gore, Discussions and Depictions of Assault, Discussions of Human Trafficking, Grief and Loss, Discussions of Domestic Violence

Hades, the God of the Dead, has always run his kingdom with a strict set of rules to ensure fairness in death. His views begin to shift after Persephone, the Goddess of Spring, enters his life and he learns about a new side of himself. In order to protect his relationship with Persephone, Hades must bargain with Hera, the Goddess of Marriage. At first, Hera asks for Hades help in overthrowing Zeus, her husband and the King of the Gods. When he refuses, Hera gives him labors he must complete or she will curse he future marriage to Persephone. As Hades battles deadly foes and hunts down stolen artifacts, he realize that there is going to be a war on Olympus. Meanwhile, he must help Persephone as she is faced with her own traumas that he may not be able to help her through. Hades must find balance or lose everything he has fought the Fates and Olympians for.

Right away, I am going to say that this one was not as spicy as the first book and a little more plot centric, but I think it worked in this instance. I enjoyed the amount of character development that Scarlett St. Clair does for Hades, who is often not the one who changes in these re-tellings. I like seeing divine characters forced to confront their own personal flaws and failings. I also appreciated the way Hades and Persephone’s relationship develops as there is conflict that resolves in rather realistic ways. This book also had more fighting and action, which I am a sucker for. The mystery element also plays in nicely to the overall plot. I am glad that I gave Scarlett St. Clair another chance and I am excited for the third book in the series, which is coming out in fall of this year.

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.)