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

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.

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

‘…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.

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).

Yield to It or Fight It: Reviewing The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Hi everyone! In case you haven’t been able to tell, I am sucker for books that have been adapted to television and/or movies. I have watched some of the Netflix adaptation of this book, but I haven’t watched enough to properly compare the two. I just wanted to give you a heads up about that. Shirley Jackson has been on my radar for some time now. I did read her short story, “The Lottery,” in high school and I absolutely loved it. Since this novel has arisen in pop culture once again, I decided to give it a shot. Here is my review of The Haunting of Hill House.

Four strangers arrive to the infamous Hill House in order to find out the truth about the paranormal. First, Dr. Montague and his assistant, Theodora arrive to find the truth behind the mystery of Hill House. Eleanor, affectionately called Nellie, must use her knowledge of poltergeists to help them. Lastly, Luke, the heir to Hill House, is trying to clear the mystery behind his odd inheritance. Soon, the four realize that Hill House isn’t simply full of death. It is full of life that is growing stronger and stronger.

The Haunting of Hill House is the quintessential haunted house story. I have always loved classic haunted house tales and Jackson has an interesting take on this tale. The book is atmospheric in every way. The characters and setting are well-defined but also have an air of mystery that morphs throughout the novel. You feel unsettled throughout the novel as Jackson adds unsettling detail after unsettling detail. I wouldn’t go so far as to call this novel scary, I did certainly find it creepy. It is a relatively quick read also. I think all horror fans and non-horror fans can find enjoyment in this novel. I would definitely recommend The Haunting of Hill House. If you don’t feel like reading it, then at least read “The Lottery” as it is just as chilling.

No Good Men Left: Reviewing Vicious by V.E. Schwab

Hello everyone! I was really hoping to post this review sooner but a storm took out the WiFi for a two days then I had to go out of town for a family reunion. The plus side of all of this was that I was finally able to finish this particular novel. I also got a whole new pile of novels plus Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series. Be sure to expect more book reviews soon. For now, I will give you my review of Vicious by V.E. Schwab.

Elliot “Eli” Cardale was on the brink of discovery. With the help of his roommate, Victor Vale, they were able to test the boundaries of human nature and unlock something supernatural. Unfortunately, this discovery leads the two brilliant and calculating young men down a dangerous path that they can’t come back from. Years later, Victor and Eli must face off in a merciless battle for revenge.

Vicious is a fast-paced and violent novel that doesn’t hold back. The characters are incredibly interesting as none of them can really be classified as “good guys.” It’s almost up to the reader to decide who the real protagonist is. Like I said, novel is fast-paced and it actually jumps around in time but it doesn’t lead to any confusion. Schwab excellently handles this non-linear story telling. There is plenty of gore and violence but it doesn’t take away from character development. One of the reviewers describes novel as “comic book-like” and I would have to agree with that. In fact, I would love to see this novel in comic book form. In conclusion, I highly recommend Schwab’s Vicious to any one looking for something violent and addictive to read.

Dead Men Tell Tales: Reviewing Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

Hi everyone. First of all, I’m really proud of doing two reviews in one weekend. Since Thanksgiving break is coming up for me, I’ve had a little bit of time to catch up on my reading. This book stood out to me in particular because I remember watching the movie adaptation when I was pretty young. It was the first R-rated movie I had ever seen. It’s certainly not the most intense movie but, for an 11-year-old, it was wild. We can all just admit that we went through a vampire phase in the early to mid – 2000s. I remember being obsessed with Twilight for a time. Dracula is still one of my favorite novels.I decided I wanted to read something in between Dracula and Twilight so I will now tell you what I thought about Interview with the Vampire. 

A young man named Louis was riddled with guilt over his brother’s death when the mysterious Lestat appeared in his life. Louis soon falls victim to Lestat’s charms and finds himself transformed into a vampire. He is pulled down into a dark world of the undead and must navigate the dangerous society with the young Claudia by his side. After hundreds of years, Louis decides it is finally time to reveal his secrets to a young man and hold back nothing.

Like I said above, It’s been a while since I’ve read a vampire book and decided to give this one a shot. Anne Rice has written some of the most popular vampire novels. After reading this novel, I can see why. Louis makes for a great narrator as he is sympathetic and a bit of an underdog. He’s the closest thing to a protagonist in a book where there are little to no “good” characters. Normally, a book with one character talking would be boring to me but I found myself enjoying it more than I thought. Lestat is one of the more intriguing antagonists with his charismatic and intense nature. Claudia was even creepier in the novel than she is in the movie but it makes for a good horror element. While the book isn’t super violent or graphic outside of what you might expect with all of the blood drinking, it has enough to make it intense. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone interested in a supernatural novel, specifically a vampire one. I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and I would read it again.

Note: Anne Rice is a bit of a controversial figure but her life is pretty interesting so I’m going to leave a link to her wikipedia page if you’re interested in reading more about her.