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.

No one is safe, nothing is redeemed: Reviewing American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis

Hello everyone! I hope you are all taking care of yourselves. This review is going to be…a lot, needless to say. I have not seen the movie adaptation (which I’m sure many of you are familiar with) of the same name, so I won’t be referring to it or making any comparisons to the movie. However, I plan on watching it sometime in the near future just for the heck of it. Now, let’s (finally) talk about American Psycho.

MAJOR CONTENT WARNING: Graphic depictions of violence and torture, Misogyny and Misogynistic Violence, Racism and Racially Motivated Violence, Homophobia, Animal Death, Offensive Language, Graphic Sexual Content, Discussions of Self-Harm (Seriously, just be warned if you want to read this book)

To his friends, girlfriends, and co-workers, Patrick Bateman has it all. He’s handsome, charming, smart, and rich. At only twenty-six years old, Patrick Bateman is on top of the world. Unbeknownst to everyone around him, he is hiding a horrific secret and spends his nights acting upon his violent urges. Soon enough, Bateman thinks he is losing control of himself and finds himself face-to-face with the consequences of his actions.

Wow, I am genuinely shocked that I read this book all the way through. Despite this book only being 400 pages and most of the chapters being relatively short, it felt just so long. Now, I fully understand that American Psycho is meant to be satirical, and, while I did see elements of that, it was still so graphic and gratuitous in every sense of the word. This book made my stomach turn and, while I know my limits when it comes to horror, this was the book that hit my limit. It is just wild and incredibly jarring as it goes from Patrick monologuing about his favorite musicians to descriptions of some of the most horrendous acts of violence that anyone can fathom. I do, however, wish I could have a group discussion of some kind about this book as there is so much commentary to unpack. Am I going to tell you to avoid this book? No. I am going to say that if you do decide to read American Psycho, please take caution. I am sure that I am missing some content warnings. I am sure that if you are an avid horror reader then this one will certainly be on your TBR.

We never stop. We never sleep. And now we’re in your home: Reviewing Horrorstør by Grady Hendrix

Hi everyone! I hope everything is going well. I’ve decided to unwind by reading horror novels and I really don’t know what that says about me (lol). As you all know at this point, I love books with weird concepts and plots. This one has been on my radar for some time now and I actually received it for Christmas. Now, let’s delve into the rather unique world of Horrorstør.

Trigger Warning: Violence, Gore, Torture, Claustrophobia, Body Horror, Graphic Descriptions of Bodily Injury

Amy Porter is just trying to get through another day working at Orsk, a well known Ikea knockoff. She’s been struggling for a while now and is trying to get transferred to somewhere other than Cleveland. One day, her uptight manager Basil approaches her with an offer: she and another employee join him to watch the store overnight. He suspects that someone is breaking into the store at night as weird messes are being found everywhere. For double overtime pay, Amy agrees, thinking it will be no big deal. As the night goes on, though, it becomes evident that something darker is happening in Orsk and Amy finds herself facing horrors that defy all imagination.

As someone who worked at a popular retail store for a few years, I knew I had to give this novel a read. I love horror that takes place in unsuspecting settings, like the one Hendrix creates for this novel. This fast paced, unique horror novel is certainly a standout. Hendrix creates a deeply unsettling atmosphere with details that will make you squirm. It actually got pretty intense towards the end of the novel. While survival horror isn’t necessarily my favorite subgenre, it worked really well in this instance. Horrorstør is a wild and chilling novel that will make sure you never look at a furniture store the same way again. If you do decide to read this novel, I highly recommend buying the physical copy as it is meant to look like an Ikea catalogue and it helps add to the experience.

The more languages you speak, the more men you are worth: Reviewing Babel: An Arcane History by R.F. Kuang

Hello everyone! Finally, I am bringing you this review! I realize that I am very late to the “hype train” with this book, but I would say better late than never. If you are active on any social media platform with a book-centric forum, then you have definitely heard of Babel and all of its praise. The premise is so unique that I really couldn’t say no to this one. There are some heavy topics covered in the book so I will offer a content warning after this introduction. Colonialism is not an unavoidable topic by any means and I think it is important to confront that rather large portion of history in some manner. Now, let’s discuss R.F. Kuang’s Babel.

Major Trigger Warnings: Violence and Gore, Abuse, Discussions and Depictions of Racism, Discussions and Depictions of Sexism, Depictions of Drug and Alcohol Abuse

In 1828, Robin Swift is orphaned in Canton after a disease takes his family. He is soon adopted by the mysterious Professor Lovell, who begins to train Robin in various languages, such as Latin and Greek. These rigorous lessons are to prepare Robin for Oxford’s most prestigious Royal Institute of Translation – also known as Babel. There, students are trained in, not just translation, but silver – working. Silver working involves magic that can only be achieved through the power of words. This silver is what is ultimately used by Britain in its vast colonization efforts. Robin is initially enchanted by Oxford and its seemingly endless supply of knowledge. Soon, however, Robin begins to realize that his serving Oxford is an act of betrayal against his motherland. A shadowy organization, the Hermes Society, recruits Robin to stop Britain’s exploitation of colonized nations. When Britain plans to declare war on China, Robin must decided if he can change Babel or if Babel is even worth saving.

Wow. I just have to say wow. I was so afraid that this book would not live up to the hype, but it certainly did. I am no expert in colonial literary studies, but I know enough to appreciate Kuang’s beautifully crafted, yet painfully real, novel. Kuang seamlessly blends together her unique world-building with historical realities. Robin Swift is a complex and sympathetic protagonist, as are his friends. Kuang at no point tries to simplify the history of British colonialism but points out how deeply entwined it is in the lives of everyone it touches and who ultimately benefits. Her use of the power of language is incredibly profound and points out just how integral language is in the building and shaping of societies. Babel really is a carefully thought-out and exhilarating novel that you should definitely experience for yourself.

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.

Gun to your neck, blood on my hands, saints against God: Reviewing Nona the Ninth (Book Three in the Locked Tomb series) by Tamsyn Muir

Hello everyone! I hope you are all doing well. I am actually recovering from COVID and feeling a lot better. That really sucked, though. I had been so lucky and managed to avoid it for a long time. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I felt like I had a terrible head cold the whole time. I struggled to get anything done for the last week, but reading was a pleasant enough distraction. I’ll stop complaining about my illness and get on to reviewing the latest book in The Locked Tomb series, Nona the Ninth (Content warnings will be at the very bottom).

To the outside world, Nona seems somewhat ordinary. She has a loving family, a job at the local school enjoys walks on the beach, and always looks forward to meeting new dogs. Nona, however, is far from normal. She woke up in the body of a stranger six months ago and will have to give it back soon enough. As Nona fears the inevitable end, the city she lives in is under siege and the planet is collapsing. A militia group known as the Blood of Eden surrounds the last Cohort facility and waits for commands from God himself. The leaders from BoE want Nona to be the weapon that saves them from the Nine Houses. Nona would much rather plan her birthday party, but she fears she will not be able to celebrate as the end swiftly approaches.

Tamsyn Muir does it again with this thrilling third entry in the Locked Tomb series. Nona is an unlikely hero who ends up fitting nicely in this complex and intriguing narrative. Muir does certainly answer more questions but still leaves plenty of mystery for this series. I love the way that this series is so fluid and has gone to so many places that I never had expected. I personally love books that just throw you into the “deep end” and let the story unravel in a rather unexpected way. I am absolutely going to recommend The Locked Tomb series if you want an intense and thrilling sci-fi/fantasy series with plenty of interesting world-building, compelling characters, and a roller coaster of a plot to keep you hanging on until the very end.

Content Warning: Gore, Violence, Self – Harm, 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.

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.