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.

Love makes fools of us all: Reviewing Electric Idol by Katee Robert

Hello everyone! It is still hot as hell outside so I hope you are all staying cool. I’m trying hard to get through my ever – growing TBR list and don’t plan to stop any time soon. Before I begin this review, I do want to stress that, like Neon Gods, this book is for mature audiences only. With that being said, let’s get a little steamy with Electric Idol, the indirect sequel to Neon Gods.

Beneath its shining and luxurious surface, Olympus is still as cutthroat as ever. Psyche Dimitriou has always done her best to keep to herself, but her mother Demeter intends to marry her off to the new Zeus. Aphrodite becomes furious upon hearing this and sends her gorgeous and deadly son, Eros, to kill Psyche. Eros has spent his whole life being his mother’s own personal hitman. Psyche, however, makes him reconsider everything. In order to protect her from Aphrodite, Eros convinces Psyche to marry him. While the marriage begins as one of convenience, the two finds themselves falling deeply in love and realize that the stakes are higher than ever.

First off, I’m glad that Katee Robert chose the myth of Eros and Psyche because I find it to be pretty underrated as far as Greek myths go. I would definitely recommend reading the original myth before or after reading this book. While I am not usually a fan of the “fake relationship turn real” trope, I genuinely enjoyed the way Katee Robert handles this particular story. I though the relationship between Eros and Psyche was actually pretty romantic and I was definitely rooting for them by the end of the book. The steamy scenes weren’t nearly as intense as the ones in Neon Gods, but they were certainly enjoyable. Obviously, I can’t get in too much detail about the spicier elements of the book but I can at least tell you that they were very well written. I will have to give my stamp of approval for this novel as well if you want something mythology related that’s also pretty sexy.

Knowledge is Carnage: Reviewing The Atlas Six by Olivie Blake

Hello everyone! It is a beautiful day to stay inside and read some book that the internet told you to read. While I’m happy to have access to such wonderful recommendations, I also feel that “Book Tok” is getting out of hand. Recently, I purchased a book that had a “Seen on Book Tok” (or something like that) sticker on it and I honestly wanted to gag. Ok, that’s the end of my tangent. Let’s get into The Atlas Six.

The Society only recruits the most powerful magic users into its mysterious and elite depths. Every decade, six of the most talented individuals are selected to join the Society. In order to do so, they must pass a series of tests to prove that they are worthy. The six newest recruits quickly find themselves making allies, or enemies, in order to get to the top. The stakes are even higher when they realize that one among them will not survive the initiation into the Society.

I went in wanting to like this book as I was given the impression it was like The Secret History but with magic. Despite Olivie Blake having a fully fleshed out magical world, there really wasn’t a lot of magic actually being done in the book. If I’m being honest, I was rather bored at times as there were long stretches of the book that were just characters having drawn out conversations, or having long internal monologues. As much as I enjoy introspection, when you promise me magic then I want some magic. I am not going to tell anyone to not read this book. I will be nice and say that I did enjoy the characters quite a bit. I also liked how well Blake captures the spirit of dark academia in the book. There is still plenty to like, but it just didn’t transcend my expectations or thrill me in the way other magic – based novels have.

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.

Get Back to Where You Once Belonged: Reviewing Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir

Hi everybody! I could be asleep right now but it’s a snow storm and it has motivated me to shrink my ever-growing TBR list. If you know me, you know I like science fiction but I am no expert in science. I wish I could know more and I am trying to know more. Thankfully, Andy Weir knows how to make science more exciting through these exciting adventures. Let’s talk about Project Hail Mary.

Ryland Grace wakes up from a coma to find himself the sole survivor on a spaceship. He can barely remember his own name, let alone the purpose of his mission. Ryland soon realizes he must do the impossible to save Earth on his own. Or maybe he isn’t alone after all.

I just want to give a huge shoutout to Andy Weir for presenting complicated scientific principles in a way that someone like me, a book nerd, can properly understand. Not only that, it was wrapped in an exciting and suspenseful adventure that kept me reading. It is certainly comparable to Weir’s first breakout novel, The Martian, but this one had some added elements that really played into my love of science fiction. You don’t have to read The Martian or even be a scientist to enjoy the thrilling ride that is Project Hail Mary.

What is hell but the life I had lived?: Reviewing The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor

Hi everyone! I hope February is at least a slight improvement over January for you all as well. I am continuing to cope with stress by reading books in rapid succession. When I am not reading or working, I am most likely napping. Thankfully, I have two little dogs who love to take naps. That has nothing to do with this review, though. Let’s talk about The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home: A Welcome to Night Vale novel.

The faceless old woman who secretly lives in everyone’s home has been a longtime resident of Night Vale. Her current fixation is on a man named Craig, who she sabotages and loves in equal parts. She was not always this not – ghost, however. Before coming to Night Vale, she was a girl who rose from tragedy to the top of a criminal empire. Now, the faceless old woman reflects on the swashbuckling adventures and twisted paths over the decades that eventually took her to Night Vale where she has discovered her true purpose.

Much like the podcast this novel was based off of, I never knew what to expect and that was probably the best part of this novel. Each chapter was a completely new experience. I love an adventure based – novel and this delivered. It was also an excellently crafted tale of revenger with some heart to it. It certainly delivered on the existentialism and overall weirdness that is a trademark in anything related to the Welcome to Night Vale podcast. I don’t want to spoil anything so I will simply give my most sincere recommendation of this book if you are a fan of Welcome to Night Vale.

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.