Hekla’s Children by James Brogden

I actually began this novel a while back but had to stop because of my workload. The novel stayed in the back of my mind and I’m glad that I finally got the chance to read this book now. So here is my review:

10 years ago, teacher Nathan Brookes was supervising 4 students on a walk … when they all vanished. Only one returned, Olivia, and she was starving, terrified, and unable to recollect where she had been. And Nathan has been haunted by this event ever since. When a body is found in the same ancient woodland where the kids disappeared, it is immediately assumed that it is the body of one of the missing children. However, it is soon identified as a Bronze Age warrior. While others may be able to move on from this archaeological curiosity, Nathan finds himself having horrific visions of his students being trapped. Then Olivia reappears, desperate to put the warrior’s body back into the Earth. For he is the only thing keeping a terrible evil at bay.

This novel was both a hit AND a miss for me. The beginning was intriguing and it really grabbed my attention; that’s why I kept thinking about it even when I stopped reading the novel! The author did a great job setting the scene, and I got really invested in Nathan’s character. I suspected that the author would lean towards the fantasy-horror genre combination, and I was pleased to see that my prediction was true. I liked the introduction of the Bronze Age warrior and really wanted to see where the author was going to go with that. Very quickly, the author switched from having Nathan as a main character, to someone else …. and then it switched again to Nathan … and then went back to someone else. That part was a little baffling because it made me feel like I wasn’t reading a continuous story but rather two different stories happening within the same timeline. It worked in the sense that it added more intrigue to the story but it also failed by making things more confusing and muddled. The story itself grew more complex but it had its flaws. A lot of details were skimmed over and could have used some more buildup, and it lost some of its horror feel near the end. The way certain characters were connected didn’t really work for me, and some of the conclusions that were drawn were a bit too unbelievable for my taste. By the end of the novel, I felt like I had read a really complicated and intriguing novel … but one that lacked a consistent flow. Since there were elements that I still enjoyed about this novel, I’m giving it a 3/5.

Happy reading ~

A God in the Shed by J-F Dubeau

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m just going to say that I love this novel. A lot. It was an absolutely amazing read and I could not put it down for a second. Here is my review:

The village of Saint-Ferdinand might look like a peaceful place with its farmhouses stretching all the way down one street, its small police precinct, and its quaint coffee shops and diners. But it also has something unusual: a large over-used cemetery, lined with the victims of the Saint-Ferdinand killer, who has eluded the police for nearly 2 decades. When Inspector Stephen Crowley finally manages to capture the killer, it seems as if the nightmare is about to end. However, this is when the REAL nightmare begins.
When a dark spirit reveals itself to Venus McKenzie, one of Saint-Ferdinand’s teenage residents, she learns that this creature’s power has a long history with her town—and that the serial murders merely scratch the surface of a past burdened by evil secrets.

This is by far one of the best horror novels I have ever read. It hit the mark on all counts and kept the suspense, magic, and gore coming throughout the story.

First of all, the story itself is ridiculously good. There is so much depth, so many different elements that come together to give an intricate backstory that makes the reader want more. The author does a great job of keeping you in the dark until the right moment while also delivering a story that you can follow along. Every so often, you get clues that make you question what you previously knew…. and the author also provides the perfect opportunities for you to remember those clues and link the story together. It almost made me feel like a detective, and it was just so much fun to read this book! I loved the gore and the horror and the magical elements incorporated into this story; it was truly dark and I was definitely creeped out! The author had multiple POVs going, but he did such a fantastic job of keeping each one unique and fresh and interesting for the reader! The author also managed to show internal (and external) changes in character personalities and roles, which is not an easy feat by any means! There was so much going on in this novel and yet, it never felt overwhelming. Everything made sense, everything had depth, and everything made me want to flip the page and read on. The writing style was also amazing and easy to follow. I don’t want to keep on praising and praising so just do yourself a favor and give this book a shot, because it will definitely be worth your time!

Happy reading ~

Skitter by Ezekiel Boone – The Hatching #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I read The Hatching, which is the prequel to this novel, it made me terrified of spiders. It was an amazingly freaky novel that had so many elements that worked so wonderfully and I just loved every minute of the adventure, while also being horrified with every page I turned. I was super excited to read this sequel and I have been holding back for a long time on writing this review, so here you go:

Since the discovery of the spiders, millions of people around the world are dead. No country is safe, and the mysterious flesh-eating spiders are running rampant all through America. Scientist Melanie Gruyer is hoping that the spider situation will change and finally become easier to deal with. However, Japan has just noticed the presence of a giant glowing egg sack that threatens to break that illusion, at the same time as survivors in Los Angeles begin to panic and break the quarantine zone. Out in the desert, survivalists Gordo and Shotgun are bored out of their mind and decide to invent a weapon to defeat the spiders … but it may all be in vain because President Pilgrim has just enacted the Spanish Protocol. America, it’s every man for themselves.

I didn’t think the sequel could be as good as the first book. It was. Once again, the author seamlessly tied in multiple events and characters in a way that worked. Every single person was important in depicting the mass destruction and chaos wrought by these spiders. It was spectacular to see this large-scale disaster being orchestrated so beautifully by the author …. while also creeping me out! The author kept the tension high and raised the stakes with new revelations about these spiders and the way they attack people. What I loved about this book was that the author managed to tease out various emotions while also writing such a fast-paced novel. I could literally see various different characters going through so many complex emotions and I was really able to connect and live this experience through them. The novel ends in a cliffhanger and I seriously need the author to write the next novel ASAP because I HAVE to know what’s going on! If you are looking for a fantastic thriller with loads of adventure and spiders, then please please please do yourself a favour and give this series a try! It’s definitely worth the effort!

Happy reading ~

The Only Child by Andrew Pyper

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am a big fan of Andrew Pyper. I have absolutely adored every single book he has written because they truly scare the living pants off of me! I jumped at the chance to read an ARC of his latest novel, and I was very happy to have my request approved so here is my review:

Dr. Lily Dominick is a forensic psychiatrist who specializes in evaluating the mental state of the most dangerous psychotics in the country. But her newest client – a man with no name accused of a very twisted crime – is different from the rest, even with the two ridiculous claims he makes: first, that he is more than 200 years old and has inspired notable Gothic authors like Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker; and second, that he is Lily’s father. To discover the truth about her client, her mother’s death, and herself, Lily must go on a journey that will threaten her career, her sanity, and ultimately her life.

This novel was not at all what I expected – and not in a good way. I’m trying to decide where to start with this book:

I really did not like the protagonist in this novel. She was just so off-putting. Her personality wasn’t likable at all and there was nothing about her that made her stand out. It felt like the author made her a distant character so that it would explain the trauma she suffered in the past, but it really didn’t work. There was nothing very unique about her, and she also did not behave or think in a very intelligent manner as befit her education and job status. To sum up, the protagonist was terrible.

There were a lot of unexplained elements in the plot. How did this monster just go from one place to another? What are all of his different powers? How can he suddenly talk to people in their heads? It was all very confusing and there was a desperate need for more detail. For every chapter, there should have been at least another one to segue the events. The author presented the story as both Lily’s journey as well as journal entries/letters by the monster that explain his past. I would have preferred if there had been actual scenes recounted rather than this format as it would have eliminated some of the holes in the story.

The interactions and relationships between various different characters was really not well done. Lily has some very weird feelings about her “father” and it made me quite uncomfortable. There were quite a few other characters that interacted with Lily and it all seemed so fake and forced that it ruined the story for me.

Finally, this novel didn’t deliver on the horror as much as I would have hoped. Instead, it took on a more psychological thriller view. While I have no problems with psychological thrillers, this novel wasn’t really a good one as it didn’t dig deep enough to back up the conclusions that it made.

Overall, this novel was a bit of a mess. It had so many different elements thrown together that it failed to maintain any semblance of cohesiveness. The protagonist was quite stupid and had no real personality, the interactions between various characters were awkward and fake, and there were gaping holes in this plot that made the whole story collapse. Unfortunately, this was a highly unsuccessful novel and I would have to rate it a 1/5 stars.

Happy reading ~

The Girl From Rawblood by Catriona Ward

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I love ghost stories. Pretty much anything that can make me feel scared at night is going to be of interest to me. I love ghost stories or supernatural stories that will scare me to death, but I also enjoy reading stories that make me think. This novel did a bit of both for me.

Iris and her father are the last members of the Villarca family. For generations, the Villarcas have been haunted by a mysterious entity simply known as “her”. Her origins are a mystery but her purpose is clear: if a Villarca gets married, or falls in love, or has a child, she will come and there will be death. Iris made a promise to her father: she will always be alone. But when she is 15, Iris breaks it. She falls in love – and there are dire consequences.

This novel can be a bit confusing because it is not a linear story. Each chapter is written by a different person who has been affected by “her”. In order to read this novel, you need to pay careful attention or else you will find yourself utterly lost. That being said, I found the story to be highly engrossing. I enjoyed putting the pieces together and seeing how the Villarca curse has affected those in the Villarca family line, as well as those who aren’t directly a part of this family. I liked the fact that the story didn’t flow smoothly; I enjoyed the jarring effect of being caught up in one story just to be yanked out and put into another. It made the reading of this novel so much fun! I also quite liked the way the author resolved the issue of the curse and how she ended everything. This novel definitely gave me chills here and there but it made me think more than anything. Overall, a really interesting ghost story that I enjoyed very much!

Happy reading ~

Night Shift by B. R. Myers – Night Shift #1

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

No one wants to work the night security shift at Willard’s department store. 18-year-old Daniel Gale is about to find out why. Tired of living on the road, he accepts the position of night guard at Willard’s. On his very first shift, Daniel almost falls down an elevator shaft, but is timely rescued by Mary, a bossy and intriguing girl working in after-hours inventory. As each night shift approaches, Daniel looks forward to spending more time with Mary. But the more time he spends at Willard’s, the more he senses that something is not right. There is something downright unnatural about this store and he has a mind to find out what.

I honestly loved this novel! It was such a fun and enjoyable read that it kept me engrossed throughout the journey! I was expecting a ghost story, something a bit more sinister. This novel was actually nothing like what I expected and that was the biggest surprise to me! There was this whole Hollywood-glam vibe associated with this story, with the traditional Willard’s department store and the references to Hollywood classics. The world building was something I really enjoyed reading about it, and it made the story so much more unique! I loved all of the characters and their interactions; it was all very genuine. I think that the love angle that was part of this story was perhaps a bit too quickly developed; it would have been nicer for it to have a slower progression. But that’s my only complaint. Overall, a marvelous entertaining read, and I can’t wait to read the sequel!

Happy reading ~

Monstress: The Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu

The more exposure I have to graphic novels, the more appreciative I am of them. There is something quite beautiful in the way that graphic novels portray a story; you can tell that a lot of effort has gone into creating the perfect illustrations to go along with the plot itself. There are some stories that I feel are wonderfully depicted in this medium, and this novel is definitely one of them!

Monstress depicts the story of a teenage girl struggling with the trauma of war. She stumbles upon a mysterious psychic link, one that connects her with a monster of tremendous power. As she tries to find a safe haven, she will come to realize that her tenuous connection is one that will make her a target of human and otherworldly powers.

First of all, let me start by saying that the artwork is simply gorgeous. There is so much detailing in every panel, and my eyes were literally drawn to the page from the very beginning. I also found the story to be really interesting and dark. There is quite a bit of gore and the subject matter touches on uncomfortable topics at times. I liked how the story flits back and forth in time, and I found myself sucked into this amazing world and the dangerous journey of Maiko, our protagonist. There were even some cute little characters that reminded me of the manga style that I used to read! Overall, an intriguing and dark story with beautiful artwork. I have already placed an order for this novel and for its sequel that will be coming out in June! If you are in the mood for an original and interesting graphic novel, then definitely give this one a go!

Happy reading ~

 

Lost Gods by Brom

The first thing that caught my attention with this book was the cover. I’m serious, it’s an honest work of art. I couldn’t stop thinking about that cover so I knew that I had to go and get myself that book no matter what.

Chet Moran just got out of jail and he is eager to start his life on a fresh note with his pregnant wife, Trish. They leave town to begin again in the hopes that they can forget all of their troubles. But their safe haven isn’t what they imagined, as an ancient evil pursues them. Trapped and murdered by a vile horror, Chet soon learns that pain and death are shared by the dead as well as the living. In order to protect the souls of his wife and unborn child, Chet must journey into the depths of purgatory to find a key that promises to restore everything to its natural order. Alone, confused, and damned, Chet must face unimaginable horrors in the underworld.

In the beginning, I was unsure about whether I would like this story or not. Things moved a bit too quickly with not enough expectations. But after just a few chapters, I couldn’t tear myself away. This story is action-packed and full of interesting twists and turns. There are a lot of different mythological elements in this novel and I found that they were incorporated quite well! The horror aspects were also honestly freaky so I definitely got my money and time’s worth! Every question about the different elements are answered by Brom and that just made it such a satisfying story to read. My favorite part of this novel were the illustrations by the author; they were creepy and beautiful and just amazing! All in all, this was a really cool book with lots of great horror elements. I’m definitely going to check out more by Brom!

Happy reading ~

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

On my quest to find really good horror stories, I have been disappointed many times. The beginning may start off well but most often, something lets me down. All I’m going to say about this novel is: it didn’t let me down.

There is something out there. If you look at it, you will be driven to deadly violence. No one knows that it is or where it came from. Every country, every part of the world has faced this. Now, 5 years since it began, there are only a handful of scattered survivors, including Malorie and her 2 young children. They live alone in an abandoned house near the river. Malorie has done whatever she can to keep her children safe: she has trained them to rely on their sense of hearing over their eyes, and has repeatedly blindfolded them so that they have never glimpsed the outside world. All Malorie longs for is to be able to escape from this house and go somewhere safe. Now that the children are grown up, she finally thinks they can make the treacherous journey 20 miles downriver in a rowboat. They will have to do this blindfolded; there is still no clue as to whether the terrible creatures are out there or not. They have nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. But were they ever truly safe in the first place?

The scariest part of this novel is the fact that you never find out what exactly it is that people see that causes them to become suicidal. The author leaves the “creature” to the reader’s imagination, so we can each create our own perfectly scary horror monster. The story goes between different periods of time, and I really felt that the author did a great job with that. There is a part in the story when it becomes unclear what is the present and what is the past, and it was such a cool effect that it made me like this novel even more (that’s all the details you get!). The concept for this novel was really good and it was executed well, so I was very pleased with this story. A word of warning: this is a very open-ended story; the author doesn’t give too much and a lot of the descriptions are things your imagination has to put in. While I enjoyed that aspect, I know there may be readers who would prefer more details. Overall, a great horror story that really did justice to the genre!

Happy reading ~

And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

Dawn Kurtagich has made a name for herself in teen horror. I’ve always been meaning to give one of her books a go but I’ve never really had a chance to do so – until now. This novel also has an alternate title, The Creeper Man, which is the UK title.

Silla and Nori arrive in desperation to their aunt’s house, trying to escape their past and the horrors that it carries. And while their aunt Cath seems slightly off-kilter, she is nice and caring. But it soon becomes clear that all is not well in this manor. There is an endless creaking at night, and the woods that surround the manor seem to hold a dark and terrible secret. The more Silla tries to ignore the strangeness around her, the more unavoidable it becomes. Why are the trees creeping closer to the house? Who is this beautiful boy who visits them from somewhere beyond the woods? And most important of all, who is the man Nori is playing with in the basement at night?

I really wanted to like this novel. But I didn’t. At least, not as much as I had hoped. Let me begin with the positives:

  1. I liked the descriptive aspects of the story because they definitely added a creepy factor that was enjoyable. When you are reading a horror story, you are looking for that perfect creepy setting, and the author definitely delivered on that count!
  2. I liked Nori’s character. She was full of innocence and she was adorable to read about. I only wish there had been more to her. The story was told mostly in the perspective of Silla but there were a few times when Nori would speak, and I wish there were more instances of that because whatever Nori said always intrigued me!
  3. The Creeper Man stuff!!!!! I liked when Cath would talk about the creeper man and how everything went wrong. I liked how Silla could feel his presence. This was decidedly the creepiest (and best!) part of this story!

Now, let me talk about the negatives:

  1. The inclusion of diary entries. I usually love when authors do this. But in the case of this novel, it didn’t serve its purpose – unless the purpose was to be really confusing! I didn’t see the point of those entries at all, and even when everything started to make sense, they didn’t really do that much to the overall story.
  2. Silla’s character. It was really hard to connect with her or to even understand her. I’m sure the author wanted her to be an enigma of sorts but it was a bit much, and she just made me feel so bewildered. Half the time I’m wondering why she can’t just do what makes the most common sense. The other half I’m trying (and failing) to understand her reasoning behind not doing that which makes the most sense. I just didn’t like her.
  3. The romance…. it was really fake and really came out of the blue and just was not developed. It was also really cringe-worthy.
  4. The actual plot. I thought this novel would go in a more dramatic direction but it ended up just leaving me feeling cheated of a really scary experience. While the author managed to tie everything together(ish), it all felt unnecessary. Honestly, there didn’t need to be so much of a buildup for that ending.

While this novel didn’t work for me, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily a bad one. Many people liked the story and there are loads of positive reviews. For me, this novel didn’t deliver on the creepiness and left me wanting something more … horror-y.

Happy reading ~