Night Film, by Marisha Pessl, has been on my shelf for several years; I purchased it the year it came out and completely forgot about it until I started talking with Chelsea (my friend from The Suspense Is Thrilling Me) and she demanded I read it. As one of her favourite books of all time, I knew that I had to add this one to the top of my TBR pile. Chelsea has some fantastic choices in novels and we are usually in sync when it comes to our feelings about books.
We also decided to give this book a read as part of our Suspenseful Clues and Thrilling Reviews book club for October.
Now that I have finished reading it, I am kicking myself for waiting for so long. What in the world was I thinking??!!! This book was a completely engaging wild ride that had me holding on tight and binge reading late into the night. Once I started this book, I could not put it down. Pessl brings a completely original voice to the mystery/thriller/horror genre and will have you holding your breath as she weaves her narrative.
Ah! The twists, the turns, the non-stop action; without providing any spoilers, it will be hard to discuss the book fully, but I will do my best!
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I was looking for something incredibly creepy for October; a true Halloween read. Enter, Hex by Thomas Olde Heuvelt. I read about this book in several different Buzzfeed articles about books that are ACTUALLY scary. Usually I take the word of Buzzfeed, so I went out to Chapters and picked myself up a copy.
Now, while I wouldn’t call this book truly horrifying, there was something about it that was completely unsettling.
The novel opens with the introduction of a small town called Black Spring. Seemingly picturesque, the town has a dark secret. In the 17th century, a woman, nicknamed the Black Rock Witch, had her eyes and mouth-sewn shut and was killed for her crimes. Now a fixture of the town, she walks the streets and enters homes at will and, using high tech surveillance, the elders of Black Spring have kept her contained and have continuously ensured that her mouth and eyes are never opened. However, when a group of the town’s teenagers, frustrated with the regulations, decide to film the haunting, the town reverts back to medieval practices of the past and Black Rock will never be the same.
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It is no secret to any regular reader of Clues and Reviews that I have a serious Ania Ahlborn novel obsession. She is one of my “go to” authors when I want a novel that will make me filled with unease and keep me looking over my shoulder. With Halloween approaching, The Neighbours by Ania Ahlborn, was an obvious choice to add to my TBR pile.
One of my favourite features of an Ania Ahlborn book, besides the ominious tone and chilling content, is the ease in which Ahlborn delivers her prose. She has a writing stye that cannot be beat. One that you can curl up and lose yourself in for hours. It never takes me longer than a couple of hours to get through one of her novels and The Neighbours was no exception.
The novel opens with Andrew arriving at his new home. After a rough childhood caring for his alcoholic mother, he feels as if he deserves a fresh start and the idyllic suburban neighbourhood where his friend, Mickey, resides seems like the perfect space. Upon arrival, he meets the neighbours, a perfect couple, The Wards, who feel like they came straight out a movie or a Norman Rockwell painting. However, things are not as they appear, behind the white shutters and the picket fence, Mrs. Ward is hiding a secret; a secret that Andrew is about to find out.
Comparing other Ahlborn novels to this one, I felt like this was lacking some of the classic “horror” elements that I have come to know and love with an Ahlborn’s work. I didn’t find this one as scary as some of her novels. The characters had some creepy elements but I didn’t find myself as on edge as I usually am when I pick up an Ania Ahlborn book.
I still enjoyed the plot for what it was; I loved the Twilight zone vibe and the disorienting feeling of what time period it was taking place in. I loved the backstory of Harlow’s character. However, I feel like someone who is looking for a “scare your pants off” type of horror book (like some of Ahlborn’s other work- Brother and The Devil Crept In comes to mind!) they would feel disappointed.
In the spirit of Halloween, Jessica and Chandra decided to read this one too and make it a #cjsreads pick! Keep reading to see what those lovely ladies thought of this pick!
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The Doll’s Alphabet, the upcoming short story collection by Camilla Grudova, was something completely different from anything I have encountered recently. These stories, thirteen in total, are dark and eerie with some sort of childlike quality about them; they are almost fairytale like in nature; each story sending a message and all provoking caution. I was bewildered while I was reading. I found myself continuously pondering that perhaps I wasn’t smart enough to “get” these stories and spending the rest of my time thinking “Wait…WHAT??!”
This short story collection felt like something I would have studied in university; filled with motifs and symbolism, I really liked how Grudova took several political stances throughout and discussed feminism. Very much like the Southern Gothic style of William Faulkner and Flannery O’Conner, these stories read like they came from a different time period. Unstitching, the short but powerful opening story begins with women literally “unzipping” and coming out of their skin. It is only then that they feel liberated and the men are outraged to see their women so unhinged. Does this make sense? Nope! Do I think it is pretty awesome? Absolutely.
Continue reading “Book Review: The Doll’s Alphabet (Camilla Grudova) @coachhousebooks ”
Last summer, everyone was reading The Couple Next Door by Canadian author, Shari Lapena. I am all about Canadian authors, so, obviously, I jumped on the bandwagon. I was not incredibly impressed with the debut, but when I found out that Lapena’s sophomore novel had been released, I rushed to the library and put a hold on it. I was intrigued to see what her follow up would be like.
Now, because I am a dingbat, I ended up accidentally putting a hold on the audiobook version of this book. I don’t read (well, I suppose listen?) to a lot of audiobooks but I do find the idea of them intriguing. So, I signed out the audiobook, slid into my car and started listening.
This, I believe, was my first mistake in regards to this book. The audiobook was not a good format for this title.
To start, the voices were driving me crazy. I couldn’t handle the back and forth between the different characters and how the reader continuously tried to change or disguise her voice for different characters. I also felt consistently confused, probably because I had to start and stop this one every time I got in and out of my car. I didn’t feel any of the tension or build up that I was supposed to feel because I had to take myself out of the moment to go into work or into my house. This made me feel like there were a lot of inconsistencies in the text and I wasn’t sure if the characters were unreliable on purpose or if Lapena couldn’t keep her story straight.
After trying for a few weeks, I ended up returning the audiobook, however, I still wanted to know how the novel would end so I ended up purchasing the physical copy.
Overall, it just ended up being okay for me, but I am not sure if it was because of the actual story or because of the mess I created while trying to read it. Is it worth the read? Sure. Would I run out and purchase this book today? No.
Like I have mentioned previously, I have been looking for books that would get me into the Halloween spirit. Enter, the newest release by Alice Hoffman, The Rules of Magic. I was pleased to find out that this book was a prequel to Practical Magic. Now, I have never read Practical Magic but I watch the movie every year around Halloween and always enjoy it! It was a no-brainer to move this book immediately to the top of my TBR pile.
I went into this novel with no expectations. The first thing I noticed was how whimsical the book felt and how paranormal/supernatural it was not. It sort of had a folktale vibe to it and I was almost expecting for a black cat or a frog to talk at any moment but I was shocked that there really wasn’t any “witchiness” to it. Aside from a few moments, this book could have been just a run of the mill outcast story. I know that this story is supposed to be more in the “magical realism” genre instead of a pure supernatural story but it didn’t really get me into the Halloween spirit, which was what I was looking for.
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Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for the debut novel by Caroline England, Beneath the Skin!
I am so excited to be bringing you an extract of this book your way, but first, let’s check out a synopsis of this thriller!
No-one remembers your past. But you do.
‘Antonia, Antonia. My name is Antonia.’
It’s been her name for many years. But sometimes, like tonight, she forgets.
Antonia has a secret. A secret so dark and so deep that she can barely admit it to herself. Instead, she treats herself to Friday night sessions of self-harm while her husband David is at the pub, and her best friend Sophie is drinking too much wine a few doors down.
Nobody close to her knows the truth about what the teenage Antonia saw all those years ago. No-one, that is, except her mother. But Candy is in a care home now, her mind too addled to remember the truth. Antonia is safe. Isn’t she?
The lies start small. They always do. But when the tightly woven story you’ve told yourself begins to unravel, the truth threatens to come to the surface. And then what’s going to happen?
Aren’t you just dying to know what the secret is?? I know that I am!
Keep reading to check out an extract from the Beneath the Skin!
Continue reading “Blog Tour: Beneath the Skin (Caroline England)”
As soon as October hits, I begin craving some creepy, dark, fall reads. I want scary. I want something that I can curl up with under a big cozy blanket. Basically, I want something to get my in the mood for Halloween. Enter, Incarnate by Josh Solberg, a book whose synopsis had me completely intrigued and whose horror genre classification on Netgalley had me throwing it to the top of my TBR pile.
A psychiatric resident, Dr. Kim Patterson, is known for her unconventional methods and her willingness to break the rules. So, when Scarlett comes into the psychiatric ward, Kim cannot resist getting involved. She believes Scarlett is suffering from the rare and controversial, Dissociative Identity Disorder. As Kim begins to work with Scarlett, she is shocked to find out that some of Scarlett’s alternative personalities are claiming to be people who have gone missing and they know far too much. With the help of the local police, Kim begins to dig deeper into these cases and the question of whether Scarlett is truly manifesting these lost souls or if she is playing a twisted game with her doctors and the police come to the forefront.
Incarnate ended up being something completely different from what I thought it would be. I was expecting more a graphic, horror novel and really didn’t think this book contained any of those elements at all. I loved the concept but it absolutely threw me off when I realized it was more of a random supernatural story than anything else.
Josh Stolberg is known for writing film and television scripts; this was very clear within the text. It read sort of like a stretched out script. I didn’t mind this but I could understand how this could be distracting. It ended up being a lot of descriptions of the actions instead of the actual story follow through.
Overall, this one didn’t give me the fright that I was hoping for.
When I first read the synopsis for Gather the Daughters, the debut novel by Jennie Melamed, I was instantly intrigued. I am a sucker for anything that surrounds a cult or had any cult vibes, so, based on other reviews, I figured this would be right up my alley. Although this novel ended up being quite different from what I was expecting when I began, I ended up really enjoying Gather the Daughters.
Set on an isolated island, where ten men and their families built a society of controlled breeding and domination. Taking part in ritualistic behaviour, the daughters of the island take part in scenarios that drag them from adolescence into adulthood before their teenage years are over. However, after one daughter sees something she cannot forget, she must share it with the others and suffer the consequences. Told in alternating chapters between different daughters of the island, this dark debut will leave you disturbed and bewildered.
The first thing that stuck out to me was the tone of the novel. This one read like a mix between Lord of the Flies and the Handmaid’s Tale. I thought this was really interesting. The language choice of Melamed makes it feel like a classic and, due to the content of the novel, I felt like this was a really smart choice. It made the time period of the novel feel ambiguous and, I feel, it added another layer of unrest and eeriness to the text.
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