Entries in horror (49)

Thursday
Feb282019

The Family Plot

I used to primarily read horror when I was younger, but moved away from it as I discovered fantasy (mostly through King's Dark Tower series which is more weird epic fantasy than horror). I have continued to read things that fall under "spooky" but are primarily another genre, like dark thrillers and urban fantasy and... whatever Chuck Wendig's books are.

And I used to watch a lot of horror too. But in the recent past, I lost whatever shielding I had against the scares and no longer find it enjoyable. Back in the day, The Grudge creeped me out a bit, but I didn't lose any sleep. And then I recently watched Annihilation and that godsdamn screaming bear kept me awake for a literal week. And I wanted to watch the Haunting of Hill House but couldn't even look at stills from the show without getting creeped out.

And not in the good way. Not in the rollercoaster, this is scary but fun kind of way. I stopped being able to enjoy watching horror. But since reading and watching engage different parts of the brain, I decided to give reading horror another try.

I picked this particular book because I like Cherie Priest, she's got cute and hilarious dogs, and this sounded like everything I love about horror. But holy shit, it's scary! No nightmares, didn't keep me awake, but it got to the point I had to read the second half of the book during daylight hours. But it was SO GOOD.

So this is your basic haunted house story, with creepy as fuck ghosts. But it's about so much more than that. And I liked seeing the family dynamics play out, because I've been part of a family business and hell yes I know what that nonsense is like. The family politics. The bullshit. And I very do love old houses, just like the main character does. I live in a relatively old house, built in '39 with all the charm and surprises of an old house.

And I have been in a very old, moderately haunted house and experienced things I could not explain.

Anyway, this story was fun and spooky and endearing and terrifying. It's so atmospheric. When I think back to the things that actually happen, very few of them seem that scary out of context, particularly before the last third of the book. But the atmosphere? So spooky!

As much as this book freaked me out, I still loved every last bit of it. I read it in three days, which is about my top speed for novels. And it answered my question about whether I can still read horror. Haunted house fiction is about as scary as it gets for me, and I survived! Yay!

Highly recommend if you love ghosts and old houses.

Monday
Jan282019

Vultures

It's the final book in the Miriam Black series and it is a fantastic end to this series. Wendig totally nails the landing. If you're already a fan of the series, you won't be disappointed. If you've been waiting for the series to end before you start reading, now is the time and this series is worth it!

You can find my review of the first book, Blackbirds, and the previous one, The Raptor and the Wren. Chuck wraps up all the threads in a satisfying way that's true to the dark grit of this series. I have a 6-book hangover now.

The book is gritty, gory, hard-hitting and snarky. Everything you expect and love about the series.

Miriam doesn't have much time left to stop the Trespasser and save both Gabby and the baby. She meets a delightful ace/aro trans dude named Steve who is an absolute cinnamon bun and totally made the book. He's like that rug in The Big Lebowski. Ties the room together.

Steve and Gabby are Miriam's sidekicks while she tries to save them all, get rid of her powers, and stop a new serial killer.

And that's all I'm going to say spoiler free, because it's hard to talk about a book like this without spoilers. You don't like spoilers, stop reading now.

Anyway, at the end of the last book, Miriam is pregnant and sees that her baby is going to die. This book starts with her waddling miserably through the shitshow nightmare of pregnancy. It is a morbidly un-sentimental take on pregnancy and motherhood and is so much the way I felt through pregnancy that this book could have been written about me.

There are so many things to love in this book, but I love that pregnancy doesn't really slow Miriam down. That motherhood doesn't fundamentally change who she is. That, much like me, she ends up teaching her kid context (don't swear in school) rather than quit swearing. (haha, yes, there's a spoiler, the kid lives)

Wren's 5-second cameo was SO GOOD, though it did leave me a little baffled. I know there's a side novella about her out there somewhere that I'm probably going to need to read to be less baffled about how she ended up where she did and when she did. It felt a touch deus ex machina, but I also don't have all the info.

But anyway, as dark as this series is, the ending is a hopeful one. True to the series, but still full of hope. Get out there and read it!

Friday
Apr062018

Down Among the Sticks and Bones

While this came out after Every Heart a Doorway, it happens first in the story world. And it's a really interesting look at so many things, including parenting, family and siblinghood. It's the story of how Jack and Jill found their magic door and what happened to them while they're there.

So it's a nice little prequel, of sorts, to EHaD but didn't pack the same emotional punch. Which isn't to say I didn't like it. I thought it was fantastic! I've got a huge stack of reading at the moment, but I look forward to the next book in the series.

Anyway, Jack and Jill travel from their stifling, sterile, loveless life in a perfect gated community through a magic door to the Moors under a blood red moon where all manner of death lurks around every corner. They each find love in different ways. Jack finds love that is wholesome and nurturing, gaining her respect and admiration of those around her, while Jill's love is dark and obsessive and isolating.

And in the end, all they really have is each other.

This is another novella, but I'd love a whole novel about these girls. There's more that happened while they're in the Moors, and so much more ahead of them once they go back. Anyway, I highly recommend these stories!

Tuesday
Feb202018

The Raptor and the Wren

I've finally cleared enough backlog from my life to get back to a proper reading schedule and I just finished this newest release from Chuck Wendig. This is the 5th (and penultimate) book in the Miriam Black series and it packs a serious punch.

If you like foul-mouthed, hard-hitting anti-heroines, then this series is worth checking out. Start with Blackbirds. The series only gets better from there.

I didn't find anything about this book terribly shocking. Wendig does a good job of laying the groundwork for the plot's many twists. And while I wasn't surprised by what happened, I was caught off guard by how. And when. And by who. It's got a wallop of a final page. I hate that I have to wait a year for the final book's release!

Tuesday
Apr182017

Thunderbird

The latest installment in the Miriam Black series is here! If you're already a fan of the series, this has everything you can expect. If you're not reading the series yet, I highly recommend checking out Blackbirds.

So Miriam's life is unravelling a little and she's desperate to get rid of her curse (seeing how people die) and just live a normal life. Poor thing is in such denial. But she's obsessively (and a little murderously) tracking another psychic, Mary Stitch, who she believes can help her undo her curse.

Things with Louis are on the rocks, so this time Miriam has dragged poor Gabby (last seen in The Cormorant) along on one helluva dangerous road trip. In the search for Mary Stitch, Miriam stumbles upon a bunch of lunatic domestic terrorists, a group that has several others with psychic talents/curses similar to Miriam's.

As you would expect from this series by now, it's hard hitting, gritty, swearrific and fast-paced. Miriam does some on the fly soul-searching, but largely keeps doing the right thing out of sheer defiance. God, I love her. And then there's those last couple of chapters. OH, SNAP! Definitely recommend this to Miriam fans.

And now you get spoilers. LOOK AWAY!

You've been warned.

The major showdown felt a little anti-climactic to me, with Miriam stumbling off into the desert for weeks. Her impressive return, basically from the dead, fell a little flat for me when we discover she's too late to stop the death vision that's been driving her through the whole book. As cool as it was to see her develop her bird-control powers even further, I still felt like using a flock of birds (again, like in The Cormorant) was a touch repetitive.

And okay, she doesn't save the day, but she does stop the bad guys. Cool win, bro. But having Louis ride in to save her sorry ass was... I dunno. Yay, great to see Louis again. But why couldn't Miriam save her own ass? I hate seeing even the slightest suggestion that Miriam is a damsel in distress. And if she has to be, why can't Gabby come in for the rescue?

Anyway, I'm super excited to see how this sets up the remaining books in the series. Because Mary's advice and that final scene? Shit, son. This is gonna be awesome!