What was once a quiet stroll to grandma’s house becomes a little more torturous in Christina Henry’s 2019 novel, The Girl In Red. In the midst of a global pandemic, Red (Cordelia) and her family must prepare to walk hundreds of miles to reach the safety of her grandmother’s house before they: catch the mysterious disease themselves, are forced into a quarantine camp, or are killed by a traveling militia that is pillaging and kidnapping women and children.
To my knowledge, Little Red Riding Hood is not often retold as a horror/thriller novel. Henry created an interesting premise her story. Rather than traveling to care for her sick grandmother, the heroine red must travel to her grandmother’s house to shelter herself from an oncoming pandemic and the violent dangers that surround her every waking movement. I do wish some parts of the story were fleshed out a bit more. The first two thirds of the book were slower paced and very detailed with exposition and scenery, however the final battle was a too fast for my taste and the ending was rushed. It felt as though the author ran out of time when writing the last quarter of the book and rushed the finally to make up for it. It would have been more rounded story if the same detail was given to the last few chapters.
Overall, The Girl in Red is a thrilling twist on an old classic. I wish there were some parts of the plot that were given a little more detail, but I would recommend this book to anyone looking for something new and interesting to add to their Halloween reading list.
Jason Rekulak terrifies readers with his 2022 horror book Hidden Pictures. The story of a young woman (Mallory) fresh on her journey of addiction recovery when she becomes a full time nanny for a 5 year old boy (Teddy) in an affluent neighborhood. Things are looking up for Mallory until she starts to notice’s that Teddy’s drawings and behavior are beginning to become more sinister and terrifying by the day. With the fear that something supernatural may be influencing the young boy, Mallory turns to her new neighbor and landscaper to discover what is really happening in Teddy’s drawings.
While reading the book’s summary, I was very interested in seeing how it would turn out. After reading, I found it more and more difficult to sympathize with the characters or their choices. The main character Mallory as well as the two parents; Ted and Caroline; were almost caricatures in their behaviors (especially in the creation of their house rules for Mallory). Rekulak’s depictions of these three characters created a dichotomy between the hyper religious Mallory and the overly strict atheist parents.
Overall, Hidden Pictures was unremarkably similar to almost every “creepy kid” horror book or movie. I wish Hidden Pictures had a little extra to set it apart from other books in the horror/thriller genre.
What did you think of Hidden Pictures? What did you think about the twist ending? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!
The ghosts of a woman’s childhood come back to haunt her in Ronald Malfi’s 2015 novel Little Girls. After the death of her father, Laurie Genarro along with her husband (Ted) and daughter (Susan) travel to his home out of state to prepare clean it out and prepare it to be sold. After arriving, Laurie finds that her father’s dilapidated home isn’t the only ghost from her past waiting for her. She soon finds that her daughter’s new friend bares a striking resemblance to a young girl who tragically passed away and quickly finds that all her childhood woes have followed her home.
Malfi’s development of Laurie and Ted’s relationship was hands down my favorite part of the book. Malfi’s depictions of their personal insecurities with in their larger marital issues added conflict and tension to the story. This conflict also helped highlight Laurie’s deteriorating mental state and helped to elaborated the ghosts haunting her conscious. The book wouldn’t have been the same without it. Without the failing relationship between Laurie and Ted, the story would have fallen apart.
My biggest complaint of the book was that there wasn’t a clear villain. In the last 75% of the book, Malfi constructed so many improbable plot twists in his storyline that it was very difficult to anticipate what could happen next. Each initial plot point was turned on it’s head and a new monster emerged.
I typically enjoy a slow and suspenseful build in my horror novels but Malfi’s work fell flat. An exceptional amount of detail was crafted in each flash back and with in character dialog, as a reader you could very easily create a mental image for every moment of the story. However, all this description took away from the plot of the story and ultimately there wasn’t a clear conclusion and left more questions than answers.
I’d love to hear what you thought. Did you read Little Girls? What did you think of the ending? Tell me about it in the comment section below.
Christopher Golden will leave you shivering with fear in his new book Road of Bones. Two reality documentary produces travel to Russian to catch the horrific history of the Kolyma Highway (Road of bones) on film for the word to see for the first time. Starting their journey with a less than friendly working relationship ship, our main character Felix Teigland, his camera man and their guide prepare for a long and frightening journey. It’s not long before they stop in small village and discover an unimaginable mystery and a cationic young girl who has been separated from her family. Quickly they find themselves as prey, running from an almost supernatural pack of wolves whose only desire is to devour the filmmakers alive.
I personally loved the characters that Golden created in this story. Their fears and emotions were almost palpable I progressed through the story and found them to be delightfully morally gray. Golden created a few instances where they either chose to save themselves at the expense of others or death of other characters in the story. Apart from the two original filmmakers, none of the characters had very strong relationships. Their strong willingness to thrown their traveling companions to the wolves made the story like a more unpredictable and exciting.
While the characters were fantastic and the plot like was fear inducing, I wanted a little bite more. For one, I wish that the book was just a little bit longer. By the end of the book, I as the reader had a significant number of questions that were still left unanswered. I don’t want to give too many spoilers away but Golden doesn’t leave you with a clear understanding of who was the monster of the story or what even triggered the horrific tragedy centered in our story. However, even with my complaints about the story, Road of Bones is a spine chilling read that will make your heart skip a beat the next time you look out into the forest at night.
Have you read Golden’s new book? Tell me about it in the comments below, I’d love to hear what you thought about it!
Is anyone entirely good or entirely evil? Lara Elena Donnelly makes us question this with their new book, Base Notes. The cost of rent is soaring across the country and is becoming a crushing burden to many, especially in New York City. A perfumer, Vic Fowler, has no choice but to rely on new steams of income to make ends meet. After receiving an offer they couldn’t refuse, Vic must convince (threaten) a few friends to assist in a bloody errand. Willing to sacrifice anything and anyone to further their business, no one is safe from Vic’s dangerous ambitions.
I found the character of Vic to be very enthralling. For years I have wanted a story from the perspective of the villain and I may have found that in base notes. At the start, Vic is a very enjoyable and sympathetic character but as the story progresses we see Vic making more questionable choices until everyone they know and love pay the price. Apart from Vic, all characters are extremely rich and dynamic. As a reader, you wont find a single character in Base Notes, that is entirely good or evil. Even the most likable of characters have their dark sides.
Even with the most obvious antagonists in the story, its hard to pin down the real villain and it’s even more difficult to find the hero of the story. That may be why I found Base Notes to be such a great read. The biggest threats in story aren’t assassins in the middle of the night but crushing medical debt, student loans, and the ever rising cost of rent.
Deep in the mountains of Tennessee a mysterious deity slumbers. In Daryl Greggory’s work Revelator, we meet a long like of women, all (supposedly) born out of wedlock, with striking physical characteristics, and a long line of secrets to protect. Stella should have been next in line to serve as the next revelator, until a tragic accident causes her to run from the only real home and family she has ever known, vowing never to return again. After the death of her “grandmother” she returns to find a young girl (Sunny), with an odd appearance, and very peculiar behavior.
The character arch of Stella is a fantastic literary journey that would entrap the interest of any reader. Stella’s return to the cove is an enticing page turner. Her determination to protect and shelter Sunny from the oppressive nature of her family’s religion makes her an incredibly interesting character. Her journey from young religious prophet to a morally gray bootlegger is a fantastic view into the life of a woman struggling for control of her own life.
Greggory’s work felt like is an interesting take on familial relationships and the potential destructive nature of blind faith. The long line of revelators are used as pawns for the spread of the family’s religion and the profit of their family’s pastors. Every page leaves the reader rooting for Stella and Sunny to escape their family’s grasp and leave to find a better life. The Revelator is a spine-chilling journey no reader will be able to put down.
All These Bodies by Kendare Blake begins with a killing spree across the midwest that stops in the small town of Black Deer Falls, Minnesota. This is where we learn that a small family of four was attacked, leaving three killed and only one surviving infant. In the midst of all this carnage a young teen girl (Marie) is found covered in the blood of the diseased. Is she the victim or the perpetrator? How did she come to be in the middle of this carnage? The sherif’s son (Michael) , is the only one who she will tell her story too. After a rollercoaster of an investigation, the reader is left with more questions than answers.
One of the most interesting aspects of the story is the unidentifiable monster in the closet. There was a string of murders so there was clearly a killer but the killer themselves were never the most prominent part of the story. While I was reading Blake’s work, it appeared that the biggest villain in our story, was fear and the want for speedy, but neglectful, justice. The town of Black Deer Falls was terrified of whoever or whatever brutally murdered one of their own. They wanted to justice, not to wait around for a fair and speedy trail (even if it meant harassing and abusing Michael’s family and friends to get it).
While the idea of the story is very interesting and had a lot of potential, the book itself could have had a little more substance to it. I found the characters to be one dimensional, unsympathetic, unreliable, and at times a little infuriating. For example: Marie our main suspect, seemed to be hostile and uncooperative for no real reason and seems to act only as an antithesis the prosecuting attorney (Benjamin Pilson). Whereas, Michael’s (the story’s protagonist) squeaky clean image wasn’t relatable and we don’t really know much about him apart for his future aspiration to become a journalist. His character fell flat, I wasn’t sure why he was given the authority he had throughout the novel, it was simply unbelievable. All three of these characters mash up into a very unsatisfying story. After I read Blake’s work I was left with more questions than answers. Was the killer a vampire? Was Marie a vampire? Was Marie innocent or was she lying the whole time? Who can really be trusted?