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.
Megan Goldin brings a modern twist to the murder mystery novel with her 2020 novel The Night Swim. After uncovering the truth and setting an innocent man free, Rachel Krall is feeling an immense amount of pressure to perform in her true crime podcast’s new season. Rachel finds herself in a small coastal town reporting on a rape trail that has divided its population. After arriving, she finds herself receiving cryptic notes from one of the town’s previous residents begging her to investigate their sister’s death 25 years prior. After a little investigation, Rachel finds that not everyone in town wants this mystery solved.
Goldin’s addition of a True Crime podcaster adds and interesting twist to the traditional mystery novel. As podcasts and true crime become more popular, it seems obvious to adapt the genre to fit this growing trend. Goldin does this perfectly in Night Swim. Her alternation of perspectives and her addition of podcast transcripts create a addicting narrative that no reader will be able to put down.
Fiction can be used as a tool to shine a light on real world problems. The crimes committed against K and Jenny are interesting in their own way. Why is it that K had been seen as more of a legitimate victim, whereas Jenny was ridiculed and demonized in her own murder? Goldin’s novel, she does raises a tragic but important question: Who deserves justice?
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!
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.
Mystery and tragedy find themselves in A Flicker in the Dark, a thrilling novel by Stacy Willingham. We meet Chole Davis a young psychiatrist who happens to be in the final stages of planning her upcoming wedding to the man of her dreams. All her worst night mares come true when a local girl goes missing…Then another girl goes missing. Nearing the anniversary of her fathers crimes, she finds herself fearing that a copycat killer has begun to terrorize her hometown. With no one to trust, she fears the worst in everyone around her and begins her own investigation. Eventually she finds that the real monsters can be hiding silently behind any corner.
I frequently found my self “on the fence,” with the character of Chole, she is a character who often has very questionable or unethical judgment. In all, she is far from the typical, “perfect heroine,” which made her much more interesting character. However, all her faults and previous mistakes made her much more thrilling to follow in the story. However, Some of her character flaws were a bit too much and not always believable. She was stupid at times and it wasn’t always endearing. She made some poor and illegal choices that sometimes took the story to unnecessary and some times irrelevant plot lines.
A Flicker in the Dark is a very thrilling read. Each twist and turn of the story was completely unpredictable. Even with all of the main characters flaws I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a thrilling mystery. I wont give away any spoilers but if you give Willingham’s work a try you will find yourself completely engulfed in her story, unable to put it down.