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Search tags: ladies-of-horror-fiction
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review 2020-04-23 20:17
Dead to Her by Sarah Pinborough
Dead to Her - Sarah Pinborough

Dead to Her is Sarah Pinborough’s follow up to her pitch-black perfection of a thriller ‘Behind Her Eyes’. I LOVED that book so much. It was moody and evil and filled with horrible, selfish people doing horrible things to each other. Dead to Her is filled with an equal amount of evil and selfish people too but it took me a long time to warm up to the story because they were all beautiful, wealthy second wives and I was just “eh, who gives a cats bum about these witches and their inner thoughts”. This is where you call me a jerk and I totally agree.

“They were all poison one way or another and maybe she was the only one honest enough to see it.”

But somewhere along the line when the lusty interludes and evil goings-on began, my attention was caught and I couldn’t wait to see the devastation hit them all hard. This is the part where some people might want to tune out but I was there for it. I’m not going to pen a detailed review, this is a lurid thriller and the fun of them should be experienced by the reader and never spoiled beforehand.

This wasn’t a perfect read for me but I enjoyed it once it hooked me and I got over my dislike of the grasping second wife trope. There is a little voodoo, a little passion, a whole helluva lot of betrayal, delectable villains, and some nicely haunting turns of phrase as well as my favorite thing: secrets!

“Even in the sunshine, it seemed ghosts fought for breath.”

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review 2020-04-20 00:15
Theme Music by T. Marie Vandelly
Theme Music - T. Marie Vandelly


“Come on. Run screaming into the night with me.”

Theme Music is my kind of book. Admittedly, my kind of book changes with the wind but today my kind of book is snarky and bloody and emotional and a rollercoaster of “what the hell is happening here?!!”

The prologue was HORRIFYING and it completely hooked me. Read it, if you love it I think you’re going to love the book. If it’s too much to take, read the book anyway but don’t blame me! This book contains one of the best prologues I’ve read in maybe forever. It made me cringe, laugh and question my sanity for the laughter. That’s some skill right there and it continues throughout the book. I LOVED the dark humor of the heroine so much. Words cannot express how much. Without it, this book may have been entirely too dark to handle at this point in my life. As written, it was my kind of perfection.

I don’t want to spoil the book for you so I’m going to be my typical lazy self and tell you very little. Win/win, right? You should be spending your time reading the book instead of my stupid review, anyway. So here’s the plot. It’s a simple one on the surface but it’s really not simple at all. Dixie rents a house. It is probably haunted. This is why she moves in despite a brief moment where she thinks perhaps this maybe isn’t the best of plans.

“I don’t think it’s right for me... To disturb the dead”

But she does it anyway, haha! See why I love Dixie? She begins to investigate the decades-old murders and discovers the truth may not be the truth she’s always assumed was the truth. How’s that for a sentence?! Ha, reviewer of the year award right there. Anyway, that’s all I’m saying and it’s likely too much.

This book has echoes of The Amityville Horror and The Haunting of Hill House and all of those chilling and blood-splattered haunted house stories we all love so much but it is told from Dixie’s point of view and as much as we might love her, we’re not always sure we can trust her but through it all, I never doubted my kinship with her. She’s morbid and she’s obsessed and she keeps the reader, as well as everyone around her, a little off-kilter.

“I only lied to you because I didn’t want to tell you the truth”

 

This is no doubt a wonderfully obsessive, creepy haunted house tale but it’s absolutely captivating and immersive because of the writing. Dixie drags you into her head and her whacked out world and you fall right in never quite knowing if Dixie is telling herself the truth. She also has a beautiful way of attributing scents to people, one that isn’t included nearly enough in the horror novels I typically read. “There was a warm, somnolent maple scent filling the air around him. Garrett smelled like that sometimes, too, as though he had been baking all night at a low temperature.” I don’t why but I LOVED that lovely sensory description so very much.

I loved this book with all that’s left of my heart if I haven’t made that clear enough yet. I will not say a negative thing. It kept me guessing throughout. My notes are filled with all the wrong guesses and here I was thinking I was getting better at this mystery game having read way too many lurid thrillers of late! The author was able to pull me in at a time when my brain was terribly distracted by - oh everything. She caught my attention with the creeps and the humor but she kept me with the strong emotional ties and the originally written heroine.

Amazing stuff. Go read it! And then make all of your horror pals read it.
 

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review 2020-03-27 19:06
The Luminous Dead by Caitlin Starling
The Luminous Dead - Caitlin Starling

I will admit straight off that I’m not a huge fan of action and sci-fi stories. I know, I am terrible. There's no need to tell me. I don’t know why I am the way that I am but that’s how I am. So I went into this after hearing over and over again that it was one of the best books of 2019, and hoping with every hope in my being that the creep factor would be enough to keep me going. If it wasn’t enough and I had to DNF this book I would have to be the lone voice of negativity and I don’t like being that person and truly it would’ve been my own fault. Fortunately for me, the horror vibe was creepy enough to keep me going through all of the action/adventure/sci-fi bits when I otherwise might've noped out but what truly surprised me was how much I wanted to keep reading to find out how everything ended for the two characters in the story. The complicated relationship that develops ever so slowly between caver Gyre and her guide Em was more than enough for me. I’m a sucker for flawed and complex relationships and this is a great one. There’s a lot of pain and hurt and backstory and damage here and I loved getting down into it and watching it all get picked apart and brought to the surface.

 

This book is overwhelmingly claustrophobic and the atmosphere is painstakingly put down on the page. There may even be a monster lurking in the cave! I almost forgot about that bit of added terror. Trust me, you’ll want to read this book somewhere bright. Somewhere with a lot of air. Maybe somewhere you can hear the birds sing a lovely song to you. It is that intense. There is also some squirm worthy and delightful, depending on your level of weirdness, body horror that happens here. Gyre, the caver, has been fitted and physically modified into her suit as were some other folks we meet along the way but I won’t say anything more about that, nor will I tell you about the plot because I don’t want to spoil and maybe I’m a little lazy. But I will tell you that some of that stuff really made me cringe a bit in horror and I love it when a book hits me that way.

There are many 5 star reviews for this book and I’m going to be here giving it a four and ½ and I won’t be rounding up because of my personal preferences and because some of it was a little bit of a slog for me, if you want to know the honest truth It is not a book I’d reread again but I wasn’t disappointed with the horror bits and the emotional wringer the characters put me through. Definitely recommended and an incredible debut.

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review 2020-03-17 18:34
The Other People by C.J. Tudor
The Other People - C.J. Tudor

“We’re all capable of good and bad. Very few of us show our real faces to the world for fear that the world might stare back and scream.”

 

Well isn't that the truth, ha!


This is a book that needed my full attention. Due to the world being turned upside down and inside out, my brain is a bit of a mess and thus this review will likely be messier than most because I’m already forgetting so very much.

Basically it’s about a grieving man. He lost his wife and his young daughter in one fell swoop. He cannot move on because he believes he saw his daughter pass by in a car the day she was murdered. He is certain the child was his daughter and he believes she’s been kidnapped and he spends every breathing moment attempting to find her. It’s eating him alive. His searching leads him to the dark web and to say more is to say too much.

This was a well written, twisty turny thriller with protagonists I didn’t hate. These people were so desperate that the desperation nearly leaped off the pages and stabbed me in the heart. This book gets a lot of points for taking care to create and maintain a strong sense of desperation and emotion and endless pain and regret all the while keeping the stakes high and forcing me to keep guessing at just what the heck was going on. I would’ve never figured this all out even if I’d been able to give it my all.

However, there’s a LOT going on here. At times I felt my brain scream for mercy. I think I tried to read this at the worst possible moment in time and that’s not the fault of the story.

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review 2020-03-17 17:33
Flowers In the Attic by VC Andrews
Flowers in the Attic - V.C. Andrews

 

I haven’t read this book since I was a teen. When I was a kid my morbid friends and I would buy these books and pass them amongst each other until the pages nearly fell out. I think one of us might’ve even used her church collection fund to buy a few after skipping out on church and going roller skating instead, oops. I have to say it was money well spent. I still have my original (now moldy) copy that has writing inside from those friends and I will likely keep it forever for that reason alone. It’s one of the few items that survived my tumultuous childhood and only because I hid it and wouldn’t let it go. This revisit brought back a lot of memories and I credit this book for creating my thirst for dysfunctional stories about beautiful people keeping secrets and doing horrible and atrocious things to each other. To this day I cannot get enough of that sort of thing! So thank you, VC Andrews. I sure wish you had been able to live a long and healthy life.

 

So yeah, let’s get this out of the way. The writing is fantastically over-dramatic and if I heard “golly lolly” or “lolly day” or even plain old “golly” one more time I thought my eyeballs were going to get stuck somewhere up in my brain. Whoever on this planet ever said that?! No one in my circle of sometimes naughty friends but I don’t remember that sticking out to me as a kid. What I do remember (and who on earth could ever forget?) was the love between the kids, the abuse, the loss and, oh loard, the incest! I don’t care how cute brother Chris was, you do NOT kiss your brother but then again I wasn’t trapped in an attic with my siblings so who am I to judge? Anyhow, it’s all here and the rollout is slow so hold on to your heart. It is as awful and chilling and horrifying and painful to read now in 2020 as it was back in the ’80s when this book was everywhere. 

 

The adults in this story are human monsters. Or they’re dead and perfect angels. There really isn’t any middle ground. I think this is what attracted me so much to this story. My home life was a nightmarish stew of anger and grief and unpredictability until I got out and this book made things look pretty damn normal. These kids were living with fear and anxiety and out of control emotions too and so much worse. Their emotions were raw and real even if the dialogue was ridiculous at times (most times!)  At least I wasn’t stuck in an attic with my three siblings while my greedy and weak monster of a mother bought jewels and plotted . . . well, I won’t spoil that!

 

Anyhow, if you haven’t ever read this book and you like horror (and this is indeed horror - this is a hill I will die on) do yourself a favor and give this one a read. It lingers around for a reason. I’d take off half a star for that awful dialogue but I can’t bring myself to do it because I have such undying love for this book for helping a messed up girl through some very rough times.

 

Content Warnings: Oh there are so many but child abuse and dubious con sex might be the two biggest if you don’t count the incest!

 

This quote. Oh, how I love this quote:

 

“My anguish was always like a mountain of rage.”

 

 

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