Brimstone by Cherie Priest. ★★★
I’ve been following Cherie Priest’s work for years, so it was with not a little anticipation I picked up this newest outing from her. Unfortunately, I was expecting and desiring a historical fantasy story, but I found Brimstone to be more horror with a Southern Gothic twist.
Alice Dartle is descended from a long line of witches, but she has no idea how to use her clairvoyant abilities. The town of Cassadaga, Florida, a community of similarly gifted people seems to hold the answer. But as she draws closer to the town, she keeps having dreams of fire and trenches. She knows that these are not her own dreams, and she believes that she can help the dreamer.
Tomas Cordero came back from World War I to find his wife dead of influenza. He continues to operate his tailoring business, but he’s haunted by the memories of his wife. Since his return, inexplicable fires have hounded him. Could they be messages from the beyond?
As I Descended by Robin Talley. ★★★1/2
As I Descended is a queer, paranormal, YA retelling of Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Basically I saw that description and thought I had to read this. While I don’t think it’s a novel that I’d revisit in the future, it did make a good spooky read for right around Halloween.
Acheron Academy is a prestigious private boarding school in modern day Virginia, and Delilah Dufrey is the unofficial queen of the senior class. She’s lied, cheated, and manipulated her way to the top, and now she’s the sure winner of the Cawdor Kingsley Prize. But Maria and Lily, roommates and secret girlfriends, have their eye on the prize. If Maria wins, it will lock in her acceptance to Stanford, and guarentee that Maria and Lily will be together for the next two years. Maria and Lily will do whatever’s necessary to make that happen. And the only person in the way of their dreams is Delilah.
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich. ★★1/2
This was a let down. I was hoping I’d get something with a creepy atmosphere that would keep me turning the pages. Turns out I got a shambling mess of a book.
Years ago, Elmbridge High School burned to the ground. Three people were killed and one went missing. Told through documents compiled after the incident, The Dead House tells the story of the alleged arsonist, Kaitlyn Johnson, the twin sister of student Carly Johnson. However, Kaitlyn Johnson did not technically exist – she was a separate personality that only came out at night. During the day, Carly. During the night, Kaitlyn.
Authority by Jeff Vandermeer. ★★★1/2
Authority is the sequel to Annihilation, which you should read first. This second installment of the Southern Reach trilogy focuses on the Southern Reach itself, the government organization that studies the mysterious and dangerous Area X. John Rodriguez, who prefers to be called by the name Control, is appointed as a the new director of the Southern Reach, likely due to the influence of his powerful mother. He soon learns some members of the previous expedition have returned, and he begins interviewing the biologist.
Girl of Nightmares by Kendare Blake. ★★★
Girl of Nightmares is a YA paranormal horror novel that’s not quite as good as its predecessor, Anna Dressed in Blood, but does the necessary job of tying up loose plot threads. You absolutely need to have read Anna Dressed in Blood before picking up Girl of Nightmares.
Maplecroft by Cherie Priest. ★★★1/2
Maplecroft is a fantastical horror novel set in the 1890s. I am not familiar with Lovecraft’s work, but I have heard Maplecroft be called Lovecraftian. Told in an epistolary style, Maplecroft tells the tale of a supernatural danger coming out from the ocean and the few people who stand against it.
Lizzie Borden’s father and stepfather were slowly… changed… until they lost their minds and became ghastly and murderous creatures. Now, a few years later, Lizzie and her invalid sister Emma live by themselves across town. Lizzie is desperately attempting to find out what force is at work on the town and to protect herself and her sister from the strange monsters that have been coming after them.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake. ★★★1/2
Anna Dressed in Blood is a YA paranormal horror book that reminds me of the episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer I’ve seen. Overall, it’s a solid piece of fun.
Cas Lowood kills ghosts. He’s traveled with his mother across the country, hunting down the haunting, monstrous spirits who kill the living humans around them with no self awareness. Then he finds a ghost called Anna Dressed in Blood, the spirit of a murdered girl who kills anyone who steps foot inside her old house. But Anna is different – she seems aware of what and where she is. And for some reason, she lets Cas live.