Published May 14th 2024 by Berkley  A  single mother working in the gothic mansion of a reclusive horror director stumbles upon terrifying s...

Published May 14th 2024 by Berkley 

single mother working in the gothic mansion of a reclusive horror director stumbles upon terrifying secrets in the captivating new novel from the national bestselling author of Good Girls Don't Die and Horseman.

Harry Adams has always loved horror movies, so it’s not a total coincidence that she took the job cleaning house for movie director Javier Castillo. His forbidding graystone Chicago mansion, Bright Horses, is filled from top to bottom with terrifying props and costumes, as well as glittering awards from his career making films that thrilled audiences—until family tragedy and scandal forced him to vanish from the industry.
Javier values discretion, and Harry has always tried to clean the house immaculately, keep her head down, and keep her job safe—she needs the money to support her son. But then she starts hearing noises from behind a locked door. Noises that sound remarkably like a human voice calling for help, even though Javier lives alone and never has visitors. Harry knows that not asking questions is a vital part of working for Javier, but she soon finds that the sinister house may be home to secrets she can’t ignore.

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Javier Castillo had brown hair going gray, brown eyes behind steel-rimmed spectacles, was on the shorter side (though not as short as Harry, who had reached five feet at age thirteen and never grown again) and overall had the completely nondescript appearance of any random person on the block. He was the sort who would never attract attention unless you knew who he was, would never be whispered about if he went to the grocery store-which he never did. He never went anywhere if he could help it.

Because of this, very few people in his neighborhood realized one of the world's greatest living horror directors lived among them: Javier Castillo, director and writer of fifteen films, most of them visually groundbreaking, genre-defying masterpieces. His film The Monster had won the Oscar for Best Picture five years earlier and swept most of the other major categories along the way, including Director and Original Screenplay. The world had waited breathlessly for the announcement of his next project.

Then a shocking, unthinkable incident happened, and Castillo withdrew into his California home, and there was no mention of potential new movies while the paparazzi stood outside his house with their cameras ready for any sign of life within.

After one too many wildfires came too close to his residence he decided to move, somewhat incongruously, to Chicago. He packed up his legendary and possibly priceless collection of movie props and memorabilia and brought them to a cold Midwestern city where the last major urban burning was decidedly in the distant past.

If it wasn't for those California wildfires Harry would still be collecting unemployment, frantically responding to job ads with a horde of other desperate people, never hearing back, wondering how long Gabe would believe her tight smile followed by, "Everything's going to be fine."

But instead there was this miracle, this miracle of a strange and reclusive director who needed someone to help him clean his collection of weird stuff three days a week, and so Harry climbed up the stairs and listened to Javier Castillo huff and puff.
The second floor was essentially one big room divided by a load-bearing archway. The stairs curved up to the southwest corner of this room and stopped there. The stair to the third floor was on the northeast corner, which always made Harry think of a Clue board, with its seemingly random staircases scattered all around. There was a black railing running along from the southeast corner of the room to the top of the stairs to keep people from falling straight down the first-floor stairwell.

The bucket of cleaning supplies was ready at the top of the stairs. Harry and Mr. Castillo each took a long-handled duster. Mr. Castillo went to the far end of the room while Harry started on the closest figure.

The blue room wasn't entirely blue. The carpet was blue-and Harry really thought he ought to get rid of the carpet; it collected dust and it was such a difficult room to vacuum. The wallpaper had blue flowers patterned on it, blue flowers that made Harry think of Agatha Christie's story "The Blue Geranium."

Except that's not quite right, Harry thought. In "The Blue Geranium" the color of the flower on the wall changed to blue because of a chemical in the air-proof of poison.

Nobody was in danger of poisoning in Bright Horses. Nobody lived there except Mr. Castillo-and his props, of course, and some of those were so lifelike that Harry sometimes thought they really were watching her, just out of the corner of her eye. When she'd turn, the figures would be still and glassy-eyed, the artificial pupils staring off into the middle distance, never having focused on her or anything else at all.

Excerpted from The House That Horror Built by Christina Henry Copyright © 2024 by Christina Henry. Excerpted by permission of Berkley. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Christina Henry is a horror and dark fantasy author whose works include Horseman, Near the Bone, The Ghost Tree, Looking Glass, The Girl in Red, The Mermaid, Lost Boy, Alice, Red Queen, and the seven-book urban fantasy Black Wings series. Learn more online at  

March was an amazing month for horror! I started off the month with Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey's The Dead Take The A Train , whic...

March was an amazing month for horror!

I started off the month with Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey's The Dead Take The A Train, which was gruesomely fast-paced. I read the second book in the Sworn Soldier series, What Feasts at Night by T. Kingfisher and took a chance on KU for Whispers of Blackwell House by Amelia Cognet. The Butcher of the Forest by Premee Mohamed with its gothic fairytale feel was a favorite. Its fantasy/horror mashup was delightful. Keeping the forest theme going, C.G. Drews' Don't Let the Forest In won't publish until October but you want to put this YA book on your TBR now. 

You'll have to wait on another couple of my favorites from this month: Christina Henry's new release The House That Horror Built is coming out in May and Chuck Tingle's newest Bury Your Gays will be published in July. When I say so many good books, I mean it! 

My absolute favorite though was Nick Roberts' Mean Spirited. I haven't read something this creepy in a long time. Highly recommend!

What's next for April? Space horror, haunted houses, psychological horrors, it's all here! 
Here are just a few of April's don't-miss horror releases. 

See the whole list of 2024 releases here

Rise and shine. The Evans women have some undead to kill.

It’s 1999 in Southeast Texas and the Evans women, owners of the only funeral parlor in town, are keeping steady with…normal business. The dead die, you bury them. End of story. That’s how Ducey Evans has done it for the last eighty years, and her progeny―Lenore the experimenter and Grace, Lenore’s soft-hearted daughter, have run Evans Funeral Parlor for the last fifteen years without drama. Ever since That Godawful Mess that left two bodies in the ground and Grace raising her infant daughter Luna, alone.

But when town gossip Mina Jean Murphy’s body is brought in for a regular burial and she rises from the dead instead, it’s clear that the Strigoi―the original vampire―are back. And the Evans women are the ones who need to fight back to protect their town.

As more folks in town turn up dead and Deputy Roger Taylor begins asking way too many questions, Ducey, Lenore, Grace, and now Luna, must take up their blades and figure out who is behind the Strigoi’s return. As the saying goes, what rises up, must go back down. But as unspoken secrets and revelations spill from the past into the present, the Evans family must face that sometimes, the dead aren’t the only things you want to keep buried.

A crackling mystery-horror novel with big-hearted characters and Southern charm with a bite, Bless Your Heart is a gasp-worthy delight from start to finish.

Bram Stoker Award-winning author Hailey Piper joins Bad Hand Books with a supernatural crime novella.

What’s been happening at Cranberry Cove? It’s unspeakable. It’s unspoken.

Emberly Hale is about to take a dark journey inside the derelict hotel—and inside her own past—to find out the horrible truth.

Discover this creepy, charming monster-slaying fantasy romance—from the perspective of the monster—by Nebula Award-winning debut author John Wiswell

Shesheshen has made a mistake fatal to all monsters: she's fallen in love.

Shesheshen is a shapeshifter, who happily resides as an amorphous lump at the bottom of a ruined manor. When her rest is interrupted by hunters intent on murdering her, she constructs a body from the remains of past meals: a metal chain for a backbone, borrowed bones for limbs, and a bear trap as an extra mouth.

However, the hunters chase Shesheshen out of her home and off a cliff. Badly hurt, she’s found and nursed back to health by Homily, a warm-hearted human, who has mistaken Shesheshen as a fellow human. Homily is kind and nurturing and would make an excellent co-parent: an ideal place to lay Shesheshen’s eggs so their young could devour Homily from the inside out. But as they grow close, she realizes humans don’t think about love that way.

Shesheshen hates keeping her identity secret from Homily, but just as she’s about to confess, Homily reveals why she’s in the area: she’s hunting a shapeshifting monster that supposedly cursed her family. Has Shesheshen seen it anywhere?

Eating her girlfriend isn’t an option. Shesheshen didn’t curse anyone, but to give herself and Homily a chance at happiness, she has to figure out why Homily’s twisted family thinks she did. As the hunt for the monster becomes increasingly deadly, Shesheshen must unearth the truth quickly, or soon both of their lives will be at risk.

And the bigger challenge remains: surviving her toxic in-laws long enough to learn to build a life with, rather than in, the love of her life.

A queer paranormal psychological horror novel, in the style of showrunner Mike Flannagan, showing the complex real-life terror inherent in grief and mental illness After the tragic death of their father and surviving a life-threatening eating disorder, 18-year-old Ellis moves with their mother to the small town of Black Stone, seeking a simpler life and some space to recover. But Black Stone feels off; it’s a disquieting place, one that’s surrounded by towns with some of the highest death rates in the country. It doesn’t help that everyone says Ellis’s new house is haunted. And Ellis has started to believe they see pulsing veins in the walls of their bedroom and specters in dark corners of the cellar. They soon discover Black Stone, and their house in particular, is the battleground in a decades-long spectral war, one that will claim their family ― and the town ― if it’s allowed to continue. Withered is queer psychological horror, a compelling tale that tackles important issues of mental health in the way that only horror by delving deep into them, cracking them open, and exposing their gruesome entrails.

Published  March 12, 2024 by Orbit S et in a world of perilous magic and moonlit forests, this seductive romantic fantasy tells the story of...

Published March 12, 2024 by Orbit

Set in a world of perilous magic and moonlit forests, this seductive romantic fantasy tells the story of a defiant changeling, her cursed sister, and the dangerous fae lord she must defeat to save her family.

In a kingdom where magic has been lost, Fia is a rare changeling, left behind by the wicked Fair Folk when they stole the high queen's daughter, Eala, and retreated behind the locked gates of the Folk realm. Rather than leave Fia an outcast, the queen takes her in and trains her to be a spy.

When a hidden gate to the realm is discovered, Fia is tasked by the queen to retrieve the princess and break her curse. Accompanying Fia is Prince Rogan, her dearest childhood friend—and Eala’s betrothed. As they journey through the forests of the Folk, Fia’s mission is complicated by her feelings for Rogan…and an unexpected attraction to the fae lord holding Eala captive. 

Soon, Fia begins to question the truth of her origins and the reality of her mission, but time is running out to break Eala's curse. And unraveling the secrets of the past might destroy everything Fia has come to love.

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There is a ton of fae-based "romantasy" out there right now since the rise of fiction like ACOTAR. It's difficult given the complete inundation of the current book market to publish something that feels fresh. However, that's just what Lyra Selene did. This fairytale-inspired tale has a uniqueness, while still containing the elements that more mainstream readers will enjoy. 

Even though she was swapped for the princess, Fia hasn't lived a cushy life. The queen has raised her as a weapon and given her love like one would for a dog learning to sit. Affection only when she's done a good job. As anyone would be raised like that, Fia spent a lot of time with her inner dialogue on repeat. You really just want her to wise up and realize that she's worthy already. Fia could get on your nerves quick yet you found yourself cheering her on at other times. 

Fia and Rogan can only access the fae world on the full moon so a lot of the book was character development. I loved the development of Fia's botanical magic and bringing the greenhouse back to life. Fia's relationship with the sprite Corra added a spot of mischief to the story. Despite that, A Feather So Black's ending got dark.  I was surprised at how dark a turn it actually took. 

This is going to be one of those dividing books. You are either going to love it or hate it. I enjoyed the world-building and the mythology. The romance wasn't my favorite thing about the book but if you like enemy-to-lover tropes and insta love, it may just work for you.

Published  October 3, 2023 by Tor Nightfire B estselling authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey have teamed up to deliver a dark new stor...

Published October 3, 2023 by Tor Nightfire

Bestselling authors Cassandra Khaw and Richard Kadrey have teamed up to deliver a dark new story with magic, monsters, and mayhem, perfect for fans of Neil Gaiman and Joe Hill.

Julie Crews is a coked-up, burnt-out thirty-something who packs a lot of magic into her small body. She’s been trying to establish herself in the NYC magic scene, and she’ll work the most gruesome gigs to claw her way to the top.

Julie is desperate for a quick career boost to break the dead-end grind, but her pleas draw the attention of an eldritch god who is hungry for revenge. Her power grab sets off a deadly chain of events that puts her closest friends – and the entire world – directly in the path of annihilation.

The first explosive adventure in the Carrion City Duology, The Dead Take the A Train fuses Khaw’s cosmic horror and Kadrey’s gritty fantasy into a full-throttle thrill ride straight into New York’s magical underbelly.
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Had I done anything but see Khaw and Kadrey and gone ooo shiny, I may not have picked this one up.  However, to my surprise, this magic and mayhem mash-up was most engrossing. Kadrey had long solidified his place as one of my favorite urban fantasy series with Sandman Slim. Khaw is hit or miss for me due to their wordsmithing. While it can be lovely, it's often overwhelming due to their more obscure vocabulary. Their prose comes in large mouthfuls that have to be chewed methodically but there's no denying that absolutely no one writes like Khaw. I wondered how exactly the two styles could possibly mesh seamlessly but somehow they did. 

Any good read starts with good characters and the protagonist Julie is an absolute fucking delight. I use that word because writing a review about this book without at least one f-bomb would not be doing justice to the chaotic mess that is Julie. She's snarky, hilarious, and totally off the cuff but when I say she's a mess, she is a MESS. Between the moments she spends being a badass, she's loading herself on whatever she can get, whether that's booze or pills. 

Julie's chaos only adds to that of this book. Urban fantasy heavy on gore with a twist of eldritch horror, The Dead Take The A Train is a bizarre mash-up of genres that probably should not work, like the two authors in questions, yet somehow do. Kadrey has always been on the gritty side of UF and with Khaw's influence taking that completely over the top to the dark side of horror, this is an unconventional pairing that I'm excited to see again in the future.

Gruesomely overflowing with both the grotesque and irreverent, this neon nightmare fuel will have the least tryptophobic of us seeing holes (and eyes, lots of freaking eyes) everywhere. I picked this one up as an audiobook and Natalie Naudus was a fantastic narrator. 

Published  January 16, 2024 by Delacorte Press A  teen girl and her family return to her mother's childhood home, only to discover that ...

Published January 16, 2024 by Delacorte Press

A teen girl and her family return to her mother's childhood home, only to discover that the house's strange beauty may disguise a sinister past, in this contemporary gothic horror from the author of What We Harvest.

The house was supposed to be a fresh start. That's what Libby's mom said. And after Libby’s recent bipolar III diagnosis and the tragedy that preceded it, Libby knows she and her family need to find a new normal.

But Libby’s new home turns out to be anything but normal. Scores of bugs haunt its winding halls, towering stained-glass windows feature strange, insectile designs, and the garden teems with impossibly blue roses. And then there are the rumors. The locals, including the mysterious boy next door, tell stories about disappearances tied to the house, stretching back over a century to its first owners. Owners who supposedly hosted legendary masked séances on its grounds.

Libby’s mom refuses to hear anything that could derail their family’s perfect new beginning, but Libby knows better. The house is keeping secrets from her, and something tells her that the key to unlocking them lies in the eerie, bug-shaped masks hidden throughout the property.

We all wear masks—to hide our imperfections, to make us stronger and braver. But if Libby keeps hers on for too long, she might just lose herself—and everyone she loves.

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A Place for Vanishing is my first read by Ann Fraistat but it certainly won't be the last. This YA horror has a bit of everything: a creepy house, mystery, séances, and bugs; lots and lots of bugs. I can guarantee that even if you've read lots of books with those same themes, there is nothing like this book out there.

As with any good gothic horror, the setting is the perfect backdrop for this story. At first, it seems charmingly dilapidated with its strange blue roses and beautiful insect-themed stained glass windows containing masks of said insects. Sure, the house needs some love. The crumbling Victorian has good bones but hasn't had upkeep in decades.  From its faded, peeling bug-patterned wallpaper, to its boarded-up windows, it's a strange place with a myriad of different types of insects despite fumigation. There are weird noises from the attic rooms and the grandparent's oddly locked bedroom door. For years, Libby's mom has avoided living in this house and instead chose to live in a small apartment but why? When Libby's new diagnosis means she feels they all need a fresh start in a new town, off they pop to the entomology motific house. 

I can't speak to Libby's diagnosis and whether the author did well with presenting a person with bipolar disorder. Mental health affects not only the person but those who love and care for them as well. In this, I believe the author strived to portray an honesty that isn't often in fiction regarding mental illness.  Libby seems especially laid bare and her emotions are visceral which lends credibility to her character. It was nice to see her relationship with her younger sister, Vivi, grow and ultimately thrive. Flynn makes a great wingman but I'm glad to see any romance takes a backseat to the mystery. 

A Place for Vanishing doesn't give you much time to breathe. Weird stuff starts happening immediately and only accelerates from there. At first, the changes are somewhat extraordinary and bewitching but as time passes, the creepiness and wrongness only snowballs. While this horror is less "Boo I'm a ghost" and more paranormal, there's certainly plenty of body horror to entertain. And bugs. Lots and lots of bugs. 


I'm so excited that the time changed. I hate feeling so tired when it's dark outside and it's only 6pm. I'm looking forward ...

I'm so excited that the time changed. I hate feeling so tired when it's dark outside and it's only 6pm. I'm looking forward to warmer weather so I can sit outside in the fresh air and read!

So what did I read in February? I read a lot of fantasy this month. I finally read Demons of Good and Evil by Kim Harrison, which is #17 in the Hollows series. This series is definitely a comfort read for me since it started with Dead Witch Walking in 2004. I also picked up gothic mystery The Third Wife of Faraday House by B.R. Myers, which ended up being my favorite February read. 

What's next for March? Here's just a few of March's new horror releases that I'm going to be adding to my TBR. 

See the whole list of 2024 releases here

But is the house truly haunted?
Of course the house is haunted.

Button House has stood for generations, digging its roots and its rot deeper and deeper. Button House would consume all who approached: twin brothers, a child bride, an innocent baby, four young factory workers.

And then came Rose Billings, who had an affinity with the house no other did. Rose, who could hear the house and the pleas of its many ghosts. Rose, who would attempt to solve the mysteries of Button House, or die trying.

Jennifer Thorne skewers all-too-familiar family dynamics in this sly, wickedly funny vacation-Gothic. Beautifully unhinged and deeply satisfying, Diavola is a sharp twist on the classic haunted house story, exploring loneliness, belonging, and the seemingly inescapable bonds of family mythology.

Anna has two rules for the annual Pace family destination vacations: Tread lightly and survive.

It isn’t easy when she’s the only one in the family who doesn’t quite fit in. Her twin brother, Benny, goes with the flow so much he’s practically dissolved, and her older sister, Nicole, is so used to everyone—including her blandly docile husband and two kids—falling in line that Anna often ends up in trouble for simply asking a question. Mom seizes every opportunity to question her life choices, and Dad, when not reminding everyone who paid for this vacation, just wants some peace and quiet.

The gorgeous, remote villa in tiny Monteperso seems like a perfect place to endure so much family togetherness, until things start going off the rails—the strange noises at night, the unsettling warnings from the local villagers, and the dark, violent past of the villa itself.

(Warning: May invoke feelings of irritation, dread, and despair that come with large family gatherings.)

A shocking, spine-chilling YA horror slasher about a girl searching for her dead mother’s body at the summer camp that was once her serial killer father’s home—perfect for fans of Friday the 13th and White Smoke

Temple Baker knows that evil runs in her blood. Her father is the North Point Killer, an infamous serial killer known for how he marked each of his victims with a brand. He was convicted for murdering 20 people and was the talk of countless true crime blogs for years. Some say he was possessed by a demon. Some say that they never found all his victims. Some say that even though he’s now behind bars, people are still dying in the woods. Despite everything though, Temple never believed that her dad killed her mom. But when he confesses to that crime while on death row, she has no choice but to return to his old hunting grounds to try see if she can find a body and prove it.

Turns out, the farm that was once her father’s hunting grounds and her home has been turned into an overnight camp for queer, horror-obsessed girls. So Temple poses as a camp counselor to go digging in the woods. While she’s not used to hanging out with girls her own age and feels ambivalent at best about these true crime enthusiasts, she tries her best to fit in and keep her true identity hidden.

But when a girl turns up dead in the woods, she fears that one of her father’s “fans” might be mimicking his crimes. As Temple tries to uncover the truth and keep the campers safe, she comes to realize that there may be something stranger and more sinister at work—and that her father may not have been the only monster in these woods.

A modern retelling of the Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley classic that addresses issues of belonging and assimilation 

An unnamed paralegal, brought back to life through a controversial process, maneuvers through a near-future world that both needs and resents him. As the United States president spouts anti-reanimation rhetoric and giant pharmaceutical companies rake in profits, the man falls in love with lawyer Faustina Godínez. His world expands as he meets her network of family and friends, setting him on a course to discover his first-life history, which the reanimation process erased. With elements of science fiction, horror, political satire and romance, Chicano Frankenstein confronts our nation’s bigotries and the question of what it truly means to be human.

Published  August 20, 2024 by HarperCollins Publishers T he Edgar Award–winning author of A Dreadful Splendor blends mystery and spooky thri...

Published August 20, 2024 by HarperCollins Publishers

The Edgar Award–winning author of A Dreadful Splendor blends mystery and spooky thrills with friendship and romance in this delicious love letter to Gothic fiction, featuring two brides who must band together to unravel the ghostly secrets at the heart of a crumbling island manor.

'Til death do us part...

November 1816: Restless but naïve Emeline Fitzpatrick is desperate to escape her stifling life in foggy Halifax. Her guardian is lining up repugnant suitors, but Emeline has her eyes set on a handsome lieutenant in the British navy. She just needs to persuade him to propose, or her one chance at happiness will be gone forever.

But when Emeline’s hopes end in scandal, she finds herself with only one suitor left: the wealthy and enigmatic Captain Graves. Having already lost two wives to tragic circumstances, the unfortunate widower is seeking a new companion in his cloistered seaside manor, Faraday House. Or at least that is what Emeline had been told, because when she arrives, she is horrified to discover that the second Mrs. Graves, Georgina, has not yet died.

Emeline is only certain of two things: something ghastly is afoot at Faraday House, and no one is going to save her. She will have to rely on her own courage, her burgeoning bond with the ill but strong-willed Georgina, and the aid of a handsome reverend with a mysterious past to unravel the secrets at the heart of the manor and forge her own destiny.

In classic gothic style, The Third Wife of Faraday House was a slow-burn. Sprinkled with mystery and spooky scenes, it was hard to put down once it got started. 

Emeline has recently discovered that her guardians are looking for "appropriate" suitors for her. They do have her best interests at heart for a well-cared-for life. Emeline, however, has something else in mind; the handsome naval officer Frederick Fletcher. If only he would follow through on his proposal and whisk her away to Bermuda as promised. Unfortunately, after being caught together, her only choice is to marry Captain Graves far away from the scandal. Emeline arrives at Faraday house to marry the Captain only to find out that the Captain's second wife, Georgina, isn't dead yet! 

The setting is perfect for a gothic novel. Big stone house on an island, whose ocean road is only accessible during low tide. There's a widow walk, a dusty tower room, secret rooms, ghostly music, and blood dripping from the ceiling. It's creepy without needing to be gory. There's a feeling of constant danger, starting from the moment Emeline arrives on the island to be dumped by a broken carriage and left by herself while the driver goes onward to Faraday House. That feeling continues with Emeline's UNwelcome experience when finally making it to the house and throughout the novel. There's suspicion built into every moment. 
If I have one complaint, Emeline is a difficult character to like. She's very naive and her constant pining for the lieutenant is annoying. If only he would sweep in and rescue her. If only she could get a letter to him telling him how awful it is and to hurry up already! In her mind, all she does is babble to look pretty and proper.  Of course, it's in Emeline's best interests to keep Georgina alive, delay the marriage, and give Frederick time to come save her. As time went on and the relationship between Emeline and Georgina developed, she did grow on me.

As with the best gothic mysteries, little hints are given to the reader throughout the story. While you think you know immediately what is happening, there's a lot of redirection. Who you thought was the villain two chapters ago, suddenly seems to not be. There's not a single character that your opinion of will stay the same throughout.  It's such a twisty little plotline!

The Third Wife of Faraday House is a mystery, ghost story, and romance all rolled into one that would appeal to readers of multiple genres. It's a bit light for most horror readers and Regency romance readers, but I think it contains enough elements of each to be discoverable for most mainstream readers. 

Published  November 28, 2023 by Starwatch Press T he faeries of Witchwood Manor have stolen its young lord. His governess intends to steal h...

Published November 28, 2023 by Starwatch Press

The faeries of Witchwood Manor have stolen its young lord. His governess intends to steal him back.

Victorian governess Winifred Hall knows a con when she sees one. When her bratty young charge transforms overnight into a perfectly behaved block of wood, she soon realises that the real boy has been abducted by the Fair Folk. Unfortunately, the lord of Witchwood Manor is the only man in England who doesn’t believe in faeries—which leaves Winnie in the unenviable position of rescuing the young lord-to-be all by herself.

Witchwood Manor is bigger than its inhabitants realise, however, and full of otherworldly dangers. As Winnie delves deeper into the other side of the house, she enlists the aid of its dark and dubious faerie butler, Mr Quincy, who hides several awful secrets behind his charming smile. Winnie hopes to make her way to the centre of the Witchwood Knot through wit and cleverness… but when all of her usual tricks fail, who will she dare to trust?

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The author states that The Witchwood Knot "started as a cross between the movie Labyrinth and the faerie tale known as the Twelve Dancing Princesses". She admits that what she ended up with wasn't exactly what she planned but that doesn't mean it's any less fantastic. Instead, it's difficult to put a distinct name on the end story.

Is it gothic? Yes. 
It is a fairytale? Yes. 
But is it romantic and whimsical at the same time? Also yes!

The world Atwater created is marvelous. It has everything good gothic fiction should. Isolated countryside mansion resplendent with stained glass windows surrounded by a wrought-iron fence. Pointed gables, white columns like skeletal fingers, screaming faces in the walls. All the finer things really.  Like any good worldbuilding, hers has its own rules that one must abide by but I won't give all the secrets away. 

The characters are what endeared The Witchwood Knot to me. Winnie is well suited to her position as a governess. She handles her charge quite well and when he is replaced by a fetch, doesn't hesitate to head into the fairy realm after him. Mr. Quincy, butler extraordinaire, and Winnie's interactions are frustrating (for Winnie) and yet endearing. He's very smooth but there are many secrets and he is unwilling to impart his knowledge just quite yet. Her charge is quite surly and you almost immediately dislike him as a spoiled child, but like Mr. Quincy, there is so much more than meets the eye. Oliver, the protector spirit cat that resides in his own skull, was destined to be my favorite as soon as he was introduced.

I was quite surprised by the romance. It didn't seem like the characters had anything in common to even find romance an option. Even once it started developing, it lingered for so long before actually becoming romance, that I had just about given up on it. After it was all said and done, this sweet and thoughtful romance made it seem like all the rest hadn't come before. How confounding and yet, I'm still completely on board despite certain anatomical protrusions. No, not that one.

Read it for yourself and you'll see. 

How is freaking January almost over!!  I can't believe it's the 21st already.  This month has pretty much been a wash too. I got sic...

How is freaking January almost over!!  I can't believe it's the 21st already. 
This month has pretty much been a wash too. I got sick right after Christmas with an upper respiratory, which turned into a sinus infection, which turned into two weeks of antibiotics and steroids. I can't say given the three weeks of ick that I'm sad to see all that behind me (finally). Stupid crappy sinuses. It did, however, give me time for reading when I was bonding with the couch.

So what did I read? I really didn't have the brain power to read any ARCs so I dug into Libby for some books from the library that had been on my TBR for a while. I read Blaine Dailgle's A Dark Roux, an atmospheric Southern Gothic set in the bayou with plenty of magic and mystery. I finished The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White, which I actually started in 2023. This Victorian horror with a trans protagonist was clever and surprisingly bloody. Most recently I finished Camp Damascus by Chuck Tingle, featuring a religious-run gay conversion camp with a very disturbing "treatment". The ending was ferocious and satisfying.

Of course, being a bookworm, even before I finish my current read, I'm thinking about my next read. I've already picked a few releasing in February to go on my TBR list. It was hard to narrow it down to just a few but there's only so many books I can get through. 

See the whole list of 2024 releases here

Labyrinth meets folk horror in this darkly romantic tale of a girl who wishes her baby brother away to the Lord of the Wood.

Say less.  

As an 80s kid, Labyrinth is still one of my favorite movies. Add folk horror with a dash of romance?  I'm completely sold. 

And that cover? Gorgeous and creepy! 

I just got approved for this one through Netgalley. Can't wait to start it. 

T. Kingfisher is one of those that I will read anything by. Doesn't matter what the synopsis is, I'm in. That being said, this is book two after What Moves The Dead, a Fall of the House of Usher retelling, which was perfectly dark and eerie. Rabbits, am I right? *Shudders* 

What Feasts at Night is follows soldier Alex after the collapse of the Usher estate as they head onwards to a new adventure, this one involving a "breath-stealing monster". 

Another perfectly disturbing cover for book two as well. 

Inherited cabin in the woods is the setting for And Then There Was Silence

After the death of her husband, Sadie goes out to the cabin to grieve and reset but the woods are weird and she smells her husband. 

I'm not sure where this one is going to go. Is it ghosts or something else? The blurb is quite vague which I love. I like being intrigued but not having everything given away before I even start. 

The early reviews are all 5 stars on Goodreads!


I love dark fairytales, especially enchanted forest fairytales! 

In this tale by Premee Mohamed, Veris must enter the forest to rescue the two children of the local Tyrant (yes capital T). She's the only one who has ever succeeded in doing so. 

If she fails, she dies. If she stays in the forest for more than a day, she's trapped there. I love high stakes! 

Gorgeous cover art on this one as well. 

Violet's life is 

Her mother remarried, has a new baby, and now Violet has a new house. She's put in the attic bedroom with faded yellow wallpaper and shortly after, falls ill with no improvement.

 What's making her sick? And are the shadows moving in the corners just the light or something else? 

Middle grade horror can be so fun and surprisingly spooky!

If we are picking reads solely based on the cover, Your Shadow Half Remains is February's go-in blind pick for me. 

Kudos to the artist because this cover is unsettling and weird and I love it. 

Here's part of the blurb: 

One look can kill. 

Riley has not seen a single human face in longer than she can reckon. No faces, no eyes. Not if you want to survive.