The summer always brings a bevy of horror reads our way, just in time for cookouts and those hot summer days by the water. I'm anticipat...



The summer always brings a bevy of horror reads our way, just in time for cookouts and those hot summer days by the water. I'm anticipating summer a little early this year since I'll be cruising to the Bahamas and Bermuda in May. As my first vacation anywhere in SIX years, I can't stand myself. I'm so giddy! 

These books are going to be perfect for by the pool reading when you need a little shiver to cool yourself down. Be sure to take a gander below at this month's roundup of anticipated horror releases. 

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The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

Publication date: May 3rd, 2022

 
Mexican Gothic meets Rebecca in this debut supernatural suspense novel, set in the aftermath of the Mexican War of Independence, about a remote house, a sinister haunting, and the woman pulled into their clutches...


In the overthrow of the Mexican government, Beatriz’s father is executed and her home destroyed. When handsome Don Rodolfo Solórzano proposes, Beatriz ignores the rumors surrounding his first wife’s sudden demise, choosing instead to seize the security his estate in the countryside provides. She will have her own home again, no matter the cost.

But Hacienda San Isidro is not the sanctuary she imagined.

When Rodolfo returns to work in the capital, visions and voices invade Beatriz’s sleep. The weight of invisible eyes follows her every move. Rodolfo’s sister, Juana, scoffs at Beatriz’s fears—but why does she refuse to enter the house at night? Why does the cook burn copal incense at the edge of the kitchen and mark its doorway with strange symbols? What really happened to the first Doña Solórzano?

Beatriz only knows two things for certain: Something is wrong with the hacienda. And no one there will help her.

Desperate for help, she clings to the young priest, Padre Andrés, as an ally. No ordinary priest, Andrés will have to rely on his skills as a witch to fight off the malevolent presence haunting the hacienda and protect the woman for whom he feels a powerful, forbidden attraction. But even he might not be enough to battle the darkness.

Far from a refuge, San Isidro may be Beatriz’s doom. 

 
Your Mind is a Terrible Thing by Hailey Piper

Publication date: May 7th, 2022

 

Communications specialist Alto’s shift aboard the starship M.G. Yellowjacket turns hellish after waking from a tryst to learn every crewmate has vanished. Worse, a sinister presence has crawled aboard the ship. It’s violent, destructive, and it can reach into your thoughts to make you see and feel what it wants.

Anxiety-ridden Alto might be the least-qualified person to face a creature that can hack minds like computers. Only a perilous journey to the ship’s bridge can reunite comms specialist with crew and give them a chance to call for help.

But the intruder only scratches the surface of this crisis, and discovering the truth will bring Alto face to face against a nightmare beyond flesh and thought.





 The Pawns by Ron Gabriel

Publication date: May 13th, 2022

 

A psychologist uses witchcraft to treat an abused boy, and finds himself in a race with the Devil—literally—when his magic inadvertently exposes his patient to a demon.

Travis is a witch practicing psychotherapy in modern day Bucharest. He’s devised an orb that siphons human trauma to replenish his power. The sphere induces patients to share deep secrets, much like hypnosis, and repressed pain is extracted without any harm done. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.

The doctor cannot resist testing his magic on two patients who will not share themselves otherwise. His technique seems to work until it turns wicked. Although nothing in the spell invites it, a demon hijacks everything.

Forced to stand against the evil that powers him, Travis must face long-held delusions about his virtue, his origin, and his hope of redemption, even as supernatural forces terrorize those already exposed to his magic.






Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel 

Publication date: May 17th, 2022
 

A girl would be such a blessing...

The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in. For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything—and everyone—at a safe distance.

When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she’s ever had. Soon she’s spending more time at Andrea’s remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn’t even mind that her cousin’s wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry—baby fever comes with the territory.

The more Maeve immerses herself in Andrea’s world, the more disconnected she feels from her life back in the city; and the cousins’ increasing attachment triggers memories Maeve has fought hard to bury. But confronting the terrors of her childhood may be the only way for Maeve to transcend the nightmare still to come…



Throw Me to the Wolves by Lindy Ryan & Christopher Brooks

Publication date: May 24th, 2022

 

Some evil wants to live forever.

Ten years ago a witch sacrificed Britta Orchid’s family and turned her into a werewolf. Selena Stone’s spell failed, and she was never seen again. Until now.

Officer Aaron Labaye has discovered Selena’s remains in the house where Britta’s family died, and dragged Britta back to Louisiana to aid the investigation, hoping her past will break the case. Britta has a hard time resisting the handsome rookie, especially when he shows her a new drawing by her murdered little brother: Britta in her wolf-form.

As an unseen hand sets events in motion, Britta has to help Labaye dig into the murders old and new. The bloodthirsty ghost of her brother, a jealous member from her pack, and a former friend with a serious prejudice against wolves all stand to stop Britta as she fights to finally get the truth about that night ten years ago. But, as she looks harder than ever into her own dark past, Britta will confront more than just her own demons as she fights for peace for herself and for her family. She can’t hide anymore, but must find her place in a world she’s avoided—and discover what it truly means to be a wolf.




Hide by Kiersten White 

Publication date: May 24th, 2022

 

The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don't get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything.

Even though everyone is desperate to win--to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts--Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she's an expert at that.

It's the reason she's alive, and her family isn't.

But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.

Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.





Black Tide by KC Jones
 

Publication date: May 31st, 2022
 

It was just another day at the beach. And then the world ended.

Mike and Beth didn’t know each other existed before the night of the meteor shower. A melancholy film producer and a house sitter barely scraping by, chance made them neighbors, a bottle of champagne brought them together, and a shared need for human connection sparked something more.

After a drunken and desperate one-night-stand, the two strangers awake to discover a surprise astronomical event has left widespread destruction in its wake. But the cosmic lightshow was only a part of something much bigger, and far more terrifying. When a set of lost car keys leaves them stranded on an empty stretch of Oregon coast, when their emergency calls go unanswered and inhuman screams echo from the dunes, when the rising tide reaches for the car and unspeakable horrors close in around them, these two self-destructive souls must find in each other the strength to overcome past pain and the fight to survive a nightmare of apocalyptic scale. 

Publication date: June 7th, 2022 Goodreads T he skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard. Freshly divorced and griev...


Publication date: June 7th, 2022


The skeletons in the closet have nothing on the one in your backyard.
Freshly divorced and grieving the death of her father, Josie Lauer has caged herself inside her home. To cope with her losses, Josie follows a strict daily routine of work, playing with her dog, Po, and trying to remember to eat a decent meal—and ending each night by drinking copious amounts of vodka. In other words, she is not coping at all.
Everything changes when Josie wakes to find a small shrub has sprouted in her otherwise dirt backyard the morning after yet another bender. Within hours, the vine-like plant is running amok—and it’s brought company. The appearance of the unwieldy growth has also heralded the arrival of a busybody new neighbor who insists on thrusting herself into Josie’s life. The neighbor Josie can deal with. The talking skeleton called Skelly that has perched itself in Josie’s backyard on a throne made of vines, however, is an entirely different matter.
As the strangely sentient plant continues to grow and twist its tendrils inside Josie’s suddenly complicated life, Josie begins to realize her new neighbor knows a lot more about the vines and her bizarre new visitor than she initially lets on. There’s a reason Skelly has chosen to appear in Josie’s suddenly-blooming backyard and insists on pulling her out of her carefully kept self-isolation. All Josie has to do is figure out what that reason is—and she has only a few days to do it, or else she might find herself on the wrong side of catastrophe.


Read now

 

Tiffany Mueret came onto my radar thanks to A Flood of Posies, a very strange but disorienting novel about two sisters, a flooded world, and the creatures that lie beneath the waters. It was definitely an experience but while mesmeric, it's one of those that you aren't sure if it's happening in the characters head or if it's really happening.. I felt that exact same way while reading Little Bird

To start with, Mueret undoubtedly writes substantial characters. As with A Flood of Posies, her main character is a complicated woman with complex emotions.  In this case, Josie Lauer is grieving after the death of her father and the end of her marriage. She sequesters herself inside her house with only her dog, Po, for company and seeks to drown herself each night in copious amounts of vodka so she doesn't have to face her grief. She's crotchety and unsociable, with her only interactions being by email for the company she runs, which ironically is teaching companies how to communicate effectively to solve problems with their clients. Being in customer service myself, I can certainly understand the duality of being "on" professionally and hating people in private. That sounds horrid but anyone front-facing in their jobs understands, so I completely get Josie.  

One day, what Josie thinks is a weed pops up in her backyard. Shortly thereafter, a new neighbor appears; a very assertive and cheerfully demanding neighbor, who doesn't get that Josie just wants to be left alone. Then up shoots Skelly, a philosophical sentient skeleton sitting on throne made of vines in the backyard. Suddenly, Josie is no longer alone and can't shut everyone out. 

While the interactions of Skelly the skeleton and Josie are unquestionably interesting and oftimes humourous, I kept waiting for something additional to happen. The majority of the book is spent with Skelly and Josie in conversation or Josie in her on head. While I had expectations at first, I wouldn't say it is horror. There's an assuredly supernatural aspect to it but I'd still file it somewhere under dark fantasy or magical realism than horror. There's nothing inherently scary about it—even the skeleton is described as a Halloween decoration or toy. It's about grief, tough emotions, and having to  and sometimes those can be scary enough.



Publication date: June 1st 2021 Goodreads M agic may be secret, but it’ll kill you anyway. Small town mayor’s assistant Elizabeth has enough...



Publication date: June 1st 2021


Magic may be secret, but it’ll kill you anyway.

Small town mayor’s assistant Elizabeth has enough on her plate grieving her father’s suicide. She doesn’t need his stash of magical knowledge in the attic. She doesn’t need the hidden supernatural subculture of monsters it pulls her into. And she certainly doesn’t need hints that her father’s madness might have been a smokescreen for something far darker.

But uncovering her father’s secrets could be the only way Elizabeth can stop a string of suspicious suicides… if the local wizard doesn’t rip the memories out of her mind, first.

Wizards, right?
Ordinary humans stumbling into the magical world isn't anything new, though usually those humans are far from ordinary as they typically have yet unfulfilled magical powers. Not so in A Grimoire for Gamblers. Our protagonist is truly human and has only stumbled into the magical world after the death of her father many years after admitting himself into a psychiatric ward. 

I appreciated that Elizabeth doesn't have any powers. She's been thrown into this world and she doesn't mysteriously pick everything up through mitosis. As with most urban fantasy MCs, she's a little bit snarky and we spend a lot of time in her head listening to her as she tries to figure this all out. She doesn't immediately merge with this new world and spends a lot of the time wondering if her father's supposed insanity isn't genetic. At this point though, why not try a spell to see and she does, with the help of computers, scanners, and even a Cricut. Annnd promptly sets herself on fire. Okay, so she's muddling through the best she can but she's smart and she'll figure it out. 

True to the rules of urban fantasy, the world-building is enmeshed in the "real" world as we humans know it. Oh sure, there are some interesting locales such as the casino where humans are gambling with their souls and a fighting arena where supernatural creatures are pitted against each other. At the same time, the vast majority of this book takes place right here, in the city Elizabeth knows. 

There were a few holes in the plot I think, or at least in the plot devices. While the toy voodoo train set up in the attic was neat, I didn't really understand what it had to do with everything. Why would her dad have a train linked to the real-world train? And some of the characters weren't really explained. Gravelings? Vampiric Spirits? Also, from the first pages, Elizabeth mentions her boyfriend and thinks about him throughout the novel. He's not even really in the book other than her thoughts, so what was the point of having her in a relationship? 

All in all, though, this was a pretty solid urban fantasy. It managed to be very unique in a lot of ways, including the technology-boosted magic. Work smarter, not harder, right? There were obviously some things that didn't work as well for me, but as this is the first in the series, I'm not going to judge it too harshly. It's hard to do urban fantasy that hasn't been done before and this is a solid foundation for the series to continue.



Publication date: March 31st, 2022 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads T urn the lights on. Lock the door. Things are about to get SERIOUSLY SCARY!...


Publication date: March 31st, 2022



Turn the lights on. Lock the door. Things are about to get SERIOUSLY SCARY!

The brand new must-read middle-grade novel from the author of super-spooky Crater Lake. Perfect for 9+ fans of R.L.Stine’s Goosebumps

It's basically the worst school detention ever. When classmates (but not mate-mates) Hallie, Angelo, Gustav and Naira are forced to come to school on a SATURDAY, they think things can’t get much worse. But they’re wrong. Things are about to get seriously scary.

What has dragged their teacher underground? Why do the creepy caretakers keeping humming the tune to Itsy Bitsy Spider? And what horrors lurk in the shadows, getting stronger and meaner every minute…? Cut off from help and in danger each time they touch the ground, the gang’s only hope is to work together. But it’s no coincidence that they're all there on detention. Someone has been watching and plotting and is out for revenge…

Read now

 
Dread Wood follows Angelo and classmates Hallie, Gustav, and Naria as they head to detention on a Saturday. They are only told to wear PE clothes and shoes for "outdoor activities" so they are figuring they'll be stuck doing chores around the place. Gustav is described as "walking chaos", Naria being the "uptight, overachiever", and Hallie as "vegetarian, an LGBTQ+ ally, and welcomer of refugees." None of them are friends but they are all stuck in this together. 

It doesn't take any time for the tension to really get ratcheted up. Mr. Canton is in charge of this Back On Track session as it's called but he quickly goes missing while looking for the groundskeeper. They find Mr. C again, but something sucks him straight into the ground and he's gone, clawing and scraping at the grass that is sucking him under.  From there it's a mad dash of twists and turns, as these four play a terrifying game of survival.

I appreciated that there was more to the characters than at first anticipated. They are so much more than their first takes and as they find a way to work together, all these unexpected qualities shine through. As it turns out, they all have personal struggles and it actually bonds them together as they learn more about each other. There are some pretty serious issues that they are grappling with: bullying, poverty, disability, and living up to parental pressures. It's all handled with grace and a lot of quippy humor.

Don't think just because it's middle-grade that it doesn't have its share of chills and thrills! Arachnophobes may want to bypass this one. (There are spides on the covers so no spoiler there.)  Dread Wood is a fun, action-filled romp through creepy town! 
 




About the Author

Jennifer Killick is the author of Crater Lake, the Alex Sparrow series, and middle-grade sci-fi adventure Mo, Lottie and the Junkers. She regularly visits schools and festivals, and her books have three times been selected for The Reading Agency's Summer Reading Challenge. She lives in Uxbridge, in a house full of children, animals and Lego. When she isn't busy mothering or step-mothering (which isn't often) she loves to read, write and run, as fast as she can.

Twitter: @JenniferKillick

Publication date: September 1st, 2021 Links:  Amazon  |  Goodreads W hat if a young girl had the power to stop her tyrannical father from ba...


Publication date: September 1st, 2021


What if a young girl had the power to stop her tyrannical father from battering her mother ever again?

What if a student had a secret weapon to end sexual assault by her predatory professor permanently?

What if a housewife had unusual means to get back at her controlling husband and walk away from her marriage alive?

In Giving the Devil His Due, The Pixel Project’s first charity anthology, sixteen acclaimed fantasy, science fiction, and horror authors take readers on an unforgettable journey to alternative worlds where men who abuse and murder women and girls meet their comeuppance in uncanny ways.

Featuring stories from Stephen Graham Jones, Christina Henry, Peter Tieryas, Kelley Armstrong, Linda D. Addison, Hillary Monahan, and more, Giving the Devil His Due presents sixteen stories that will make you think about the importance of justice for the victims of gender-based violence, how rare this justice is in our own world, and why we need to end violence against women once and for all. 



"In Giving the Devil His Due, sixteen of speculative fiction's brightest authors tell the unflinching stories of survivors, of their strength and courage, as well as a righteous castigation of gender-based violence and the patriarchal societies all too willing to remain silent. This stirring, vital anthology demands your attention as it demands justice and the end of violence of against women." —Paul Tremblay, Bram Stoker award-winning author of The Cabin at the End of the World and A Head Full of Ghosts
 
“A brilliant, wickedly-smart, scary as hell collection of creepy stories from some of today’s finest writers. Every single tale is a certified gold. Highly recommended!” —Jonathan Maberry, NY Times bestselling author of Relentless and V-Wars
 
"GIVING THE DEVIL HIS DUE burrows deep into the heart and inflames the spirit. A rallying cry against violence done to women and girls."—Tori Eldridge, Amazon bestselling author of The Ninja Betrayed --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Giving The Devil His Due is available on all major bookseller platforms in the United States and its territories, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand from 1 September 2021 to 31 October 2023 only. The special edition is currently available to buy until 24 May 2022 and the classic edition can be pre-ordered ahead of 25 May 2022. 100% of the net proceeds from the sales of the anthology will go towards supporting The Pixel Project’s anti-violence against women programmes, campaigns, and resources.

About the Pixel Project


The Pixel Project is a completely virtual, volunteer-led global 501(c)3 non-profit organisation whose mission is to raise awareness, funds and volunteer power for the cause to end violence against women using the power of the internet, social media, new technologies and popular culture/the arts.

https://www.thepixelproject.net/
  

Publication date: May 24, 2022 Goodreads S OME EVIL WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER. Ten years ago a witch sacrificed Britta Orchid’s family and turne...

Black and white photo of wolf muzzle and teeth with gold letters saying Throw Me to the Wolves

Publication date: May 24, 2022


SOME EVIL WANTS TO LIVE FOREVER.

Ten years ago a witch sacrificed Britta Orchid’s family and turned her into a werewolf. Selena Stone’s spell failed, and she was never seen again. Until now.

Officer Aaron Labaye has discovered Selena’s remains in the house where Britta’s family died, and dragged Britta back to Louisiana to aid the investigation, hoping her past will break the case. Britta has a hard time resisting the handsome rookie, especially when he shows her a new drawing by her murdered little brother: Britta in her wolf-form.

As an unseen hand sets events in motion, Britta has to help Labaye dig into the murders old and new. The bloodthirsty ghost of her brother, a jealous member from her pack, and a former friend with a serious prejudice against wolves all stand to stop Britta as she fights to finally get the truth about that night ten years ago. But, as she looks harder than ever into her own dark past, Britta will confront more than just her own demons as she fights for peace for herself and for her family. She can’t hide anymore, but must find her place in a world she’s avoided—and discover what it truly means to be a wolf.
Throw Me to the Wolves is hard to define in the way of genres. From the cover, I expected something more along the lines of contemporary horror. It is, for lack of a better definition, urban fantasy with darker themes. That didn't affect my enjoyment; In fact, since I primarily review horror and urban fantasy, this was the perfect mix! There's murder, ghosts, witches, police investigation, voodoo, and of course, werewolves all rolled up into one satisfying occult thriller burrito.

The story begins with Britta Orchid being questioned in a police interrogation room. You can tell immediately that she's confident and almost a little cocky. She enjoys that she's spooked the cop she calls Officer Shiny Badge and even waves to the people she knows are behind the two-way glass. She wears a "polished, non-threatening persona" like a mask and is very secure in the knowledge that between the two of them, she is the bigger, bad in the room. Why wouldn't she be? After all, she's a werewolf. Ten years ago, a witch slaughtered her entire family, turned Britta into a wolf, and disappeared. Only now, in the same house where it occurred, pieces of the witch have shown up and the police are asking for her help. 

In spite of discovering everything backward from Britta's memories as the story progresses, the story never felt mired down. The past is gradually parceled out in alternating chapters with the present, a style that usually frustrates me. However, Britta's past is just as interesting as she threads memories of her family in with her return to the bloodstained house. Both are equally horrifying with the past containing religious fervor and the supposed exorcism of Britta's ten-year-old brother and the present, the spectral regurgitation of her deceased brother and of course, the murder house.  

Is there romance in this book? That's debatable. There is definitely a touch of the fated mates trope. There is also a werewolf from Britta's pack up north who has decided that he and Britta would be the perfect power couple. Was I stanning either of them? Well, it's complicated but without giving away a major plot point, I can't tell you how. The author does a good job of muddying the waters, making you unsure of who is the good guy. It all comes out in the end, kinda. We're given a prominent cliffhanger ending but if you read a lot of urban fantasy, you frankly should be anticipating that. Given that there's a diminutive Book 1 note by the title, we should expect that there will be a future continuation of the story contrived.