It's time again to check another box on the Scaredy Cat Bingo Challenge which consists of 25 reading prompts on a bingo board. Not playi...

Crumbling Castle || 12 Gothic Fictions


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which consists of 25 reading prompts on a bingo board.

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Today's prompt:
Crumbling Castles

Gothic fiction is one of my favorite horror genres. There's so much to love: the old moldering estates and eerie houses, whether they be Southern plantations or Italian villas, the feeling of dread, the flawed characters, and the weather that is a character in itself. Of course, everyone knows the classics of gothic fiction like Dracula, Frankenstein, Rebecca, and The Haunting of Hill House, but here are twelve you might not have on your TBR. 

 by caitlin starling

Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has done the calculations, and decided that the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor outside of town. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a pitch-black rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him.

By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to. Set in a dark-mirror version of post-war England, Starling crafts a new kind of gothic horror from the bones of the beloved canon. This Crimson Peak-inspired story assembles, then upends, every expectation set in place by Shirley Jackson and Rebecca, and will leave readers shaken, desperate to begin again as soon as they are finished. 

 by a.g.slatter
Long ago Miren O'Malley's family prospered due to a deal struck with the Mer: safety for their ships in return for a child of each generation. But for many years the family have been unable to keep their side of the bargain and have fallen into decline. Miren's grandmother is determined to restore their glory, even at the price of Miren's freedom.


White Is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi 

In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly -

Slipping away from them -

And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.

"Miri I conjure you "

This is a spine-tingling tale that has Gothic roots but an utterly modern sensibility. Told by a quartet of crystalline voices, it is electrifying in its expression of myth and memory, loss and magic, fear and love. 


The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Silvia Moreno-Garcia 

From the New York Times bestselling author of Mexican Gothic and Velvet Was the Night comes a dreamy reimagining of The Island of Doctor Moreau set against the backdrop of nineteenth-century Mexico.

Carlota Moreau: a young woman, growing up in a distant and luxuriant estate, safe from the conflict and strife of the Yucatán peninsula. The only daughter of either a genius, or a madman.

Montgomery Laughton: a melancholic overseer with a tragic past and a propensity for alcohol. An outcast who assists Dr. Moreau with his scientific experiments, which are financed by the Lizaldes, owners of magnificent haciendas and plentiful coffers.

The hybrids: the fruits of the Doctor’s labor, destined to blindly obey their creator and remain in the shadows. A motley group of part human, part animal monstrosities.

All of them living in a perfectly balanced and static world, which is jolted by the abrupt arrival of Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of Doctor Moreau’s patron, who will unwittingly begin a dangerous chain reaction.

For Moreau keeps secrets, Carlota has questions, and in the sweltering heat of the jungle, passions may ignite.

THE DAUGHTER OF DOCTOR MOREAU is both a dazzling historical novel and a daring science fiction journey. 
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield

Miri thinks she has got her wife back, when Leah finally returns after a deep-sea mission that ended in catastrophe. It soon becomes clear, though, that Leah is not the same. Whatever happened in that vessel, whatever it was they were supposed to be studying before they were stranded on the ocean floor, Leah has brought part of it back with her, onto dry land and into their home.

Moving through something that only resembles normal life, Miri comes to realize that the life that they had before might be gone. Though Leah is still there, Miri can feel the woman she loves slipping from her grasp.

Our Wives Under The Sea is the debut novel from Julia Armfield, the critically acclaimed author of salt slow. It’s a story of falling in love, loss, grief, and what life there is in the deep deep sea.


Argentina, winter 1913.

Ursula Kelp, a young English gardener, travels to Buenos Aires to take up the role of head gardener at a long-abandoned estate in the Pampas. The current owner wishes to return to the estate with his family and restore the once-famous gardens to their former glory. 

Travelling deep into the Pampas, the vast grasslands of South America, Ursula arrives to warnings from the locals that the estate is haunted, cursed to bring tragedy to the founding family of Las Lágrimas. And soon Ursula believes that her loneliness is making her imagine things – the sound of footsteps outside her bedroom door, the touch of hands on her shoulders when there’s no one there. Most strangely of all, she keeps hearing the frenzied sound of a man chopping down trees in the nearby forest with an axe, when all her staff are in sight. 

As the strange occurrences intensify – with tragic consequences – Ursula questions if there’s truth in the rumours about the cursed estate. The family’s return is imminent – are they in danger? And the longer Ursula stays at the estate, the more she realises that she too is in mortal danger.

The Bone Orchard by Sara A. Mueller 

Charm is a witch, and she is alone. The last of a line of conquered necromantic workers, now confined within the yard of regrown bone trees at Orchard House, and the secrets of their marrow.

Charm is a prisoner, and a survivor. Charm tends the trees and their clattering fruit for the sake of her children, painstakingly grown and regrown with its fruit: Shame, Justice, Desire, Pride, and Pain.

Charm is a whore, and a madam. The wealthy and powerful of Borenguard come to her house to buy time with the girls who aren't real.

Except on Tuesdays, which is when the Emperor himself lays claim to his mistress, Charm herself.

But now—Charm is also the only person who can keep an empire together, as the Emperor summons her to his deathbed, and charges her with choosing which of his awful, faithless sons will carry on the empire—by discovering which one is responsible for his own murder.

If she does this last thing, she will finally have what has been denied her since the fall of Inshil—her freedom. But she will also be betraying the ghosts past and present that live on within her heart.

Charm must choose. Her dead Emperor’s will or the whispers of her own ghosts. Justice for the empire or her own revenge.


A faceless man stalks a woman’s nightmares in Hollywood. A Kanontsistóntie is summoned to seek revenge in a monastery. A move from the Projects to Manhattan leads to ominous shadows closing in. Two sisters discover a secret room in their farm, unearthing a sinister power.

When Other People Saw Us, They Saw the Dead is an anthology of dark, unsettling writing from some of the most exciting contemporary BIPOC writers. Blending Gothic, horror, folklore, fantasy and fairy-tale, these eerie short stories will disturb, move and humour you. Death is ever-present in the pages of They Saw the Dead, blending with notions of home, memory, grief and belonging, as well as gentrification, white supremacy and colonisation.

Edited by Lauren T. Davila, They Saw the Dead explores what it is to be truly haunted.
The Hacienda by Isabel Cañas

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. 

The Path of Thorns by A.G. Slatter 

Alone in the world, Asher Todd travels to the remote estate of Morwood Grange to become governess to three small children. Her sole possessions comprise a sea chest and a large carpet bag she hangs onto for dear life. She finds a fine old home, its inhabitants proud of their lineage and impeccable reputation, and a small village nearby. It seems an untroubled existence, yet there are portraits missing from the walls, locked rooms, and names excised from the family tree inscribed in the bible. In short order, the children adore her, she becomes indispensible to their father Luther in his laboratory, and her potions are able to restore the sight of granddame Leonora. Soon Asher fits in as if she’s always been there, but there are creatures that stalk the woods at night, spectres haunt the halls, and Asher is not as much a stranger to the Morwoods as it might at first appear.

Leech by Hiron Ennes

A surreal and horrifying debut, Hiron Ennes's Leech defies our understanding of identity, heredity, and bodily autonomy.

“A wonderful new entry to Gothic science fiction, impeccably clever and atmospheric. Think Wuthering Heights... with worms!”—Tamsyn Muir

MEET THE CURE FOR THE HUMAN DISEASE

In an isolated chateau, as far north as north goes, the baron’s doctor has died. The doctor’s replacement has a mystery to solve: discovering how the Institute lost track of one of its many bodies.

For hundreds of years the Interprovincial Medical Institute has grown by taking root in young minds and shaping them into doctors, replacing every human practitioner of medicine. The Institute is here to help humanity, to cure and to cut, to cradle and protect the species from the apocalyptic horrors their ancestors unleashed.

In the frozen north, the Institute's body will discover a competitor for its rung at the top of the evolutionary ladder. A parasite is spreading through the baron's castle, already a dark pit of secrets, lies, violence, and fear. The two will make war on the battlefield of the body. Whichever wins, humanity will lose again. 

What Moves the Dead by T. Kingfisher 

From the award-winning author of The Twisted Ones comes a gripping and atmospheric retelling of Edgar Allan Poe's classic "The Fall of the House of Usher."

When Alex Easton, a retired soldier, receives word that their childhood friend Madeline Usher is dying, they race to the ancestral home of the Ushers in the remote countryside of Ruritania.

What they find there is a nightmare of fungal growths and possessed wildlife, surrounding a dark, pulsing lake. Madeline sleepwalks and speaks in strange voices at night, and her brother Roderick is consumed with a mysterious malady of the nerves.

Aided by a redoubtable British mycologist and a baffled American doctor, Alex must unravel the secret of the House of Usher before it consumes them all.



Published February 8th 2022 by Tor Nightfire  (first published May 7th 2019) N ATURE IS CALLING—but they shouldn't have answered. Travel...

Book Review || Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt


Published February 8th 2022 by Tor Nightfire 
(first published May 7th 2019)

NATURE IS CALLING—but they shouldn't have answered.

Travel journalist and mountaineer Nick Grevers awakes from a coma to find that his climbing buddy, Augustin, is missing and presumed dead. Nick’s own injuries are as extensive as they are horrifying. His face wrapped in bandages and unable to speak, Nick claims amnesia—but he remembers everything.

He remembers how he and Augustin were mysteriously drawn to the Maudit, a remote and scarcely documented peak in the Swiss Alps.

He remembers how the slopes of Maudit were eerily quiet, and how, when they entered its valley, they got the ominous sense that they were not alone.

He remembers: something was waiting for them...

But it isn’t just the memory of the accident that haunts Nick. Something has awakened inside of him, something that endangers the lives of everyone around him…

It’s one thing to lose your life. It’s another to lose your soul.

FROM THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLING SENSATION THOMAS OLDE HEUVELT comes a thrilling descent into madness and obsession as one man confronts nature—and something even more ancient and evil answers back. 

Nick Greeves wakes in the hospital bandaged and with no memory of what occurred to his climbing partner, Augustin on the Maudit in the Swiss Alps. Broken both physically and mentally, Nick's Adonis face is now craggy and sharp. Nick's boyfriend, Sam, is also trying to come to grips with knowing that Nick will never be the same in spite of surgeries to fix the defect. He's attempting to be grateful that Nick is still alive, but it's challenging with Nick's continued silence about what happened on that mountain. With Nick's face wrapped like a mummy from a tomb, Sam is desperately trying to get Nick to let his guards down.

Our story doesn't start that way though. It starts with a terrifying encounter with Sam's sister, Julia, as she wakes in the middle of the night seeing shadow people standing at the bottom of the stairs. Every time she takes her eyes off them, even to blink, they get closer...and closer. Whoo. Easily one of the most terrifying intros I've read.

There's no denying that Echo is dark and unsettling. The first chapter only solidifies that fact with its shades on the stairs waking nightmare. It can't possibly continue that momentum so what Thomas Olde Heuvelt presents instead is a character-driven narrative. He gets us completely invested in Sam and Nick's strained relationship as we attempt to empathize with both sides. It's difficult at first to like Nick as a character. He's reserved and withdrawn, even from Sam who despondently loves him. Echo toys with our emotions in the relationship between the two. It's romantic and heartbreaking and we can only watch as it plays out.

Told in bits and pieces from diary passages, manuscripts, and notes, we eventually get the story of what happened on the mountain and thus to Augustin. Echo is a lengthy novel with an excess of technical climbing information. While that lends credence to the story, I think it could have benefited from a good editing chop. The pacing also falters at times. We get that great opening, some creepy moments, and then not a whole lot of anything in the middle. The ending, however, sees it all crashing down around us.

Having been less than impressed with the follow-through of Hex, I was reluctant to pick up Echo but I don't regret it. It's not an in-your-face fright but a steady, steep (if you'll excuse the pun) climb to the peak. A complex building of pressure with imagery both brutal and beautiful.  There's a fantastic tie-in of folklore and small village superstition, especially with the birds. I don't want to give anything away as this is one that needs experiencing but sometimes the abyss stares back.




Published October 12th 2021 by Hold My Beer Publishing A  MAIDEN VOYAGE… The Pepper Kay is no stranger to the open seas, but now she has a n...

Book Review || Maiden by T.C. Parker and Ward Nerdlo



Published October 12th 2021 by Hold My Beer Publishing

A MAIDEN VOYAGE…
The Pepper Kay is no stranger to the open seas, but now she has a new captain: God. His maiden voyage aboard the newly-acquired vessel will be operated by a crew greener than seaweed. With a reputation like God’s, they were all he could find.

NO MAN’S WATER…
The Pepper Kay and her greenhorn crew, captained by God and his shady deckboss Nash, voyage into the brutal unknown of the Bering Strait in search of Dungeness crab. But, when a storm rolls in and the crew hauls from the depths an impossibility, something ripped from the pages of nautical folklore, tensions mount and the crew separates into factions: good versus evil.

THOSE WHO DWELL IN DARKNESS…
Nash has plans for their newest catch, plans God is not a part of, and the deckboss will wade through blood and chum before he allows his goal to be blocked. As the crew dwindles, laid low one by one, the remaining shipmates must faceoff against not only the human evil of Nash, but something much, much older. 

On board of the Pepper Kay, an unskilled crew directed by God (no, not that God) is on its way to the Bering Strait for crabbing. From God's, the captain, point of view, this is a ragtag group: Sam, "tall and rangy", Jordan, "dark of skin but bright of gaze", Charlie, a "no-nonsense woman", and Nash, "mean and unshaven", it's an odd group for sure even for God. God has three commandments for his crew. They need to do what he says, work hard, and work together.  

Nash is nasty. He's an absolutely vulgar, abhorrent sack of testosterone that deserves to be castrated and then quartered by horses. He's such a piece of excrement that it's honestly difficult to read the scenes that he is in. He's exactly the kind of character that you wish the deepest, darkest corners of the earth to swallow him down and torture daily without remorse. I've read some atrocious characters before but I can honestly say Nash is by far, the most deplorable. There are no redeemable traits about him whatsoever. None. He's disgusting, perverse...there truly aren't enough words in the English language for Nash. 

While the focus is on the clashing personalities aboard the Pepper Kay, we mustn't count out the danger of what they have drug up from the deep. This mermaid is ugly, superficially human, but with a mouth and teeth more like a dolphin, green tangled hair, blue skin, and the tail of something that resembles a whale.  It's a tight, dreadful atmosphere aboard the Pepper Kay with the so-called mermaid in the hold. As the story progresses, the crew is stuck desolately in the middle of the ocean with danger both on board and off, we are then left to decide who the true monster is. (Hint: only one is pure evil.) 

The pacing was brilliant but I found myself wanting more mayhem by mermaid. Oh, there is carnage galore, but it went way too fast and skipped to the end. I highly enjoyed the perspective of the Pepper Kay itself, with its almost all-knowing compassion and empathy. There are many triggers in the book and the authors give a list of them, so I highly recommend reading those first. Maiden is a hard story to swallow, getting stuck in your throat as you try to gulp air past the blockage. 



Published February 26th 2022 by Tangled Tree Publishing What happens in Vegas just might kill you. When divorcee Justin Gray wakes up next t...

Guest Post || Rachel Tamayo, Author of Mine


Published February 26th 2022 by Tangled Tree Publishing

What happens in Vegas just might kill you.

When divorcee Justin Gray wakes up next to a beautiful stranger in Vegas on his birthday weekend, he assumes it’s just a drunken mistake. When he discovers that he’s married to said stranger in her early twenties, he insists on an annulment and assumes his life will return to normal once he gets back home.

He assumes wrong.

As the shapely blonde refuses to give him an annulment and insists the marriage continue, what was a wild weekend turns into a deadly mistake.

Murder is only the beginning.

Get ready for a tale of greed so twisted you won’t know what’s on the next page or who anyone really is until the…

very…
last…
page. 




Mental illness in fiction

by rachel tamayo


We love our crazy, don’t we? Books like the You series by Caroline Kepnes, The Shining by Stephen King, and the umpteen other psychological thrillers that line shelves as far as the eye can see in bookstores both digital and physical. 

We love these characters. They grip us. Like in The Shining, Jack Torrence and his slow maddening decent into a paranormal induced psychotic break. Or Joe, who becomes rapidly obsessed with one woman after the next, every female is “the one.”  Or how about this classic, the little talked about The Island of Doctor Moreau by H.G Wells in which the mad scientist Dr. Moreau moves to an island and performs extreme and horrifying experiments creating a mass of animal-human hybrid creatures? 

These characters have all got one thing in common. Insanity of one form or another. History proves that little to nothing was known about the general craziness perceived in the population, and anything that was perceived as out of the norm led to people being locked away for the rest of their natural lives in deplorable conditions. Now we are left with reminders of these actions in abandoned asylums and story after story of once horrendous hospitals haunted by the long dead spirits of the abused and mishandled. This brings to mind characters like the wife in the attic in the classic romance, Jane Eyre. 

But now, in the year of our lord 2022, things are a bit different, or so we like to think, anyway. Now we have the Movement for Mental Health, we have the National Alliance on Mental illness, numerous hashtags, and so many more.  There is an attempt to understand, treat, and accept mental health disorders for what they are, diseases of the mind. 

So this bids the question, has this changed how we perceive and create our crazed characters? In the past these sorts of characters were easy additions to tales meant to shock and frighten readers. There was no reason to explain, or even humanize these characters. They were all just “crazy” bad guys. 

Now, authors like myself, tend to do things differently. Researching legitimate mental problems, reaching out for history, truth, facts about treatment and the effects such things have on others around them. All these things create reality, truth-based fiction around real illnesses that need attention. Things these people have to deal with, the uphill battle their disease creates while they and their loved ones try to seek help.  It generates an entirely new form of psychological fiction. The harsh reality being that there generally is little to no treatment, very little help, and sometimes things go very wrong, and get very bad. As someone that has years of experience dealing with the law enforcement side if this issue, and has training to do so, I see both sides of this coin. Terrifying things happen due to mental disease. 

Books like Jane Eyre were written 175 years ago. In the nineteenth century, they were painted as dangerous lunatics and the only solution to their dangerous lunacy was imprisonment. In the Twenty-first century, we like to think we paint them in a different light. 
But have we?




Rachael Tamayo is the bestselling author of the award-winning Deadly Sins series, and the bestselling award winner (soon to be re-released) Crazy Love. Before she started her writing career, she was a highly awarded 911 emergency services dispatcher with twelve years of experience and many commendations under her belt. Upon exiting law enforcement, she’s focused her writing on the dark, suspenseful, and psychological. Now Rachael uses her dark thriller as a sort of self-therapy after all those years answering 911, and works what she knows into frighteningly realistic and layers characters her readers love her for. Rachael lives on the Texas Gulf Coast near Houston with her husband of eighteen years and their two children.


author email: rtamayo@rachaeltamayowrites.com
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Published January 18th 2022 by St. Martin's Press A  biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stoppin...

Book Review || Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester

Black cover with the words Book Review || Such a Pretty Smile by Kristi DeMeester over a red female profile

Published January 18th 2022 by St. Martin's Press

A biting novel from an electrifying new voice, Such a Pretty Smile is a heart-stopping tour-de-force about powerful women, angry men, and all the ways in which girls fight against the forces that try to silence them.

There’s something out there that’s killing. Known only as The Cur, he leaves no traces, save for the torn bodies of girls, on the verge of becoming women, who are known as trouble-makers; those who refuse to conform, to know their place. Girls who don’t know when to shut up.

2019: Thirteen-year-old Lila Sawyer has secrets she can’t share with anyone. Not the school psychologist she’s seeing. Not her father, who has a new wife, and a new baby. And not her mother—the infamous Caroline Sawyer, a unique artist whose eerie sculptures, made from bent twigs and crimped leaves, have made her a local celebrity. But soon Lila feels haunted from within, terrorized by a delicious evil that shows her how to find her voice—until she is punished for using it.

2004: Caroline Sawyer hears dogs everywhere. Snarling, barking, teeth snapping that no one else seems to notice. At first, she blames the phantom sounds on her insomnia and her acute stress in caring for her ailing father. But then the delusions begin to take shape—both in her waking hours, and in the violent, visceral sculptures she creates while in a trance-like state. Her fiancé is convinced she needs help. Her new psychiatrist waves her “problem” away with pills. But Caroline’s past is a dark cellar, filled with repressed memories and a lurking horror that the men around her can’t understand.

As past demons become a present threat, both Caroline and Lila must chase the source of this unrelenting, oppressive power to its malignant core. Brilliantly paced, unsettling to the bone, and unapologetically fierce, Such a Pretty Smile is a powerful allegory for what it can mean to be a woman, and an untamed rallying cry for anyone ever told to sit down, shut up, and smile pretty. 

 
As the synopsis says, this book is a feminist narrative for those told to "sit down, shut up, and smile pretty." While I would probably classify it as a modern thriller, it does have horror elements. However, the absolute horror in it is how the women and girls are overlooked, scrutinized, and discounted. It does feature heavily on mental illness and the treatment of such so those with triggers might best pass this one by.

The story is told in alternating fragments by unreliable narrators: Caroline in 2004 and her daughter, Lila in 2019. The novel begins with the figure known as The Cur taking another girl and leaving only her rent and battered body. Mother Caroline knows more than she is letting on and her daughter, Lila at thirteen, is ongoing changes that are leaving her angry and confused. To compound everything, Lila is feeling smothered by her mother's protective behavior. Throw in a decrepit amusement park, the site of Caroline's disappearance as a child, and there is much more to the story than we at first know. 

One thing to address is that the "crazy woman" trope has been used in so many ways and is honestly one of the most insulting tropes out there. Having men quickly brush off behavior that doesn't comply with their expectations and therefore, deem it as madness, is only one of the many ways that women are disregarded. Thus, the stigma of mental illness continues. In Such a Pretty Smile, both mother and daughter are questioning if what they are experiencing is reality or some construction of the figurative demon inside. While this trope has been abused often—insinuating the hysteria of women—in this novel it serves as a reminder of how men are quick to overlook and ignore women. Unfortunately, it almost became a caricature of itself. Every single man in this story is painted with the same brush of being the superior intellect: the outclassed artist boyfriend, the neglectful and distracted father, and the patronizing psychologist. Had there been one supportive healthy male figure in the book, I think it would have elevated the feminist theme.

There was something about the way this story was told that maintained my interest in spite of the waffling narratives. While at times, the novel sped along, it unfortunately also tarried overlong in a few places. The vast majority of the story carried more questions obfuscating the threat. I had no qualms with the writing itself; its language was darkly descriptive and compelling. I was left dissatisfied with its ending though. Was the beast schizophrenia, hormonal, familial? After an incredibly long build-up to the finale, I felt like I was left with more answers instead of a sense of completion. Still, it was a memorable read, though an unusual, more introspective one than normal. 










Published March 22nd, 2022 by Titan Books J ack Corman is failing at life. Jobless, jaded, and facing the threat of eviction, he’s also reel...

Book Review || The Shadow Glass by Josh Winning


Published March 22nd, 2022 by Titan Books


Jack Corman is failing at life. Jobless, jaded, and facing the threat of eviction, he’s also reeling from the death of his father, one-time film director Bob Corman. Back in the eighties, Bob poured his heart and soul into the creation of his 1986 puppet fantasy The Shadow Glass, but the film flopped on release and Bob was never the same again.

In the wake of Bob’s death, Jack returns to his decaying childhood home, where he is confronted with the impossible — the puppet heroes from The Shadow Glass are alive, and they need his help. Tipped into a desperate quest to save the world from the more nefarious of his father’s creations, Jack teams up with an excitable fanboy and a spiky studio exec to navigate the labyrinth of his father’s legacy and ignite a Shadow Glass resurgence that could, finally, do Bob proud.

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Eighties babies, do you remember the magic of your childhood watching Atreyu set off on his journey to save the Empress or Jen and Kira on the quest to retrieve the crystal? What about Sarah's trek to the center of the labyrinth or Jack traveling to Darkness' castle to release the unicorn? All of those movies that we watched a million times over wishing that magic was real and that we, too, had an epic fantasy quest that we were destined for. Listen to me when I tell you, this book will bring all those feelings back for you in your monotonous, suburban 8-5 life. Maybe that's a bit harsh but can it compare to a grand adventure? The Shadow Glass is just that; a grand adventure where fiction meets fact.

In 1986, Bob Corman constructed a world of warring tribes of creatures in Iri and brought them to life on film. While the film didn't do so well upon release, it became a sensation years later as all the kids who grew up watching it, well, grew up idolizing the film. We're talking Comic cons and cosplaying the characters that ingrained themselves upon young hearts and minds. Poor Bob never got to see it play out though and instead spent his life drinking his bitterness away. Towards the end, Bob became seemingly confused, frequently stating that the characters and worlds were real—the apparent ramblings of a senile mind for all to see. He was so enamored of this other world that his own son Jack spent his life feeling unloved and forgotten, becoming quite bitter himself.

Now before you go feeling too sorry for Jack, the only reason he's even in this story is that he's returned to his father's home after his death. He's not there to close the estate or reminisce about his father. He's there hoping to retrieve one of his father's treasured puppets to sell to pay off his own debts. Yeah, he's a peach. Only he discovers that his father wasn't so crazy as the world of Iri literally comes to life in the attic of his father's house. Jack is quickly thrown back into the memories of his childhood as he and his newfound nerdy motley crew set out to find all the pieces of the mirror that will put Iri back to right. 

The Shadow Glass was a surprise to me, to be honest. I went into it with no preconceived notions and found myself absolutely unable to set it down. By the end of the first few chapters, I was invested in Iri and its inhabitants and in Jack's tale as well. There is a bit of everything we 80s kids loved about the epic fantasies of our youth—action, adventure, great villains and even greater heroes, high stakes, humor, and even the unexpected emotional tug on your heartstrings. The stories of our youth never shied away from the darkness and neither does The Shadow Glass. Josh Winning weaves all the enchantment with hard topics such as Bob's alcoholism and Jack's feelings of abandonment. There is absolutely no doubt that he knows his fantasy tropes and employs them liberally. Instead of these tired tropes feeling unoriginal, he manages to spin them into something familiar yet new, rocking us 80s babies in the cradle of the stories that we cut our teeth on. 














It's time again to check another box on the  Scaredy Cat Bingo Challenge   which consists of 25 reading prompts on a bingo board.  Not p...

Grimm Dark || 18 Dark Fairytale Retellings

It's time again to check another box on the 
which consists of 25 reading prompts on a bingo board. 
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Today's prompt:

Grimm Dark

This prompt is absolutely hands down one of my favorite genres. If you've read any of my reviews about dark fairytale retellings, you already know. I can get positively giddy over a dark fairytale. There's something wickedly wonderful about the original tales. Before they were given the Disney treatment, these tales were often violent and horrific. You need only look at the cannibalistic witch in Hansel and Gretel, the hot iron shoes the stepmother in Snow White is forced to dance in, the blinded prince in Rapunzel, or the stepsisters in Cinderella lopping off toes and heels to fit the glass slipper to see that fairytales aren't what they used to be. Here are just a few that bring dark twist back to those stories by Grimm, Andersen, and more.



Be sure to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to this list to pad your TBR. 
Here are 18 books dark fairytale retellings to chill your blood!


You think you know these stories, don’t you?

You are wrong.

You don’t know them at all.

Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that capture hearts long kept tame and set them free, truths that explore life . . . and death.

A prince has a surprising awakening . . . 

A beauty fights like a beast . . .

A boy refuses to become prey . . .

A path to happiness is lost. . . . then found again.

New York Times bestselling author Soman Chainani respins old stories into fresh fairy tales for a new era and creates a world like no other. These stories know you. They understand you. They reflect you. They are tales for our times. So read on, if you dare. 

In a manor by the sea, twelve sisters are cursed.

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls' lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn't sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh's involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it's a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next.



Lovely Sorcha is the seventh child and only daughter of Lord Colum of Sevenwaters. Bereft of a mother, she is comforted by her six brothers who love and protect her. Sorcha is the light in their lives: they are determined that she know only contentment.

But Sorcha's joy is shattered when her father is bewitched by his new wife, an evil enchantress who binds her brothers with a terrible spell, a spell which only Sorcha can lift—by staying silent. If she speaks before she completes the quest set to her by the Fair Folk and their queen, the Lady of the Forest, she will lose her brothers forever.

When Sorcha is kidnapped by the enemies of Sevenwaters and taken to a foreign land, she is torn between the desire to save her beloved brothers, and a love that comes only once. Sorcha despairs at ever being able to complete her task, but the magic of the Fair Folk knows no boundaries, and love is the strongest magic of them all... 



One man’s thrilling journey through an enchanted world to find his wife, who has disappeared after seemingly committing an unforgiveable act of violence, from the award-winning author of the The Devil in Silver and Big Machine.

Apollo Kagwa has had strange dreams that have haunted him since childhood. An antiquarian book dealer with a business called Improbabilia, he is just beginning to settle into his new life as a committed and involved father, unlike his own father who abandoned him, when his wife Emma begins acting strange. Disconnected and uninterested in their new baby boy, Emma at first seems to be exhibiting all the signs of post-partum depression, but it quickly becomes clear that her troubles go far beyond that. Before Apollo can do anything to help, Emma commits a horrific act—beyond any parent’s comprehension—and vanishes, seemingly into thin air.

Thus begins Apollo’s odyssey through a world he only thought he understood to find a wife and child who are nothing like he’d imagined. His quest begins when he meets a mysterious stranger who claims to have information about Emma’s whereabouts. Apollo then begins a journey that takes him to a forgotten island in the East River of New York City, a graveyard full of secrets, a forest in Queens where immigrant legends still live, and finally back to a place he thought he had lost forever. This dizzying tale is ultimately a story about family and the unfathomable secrets of the people we love.


The first daughter is for the Throne.
The second daughter is for the Wolf.

For fans of Uprooted and The Bear and the Nightingale comes a dark fantasy novel about a young woman who must be sacrificed to the legendary Wolf of the Wood to save her kingdom. But not all legends are true, and the Wolf isn't the only danger lurking in the Wilderwood.

As the only Second Daughter born in centuries, Red has one purpose-to be sacrificed to the Wolf in the Wood in the hope he'll return the world's captured gods.

Red is almost relieved to go. Plagued by a dangerous power she can't control, at least she knows that in the Wilderwood, she can't hurt those she loves. Again.

But the legends lie. The Wolf is a man, not a monster. Her magic is a calling, not a curse. And if she doesn't learn how to use it, the monsters the gods have become will swallow the Wilderwood-and her world-whole.



A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites.

Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart.

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it. 




Hair bright as gold...Lips red as blood...Heart black as sin...Truth sharp as bone...

As in their previous critically acclaimed volumes of reconsidered fairy tales, award-winning editors Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling have gathered together remarkable stories that illuminate the more sinister, sensual, and sophisticated aspects of the tales we cherished in childhood; the fables of witches and princes and lost children that we once imagined we knew.

"Black Heart, Ivory Bones" showcases twenty beguiling tales for the child-that-was and the adult-that-is, penned by twenty of the most creative artists in contemporary American literature. Here dissected are the darker anatomies of the timeless, seemingly simple stories we have long loved. Here wonder and truth have serious bite.

A lovelorn prince seeking his father's blessing concocts a fantastic tale of a witch, a tower, and lustrous long hair... A pair of accursed red boots punishes a beautiful dancer for her pride... A troll-killing, princess-rescuing warrior is compelled to consider events from his adversaries' point of view...In a blistering tell-all memoir, Goldilocks reveals the sordid truth about her brutal foster parent, Papa Bear...

Rich, surprising, funny, erotic, and unsettling, these twenty new yarns and poems offer exceptional anew treasures--as they brilliantly reveal lusts and jealousies, foibles, hatreds and dangerous obsessions, the things that slyly lurk in the midnight interior of oft-told tales.



Alone in the world, Asher Todd travels to the remote estate of Morwood Grange to become governess to three small children. Her sole possessions comprise a sea chest and a large carpet bag she hangs onto for dear life. She finds a fine old home, its inhabitants proud of their lineage and impeccable reputation, and a small village nearby. It seems an untroubled existence, yet there are portraits missing from the walls, locked rooms, and names excised from the family tree inscribed in the bible. In short order, the children adore her, she becomes indispensable to their father Luther in his laboratory, and her potions are able to restore the sight of granddame Leonora. Soon Asher fits in as if she’s always been there, but there are creatures that stalk the woods at night, spectres haunt the halls, and Asher is not as much a stranger to the Morwoods as it might at first appear.
 
A postapocalyptic take on the perennial classic "Little Red Riding Hood", about a woman who isn't as defenseless as she seems.

It's not safe for anyone alone in the woods. There are predators that come out at night: critters and coyotes, snakes and wolves. But the woman in the red jacket has no choice. Not since the Crisis came, decimated the population, and sent those who survived fleeing into quarantine camps that serve as breeding grounds for death, destruction, and disease. She is just a woman trying not to get killed in a world that doesn't look anything like the one she grew up in, the one that was perfectly sane and normal and boring until three months ago.

There are worse threats in the woods than the things that stalk their prey at night. Sometimes, there are men. Men with dark desires, weak wills, and evil intents. Men in uniform with classified information, deadly secrets, and unforgiving orders. And sometimes, just sometimes, there's something worse than all of the horrible people and vicious beasts combined.

Red doesn't like to think of herself as a killer, but she isn't about to let herself get eaten up just because she is a woman alone in the woods....




In the realm of Awara, where gods, monsters, and humans exist side by side, Miuko is an ordinary girl resigned to a safe, if uneventful, existence as an innkeeper’s daughter. But when Miuko is cursed and begins to transform into a demon with a deadly touch, she embarks on a quest to reverse the curse and return to her normal life. Aided by a thieving magpie spirit and continuously thwarted by a demon prince, Miuko must outfox tricksters, escape demon hunters, and negotiate with feral gods if she wants to make it home again. But with her transformation comes power and freedom she never even dreamed of, and she’ll have to decide if saving her soul is worth trying to cram herself back into an ordinary life that no longer fits her… and perhaps never did.


Young Rhea is a miller’s daughter of low birth, so she is understandably surprised when a mysterious nobleman, Lord Crevan, shows up on her doorstep and proposes marriage. Since commoners don’t turn down lords—no matter how sinister they may seem—Rhea is forced to agree to the engagement.

Lord Crevan demands that Rhea visit his remote manor before their wedding. Upon arrival, she discovers that not only was her betrothed married six times before, but his previous wives are all imprisoned in his enchanted castle. Determined not to share their same fate, Rhea asserts her desire for freedom. In answer, Lord Crevan gives Rhea a series of magical tasks to complete, with the threat “Come back before dawn, or else I’ll marry you.”

With time running out and each task more dangerous and bizarre than the last, Rhea must use her resourcefulness, compassion, and bravery to rally the other wives and defeat the sorcerer before he binds her to him forever.d. 



A captivating and utterly original fairy tale about a girl cursed to be poisonous to the touch, and who discovers what power might lie in such a curse...

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming...human or demon. Princess or monster.


Cursed 

Cursed: A Wish is a Terrible Thing An Anthology of Dark Fairy Tales...an anthology of unique twists on the fairy tale conceit of the curse, from the traditional to the modern, giving us brand new mythologies as well as new approaches to well-loved fables. Twenty curses, old and new.

ALL THE BETTER TO READ YOU WITH. It's a prick of blood, the bite of an apple, the evil eye, a wedding ring or a pair of red shoes. Curses come in all shapes and sizes, and they can happen to anyone, not just those of us with unpopular stepparents...

Here you'll find unique twists on curses, from fairy tale classics to brand-new hexes of the modern world...expect new monsters and mythologies as well as twists on well-loved fables. Stories to shock and stories of warning, stories of monsters and stories of magic. Some might shock you, some might make you laugh, but they will all impress you with their originality. TWENTY TIMELESS FOLKTALES, NEW AND OLD.

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice...especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where fairy tale narratives become reality, often with disastrous results.

That's where the ATI Management Bureau steps in, an organization tasked with protecting the world from fairy tales, even while most of their agents are struggling to keep their own fantastic archetypes from taking over their lives. When you're dealing with storybook narratives in the real world, it doesn't matter if you're Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happily ever after.

Indexing is New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy where everything you thought you knew about fairy tales gets turned on its head.


A high stakes reimagining of Little Red Riding Hood.

For as long as sixteen-year-old Adele can remember the village of Oakvale has been surrounding by the dark woods—a forest filled with terrible monsters that light cannot penetrate. Like every person who grows up in Oakvale she has been told to steer clear of the woods unless absolutely necessary.

But unlike her neighbors in Oakvale, Adele has a very good reason for going into the woods. Adele is one of a long line of guardians, women who are able to change into wolves and who are tasked with the job of protecting their village while never letting any of the villagers know of their existence.

But when following her calling means abandoning the person she loves, the future she imagined for herself, and her values she must decide how far she is willing to go to keep her neighbors safe.