First of all, I cannot recommend the audiobook narrated by the full cast nearly enough. It’s like one of those classic radio dramas and I am here for it! And now, for the book itself. “The Graveyard Book” is, I think, a book meant for children. But it starts with the murder of the main characters entire family when he’s just an infant, but he’s too excited by an open door and an awaiting adventure to notice. He ends up in the local graveyard where the resident ghosts and vampire (though I think it’s wonderful that Gaiman never uses that word, but we all know what he is) decide to protect and raise the child as their own. Each chapter is a little window into a year of Nobody Owens life as he grows and is taught by the different ghosts and the lessons he learns along the way. Because of this format, the adventure eventually ends before everything is wrapped up. Which is by design as we get the story mainly from a child, after all, but it could be a little frustrating at times.
“The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampire’s” is a bit of a misnomer. You don’t really get a “guide” and there is just the one “vampire”, and the lore around that particular vampire is unlike any I’m familiar with. But that was part of the fun of this book. Or, not fun, as this was an intense commentary on gaslighting, sexism, and racism in Charleston in the early 90’s. Or as intense of a commentary as a white man can make, but I think the point was infuriatingly well made. And while there is no mystery around the vampire, even if it takes these housewives awhile to see it for themselves, the writing was easy and creepy and managed to make me absolutely rage at all the right places. This book really was a look into just how vital the invisible support system of running a household is, the overlooked emotional labor, and just how overtly that gets taken advantage of, in no small part thanks to the burden of hospitality ingrained in each of these women. This was my first book by this author so I was a bit hesitant at first as horror is hit or miss for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this satirical horror story.
“The Luminaries” has such cool vibes. A mysterious secret society tasked with keeping the Nightmares dreamed up by a sleeping spirit from leaving the forest and being discovered? Uh, yes please! Plus I happened to get this book from my Illumicrate subscription so it’s seriously beautiful. We follow Winnie, an outcast in the Luminaries who is desperate to become a Hunter and reclaim her family's good name. Winnie knows everything there is to know about the Nightmares dwelling in the forest, but that doesn’t mean she’s prepared for some of the monsters she finds, or the scrutiny of Hemlock Falls back on her and her family as a result of taking the trials. Everything about this book sounds moody and delightful, but there were too many little things that added up and, ultimately, spoiled my enjoyment of this book.
I am not an “experienced” horror reader. I read a lot of true crime and violent thrillers, but when it comes to books that are traditionally classified as “horror”, well, then I believe “The Only Good Indians” is my first foray into that. And the jury is still out on if I like this genre, but I don’t think that’s the book’s fault? “The Only Good Indians” follows four young men after an upsetting event of their childhood comes back to haunt them (literally) on the ten-year anniversary of the event. Mixed in with the horror of being hunted by a force you don’t see coming, the author weaves in a seamless social commentary on what it’s like for American Indians both on and off the reservation. I really enjoyed those aspects, even though I can’t speak to the cultural representation. I thought they added a unique level to an already disturbing story. But I did have a hard time getting through this book, and not because I was too upset to read it, either.
What do you get when your cross the concept of Jurassic Park with a B horror movie? You get the fast-paced “Monsterland”, that’s what. “Monsterland” is pretty much exactly what it sounds like: a theme park full of real-life monsters, namely zombies, vampires, and werewolves. The premise being that vampires and werewolves have always lived amongst us, just hidden, until a plague that created zombies sweeps the planet and now a billionaire mogul, Vincent Konrad, decides to make a theme park housing all these monsters for “study”, and profit obviously because why make a theme park out of it if you didn’t want to make cash? Wyatt, one of our many MC’s (but the main, main one) idolizes Vincent and wants nothing more than to go to the park opening night. He gets his wish, but of course everything changes and this supposedly “safe” park is anything but. Things escalate FAST once Wyatt and his friends are in the park, perhaps too fast to really get a feel for, well, anything. Hence the B movie vibe…
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