Tag Archives: horror

Book Review: Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Published Sept 25th, 2018
218 Pages

After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think–she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 

Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. 

Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.- Goodreads

Although I purchased a copy of Katherine Arden’s book The Bear and the Nightingale, this is my first read by her and man it was fantastic.

The entire time I was reading this book, I was thinking of the movie Jeepers Creepers. The scarecrows, the school bus breaking down everything . . . well mostly everything reminded me of this movie.

But to the book. It was creepy. Real creepy. Arden sets the stage for a horror movie but still is able to keep it PG. How? Talent.

Ollie is an interesting girl because she is really talented but also in mourning. So she doesn’t do anything outside of reading. Not like in most instances this is an issue but in the case of Ollie it is a bit because she was an interactive girl and then closed up. I don’t blame her.

But the best part of the book other than the creepiness is the story within the story. I wanted more of it because it integrated with the main story so well and when they came together in real time, it wasn’t awkward and most importantly it wasn’t forced. Thank GOD! It wasn’t forced.

I loved the pace of novel. It moved at the right speed to keep you so into the story. It wasn’t fluffed with un-needed backstory nor was it fluffed with questions. I didn’t feel as if I was missing something and another important thing is I didn’t feel like I need something. Everything was there and the book concluded with an actual conclusion; not a cliff hanger that will make you think there will be a book two.

Honestly, Ollie’s story is done. May not the mini story or the creepy scarecrows but Ollie herself does not need a book two.

This is a short review because I really do not have anything to say other than a fantastic read that made me go down memory lane about a movie, I use to watch with my dad.

Overall,

4 Pickles

 

Book Review: Spirit Hunters by Ellen Oh

HarperCollins
Published July 25, 2017
288 Pages

“Harper doesn’t trust her new how from the moment she steps inside, and the rumors that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors, until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of deja vu but she can’t remember why.

She knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and threatening sensations she feels in the hours, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?”- Goodreads

Before I give my thoughts on this book, I need to explain why I picked it up. I don’t follow Ms. Ellen Oh on Twitter but someone I follow does and she happened to liked a tweet that caught my attention.

Just based off that my curious its was peaked. So I requested the book from the library that same day. I didn’t have a lot of thought or even a pressing need to read this book. I just wanted to see what the fuss was about. But let me tell you once I started this book, I did not put it down until well after 1 a.m. This book was fantastic from beginning to end.

Harper is what I would picture of a child having to deal with something paranormal when you family doesn’t believe you and also sent you away for help. It was such a realistic viewpoint of not a disobedient loner child but of a little girl, who loves her family but is struggling to deal with her own past and keeping it all together. I’ve always wondered what if the child that can see things, no one else can see, actually said something to her family as opposed to hiding it and dealing with it on her own. For anyone that has ever wanted to know that, this book is the answered.

It touches on a lot of subjects such as family and doing what you feel is best for that family. It touches upon family ancestry and the divide that can cause. It touches upon racism and diversity without it feeling as if the author is trying to hard. This book flowed extremely easy with these topics and of course the paranormal aspect of it.

But what I liked most about Harper, herself, was her ability to face her fears. It’s cliche I know but she literally faces the worst head on and keeps pushing through until she has done what she set out to do. She wasn’t bratty, mean or even desperate. She was a little girl that wanted to be with her family and make some friends in a new town.

Beyond all of this, what sold me was how freaking creepy this book was. Whatever resource Ms. Ellen Oh used as a reference to help her write this book was on point. Every scene, every time Harper felt something or saw something, it was so visual it was as if I was watching a movie. As a grown woman, there were things in this book that creeped me out and I loved every moment of it. Harper stood tall and faced all of that and I have nothing but respect for her.

The pace was great. The down time didn’t even feel like down time because there was so much going on emotional as well as physically. The imagery was pure talent actually the entire book was and I hope and pray that there will be a book two.

5 Pickles.

Manga Monday: Future Diary by Sakae Esuno

TokyoPop
Published July, 21, 2006
195 Pages

High school 2nd year, Amano Yukiteru, is a boy who has problem making friends. He thinks of himself as a bystander and will always write down everything he sees in a cell phone diary. Tormented by solitude, Yukiteru began to imagine things like a friend called Deus Ex Machina who is apparently the Lord of Time & Space.

Seeing Yukiteru’s miserable state, Deus gives him a new ability. His diary will now record events that will happen in the near future. Yukiteru is then forced to participate in a game which the winner will become Deus’s successor.- Goodreads

This is a oldie but goodie. Published in 2006, Future Diary isn’t your typical what is reality and what is fantasy manga. Because of how dated this manga, I would not be surprised if this influences some of the new sucked into a video game manga that is being released more frequently. But to the point of the review.

I liked Future Diary but what killed it for me was the redundancy. Midway through the series you can see the same theme over and over again and although there are some twists and turns that come about the theme doesn’t change. Yukiteru doesn’t have enough confidence within himself to handle this game and depends on those surrounding him to be saved and yes, at a point that changes but it takes too long for me to actually respect him as a player. Even at the end, he becomes a sorry excuse for an individual and its gross after reading all of that to see how he turned out.

In regards to plot, the author could had complicated much more. Things were pretty straight forward and that includes the ending. There isn’t a whole lot of surprises but despite all of this the manga was entertaining.

There is a lot of action, explosives and cunning supporting characters and without that this manga would have been a bust.

Overall, I’m giving it

3 Pickles 

And a majority of that was because of pure entertainment.

Book Review: There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins

Dutton Books for Young Readers
Published Sept. 26, 2017

Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind.

Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets.- Goodreads

This was sitting in my tbr pile since its release, so with goal in mind to knock out as much as my tbr list before the new year, I started with this one.

Hands down one of the most entertaining books, I have read in these past few months. Firstly, from the beginning to the end, all I kept getting was that 90s horror vibe. It was so nostalgic it really made me excited throughout the entire book. If Perkins wasn’t able to incorporate this into the novel, I don’t think it would have been as good.

I say that because nothing in me liked Makani. She was boring, she was a liar and just not really like-able even before you know her dark secret. It was frustrating when she spoke or even when you heard her thoughts because although she has a kind of sort tragic backstory, she whinny. I wanted some form of strength from her; something strong with some personality but nothing.

Beyond, Makani, I loved the plot. Perkins was able to hide her intentions with who done it, without stating the obvious or even connecting the obvious. The story was dramatic and although the gore could have been upped a notch, it provided exactly what you needed for the story. I know that I mentioned that this book is a who done it, but it is less mystery and more let’s try not to get killed.

My biggest issue (not Makani) was but more so the ending. When everything comes out, I feel that Perkins didn’t have any other surprises left in her and it felt dull. Although she is able to keep up the pace, my excitement and the thrill was dwindling.

Overall, for my first Perkins book, I was impressed. I enjoyed the read and would recommend it.

3 Pickles

Manga: [Horror Edition]

Its everyone’s favorite pagan holiday (not me I don’t get down with that). What I enjoy about this month is the introduction to new horror/supernatural reads that I didn’t know about. I love me some spooky stories, specially within movies and manga.So I decided to share some new manga for this manga post. Enjoy!

Seven Seas
Published May 1, 2017
180 Pages

<—-Sukami Kyouichi comes from a family of exorcists, the strongest of whom has always been his sister, who keeps a special notebook by her side that details how to defeat even the most malevolent of ghosts. One day, shortly after his sister rescues young Kyouichi from a haunted shrine, she goes missing. Six years later, with only the notebook as his guide, Kyouichi is confronted by someone claiming to have been his sister’s friend. Who is this stranger, and what does she know about his sister’s disappearance?- Goodreads

High school student Kei Nagai is struck dead in a grisly traffic accident, but immediately revives to learn that he may not be like every other human. Instead, he may be a mysterious, almost immortal being, granted not only the powers of rejuvenation, but the abilities to see supernatural beings.

Vertical
Published March 7, 2013
228 Pages

Scared, he runs away, and is aided in his escape from society by his friend. Unfortunately for Kei, the manhunt is on and he will soon be caught within a conflict between mankind and others like him as they prepare to fight a new war based on terror.- Goodreads —–>

VIZ Media LLC
Published March 1, 2003
176 Pages

<—Caiman was not lucky. A sorcerer cursed him with a reptile head and left him with no memory of his life before the transformation. Adding to the mystery, there’s a specter of a man living inside him. But Caiman has one key advantage: he’s now completely immune to magic. Along with his best friend, Nikaido, Caiman is hunting down sorcerers in the Hole, searching for the one who can undo his curse and killing the rest. But when En, the head Sorcerer, of the sorcerers, gets word of a lizard-man slaughtering sorcerers, he sends a crew of “cleaners” into the Hole, igniting a war between two worlds.-Goodreads

A boy went to take his trash out late one night, and found a strange, creepy, gothic-lolita-dressed woman sitting amongst the garbage bags.

Published August 21, 2010

She asked if he had a little sister, and he answered her, hurrying afterwards back to his apartment.When he looked out the window, she was gone. Who is the strange woman, and why does she give him such a bad feeling?- Goodreads ——>

Published June 24, 2004
132 Pages

<— A collection of very short and mostly atmospheric stories dealing with urban legends, ghosts, and superstitions all organized around a specific theme (school, visitors, etc.). Some are just two pages long.- Goodreads

In the town that Takada Chinatsu moved to,

Kadokawa Shoten
Published 2011
192 Pages

there’s a legend about demons called Tsumitsuki that possess the feelings of guilt a person has over their sins. Those who are possessed are slowly devoured, body and mind, as the demon manifests. As one of Takada’s friends starts acting strangely, her classmate Kuroe steps in to help… but his true motives are hidden behind a mask.-Goodreads —–>

Kodansha
Published June 8th, 2004
448 Pages

A teenage girl, who possesses the “Mystic Eyes of Death Perception,” a supernatural ability that allows the user to see the “death” of everything in existence and kill the object by destroying its “origin.” She recently recovered from a two-year coma caused by a traffic accident. Prior to the traffic accident, she originally had two personalities, a male personality named Shiki (織), and the original female personality Shiki (式).

<—– Children born into the Ryougi family are generally male and are raised with two personalities, so the male personality is customarily called the “yang” personality, while the female is called the “yin” personality. It is easy to tell which Shiki is speaking at a given time because they both have a distinct style of speaking, most notably that the female Shiki refers to herself with the pronoun watashi (私), while male Shiki refers to himself as ore (俺). After waking from her coma, Shiki discovers that she can no longer feel the male Shiki’s presence and assumes that he died because of the accident. She also feels a detachment from her memories before the accident, and while she knows she is Shiki, she does not feel that she is. In the hopes of regaining herself and the “dead” Shiki, she puts on a cold facade that somewhat resembles the male Shiki’s and tries to act as the female Shiki did. Touko understands the sense of detachment Shiki feels, but considers the current Shiki a third, new personality. -Goodreads

Book Review: House of Ash by Hope Cook

Amulet Books
TBP Sept. 26th 2017
320

After hearing voices among an eerie copse of trees in the woods, seventeen-year-old Curtis must confront his worst fear: that he has inherited his father’s mental illness. A desperate search for answers leads him to discover Gravenhearst, a labyrinth mansion that burned down in 1894. When he locks eyes with a steely Victorian girl in a forgotten mirror, he’s sure she’s one of the fire’s victims. If he can unravel the mystery, he can save his sanity . . . and possibly the girl who haunts his dreams.

But more than 100 years in the past, the girl in the mirror is fighting her own battles. When her mother disappears and her sinister stepfather reveals his true intentions, Mila and her sister fight to escape Gravenhearst and unravel the house’s secrets—before it devours them both.- Goodreads

If you ever read Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake then that is what you mind is going to gravitate to. The story is similar to the whole boy falls in love with a person from the past who is dead. That is where the similarities end between the two books because for the most part this was a very straight forward story. This is not to say it wasn’t a good read, it was just very linear.

Curtis is going through a really hard time taking care of his father, who has a mental health illness and his younger sister, who is a bit of a brat. I appreciate the author speaking bringing attention to mental health illness in the book but there was a bunch of things lacking with it.

It isn’t really discussed as into what he is actually dealing with. All that is known is that hospitals are no, his father needs to be a schedule and he can become violent. Yes, you find out what happened for this illness to occur but I guess wanted it to tie into what Curtis discovers about himself and his bloodline. I liked the fact that it was in the story and it showed how teenagers deal with a sick family member and the responsibility of it. It made Curtis complex that is for sure.

In regards to his sister, she is un-loyal, she expects her brother to understand and try to get to know her but she does not do the same at all. She doesn’t give as much as Curtis does and she depends on him to fix things and then gets mad. I didn’t like her at all and she should have been a stronger character and way more supportive of her brother.

Beyond the characters the overall story was alright. As I previously mentioned it is really straight-forward and not a whole lot happens in both the present and the past. When things pick up, you get pulled into the story but it didn’t deliver like felt it could of.

Overall, this wasn’t a bad read and I do recommend it because it has some good writing and it makes me want to read more of this author.

3 Pickles. 

Book Review: The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Algonquin Young Readers Published April 25, 2015 240 Pages
Algonquin Young Readers
Published April 25, 2015
240 Pages

Corinne La Mer doesn’t fear anything; not even Jumbies in the forbidden woods. Jumbies are simply made up stories that parents use to keep their children out the woods, but Corinne knows better. 

But when Corinne notices yellow eyes staring at her at the edge of the woods. She begins to doubt her fearlessness. And when a beautiful stranger shows up at the marketplace and then her home with her father, Corinne knows that danger is near. 

Using her courage, the help of her friends and a ancient magic, she had no idea she possessed, Corinne must save her home and everyone in it. 

I really have a hard time finding good fantasy books for children (maybe YA) written by African-Americans. So, I jumped on this one purely based on the author and I wasn’t disappointed. This book was written extremely well that I would even recommend it for YA readers.

Firstly, characters. You knew from beginning and end that these were children. However, you didn’t feel the immaturity, even when the kids were acting a fool with each other. Corinne and her friends had a sense of wisdom about them that I didn’t feel was out of place. It fit them. They were kids but not reckless children trying to prove a point.

I loved how the author seamlessly tied mythology into the story without feeling like a history lesson. It was part of the culture, part of everyone’s lives and I loved how relevant it was in the beginning and end of the story. Also the author added something in there regarding history and I liked it. I was very surprised but thought it was perfect.

I enjoyed the pace of novel. However, at a certain point, the constant movement hit a plateau and I was stuck wondering if this was going to be end of my enjoyable ride. But it wasn’t. The pace began to build after this point and it did well til its descent at the end. Speaking of the end, it was great but it was a hard reality to swallow. I liked how the author did not shy away from the outcome because it is true. In real life and in every fantasy story, where the hero proves to be different it happens.

Would I consider this story horror? No, there is nothing exactly scary about it (even from a kids perspective) but it is deeper than just a fantasy story. You see how much a myth or a fable affects communities/cultures no matter what the generation is.

Overall,

4 Pickles