Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish (click the link to visit them) who pick a different topic each week.
I’m adding a twist to this week’s topic and choosing my top ten spooky covers that scream Autumn/Fall. It is Horror October after all.
These are in no particular order because that’s more than my brain can handle right now…
The above covers scream Autumn to me. They aren’t horror books, but I chose these covers because they all have something ominous about them. The fox looks sinister with his fur of autumn leaves, the skull in the Riggs book is cheesy but makes me smile, and the other two simply intrigue me!
I don’t know why most of the covers I’ve chosen have trees on, but I guess that’s what means Autumn to me. These six covers are spooky reads that I would want to pick up just as Autumn hits, solely on the basis of the covers.
I love the retro Goosebumps covers, and the Girl in the Well is a book I’ve wanted to read since it came out on the strength of that simple but foreboding cover. I don’t actually like the Kendare Blake cover that much because it screams CGI, but I do love that the leaves are falling like blood. Or is that blood dropping like leaves?
Just as you thought Horror October was done and dusted…no it really is. But here’s a review I didn’t get to publish in time. Some may say I saved the best til last…
Title: Hunter of the Dead Author: Stephen Kozeniewski Series: N/A Format: ePub, 314 pages Publication Details: August 15th 2016 by Sinister Grin Press Genre(s): Horror Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.
Vampire leaders of the thirteen Houses attribute the string of recent losses to over-zealous vampire hunters. Only Cicatrice, the most ancient and powerful vampire in the world, suspects that the semi-legendary Hunter of the Dead may be the real culprit.
Carter Price, a vampire hunter who despises the way his profession is becoming centralized and corporatized, begins to suspect the Hunter of the Dead is back, too – and no longer distinguishing between vampires and mortals. Against his better judgment, Price agrees to work with Cicatrice.
The uneasy allies attempt to uncover the truth about the Hunter, while a vampire civil war brews in the background. But perhaps most difficult of all, they must contend with their new apprentices, who seem to be falling in love with each other against every rule of man and monster…
Hunter of the Dead is one epic vampire novel. If you’re looking for sparkly, over-possessive pretty boy vampires then you should probably just move along. But if you’re looking for a vamped-up Game of Thrones with The Red Wedding-level of bloodshed then you’ve come to the right place.
Hunter of the Dead has a large cast of characters and an intricately woven plot built upon a well thought-out mythos. There are warring vampire houses, each with their own version of vampire royalty, and human vampire hunters called Inquisitors. But the hunter himself is a whole other entity. A boogeyman. A thing of legends that no one quite believes. Until seemingly indestructible immortals start being…well, destroyed.
Caught up in the middle of this are two unlikely heroes, Carter and Nico. Gas station attendees turned vampire hunter and apprentice, the dynamic duo banter their way through the brewing war and attempt to find out the truth behind the one thing that both vampires and Inquisitors are equally as afraid of – The Hunter of the Dead.
This book had everything I could want in a vampire story. Blood, guts, bants and even a splash of romance in there too. The vampires themselves were diabolical yet alluring, and the plot was paced well despite its scope of epic proportions.
I did have some issues getting into the story to begin with though. The mixture of a vast array of characters and a jumping timeline would usually have me tearing my hair out, but after a chapter or two it really seemed to work. It certainly gave the book more mystery and depth.
But the one thing I did find frustrating was that a few of the characters were called by two or three different names – first name, surname and even a nickname – so until I got to know the characters better it was really hard to understand who was who sometimes.
And while we’re talking about names, I spotted a few familiar ones in there. Whatever you do, don’t befriend Kozeniewski or he’ll steal your name for a character only to rip out their (YOUR) heart or make you live out the rest of your days with only half a face. Fellow horror writers beware!
Overall, this is not your average vampire novel. It’s not really your average anything. But whatever it is, it’s all wrapped up in Kozeniewski’s trademark tongue-in-cheek horror bow that I’ve come to know and love.
Hunter of the Dead is available now in both paperback & digital versions.
Title: Sanctuary Bay Author: Laura J. Burns & Melinda Metz Series: N/A Format: Digital ARC, 320 pages Publication Details: January 19th 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin (USA) // February 13th (UK) Genre(s): YA; Thriller; Mystery Disclosure? Yep! I received an advance copy in exchange for an HONEST review.
When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country-Sanctuary Bay Academy-it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn’t sound more appealing.
Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate’s dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay’s glossy reputation.
I fell in love with the cover of this book instantly, and when I read that co-author Melinda Metz was one of the writers of Roswell (one of my favourite TV shows of all time – no shame!), I knew I had to read it.
I wasn’t really sure what to expect from the premise though. The elite prep school part appealed to me, and I assumed the story would follow the mystery of the missing room-mate, but Sanctuary Bay was SO much more than that.
Protagonist Sarah is really interesting character. She witnessed her parents getting killed when she was just three, and she remembers it vividly. Everyone tells her that it’s impossible to remember at such an early age, but Sarah knows that her brain works differently to other people’s.
Sarah has grown-up in foster homes, some good, some terrible. She considers herself pretty poor, and she’s determined to make something of herself. When she’s offered a scholarship out of the blue to the most elite prep school in the country, it’s practically a miracle. But Sarah wants to believe her luck has changed, and feels that she deserves this great opportunity, so she’s determined not to mess it up.
But of course, if something’s too good to be true, there’s usually a reason. And Sanctuary Bay is definitely not your average school.
Marketed as a ‘full-immersion’ school, in which pupils can never leave (it’s on an island so they really, really, can’t), or have any contact with the outside world including family, apart from being allowed monthly care packages to arrive through the post.
The students are therefore quick to form bonds. At first Sarah is blindsided by how friendly everyone is, and she soon feels like part a family – something she has longed for her whole life. But it’s not long until things start getting weird. She’s initiated into a secret society whose ‘missions’ get weirder and weirder. And then her room-mate goes missing and Sarah is stuck between loyalty to her brothers and sisters, her own sanity, and the truth.
There is so much more to this story as well. I absolutely loved Sanctuary Bay and couldn’t put it down! I liked the contrast between the futuristic-type technology at the school and that part of it was built on a POW camp, and how all of this is woven into a great mystery.
The setting was awesome, I couldn’t fault the writing, and it was a fast-paced, thrill-ride.
I’m extremely happy and impressed at how the YA genre has evolved over the last ten years, and it’s all down to diverse, unique, and exciting books like this one. Success all round.
If Sanctuary Bay is anything to go by, 2016 is going to be another great year for YA…have ALL theunicorns! Witches Hats!
“NO WOMEN. NO CHILDREN. NO INNOCENTS. THOSE ARE THE RULES…IT’S HOW I LIVE WITH MYSELF, SO TO SPEAK”
L.A.-based Private Eye and vampire Mick Angel has been hired by a beautiful red-headed burlesque dancer to find her missing sister. But the apparently simple case of a teenage runaway is soon complicated by drug dealers, persistent cops, murder, and Mick’s own past.
Mick must learn the hard way what every vampire should know – nothing stays buried forever. Especially not the past.
THE NOVEL THAT INSPIRED THE TV SERIES MOONLIGHT.
I didn’t even know this novel existed until I received it as a gift. I fell in love with the TV show Moonlight the moment I saw it, I mean Alex O’Loughlin…hello! I was so sad that they cancelled it after the first season. 😦
This book was published after the series, but was the inspiration behind it. There are a lot of differences of course, but it has the same dark humour and noir, old school detective vibe, which I loved.
The main difference however, was the lack of the Beth character. I really enjoyed the author’s notes (who also penned the series) in which he explained the changes they made for the screen and I totally agree with them. This book did need a romantic element. And it did need a female lead in Beth that the protagonist’s evil ex-wife just couldn’t fill.
Without this, what we’re left with is an interesting vampire story mixed with an average crime story. I enjoyed it, but I wanted more. So much more! It definitely felt like the introduction to something bigger…it was all a bit brief.
I’m really glad this book exists though, if not just to remind me how much I loved the series. It’s made me want to watch it again RIGHT NOW. Well, it has been a while….
Brooklyn Stevens sits in a pool of her own blood, tied up and gagged. No one outside of these dank basement walls knows she’s here. No one can hear her scream. Sofia Flores knows she shouldn’t have gotten involved. When she befriended Riley, Grace, and Alexis on her first day at school, she admired them, with their perfect hair and their good-girl ways. They said they wanted to save Brooklyn. They wanted to help her. Sofia didn’t realize they believed Brooklyn was possessed. Now, Riley and the girls are performing an exorcism on Brooklyn—but their idea of an exorcism is closer to torture than salvation. All Sofia wants is to get out of this house. But there is no way out. Sofia can’t go against the other girls . . . unless she wants to be next. . . . In this chilling debut, Danielle Vega delivers blood-curdling suspense and terror on every page. By the shockingly twisted end, readers will be faced with the most haunting question of all: Is there evil in all of us?
As a huge fan of YA (obvs) and horror I’m always excited to see YA horror books (Yorror as I’m now calling it) published, as they’re few and far between. It took me a while but I’m so glad I eventually got round to buying a copy of this- especially the awesome pink leather hardback version, which is pretty epic!
The Merciless isn’t a case of your old-school Goosebumps or Point Horror. It’s actual horror, that I imagine some parents wouldn’t be too happy about their teens (and certainly pre-teens reading. I kind of wish this book existed when I was 15 because man, I would have lapped it up then.
The Merciless is about a group of ‘good’ girls who take it upon themselves to exorcise the demon out of bully Brooklyn. A prank gone wrong? Revenge gone too far? There’s a whole lot of blood, torment and, well, torture, and the whole way through you’re left thinking ‘are they really doing this?’
I can definitely see where they got the whole ‘Mean Girls meets Stephen King’ tagline from. Unlike Stephen King however, this book is severely lacking in the character development department. But you know what? I kind of didn’t care. It would have perhaps made it easier to believe if we knew more about protagonist Sofia before she became friends with the ‘mean girls’ and got involved in the whole Satanic mess, but it wouldn’t make much difference, and it didn’t affect my enjoyment overall.
Like Mean Girls, this book is pretty shallow. But what it lacks in depth it makes up with in relentless action and chaos. It’s also mightily swift in pace. I definitely struggled to put it down, in fact I’m pretty sure I only put it down once.
I also really enjoyed the sort-of-twist, and although most of the book felt predictable, it was quite easy to second guess yourself and end up with a genuine surprise on your hands.
I’m already looking forward to the second book. I just hope Vega can develop the characters a bit more.
Title: The Crow Girl Author: Erik Axl Sund Series: N/A Format: Digital ARC, 784 pages Publication Details: April 7th 2016 by Harvill Secker Genre(s): Crime Fiction; Thriller Disclosure? Yep! I received a free copy in exchange for an HONEST review.
It starts with just one body – tortured, mummified and then discarded.
Its discovery reveals a nightmare world of hidden lives. Of lost identities, secret rituals and brutal exploitation, where nobody can be trusted.
This is the darkest, most complex case the police have ever seen.
This is the world of the Crow Girl.
Everything about this book drew me in until I realised that it’s almost 800 pages long! I probably would have been put off if I’d realised that before I requested a copy (because as a ‘in spare-time blogger’, I aint got time for that), but I’m so glad I started reading first. It was totally worth the investment of time.
The Crow Girl is one of the darkest, twisted, deviously woven crime books I’ve ever read. As the synopsis suggests it starts with one dead body, and mannnn does it escalate from there.
We follow protagonist Jeanette Kihlberg, a respected detective who is assigned the case when a mummified boy is discovered. Jeanette is a strong protagonist. She’s clearly dedicated to her work but is also consumed by it, which takes its toll on her private life. As more bodies show up, and the search for a killer intensifies, Jeanette’s life starts to unfurl.
The Crow Girl isn’t a simple whodunnit tale. It’s a complex saga of child abuse, paedophile circles, corrupt officials, false identities, human trafficking and psychological battles. It took me a few chapters to get hooked and adapt to the dark and twisted tone of the story but once I did, it was impossible to not get completely invested the story.
Originally written as a trilogy, and published here as one volume, The Crow Girl has been painstakingly translated from Swedish. Despite the length, I’m really glad I read this all in one go as I think it would have been too confusing in three separate books and I’m not sure I would have appreciated the first part enough to read the second; it’s all about the bigger picture and the pay off at the end! I was also extremely thankful for the short chapters – they really helped in making the book less of a chore.
This is one of those books where I don’t want to give away too much of the plot, but what I will say is that The Crow Road is a book that sheds light on child abuse and the damage it can cause. The effects of which ripple throughout all 700+ pages of this disturbing Swedish triumph.
It actually reminded me a lot of the Hannibal TV show with similarities in both content and style/tone, so if you enjoyed that I’d highly recommend giving this one a try.
Did you read any of these this year?
NEXT ON HORROR OCTOBER: Top Ten Highly Recommended Horror Reads
I kept putting Reckless off, simply because Netgalley only had a pdf file for it, but I’ve started it now…so far so good. I’m also still in the beginning stages of The Enchanted which started off great but then Horror October got in the way. *shakes fist*
I had a bit of a Horror October is coming panic and ploughed through these last week. On the most part I enjoyed them a lot. Expect my reviews soon!
Oooh I’m going to let my mood decide but either The Travelling Bag (see below) by Susan Hill or Hunter of the Deadby Stephen Kozeniewski.
New on the Shelves
The Travelling Bag ~ Susan Hill
Walter Craig was a clever scientist. As a young man he took away all the honours and prizes and some of his work was ground-breaking. But after he became seriously ill, his genius faded, and he needed the help of an assistant. When Silas Webb was appointed to the job he seemed the perfect choice, but he always preferred to work alone, even in secret. Then, quite suddenly, Webb disappeared.
Later, Craig opens a prestigious scientific journal and finds a paper, containing his own work, in detail, together with the significant results he had worked out. The research is his and his alone. But the author of the paper is Dr Silas Webb. Craig determines that he will hunt Webb down and exact revenge.
Were it not for a terrifying twist of circumstance,he might have succeeded.
Red Eye YA Horror Book Set ~ Various
I’ve already read Frozen Charlotte and loved it so I have high hopes for the other books in this set too. I’m not sure if I’ll get round to any of these for Horror October, but I couldn’t resist anyway.
Featuring award-winning authors and rising stars, Red Eye is the killer new YA series from Stripes Publishing. A fusion of pop culture, violence and technology, Red Eye gives horror a frighteningly contemporary makeover that teen readers will love. For fans of all things gruesome and ghastly – prepare to be scared out of your wits..
OK, that’s it for this week. I’m not going to be taking part in Waiting on Wednesday during October because well, there enough going on around here. 😉
If you’re joining in leave the link to your answers in the comments so everyone can take a look 🙂