Manga Review: MIERUKO-CHAN Vol. 3 & 4 by Tomoki Izumi (2021)

Genre: Slice-of-Life Horror
Year Release in English: 2021
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

For some reason, I never rated Volume 3. Anyway, this continues to be a consistent delight. The ghosts are just getting scarier, the plot is starting to take shape, and the greater world of spiritualists unfolds.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Continue reading

Manga Review: HANGER Volumes 1-3 by Hirotaka Kisaragi (2020)

Genre: Science Fiction Shounen-Ai
Year Release in English: 2020
Source: BOOK☆WALKER

Reminder: The star rating reflects overall opinion of the series.

In a future Neo-Tokyo, it takes a super-powered drug user to take down super-powered drug users. Hajime is partnered with Zeroichi, a Hanger looking to reduce his sentence by apprehending other criminals. What ensues is a twisty thriller dealing with identity and the moral quandaries of the means justifying the ends. Oh, and a slow burn romance.

Rating: 4 out of 5.
Continue reading

Review: HOUSE OF HOLLOW by Krystal Sutherland (2021)

Genre: Young Adult Horror
Year Release: 2021
Source: Physical copy

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content warnings: Body horror, vomiting, child abduction, suicide (graphic), sexual assault (discussed)

Years before the story starts, three sisters went missing on New Year’s Eve, only to return to their parents with white hair and black eyes without a clue where they went or what happened to them. In the present, Iris is doing all she can to be a normal teen while her oldest sister, Grey, is a global fashion powerhouse, and her older sister, Vivi, traipses across Europe as a rockstar. When the sisters are supposed to reunite, Grey goes missing, and Iris and Vivi stumble down a horror/fairy tale rabbit to get answers to both Grey’s disappearance and the truth about their past.

This strange, scary adventure is a fantastic exploration on the layers of messiness when it comes to femininity, identity, in family with fabulously double-edged prose that’s equally unnerving and beautiful.

Continue reading

Review: NIGHTBITCH by Rachel Yoder (2021)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2021
Source: Audible

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: Gore, body horror, violence against animals (the cat dies)

A mother lives with her toddler and engineer husband. One day, hair like fur starts showing up on her body and the story only gets weirder and more visceral from there. She’s trying to reconcile who she is as a mother in contrast to herself as an artist in contrast to society’s expectations of both.

This book is intense with an energy that made it so, so, so hard to look away until the curtain falls on a performance art piece that imitates life and the mythology woven throughout.

Continue reading

Review: WYLDING HALL by Elizabeth Hand (2014)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2014
Source: Audible

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: Drug use

A folk band rents out a manor for the summer to record an album. The story of that recording is told through interviews with their manager, the bandmates, and others as they try to tell the full account of singer-guitarist Julian Blake’s disappearance.

This book is super eerie. The interview format really works here, as it’s super easy to track the different versions of the story, in addition to pin-pointing the moments when reality gets a bit wonky. The atmosphere shines through in the different tellings, with a great balance of nostalgia and things unspoken.

Getting any more specific will spoiler the experience, but this was a fun story to sink into, watching these youth make seemingly innocuous choices that rest in stark contrast to the horror to come.

ARC Review: A SPINDLE SPLINTERED by Alix E. Harrow (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: October 5 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warning: chronic illness, rape (implied, not depicted)

Zinnia Gray has a chronic illness which will claim her life before she turns twenty-two. Charm, her best friend, throws a Sleeping Beauty-themed birthday party that accidentally causes a dimensional rift which sends Zinnia to the world of another Sleeping Beauty, Primrose. The two embark on a quest to wrench agency and salvation from their own crappy happy-ever-afters, while encountering a multi-verse of other Beauties.

This book is incredibly sad. There are constant reminders of Zinnia’s countdown, and the relationship between her and Charm is filled with so much angst. The love between them is firmly founded by their friendship, and strengthened by everything that unspools in these brief pages.

It’s wonderfully feminist in the way that the girls want to work together to save each other from their own crappy fates. The hope also comes from a place tinged with a wish these girls didn’t have to be strong in the ways that they are. It balances out the fairy tale fun of the story such that it works, with the constant emotive tension. The bit where they meet the Maleficent character is absolutely heart-breaking, and I’m not going to spoil it here. It just works.

It’s not my lane to speak to, but I do want to highlight that there is a bit of magical cure in which the havoc wreaked on Zinnia’s body is reversed at the end of the adventure, though the illness itself remains. If this is a trope you’d rather avoid, I’m not sure how much the series will work to subvert it, so that’s to be determined.

ARC Review: NOTHING BUT BLACKENED TEETH by Cassandra Khaw (2021)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: October 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC from the publisher
Content warning: gore, blood

Cat, Phillip, Faiz, Nadia, and Lin are on a trip to Japan for a destination wedding that sounds idyllic on paper: a getaway to an old mansion. One problem arises, however, when the mansion already has a bride in its walls, plus the bones of other girls buried alive. It’s hungry and it wants more blood.

The thrills and chills in this novella are incredible. While there’s not too much going on as far as plot goes, there is a richness to the attention-to-detail as far the character studies and the atmosphere goes. I can feel every disturbing detail. No stone goes unturned which makes this some of the scariest under-150 pages I’ve ever experienced.

If you want to be delighted and disgusted by a ghost story that doesn’t flinch away from the bloodier and gorier details of how it all falls apart. In addition, there is also a meta-textual level where Lin and the narrator point out how quickly the group falls into horror story tropes. You watch it unfold. You tell them that they’re on the right path. But then you wince as it goes to shit anyway. It goes to show that even if you know “the rules,” the ghost house wants what it wants, and that thing is blood and terror.

Manga Review: HAPPINESS Vol 1-10 by Shūzō Oshimi

Genre: Horror Shonen
Year Release in English: 2015-2019
Source: Azuki Manga Cafe

Sometimes you start reading a series and next thing you know, you’re several chapters in and deeply invested in the plight of the characters. Volumes don’t matter. What is structure anyway? So this review of an entire manga will be slightly different in that I will be talking about the series overall rather reviewing each individual volume.

In short, this vampire horror filled with emotions and the centering of childhood upended by supernatural happenings reminiscent of Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist.

Rating: 5 out of 5.
Continue reading

ARC Review: BEING SEEN: One Deafblind Woman’s Fight to End Ableism by Elsa Sjunneson (2021)

Genre: Adult Memoir
Year Release: October 26, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: ableism, depression, suicidal ideation, medically-assisted suicide, assault (sexual and physical, mentioned), child abuse, spousal abuse, eugenics, Nazis

Elsa Sjunneson is an award-winning writer, professor, and media critic. She is also Deafblind woman with partial vision in one eye and bilateral hearing aids. This memoir takes the reader through her personal history while also seamlessly incorporating critique of popular works featuring disabled characters and dispelling myths about the disabled experience through a combination of lived experience, history, sociology, and pop culture.

Infused with intersectionality, dry humor, and passion for the media critiqued, this is not one to miss.

The author Elsa Sjunneson will be featured on the blog tomorrow, October 26th, release date.

Continue reading

ARC Review: LOOK TO THE SUN by Emmie Mears (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy
Year Release: October 28, 2021
Buy Links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: fascism, suicide (depicted), domestic abuse, homophobia

The National People’s Voice have ruled over Kael for the last 15 years, and our story begins when things escalate in city-wide protests in Sanmarian, the capital. Beo and Rose are strangers drawn together by one novel that the fascist regime seems determined to destroy. Amidst incredible reveals, deep tragedies, tender moments of human connection, and more, this book does a phenomenal job of depicting survival despite insidious oppression.

A dystopian wonder that is difficult to read at times, but the hopeful ending is so, so, so earned.

The author Emmie Mears will be featured on the blog on October 28th, release date.

Continue reading