ARC Review: THE HAUNTING OF ALEJANDRA by V. Castro (2023)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: April 18, 2023
Buy Links: | Unabridged Books |

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from NetGalley
Content warning: realities of pregnancy, child abandonment, adoption, miscarriage, suicidal ideation, death by suicide, child harm, child murder, self-harm, racist microaggressions, self-harm

Alejandra is a woman who is trapped in an ideal life that she isn’t sure is at all what she wanted for herself. A stay-at-home mother to three children, she and her husband recently moved to Philadelphia and a demonic presence adopting the visage of La Llorona haunts her shortly upon their arrival.

A horror that leans heavily into women’s fiction, this is a story about reckoning with generational trauma, the bonds that tie families together, and the resentments fueled by unrealistic expectations of perfect motherhood that threaten to tear them all apart, both literally and figuratively.

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Review: LANNY by Max Porter (2021)

Genre: Adult Fantasy (Folk Horror)
Year Release: 2021
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warnings: child kidnapping, speculation around child molestation and trafficking

Lanny takes place in a bucolic English village with a handful of residents and the titular child who befriends the town coot, Mad Pete, while Dead Papa Toothworth – part fae, part cryptid – observes the comings and goings in the land that he’s lived in since time immemorial.

In reviews I’ve read, I see people describing this as a contemporary fantasy, but since it covers a child disappearing without a trace, I came out of it feeling it’s more a folk horror with a hopeful ending. The audiobook narration is enchanting and unsettling, with great voice work done to enhance the stylistic choices on page. It also adds to the eeriness of Toothworth’s narration as well, a combination of different voices throughout the village.

The magic within the novel is very slipstream, not quite explained, but very much rooted in something older than the village itself. I liked the way Porter approaches the rift between Lanny’s family who are newcomers to the village and those who have lived their entire lives. There’s mistrust and skepticism, and it really worked for me in terms of driving up the tension. In terms of the themes, collective myth and what belonging means are two of them, and the chosen perspectives bright those to life.

If you want to disappear into something magic, something examining art as a craft, and to be somewhat unsettled with the end result, give this a read.

Author to Author with Tim McGregor (Lure)

Lure tells the story of a family who came to a fishing village named for a hero and the aftermath of a literal mermaid showing up on their shores. Full of gnarly fisherman, preachers in denial, lovestruck idiots, and kids who don’t know better, this novella is a treat for those who like watching characters struggle with goodness, heroism, and mythologic reverence. It’s great for fans of Robert Eggers films and other folk horror tales.

In today’s release day interview, author Tim McGregor shares with me the origins of this haunting tale, his experience working with Tenebrous Press, and the stories he’s working on now.

Buy Links: Tenebrous Press Site | Kindle Edition

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