ARC Review: A DOWRY OF BLOOD by S.T. Gibson (2021)

Genre: Horror Romance
Year Release: January 2021
Buy Links: NYX Publishing

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an ARC courtesy of the author
Content warning: emotional and domestic abuse, blood, violence, mental illness, gaslighting

If you’ve ever been interested in reading a story of Dracula told from the perspective of one of his brides, look no further. Told from Constanta’s POV, we experience her tumultuous relationship with the ubervamp and her relationship with her fellow spouses, spanning literal centuries. It’s romantic, but it also heart-wrenching with all the gothic delights one expects from a vampire story.

Author S.T. Gibson will also be my first author interview of the year so look out for that.

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Manga Review: Requiem of the Rose King Vol. 1 by Aya Kanno

Genre: Dark Fantasy Shonen
Year Release in English: 2015
Source: Viz Media Shonen Jump Subscription

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Transphobia, misgendering, medieval violence

The premise of this manga is that it is Richard III but instead of having a hump, Richard is intersex, with elements of Henry VI woven throughout. This cover kept coming up on recommendations and feeds, so I had to dive in.

Dear readers, this is going to ruin my life and I am excited.

We’re introduced to the conflict of the Lancaster and York families which has lasted for a while. It looks like the Yorks are winning, but things take a turn for the worst when York retreats. I love the relationship King Richard has with his son. His death is completely telegraphed, but its depiction on the last page pulled me right in. It’s moving, it’s brutal, and I went two days before I caved and got the last volume.

Richard’s mother, Cecily, is a piece of work. She hates her son for being intersex, even though everyone around him otherwise accepts him. The other character who’s an asshole is the ghost of Joan of Arc, whose sole function seems to be to terrorize Richard. I’m invested enough that I definitely want to know more about her and the context for why she has latched onto this goth prince.

Manga Review: CHAINSAW MAN Vol. 3 by Tatsuki Fujimoto

Genre: Dark Fantasy Shonen
Year Release in English: 2020
Source: Viz Media Shonen Jump Subscription

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Blood, gore, monsters, vomiting

This volume gets a bit gross on several fronts. Tensions are high as the eternity devil goes specifically after Denji. Half the gang wants to feed Denj to it. And he learns the taste of devil’s blood. Fujimoto does a great job introducing new rules and mechanics of this world through action sequences. This segment, however, also features moving flashbacks from Himeno, and dives deeper into possibly Denji’s psyche. It’s direct and moves the plot nicely along.

The drinks scene gets a little uncomfortable, with boundaries all the way down. Himeno comes onto Denji and promptly vomits on him. They go home together and nothing comes of it. Instead, they establish a mutual understanding of romantic goals. It’s quieter and less dire than Denji’s conversations with Makima and Aki. I can’t wait to see this friendship deepens.

And then the assassins show up with what looks like a new villain, and I am appropriately eager for how this unfolds.

Manga Review: CHAINSAW MAN Vol. 2 by Tatsuki Fujimoto

Genre: Dark Fantasy Shonen
Year Release in English: 2020
Source: Viz Media Shonen Jump Subscription

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Blood, gore, monsters

In Volume 2, we pick up with the bat devil fight. It’s fast-paced, but when Fujimoto decided to pause, it stayed with me. The way he contrasts Denji as a devil-man against the other devils and against the other devil hunters really works. He seems kinder than both parties, but really Denji’s a beast of his own. He just wants to do whatever will help him comfortable. And you know what, I support it.

Many secondary characters were introduced, and I found myself drawn to Himeno. Her flashbacks add touch of seriousness that felt a little absent. Being a devil hunter is hard, and she has a trail of partners behind her. It really works to show her relationship with Aki, but then also hints towards her interest in Denji.

Everyone seems to be into the young devil-man, and the cliffhanger this volume ends on is a bit stressful, and I’m hype for it.

Manga Review: CHAINSAW MAN Vol. 1 by Tatsuki Fujimoto

Note: Starting in 2021, I’ll be reviewing the manga I’m reading. It takes up a bunch of my reading and totally counts. I definitely want to share my favorites.

Genre: Dark Fantasy Shonen
Year Release in English: 2020
Source: Viz Media Shonen Jump Subscription

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Content warnings: Blood, gore, monsters

Monster transformations in anime/manga have got to me my favorite things. This one is something that has come back on my radar with the MAPPA adaptation coming, so I wanted to dive into the source material.

With the hyperviolence and “killing things like yourself” of Toyko Ghoul and a humorous tome reminiscent of Kill la Kill, I am super on board for this journey of a young man who merges with his dog to fight the devils terrorizing the world.

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Author to Author with Sam J. Miller (#TheBladeBetween)

Photo by Howard “Howie” Gibson (website here)

The Blade Between is a horror ghost story about Hudson, New York, where ghosts of Hudson’s past join the fight against gentrification. Terrifying and moving, this is a book so nice, I read it twice. Author Sam J. Miller took some time to talk me about the inspiration behind the book, writing process, and books he’s looking forward to next.

Buy links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

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November 2020 Reading Recap

In November, I attempted NaNoWriMo, and I did not win. Which is fine. Work was wild. I’m not on any contractual deadline. I read a lot, but I feel like this month had more duds in it than usual. It happens.

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ARC Review: THE BLADE BETWEEN by Sam J. Miller (2020)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: December 2020
Source: NetGalley
Buy links: Bookshop | Unabridged Books | Libro.fm

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Read an ARC via NetGalley
Trigger warnings: Arson, stabbing, suicide, eviction, drug addiction, sexual assault (implied)

The city of Hudson, New York is rich in a history that’s about to be erased by the gears of gentrification and corporate interests. The community fights back, but it isn’t until the whale gods and ghosts of Hudson’s past join the fray, feasting on hate and unleashing violence upon this already-tense community.

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Review: THE TROOP by Nick Cutter (2014)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2014
Source: Chirp Audiobooks

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warning: maggots, pica, body horror, surgery, starvation, medical experimentation

Some of my peers who are avid horror readers recommended this read to me, without much context aside from its excellence. What I came to discover is a book a little like Lord of the Flies if wasn’t trying so hard to be important with a backdrop of of Rory Power’s Wilder Girls.

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Review: A MONSTROUS LOVE: A F/F Anthology by Magen Cubed (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Horror Erotica
Year Release: 2019
Source: Books2Read

Content warnings: Blood play, cannibalism

A collection of shorts of women who love women bathed in a horror aesthetic. There’s something for everyone here: demons, vampires, cannibals, ghosts, all perfect for that Halloween-y flair.

Of the four shorts, I think “Hunger in Bondage” was my favorite, mostly because I enjoyed the way Cubed subverted expectations by making the vampire be the sub. The flirtation and seduction are excellent from start to finish, a brief delight to keep spooky season living on for a few days more.