I had watched the Boogiepop Phantom anime several years ago and due to my recent foray into manga and light novels, decided to give the source material a try. It is a treat.
Told non-linearly, we follow a collection of high schoolers as some of their own disappear and others turn into either Boogiepop or their enemy the Manticore. Souls get devoured in a technological attempt to subjugate humanity, and Boogiepop needs their own set of allies to set things straight.
The craft here cleverly plays with reader’s sense of reality as the grounding of real vs. surreal becomes upended from the point of view of the character narrating that chapter. The kids are certainly not all right, and the adults are strangely absent. I’m interested in seeing if we get any of them involved. There seem to be strict rules about attendance, phone use, dating, etc. but when one of them goes missing, no one talks about it. It’s eerie in the same way groupthink is, and it just adds to the unsettling nature of this story and its telling.
I’m lucky to have already purchased the second novel, and I’m excited to dive in.
Genre: Adult Literary Suspense Year Release: 2021 Source: Audible
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content warning: Microaggressions, racism, stalking, kidnapping
A new co-worker in the office tends to be exciting. When another Black girl arrives and Nella Rogers is no longer the only Black girl her at her company, strange things begin to happen. Mysterious notes and cryptic texts telling her to leave Wagner send Nella in a spiral that could unravel the fabric of reality itself.
Excellent in its twists, and takes its sweet time establishing understanding, The Other Black Girl interrogates the publishing infrastructure for its lack of diversity while also introducing dread and menace in a tightly woven mystery.
If this has been pitched to you as Get Out meets The Stepford Wives but make it publishing, you’ve got an accurate description of this book.
May came at me like a freight train. Specifically, Kentaro Miura, creator of Berserk, passed and that has been a sledgehammer to my heart and creative spirit. To get completely too personal, I’ve had to do an inventory of all my things and file them under “survival” and “creativity.” The blog is here to stay, don’t worry about that.
For yet another month, the mind is still a mess, but the reads have been fantastic.
Sorrowland tells the story of Vern, an albino Black teen who escapes a cult, gives birth to twins in the woods, and is haunted by ghosts from a past that might not immediately be her own. This book covers so much ground, has so many layers. There is horror, there is fantasy, and a brilliant voice at the heart of it all. I’m thrilled to have gotten a chance to talk to Rivers about how fae put all the pieces together.
Excuse me, but where did April go? This month went by so quickly, I cannot wrap my head around it. And what a roller coaster of a ride it was.
The big thing that happened to me was that my beloved Eclectus parrot, Investor, had to be put to sleep due to poor health. He was in our family for 20 years. I try to smile through the happy memories, but mostly it’s just tears.
Read a NetGalley eARC Content warning: birth, self harm, teen pregnancy, drowning, child abuse, cult, emotional abuse, blood, gaslighting, drowning, rape, gun violence, hanging, suicide, AIDS
Fifteen-year-old Vern gives birth to twins in the woods after having escaped the religious compound where things were amiss. She seeks to raise them free of that influence, but the hauntings and hunts force her to interact with the forbidden world beyond.
Feral and howling, this brilliant piece of speculative fiction is not one to miss. It is as beautiful as it is raw, and I am truly jealous that I can’t re-experience it for the first time again.
An interview with author Rivers Solomon will be posted on the blog on release day, May 4th 2021.
Genre: Adult Horror Year Release: 2021 Source: Libro.fm
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Listened to the audiobook Content warning: spousal abuse, spousal rape (off screen but implied), brainwashing, gaslighting, body horror, kidnapping, and gore
This is by far one of the saddest horror novels I have ever read. In this wintery, mountainside tail, we get deep inside the mind of Mattie, wife to an abusive husband named William and who lives in a cabin with literally no other human contact. Then a mysterious beast leaves behind a mutilated bear, and William will stop at nothing to kill it. Strangers come around in search of the same creature and Mattie’s world might not be all as it appears.
It is a heart-wrenching exploration of reclaiming identity and fighting back against an abusive husband while also opening up and learning to trust strangers and your own instincts. And yes, there is plenty of body horror and gore, but those are not the fears to be found in this game of cat-and-mouse between humans and a beast.
This horror mystery series is a perfect combination of Death Note, Future Diary, and Another. Sae-sensei uses his position as a biology teacher to cover up his true profession: a Curse Breaker. A cat-and-mouse game ensues as he works with new assistant Kanta to determine who’s causing the deaths of several classmates.
The tone of this manga is off to an excellent start. Deeply irreverent with fantastically distorted faces to show off their sinister natures. The font choices also made this incredibly fun.
The mechanism of the curse-killing itself was a little silly, but it was simple enough to set the rules of this world where curse gods give people powers. Plus, it let the readers get a feel for the characters. The last pages showing off who’s really at play really teased my interest, and I definitely can’t wait to read the next volume when it comes out this summer.
March was my first full month of dayjob. I also took a small break from writing after a major breakthrough in the revision. Unfortunately, that means rewriting the entire thing. In spite of that, I did get a lot of reading done. I even read my first physical copy of the year.
To be fair, I am finding a lot of solace in manga right now, and I can’t quite articulate why. When I figured it out, I will definitely let you know. I have also gotten majorly into buying earrings from indigenous creators. More details about this can be found on my Instagram.
The interview I did this month with C.L. Clark to celebrate their debut, The Unbroken, is one of my favorite interviews yet. I also posted a personal-feeling advice piece on beta reading and giving feedback in general (Writing is Hard Part 8).
Genre: Dark Fantasy Shonen Year Release in English: 2018-2019 Source: Viz Media Shonen Jump Subscription
Click here to read my review of Volumes 1-3, and click here for my review of Volumes 4-8. Major spoilers for the anime. General spoilers for the manga.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Content warnings: hunting of children, gun violence
My lord, is the Goldy Pond Arc just ramping up the tension. We think we’re getting to the bottom of the mystery of Mr. Minerva and all we get is…a literal golden pond. It’s so disappointing, and opens up so many questions. But the questions don’t come in a way that obfuscates everything that came before. The thread remains and the kids’ search for Mr. Minerva continues.
I do love the relationship between the older kids and Lucas. The dramatic irony of knowing the fate of “the man,” and Lucas thinking he is the sole survivor tugs at the heart strings.
We also find out what’s going on with Norman. The poor boy has landed himself in yet another farm-like facility, this time without any other children around. He’s being prepared for something, and those questions are left up in the air, but it is nice to get confirmation of his fate. Which only makes Emma’s recollections of him hit differently.
It’s tender in a way that draws a straight line to everyone gathering together to finally take down Leuvis and his team of demons. I blitzed through these chapters because the action leaps off the page, and you’re rooting for everyone to survive. Everyone has their own strengths, but together, you’re desperately hoping they’re unstoppable.
Content warnings: Gun violence, body horror, cannibalism (demonic), impaling
The internal screaming and stress continues as Emma faces off one-on-one against Leuvis, counting down the minutes for the other teams to take down the other demons. These fights are tightly-paced and the action leaps off the page. On one hand, you’re cheering the kids on, but on the other hand, you’re a little concerned how proficient they are with firearms. But the demons fall, and hope rings. Until the fight with Leuvis, who is the strongest demon we have seen so far.
What I greatly enjoyed here is how balanced the battles are. The demons aren’t completely overpowered. While the kids have their weapons and their cleverness, there is still a real sense of danger and tensions are through the roof.
So, I read these pages while my boyfriend showers. It took all my energy to not cheer out loud when two familiar faces show up. The gang is kind of back together, but there’s still the problem of seemingly-unstoppable Leuvis to deal with.
Content warnings: Gun violence, gore, blood
The way my eyes watered during this volume sure was something.
The kids defeat Leuvis, and Lucas reunites with the man, named Yugo. The tenderness between them borders on romantic, but it is cathartic given that they haven’t seen each other for thirteen years. The relief across both their faces and the use of flashback throughout this volume as so evocative.
There is much healing and reunion to be had. One arc closes and another begins. A happy found family lives in the bunker, and there is no way this happiness can last. Peter Ratri and his clan show up at the very end and the stress kicks up once again.