HALLOW-READS 2021: 31 Book Recommendations for the 31 Days of October

For more about the books pictured above, here are blurbs and lkinks to my reviews for buy links and all that:

  1. A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson
    • Dracula’s brides retelling in which they fall in love bisexually and vampirically yeet their abuser
  2. The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller
    • Taking place in the city of Hudson, this horror has gentrification, Grinder tulpas, ghosts, gay disasters, and more
  3. Ibitsu by Haruto Ryo
    • An urban legend about a young Gothic lolita girl in the trash in search of a sibling has deadly consequences. Absolutely horrifying, especially as shit escalates
  4. Lakewood by Megan Giddings
    • To save her family from dire financial straits, Lena takes a job that looks great on paper but involves a lot of questionable medical research
  5. The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
    • Marriage of convenience turns spooky as a new wife spends the night in her husband’s literal haunted mansion; chaos magic ensues
  6. Near the Bone by Christina Henry
    • Marriage of convenience turns spooky as a new wife spends the night in her husband’s literal haunted mansion; chaos magic ensues
  7. The Taking of Jake Livingston by Ryan Douglass
    • Being one of the only Black kids at a prep school is hard enough. Being haunted by the ghost of a mass shooter doesn’t help
  8. The Troop by Nick Cutter
    • Campfire stories & camping have a certain charm. But when a bioengineered rot terror shows up, things only get grosser and more thrilling from there
  9. The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
    • A literary horror about a young couple buying their first home together–and it’s haunted. Terror ensues.
  10. Ring Shout by P. Djeli Clark
    • Dark historical fantasy in which the KKK turn into eldritch horrors and the only thing standing between them and Armageddon is a girl with a magic sword
  11. The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones
    • Childhood friends got greedy on a hunting trip and now, as adults, they’re haunted and hunted by a a mysterious elk woman
  12. Boogiepop and Others by Kouhei Kadono & Kouji Ogata
    • This light novel is about high schoolers disappearing only to reappear as the titular phantom or their enemy, the Manticore. Spooky and unsettling
  13. Small Spaces series by Katherine Arden
    • Ollie, Coco, and Brian are haunted by an entity known as the Smiling Man in a series of adventures perfect for fans of Over the Garden Wall
  14. Dai Dark by Q Hayashida
    • Zaha Sanko and his back paggy Avakian are constantly on the run from aliens who want to use Sanko’s bones to grant wishes. Perfect for people seeking to scratch that Gideon the Ninth itch
  15. The Wolf Among the Wild Hunt by Merc Fenn Wolfmoor
    • Get your queer ace/aro werewolf fix here. After killing the wrong nun, Skythulf has to redeem himself by joining the Wild Hunt. Metal af with awesome illustrations
  16. The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
    • In which cleaning up your grandmother’s home reveals more secrets than you cared to know & makes rocks fucking terrifying
  17. The Hunger by Alma Katsu
    • One of my faves? One of my absolute faves. Character-driven retelling of the Donner Party tragedy horror
  18. Psycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard of by Harold Schechter
    • Greatest crash course in almost every fucked up thing with incredible organization according to timeframe
  19. Mieruko-Chan by Tomoki Izumi
    • A slice of life comedy manga in which the main character sees some of the scariest ghosts I’ve seen in any piece of art
  20. Butcherbird by Cassie Hart
    • Local woman goes back to clear out family farmhouse that is totes haunted and the family secrets might be even scarier
  21. Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
    • In which a mother is having a hard time with her obstinate child, but we also get the kid’s terrifying point of view
  22. The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Dalila Harris
    • When Nella is no longer the only Black girl at the publishing house, conspiracy threatens to unravel the fabric of reality itself
  23. A Monstrous Love by Magen Cubed
    • A collection for those who like stories in which girls kiss and one of them may or may not be a literal monster
  24. A Certain Hunger by Chelsea G. Summers
    • It’s eat, pray, love, but more like love and eat the prey as a food critic recounts her more unsavory tastes
  25. Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus
    • A teen girl is seriously fucked up from her father’s encounter of the alien kind, but there is so much more to it than that
  26. Folklorn by Angela Mi Young Hur
    • A particle physicist in the Antarctic is haunted not only by a literal ghost but also doomed to become one of the women from her mother’s folk tales
  27. Summer Sons by Lee Mandelo
    • In which Andrew is haunted by his best friend Eddie’s ghost and that supposed suicide spirals into mysteries of the dark academic variety
  28. The Last Book on the Left: Stories of Murder and Mayhem from History’s Most Notorious Serial Killers by Marcus Parks, Henry Zabrowski, and Ben Kissel
    • Nonfiction & illustrated, serial killer heavy hitters galore
  29. Pan by Christopher Ruz
    • This retelling casts Peter Pan as the villain and has lived rent-free in my head ever since I read it
  30. Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw
    • A group of friends spend the night in a blood-thirsty haunted mansion and it ends poorly
  31. The Bloodborne comic by Ales Kot and Piotr Kowalski
    • The unsettling joy of Bloodborne fully illustrated. Mind-bending and terrifying

ARC Review: DIREWOOD by Catherine Yu (2022)

Genre: Young Adult Horror
Year Release: September 20th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Listened to a NetGalley AudioARC
Content warning: body & bug horror, death, on-page violence, racial microaggressions, vomiting

Aja’s perfect sister Fiona goes missing and strange things start happening: blood rain, a mysterious fog, blood-sucking grubs, all precursors to the arrival of a vampire. She strikes a bargain with Padraic and tries to free the kids in his thrall, including her ex-friend Mary.

Gross, goth, and steeped in 90’s vampire aesthetic, a fun read for folks constantly searching for new vampire content.

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Author to Author with Valkyrie Loughcrewe (Crom Cruach)

Welcome to the folkloric fever dream that is Crom Cruach. I’m so thrilled to chat with Val about how this novella-in-verse came to me. From the origins of the horrors within, the writing process, the soundtrack, what they’re working on next, this interview has it all. Crunchy, terrifying, and deeply human, this work is such a treat for horror and horror music fans alike.

Buy Links: Tenebrous Press Site | Kindle Edition | Bandcamp

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Manga Review: FIRE PUNCH Vol. 1 & 2 by Tatsuki Fujimoto (2018)

Genre: Horror Seinen
Year Release in English: 2018
Source: Viz Media

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Fire Punch is the first manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto, best known for Chainsaw Man. This dystopian horror in which certain humans are blessed with elemental powers feels scoured directly from the litany of things I like in my fiction. It’s hyperviolent, it’s bleak as all get out, there’s an ice witch who destroyed the world, there are people with powers and completely irresponsible ways of using, it’s complete Jo bait.

I’m only two volumes in, and I am definitely continuing with the series as the need for treats come in because wow.

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ARC Review: LUCKY GIRL, How I Became A Horror Writer: A Krampus Story by M. Rickert (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: September 13th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read a NetGalley eARC
Trigger/Content warning: serial murder, dead family, stalking, spiritual abuse, ritual torture (aftermath)

Ro is a struggling writer with a couple of stories and a group of friends who seemed to have come together randomly at a diner during Christmas. They meet for several Christmases more, and each one seems to end worse than the one that came before as the past haunts them.

More creepy than scary, with people proving to be the real horror with folkloric elements woven throughout that makes the reader wonder if there’s sinister spirits afoot or if people are just like that.

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ARC Review: CROM CRUACH by Valkyrie Loughcrewe (2022)

Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: September 22, 2022
Buy Links: Tenebrous Press Site | Kindle Edition | Bandcamp

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eARC from the publisher
Trigger warnings: body horror, gore, blood, murder, homophobia, racism, transphobia, anti-traveller racism, animal death, Nazis, arson, vomit

A family is found murdered in their homes, but their bodies haven’t quite got the memo. Churches have been burned and locals are quick to accuse others of heinous crimes. Or commit them themselves. Is it a product of something folkloric or something disturbingly human?

With sharp lines, feverish and gross imagery, this horror novella feels like a nightmare with a deeply human cast.

An interview with the author will be going up on release day, September 22nd, 2022.

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August 2022 Reading Recap

August saw me flying from New York City back to Texas and spending a bunch of time recovering from psychic damage I’m not going to get into. I also did a bunch of painting, had a weird episode with my Instagram, and just. What a ride of a month it was!

I am nearing the end of my revision journey, and then I’m going to be doing more focused reading lists that I may or may not share as part of the recovery phase after finishing an intense project.

This month’s blog interviews were:

September is off to a hype start, with me getting to announce a short story with the inaugural edition of the Best Served Cold zine.

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Review: REVENGE by Yōko Ogawa (2013)

Genre: Adult Horror Short Story Collection
Year Release: 2010 (2022 on audio)
Source: Library Audiobook

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Listened to the audiobook
Trigger warnings: death of a child, blood, gore, surgery, mold, vomiting

My introduction to Yoko Ogawa is via this collection of short stories, each one scarier than the one that came before it. We follow a mourning mother, lovers in a quarrel, doctors too committed to their jobs, doctors not committed enough, and scoundrels slithering in the dark.

This short story collection itself reads like a single novel with several narrators, several which appear in different stories. Masterful in the way it amps the terror of otherwise pedestrian life.

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ARC Review: THE HONEYS by Ryan La Sala (2022)

Genre: YA Horror
Year Release: August 16th, 2022
Buy Links: Bookshop.org | Unabridged Bookstore | Libro.fm

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Read an eGalley courtesy of the publisher
Trigger/Content warning: death of a sibling, body horror, blood, bleeding, kidnapping, hazing

In the middle of the night when she’s supposed to be away at her prestigious summer camp, Mars’ sister Caroline attacks them within their family home. The encounter ends in tragedy, with a tidy explanation, but Mars suspects the camp itself might have had a hand in the violence. They take her spot, and they start learning about what lurks within bucolic Aspen Conservancy Summer Academy.

I had a fun time getting lost in the haze of La Sala’s prose which deftly takes the reader from summer’s bliss to a trippy nightmare. It’s entertaining and really fun for folks who have seen films like Hereditary and Annihilation, but stars a badass genderfluid teen determined to find out the truth about his sister’s death.

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Review: WITH A VENGEANCE by Freydís Moon (2022)

Genre: Adult Dark Paranormal Romance
Year Release: 2022
Source: Barnes & Noble

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Content Warnings: Dominant/submissive roleplay, rape fantasy, consensual explicit content, dubious consent, deadnaming, misgendering, body horror, dysphoria, reference to off-page sexual assault, murder, violence and gore, spanking, belt play, religious eroticism, religious trauma, familial death, saliva play, blood play, size difference, primal play, breeding kink, psychosis, mention of depression, depressive episodes, suicide ideation, racism, police brutality

Kye Lovato (they/them) returns to their haunted childhood home to settle their recently-deceased mother’s affairs. A demon prince, Eligos, hears Kye’s desperation and possesses them, starting a relationship that’s drenched in the supernatural, complete with powers. As if that isn’t complicated enough, an ICE agent starts sniffing around their mother’s alebrijes business and threatens the community she’s taken care of.

This romance between a nonbinary human and a demon is affirming and hot in its sexual content, while, also having a nuanced exploration of culture, family, grief, healing, and the things people do to keep their community safe from shady law enforcement. An incredible blend of recovering from trauma, a mystery, and getting split open by a saucy demon.

An interview with the author will be going up on September 1st.

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