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

February 2022 Reading Recap

February is a month where I largely took off from writing my own fiction in preparation for Futurescapes this weekend. Like, I dabbled a bit, mostly played video games. Still did some reading. I finally can go back to listening to audiobooks, which is great for my brain buzz.

Here is a round up of my February reads. I got to interview two fabulous authors to kick off the month:

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October 2020 Reading Recap

In October, my friends and I went full spooky season and watched a new movie every weekend. By new, I mean, it was a different movie, but it happened to be new to at least one of us every time. Watching movies with friends is nice, don’t you know?

Started a new job this month, so reading has noticeably slowed down. Whoops.

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Review: THE HOLLOW PLACES by T. Kingfisher (2020)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2020
Source: Audible

Listened to the audiobook
Content warnings: Body horror, bad taxidermy

After a divorce, 34-year-old Kara moves in with her uncle rather than live with her mother. Uncle Earl owns the Wonder Museum, a place full of strange and manufactured finds, which is the key tourist attraction in their small town. A hole in the walls pulls Kara and her friend Simon into a twisted Narnia full of willows and untold horrors.

This book is immersive in the creepiest way. You are so deep in the physical sensations and the way reality slips slowly away from Kara as she gets deeper and deeper into the secrets of this haunted, hollow place. The creatures are creepy and vivid. But more over, I greatly admire how the narrative makes sure to let the reader that these terrors are having an effect. There’s lingering trauma that make more pedestrian problems seem far away, especially the rock bottom Kara felt like she hit.

What unnerved me the most was that this alternate reality is simply a malevolent beast. Unlike other horror where the chills and thrills clearly map to the protagonist’s trauma, this one just exists in its own evil. Thankfully, Kara has enough snark and faulty coping mechanisms to elicit a laugh when the tension gets too much.

If you ever wondered what Narnia would be like if it was less fairy tale whimsy and more Pan’s Labyrinth folk horror, definitely step into this world nested between different realities.

March 2020 Reading Recap

March2020RR

Here we are friends, in a time of social distancing where staying at home is the most productive thing you can do to keep yourself and those around you safe. Which for me, includes working my dayjob from 9 to 5 and then spending time with audiobooks while playing video games (currently playing Animal Crossing). This is what I read in March. I should really consider augmenting my reading goal, I’m 17 books ahead already.

This month, I also interviewed K.M. Szpara to celebrate the release of his debut novel, Docile.

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Review: THE TWISTED ONES by T. Kingfisher (2019)

Rating: 4/5 stars
Genre: Adult horror
Year Release: 2019
Source: Audible

Listened to the audiobook

Going to grandmother’s house turns into eldritch horror as Mouse is tasked by her father to clean the place out after grandma’s death. Armed with freelance work, helpful townsfolk, and a very good dog named Bongo, Mouse must face haunted woods, a creepy, prophetic journal, and her step-grandfather’s own descent into madness.

The concept of rifling through the deceased’s items can be uncomfortable enough. Mouse’s grandmother, however, had also been a hoarder on top of a generally terrible person. I really liked all the coping mechanisms Kingfisher presented during this cursed clean-up job: diving into edits, reading an old-timey journal as if it’s another editorial gig, listening to NPR, going on walks, and more. None of this, however, distracts from the creeping dread. It starts with a pedestrian kind of weird, i.e. the room of dolls, to something ripped out of Bloodborne’s design works.

Though immersive and character-driven in a way that makes the dead feel as alive as the living, the pacing of the story could have been a bit more consistent. I think I understood the intention of the normalcy, but when the ending came, it felt so abrupt. Perhaps that had been the point.

That being said, I will always appreciate a work which starts by “spoiling” the ending, but continues to deliver on the terror. We know Mouse and Bongo are telling us the adventure at grandma’s house after the fact. It doesn’t make the monsters any easier to look at or the mantras any less disturbing.

Unsettling in a way that makes rocks absolutely horrifying, a must-read for fans of folkloric horror and very good boys.