Happy New Year from me and my very strange perception of time. January felt very long, and it’s only barely almost over. What also doesn’t help is that my goals for the year are still quite nebulous aside from the reading goals and fitness goals. Which is fine, really. Time has been strange since March 2020, and I’m sorry to remind you how far away that date is.
Anyway, here is what I read this fine January! There has also been one blog interview:
Read a NetGalley eARC Content warning: falling, disfiguration, vomiting, body horror, violence against birds, suicide (both discussed and depicted)
Sam Avery’s boyfriend, Nick Grevers, is an avid mountaineer who goes into Alps one season and an accident occurs. Nick’s climbing partner Augustin perishes while Nick returns with supposed amnesia and a face completely bandaged up. In an effort to give his boyfriend closure and healing, Sam races against time and nature while supernatural madness unfolds. While Nick might have left the mountain behind, it certainly back with him.
Echo taps into several sources of primordial dread, like losing the one we love in ways less permanent than death, tall men who are slightly too tall, and sleep deprivation demons.
I read 153 books this year in a 50/50 split between audiobooks and other formats. Being unemployed helped that along, didn’t do much for me in terms of my mental health. But there were so many good reads consumed and published this year, I had to make two lists. Enjoy!
Good-bye April, the shortest month this year. I have gone through a lot of sudden changes, but there are always more books to read. I even discovered two new favorites this month, which feels exciting.
Rating: 5/5 stars
Genre: Adult Horror
Year Release: 2016
Source: My own hard copy
Trigger warnings: suicide, body horror, torture, public flogging, vomit, dog dying
In Black Spring, NY, having a 300-year-old witch named Katherine van Wyler whose eyes and mouth had been sewn shut show up in your living room is supposed to be treated as completely normal. This normality is partially achieved by the draconian Emergency Decree which prevents Black Spring residence from speaking to the lands outside. Some teenagers are fed up and want to document what interacting with the witch is like in the hopes of virality. It goes about as well as you’d expect.
I loved this book. Despite the upsetting moments and sickening imagery, I couldn’t stop reading. Mostly because I wanted to bite the witch’s finger of awful as fast as I could, but also the town’s descent into madness is something to behold. People are as terrifying as the witchcraft, especially with low tolerance for anything interfering with their way of life. It’s a fantastic mix of superstition and religious zealotry.
In terms of the characters, Heuvelt deftly assembled a cast of people who had lived in Black Spring their whole lives, newcomers, those who had already lived there, folks afraid of the witch, and those who worshiped her. It kept ebb and flow of the terrors into veritable river rapids, which made it so hard to get off that wild ride. I fell for the Grants, which reeks of tragedy (I do want to note: the dog dies in this one). I very much enjoyed how Katherine was a character in a way more reminiscent as the setting being a character, not a protagonist or antagonist being a character. She was mesmerizing and though her motives are singular, she certainly isn’t one dimensional.
In addition, an element I found unique to this horror was the use of technology. HEX was an organization founded adjacent to the police whose sole purpose is to watch the witch’s movements and make sure townsfolk did not touch her. There was fantastic internal logic as to why some things did and didn’t get out, but it didn’t seem to date the work aside from placing it firmly in contemporary upstate NY.
When the decaying, not quite alive, not quite dead witch corpse is the least scary part of a horror novel, you know you’re in a terrifying treat.