Recent Reads #62

As ever, today I will be briefly reviewing all the books I’ve read since my last post in approximately fifty words. 

I want to write a full review of some of these books in the future, so I’ll just share some quick thoughts now with the full review to come.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo


TW: death, murder, child death, body horror, bullying, gore, emotional abuse

What Big Teeth is the type of book that defies expectations and categorisations. It is the whisper in the dark, the chill in your bones and the feeling of something lurking over your shoulder. 

Szabo delicately walks that line between fantasy and reality perfectly, messing with your head. This is a family of wolves and teeth, monsters in far more ways than one. You end up with this odd concoction of fairy-tales, myths and horror that I just cannot get out of my head. It’s both so fiercely and vulnerably human as it is monstrous and dark. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Lost Girls by Sonia Hartl


TW: manipulation, gaslighting, death, violence, sexual harassment, blood

Hartl has this really funny and witty writing style that draws you in straight away. It opens with this utterly unglamorous view of teenage vampirism, hilariously dispelling any expectations you may have going in. It has such strong What We Do in the Shadows vibes to it, which I absolutely adored. The writing style is so pacy and constantly flowing, making this a very easy book to binge in one sitting. Alongside the humour, there is also plenty of suspense and tension that keeps the pages turning and the reader completely enthralled. 

This is an absorbing and alluring tale that explores female rage, solidarity and friendship. It’s a darkly comic sapphic vampire romance that will make you fall in love.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Perfect Place to Die by Bryce Moore

TW: emotional abuse, murder, physical abuse, gaslighting, abusive parents, death

This book opens with one hell of a bang. There’s instantly the promise of menace and mass murder. This sets the scene for a bloody tale of death and destruction. The opening notes from the killer’s confession that start the majority of the chapters of the book are genuinely unnerving and creepy. It’s made even worse by the author’s note explaining that these are exact quotations from the real life case. You get sucked into the mindset of this monster, casting a chilling atmosphere over the text. 

This is a fast-paced plot that you could easily binge in one sitting. The twists and turns are amazing and have such a emotional intensity to them. With the thick atmosphere of suspense and terror, you have the recipe for a tantalizing and compelling story. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Shadow in the Glass by J. J. A. Harwood

TW: rape, abortion/miscarriage, abuse

This is a dark, Gothic take on the classic tale of Cinderella and I really enjoyed the way Harwood leaned into the horror tones of the story. Here, Cinderella isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty in order to get what she wants. The central exploration of the consequences and costs of getting what you want is fascinating and I love the gorier aspects of the story. However, I never really connected with Ella that much and despised the wish-washy nature of her love interest. For a tale about the cost of independence and survival, I felt like Ella actually remained quite a passive character, particularly in terms of the abusive situations.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Wicked Little Deeds by Kat Ellis


TW: death, parental death, car accident, blood, gore, drugging, hallucinations, murder, fire

I adore an atmospheric read and once again Ellis has created such a fascinating and intense atmosphere that you can’t help but get drawn into. Right from the start, there’s this ominous sense that infuses every page and keeps your guard up. The claustrophobic setting of the small town mired in dark secrets and troubled history really helps add to this sinister feeling. Burden Falls is a town you wouldn’t want to get stuck in, with death and misery seemingly round every corner.

Wicked Little Deeds thrives on its ambiguous touches, strong atmosphere and compelling mystery that will send shivers down your spine. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Dangerous Play by Emma Kress


TW: sexism, sexual assault, harassment, violence

Kress fills this book to the brim with emotional intensity and devastation. Female rage is on full display here, with a range of reactions across the team. There’s this sense of complete devastation for the reader with scenes where each member of the team discloses their own experiences with rape culture. I loved how Kress fully delves into these intense and complex emotions, ensuring that every reaction is treated as being valid. This leads to a really interesting discussion around justice vs vigilante actions, where if someone is really protecting people or just seeking their own vengeance. Kress opens an intriguing moral dialogue here, asking to what extent someone will mask their own pain with the pain of others.

That being said, the primary focus of this book is not dismantling rape culture. This book is mainly about female solidarity and the team is a brilliant example of this. Zoe’s team is the most heart-warming found family, who are all there for each other no matter what. They’re all such funny, warm and extremely memorable characters that just jump off the page and into your heart. 

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reputation by Lex Croucher


TW: drinking, drug use, grief, domestic abuse, sexual assault, rape (off-pages), mentions of homophobia and racism

The more I ruminate on this book, the more I am unsettled with its fleeting mention of racially charged domestic abuse and racism as a whole. There’s a moment that explores these issues but they’re never brought up again. Besides this, Reputation is a fun, flirty and frothy romance novel that has an excellent third section. Its exploration of rape culture and the upholding of a lady’s reputation above all else is interesting and Croucher builds a sensitive dissection of these themes. The last third made up for a lot of the book and was the part I enjoyed the most. Overall, this was an enjoyable read, but I don’t think I’d pick it up again.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones


TW: gore, graphic animal abuse and death, alcoholism, hate crimes, racism, violence, pregnancy, murder, miscarriage

Ok, this book blew my mind.

This is the type of book that you chills you to your very core and keeps you awake at night, jumping at shadows and thinking about its brilliance. This is horror at its very best, combining genuinely scary action with some excellent social commentary. Horror intrinsically lives in that liminal space between fantasy and reality, which is exemplified here. At its core, this is a story about survival and vengeance. Here, when your actions come back to haunt you, it’s a blood-soaked wave of carnage.

This has firmly made Stephen Graham Jones a must-read author for me.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

That Weekend by Kara Thomas

TW: medical trauma, post traumatic amnesia, anxiety, domestic violence, cyber bullying, mention of suicide, depression, kidnapping, murder, manipulation, child abuse, incest, racism, implied rape

Having loved all of Thomas’ previous works, I went into this with high expectations. At first, I was loving this atmospheric, slow burn mystery with a deeply unreliable narrator. The twists and turns are superb and just as shocking as you’d expect from Thomas. All this was excellent, but there just felt like there was something missing for me. I left the book feeling hollow and not like I’d ever pick it up again, as it just didn’t feel that memorable or stand out that much for me.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

You Let Me In by Camilla Bruce

TW: sexual abuse, child abuse, mental illness, abortion, trauma, murder, gore, violence, CSA

This is one hell of a book. Bruce is unrelenting in her depiction of this deeply twisted and traumatic tale. I liked the fantastical elements in one version of the story, which retained their mystique and bloody origins of their counterparts in folk lore. Either version of this tale is extremely disturbing and provocative, but you can guarantee you’ll be stuck to the pages. This is the type of book you just want to rip apart to comb through every thematic and symbolic layer.

A gloriously odd, dark and disturbed tale, complete with murder and madness but it all depends on which version you want to believe…

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Hawthorne Legacy by Jennifer Lynn Barnes


TW: death, kidnapping, fire, arson, drugging, drug use and addiction

This is the type of book that feels like an elegant puzzle box. Barnes has crafted layer after layer of intricate riddles for the reader and characters to solve, often with deeply emotional and personal themes threaded through. This is a smart, fast-paced mystery that is incredibly easy to lose an afternoon to. Every time you think you have the answer nailed down, you don’t. It constantly keeps you on your toes and creates an extremely compelling atmosphere and plot that you cannot tear yourself away from.

Full review here.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

From Little Tokyo, With Love by Sarah Kuhn


TW: panic attacks, racism, homophobia, bullying

This was such a charming and adorable read about family, identity and community. Yet again, Kuhn delves deep with an exploration of biracial identity and a culture of shame and silence that Rika has to break through, while also serving up such a fluffy and heart-warming romance. In many ways, this is a modern Cinderella story, but with a mutual saving of both the prince and princess. This is a fantastic read, packed full of heart, soul and laughter.

Full review here.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The Chosen Ones:

3 thoughts on “Recent Reads #62

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