When a young woman clears out her deceased grandmother’s home in rural North Carolina, she finds long-hidden secrets about a strange colony of beings in the woods.
When Mouse’s dad asks her to clean out her dead grandmother’s house, she says yes. After all, how bad could it be?
Answer: pretty bad. Grandma was a hoarder, and her house is stuffed with useless rubbish. That would be horrific enough, but there’s more—Mouse stumbles across her step-grandfather’s journal, which at first seems to be filled with nonsensical rants…until Mouse encounters some of the terrifying things he described for herself.
Alone in the woods with her dog, Mouse finds herself face to face with a series of impossible terrors—because sometimes the things that go bump in the night are real, and they’re looking for you. And if she doesn’t face them head on, she might not survive to tell the tale.
I made faces like the faces on the rocks, and I twisted myself about like the twisted ones, and I lay down flat on the ground like the dead ones.
I was very surprised by how much I ended up enjoying this book, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but this was tons of fun and I couldn’t put it down. It’s folk horror that managed to be terrifying but not too much at the same time, don’t get me wrong it’s spooky but I also think it’d be a good read for people who want to read horror but don’t want to be completely grossed out or scared out of their minds.
The story revolves around a woman named Melissa, she goes by Mouse, and her redbone coonhound, Bongo, as they travel to her recently deceased grandmother’s house to clean it up for resale. However, she discovers her grandmother was a bit of a hoarder and the house is stuffed full of junk that will take her a while to clear out. As she cleans up she discovers her “step”-grandfather, Cotgrave’s, journal which tells of strange beings and happenings around the house and woods surrounding the area and she soon discovers there may be something going on.
I thought the story was very engaging and well paced, as soon as Mouse started discovering some odd things inside and outside the house I was hooked because I needed answers! I don’t want to go into a whole lot of detail involving the plot because I went in blind and had a blast, so I think you’re better off going into this without too much information. Mouse basically begins poking around and investigating the strange things she read in Cotgrave’s journal and more strange things happen. The general plot was very unique and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
As I already mentioned this is folk horror, which basically means it’s a horror book but involves folk lore and honestly it’s one of my favorites now because it was so intriguing. I really enjoyed how the stories and superstitions were introduced and weaved in with the elements of horror. I thought the horror aspects were very well done, there were parts where I was more than creeped out! However, that being said I still think this would be a great book for readers looking to get into horror or want to read one and not be completely scared shitless.
This is a well paced book, I felt there were plenty of little twists and enough action that it never felt like a chore to keep reading. There are also some parts where my adrenaline was really going because it was so tense and there was stuff going down! I would say they only time I ever felt like the story dragged was towards the middle where there are some diary/journal entries that just felt really slow and were honestly confusing to read through. This was fairly short, however, and apart from that I was enthralled with the story.
The writing was probably my favorite part, if I’m being honest. It is technically told in the style of Mouse talking to us directly, the readers, and telling us the events that have happened. It’s also absolutely hilarious and I really enjoyed the humor and sarcastic tone Mouse uses as she narrates. It made for a more than excellent reading experience.
“Although hell, what do I know? Maybe that garbage can was sitting right at the nexus of where our world touches another one, and he (Bongo) was baying and charging at it to let me know that eldritch abominations were breaking into our reality. Who knows anymore? I sure don’t.”
The other part of the book I wasn’t completely sold on was the ending. This was where it got a little too bizarre for me just because it was exactly that: super bizarre and a little confusing. I still feel like everything was wrapped up as nicely as it could be but I was still left with some questions, mostly regarding the supernatural aspects.
I always love when I can enjoy a plot this much along with the characters, both were done really well. I liked Mouse as the narrator, as I said I found her humor and sarcasm to make for a really enjoyable reading experience. I also felt like she was a relatable heroine and she made realistic decisions honestly especially considering the circumstances. I have to say though my REAL favorites in this book would have to be Bongo, the dog, and Foxy the ‘hippie’ neighbor. Bongo is the sweetest, dopiest dog and nobody would have been able to make it through this story without him, including me. And Foxy is just amazing, she’s an older woman in her 50’s-60’s that ends up helping Mouse out when things start to get weird and let me tell you she is not only hilarious and sarcastic but she’s also a total badass. I loved all of these characters to death, they had so much personality!
There are a few other characters that are seen but not too much, there’s Mouse’s dad who is also the sweetest old man, and Skip and Tomas who live with (or by, not too sure) Foxy. Skip is a Native American artist and Tomas is Hispanic and does a lot of handy work, they’re both very kind. And finally Enid the “Goth” girl who works at the coffee shop who helps out Mouse sometimes. I really enjoyed ALL of the characters regardless of if I saw them for a few pages or a few chapters.
What I Loved:
- Folk horror aspects
- Plenty of small twists and tons of adrenaline pumping action
- Great writing, very humorous and enjoyable
- Even pacing, engaging story
- Unique plot
- Amazing, lovable characters
What I Didn’t Love:
- Ending got a little too weird for me
- I wanted a little more information on the folk lore
- The diary/journal entries in the middle were boring and slowed the story for me
Overall I highly recommend giving this book a read especially if you’re a horror fan or looking for a great folk horror book. It’s a really well rounded story with an engaging plot, full of action, and with fantastic characters.
Trigger Warnings: Violence, Gore, Mention of Child Death, & Death
**** Huge thank you to Gallery/ Saga Press for providing me with a copy via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review ****