ARC Review: The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz
Terrifying Book Recs For Halloween
Hello everyone it’s time for one of my favorite things to do: recommend horror books for Halloween! Horror books are definitely some of my favorite books to read so weeding through them and finding the best ones is fun for me. Hopefully this list I put together will help you find a last minute read for Halloween or just help you find your next scary read!
I tried to put these books in order of how much I enjoyed them BUT let it be known I did love every single one and recommend each one on this list. I put the scariest ones (for me at least) at the top of my list!
13.) The Grownup by Gillian Flynn
Why I Recommend It: This is a short story by thriller mastermind Gillain Flynn, for any of you who have had the pleasure of reading one of her books before you’ll know you’re in for some dark, messed up shit. This one just so happens to have a bit of a paranormal theme as well, is the house haunted or are the characters manipulative and unreliable? I was actually pretty creeped out during certain scenes and so I think this would make for a great, quick Halloween read!
You can read my full review of “The Grownup” here.
12.) Welcome To The Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz
Why I Recommend It: Love classic slasher horror movies? You’ll love this book then, it reads just like your typical horror movie which makes it tons of fun to read through! There’s many POV characters and quite a few blood pumping scenes too.
You can read my full review of “Welcome To The Dark House” here.
11.) The Merciless by Danielle Vega
Why I Recommend It: Ever wonder what would happen if you combined Mean Girls with blood, gore, and scares? Well maybe not but if you find yourself wondering now then check this book out! A bunch of teenage girls hold another captive and perform an exorcism on her, what could go wrong with that? I will say again that this book is pretty gory so if you’re really squeamish beware!
You can read my full review of “The Merciless” here.
10.) The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Why I Recommend It: This is a psychologically twisted and very sinister feeling book, it’s creepy and messes with your mind while reading. There are a few scary-ish scenes but mostly the plot twists and journey through the mind of madness are what makes this a very fun book.
You can read my full review of “The Dead House” here.
9.) Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
Why I Recommend It: This is a fairly scary book that’s fun, gory, and full of ghosts! There were more than a few creepy scenes and it’s very action-packed and fast paced. Another little fun fact: the entire book is typed in red ink.
You can read my full review of “Anna Dressed in Blood” here.
8.) The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Why I Recommend It: This is an extremely well-written, historical fiction full of …well, monsters. The atmosphere Rick Yancey creates is perfectly eerie and the monsters themselves are the stuff of nightmares.
You can read my full review of “The Monstrumologist” here.
7.) A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
Why I Recommend It: This book has both supernatural horror elements as well as survival horror elements and it’s very reminiscent of the movie “The Cabin in the Woods”. It’s also very unique I’ve never read anything like it before and I doubt you will have either! I mean being trapped in a palace below ground is enough to scare the crap out of you.
You can read my full review of “A Drop of Night” here.
6.) Alice by Christina Henry
Why I Recommend It: This is a dark, twisted retelling of “Alice in Wonderland” and so if you’re a fan of Alice and can stomach a lot of gore and violence then I highly suggest checking this one out. But I will warn you now that there is quite a bit of violence including sexual violence so if you’re sensitive to any of that then skip this one.
You can read my full review of “Alice” here.
5.) Through The Woods by Emily Carroll
Why I Recommend It: It’s a collection of short, illustrated stories that will creepy you the hell out. Seriously I didn’t know if I was going to be able to sleep after reading and SEEING these things! So if you need a quick, last minute read to scare your pants of for Halloween then definitely check this one out.
You can read my full review of “Through The Woods” here.
4.) Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
Why I Recommend It: Do you have a fear of isolation or demons or maybe both? Then maybe don’t read this…unless you like being scared, like me, then this book will probably terrify you! It’s also fairly short so yet again another good last minute read for Halloween.
You can read my full review of “Daughters Unto Devils” here.
3.) And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
Why I Recommend It: I think the fact that Dawn Kurtagich is on this list twice really speaks volumes about what a fantastic horror writer she is. This book is ten times scarier than “The Dead House”, it’s twisted and extremely creepy. There’s crazy people, creeping trees, and the Creeper Man. Creeper Man should be enough to show you how scary this book is.
You can read my full review of “And The Trees Crept In” here.
2.) The Girl From The Well by Rin Chupeco
Why I Recommend It: See that cover? That cover is fucking terrifying. If you have a deep set phobia of creepy Japanese ghosts then first off join the club and second off this book will scare your pants off.
You can read my full review of “The Girl From The Well” here.
1.) Slasher Girls & Monster Boys stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke
Why I Recommend It: This is an anthology that not only includes many popular YA authors but also some downright horrifying stories. I kid you not, I was literally looking over my shoulder while reading some of them! If you’re looking for a few short stories to give you nightmares then look no further.
You can read my full review of “Slasher Girls & Monster Boys” here.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them?
Did you find any books to add to your TBR?
What’s your favorite horror book?
What will you be reading for Halloween?
Let me know in the comments and I hope this helped some of you out!
Top Ten Tuesday: Horror Books on My TBR
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish.
This week’s theme is a Halloween themed freebie and one of the suggested themes was horror books on my TBR, so easy-peasy! I love talking about books I have yet to read almost as much as ones I have read and seeing as how I’ll be posting my favorite Halloween reads later this week this choice of theme was perfect!
10.) A Taste For Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby
IT’S LONDON 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the people of the city. Evelyn, a young woman disfigured by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory, who has nowhere to go, does not know what to make of her new position as a maid to the Elephant Man in the London Hospital. Evelyn wants to be locked away from the world, like he is, shut in from the filth and dangers of the streets. But in Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, she finds a gentle kindred who does not recoil from her and who understands her pain. When the murders begin, however, Joseph and Evelyn are haunted nightly by the ghosts of the Ripper’s dead, setting Evelyn on a path to facing her fears and uncovering humanity’s worst nightmares.
A Taste for Monsters is a terrifying and haunting tale of the monstrosity of men and the salvation one may find in the unlikeliest places, from Edgar Award–winning author Matthew J. Kirby.
This is the newest addition to my Horror TBR every since I saw Lola’s review on Goodreads. It seems to be the book I wanted “Stalking Jack The Ripper” to be, with more actually horror and suspense.
9.) The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender
In this asylum, your mind plays tricks on you all the time…
Delia’s new house isn’t just a house. Long ago, it was the Piven Institute for the Care and Correction of Troubled Females—an insane asylum nicknamed “Hysteria Hall.” However, many of the inmates were not insane, just defiant and strong willed. Kind of like Delia herself.
But the house still wants to keep “troubled” girls locked away. So, in the most horrifying way, Delia gets trapped.
And that’s when she learns that the house is also haunted.
Ghost girls wander the halls in their old-fashioned nightgowns. A handsome ghost boy named Theo roams the grounds. Delia finds that all the spirits are unsettled and full of dark secrets. The house, as well, harbors shocking truths within its walls—truths that only Delia can uncover, and that may set her free.
But she’ll need to act quickly, before the house’s power overtakes everything she loves.
This one actually has quite a few good reviews and along with the creepy cover and premise I had to add it to my TBR! Unfortunately it isn’t something I find to be pressing but I think I’ll read it eventually…..
8.) The House by Christina Lauren
Gavin tells Delilah he’s hers—completely—but whatever lives inside that house with him disagrees.
After seven years tucked away at an East coast boarding school, Delilah Blue returns to her small Kansas hometown to find that not much has changed. Her parents are still uptight and disinterested, her bedroom is exactly the way she left it, and the outcast Gavin Timothy still looks like he’s crawled out of one of her dark, twisted drawings.
Delilah is instantly smitten.
Gavin has always lived in the strange house: an odd building isolated in a stand of trees where the town gives in to mild wilderness. The house is an irresistible lure for Delilah, but the tall fence surrounding it exists for good reason, and Gavin urges Delilah to be careful. Whatever lives with him there isn’t human, and isn’t afraid of hurting her to keep her away.
Sounds interesting, looks interesting, may be interesting. I don’t think it will be terrifying but it might have a good, eerie atmosphere.
7.) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.
The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity.
I found out this was Stephen King’s son and along with the premise for this book I had to get my hands on a copy. I did and from what I read it was creepy as hell! Unfortunately I set it aside and have yet to get back to it but when I do I’m sure I won’t be disappointed.
6) Shutter by Courtney Alameda
Micheline Helsing is a tetrachromat—a girl who sees the auras of the undead in a prismatic spectrum. As one of the last descendants of the Van Helsing lineage, she has trained since childhood to destroy monsters both corporeal and spiritual: the corporeal undead go down by the bullet, the spiritual undead by the lens. With an analog SLR camera as her best weapon, Micheline exorcises ghosts by capturing their spiritual energy on film. She’s aided by her crew: Oliver, a techno-whiz and the boy who developed her camera’s technology; Jude, who can predict death; and Ryder, the boy Micheline has known and loved forever.
When a routine ghost hunt goes awry, Micheline and the boys are infected with a curse known as a soulchain. As the ghostly chains spread through their bodies, Micheline learns that if she doesn’t exorcise her entity in seven days or less, she and her friends will die. Now pursued as a renegade agent by her monster-hunting father, Leonard Helsing, she must track and destroy an entity more powerful than anything she’s faced before . . . or die trying.
This has one of the creepiest freaking covers I’ve ever seen! Plus it sounds super cool and has some pretty good reviews, I will be getting a copy soon and will probably read it before the year’s up but we shall see.
5.) The Call by Peadar O’Guilin
Imagine a world where you might disappear any minute, only to find yourself alone in a grey sickly land, with more horrors in it than you would ever wish to know about. And then you hear a horn and you know that whoever lives in this hell has got your scent and the hunt has already begun.
Could you survive the Call?
I saw this book kind of floating around and it piqued my iterest but what really convince me to add this book to my TBR was a review by Esther @ Chapter Adventures! This sounds like survival horror and it sounds well done so I’m very excited to get a copy!
4.) Mary: The Summoning by Hillary Monahan
There is a right way and a wrong way to summon her.
Jess had done the research. Success requires precision: a dark room, a mirror, a candle, salt, and four teenage girls. Each of them–Jess, Shauna, Kitty, and Anna–must link hands, follow the rules . . . and never let go.
A thrilling fear spins around the room the first time Jess calls her name: “Bloody Mary. Bloody Mary. BLOODY MARY.” A ripple of terror follows when a shadowy silhouette emerges through the fog, a specter trapped behind the mirror.
Once is not enough, though–at least not for Jess. Mary is called again. And again. But when their summoning circle is broken, Bloody Mary slips through the glass with a taste for revenge on her lips. As the girls struggle to escape Mary’s wrath, loyalties are questioned, friendships are torn apart, and lives are forever altered.
A haunting trail of clues leads Shauna on a desperate search to uncover the legacy of Mary Worth. What she finds will change everything, but will it be enough to stop Mary–and Jess–before it’s too late?
Normally I probably wouldn’t want to read this sine it’s reviews are just okay but I got it on my Kindle for $1.99 (Which it is right now by the way!!!) so I figured I’d just give it a shot. Hopefully it’s at least a little scary.
3.) The Suffering (The Girl From The Well #2) by Rin Chupeco
Seventeen-year-old Tark knows what it is to be powerless. But Okiku changed that. A restless spirit who ended life as a victim and started death as an avenger, she’s groomed Tark to destroy the wicked. But when darkness pulls them deep into Aokigahara, known as Japan’s suicide forest, Okiku’s justice becomes blurred, and Tark is the one who will pay the price…
Okay so I LOVED “The Girl From The Well” and was absolutely terrified by it so of course I need to read the sequel.
2.) Say Her Name by James Dawson
Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of ‘Bloody Mary’: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?
Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror… five days… but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before.
Another Bloody Mary story but this one was recommended to me by Lauren @ Wonderless Reads and I’ve seen a few other reviews floating around recently that have convinced me I should probably get my hands on a copy soon.
1.) The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.
When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
I really enjoyed Amy Lukavics debut novel “Daughters Unto Devils” so I can’t wait to get a hold of her newest book especially with that awesome, creepy cover! I have heard it’s not quite as terrifying but very much creepy which is still okay with me.
What are some of your favorite horror books?
Have you read any of these on my list?
What books do you recommend for a Halloween read?
Let me know in the comments and feel free to link up your TTT as well!
Book Review: Welcome to the Dark House (Dark House #1) by Laurie Faria Stolarz
What’s your worst nightmare?
For Ivy Jensen, it’s the eyes of a killer that haunt her nights. For Parker Bradley, it’s bloodthirsty sea serpents that slither in his dreams.
And for seven essay contestants, it’s their worst nightmares that win them an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at director Justin Blake’s latest, confidential project. Ivy doesn’t even like scary movies, but she’s ready to face her real-world fears. Parker’s sympathetic words and perfect smile help keep her spirits up. . . at least for now.
Not everyone is so charming, though. Horror-film fanatic Garth Vader wants to stir up trouble. It’s bad enough he has to stay in the middle of nowhere with this group—the girl who locks herself in her room; the know-it-all roommate; “Mister Sensitive”; and the one who’s too cheery for her own good. Someone has to make things interesting.
Except, things are already a little weird. The hostess is a serial-killer look-alike, the dream-stealing Nightmare Elf is lurking about, and the seventh member of the group is missing.
By the time Ivy and Parker realize what’s really at stake, it’s too late to wake up and run.
****I’d like to thank Lauren @ Wonderless Reads for recommending this book to me!****
“Welcome To The Dark House” is a good horror book, unfortunately it wasn’t something that completely blew me away but it was definitely very fun and entertaining.
This book is PERFECT for any horror movie lovers because it’s basically a slasher movie in book form, seriously, it reads exactly like a horror film. Which has it’s downsides as well as upsides. The downside being that this makes the book feel a little corny at times and a bit underdeveloped, like most horror movies, and the upside being that it makes reading the book ten times more fun if you already love the horror genre.
The first half of the book is spent orienting ourselves with the characters pretty much, they all enter a contest to meet famous horror director Justin Blake and are then dropped off in the middle of nowhere, in a forest, in an old house. How could anything go wrong with all of that in a horror book, am I right? So for the most part we get to know everyone and nothing insanely scary happens, creepy sure but not scary.
However, the second half of the books gets a lot better. There’s more action, scares, and a lot less talk. Although I would say it still wasn’t that scary for me, it was more suspenseful than anything which is definitely alright. All of the characters proceed to be locked within a Justin Blake themed, abandoned amusement park and each character has their own ride that is related to their “nightmare” or worst fear. Those scenes were probably the best ones in the entire book, the suspense there is what kept me really reading.
One thing that kind of drove me crazy throughout my reading though? The 6 different POVs. In my mind the only time that many view points is OK is in fantasy books. I do understand why it was told this way since it is a horror book we need to be able to see everyone slowly getting picked off but I think there was too much time spent on us trying to relate to these characters when they were just B horror movie stereotypes.
I also didn’t really like the ending at all because it left me with more questions than answers and it just wasn’t very satisfying. I understand that all of the questions will be answered in the sequel but really why leave us hanging with such a shaky ending? It wasn’t even a cliffhanger it was just sort of confusing.
One random thing I loved about this book: it’s set in Minnesota. I live right next door in North Dakota so it’s always fun to find books with settings near me!
As far as the characters I’m kind of in the middle, while I did sort of like them and they did get quite a bit of depth I still found them a little lacking. We spend the entire first half of the book switching through six different POVs in order to get to know these characters and yet I don’t feel like we ever REALLY know them. Sure we get where they come from and how they act but we don’t get a ton of insight into their characters which doesn’t make a lot of sense to me since we literally get into each character’s head space.
Ivy, is the main character and yet we spend about as much time in her POV as the other characters so to me she never really felt like the main character. I probably would have enjoyed it more if it was told just from her point of view. Ivy’s nightmare and story are the creepiest and most terrifying of all BUT no spoilers! I also very much enjoyed the fact that Ivy suffers from anxiety and I say this because I too suffer from bouts of anxiety and I loved the fact that this was portrayed in a YA novel, not to mention it made her ten times more relateable for me.
As I briefly mentioned earlier the other characters are all classic horror movie stereotypes: the goth girl, the virginal sweetheart, the average one, the handsome guy, the rebellious guy, and the special snowflake. They may not embody these perfectly but you get the picture right? To me these kinds of characterizations had their upsides and downsides, while it’s kind of fun to have cheesy horror movie characters it also makes them feel unrelatable. I mean come on, is anyone really this cliched?
As for the romance…… no. Too insta-lovey for my taste and very unrealistic, not to mention it lacked all kinds of chemistry. Alas though what kind of horror
movie book would be complete without a cheesy love interest?
What I Liked:
- Anxiety being portrayed with a YA character
- The pacing and suspense were fairly good throughout but better in the 2nd half
- How similar it was to a classic slasher horror movie
- The Minnesota setting
What I Didn’t Like:
- Too many POVs
- The scare factor wasn’t big enough for me
- The romance was corny
- A lot of the characters were a little too cliched
Overall I liked this book and there were things that bothered me so a 3 star rating is perfect, right in the middle which is exactly how I feel about “Welcome To The Dark House”. I’ll definitely be checking out the sequel though!
If you’re looking for a good YA horror book then definitely check this one out, what may not work for me may work for you after all!
This is a decent book but realistic things don’t scare me as much as the unknown. So if murderers scare you more than ghosts this may be the book for you! This is also a great Halloween read for those of you looking for creepy books to add to your TBR.
Links: Goodreads / Amazon / Book Depository