****Trigger Warning: Drug & Alcohol Abuse, Physical/Emotional/Verbal Abuse, Violence, and Gore****
I am a fan of Lukavics’s horror novels and I will pretty much read everything she comes out with. However, I was a bit disappointed with this one and it didn’t live up to what I’ve come to expect from her writing.
**** Note: I am not including the description/synopsis for this book in this review due to the fact that it contains spoilers for the story. I will not be mentioning said spoiler in my review either.****
Plenty of legends surround the infamous Boulder House in Whispering Bluffs, Wisconsin, but nobody takes them seriously. Certainly nobody believes that the original owner, Maxwell Cartwright Jr., cursed its construction—or that a murder of crows died upon its completion, their carcasses turning the land black. If anyone did believe it all, there’s no way River Red High would offer a field trip there for the senior class.
Five very different seniors on the trip—Violet, Paul, Ashley, Dylan, and Gretchen—have reasons beyond school spirit for not ditching the trip. When they’re separated from the group, they discover that what lies within Boulder House is far more horrifying than any local folklore. To survive, they’ll have to band together in ways they never could have imagined and ultimately confront the truths of their darkest selves.
**** Huge thank you to Soho Teen for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review! ****
Trigger Warnings: Racism, Homophobia, Victim Blaming, and Statutory Rape
Sadly I was more than a little disappointed with this book especially since I’m always up for YA Horror books! Unfortunately this isn’t really a horror book, in my opinion it’s exactly like “Night at the Museum” with slightly creepier things running around. I was expecting to be creeped out and scared a lot more than I was but it still managed to hold my attention for the most part, so there is something to be said for that.
The story starts out pretty slow with the set up since we are introduced to each character through their own perspective, which got to be too much to keep track of at times but they did have their own unique voices so it was manageable. After the characters are FINALLY in the Boulder House things start to get a little more fast-paced and a little more interesting as well. They must all now work together in order to escape this house of horrors but may not be able to manage it since they are all harboring secrets they wish to remain hidden.
I thought the “secret” aspect to the plot was pretty interesting since a lot of these kids had some pretty odd secrets but this is where a lot of the trigger warnings I mentioned come into play: racism, homophobia, and the victim blaming/statutory rape (which was the worst one) and that’s why the kids chose to keep their secrets. I won’t spoil any of it but just know that the majority of the plot twists have these triggers in them and they can be a bit over whelming.
As far as the rest of the plot went I just felt like it was a mess, honestly what the heck was even going on? These kids went from room to room and everything got weirder and weirder as they progressed through the house! There’s whales, unicorns, centaurs, vicious angels, and all kinds of odd things that they come across. It just felt like the plot was “trying too hard” to be entertaining and it just came off being strange and messy.
Then there’s the writing….it felt really immature. Granted it is told from the perspectives of high schoolers and I’m sure Atwood was aiming for a younger crowd but it was just too much for me. The phrases “douchemunch”, “asstroll”, and “fuck-a-doodle-doo” show up way more times than I’d like to count, do people actually talk like this? It really got on my nerves while reading.
The characters are all high school students and all fit into various tropes: shy girl, popular/mean girl, goth girl and her boyfriend, and the jock. They all act accordingly as well, aside from their secrets but as I said I’m not spoiling them! Aside from the fact that they all couldn’t be more different they do try to stick and work together, which I liked since it would have been very infuriating for them NOT to in the situation.
I also liked the dash of diversity among the characters since we do have a lesbian character, bisexual character, and African-American character.
Other than that I didn’t really care about any of them and their dialogue and actions could get really annoying at times, as I mentioned when discussing the writing.
Another really messy aspect of the story: the romance. Every character got in on this too which is why it got to be too messy and too much overall.
There’s a couple that starts out a couple but one is bisexual and doesn’t care for their significant other anymore, one is secretly gay and has a crush on another character, one is head over heels for their significant other, and two other characters secretly have crushes on each other but won’t admit it.
Too messy, right? I thought so.
My thoughts on this book overall were that it was way too messy and I was very disappointed. However, I did finish reading it so points for that.
What I Liked:
- Managed to hold my attention
- Relatively fast paced
- Bit of diversity in the cast of characters
What I Didn’t Like:
- Plot was very messy and over the top
- The writing and dialogue were very immature
- Overly complicated romantic sub-plot
This just wasn’t my cup of tea and that disappointed me. There just weren’t enough horror elements for me to seriously consider this a horror book and everything was too messy and downright weird.
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 is a bit tough to rate because I did really enjoy this book but there were a lot of parts where I felt really bored and had to kind of force myself to read. So a middle rating is kind of perfect!
Trigger Warning: Physical Abuse/Child Abuse
The cover on this is actually a little misleading as you would think it was a horror book when really it’s just kind of an urban fantasy featuring paranormal/supernatural creatures. There wasn’t anything super creepy or horrifying about it which, in my case, was slightly disappointing since I wanted to be scared out of my mind but that’s okay it was still pretty interesting. Was it completely non-creepy? No, there were a few parts that were awesomely creepy but I wouldn’t say this book is really scary.
I really loved the world building in this book and I was not expecting there to be any but it was a pleasant surprise. “Shutter” is set in a world where the existence of supernatural creatures is public knowledge and the descendants of the characters in Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula”, including Stoker himself, fight these creatures. It’s pretty badass and being the fan of “Dracula” that I am I was in love with all of the references! Unfortunately it was a lot to take in at first since there is quite a bit of info-dumping at the beginning of the story.
The pacing was pretty fast and full of action throughout most of the book but there were also quite a few parts that got really bogged down and I’m not sure why. It would just slow down a ton and I’d have to force myself to read through which wasn’t fun.
As for the plot itself it just kind of felt a little lacking? Plus the twists were utterly predictable and I was not surprised at all when they came to light because I’d guessed them right away, which isn’t any fun. I hate when things are predictable!
The ending is left with quite a few things unresolved leaving the way open for a sequel but one that I don’t think we are going to get. The ending also felt pretty rushed and big plot elements were kind of quickly resolved but not really in a satisfying way, in my opinion. It was all a little abrupt.
Alameda’s writing was pretty decent as well and a little heavy on the metaphors at times but I enjoyed it, looking forward to whatever else she’ll write up!
One last thing about the “plot related story elements” though, as you can see in the trigger warning I listed above there is an instance of physical abuse from a parent towards a child (teenager but legally still a child). I don’t like how it was skated over and the character didn’t want to mention it ever and deal with it even though it was child abuse, I also don’t like how easily the parent was forgiven.
The characters were just kind of “meh” in which I mean I didn’t really love them or hate them. They were all kind of likable enough and there’s no denying that they’re good at their jobs which is pretty badass. However, I kind of felt like no one was really developed or complex and the characters didn’t really change at all throughout the story, at least not with reason.
There’s Micheline (the MC), Ryder, Oliver, and Jude that make up our main ghost butt kicking squad. Ryder is the love interest and honestly he’s just kind of there for that reason alone and never really grows as a character, boring and I didn’t get what was so great about him. Jude is extremely sexist and kind of annoying, also he “changes” by the end of the story but there really is nothing to justify why he did which annoyed me. Oliver was my favorite character but guess what? Hardly any “page time” for him which was a disappointment.
As for Micheline, our protagonist, I didn’t really think much of her at all, she wasn’t a terrible character but she was pretty self-absorbed and I didn’t like that. She runs headfirst into danger thinking only of how great it will be for her to exorcise this ghost and be the hero and instead she gets her team into a life threatening situation. Yeah, not my favorite kind of character.
There are a few side characters such as Micheline’s dad Leonard Helsing, Oliver’s dad Dr. Stoker, Father Marlowe, and Damien Drake which they were all pretty interesting in their own way and I would have liked to have learned a bit more about each of them. Especially Damien Drake who seems like a total badass and I would have liked to have learned more about his and Jude’s strange powers. That would have been awesome!
The romance was another “meh” aspect for me. I liked that it was sort of a forbidden romance because that’s the one romance trope that I really enjoy but it just didn’t feel like there was any chemistry between the characters. It was kind of romance for the sake of romance. On the plus side the romance never takes over the plot and it’s more on the side lines which I appreciated.
Overall as I mentioned earlier there were both pluses and minuses to this book and I did enjoy it for the most part, it was definitely entertaining.
What I Loved:
- Mostly fast pacing
- Plenty of action
- Great world building
- Characters were okay
- Good writing
- “Dracula” references!
What I Didn’t Love:
- Pacing slowed down in some parts
- Not as creepy as I would have liked
- Predictable twists
- Rushed ending
- Self absorbed main character
I would recommend this book if you’re looking for something slightly on the creepy horror side but you don’t want the crap scared out of you, it’s full of ghosties but wasn’t terrifying! I also recommend checking this one out if you’re a “Dracula” fan, like myself, because the references made reading through a lot of fun!
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.
It was kind of hard for me to come up with a Halloween theme for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday because I’ve already done so many Halloween themed posts! So I decided to just go with some horror books that are still on my TBR but I can’t wait to read them!
You can find some of my other Halloween posts here:
10.) Girl of Nightmares (Anna #2) by Kendare Blake
The sequel to the amazing “Anna Dressed in Blood” so of course I need to read it! Hopefully it’s as good as the first one, I wasn’t expecting “Anna” to be as gory and scary as it was!
9.) The Suffering (The Girl from the Well #2) by Rin Chupeco
I was terrified by the first book and since I’m a sucker for scaring myself I want to read the sequel!
8.) The Diviners by Libba Bray
This might just be more of a paranormal/supernatural book and not horror but I’m including it anyways. I read the first chapter and it was pretty creepy so I’m excited to get into this series!
7.) Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
This is a book I picked up and read a quarter through and set back down. It was definitely creepy though and I do plan on picking it back up. It’s basically about a haunted suit and the ghost of the old man is haunting the main character now. Like I said it’s super creepy.
6.) It by Stephen King
I don’t think this one needs an explanation.
5.) The Child Thief by Brom
Peter Pan is my favorite fairy tale and so I’m ALL for any retelling of it but especially a dark, horror retelling.
4.) Bird Box by Josh Malerman
A short, slow horror style book but I want to give it a go. Especially since it’s really short….because I’m lazy.
3.) The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics
I’m not too sure about this book anymore since it hasn’t been getting the best of reviews but I really enjoy Lukavics’ books so I’d like to at least try it.
2.) Say Her Name by James Dawson
I’m always pretty creeped out by Blood Mary stories so I’m ready to be scared with this one.
1.) Pitch Dark by Courtney Alameda
I’m currently reading Alameda’s other novel “Shutter” and really enjoying it PLUS this one sounds very similar to the Alien movie franchise and I’m here for it.
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
Do you have any of these on your TBR as well?
What are some horror books that are on your TBR?
Any favorite horror books?
Let me know in the comments and Happy Halloween guys!
This post is pretty straight forward! You can read my first post of creepy covers here! I’m trying to keep a lot of my posts here for the rest of the month Halloween related so here goes nothing.
Keep in mind these are only covers of books I have either read or are on my TBR. If there are any other super creepy covers you know of let me know in the comments below!
It by Stephen King
Of course I’m going to include this one with its many variations of creepy covers but this is the one I own and its the one that I think looks great and also creepy. I like the big Cheshire cat style clown grin full of teeth, it’s definitely scary!
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
While this might not necessarily be a horror book it seems to have a pretty dark synopsis and the cover is more than a little creepy. Hands pressing against things like that always freaks me out.
Say Her Name by James Dawson
Bloody Mary and mirrors make for a pretty scary cover especially with all of that condensation….
The Wood by Chelsea Bobulski
I think this cover is gorgeous and creepy all at the same time! The leaf dripping blood is just really neat, maybe I’m strange?
The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan
Creepy setting, dark, with a creepy girl on the cover = one big creepy.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
The ghost of Anna standing with blood dripping down her dress on the cover is pretty darn creepy.
The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff
Something about old fashioned baby strollers creep me out especially with the creepy little mobile there…..
A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmmann
Also not the creepiest cover on this list but the colors and font give off an eerie vibe in my opinion.
Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano
This is super scary looking, anything that’s faceless gives me chills especially with the one girl climbing up the wall. Nope!
Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
I don’t like anything being covered with fabric like this, it’s always creeped me out and while this one isn’t super terrifying it’s a little bit…uncomfortable to look at!
Have you read any of these books? What did you think?
Do you find any of these covers to be creepy?
What are some of your favorite creepy covers?
Let me know in the comments!