This is the first round of many Halloween themed recommendation posts I have planned for October! I decided it would be more fun to break them up than have one giant rec post, so we are starting with not just scary books but THE SCARIEST books I’ve ever read!
These aren’t in any particular order and I will link up my full reviews to each one in case you’re curious for more info! Just click the book titles!
****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.****
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!
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–befo…
I honestly had to really sit and debate over what I wanted to rate this because while there were some things I didn’t like I really did enjoy this book. So instead of a 3 or 3.5 rating I’m just going to round it all the way up to a solid 4 because this book was FUN and definitely entertaining!
Just a word of warning though: Don’t read this in the dark or alone!
This is actually very fast-paced and there is no messing around setting up the story for Bloody Mary in the beginning, Hillary Monahan wasted no time throwing us right into the nitty gritty! I thought the pacing kept up throughout the entire book as well with barely a moment’s rest, the characters were pretty much under constant attack by Mary. Plenty of excitement and scares, that’s for sure!
The plot mostly focuses on the summoning of Bloody Mary, the haunting of the girls, and the girls trying to defeat her for good. There’s plenty of action and scares that will keep you on the edge of your seat too! Plus there’s a pretty good twist towards the end of the book as well that just adds to the overall thrill factor. However, the plot doesn’t have as much “oomph” as I would have liked but that could be being saved for the sequel maybe.
Let me just say that I thought the book had some VERY creepy and scary scenes as well, I was pleasantly surprised! This book really passed my expectations on all fronts but especially on that one, I’m glad it was scarier than I anticipated! Although I will say in order to scare me all you have to do is have something scuttling and doing that creepy disjointed crawling and I’m done for (which ended up happening)! I think Monahan did such an amazing job writing and describing Mary and each creepy scene in great detail, and to make a book scary it really is in the details.
The only thing I had a slight problem with was the characters making some dumb decisions, such as investigating an abandoned building at night alone. Dumb. However, I will say that for the most part the characters were actually pretty smart especially considering the fact that they’re a group of teenage girls in a horror book! Plus this quote pretty much explains away any irrational decisions because it makes perfect sense:
“In the past, when I watched horror movies because I thought being scared was fun, I always got angry at the characters whose hands shook so badly they dropped the car keys when the monster was chasing them. If someone wanted to survive, she would keep it together long enough to get away. Now, standing in the locker room like a frightened lamb, I understood. Fear shut my body down…”
Also that ending was such a cliffhanger, it’s not fair! I need the next book immediately!
I actually really liked the characters in this book and as I said while they did make some questionable decisions they were all pretty smart about their ghost situation for the most part.
Shauna and Kitty both came full circle throughout reading and I thought their characters developed well. Anna was okay as well but she didn’t really come into focus all that much and Jess didn’t change at all. I also just despised Jess’s character in general since it was her who insisted on summoning Mary in the first place! She was a great character for furthering the plot though, I will give her that.
Then I suppose there’s Bloody Mary herself and she was fearsome to behold let me tell you! As I mentioned earlier Monahan did a fantastic job describing Mary in great detail and she was terrifying! I also really enjoyed digging into Mary’s past as well, the background on her character was interesting.
There is a bit of a side romance between Kitty and another character but it’s not a main focus at all in the story. Other than that there is zero romance which is nice not only for a YA book but also a horror in general!
Overall this book definitely isn’t perfect by any means but it’s fun, scary, entertaining, and great for reading this time of year!
What I Loved:
- Plenty of creepy and scary scenes
- Fast pacing
- Great writing with lots of detail
- No romance
What I Didn’t Love:
- Plot needed a little more attention
- Characters made questionable decisions
I highly recommend checking this book out if you’re a fan of horror or looking for a fun, scary book to read for Halloween! Otherwise if you don’t like being scared maybe skip this one!
My FAVORITE part of October is getting the chance to recommend some of my favorite horror books to you all! I mean to be honest I can recommend these whenever I want but it’s more fun to do it in October!
These are all books that fall 100% into the horror genre in my opinion whether they’re actually terrifying or just an entertaining read or whether they’re full of spirits/monsters or deal with serial killers and slashers.
***I will be doing another post here soon of Halloween Recommendations for those of you who want a book that isn’t necessarily scary or horror! So some “non-spooky” books!***
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
This is about a male teen, Cas, who hunts ghosts in his spare time and now he’s on the hunt for Anna, a vengeful spirit who murders anyone who sets foot in her home. Except she spares Cas’s life.
I highly, highly recommend this for any other Supernatural fans out there as it really has the feel to the story!
Slasher Girls & Monster Boys stories selected by April Genevieve Tucholke
A YA horror anthology with some top notch stories! There were only a couple of duds in here but for the most part they were all excellent and definitely scary.
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
This story follows a vengeful spirit who wreaks havoc on those who murder or do harm to children. She meets a strange boy the sucks her in but the boy has a dark secret that she wasn’t expecting…
Okay so with this one I know a few people didn’t enjoy it but I am absolutely terrified of any stories that are even remotely reminiscent of The Ring or The Grudge and have disjointed bodies crawling out of things. That’s all one big nope for me so naturally this story scared the shit out of me!
The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
This is a psychological thriller with a creepy twist, is it supernatural or is it something else? The story is told through video transcripts, journal entries, and newspaper clippings and the events all lead up to what ends in mysterious fire that killed three students and one, Carly Johnson, disappeared. In the ruins they find a diary that belonged to Carly’s twin sister, Kaitlyn, except Carly didn’t have a twin…..
I recommend this one for people who want more suspense than horror, it gets a little creepy but never anything super scary!
Alice by Christina Henry
Trigger Warnings: Rape and other graphic violence
This is one where people are the monsters and it’s very violent and graphic. It’s a retelling of “Alice in Wonderland” that’s very dark and gritty I definitely don’t recommend this to the faint of heart, you’ll have to steel your stomach for this one. However, I recommend it to anyone who thinks they can brave it because it is still an excellent story!
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
You wouldn’t think that a graphic novel compiled of several short stories would be that scary but it is, it really is! These stories are open ended for the most part and that leaves more to your imagination in which case you’ll probably scare yourself thinking of it like I did! The illustrations are both terrifying and beautiful at the same time.
I highly recommend this if you’re looking for a quick horror read and you don’t mind open ended stories.
A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann
This is kind of a thriller/action-adventure/horror all rolled into one. It follows a group of teens who are invited to help explore a recently discovered underground palace in France. However, there’s something else waiting for them in the depths of the palace.
Kind of an odd story but I definitely recommend it for anyone looking for a very fast-paced, suspenseful read!
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
A boy named Will Henry finds himself studying under Dr. Pellinore Warthrop who happens to be a monstrumologist, someone who studies monsters.
Pretty straight forward, this is a historical fiction and it’s a pretty dark horror story because on top of the creepy monsters there’s also just a lot of gore in general. You may get squeamish!
Daughters Unto Devils by Amy Lukavics
Honestly this is one of my favorites on the list!
It’s about a pioneer family who moves out onto the prairie with a teenage daughter who is desperately trying to hide her pregnancy. However, they arrive and find a new home that was abandoned with the walls and floors covered in blood and they’ve heard rumors of the prairie being tainted by evil.
This is a wonderful mix of terrifying, gory, and twisted. You definitely will not see the twists coming at all! I recommend this one for the horror lovers out there who want to be scared silly, this one is a treat!
Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz
A group of teen contest winners all get whisked away out into the middle of nowhere to meet horror director Justin Blake. However, things start to get weird and soon they’re all trapped in a game of nightmares.
This reads exactly like a classic slasher horror movie so if you’re a fan of those you’re probably going to love this one! It’s entertaining but don’t expect a lot of depth.
And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich
One of my other favorites plus I love the cover!
Two girls, Silla and Nori, arrive at their aunt’s manor in the forest and soon learn that everything is not right and the manor may be cursed. They aren’t allowed to enter the woods, the trees feel like they’re closing in around the house, and there’s a strange man with no eyes who Nori plays with in the basement at night…..
So creepy and so good! The Creeper Man will definitely be haunting your dreams after reading this one….
The Merciless by Danielle Vega
Four girls gang up on an outcast tying her up and attempting to perform an exorcism on her. However, it’s more torture than anything else and Sofia, the new girl, wants out but if she goes against the others she may be next…
This one isn’t too creepy or scary but it definitely is full of twisted mean girls, gore galore, and some demonic possession!
If any of those things interest you I’d recommend checking this one out!
The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
Lucy and Margaret are cousins who live with their respective parents in a mansion in the middle of the woods, one day Margaret’s mother goes missing and she slowly starts to believe she can hear her dead mother’s voice in the walls. Lucy watches as Margaret slowly goes insane and she soon starts hearing voices as well and must confront the legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.
Not as good as “Daughters Unto Devils” but still very twisted and creepy! Most of the book is a bit slow but the ending makes it all worth it!
Dreamfall by Amy Plum
A group of teenagers enter an experiment that is supposed to help cure their insomnia but instead find themselves all trapped within a dreamworld made up of their worst nightmares.
I thought this was going to be more sci-fi than anything but was surprised by how scary it actually got! There are definitely some very creepy nightmares the kids have to make it through.
Night Film by Marisha Pessl
This one can be both scary horror and suspenseful thriller, there are some supernatural elements to the story and the situations themselves can get pretty terrifying.
A journalist, Scott McGrath, investigates the death of Ashley Cordova, the daughter of the mysterious horror film director Stanislas Cordova. He believes there’s more to her death than anyone knows and as he digs deeper he discovers more and more disturbing things about the family and wonders if he may be next.
If you want a very dark, gritty, and terrifying thriller this one is for you. It’s extremely compelling and fast paced.
The Hollow Girl by Hillary Monahan
Trigger Warning: Rape, violence, and gore
A Romani girl studying herbcraft under her Gran’s teaching befriends an outsider but on her way home one day they are both jumped and brutally assaulted leaving her friend on the brink of death. She must now utilize her dark witchcraft to extract body parts from the boys who wronged her in order to save her friend.
If revenge stories are up your alley this one is very satisfying and I loved the addition of the witchcraft. However, if you can’t handle gore or graphic violence maybe leave this one alone.
Have you read any of these? What did you think?
Are you going to give any of these horror books a try?
What are some of your favorite scary horror books?
Let me know in the comments!