My first year as an official book blogger has been a great one. I am forever grateful to those who have supported me and helped me on my journey. It has been amazing, I have read some wonderful horror stories (and a few dodgy ones), and I am very excited for all of the reading to come in 2019, including my initial seven books in seven days self challenge.
Anyway, enough of me, my top 5 have to be, in no particular order:
Bad Pennies by John F. Leonard
The first thing that really grabbed my attention with this book was Chris Carlisle. A guy, just trying to make it through life, struggling the same way we all do. Mundane job, living payday to payday, debating with himself over the now regular winter ‘heating or eating’ dilemma. This is a great story, a supernatural horror story encompassing not only the horrors of the supernatural world, but also the horrors of our own everyday existence. I felt his internal struggle, his guilt, and his overwhelming need. He needed the money, he knew he was wrong, but it was going to help him more than the dead guy wasn’t it? Or so he thought. I really loved the undertones about our general money worries, and the depths we can be driven to in desperation. For me personally, it felt like John F. Leonard was getting right into the nitty gritty of our materialistic society. The rich get richer and the poor get squashed. Our ‘need’ as it were, for the things we don’t really need, take over our senses and cause us to do things completely out of character, ruining our lives and those of our loved ones. Those of us who are desperate enough can be completely blinded by obsession and greed. To me, this was a story examining just how far one is willing to go, and how much is one prepared to turn a blind eye to, just to get on in this mundane existence we have created for ourselves.
A particular quote I loved “I might have no time for Fleecebook and Twitter-Tattle, Snapshat or Instawhatever, but it loves them like naughty sons. The more noise the better as long it keeps a few real truths quiet.”
I felt this partly summed it up, our materialistic obsession. We love sharing so much with friends via social media. We lose ourselves in the moment, rather than enjoying what is in front of us right now, we sacrifice it for a few likes and retweets. We are missing so much. I am as guilty as the rest for this. There is a pressure here too, the ‘keeping up with the Jones’’, the need to acquire things just to show we have them. We don’t like the idea of people knowing we are struggling, we don’t always ask for help when we should. It’s like this ‘shame’ has been bred into us. There is no shame in needing help. To me anyways, it felt like this was one of the points of the books. Speak to people, ask for help if you need it. Don’t leave it so the ‘help’ seeks you out. Evil is attracted to the most vulnerable among us.
My favourite character has to be Ronald Hodge. My god that guy is a creep. I felt like I needed a shower each time he was in a chapter. He is one horrendously bad man, in every possible way. I absolutely loved the development of his story. The way it just kept getting worse and worse (in a very good way), he is awful. Reading about Steph in his house gave me chills. It was so bad yet so good. I really don’t want to say too much on Ronald as I don’t want to totally ruin it for people. This is must read, for this character if nothing else.
Bad Pennies is brilliantly thought out and written, it flows so easily from one chapter to the next. The switch up in characters is obvious without being confusing. The fluidity of the story and realness of all the characters made this a truly horrifying pleasure to read.
I am very much excited to delve deeper into The Scaeth Mythos, it’s fascinating. The other realm, the manipulations of our reality and the descriptions of the, do I call them familiars? I’m not sure. King Ratty was a definite favourite. When he became spider-rat, oh god, I was itching all over. I hate spiders! I really can’t wait to read the next instalment.
The Sorrows by Jonathan Janz
***REVIEW PENDING VIA GNOH***
The House by the Cemetery by John Everson
Some things should most definitely remain buried. A murderous witch undoubtedly should. If there was ever a tale about a man being led by his, ahem, ‘other’ brain, this is it. Mike, a carpenter is tasked with making an already haunted house safe, to be opened as a haunted house attraction. Seems like a great idea doesn’t it? The end result, the cattle are taking themselves to the slaughter.
I got many American Horror Story feels from this book; I could picture it in my mind, the different cast members of AHS and which parts they would be perfect for. It really felt like a story that Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk had come up with during the creative process for their next series. It’s a shame really that they have already done the haunted house theme (series 1). I can live in hope though right?
Mike, divorced, living hand to mouth and pay check to pay check, is struggling to pay the rent. He reluctantly agrees to a job offer from his friend Perry, to work on reconstructing Bachelor’s Grove, an infamous haunted house complete with a creepy cemetery. It is to be opened in the run up to Halloween and a scary money making attraction. He meets a girl, Katie, falls for girl and does everything she asks no matter how twisted or bizarre it may seem. Love really is blind.
That was my one fault with this book; Mike was a little too accepting of the situation. Even at the end, all the murders, the bloodshed, and he just seemed to be very blasé about it. He would complain, and say he didn’t agree et cetera et cetera, but Katie would smile sweetly and bat her witchy eyelashes and he would be back to being her good boy. That one thing was my only annoyance. I think we needed a man with a bit more fight in him, not an absolute pushover. Katie really didn’t have to work for it. Also, I have to admit, it was not a huge surprise to find out Katie was a ghost, or even the witch for that matter. It was sadly pretty obvious from early on in the book, although that didn’t curtail my enjoyment.
I felt the haunted house within a haunted house concept worked really well, I loved all the different room ideas and the overall layout and decoration of the house really did sound great. I felt there was maybe a lack of any ‘actual’ haunting within the house when it was open to the public, unlike the subtle incidents, of entrails, noises and footsteps whilst Mike was working on it. That subtle approach was perfect for building atmosphere in the earlier stages of this novel. I would have appreciated a few unintended jump scares from resident ghostly inhabitants during the open house, which would have been a treat alongside the actors dishing out the scares. I think introducing some other spectral figures would have given the house more of a back story, showing us that many people died there over the years. While we were limited with ghostly visitors, despite being told numerous times of the vast paranormal presence within the house, we were not left totally disappointed. It wasn’t until the very last night of business that the ghouls came out to play. Those last few chapters were great, a very big finish, a huge kill count, it was an absolute blood bath that wouldn’t have been lost on an eighties slasher flick.
The Mouth of the Dark by Tim Waggoner
As a horror fan, and all round crazy fan-girl, it is always the stranger the better that I love. I love randomness, oddities, crazy, the unusual and the downright illogical. I relish the weird and the wonderful with a fiery passion, embracing it and all its wondrous madness. This book, this wonderful book, The Mouth of the Dark, is all of these things and more.
There is nothing I can say that could do this book or its author justice. Tim Waggoner, you are a literary genius. This is an extraordinary tale, a frightening, exciting, and thrilling ride from start to finish. The Mouth of the Dark has opened up a whole new world of wonder for me, I feel inspired by it, and I feel that it has cracked open a creative door within me that I don’t think can ever be closed.
We meet Jayce Lewis, a regular guy, a desperate father who is searching for his daughter, Emory. He knows something is wrong, he is deeply worried. He and Emory are not the closest anymore, not since the divorce, something he regrets deeply, but they keep in touch. She has gone missing from her home, in the Cannery. No one seems to believe him, that she is in danger, missing, abducted maybe; even her mother thinks everything is fine, and that she is just loved up and holed up with her current boyfriend and will get in touch eventually. Jayce knows, he can feel it, something isn’t right and he isn’t leaving until he finds her, he will do anything to find her, his little girl.
The Cannery has a questionable reputation; it is not the safest of places to live by any means. It wasn’t what he would have wanted for his Emory, but she is an adult now, she has to make her own way in the world, and he respects that. A lot of strange things happen within the Cannery, it’s a place for the unknown, the darkness, and the shadows. A different kind of life thrives here. While asking around about Emory, he meets Nicola, a curious woman who saves his life after he is attacked by some of the Cannery’s strangeness. She offers to help him find his daughter, it’s just a matter of can they trust each other, and can Jayce accept what he is about to find out. His whole life is about to change in ways he could never have imagined possible.
The Shadow, a world of dark wonder where the impossible is real, everything you could imagine, and the things you would rather not, it’s all real, and it’s here. A world existing alongside our own, just out of sight for most people, ‘normal’ people. Jayce soon discovers he has ‘the eye’, he can see the things most can’t, he is a part of the shadow, he just didn’t remember he was.
The Mouth of the Dark is a truly fascinating read, it has everything. We have lunatic killers, sex toys with a life of their own, dog eaters, clones, gladiator style fighting, melting heads and even a pinch of romance. It has something for everyone, and it is all wrapped up in a perfect twisted bow.
Haunted: Horror of Haverford West by G. L. Davies
This terrified me, I couldn’t put it down. Haunted: Horror of Haverfordwest is an interview with a married couple, Dai and Anne (names changed so as to not be identified), recounting the dreadful days spent in their marital home. They are haunted by a malevolent paranormal being, tormented and almost driven apart by the entity. This book is the prequel – which happens to be featured at the end of this one – to G. L. Davies’ ‘A Most Haunted House’.
I really liked the style, the transcript, it really pulled me in, and I was immediately engrossed, desperate to find out what happened next. I was hooked from the get-go. It was really interesting, as well as frightening, the idea that this could be going on in the house next door and you wouldn’t know it. You might put banging and clattering down to just noisy neighbours with no consideration, or maybe they are having a clean out… you would never think that they were being haunted, not in a million years. Or maybe we don’t want to think that? Is it better that we live our day to day lives in the blissful ignorance that there is nothing else out there, nothing lurking in the closet or under the bed? Are we happier this way?
I honestly can’t say I’m 100% sure this is based on truth or whether this is a story in a ‘true life’ format. I am most definitely open minded, and I’m more to leaning that this is based on real events. If so, oh my god, I can’t begin to imagine how horrendous and terrifying this must have been.
I’m glad the original book was included, I hadn’t read this previously and it was interesting to see the similarities between both accounts, from different people in different eras. I also found the possible explanations for paranormal occurrences an interesting and insightful read.
For someone like me, a believer, this is a great read. It’s had me on Google, looking up the area and the paranormal goings on. It seems Pembrokeshire is a paranormal hotspot.
I’m quite interested in this I must say.
The story of the Hooded Monk of Union Hill in Haverfordwest is something that has grabbed my attention, the ghost hunter in me has decided to take a trip down later in the year, see some sights, and maybe spot a ghost or two. Of course we are already concerned this will end up the next big ‘found-footage’ film, my fiancé joking the sequel will involve his mother and uncle heading out looking for us.
Thank you guys for sticking with me this year, and I am looking forward to a very exciting horror filled 2019!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from me, Lesley-Ann, The Housewife of Horror xxx