Book Review: The Turning

|+| Warnings: Unreliable narrator, emotionally abusive relationships |+|

“The big, dark house was their world and they were letting me in. But only so far.” ~Jack (The Turning)

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Author: Francine Prose

Genre: YA Horror

Synopsis:  Jack is spending the summer on a private island far from modern conveniences. No Wi-Fi, no cell service, no one else on the island but a housekeeper and the two very peculiar children in his care. The first time Jack sees the huge black mansion atop a windswept hill, he senses something cold, something more sinister than even the dark house itself.

Soon, he feels terribly isolated and alone. Yet he is not alone. The house has visitors—peering in the windows, staring from across the shore. But why doesn’t anyone else see them . . . and what do they want? As secrets are revealed and darker truths surface, Jack desperately struggles to maintain a grip on reality. He knows what he sees, and he isn’t crazy. . . . Or is he?

My Opinion: The Turning has all my favorite horror tropes in it and uses them beautifully. Did it scare me? No, but there’s only been one horror book that’s done that, so I won’t hold that against this book. Although it took me a bit to get into the writing style and I wasn’t fully satisfied with the ending, I was in love with the concept, characters, and setting. Overall I gave this book 3 stars.

This book is based off of The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, a book I’ve had on my TBR list for a while, but have yet to read. I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed The Turning more or less if I had read Henry James’ book. Regardless, this book relies a lot on classic horror tropes and uses them flawlessly. The book doesn’t feel bogged down with tropes because from the start, we know exactly what we’re getting. We expect to get a creepy house with creepy kids and paranormal activity and we do.

I love books that are told through letter style, and to see a horror book that does that was super fun. I think the only problem with this narration style was that we ultimately had three letter writers (Jack, Sophie, and Jack’s father) that all sounded the same. I found myself double checking the “Dear ____” part because I was getting confused. This took me out of the story somewhat.

I also had an issue with the predictability and pacing of the story. There’s odd and interesting things that happen at the start, but it’s easy enough to make (accurate) assumptions about them. This changes 100+ pages into the story. Because this is a short book (just over 200 pages), that meant a lot of waiting.

Despite the slow pace and the predictability I think what sold me on this book was the fact that once it picks up, it picks up. Not only that, while we’re seeing tried and true horror tropes we also are seeing some genuinely interesting things. This is done mostly through the setting and how the characters react to it. The way that the characters and supernatural events behave within the setting was extremely well done. This element was what really kept me going.

TL;DR: If you’re looking for something to scare you stiff and a more serious horror book, this might not be your cup of tea. But if you’re looking for a more fun horror read and are a fan of horror tropes, this is the book for you! Although this book is predictable and has a slow start, it’s still a quick and fun read.

 

Book Review: KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale

|+| Warnings: Violence, gore, consensual sexual situations, talk of suicide |+|

“Some people ought to die-but people dying can’t ever not matter.” ~ Hanekawa (KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale)

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Author: NISIOSIN (Illustrations by Vofan)

Genre: Mature YA Paranormal; Horror

Summary: Around midnight, under a lonely street lamp in a provincial town in Japan, lies a white woman, a blonde, alone, robbed of all four limbs, yet undead. Indeed, a rumor’s been circulating among the local girls that a vampire has come to their backwater, of all places.

Koyomi Araragi, who prefers to avoid having friends because they’d lower his “intensity as a human,” is naturally skeptical. Yet it is to him that the bloodsucking demon, a concept “dated twice over,” beckons on the first day of spring break as he makes his way home with a fresh loot of morally compromising periodicals.

Always disarmingly candid, often hilariously playful, and sometimes devastatingly moving, KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale is the perfect gateway into the world of author NISIOISIN, the bestselling young novelist in Japan today. The prequel to BAKEMONOGATARI (“Monster Tale”), this is where the legendary MONOGATARI series, whose anime adaptations have enjoyed international popularity and critical acclaim, begins.

My Opinion: This was a fun and interesting read. It turned out differently than what I expected, but in a good way. I really enjoyed the fresh take on vampires and I also wound up learning a lot about Japanese culture. But the writing style was a bit too manga like. Not to mention some parts just went on forever which killed tension. Because of those reasons I gave the book three stars.

I’m a big fan of anime and manga. Now I don’t watch/read them as much as I’d like to, but I love the series that I’m invested in. When I first found this book I had never read anything by this author and I’m pretty sure that I hadn’t seen the manga series around. So when I realized that this was a prequel, and the author said it was totally fine to read it before reading the rest of the series, I was game. I read the book and wound up learning a lot about Japanese culture, and I’m also pretty sure I found a new series to check out.

Now with all that being said, if you’re familiar with manga and animes, you know there is melodrama! It’s just a thing. When it’s done well it’s awesome, fun, and completely loveable. I am a huge fan of melodrama! Here…well there were some hits and misses. In some parts scenes were so dragged out to add to the melodrama. It just didn’t work for me. I didn’t need or want to read 10 pages of our hero monologuing about the current situation when the answer was rather clear. Frankly, a lot of tension could have been added to the book if some of the monologues were cut back. Secondly, the sexual situations. Ok, I get it, spring break, boys and girls meet and even if they don’t fall in love (and in this book they don’t), there’s a high chance for fooling around. But our hero Araragi was just too much of a guy at times. Usually it was done to add humor, and it did consistently work towards character development. So yay for that! But sometimes he was so much of a guy that it just lowered the intensity of the story. Now about that writing style…look, manga is a visual medium, and novelizations of visual things (mangas, animes, movies, what have you) don’t always work. The writing style for this book was so close to reading a manga that honestly it was difficult to read at times. Mangas are very visual based, regular books are not. It’s awesome to blend genres but for this book the blend didn’t work the way it needed to.

One of the saving elements was the interesting characters. We have humans, vampires, half vampires, and humans that might not be humans after all. Each character, no matter the species was fleshed out. By the end of the book, despite the aforementioned issues, I really was invested in everyone. I want to know what happens in the rest of the series and will gladly get my heart ripped out for these fictional characters. I found my heart breaking when multiple characters struggled with suicidal thoughts. This story doesn’t have a happy ending, it’s a tragedy with bursts of comedy more than anything, so while no one commits suicide, the problem isn’t fixed with a perfect bow, which I appreciated-it’s clear that those issues will come into play later in the series and I hope that it’s handled well. While Araragi wasn’t my favorite, I loved his character development. Over all I was impressed with not only the main character’s development, but the development of Hanekawa and Oshino as well. I felt like Kisshot was well layered and fleshed out, but I didn’t feel like she grew as much as the others. Regardless, she made a lovely foil and I was surprised by her depth.

Another thing that made me enjoy this book was the take on vampires. Now as someone who’s spent all their lives in the States I’ve never realized how western vampires are. This book is so cool because it’s a western monster in an East Asian setting and both the monster and the people from a culture that doesn’t have vampires has to adjust. It was a new spin that I had never seen before and made me realize that I have a lot to learn about monsters and the world in general. I also found myself learning a lot about the Japanese culture. Araragi is such a straightforward narrator and is so practical about what he says (for the most part), so I found myself learning a lot about his culture in a really fun way.

With interesting characters, and a unique take on vampires I found myself enjoying this book. True, at times it read like a hot mess due to the odd writing style that just didn’t seem to work, but I can forgive the book for that when it gives me such a unique story.

TL; DR: With a fresh take on vampires and well developed characters KIZUMONOGATARI: Wound Tale is a really cool story. While the writing style is bizarre at times and some of the issues and topics are pretty dark, it’s a good book for fans of anime and manga. If you’re new to the series, this is a fun introduction and will probably leave you wanting more. If you’re already familiar with the series, then this is a must read. Looking for a new take on vampires as well as looking to diversify your shelf? This is a good bet!

6 Books You Should Read This October

These books are books I can’t get enough of. They’re eerie, terrifying, unsettling or sometimes all three. Although not all of these books are horror, these are books I recommend to people looking for a perfect October read. Be careful when you pick your poison though, some books have possible triggers in them.

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Asylum (Madeleine Roux; warnings: unreality, torture) First in a haunting series, Asylum is the story of Dan who goes to a summer camp for high school students that actually want to learn. He and his friends quickly learn, but what they learn isn’t mathematical equations, history, or new art skills, it’s about their temporary summer home-a former asylum. And with that knowledge comes a nightmare that Dan and his friends weren’t expecting and might not ever be free of. You can check out my review here.

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Skulduggery Pleasant (Derek Landy) There’s a talking skeleton mage that can control fire. How much more Halloween do you want? Filled with dark humor, suspense and excellent world building, Skulduggery Pleasant is the story of Stephanie Edgley discovering quite a lot about her uncle when he passes away. She meets her uncle’s unusual friend Skulduggery Pleasant who takes her under his wing. Skulduggery does things on his own terms though, and magic isn’t an easy subject to  learn, even without people trying to kill you.

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Tamsin (Peter S. Beagle) Perhaps the most underrated book on the list, Tamsin is the story of Jenny Gluckstein and her encounters with the paranormal, love, and cats. Although furious with her mother and her new-stepfather for taking her from her home in New York City, Jenny can’t deny that the English countryside has a plethora of unsettling mysteries and dark dangers which are calling to her.  And the strongest call of all is the ghost Tamsin.

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Sabriel (Garth Nix) Necromancers have never been so cool. First in the Abhorsen series, Sabriel is our heroine that frequently walks in death to battle all sorts of undead things. Monsters, corpses, other necromancers, you name it, she can kick its butt and master walking through death. Hopefully. The magic system of this world is complicated (beautifully so), and even the most well trained of the Abhorsens need a bit of help now and again. Read it and thank me later.

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The Demonologist: (warnings: gore, violence, language, and torture) One of the few horror books that actually scared me, The Demonologist follows a professor who doesn’t believe in the demons he studies. But then they kidnap his daughter and send him on what feels like an impossible quest. Adjusting to the reality of demons is soon the least of his problems. But hey, a dad’s gotta do what a dad’s gotta do. The ending just about killed me. It’s a beautiful and haunting read that stuck with me. If you chose to read it, I’m sure it’ll stick with you too.

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The Raven Boys (Maggie Steifvater; warnings: abusive situations, language): Although the book starts in April it also starts off with psychics and ghosts. It’s a dead king that’s at the heart of this story. The very much alive Blue becomes involved with the Raven Boys and their quest for magic and a dead king that can grant wishes. In their quest the group becomes involved with curses, ghosts, and a growing series of unsettling events. It’s filled with all the stuff people love to read about in October. You can check out my review here.

The Shattered Seam (Book Tour!)

The Shattered Seam (Book Tour!)

Fan of haunted houses? Looking for an authentic voice? The Shattered Seam is the book for you! Below you can find my review of the book as well as a bit about the author and a giveaway for Kindle Fire (US/CAN only). Be sure to check out the rest of the tour here!

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Giveaway (US/CAN)

Author: Kathleen Groger

Genre: YA Paranormal, Horror

Summary: Spending spring break on an isolated island rumored to be haunted is not sixteen-year-old Sam’s idea of fun. Spending spring break with her uncle and his ghost-hunting film crew on an isolated island is even worse.

Way worse.

Her family’s secrets—and a genetic ability she can no longer deny—surface, along with the ghost of a rich serial killer who left behind a trail of trapped souls.

And he’s not through yet.

With only one chance for escape, Sam must embrace her family’s curse and close the Seam between the living and the dead. Or be lost, forever.

My Opinion: The Shattered Seam is a cool concept with a unique narrator. I immediately fell in love with Sam’s voice and the other characters were fun to read about too. In many ways this book reminded me of an updated version of the horror classic Hell House. Overall I gave this book 3 stars due to a major issue that touched too close to home for me.

When I read the first page of The Shattered Seam I gasped. Sam’s voice was so authentic I had to pause to take it in. It was beautiful. I really enjoyed reading from her view point because it really did feel like I was reading a 16 year old’s thoughts. I also really liked that Sam started out a skeptic and was thrown in with a group of hardcore ghost hunters that fully believed in what they were doing. It added a fresh spin to the old “non-believer” trope. This book reminded me of Hell House, but in a good way. The violence, the mysteriousness, and the numerous creepy going-ons hailed back to that sort of thing. But the story behind the castle is unique and interesting, making The Shattered Seam stand on its own.

But despite the fresh take on a classic (and favorite) horror trope, I can’t overlook the schizophrenia issue this book has. Note, Sam does not have the illness, nor does anyone else in the book. But schizophrenia is a real mental illness that impacts real people and real families. Sam thinking that she had schizophrenia, her mother allowing her to think this, as well as her grandmother allowing this thought, came off almost as insulting to those who are impacted by it to me. From the get-go we know that Sam is going to see ghost at some point or another and her skepticism will turn into belief. We’re here for the fun stuff of seeing how that all pans out. It wasn’t fun reading over and over again, Sam trying to justify what she saw because she was “supposed to be” mentally ill. It didn’t feel like a quest for self discovery. It felt awkward and unrealistic. Mental illness is never something you want to make cool in any form because that mindset can prevent people from getting the help they need. As one of the most demonized of mental illnesses, I worry that people reading the book will misunderstand what schizophrenia is really like. Because it is nothing like what is described in the book. There were some other issues, but they were easily overlooked thanks to the wonderful writing style and characterization.

I think that Uncle Eric was my favorite character. At first he appears to be a ghost obsessed man, trying to get good ratings for his show, but as Sam discovers more about herself, she also discovers more about her uncle and his crew. Her bond with Eric became something I really enjoyed and looked forward to as the book went on (I was not dissapointed). Each of Eric’s crew members have distinct personalities. This mix of characters was so authentic that the book really did feel like a behind the scenes look at a paranormal investigation show.

While there was a stand out issue for me, The Shattered Seam was a fun read. Cool characters, creepy setting and situations, and a nice mystery to go along with it all makes it a good read for anyone who’s a fan of haunted houses or who’s into paranormal investigation shows.

TL;DR: Despite the poor use of mental illnesses, this is a good book. Sam’s voice is completely authentic. Sam is not the only interesting character though and she’s joined by many others who are just as fun and interesting to read about. It’s a solid read that has some great takes on haunted houses.

 

About the Author

kathleen

Author Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Kathleen wrote her first story in elementary school about a pegasus named Sir Lancelot. It had no plot or conflict, but it sparked a dream. After serving a fifteen-year sentence in retail management, the bulk in big box bookstores, she turned her love of reading into a full-time career writing dark and haunting characters and stories. She writes paranormal, fantasy, suspense, horror YA books. She is a contributing member of READerlicious, writers who love readers. Check out her blogs here.

She lives by the mantra that a day is not complete without tea. Lots of tea. Kathleen lives in Ohio with her husband, two boys, and two attention-demanding dogs. When not writing or editing or revising, you can find her reading, cooking, spending time with her family, or photographing abandoned buildings.

Nine Candles of the Deepest Black (Book Tour!)

Nine Candles of the Deepest Black (Book Tour!)

If you’re looking for a book to read this October, Nine Candles of the Deepest Black is your bet! Below you can find my review of the book as well as a bit about the author and an international giveaway (Amazon gift card as well as a signed copy of the book). Be sure to check out the rest of the tour here!

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Author: Matthew S. Cox

Genre: Mature YA Horror, Paranormal

Summary: She saw it coming. She knew it would happen―but no one believed her.

Almost a year after tragedy shattered her family, sixteen-year-old Paige Thomas can’t break free from her guilt. Her mother ignores her, doting on her annoying little sister, while her father is a barely-functioning shell. He hopes a move to the quiet little town of Shadesboro PA will help them heal, but Paige doesn’t believe in happiness anymore.

On her first day at school, a chance encounter with a bullied eighth grader reawakens a gift Paige had forgotten, and ingratiates her into a pack of local outcasts. For weeks, they’ve been trying to cast a ritual to fulfill their innermost desires, but all they’ve done is waste time. After witnessing Paige touch the Ouija board and trigger a paranormal event, the girls are convinced another try with their new fifth member will finally work.

Once the darkness is unleashed, it’s not long before they learn it will give them exactly what they asked for―whether they want it or not.

My Opinion: There’s something to be said for classic horror. It touches on our base fears the most. Taking the tropes of demons, occult magic, and paranormal events and forming them into something is great fun if done right. Nine Candles of Deepest Black does it right. It’s a lovely homage to classical horror tropes while upgrading it all to something diverse, interesting, and unusual. There were just one or two things that rubbed me the wrong way, but regardless this was a fun read that fully earned 4 stars.

Most of the time in paranormal horror the ghost comes in after an introduction. Not so here. Almost immediately we discover that Paige is haunted by her dead sister. The death of Amber hit the family hard, and it seems like the only person who’s coping in a remotely healthy way is the annoying little sister. This is where the book stands out. We have multiple points of tension throughout. First we have Paige and her family, then the relationships with her new-found friends, and the tension the magic brings. Cox does a wonderful job of having these separate sources of tension feed into each other and move the book forward.

At times though I was taken out of this tension due to a couple of things. Cox has a wonderful writing style and is very descriptive. It’s easy to picture what’s going on, but sometimes things were just a little too metaphorical. Frequently we’re told about Paige’s black cloud and it took me a couple of times reading that to realize it was metaphorical. I think. Considering all the other things going on, it wouldn’t have surprised me if it was actually real. This was never really cleared up, but considering everyone’s non-reaction to it, I’m assuming it was metaphorical. This kind of seemed to be a thing though, some things were just over-described which caused confusion. The descriptions of clothing were great…but sometimes the focus was a bit too heavy on what each girl was wearing which needlessly slowed down things. Also, sometimes the gore felt less necessary and more like the trope where people assume horror has a ton of blood and gore in it. These issues took me out of the book and the reading experience. The book is also incredibly heavy and at times the book felt a little too dark to be full on enjoyable for me. Ultimately  despite having gore, nudity, detailed talk of suicide, and forced sexual situations, for the most part all of it was handled very well.

Now for my favorite part of any review, and my favorite element of Nine Candles of Deepest Black: the characters. The characters are diverse, and the WoC, Santana and Renne, are fleshed out and the focus is not solely on their skin color. They have interests and personality while embracing their culture which is always refreshing. Horror tends to have a lot of tokenism in this area, and I was pleased to find this wasn’t the case for this book. These girls have their own hopes and dreams and are stuck in the same fear boat as Paige our heroine. Overall, all characters were well rounded and believable. There’s a variety of ages as well. We see how the supernatural (and death in general) impacts everyone from 8 years old to adults. I also really enjoyed seeing how Paige grew as a person and how her growth impacted those around her. Again this is another element that makes the book stand out from typical horror.

If the characters weren’t going to win me over the hat-tips to classic horror and weird fiction would have. I loved how Cox alluded to the greats such as Stephen King and Niel Gaiman. Even if this wasn’t intentional, it was there and added a lovely mood to the story.  Classic tropes such as girls trying a ritual, demons running crazy and being unstoppable, nightmare sequences that may or may not be real, were all done superbly. Overused tropes are a grantee to bore the reader, but here they’re reborn with eeriness and tension. True, you can find a ton of books and movies with those elements in it, but the book takes these things and makes them fresh.

Nine Candles of Deepest Black is a great bet if you want dark and creepy. It’s a solid read and does a lovely job weaving the old with the new. If you’re looking for something to creep you out this coming October, here’s your book. It’s darker than night, suspenseful, and fresh.

TL;DR: Despite being incredibly dark, and having a little bit too much focus on descriptions at times, Nine Candles of Deepest Black is a lovely homage to classical horror tropes while upgrading it all to something diverse, interesting, and unusual. If horror is your thing and you’re looking for a fresh spin on classical horror, this is your book.

About the Author:

matthew

Author Website, Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter

Born in a little town known as South Amboy NJ in 1973, Matthew has been creating science fiction and fantasy worlds for most of his reasoning life. Somewhere between fifteen to eighteen of them spent developing the world in which Division Zero, Virtual Immortality, and The Awakened Series take place. He has several other projects in the works as well as a collaborative science fiction endeavor with author Tony Healey.

Hobbies and Interests:

Matthew is an avid gamer, a recovered WoW addict, Gamemaster for two custom systems (Chronicles of Eldrinaath [Fantasy] and Divergent Fates [Sci Fi], and a fan of anime, British humour (<- deliberate), and intellectual science fiction that questions the nature of reality, life, and what happens after it.

He is also fond of cats.

Book Reveiw: Darkness Released

|+| Trigger Warnings: mentions/descriptions of self abuse, and suicide |+|

“You’re the one that’s cursed, being born on Friday the Thirteenth and all.” ~Pat (Darkness Released)

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Author: Candis Vargo

Genre: Horror, NA fiction, Psychological Thriller

Summary: For Hailey James, the ghosts of the past have never truly been laid to rest… After a troubled childhood and one last visit to her family’s abandoned home, everything in Hailey’s life seems to be going according to plan. The business she runs with her best friend, Pat, has hit big time success, and she isn’t even twenty-five. When night terrors come out to play, her future is in jeopardy… With the demolition of her childhood home, and her twenty-fifth birthday drawing near, Hailey’s nightmares become even worse. She is no longer able to do her job.

At Pat’s insistence, Hailey undergoes hypnosis. She doesn’t remember much of her childhood, but when she sees a man dressed all in red in her visions, Hailey knows he is  the key to her understanding. Hailey can’t seem to escape her past and the ghostly women who haunt it. But she can break the cycle of suffering that has surrounded the women of her family, especially with the future of her little niece, Lilly, on the line. To move forward, sometimes we must go back… Hailey’s future remains uncertain if she can’t face her demons. She can only hope she will be able to defeat the evil which has pervaded her childhood and threatens her family. When the shadows of her past threaten to cloud her future, Hailey must find the strength to unlock the truth of her troubled childhood.

My Opinion: This book just didn’t click with me. The premise sounded promising and fresh yet I found the story to be filled with horror tropes that can be found in any b-grade horror movie. I also felt like some of the characters were there more as props than as actual characters that really contributed to the story. Luckily I was able to get behind the heroine and root for Hailey throughout the story. The scares were well done too. Sadly that wasn’t enough for me to be sold on the book and I wound up giving it 2.5 stars.

Darkness Released has an interesting idea at it’s core. Multiple entities are haunting a young woman who’s not sure where the entities come from or how to stop them, despite knowing they’re rooted in her past. That idea, if deeply explored would have been a fascinating and spooky read. I felt though that the author was trying to fit in every horror trope and in doing that lost sight of what made the book unique and special. The story would have been stronger for me if the author had picked one or two tropes to really explore and make their own.

I also felt like the tropes expanded into the characters as well. Pat was a gay Black man, and he fit the Hollywood version of what that’s supposed to look like. There were a couple of other scenes related to the gay community that I found rather tasteless due to how stereotypical they were. Because of how stereotypical it felt, the diversity didn’t seem like diversity at all. I feel like the author was trying to get in diversity, yet missed the mark.

The book was at it’s best when it was bringing out the scares. The scares were different than the usual ghosts and incredibly well done. Unfortunately, they were over too soon and quickly dampened by humor or a change of scenery. I never had time to have that all important sense of dread build. When our heroine finally discovers the source of the monsters, the fear of them was washed away for me. When the monsters showed up again, the fear was gone. Even when explained, I still want the monsters to scare or unsettle me on some level.

TL;DR: This book was a mixed bag for me. While the scares were genuinely interesting and enjoyable, they were dampened by the stereotypical characters and other tropes that reminded me of a b-grade horror movie. Although I wanted to enjoy this book, it didn’t live up to my expectations.

Book Review: Catacomb

|+| Triggers: Stalking, torture, kidnapping, grave robbing, murder |+|

“Never know what that kind of thing might stir up. Bad energies and the like.” ~Fats (Catacomb)

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Author: Madeleine Roux

Genre: Mature YA Horror

Previous Reviews in the Series: Asylum, Sanctum

Summary: Sometimes the past is better off buried.

Senior year is finally over. After all they’ve been through, Dan, Abby, and Jordan are excited to take one last road trip together, and they’re just not going to think about what will happen when the summer ends. But on their way to visit Jordan’s uncle in New Orleans, the three friends notice that they are apparently being followed.. And Dan starts receiving phone messages from someone he didn’t expect to hear from again—someone who died last Halloween.

As the strange occurrences escalate, Dan is forced to accept that everything that has happened to him in the past year may not be a coincidence, but fate—a fate that ties Dan to a group called the Bone Artists, who have a sinister connection with a notorious killer from the past. Now, Dan’s only hope is that he will make it out of his senior trip alive.

My Opinion: Apparently the final book in the Asylum Series Catacomb had a lot to live up to. It had the diversity that I was looking for, it did a fine job connecting the dots and it had a pretty big task of connecting Bookline to other areas. Unfortunately for me this book fell short in a number of ways. I was pretty bummed by this book and gave it 3 stars.

Ok, so the idea is that the kids run into a lot of haunted areas that all connect back to Brookline. This is where the plot really had me and where it really fell short. Early on we see connections between Micha and the places Dan and his friends visit. There’s some creepy stuff at the start connected to this, and you know it’s going to connect back to Brookline. It doesn’t. At the very end there’s a bit of connection, but it’s all speculation. Now in horror and in a story like this, speculation is a given. There’s always a bit of open ended-ness when it comes down to a story like this yet Catacomb gave us a perfect ending…so perfect that it didn’t make any sense with the rest of the series or even the book. The ending felt like a cop out and like the ending to a different series.

The Asylum series has treated everything else, the torture that mental patients underwent, the impact of the torture on the victims and their families, the loneliness of being an outcast, social anxiety, mental illnesses, and the history of the places very realistically. That’s one of the biggest selling points for me about this series, and Catacomb while touching on these issues, just didn’t fit into that.

This book felt much more like a legal thriller than anything else. Sure there were some random spooky parts, but the spookiest was actually at the beginning and never elaborated on. Like a ghost it was there one minute, gone the next. Unlike a ghost, no one actually thought about it afterwards.

The writing style was there. The characterizations were there. I’ve come to love and expect good plot twists from Roux and those were there too. Yet the story never tied into Brookline. We spent two books dealing with Brookline, Dan and his friends even talk about how they can’t leave Brookline behind yet that’s exactly what the book does.

It was endlessly frustrating for me and it made me lose interest in the book around the half way mark. Catacomb had a great idea going for it and so much potential. It had great characters, it had great writing, and it had so much to dig into, yet I really did feel like it held back. If I had known this book was a thriller more towards the legal/conspiracy side than it was an actual horror and ghost story like it’s predecessors, maybe I wouldn’t be so disappointed. And despite that perfectly wrapped bow ending, which didn’t feel like it belonged in this book, I personally think there’s a lot more to be answered for (like the whole dropped plot line with Brookline and the Warden, there’s still a lot of questions to be answered).

While Catacomb fell short for me in a lot of ways, it kept the good things with Dan, Abby, and Jordan. Their friendship faced more hurdles and it’s always fun and interesting to see their group dynamics. Even if the ideas didn’t seem fully fleshed out, they were interesting. I’m a huge fan of the first two books and despite my issues with it, I did enjoy this book. Just not as much as I expected. I’m glad I read it and I’m glad I have this series. Maybe when I go back and re-read this book I’ll enjoy it more the second time.

TL;DR: While good, this book disappointed me. It read more like a thriller/conspiracy theory book instead of a ghost/horror story like the other two books. It fell flat in making connections to the first two books although the writing style in was still strong and consistent. Over all it really didn’t feel like it was following the same story line as the rest of the series. Catacomb failed to make some vital connections that could have really brought in the scares. But it was still a good book and I still enjoyed reading about Dan and the gang again. I just wish I had had a heads up that it read so differently plot wise than the other books and strayed so far from Brookline. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more when I go back and re-read it. And trust me I will, the Asylum series is one of my favorites. If you’ve read and loved the first two books, by all means finish the series, this is a good book! Just don’t expect the same sort of creepy that Asylum and Sanctum delivered.