Ok, readers, I intended to devote Spooky Season to horror. I really did, but I just couldn’t do it. I think the reason is just that I don’t like horror all that much. Despite the horror renaissance that seems to be going on these days, I haven’t found much that has kept my interest. Also, other shiny books caught my eye, like the new Beatriz Williams, The Wicked Widow. ‘Cause we all know readers gonna read. And most of us can’t stay focused on a theme when our favorite author has a new one. So, here’s the Spooky season roundup. Still creepy, just maybe not so scary.
The Lost Village by Camilla Sten
This one caught my eye because of the idea of making a documentary about an abandoned village with a dark past. I love the Blair Witch Project. It’s the best found-footage horror movie and I think a just all-around good horror movie. I also gave this a go because it’s Scandinavian and they usually know their way around horror (and grisly murder mysteries). But alas, this one didn’t live up to the hype. It started out good with a group wanting to go out to the middle of nowhere to film and encountering puzzling problems that hint toward the supernatural. But the story dragged, and the characters were not very interesting despite the author’s attempts to bring in themes of women and the history of mental illness stigmas. I found myself skimming the last third of the novel. It had some atmosphere, but the story didn’t deliver. I wouldn’t recommend it.
If We Were Villains by M.L. Rio
I read about this one on a list of Dark Academia books. I’ve really gotten into Dark Academia after reading Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House. (I’m eagerly awaiting the next installment in that series, but the author seems to be tied up with that whole Netflix series thing. What’s that about?) Anyway, school experiences are something most of us have in common so setting mysteries and ghost stories in schools seems like a no-brainer. So, when this came up as a deal on Book Bub, I snapped it up. We start the story with Oliver, who’s being released from prison after ten years and he decides to tell the detective who arrested him the whole story. It’s a story that sees seven art conservatory students unravel in their senior year while quoting Shakespeare to each other as if it’s their own language. Some might find this pretentious and tedious, but I actually loved all the drawn-out Shakespeare scenes because I just love Shakespeare. This was a much more high-brow mystery and I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the characters were fully rendered. I would recommend this if you like a mystery wrapped up in young adult angst and the Bard. Otherwise, you might want to give it a pass.
Magpie Lane by Lucy Atkins
I picked this paperback up at the library’s annual fall book sale and had no expectations. I was thoroughly impressed by the author’s ability with the unreliable narrator. This felt inspired by The Turn of the Screw but didn’t steal from it. It’s an entirely original story but like Joyce kept the reader wondering what was really going on here. The story is told from the perspective of the nanny who moves into the head-master’s home in Oxford to take care of his selectively mute little girl. When the girl goes missing, we only have Dee’s viewpoint to tell us what happened. This was refreshing considering authors are going crazy with the multiple perspectives these days, which really seems like a cop out when Lucy Atkins wrote an incredibly compelling story with only one. I whole-heartedly recommend this one.
Alright everybody, enjoy Turkey month and I’ll see what else I can wrangle for the next one. Happy reading, y’all!