Dear Readers, October was a great month for reading scary stuff! I read 9 books. I read 1 graphic novel,  3 books in a series, 3 dark mysteries and 2 advance reader copies (thanks to Netgalley). I started 3 new series. I made a TBR and read every book on it and added 2. I did hit my yearly reading goal of 75 books this month.

Five Star Reviews:

The Devil and the Dark Water by Stuart Turton is a historical nautical mystery that takes an Agatha Christie plot and adds the devil. The plot has so many twists and turns that all make sense. The novel is a fun who done it, with so many suspects all with murder that will make you head spin. The standouts for me is the plot, however crazy it gets there’s always a plausible reason and character work is so good giving all 20 supporting characters their unique voices who all have their own motives and actions. A quick plot for The Devil and the Dark Water is what if a Sherlock like character was in chains and locked away and his Watson like compatriot who is a sympathetic giant that is more of a bodyguard than a problem solver had to solve a supernatural the crime.

Black Sun by Rebecca Roanhorse is a groundbreaking new fantasy that is inspired by the history from Pre- Columbian Americas. The story is rapid paced, with so much conflict, it is hard telling who exactly is on what side of the good or bad coin, but the story was a fun read. The look at politics and religion is the best thing, do you believe in the prophecy? Do you believe so much in the prophecy you will do anything to stop it? Will you set up your own candidate for murder but look like it is suicide to take over? Will you make a suicide look like murder to stop a war? These are all questions asked in this deeply engrossing novel.  This is another advance reader copy from Netgalley that is released on October 13th 2020.

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus is a clever mystery that blends the characters of the Breakfast Club with the secrets of Pretty Little Liars. The storytelling was really simple with an easy to follow mystery with so many twist and turns. I’m happy to say that I did not guess the killer, kudos to those who did. The story gets going right from the beginning 5 people go to detention, but only 4 make it out alive. We get to live the lives through perspectives of the four survivors, the jock, the brain, the beauty, and the criminal. 

Four Star Reviews:

If It Bleeds by Stephen King is four novellas in one book, which he has done previously in Different Seasons and Four Past Midnight. As King has grown older his main focus has not been primarily horror, and this collection reflects his growth. If It Bleeds is my favorite story and the most horrific, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone reminded me a lot of his Hard Case Crime book Joyland, and how it was set up the first part was all history, but the supernatural comes at the end and well worth the wait, Rat is a story I thought was going to be a little like Secret Window just gone a different way, but it end up being a just okay modern day fable, and Like of Chuck was a story told in reverse and is more whimsical like his novella Elevation, which would have fit well in this collection.

William Gibson’s Alien 3 by William Gibson is a graphic novel based on screenplay version of Aliens 3 that did not get made that William Gibson did back in the early 90’s. It is not a wonder it didn’t get made since it barely has the character of Ellen Ripley. This story takes the supporting characters of Corporal Hicks and the Android Bishop and makes them co-leads. Newt is in this story as well, but still as supporting cast. I think Gibson nailed the voice of Hicks and Bishop really well. 

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Manicalco is a dark story featuring witches who have the power to keep demons embodying the seven deadly sins in hell, but also possesses the power to bring them to the surface for good. Kingdom of the Wicked is the goriest and darkest story from Maniscalco and that is saying something since her last series was Stalking Jack the Ripper. This novel has throats getting slit, hearts getting ripped out, and demons tasting blood. The story opens really strong, hooking the reader from the start, the middle has nice moments here and there while keeping the pace for a pretty shocking finale. I was happy to get approved by Netgalley for the advance readers copy that is published 10-27-20.

Three Star Reviews:

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir is the sequel to Gideon the Ninth a book I read last month.  Lesbian necromancer got me intrigued, but the great story and world building had me really excited for the next book.  Harrowhawk takes the leads in this one, which was good, but her character is no Gideon, and I missed her raunchy smart snappy dialogue. Harrowhawk learns some cool tricks with necromancy that are the highlights of this book. This book is is one of the most confusing that I have read in a while. The main story is really good, but it’s really difficult to know where you are, the bounce around space and time. 

Goosebumps: The Werewolf of Fever Swamp by R. L. Stine is book 14 in the Original Goosebumps series. What is scary in this book is the setting of a Florida swamp called Fever Swamp. The swamp seems way more dangerous than the werewolf that slowly starts killing animals. This book helps if you’ve read other goosebumps books and are looking for the twist to enjoy it because I thought my first guess was just too easy, but that was it. The story thrives on misdirection and it doesn’t work. It is also a story that once you know the twist the story makes no sense.

 The Saturday Night Ghost Club by Craig Davidson is a heart warming coming of age story about a club of adults and kids investigating local paranormal haunts. I put this on the TBR list this month because it was getting compared to Stranger Things meets Stand By Me, if you go in thinking that then you will be disappointed it is way more Standby Me than Stranger Things. This book looks at paranormal activity on a small scale, does it find ghost? the answer is sort of. This is not you typical ghost story, it is way more coming age than ghost story.

3 thoughts on “Wrap Up: October 2020 Book Reviews

  1. Completely agreed on If It Bleeds. Mr. Harrigan’s Phone had a fantastic build to those final supernatural elements, and I liked 2/3 parts of Like of Chuck (but thought the structure of them was wholly artificial). Rat just seemed like an old story rehashed with nothing to add.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh some great reads in this one! The Devil in the Dark Water is right up there on my wishlist shelf, I loved his debut and I get the impression this second book is going to be great too. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    The Kingdom of the Wicked is also one I’m keeping an eye out for, having never read any of the author’s books before the reviews are really getting my excited. I’m glad to hear its a dark book, as weird as that is to write. And Harrow is on my radar because I have an ebook of the first book, so glad to hear you enjoyed it. I’ve heard a lot of people say the book can be confusing because of point of view choices or timeline issues but so far everyone who has said that has also said the book was still great.

    And congratulations on hitting your reading goal for the year!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! The Devil in The Dark Water is a very straight forward mystery so not as mindbending as the debut. both Kingdom and Harrow are both dark YA fiction, a lot of skull and bones and dark magic in them both. I hope you enjoy them all.

      Liked by 1 person

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