Weekly Mash-Up #174

Halloween is almost here…are you ready??

The Week in Books

The Haunting of Ashburn House by Darcy Coates — 3.5/4 out of 5 stars

(H 19/31)  Having never read anything by Darcy Coates before, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  But this novel about a woman inheriting a haunted house was a pleasant surprise.  I would describe it as more of a mystery with some paranormal elements, enough to give you the creeps but nothing over the top.  I can totally see this being turned into a made-for-tv movie.  Recommend, especially if you like scary stories without the gore.

The Darkest Lullaby by Jonathan Janz — 3.5 out of 5 stars

(H 20/31)  Another haunted house story, but definitely more evil vibes and not for everyone.  An abandoned house surrounded by rumors of a twisted cult that engaged in violent orgies and infant sacrifices.  A young couple move in and must face the demons that remain.   Many of Janz’s stories remind me of the pulp horror novels of the late ’70’s/early ’80’s, and this is no exception.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi — 2.5 out of 5 stars

(H 21/31)  I don’t even know how to describe this book so I’ll just say this:  while I truly liked Oyeyemi’s beautiful writing, I did not care for the constant POV changes, sometimes occurring in the middle of a sentence!  I’m all for multiple POVs, but not to the point that it gives me reading whiplash.  I was also so confused the first third of the book that I almost pulled a DNF (something I rarely do), but I broke down and read some reviews on Goodreads that gave me a better idea of what was happening.

Novellas, Short Stories, and Anthologies

The Vessel by Adam Nevill — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 22/31)  Jess begins a new job as a care-taker for elderly shut-in Flo, hoping to create a better life for her and her daughter.  But what she discovers in Flo’s house will soon test her sanity.  Nevill is wonderful with creating very atmospheric stories, ones that suck you into the narrative, and The Vessel is a great example.   It’s dark and creepy, with a folk horror vibe.  A great choice for Halloween reading.

Safer at Home:  A Ghost Story by Zoe Cannon — 4 out of 5 stars

(H 23/31)  A man moves to a new town to be closer to his girlfriend and winds up getting more than he bargained for.  While described as a ghost story, this short also taps into the fears we were all facing at the beginning of the Covid lockdowns in 2020.  A Kindle freebie, perfect for a dark rainy day.

Cenote by Shaun Horton — 3 out of 5 stars

(H 24/31)  A vacationing student and her fling find themselves trapped in a cenote, or sinkhole.  Will they get out alive?  This quick read was one where I found myself rooting for whatever creature(s) lived in the watery depths instead of the characters (and that’s not always a bad thing).  Entertaining, for fans of creature features.

Stay safe and Happy Reading!

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