Mini-Review Dump 💩: The First One You Expect, The Pale White, The Bell Chime and Murder House | Horror Reads Under 150 Pages!

All the novellas in this post are under 150 pages and are available for free through Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Prime Reading.

And unlike my previous post, I actually liked most of these.

Snl GIF by Saturday Night Live

Reviews in this post:

  • The First One You Expect by C.V. Hunt
  • The Pale White by Chad Lutzke
  • The Bell Chime by Mona Kabbani
  • Murder House by C.V. Hunt

🔪The First One You Expect

ADAM CESARE

The First One You Expect by Adam Cesare

★★½

Broken River Books | 2019

Filed Under: Doing a Kickstarter for a murder spree

This was… fine… ish.

First of all, the characters in this all suck. Like, they’re just gross people and the plot they functioned in wasn’t clever or strong enough to support characters this unlikeable. And the MC takes it even further, being not just unlikeable, but also an idiot.

It’s a short novella, clocking in at just 77 pages, but I feel like 20 more pages of character depth could have really helped this be more robust psychologically. Like why would the MC be so cavalier about so much death, of people he knew and was close to, no less? And Anna… why? Just, why? It’s like she was written just to be the demented hot chick and no other qualities are explored. And the rest are unexplained.

This didn’t seem to have a direction or overall point. The why of it all was never clear to me, and for a horror novella, it was actually pretty light on horror – only one death is ever shown to the reader.

By the time you get to the ending, it felt like the author kind of got tired of writing this. And honestly, I got tired of reading it.

The vibe for this one:

GIF by A24

🔪The Pale White

CHAD LUTZKE

The Pale White by Chad Lutzke | Goodreads

★★★★

Crystal Lake Publishing | 2019

Filed Under: A spoon to the heart

This is not necessarily a horror novella in terms of scares and spooky moments. But it is horrific.

It is a tale of sex trafficking and revenge, of the mental toll abuse can take on you and how it can change the people around you. Honestly, this was a really special short horror story. It’s not sexualized or using the trauma the victims have going through for the sake of entertainment. It’s quick, dark and serious with a lot packed into less than 100 pages.

Is it for horror fans who want genuine horror? Probably not. But if you can look past that and just accept that it’s horrifying, you’re in for a fucked up little story.

There’s abuse, murder, a hostage situation, kids on the run, kids who think they’re vampires, kids who can only find comfort in a potted fern…

It’s fun and twisted, but it’s painful.

The vibe for this one:

Law And Order Karma GIF by NBC

🔪The Bell Chime

MONA KABBANI

The Bell Chime by Mona Kabbani

★★★★

Independently Published | 2020

Filed Under: A grief fever dream

This was a trippy and thought-provoking little psychological horror story that really caught me in my feels and off guard.

For the first quarter, I was unsure of where the plot was going or what kind of horror I was in for, but as the elements unfold like a fever dream leading to the answers, I was fully invested in the narrator’s bizarre and dark reality. The night terrors experienced by the MC are both vivid and unsettling, but also sinister and upending so you never really know where the plot will twist next.

As she slips in and out of consciousness, the devastation of her truth comes into focus, and along with it, questions about how we deal with grief, loss, mental health, anxiety, phobias, eating disorders and fear and love.

There isn’t much more I can say about it without spoiling it, and it is best to go into this totally blind.

The vibe for this one:

Sad Bobs Burgers GIF

🔪Murder House

C.V. HUNT

Murder House by C.V. Hunt

★★★★

Atlatl Press | 2020

Filed Under: Read it stoned, she recommends

While I was reading this, my husband came into the room, changed his clothes and packed a bowl and I didn’t realize he was there. I was totally enraptured by this fucking weird little story. I mean, it could have also been because I was a baked potato myself, but whatever. This story sucked me right in and nothing else existed, so that’s basically all that matters.

A broke writer, Brent, and his unemployed girlfriend, Laura, move into a murder house, the rent paid by his publisher, with the hopes of writing the next great true crime book based on the murders that happened within the four walls they’re surrounded by. Then shit gets weird with a maybe-cult and possession, that create a handful of very creepy and disturbing scenes.

The relationship between Brent and Laura was disgustingly toxic and exceptionally written. There are a couple of very sexy scenes that come across as a sharp counterpoint to the rest of the fucked-up-ness. My nerves were on end from start to finish, whether it was because of the awfulness between Laura and Brent, the weirdness from the meditation temple or what was happening inside the house.

The only thing I would have liked would have been a more in-depth look at the original murders in the house to better explain why shit was happening and how much exactly it mirrored what happened before.

Otherwise, this was shocking, bloody, sexy and weird.

The vibe for this one:

basketball wives GIF by VH1

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