Mini-Review Dump💩: Goddess of Filth, Dead Woman Walking, Cuckoo, The Dead Season, Daisy Jones & The Six, We Were Mothers

Reviews in this post:

  • Goddess of Filth by V. Castro
  • Dead Woman Walking by Sharon Bolton
  • Cuckoo by Sophie Draper
  • The Dead Season (Shana Merchant, #2) by Tessa Wegert
  • Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid
  • We Were Mothers by Kate Sise

🔪Goddess of Filth



Creature Publishing | 2021

Filed Under: Possession as a form of self-expression

I wanted to love this. I really did. It was supposed to be something along the lines of The Craft meets that episode of Buffy where she connects with the first Slayer, meets The Excorcist, but it just didn’t live up to the hype for me. It was rushed with so many elements that were underdeveloped, contradicting and lacking nuance.

You start with a séance that was hastily written even though it’s the catalyst for the entire plot, then shift into the power of friendship and loyalty as a group of women try to save their best friend from possession and then end as a story about an ancient goddess ridding the world of bad people. While all of that sounds fucking wild, it just missed the mark on execution.

It was definitely an absorbing read, I will say that, but the writing was so rushed that it messed with the clarity of the plot so the scene transition is clunky. The themes of sexual liberation and religious oppression were intense, but because of the structure, it was all seriously heavy-handed, like being preached at. I would have loved more space to explore the themes in a more consistent and nuanced way.

And then there’s the whole feminist/coming-of-age angle, which I’m not really sure was feminist at all? Allowing an ancient being to possess you, to give you the strength you need to advocate for yourself as a woman, reads to me like a woman can only reach her full power if she allows others to control her and control her body. Like, call me bananas, but isn’t that what feminists have been fighting against this whole time? So, while I appreciate exploring a female empowerment theme, I fail to see how the metaphor fully resonates when the whole thing requires someone/something doing it on behalf of the main character, and not the character doing it herself.

There’s a really interesting story trying to get out, but I was underwhelmed. It always felt like the plot was building towards something profound, but nothing really happens. And what does happen doesn’t have enough time to really breathe. This never really came together for me in the way I had hoped, but I do love seeing a shitty priest get some karma.

The vibe for this one:

🔪Dead Woman Walking



Minotaur Books | 2017

Filed Under: A nun walks onto a hot air balloon…

Alright, what the fuck was this? There’s got to be a joke about a nun and a cop in a hot air balloon, but I haven’t figured it out yet.

This was just weird for me. Jessie and Isabel are sisters with an unexplained trauma in their past involving their brother. In the present, Jessie is a cop and Isabel is a nun, despite the fact that she’s not a believer. They take a hot air balloon ride for Isabel’s birthday because it’s something she’s always wanted to do? Or because the Mother Superior – I don’t know Catholic speak, so if that’s the wrong name, you get the point – thought it would be a really good idea. So, Isabel, Jessie and the other hot air ballooners are doing their thing, floating in the air inside a fucking basket, when they witness a woman being murdered by a man who also happens to be an excellent sniper shot. Next thing you know, the balloon has crashed, mostly everyone is dead and Jessie goes on the run from the sniper.

Between the shady cops, human trafficking, a cheating fiancé, a twisted family of gypsies (can we say gypsy anymore?) who have a suspicious number of high-level connections, all the nun stuff and that fucking ending, this is definitely one of the most ridiculous mystery novels I’ve ever read.

There’s so much going on in the plot, and the nun aspect was so out of place. Each new twist was sillier and required more suspended disbelief than the time before, that at some point I just didn’t have it in me anymore.

It’s not that Bolton is a bad writer – because the pacing, description and characterization were good, though over-detailed – but holy shit this plot was too much. I didn’t connect with it at all. I appreciate trying to do something different and unique, but the novel is just a big yikes for me.

The vibe for this one:

Book source: NetGalley in exchange for a review




Avon | 2018

Filed Under: “…everybody but your dog, you can all fuck off…”

When her estranged stepmother dies, Caro, moves back to her childhood home to clean up the nasty woman’s house and ties up loose ends before the estate is settled and closed. Caro spends weeks wandering around, listening to random noises, being scared of a musical instrument I had to Google, and really just doing everything humanly possible to drag the pacing of the plot into the fucking ground. Oh no, did someone move my laptop? Yeah, real spooky.

Caro was an annoying, meek and vaguely damaged unreliable narrator who requires a man in her life in order to feel good about herself and I couldn’t stand reading her. Her estranged older sister is written so heavy-handed in her agreeable attitude and mean girl sweetness, that I wanted to kick her down a hill. She was GUILTY on all Literary Pet Peeve counts of creating miscommunication and withholding information for no reason other than to keep up the mystery of the plot. “Oh, I’d love to answer your question which would very much help you, but I can’t because we’ll talk about it next time,” is not good plotting. Down the fucking hill with you!

All the characters – from the MC to the gross love interest to the background townfolks – were evasive, unusually shady and one-dimensional, apparently only existing to provide more opportunities for Caro to be weirdly suspish but without actually spicing up the plot. So, that was a neat trick… Really, I didn’t like anyone, except for the dog.

The whole pear drum thing? Ridiculous and juvenile. The villian reveal? Obvious and dragged out. The characterization? Made for a frustrating reading experience because fuck these people. The atmosphere was the only upside, but it wasn’t enough to create palpable suspense or the necessary creepy vibes.

So, to sum up, this was boring and slow and vague. The ending was clever and all the pieces fell into place, but the pacing didn’t pick up until the 80% mark and by then it was too late for redemption.

The vibe for this one:

Book source: NetGalley in exchange for a review

🔪The Dead Season (Shana Merchant, #2)



Berkely Books | 2020

Filed Under: The Urban Legends: Final Cut of sequels

This is kind of a bummer because I really like the first novel in this series – it was so compelling and darkly fun – but this one just didn’t hit the same. Like, Shana did so much driving around from one place to the next, it was starting to feel like I should chip in for gas money. The pacing is way off in the first half and it really drags as Shana’s personal life is established. The urgency picks up eventually and I became moderately engaged with the mystery, but considering the high bar of the first novel, this one is a bit of a letdown overall.

What didn’t work for me was threefold and it all comes down to my personal preferences, so take this review for what it’s worth. One, boring family drama and scandal. So someone sold drugs and someone else was a bit of a slut? Oh, no, we must alert the church elders! Won’t someone please think of the children! Two, cold cases. Past crimes with no present days stakes are hard to pull off and in this novel, Shana’s 20-years dead uncle plotline was only saved by the present-day serial killer who would apparently risk arrest in order to find out what really happened to Shana’s uncle.

But the worst part is just the logical inconsistency that the notorious Bran – the serial killer who murdered a bunch of women and tortured Shana, the cause of all her mental health issues – has been known to Shana this whole time and she hasn’t told anyone. Like, if you were a cop who was hunting a serial killer and was still taunted by him regularly and you knew his identity, would you just keep that very important information to yourself because revealing the identity might hurt some feelings? That’s so fucking ridiculous. That aspect just totally threw me off.

The first novel set up the recurring serial killer thread so perfectly and this novel really whiffed on it in a lot of ways.

I know it might seem as if I didn’t like this novel, but I did… ish. It’s meh. It’s kind of a bummer, but I’m not giving up on Shana’s story just yet. But still, sorry, Tessa.

The vibe of this one:

🔪Daisy Jones & the Six



Ballantine Books | 2019

Filed Under: Fleetwood Mac but if Stevie Knicks was boring

I don’t know why I read this.

Really I don’t, other than I succumb to the hype of everyone else who read it. And I should know by now that giving in and ignoring my better judgment never ends well for me.

Look, I didn’t not like it, but I didn’t love it either. It’s just alright. It was kind of whatever. Like all this drama told through a Behind the Music-esque interview format about a band that didn’t even fucking exist? Why would I care? The answer is, I didn’t.

And that “this all happened thirty years ago” transcript narrative style is fully to blame.

Nothing about what’s happening is current. You’re being told an unchangeable recollection of events so far in the past that the tone lost all sense of urgency and drama for me. An actual Behind the Music or Biography episode is interesting and captivating because it’s about real-life figures who have probably touched your life in some way with their art. But here, that artist connection cannot be manufactured, so who was fucking who and who was angry at who, and who wrote what fake hit song but didn’t get credit so they wanted to quit the band, just never connected for me.

I will say the style did keep the pace moving because everything is technically dialogue, and the female characters – especially Karen – really brought that girl power/sexual liberation vibe from the 70s which I’m always here for, but otherwise, it was very flat to me. Like, Billy was horribly boring considering he’s supposed to be a rockstar.

So, it’s meh. It was interesting enough, but I didn’t get the feels at all and that was really the whole point when it comes to books like this. Whatever. I’m dead inside and you all knew that anyway.

The vibe of this one:

🔪We Were Mothers by Katie Sise

Little A | 2018

DNF @ 32%

I’m not going to write a real review because I couldn’t finish this, but I will say why I stopped reading it and that’s because the first 32% of this was painful AF.

Like mothers complaining, mothers lamenting, mothers pining for sex and omg where did my sex life go and that neighbour is making my vagina tingle and then the kids are crying and barfing and demanding and we have to have a birthday party for twins and and and… I just couldn’t do it. Potentially something sinister and life-altering was brewing between one of the women’s husbands and the teenage babysitter, but that little crumb of mystery was not enough for me to willingly put myself through reading these fucking characters for one more second.

This reads like it wanted to be Big Little Lies, but it’s just no way on par.

It is not a book that was meant for me as a woman or a reader.

The vibe for this one:

Book source: NetGalley in exchange for a review

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