I don’t think this necessarily accomplished what it was trying to accomplish, but as a feminist witch, I appreciate the effort.
It just needed more cowbell.
…or maybe less cowbell.
It needed more cowbell and less cowbell, simultaneously.
For one, the horror in this was way too understated, and at times, put on the back burner. And the soapbox aspects read like the author wanted to beat me over the head with how shit men can be. And like, I totally get it and I agree.
But the themes of women being judged, belittled, condescended to and dismissed by men tended to drown out the actual narrative for me, which was supposed to be about a spooky evil killer known only as the Cur who was ripping obstinate young woman into meat threads.
The author clearly has strong opinions that they wanted to turn into social subtext to add meaningful depth to the plot, but it could sometimes be less subtext and more screaming street preacher, you know what I mean?
Like, balance is all I’m looking for, so give me more horror and murder alongside the man-hating.
Filed Under: Desperately trying to put that fourth wall back together
I really and truly wanted to love this as much as everyone else, but as should come as a surprise to literally no one, I did not. I liked it enough, but a few things were throwing me off – it reads like two different books, the pacing is all over the place and the anthology-style chapters became repetitive because there really didn’t seem to be a point.
I mean, I guess the point could be that bad things happen to the LGTBQ+ community and there really never is a “good” reason; it’s predictable and constant exists because of cruelty – the cruelty is the point.
But maybe that’s too subversive for my weed-addled brain, so I struggled to be totally engaged.
That said, this is an LGBTQ+ horror novel that would be perfect for your Pride reading list and there are a million other readers gushing over it, so take my review with a pinch of, like, whatever you want to pinch, I don’t know, it’s up to you but I’m not forcing salt on anyone.
It’s robust, in-depth and densely investigated from every angle, with the authors conducting over 200 interviews and reviewing thousands of pages of court documents to deftly present to readers all the ins and outs of a corrupt system.
I’m wholly impressed with this nonfiction account of Mississippi’s completely fucking horrific justice system and two men in particular who should be punched in the throat every time they step outside.
Like, top to bottom, what the actual fuck are we doing as a society that anything in this book was allowed to happen?
I took some time after reading this before writing my review because I needed to collect my thoughts and emotions – namely rage. Now that I’m sitting here writing this, I’m realizing I’ve actually not gathered myself at all and I’m back to confusion, rage and endless judgement.
Broadly, this book looks at bad forensics, institutionalized racism in the justice system and shitty white men finding loopholes galore because of laws written by other shitty white men and other other shitty white men willing to cover asses to “get the job done,” so that in the end, all the shitty white men are richer and more powerful at the expense of truth, justice and people’s freedom.
It’s fucking disgusting, honestly. But not surprising either.
“He fears me because he is small. I will not meet him there. I will not shrink myself down to his size, or anyone else’s, for their comfort. For their appeasement.”
Berkely Books | 2021
Filed Under: Feminist Witch Bitch Lit
Don’t let the synopsis and marketing for this book fool you. This is not horror. This is not a thriller. This is a cozy semi-mystery with Gilmore Girls meets Practical Magic vibes and a feminist tilt.
While I might have been expecting horror initially, I adjusted my expectations and ended up really liking this. It’s fucking cute and reads like Rachel Harrison has found her writing niche with this novel.
I really liked Harrison’s first novel, The Return. That was definitely horror but with a heavy female-friendship theme that propelled the plot. Cackle follows in those footsteps, but abandons horror for delightful supernatural elements, like the friendly, top-hat-wearing spider that sleeps under a little blanket at night.
I love gothic horror and I love haunted houses, so this book had all the balls in its court from the jump. Big balls, little balls. Balls of all sorts. We don’t discriminate around here.
But there was one serious downer that stood out for me: this is a wordy motherfucker.
When it comes to a genre novel that should be building suspense, dread and thrills because the story requires it, being too long or a maniac with purple prose can be a serious issue. The only time length isn’t an issue, is when the plot events are making up that length, like so much is happening it requires extra pages.
In this case, it wasn’t that there was so much story to tell, and certainly the page count isn’t very high, but rather that the author was far too interested in metaphors and purple prose and just couldn’t stop using them. Like, an intervention was needed. Without all that filler, this would probably be closer to being a novella.
The vibe had so much potential, but for me, it was a bit of a letdown. I wanted it to be more sinister than it was. But I still liked it. Does that make sense? Well, I wish it would, but I have no intention of working on my clarity.
Bloodline is about Joan, recently knocked up and engaged and mugged, she moves from the city to her fiance’s small hometown where everything is Stepford Wives meets Rosemary’s Baby, but mostly without any of the things that make those stories fun and spooky.
This novel even gets a little meta, with Joan stating how much she loved Rosemary’s Baby and wishes she could cut her hair as short as Mia Farrow, but oh nooo what would people think? I’m happy to report she ultimately does cut her hair when she realizes the people whose opinions she was worried about fucking suck. And isn’t that always the way of it – spending our energy on people who don’t deserve it.
So, honestly, I spent a good chunk of this novel being like “good for her.” Fuck with them. Sneak into their houses and steal their shit. I’m cheering you on, Joan!
Filed Under: I see you found my trophy room, Dalton. The only thing missing is your ass!
Ugh, damn it…
This is such a bummer.
I really wanted to love this, but nope, couldn’t get there. It was just meh for me. It’s got all the things you expect from a slasher story – unsuspecting victims being gruesomely murdered in the woods by a psychotic killer – but, really all it has are things taken from other slasher stories. A lot of this felt off, like it was simply a copy of a copy rather than a story with something of its own to say. And it wasn’t exactly scary.
The plot invests in giving the cannibal killer a backstory, but I found it kind of boring, with pieces that didn’t totally connect. He was living independently off the grid, has excellent hunting skills, can make pants out of human skin and has escaped detection as a prolific serial killer for years, but he’s also intellectually disabled with the linguistic skills of a third grader? And he’s a cannibal, but also interested in keeping women as pets? Um, okay.
The killer was a mishmash of every other killer from other slasher stories and that felt kind of lazy. Like, just put Leatherface, Jason and TheHills Have Eyes cannibals into a cabin in the woods and then fold in the cheese. And voila! It’s this fucking guy.
“What Keyes was describing was the textbook progression, from childhood, of a sadist and a psychopath. Torturing and killing small animals, pets especially, is experimentation in controlling and killing another living thing for pure pleasure. It is practice, the last step before graduating to humans.”
Viking | 2019
Filed Under: Gen X Serial Killer
Like so many who have read this true-crime book, I am shocked and confused as to how I’d never heard of Israel Keyes before. He does ask the police to keep his serial killing ways on the D.L. so that his family (particularly his daughter) never finds out what he did as a hobby, but like, dude – they were going to find out one way or another. You don’t kill three people (possibly eleven) and keep that a secret after you’ve been arrested.
It’s also kind of a strange concern to have considering he’s a psychopath. Like does he really care about his daughter’s emotional and mental well-being? I highly fucking doubt it. Most of these guys want to be famous. And it’s a real shame that even after death, we keep making Ted Bundy movies.
This book was a surprise in all the right ways for all the wrong reasons. Those reasons being serial murder and committing general criminal chaos. There is nothing better than being shocked and appalled while learning about a true-crime case for the first time. Well, there are lots of things better than that, but you know what I mean. If that makes me sound weird, so be it. I don’t know how else to explain it.
All of the –
– and –
– and –
– that comes with reading some fucked up shit for the first time can’t be duplicated. Kind of like a first kill that serial killers keep trying to replicate. See what I did there? Comparing myself to a serial killer? Shit. Alright, this going off the rails. Let’s just start over.
“This is what ordinary people are like. They don’t want to be bothered. They don’t want to care. They would rather let a few people disappear, a few families suffer and never recover, than ruin everybody’s vacation.”
Berkley | 2021
Filed Under: Two shakes away from Texas Chainsaw
Well, this was fucking weird.
I don’t know if this review is going to make any sense at all, because I’m still not sure how I really feel about this novel. So, uh, good luck reading my stoned thoughts.
First of all, the main character, Sera, is wildly unstable. Like, break into Sandra Bullock’s home and get into her bed unstable. Like, John Hinckley unstable. Did I enjoy being in the head of a character like that? Fucking no! But was it captivating, very yes. And fucking uncomfortable the whole time. Sera is so unlikable, watching her exist was akin to an embarrassing American Idol audition.
“And to think you were worried about a damn shower curtain. Nothing says ‘serial killer’ like a chest freezer in a garage.”
Minotaur Books | 2021
Filed Under: Contract killer is yoga pants
This must be the year where I just can’t take anymore terrible shitty shitty shit, that all of my favourite things have become fun, light, optimistic good times. I’m as shocked as you are, I’ll creep it real.
I did not see this shift in my life coming, I just know it’s here so I’m leaning into it. If we want to get all therapy-lite about it, I definitely know it’s a response to these COVID times.
I’ve had it up to my double chin with this planet, so all the things that have lit my feelings on fire in 2021 have been good good stuff, you know?
For the last couple months, there hasn’t been a true-crime doc or horror movie insight. I’ve rewatched Notting Hill and You’ve Got Mail like half a dozen times.
Ted Lasso? I am fucking IN LOVE with him. I wait for Friday nights like a child waiting for Saturday morning cartoons. Not because I’m excited for the weekend, but because I need me some Lasso sweetness and Roy Kent grunts. Simple as that.
And when it comes to books? Finlay Donovan is Killing It might just be my favourite read of 2021 (so far – it’s only September, so who knows what the end of the year will bring.) Trust me when I tell you, I was not fucking expecting that when I borrow this from the library, but here we are.