Mariner Books | 2021
Filed Under: Break glass in case of an emergency that requires gothic pulpy graphic writing
I said I wanted more gay thrillers and my book friends said fucking read Yes, Daddy, you bitch and now here we are.
So, I’ll say it to you too – read this book, you bitch.
It’s fucked up in the most perfect and twisted ways, to the point that it’s very powerful not just wild. I promise you will not be able to put it down and you’ll be all like, “wtf is happening I’m so uncomfortable but I love it.”
This was like a gay Jeffrey Epstein meets Harvey Weinstein meets #MeToo meets the Republican party meets that church Justin Beiber goes to meets that scene in 8MM where Nicholas Cage goes to an underground porn market for all the really demented shit and the guy is dressed in leather, pinching his own nipples.
You get the vibe.
Continue reading “Review: Yes, Daddy by Jonathan Parks-Ramage”
Inkshares | 2017
Filed Under: Seriously, he’s scared of spiders.
Okay, first of all, let’s be real – this is not totally a haunted house story because most of the plot doesn’t actually take place in the house that is haunted.
I feel like describing this as a haunted house story is selling it short because it’s so much more involved than that. Maybe too involved? Because damn can this read slow.
The first half of the novel is like an episode of The History of Horror, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing because I genuinely love learning about the genre. Side note: If you are a horror fan and are not watching/listening to this show/podcast hosted by Eli Roth, then you’re missing out. In conversation with big names, you get to delve deep into everything to do with the genre – how your favourite pieces came about, all the tropes, sub-genres and (obviously) the history.
This novel takes on that vibe a little bit, with a lot of examining horror as a genre as it relates to the MC, Sam McGarver, a one-hit-wonder horror author turned writing professor who has lost his mojo like Austin Powers and just can’t seem to write another novel that doesn’t suck.
Continue reading “Review: Kill Creek by Scott Thomas”
Pamela Dorman Books | 2021
Filed Under: Officer Doofy, Reporting for Duty
The hype. That cover. The synopsis. Damnnnn was I excited to read this one, but it just didn’t live up to the high spooky gothic bar that was definitely set by… me, I guess? I mean seriously, that cover!
High in the Swiss Alps, the world’s most interesting and cringe luxury hotel has been created from the remains of an abandoned, rumour-plagued sanatorium that once housed those battling long-term illnesses and TB, with dark experiments and violent treatments tested on many of the patients. The new hotel – Le Sommet – has included many artifacts from that time, like gas masks and medical equipment, as historical art pieces around the expensive and expansive renovated building. And I guess that’s fine and normal.
But if it wasn’t fine and normal, it would be super tacky and maybe borderline disrespectful. I don’t know why anyone would make a hotel like this. But would I stay there given the chance? 100% yes. Let’s be honest, staying in an old sanatorium sounds fun as hell. It’s distasteful sure, but hello, I’m definitely hoping to run into a ghost or two. I would be walking around this hotel at 2am doing EVPs like I’m on a Discovery+ show with Jack Osbourne. And if some Beetlejuice-style dance choreo to doesn’t happen, my Google review is going to be strongly worded. I promise you that, Mister tally man.
Continue reading “Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse”
Doubleday Books | 2021
Filed Under: Apparently, there’s not a lot of bathing in a bathhouse
Honestly, can we get more gay thrillers, please!
“Popular” mystery/thriller fiction is lacking in LGBTQ+ centred stories and we all know it or a book like this wouldn’t be such a breath of fresh air. And that makes no fucking sense to me, if reactions to this book are any indication – there is obviously an audience for these stories in the thriller world. Like, the only difference between Bath Haus and a typical mainstream thriller is that the sex was hotter.
This novel was all juicy drama and twists, and I was totally enthralled. It was near perfection, except for oThis novel was all juicy drama and twists, and I was totally enthralled. It was near perfection, except that it takes its sweet time hitting the gas in the plot. Like there’s a whole scene of a medical conference speed. Zzzz I don’t care. But once you get past the first 100 pages, the story really settles into its stride.
Oliver, a reformed drug addict with a shady past, and his doctor husband, Nathan, have a beautiful life from the outside – a gorgeous renovated home, money and successful careers. But just like a perfectly curated Instagram account, looks can be deceiving. Nathan is controlling and Oliver is bored. So as the saying goes, when the cat’s away the mice will play.
While Nathan is away at a conference, Oliver and his wandering eye take a trip to a private, sexy bathhouse called Haus. Oliver ends up being terrifyingly assaulted by a perspective hook-up and that’s when shit really goes off the rails.
Continue reading “Review: Haus by P.J. Vernon”
“Life’s fucked up. It just is. It’s got ups and downs and I say it’s worse not appreciating the good things, because then what’s the point? It’s like the Native Americans used to say, right? Gotta use all of the buffalo. Life is a whole damn animal, and you can’t waste any part of it.”
Del Rey Books | 2021
Filed Under: It’s only missing Voldemort
Oooo shit, this is one hell of a novel.
Coming in at nearly 600 pages, it looks like an intimidating read and ya girl is definitely not a fan of thicc novels, but let me tell you, this does not read like a big ass book.
There is so much happening all of the time in every single chapter, that the pace never takes its foot off the gas. You fly through this fat-bottom girl like… I don’t have a metaphor for this, but whatever. It’s a fast read is my point. You get it. And that’s a testament to Wendig’s plotting and writing voice.
I’m calling Wendig the Tolkein of horror because this book is an epic. This couldn’t be a movie. It would need to be a TV series to fit in every scene – they are all important and if anything was cut out I would fucking riot. Don’t get it twisted though, I don’t mean Tolkein in the boring, over-detailed way J.R.R. does fantasy.
Don’t come for me Tolkein stans! I don’t care! You know reading about thirty different kinds of rocks and trees is boring AF.
Continue reading “Review: The Book of Accidents by Chuck Wendig”
Crooked Lane Books | 2021
Filed Under: A casserole that gets jail married to a serial killer and then does an episode of Dateline to explain why he’s actually innocent.
There are so many pieces of this novel that, individually, are dark and spooky and twisted and should have been captivating. But all those pieces put together in this way, in this particular narrative, just didn’t grab me by the literary bits like I was hoping it would.
When Heather Evans’ mother dies by suicide, she is left with a suicide note that doesn’t make much sense and a box full of letters from serial killer Michael Reeve, aka the Red Wolf.
No one ever truly knows another person because our inner lives are impossible to share. That coupled with how complicated it can be to know your parents outside of their roles as your parents, leaves Heather reeling.
Let’s be honest, if you found out your mom was besties with a serial killer who had hacked up some woman twenty years ago, you’d have a few fucking questions, too. And Heather, a journalist by trade (though currently disgraced,) has got some questions that she just can’t resist investigating. Who was her mother? Why was she so close to a serial killer? And I know Heather didn’t say it outright, but we’re all thinking it at some point – did her mother fuck a serial killer?
Continue reading “Review: A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams”
“Every house has a story. Ours is a ghost story. It’s also a lie. And now that yet another person has died within these walls, it’s finally time to tell the truth.”
Dutton Books | 2020
Filed Under: I’m not in the habit of blaming Satan for every phenomenon.
I wish this had fully been a horror story because, from the bottom of my bottom, I know Riley Sager could totally kill a haunted house horror novel.
But, this is like haunted house horror adjacent. It’s intentionally walking that line of fact or fiction, skepticism or belief. You never really know what you’re going to get with each new chapter.
Home Before Dark is a little bit spooky with a touch of Amityville vibes and lots of that signature Sager misdirection and twisty-twists. But it does read like more of a mystery-thriller.
When Maggie Holt’s father dies, she inherits the haunted house she lived in for 15 days when she was 5-years-old, totally unaware that her father still owned it. She and her parents fled in the middle of the night from Baneberry Hall and never returned, claiming the house was going to murder them, basically. Her father even wrote a bestseller about it that gained the family national fame and scorn. Just like the real Amityville – who many believe was a long-con by the family – not everyone believes the Holt family’s claims. Not even Maggie.
Now a house-flipper and designer, Maggie was too young to really remember what happened, but she’s sure her father’s book is whole ass bullshit. Any time she’s tried to get the truth from her parents they are dodgy and shady AF. Now her dad’s gone and her mom is all “I’m leaving for Paris!” so if Maggie wants the truth, she’ll need to search for it herself.
What is one to do with an abandoned haunted manor that probably holds the key to all Maggie’s questions? Flip it and sell it, obviously. But to do that, Maggie needs to move back in. And she’s like I ain’t afraid of no ghost! and she moves the fuck in even though her father used his final words to be like don’t fucking do that. She did it.
Continue reading “Review: Home Before Dark by Riley Sager”
Berkley | 2020
Filed Under: “Everything all right?” / “Yep, two corpses, everything’s fine.”
If you are looking for a modern Agatha Christie/Clue style locked-room mystery, may I suggest this fucking book to you?
Because I’m gonna.
This novel is such a throwback and I ended up liking it a lot… once I got past my assumptions of what the novel was going to be.
Apparently, it’s very easy for me to get used to the vibe of those fast-paced thrillers that are constantly trying to outdo the previous new release with twists and shocks. Read enough of them and I guess I can forget about the beauty in a subtle, classic mystery. Death in the Family was a needed reminder for me.
When I first started this, the tone and pace weren’t working for me. But that’s because I’m a stupid bitch. And almost immediately I realized I was looking for that other kind of thriller in the writing, which is actually really shit of me. Obviously, I need to switch up my current genre choices because it’s clouding how open I am when I start a new book.
I mean, not to get too fucking deep about it, but yeah…
Continue reading “Review: Death in the Family (Shana Merchant, #1) by Tessa Wegert”
“What is all the suffering for if not so we can see how alike we are, and not alone? Where will the mercy come from, if not from us?”
Ballantine Books | 2021
Filed Under: Hello darkness, my old friend
Well, I tell you what, if you’re in an emotional funk or mentally teetering on the edge of another bout of panny depression, do not read this book for the love of Thor and Loki’s butts in those toit-like-a-tiger outfits. Because this novel is sad, bitch.
I needed a nap and some serotonin by the time I was finished with it.
Detective Anna Hart is going through a hard time. She’s lost a child, lost herself and is about to lose her marriage. Hart decides the only way she might be able to find some perspective and some healing is if she leaves her current situation behind. She needs space to get herself together if there is any chance of moving past her grief and keeping her family.
She leaves San Fran for the small, country town of Mendocino, California where she grew up. Her dark present is about to compete with the tortured ghosts of her past in Mendocino. I mean, honestly, someone take this woman to an amusement park for the day. Just give her a reprieve from trauma. Everywhere you look with her it’s like dead parents, abandonment issues, dead foster parents, dead child, broken marriage, dead high school friends…
I’m not sure I’ve ever read a novel where one character was getting all of the dark shit, all of the time.
Continue reading “Review: When the Stars Go Dark by Paula McLain”
Hanover Square Press | 2021
Filed Under: Hello, Clarice…
I haven’t read a police procedural this pure and detailed since Meg Gardiner’s last release. And y’all know how much I love Meg Gardiner. And if you didn’t, now you do because I just said it again.
If you are a fan of serial killers… wait, I don’t mean like a fan fan. That’s just weird. Get better idols, as Bailey Sarian would say. No, I mean if you are a fan of serial killer fiction – of the mystery and the pursuit and the suspense and the twisted games – then you want to read this novel.
It is a fucking fabulous police procedural. And I don’t say shit like that very often.
You want gritty? You got it. You want fucked up? It’s coming in hot. You need detailed and immersive? Buckle your seatbelt and keep your hands in the ride at all times.
But listen to what I’m saying, this is a procedural. If you do not like being in the narrative passenger seat of a police investigation, this probably isn’t going to be for you. And that’s totally legit. Why? Because all of this shit is subjective, Donna! It’s okay that we don’t all like the same things! That’s life.
Let’s get that through our collective skulls, shall we? But I digress…
This is not a thriller. This is an investigation. And in my opinion, novels that pull off a really good procedural plot with this much perfection are few and far between. And it’s a debut novel? Fucking insanity.
Continue reading “Review: The Jigsaw Man (Inspector Anjelica Henley, #1) by Nadine Matheson”