Review: A Dark and Secret Place by Jen Williams

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★★★

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?

Reno 911 GIF by The Roku Channel
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Review: Bloodline by Jess Lourey

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★★★½

Thomas & Mercer | 2021

Filed Under: Good for her


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!

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Review: The Lost Village by Camilla Sten

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★★★½

Minotaur Books | 2021

Filed Under: Patrick Swayze’s subway ghost friend


If you wouldn’t spend a weekend camping in a probably haunted abandoned town with a nefarious past then we can’t be friends.

I’m not saying it’s at the top of my travel bucket list, but it’s definitely on there. Chernobyl? Yes, please! You wouldn’t want to go there? Minus all the radioactive nuclear issues and other terrible shit that happened, it’s got to be interesting and creepy. Perfect vacation destination! Or like just a stop on the itinerary. Please don’t make me sleep there.

Going into abandoned homes, snooping through all the stuff left behind like a time capsule – that’s a dream! A dream I’ll probably never get to do in real life, so a novel might be as close as I can get.

The Lost Village is all of these things, so fucking duh I was going to read it.

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Review: The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

I expected marriage to be a door that we went through. Like a new house, you step into it, expecting it to be an unchanging space to inhabit. But, of course, I was wrong. Marriage is a living, changing thing that you must tend to both alone and together. It grows in all sorts of ways, both ordinary and unexpected.

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★★

Bantam | 2017

Filed Under: The worst marriage present of all time.


Leah Remini is a personal hero of mine. 

I am endlessly fascinated with cults. For someone to so publicly be trying to take one down despite the danger, gets all the applause from me. I love her. I think she’s amazing. 

With that in mind, I wanted to read this book because it had this Scientology-cult vibe in the synopsis. A newlywed couple, Jake and Alice, receive as a wedding gift, an invitation to join The Pact – a group whose sole focus is to help marriages last forever. Soon Jake and Alice learn that getting out of that contract is not as easy as you would think it would be for adults who just don’t want to do a thing anymore. 

That has L. Ron Hubbard-inspiration written all over it – minus the alien nonsense.

But I guess, in order to make a cult thriller thrilling without going all David Koresh on your ass, things have to be fucking ridiculous and leave reason and logic completely behind.

So, for that alone, this didn’t really work for me.

First of all, from my experience being a newlywed once upon a time, if someone had come to me and my husband and said “here’s this thing to help you be good at marriage” I would have said, BITCH WE ARE THE BEST AT MARRIAGE WE HAVE SEX FIVE TIMES A WEEK WE SHOULD BE TEACHING CLASSES ON HOW TO BE AMAZING AT MARRIED LIFE.

Because when you’re a newlywed, you’re cocky AF. 

Ask me now, five years into it, maybe I’d take a little bit longer to really think about the proposition. You mean I get free vacations? I haven’t had one in forever! I get to go to fancy parties and meet powerful people? Sign me up… Okay, no don’t. I like to stay home.

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But you get the idea…

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