Review: The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

★★½

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.

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Review: They Never Learn by Layne Fargo

“He wasn’t afraid of me…That was his first mistake.”

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★★★★½

Gallery/Scout Press | 2020

Filed Under: A stress ball shaped like balls.


You’ll have to excuse me – I’m coming off of a conversation today where I learned some very disturbing things about two friends of a friend who are both going through new separations from their husbands. When I tell you both of these ladies are being emotionally abused and mistreated by pieces of TRASH – ugh. So anyway, my feminist rage is absolutely chaotic at the moment and that might come out in this review.

Why? Because this novel is a dark, feminist revenge fantasy and it was amazing.

It’s Dexter meets Hard Candy meets Thelma and Louise.

I fucking loved it. Let’s drive over the cliff, baby! But let’s kill some fucking sexist bastards before we go!

If that sounds like your kind of thing, please read this novel. It’s deeply satisfying.

“Killing a man is so much more satisfying than fucking a man could ever be.”

Scarlett Clarke is an English professor at Gorman University by day, and by night she’s a serial killer. So fun. We all need hobbies. Much like Dexter, Scarlett only targets those that she believes deserve to be murdered – however much someone can deserve to be murdered is an abstract moral question that we just do not have time to get into around here. I have things to do.

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Review: The Dark Corners of Night (UNSUB, #3) by Meg Gardiner

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★★★★★

Blackstone Publishing | 2018

Filed Under: A demented, twisted murdery pretzel


Alright listen, I know this rating is not coming as a shock to many of you. If you have been paying any attention to my reviews and posts, then you know this one novel truth (pun intended) about me: I FUCKING LOVE MEG GARDINER. I cannot control my bias when it comes to her books, apparently. I love all of them. I think they’re all the best things I’ve ever read until I read the next one. She’s a fucking BRILLIANT writer and I want to be her when I grow up. That’s just the way it is. I’m not sorry.

But I understand why you might want to take my reviews of her work with a grain of salt. Honestly, I can’t even tell at this point how much my opinion has been influenced by total infatuation. My critical style seems to completely malfunction when I read her books. Or, there’s just nothing to be critical of. Who can say? It’s all so subjective.

But there it is. I’m putting it all out there for you before I start writing this review.

I’m a total Gardiner fan girl and so far she can do no wrong in my eyes.

i love her premiere GIF by America's Next Top Model
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Review: Darkly Dreaming Dexter (Dexter, #1) by Jeff Lindsay

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★★★½

Vintage Books | 2006

Filed Under: Only surprising if you haven’t watched the show.


I honestly have no idea what this review is going to be. Objective? Probably fucking not. I’m a huge fangirl of the Showtime series and it’s taken me basically a decade to get around to the source material, which honestly feels like a crime. Now that I have read it, I’m very confused about what I actually thought.

On one hand, the first season of the show followed this series-starting book very closely. I’m talking nearly word-for-word. The Barbie in the freezer, the nail-polish, the ice truck – it’s all there, save for the fact that Deb was cast differently than she was written. And I didn’t really like book-version Deb.

You would think that because I love the show and this was so close to the book, I would be head-over-heels after reading this.

No.

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Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus

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★★★

Delacorte Press | 2019

Filed Under: Jamie Lee this Prom Queen ain’t.


Ughhhhhh…

Here we are again. Welcome to yet another edition of “Krystin tries to read YA!”

Aside from Undead Girl Gang, which I totally fucking loved, I feel like I’ve been trying for 84 years like that lady from Titanic to get into YA mystery/thrillers and it’s just one disappointment after the next.

That’s not to say that the books aren’t good. Okay? Calm your energy. I’m not here to shit on your genre of choice. In almost every case, it’s has been an “it’s me, not you” situation. I am just not the right audience for this genre.

I wish I was! I would love to relax with a YA thriller because the R-rated shit can get to be too much. Being constantly inundated with the most heinous plotlines can warp a person who also watches too much news. This planet is a dumpster fire. Yes, I see a therapist regularly, thank you.

I feel like a YA thriller would really help me unwind. Alas, of the 55 books on my “young-adult” Goodreads shelf, I have like 3 of them.

THREE.

Overall, these books make me feel very much like…

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Review: Wychwood (Wychwood, #1) by George Mann

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★★★

Titan Books | 2017

Filed Under: Running through the woods, Jason style, drinking tea


I’m wavering between 2 and 3 stars for this one because on one hand, it’s not a bad book. The writing is good, the characters don’t suck, the setting is kind of spooky and the crimes were unique, not something I’d ever read about before.

But then on the other hand, if I think about it, this book was super formulaic, there was nothing different about the plotting, or the villain’s reveal. And although the crimes were in-depth and thought out with great detail, the ending was also pretty predictable (read: typical.)

Nothing about this book was outside the box, which is disappointing because it had every opportunity to be considering it was working with a partly supernatural storyline.

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Review: UNSUB (UNSUB, #1) by Meg Gardiner

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★★★★★

Dutton | 2017

Filed Under: I don’t reread books but I would reread this


I love Meg Gardiner. She is a favourite author of mine. Anything she writes I want to read. Anything she has to say about writing, I want to hear. She is a brilliant author with a talent for writing action-packed mysteries with perfectly placed twists.

UNSUB is, by far, my new favourite novel by her.

Hands down.

It takes elements from famous serial killers, both real and fictional, and boils it down into one epic, smart and intricate serial killer crime thriller.

Thor, have mercy on my mystery-book nerd soul!

A quick synopsis: Caitlin is a cop. Her dad is a retired cop and he’s gone coo-coo for Cocopuffs after hunting a madman, The Prophet, 20 years ago and never catching him. Present-day, The Prophet is back, killing again in bloody crazy fashion and it’s Caitlin’s turn to stop him.

Obviously inspired by the Zodiac killer, this also takes elements from things like Se7enRed DragonSilence of the LambsUntraceable… and those are just the ones I can remember off the top of my stoned head, though I am sure there are more.

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Review: The Fifth To Die (A 4MK Thriller, #2) by J.D. Barker

“You can’t play God without being acquainted with the devil. “

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★★★★½

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt | 2018

Filed Under: Mother Yod


This is what you have to know going into the 4MK series:

This story is a marathon, not a sprint.

And I’m not just talking about this particular book, number two in the series.

J.D. Barker has crafted a rich, intricate world full of robust, personality-driven characters and advanced storytelling meant for thicc-ass novels. You don’t get conclusions around here. There is no end until it ends.

It’s a train that never stops. It is always moving towards the next destination in this 4MK world where you’ll be given new threads and new clues and new revelations that put one more puzzle piece into the jumbled picture that is Anson Bishop and Detective Porter.

This series is detailed, not so much in the visual description, but in the depth of narrative and connections. They are flying all over the place, from past to present, from case to case. It could be too much maybe for some readers, but for me, I was filled with pure joy at how vast this puzzle really is.

And I don’t want to oversell this, but HOLY SHIT, YOU GUYS, IT’S THE GREATEST THING OUT THERE RIGHT NOW ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH.

…yeah, that feels like the appropriate amount of cap locks.

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Review: Into The Black Nowhere (UNSUB, #2) by Meg Gardiner

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★★★★★

Dutton | 2018

Filed Under: Physical satisfaction


OKAY, FIRST OF-FUCKING-ALL: FUCK YES

And second: I’m so depressed this is over.

I’m not religious, but over this Easter weekend, I’ve decided I worship at the printing press of Meg Gardiner. And her books are my bible.

If you’re interested in my new religion, let me know. Maybe I’ll make some pamphlets.

I’m completely blown away by this instalment in the UNSUB series. I think I literally peed my pants over the first one. And it seemed a completely impossible task that an author would deliver an equally pee-pants worthy follow-up.

But, I’m peeing my pants right now. (Not really. I’m at work. No one would appreciate that.)

Still, this is a completely solid five-star rating, and my only little tiny, itty-bitty teeny issue is a completely personal one that comes from the fact that I know everything about Ted Bundy. He’s my favourite serial killer. Not in a weird way. You know what I mean.

Look, I’m not apologizing. It is what it is.

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Review: Stillhouse Lake (Stillhouse Lake, #1) by Rachel Caine

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★★★★

Thomas & Mercer | 2017

Filed Under: Doxxing a serial killer’s family, like true internet heroes


After reading this I am going to be on high alert-code orange, for any signs my darling husband is a deranged serial killer.

I mean, he has serious deep-rooted hate for bunnies, so that’s got to be red flag number one. All I need now is to find a locked room in our house that I’m never allowed to go in, and it’s all but confirmed. I’m going to have to kill him. I can’t turn him in. I love him too much.

But we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine is a different twist on the usual serial killer thriller. This time the killer is behind bars and the star of the show is his ex-wife.

For the duration of their marriage, Gina Royal had no idea her seemingly sweet husband and doting father of her children, Melvin, was stringing women up in the garage and doing things with the skin (Hannibal Lecter shout-out) until a drunk driver rams into their house and reveals his last victim. But honestly, with a name like Melvin, wouldn’t you have had an inkling? Sorry to all the Melvins out there, but let’s be real.

Usually, coincidental happenstance to bring about a plot event can come across as cheap or lazy to me, but the sheer drama of the reveal was so unexpected that it worked and was a perfect hook to open this novel. No one reads about a body hanging in a garage and thinks, nah this isn’t for me. Next!

Or like some people do, but I’m not friends with them.

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