“My view is: with you and George on my team, nothing can stand in our way.” [...] “Thank you,” I said. “I hope so too.” LockwMy rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
“My view is: with you and George on my team, nothing can stand in our way.” [...] “Thank you,” I said. “I hope so too.” Lockwood laughed. “There’s no ‘hope’ about it. With our combined talents, what can possibly go wrong?”
Lockwood, Lucy and George are a talented team of psychic investigators living in an alternative type of London where the young carry rapiers and hunt ghosts, otherwise known as ‘Visitors’ for a living. With their combined talents nothing should go wrong, but as that wouldn’t be any kind of fun, things do go terribly, terribly wrong. The bottom line: they’re in debt after their client sues them because the team unintentionally burned down her house after they tried to rid it of it’s ghostly inhabitant. This debt must be paid in a timely manner or they risk losing everything, including the disbandment of “Lockwood and Co.” When a dangerously risky but lucrative job falls into their lap, they immediately accept not stopping to consider the dangers.
This series introduction is basically Ghostbusters if they were teenagers and if Dan Akroyd’s part was played by a girl. Or if Harry Potter and the gang were ghost hunters. In other words, the whole dynamic of this story and its characters is off the charts wonderful and is easily one of my favorite reads of the year. The world this group lives in is one where the young start their careers early since the side effect of aging is also losing any psychic ability they possessed when they were young. Their work is forever perilous and in addition to their rapiers, they carry other basic forms of protection: salt, iron and silver. Salt bombs and magnesium flares are often useful as well. It’s an easily imaginable world where the dead never quite stay dead.
The Screaming Staircase is told from the point of Lucy, the newest member of Lockwood & Co. She possesses an unusually heightened sense of hearing when it comes to Visitors and comes to London hoping to join an agency where she can put her skills to good use which is how she ends up employed at Lockwood & Co. Lucy is a headstrong girl that believes in her talents but is never boastful about them, Lockwood is a charismatic leader that is often rash and fails to contemplate situations before diving into danger and George is the often grumpy and moody but skillful researcher of the group. An affinity is quickly formed between the three despite all odds and the fact that they live and work together.
What was most enjoyable about The Screaming Staircase was how smart and well-refined it was written. The world was built up sufficiently and without any sort of info-dump, the characters were given an adequate amount of back story to keep the reader interested while still leaving us with questions and the subsequent answers to look forward to and the level of eerie was completely on point. This ended up being the perfect combination of entertaining and haunting and the mystery even kept me guessing. A most impressive first installment in a brand new series from Stroud, I will not only be picking up the next installment (okay, to be honest, I’m actually already reading it) but I’m now anxious to pick up his Bartimaeus series as well. Highly recommended for readers of all ages that like their mysteries just a bit eerie....more
‘Mary moved fast. One moment she was distant, the next her hands smacked against the mirror. Her fingers flexed, and then the clawing began, a shriek‘Mary moved fast. One moment she was distant, the next her hands smacked against the mirror. Her fingers flexed, and then the clawing began, a shrieking squeal of razors cutting across glass. I jerked back, forcing myself to maintain the handhold. There’d been no noise during the last summoning. Now, the sound was undeniable.’
When Jess uncovers the secret to properly summoning Bloody Mary, she convinces her three friends Shauna, Kitty and Anna to join her to see if it will indeed work. The candle is lit, the salt is poured beneath the base of the mirror, hands are linked and her name is called three times. None except Jess expected her to actually appear, but she does. Being unable to see her clearly during the first summoning, Jess convinces the girls once more but makes slight modifications to the ritual beforehand. When the girls bound hands are broken mid-ritual, Mary has an instance of freedom and marks Shauna’s back with her razor sharp claws. Mary is no longer bound by the mirror and appears in any and all shiny surfaces, eager to drag Shauna in with her. The girls must uncover the story of Mary’s life before she began haunting and murdering anyone who dared called her name before a mirror.
‘Mary’s face tore through the mirror, twisting and writhing feet away from me. Her jaw snapped like a rabid dog’s, a string of green saliva hanging from her maw like she hungered for flesh.’
MARY: The Summoning manages to draw up memories of my teenage years when sleepovers consisted of horror movies, Ouija boards and attempts to summon Bloody Mary in the bathroom mirror. Fortunately those summoning’s never quite panned out since my friends and I were not aware of the salt trick. The creep level of MARY is fathomless and only gets worse as the book progresses, but it never fully frightened me. Maybe I’m desensitized to scary due to too many horror novels or maybe I’m just older and know better not to go say Bloody Mary’s name in a bathroom three times so I have nothing to truly fear. What was definitely on par though were the incredibly detailed descriptions of Mary and her gruesomeness that will definitely give you the heebie-jeebies.
‘She was more spider than ghoul right now, one of her elbows bent in instead of out, her feet flat to the ground so she scurried instead of walked. Her back was arched too low. Her head dangled at an unnatural angle while her white serpent tongue thrust out from between her lips, licking our scent in the air.’
Aside from the typical cheesy horror film antics of four teenage girls being complete morons trying to summon serial killer ghosts, the most fascinating aspect of MARY were the details that were uncovered about the time when Mary was still alive and kicking. The book is interspersed with actual letters from Mary Worth to her sister Constance detailing her day to day life between 1863 and 1864 when she died at the age of seventeen. The letters paint a horrific picture of her life before she died and certainly makes sense when she consider her current existence. There were still many questions to be answered, the full story is still largely unknown, and will hopefully be explored much more in the next installment. I’m hoping for additional character development in the next installment as well. The girls all felt very stereotypical, just acting out their requisite parts as being there just to be haunted by Mary, and their history is only briefly explored. Jess definitely garnered the most interest from me and I’m intrigued to learn more about how the author chooses to portray her motivation behind the obvious obsession with Blood Mary.
MARY: The Summoning is perfect for fans of supernatural horror stories that will thrill you but not leave you completely terrified. But you might not look at mirrors the same for a while.
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
‘...all those pathetic lonely people fooling one another into their clumsy games of afterlife and cosmic relevance just to avoid noticing the nauseat‘...all those pathetic lonely people fooling one another into their clumsy games of afterlife and cosmic relevance just to avoid noticing the nauseating sadness of their real lives. How could it sink that low? That’s how I used to feel, bound by reason to boredom. And then along came Axton House.’
The main character, known only as “A.” inherits Axton House, a mansion in American, after a second-cousin twice removed by the name of Ambrose Wells commits suicide by throwing himself from his bedroom window. Strangely enough, Ambrose’s father died the same way. At the same age. A. travels to America to get his affairs in order and with him comes Niamh, a mute teenager who communicates throughout the novel via notepad. The two soon immerse themselves in the mystery of the house which they find involves a secret society and many mysterious coded messages.
The Supernatural Enhancements is a Gothic mystery with a sole ghost and a strange sense of eclecticism. Unfortunately, it ranks right up there for me with The Quick in terms of absolute pointlessness. The story is told through various means including audio and video recordings, A’s day to day diary and a most disturbing dream journal, letters to an ‘Aunt Liza’, as well as various excerpts from books that they use in their research. It definitely had a Night Film feel regarding the unique way of telling the story but the story itself bounced around far too much and left far too much confusion in its wake. The strange codes that the two must unravel in order to progress further in solving the mystery should have been fun but instead I found them to be a tedious addition since us as readers had little to no chance of solving them ourselves so the pages and pages of detail regarding how they solved it only resulted in causing me a headache of epic proportions.
The characters themselves were mysterious and quirky but not in the most appealing way. We’re given very little detail on the two (other than the fact that they’re X-File fans which should have caused me to like them on that principle alone, but no) or anything about A. (or why he’s only referred to as A. because that’s just weird) or Niamh and their strange relationship; only that Niamh likes A. but she’s underage so it’s pointless. Or so we’re led to believe. The two sleep in a bed described as “big enough for each of us to throw an orgy without her guests disturbing mine”. And she apparently sleeps there because she’s there to protect him, which makes total sense.
Actually, it never ends up making sense. None of it does. The characters don’t make sense nor their purpose, the bad guys, or this secret society. The mysteries are seemingly explained but in a quick and careless way that is meant to be quirky and interesting but left much to be desired. The Supernatural Enhancements had a promising initial feel that, as Rory put, felt like “a lighthearted, simpler cousin” to The House of Leaves — just minus the use of mirrors. It regrettably fell flat for me.
I received this book free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
You want to get my attention? Compare a book to Dexter. Just, you know, make sure it lives up to that comparison. Unfortunately it did not. The Girl fYou want to get my attention? Compare a book to Dexter. Just, you know, make sure it lives up to that comparison. Unfortunately it did not. The Girl from the Well is not scary. There are moments of creepy descriptiveness but that does not make a creepy story. Especially when they occur briefly and inconsistently. Like this sort of creepy goodness:
'Something is rising out of the boy’s back–something with terrible, burning eyes, yet are not quite eyes at all, preserved behind a bloodless, decaying mask that hides its face from the world.'
But as I said, it was far too inconsistent and the rest of what the story contained didn’t make the wait worthwhile. Like the style of writing: First person and then 3rd person omniscient all in one paragraph? Talk about wordy whiplash. But seriously, pick one style of writing and stick with it. And if you were going to change it up, at least make it a different section so the reader doesn't have to backtrack in order to figure out what the hell is going on. It was unnecessarily confusing. Even if the intent was to make the narrator seem all crazed seeming since she’s a deranged ghost, it still didn't work for me.
Speaking of the deranged ghost. Not only is she deranged but she’s got an obsession with numbers and proceeds to spend the entire novel counting shit. Counting plates. And people. And seconds of silence. Girl needs to get herself a hobby.
'I spend the rest of the day counting. There are two janitors roaming the school grounds. There are sixteen rooms in the building. There are thirty students in the tattooed boy’s class [...]'
It wasn't thrilling to read about I’ll tell you that much. And then we find out about her obvious dislike for a particular number.
'Seven, eight. Nine. Nine. Nine bulbs, all bearing strange little fireflies. [...] No nines. Not-nine. Never nine.'
So creepy chick doesn't care for the number nine. Ten is totally cool and her absolute favorite but number nine makes her go all Limp Bizkit on shit. Honestly, since we have no idea the reasoning behind her dislike of the number nine those passages end up being funnier than I think was intended.
As far as other characters go, we've got Tark whose mother is in a mental institution after she tattooed him when he was a young child. Pretty nuts, and I’d be more likely to feel bad for the guy if he wasn't such a pretentious poser full o’ emo thoughts who goes around being snooty to everyone because he’s full of angsty goodness. He sees things too, but naturally worries about being thrown in with dear old mom.
"And then my mom had to… well, she went bonkers, excuse the political correctness."
This kid is 15. No 15 year old is going to mention politically correctness, or even give a shit about it. He would say mature stuff like that and then turn around and act like a complete moron the next.
"What is it about me that she hates so much, that she can’t even stand the sight of me?"
Well, gee, let’s think about this. Your mother doesn't get all crazy until she sees you, screaming to ‘get away from him’. So clearly she’s not talking to you. You know there’s this creepy girl in a mask that follows you, staring at you, that you can only see in a mirror. Golly, could she be seeing her too? By Jove! I think we’re on to something!
Bottom line: this could have been a creepy tale of ghosts that hunt down child murderers. It was unfortunately brought down by unnecessary side stories, a horribly jarring writing style and terribly dull one-dimensional characters....more
"...down in what was once Olive, you could still find the townspeople who never left. They looked up into their murky sky, waiting to catch sight of"...down in what was once Olive, you could still find the townspeople who never left. They looked up into their murky sky, waiting to catch sight of our boat bottoms and our fishing lines, counting our trespassing feet."
Ruby and Chloe are sisters that live in upstate New York together. Their mother is forever absent and the two have learned to only rely on one another. The town they live in is located near a massive reservoir that is reported to have submerged a town called Olive, and older sister Ruby tells the story of the town as if the people are still down their living their daily lives. One night at a party taking place at the reservoir, Ruby boasts that her sister could swim across the reservoir and if so inclined even go down and get a souvenir from Olive. The only thing she brings back from her swim is a lone rowboat in the middle of the reservoir where the body of a dead girl lies.
After the rowboat incident, Chloe moves to Pennsylvania to live with her dad and step-mother, leaving Ruby behind. A random text every now and then is the only communication Chloe has with her sister, but two years go by and her sister has appeared suddenly in town to coerce her to return, insisting that things are back to normal. Chloe does return and finds that things are in fact back to the way they were, but they aren’t truly. Something eerie and mysterious is at work and Chloe knows that Ruby’s the reason for it all. The strange stories her sister tells about the town of Olive, and of the reservoir, and of the dead girl named London are all connected somehow and Chloe’s curiosity is overpowering. She trusts her sister implicitly despite the strangeness that her hometown now exudes.
Imaginary Girls is a mesmerizing tale that will leave you contemplating the magic that threads itself through this novel. It’s a strangely horrific tale with a subtle delivery causing the eeriness to come upon you slowly. The story of the town of Olive and the people that still live down there. Imagining their eyes following you as you swim in the reservoir. Ruby’s enthralling power and influence she holds over the town and its inhabitants is intriguing until she begins to take it too far.
Suma’s writing will captivate you with its skillful blend of magical realism but the focal point of the story, the unbreakable bond between two sisters, makes a powerful statement....more
Edith Warton's story 'Kerfol' is a ghostly tale of revenge and while it's not my favorite story of hers, was still a (short) pleasure to read. The endEdith Warton's story 'Kerfol' is a ghostly tale of revenge and while it's not my favorite story of hers, was still a (short) pleasure to read. The ending will leave you wondering about the purpose of the story though as it's left very open-ended....more
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars A copy of School Spirits was provided to me by Disney-Hyperion/Netgalley for review purposes.
Izzy Brannick comes from a longMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars A copy of School Spirits was provided to me by Disney-Hyperion/Netgalley for review purposes.
Izzy Brannick comes from a long line of monster hunters. Her family hunts them all for the Prodigium, the council that governs them all. The council that her cousin Sophie Mercer is in charge of. Izzy hasn't been the same since her sister went missing on a job both of them were supposed to be working on. She blames herself since she was supposed to be with her but ended up letting her go off by herself. Add to that, she just screwed up her last solo job and her mom has given her a lame assignment. It involves a ghost. And a high school. Which she has to personally attend.
I was a bit undecided when I heard about this spin-off series but when I got my hands on it my love of Hex Hall that had lay dormant sudden came alive again and I had to read this immediately. And in a single day. Hex Hall fans will love this spin-off, I have no doubt.
Izzy is such a charming yet completely clueless girl when it comes to the normal lives of teenagers. She considers black a satisfactory color for her entire wardrobe and she lacks any sort of social skills considering she's never been social and has never attended public school. So when she finds out she's going to have to actually attend a high school in order to get the necessary information to bring down the ghost that's currently haunting its halls, she's at a loss on how to acclimate. She buys all the teen magazines and the goofy teen TV shows in order to 'understand' more and... suffice it to say, it's hilarious.
Despite her lack of social skills, there still manages to be a completely adorable romance. Izzy and Dex are hilarious and awkward and it was completely endearing. It totally gave the warm fuzzies, I only wish it had gone on for more pages (this was an extremely quick read!) but fortunately this is the first in a new series so I look forward to seeing more Dex and Izzy time. Dex was definitely my favorite character with his peppy one-liners, but there were tons of characters to love in these pages. Torin, the 400-year old warlock currently trapped in Izzy's bedroom mirror, was a runner-up favorite.
Despite my gushing, I wasn't completely content with the ending. It wasn't so off-putting that I won't be continuing this series, but it'll be interesting to see where the story leads.
School Spirits is a delightful paranormal series with an unforgettable set of characters. Fun and full of witty banter, this is the perfect read for anyone looking for some quick mystical entertainment.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Author for a Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion ofMy rating: 5 of 5 stars I received this book free from the Author for a Book Tour in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Two months have passed since Dex and Perry’s trip to New Orleans and things have never been better. Rebecca has joined their Experiment in Terror team and the show is becoming more and more successful. Their next haunted adventure takes them back to Oregon, back to where it all began. The location is a haunted school that used to be a sanatorium for children dying of tuberculosis over a century ago. Some of the ghostly children are friendly and only want someone to play with. Others are much more dreadful and have spine-chilling things in mind.
"To the thing that hurts you most. To the paranormal and to never being normal." He winked at me. "To us."
On Demon Wings was holding the crown of ‘my favorite installment’ but Ashes to Ashes blew it out of the water. This was quite possibly the best installment to date. It was an intense page-turner that was thrilling and steamy and swoony and of course scary as freaking hell. Karina’s ability to describe these scenes of intensity in detail completely bring them to life and leave you feeling completely unsettled.
'I waited, frozen on the spot, until I heard a dull slap, the sound of bare feet hitting the ground. Someone coming out of the body cooler. Someone dead.'
The best part of Ashes in Ashes is returning to Perry’s POV. Perry is such a fabulously intricate character and I really missed out on her thoughts and feelings in the previous installment, Come Alive. We’re also able to experience first-hand her dreamy visits to the Veil, her interactions with Pippa and the sense of foreboding that she exudes. Pippa feels as if something bad is about to happen and she hopes to be able to prepare Perry, but the threat is shrouded in fog and she isn’t able to determine who Perry should be fearing. Prepared or not, this is one threat that Perry will never see coming. This dramatic conclusion sets the stage for the undoubtedly exhilarating final installment of the Experiment in Terror series.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars Source: Purchased via Amazon
You have no idea how much it pains me to give this book only a 3 star rating. The Experiment in TerMy rating: 3 of 5 stars Source: Purchased via Amazon
You have no idea how much it pains me to give this book only a 3 star rating. The Experiment in Terror series is one of my favorites, ever, and I was anticipating this so very badly ever since I got hooked on this series earlier this year. I can't say for sure whether it was my extremely (and possibly unrealistic) expectations that made this not as good or not but I definitely had some issues that nagged at me.
I started reading this series because I love ghost novels especially because they aren't so paranormal as to be completely out of this world; that there are instances where you could really feel this being fact. I absolutely loved Perry and Dex as a team and I loved watching their relationship grow over installments. But what I loved the absolute most was the well-blended way that Karina Halle mixed the two together. It wasn't a paranormal novel and it wasn't a romance novel, it was a perfect amalgamation of the two. And therein lies the main issue I had with this novel: the lack of blending.
While Into the Hollow left Dex and Perry's relationship at an imbalance, I understood and expected drama to have to be sorted out in Come Alive. What I didn't expect was for it to take up practically the entire first half with no plot in sight. Now don't go get me wrong, I love me some Dex and Perry but it just felt way too focused on their crazy (and oftentimes unnecessary) drama and their equally crazy sex life. For those of you adverse to this, Come Alive toed the line of erotica and while I'm not against this, this is not what I've come to expect from these novels. If I wanted to read erotica, I would read erotica.
The other big issue I had: the point of view. I did read 'The Dex-Files' and while I enjoyed these short glimpses into Dex's point of view, they weren't my absolute favorite. I was a bit leery when I found out that Come Alive would be told solely from Dex's point of view but of course I reserved judgment. WELL. Dex is one crazy fucker, I think we all know that, but being inside his head and knowing each and every one of his (mostly sexual) thoughts was a bit much. He's just too much sometimes and can be quite intense. I wouldn't be completely adverse to a story from his point of view again, however, I think I'd like it more if it was shared with Perry's POV because, well, Perry is the absolute best.
Regardless, I'm still a die-hard fan and will gladly read anything Ms. Halle writes because she really is an amazing writer of truly entertaining stories. While this is not my favorite installment, the ending did hold much promise for future installments so this is far from my last Perry and Dex story.
3.5 This is Pippa... Crazy Clown Lady... I don't know. I was expecting her to be a bit more interesting. Still enjoyable and a good insight into Dex's3.5 This is Pippa... Crazy Clown Lady... I don't know. I was expecting her to be a bit more interesting. Still enjoyable and a good insight into Dex's childhood and the connection between him and Perry....more