Dead of Winter by Darcy Coates

Creepy and twisty!

Christa and several strangers are on a bus to Blackstone Alpine Lodge in winter when they are stopped by a fallen tree across the road. Christa and Kiernan are on the trip so he can share with her the memories he made with his family at Blackstone Alpine Lodge in years past. The two wander off while the other bus passengers work on moving the tree. A storm hits and Christa falls out of Kiernan’s reach. She’s found later by the rest of the group but Kiernan is lost. The group soon discovers that a killer is in their midst when they’re taken out one by one and their heads are displayed on the large tree next to their cabin shelter. Creepy and surrounded in mystery to the very end! 5 stars!

Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the double layer mystery, the creepiness factor and suspense. I thoroughly enjoyed the twists.
Mature content: gentle kisses
Violence: R for several bloody deaths by decapitation and heads being displayed on tree branches.
Language: PG-13 for 16 swears and no f-bombs.

Together We Rot by Skyla Arndt

Publication date August 29, 2023

18 year-old Elwood runs away when he overhears his father talking about sacrificing him for the church he resides over in the Garden of Adam Community, located in the Upper Peninsula. He’s been told throughout his entire life that he’s a burden. He’s been punished and unloved by his parents. 18 year-old Wil is sure that her mother was sacrificed by the church and Elwood’s father. Wil and Elwood help each other hide from danger, investigate the community’s weird happenings, and try to find out what happened to Wil’s mother. Their lives will be thrown into chaos before it’s over.

Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the creepy aspect of Elwood’s family and his father’s effect on the community. The prose represents beauty and pain, hurt and happiness, perfectly. The story was too quick to achieve well developed characters.
Mature content: PG-13 for Underage drinking and smoking, passionate undescribed kissing (PG)
Language: R for 79 swears and 6 f-bombs.
Violence: PG-13 for Bloody sacrificing of a rabbit, sacrificing son by bleeding him to death, father plunges knife into son’s chest.
Ethnicity: falls to white.

Burn Down, Rise Up by Vincent Tirado

Bronx history with a supernatural mystery.

Charlize is looking for her older brother, 18 year old Cisco, who disappeared after infecting Raquel’s mom at the hospital where she works as a nurse. Cisco played a game that’s an urban myth and it backfired. Charlize, Raquel, 16, and her friend Aaron play the game to find Cisco. Twenty people have disappeared in the last year and no one has been able to get to the bottom of the problem but these three are determined to find and save Cisco so he can give information to help heal Raquel’s mom and stop the spread of infection. The game becomes creepy and brings the corruption of the past to light as the young people learn how residents were manipulated, used and pushed out of their Bronx homes. These teens have to work together to stop the corruption and save their families.

Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed learning about Bronx history and how it was used in the supernatural aspect of the story. The infection conveys the corruption in the community creatively. I like how Raquel, Aaron and Charlize work together and how the mystery becomes spooky quickly.
Mature Content: PG-13 for high off edibles, nondescript kiss.
Language: R for 85 swears and 23 f-bombs.
Violence: PG-13 mention of cannibalism, bloody unexplained death.
Ethnicity: The ethnicities include Black, Dominicans, White, Mexican American, and Puerto Rican.

Silver in the Bone by Alexandra Bracken

I love this unusual King Arthur retelling!

Tamsin,17, and her brother Cabell are Hollowers. Their guardian Nash left them behind after taking them on hunting trips for artifacts and now they have to make it on their own. The two of them have been trying to decipher Nash’s journal and break the cipher so they can solve the mystery of what happened to him and rescue him. Tamsin realizes the artifact they’re looking for is the Servant’s ring and believes that they need to travel to Avalon, King Arthur’s resting place, to find the ring and Nash. They find their way to Avalon in the company of prestigious Hollowers who have their own agendas falling headfirst into danger beyond anything they expected and into the unknown that will change everything.

How to Sell a Haunted House by Grady Hendrix

Interestingly creepy!

Horror with a touch of twisted humor that reminds me of Stephen King’s writing.
When Louise receives the call from her brother Mark that their parents were in a fatal car crash, she flies home to take care of everything. What she walks into is nothing like she expected and a secret, that’s been held quiet for two generations, bursts their reality. Mark and Louise struggle with each other until they finally realize they need each other’s help to deal with the haunting of their family home. Interestingly creepy!

Wake the Bones by Elizabeth Kilcoyne

Eerie and haunting YA horror!

Laurel, 19, lives and works on her family’s tobacco farm in midwestern America. Her friends, Ricky, Garrett and Isaac work alongside her. When they find a mutilated deer carcass in the woods and follow the bloody trail, an ominous feeling surrounds them. Laurel receives a warning from the local psychic that danger is imminent and Laurel understands because she has been having vivid dreams too. When a supernatural creature appears in front of their car, Laurel and Isaac see the danger face-to-face and know they’re in deep trouble.

Likes/dislikes: I appreciate the content warning at the beginning of the book. I like the close friendship between the four main characters. Christine intrigues me and there’s a whole story behind her background that begs to be told.
Language: R for 57 swears and 120 f-bombs.
Mature Content: PG-13 for mention of smoking pot, underage drinking, brief kiss, implied petting.
Violence: PG-13 for mutilated and bloody deer carcass found in the woods. Undescribed child abuse. Monster harming a person, dead rabbit. Dead body.
Ethnicity: Laurel and her friends are White.

Sister, Maiden, Monster by Lucy A. Snyder

A deadly virus with stomach flu like symptoms but deadlier, ravages the country. This virus makes some people have zombie like tendencies.
One person transforms into a tentacled monster.
Another is a courtesan who has to shoot one of her customers because he’s transformed into a monster in front of her. She becomes educated by eating the brains of doctors and scientists and watches over the monsters.
The last main character becomes a breeding ground for tentacled creatures that will soon occupy Earth.
Weird, creepy, scary, gross, vulgar and in-your-face horror!

The Island by Natasha Preston

A deceptive invitation!

Teen influencers arrive on an island after being invited for a fun-filled weekend to post online reviews and build excitement for the upcoming opening. The island is an amusement park and resort all in one. The six influencers have a variety of online posts and followers. Before they can enjoy much of the island, the killing starts. One by one, people are being chased and killed. Those who remain must work together to outsmart the killer and survive until help arrives.

Likes/dislikes: I enjoyed the premise of inviting influencers to review and build hype about a new place. The mystery was fun and suspenseful. I liked learning about each character’s background.
Language: R for 121 swears, no f-bombs.
Mature Content: none other than the violence.
Violence: R for bloody deaths.
Ethnicity: mixed

Delicious Monsters by Liselle Sambury

Strange, eerie and twisted!

Told in two separate timelines that are ten years apart. Daisy moves to a mansion property that her mother inherits from her deceased brother-in-law. Ten years later, Brittney cohosts a show with Jayden and they’re focusing on this same mansion property and the story of Daisy. Brittney’s mom gives credit to the mansion for helping her turn her life around and others attribute positive changes to it, dubbing it the Miracle Mansion. This mansion is also known because of its dark history shrouded in secrecy and quiet scandals. Daisy and Brittney have a lot in common in dealing with their seemingly selfish mothers. Jayden and Brittney get more than a documentary when they visit the mansion and conduct their interviews. Strange, eerie and twisted, 4 stars!

Likes/dislikes: I appreciate the content warning at the beginning of the book. Too many swear words even though some helped convey the message of abuse. The mystery kept spiraling and kept me interested. King is my favorite character because of his calmness and integrity.
Mature Content: PG-13 for underage drinking, implied sex, off page sex, being choked while having sex, mention of vaping, gay side character, implied sexual abuse of minors.
Language: R for 168 swears and 106 f-bombs.
Violence: PG-13 for goat being killed by getting throat slashed, mentioning of deaths in mansion.

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Unique spin on the Rumpelstiltskin tale!

Ellerie lives on a farm in a small remote village with her family. Her father keeps bees and her mother takes great care of everyone. Ellerie’s twin, Sam, has been distant so she’s helping their father more often. Merry and Sadie are the younger siblings and now their mother is pregnant again. The crew that left for a supply run never made it far. They were killed and no one knows what happened. The village believes that huge wolves with silver eyes are to blame. Ellerie meets a young man that she describes as having a vulpine face, supposedly he’s a trapper, wandering by the creek edge as she’s washing laundry. He says his name is Price but she doesn’t think he’s telling the truth. She decides to call him Whitaker Price. Sam is accused of getting Rebecca pregnant and Sam insists she’s sleeping around with others. Rebecca’s father is accused of starting a fire in Ellerie’s family’s fields and might hang for it. Weird things keep happening to the villagers; small acts of violence that they’re blaming each other for. One night, Ellerie wakes to the farm ablaze. Their mother is caught in the fire and has to be taken to town for medical treatment. The unusual young trapper that Ellerie has gotten to know, takes Mama and Papa into town and returns to let the rest of the family know they made it safely. Whitaker, the mysterious trapper, suspiciously won’t answer any personal questions that Ellerie asks him. Ellerie finds this strange but enjoys his company and wants to spend more time with him. Mind tricks seem to be working on the citizens. The villagers spiral out of control and Ellerie does everything in her power to save her beloved town. Unique spin on the tale of Rumpelstiltskin, 5 stars!

Likes/dislikes: An absolutely perfect book! Beautiful writing, vivid imagery, strong characters and amazing world building. Great character development.
Mature content: PG-13 for drinking, kissing, premarital sex mentioned but not described.
Language: PG-13 for 22 swears, no f-bombs.
Violence: PG-13 for bloody deaths by monsters, shootings between villagers, fighting.