The Doll-Master and Other Tales of Terror by Joyce Carol Oates receives 3.5 stars from me. This young adult collection of horror short stories ranged from macabre to sinister to subtle. The Doll-Master is the first of six psychological thrillers in this book and I think it’s my favorite of the six because of it’s creepiness. The Doll-Master is like Stephen King for young adults and is Criminal Minds worthy!
The instant I began reading How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather, I felt pulled into the story. What’s not to love? The history of the Salem Witch Trials, clever characters and an interesting synopsis immediately piqued my curiosity! Told in Sam Mather’s point of view as she moves to Salem, Massachusetts with her stepmother. The two of them reside in Sam’s grandmother’s house while Sam’s father suffers in a coma that has lasted over three months already. Sam is a descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men who hanged witches during the Salem Witch Trials. A group of students, known as the Descendants, because they are actual descendants of the victims of the Salem Witch Trials hangings, immediately dislike Sam because of her last name. Her neighbors, Jaxon and his mother, are friendly and they knew Sam’s grandmother well and took care of her and her home when she couldn’t anymore. Jaxon seems to be the only friendly person in the entire school, including the teachers. The relationship and banter between Jaxon and Sam makes me smile and when they find a hidden room in her house, the mystery begins.
The author’s beautiful descriptions bring the historical homes to life and portray the magnificence of a Massachusetts autumn. The mystery, suspense and the curse all grow in intensity and I am never quite sure who Sam can trust. Wonderful and creative writing, dynamic and complex characters and a plot that everyone can relate to make this an amazing book. The author’s notes share what is historically accurate and what’s fiction and her personal genealogy makes me think that she needs to write more historical fiction! 5 stars – perfect from beginning to end!
Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for the arc of And the Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich! The story opens in the 1980’s when three girls playfully make a protector out of cloth, clay and other items they find around the house. Then, the story jumps to 2013 and a thirteen year-old teenage girl (Silla) and her four year-old sister (Nori) walk a long distance to live with their Aunt Cath in Blood Manor. They enjoy their time with Cath, until she becomes irrationally upset when Nori almost goes into the woods; the woods Cath has warned them to NEVER enter. After that, she lives in the attic while the house deteriorates and the food dwindles. In the meantime, Silla and Nori meet Gowan, a young man who claims to know Cath personally. As time passes, Silla slips further into confusion and madness. The woods keep moving closer and the manor seems to be sinking, while Silla and Nori grow hungrier. This book is creepy and mysterious and sometimes confusing, but then the author shines the light on the twisted story and it makes the confusion worth it. It makes sense in the wonderful ending and this book is proof of why I always finish the books I start reading because there is always the hope that it will turn out to be a good book! I also enjoyed the use of typography to portray emotion. Impressive – 4.5 stars!
I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is interesting from the very beginning. The author alludes to stress factors on the main character, Jazz, and this kept me curious and wanting to learn all about him. I can see this book improving readers’ vocabulary and increasing interest in and gaining knowledge of science because of the way the author writes, making it extremely real, but not too gory. Jazz tries to deal with the fact that his father is a serial killer who raised Jazz to be exactly like him. Metaphors and similes help with understanding how Jazz grew up. The intensity cranks up when Jazz visits his father, Billy Dent, the notorious serial killer, in prison. Wow! The writing flows well and Barry Lyga brings Jazz into our world as a believable person that is dealing with tremendous stress. An unexpected ending leading into the next book made me want to immediately continue reading the series. 5 stars!
Game by Barry Lyga, the second book in the Jasper Dent series, dives right into a mystery. An added aspect to this book, alternating Jazz’ and Connie’s points of view, make this story even more entertaining. Connie’s point of view helps the reader understand how other people see Jazz, instead of just hearing his thoughts. Howie’s personality adds comic relief and made me giggle out loud.
Jazz has been taken to New York to help solve a new serial killer mystery. Morales, an FBI agent that worked on the Billy Dent case, offers to work with Jazz to find his father and kill him. Jazz still struggles with not trusting himself and this is interfering with his relationship with Connie. The book ends with three major cliffhangers! Aaahhh! I do not want to add spoilers, so I am keeping the extreme cliffhangers to myself. 😉 5 stars!
I put off reading Blood of My Blood by Barry Lyga because I did not want this series to end! The third book of the Jasper Dent series takes off where Game ended. Jazz is still locked in a storage unit, Billy has Connie and Howie wakes up in the hospital. Billy saves Jazz, then kills the Hat killer. Connie discovers that she is locked up with Jazz’ mother and they are trying to help each other. Jazz’ aunt has disappeared and his grandmother is in the hospital. Nonstop action, intensity and surprises amp up the suspense in this final book.
Jazz will do anything to save his mother and it looks like he will do things he never believed he could, to protect her. The danger increases and the mystery unfolds, while the story delves deeper into the perverse childhood of Jazz. Twisting and unpredictable, this story never failed to enthrall and entertain me. 5 stars!
The Jasper Dent series is perfect for young adults who like to read horror stories!
Thanks to NetGalley and Bloomsbury for the opportunity to read and review The Devil You Know by Trish Doller. This young adult thriller is the perfect horror story with just the right amount of suspense. Trish Doller brings the characters to life and makes them believable. Cadie is a young woman in need of a break from taking care of her father and younger brother. She has kept their household together since her mother passed away from cancer, years earlier. All she wants is a little adventure for a few days, but she gets so much more than she expected! I read this book straight through because the writing flows well and the suspense pulled me in. I was right alongside the characters, rooting for Cadie! I highly recommend this book for any reader that wants a bit of scare – 5 stars!
I thoroughly enjoyed Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, with fantastic writing that delves into the infamous Jack the Ripper murders. Audrey Rose, a strong willed young woman in the late 1800’s, enjoys science and learning from her uncle, who teaches medicine with passion bordering on obsession. Audrey Rose is allowed to attend her uncle’s class if she dresses as a boy and speaks to no one. Another student, Thomas Caldwell, is working with Audrey Rose to solve the mystery of Jack the Ripper. The two of them become friendly rivals who grate on each other’s nerves. The twists and turns leave Audrey Rose not knowing who she can trust and the mystery keeps getting more personal than she feels comfortable with. Unbearable suspense and intense plot equal 5 stars!