Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

The perfect spooky thriller!

As a child, Maggie lived at Baneberry Hall with her parents for twenty days before leaving for good under the claim that the house is haunted. Her father wrote a book about their experiences and Maggie is still recognized for the book, even though she’s now an adult. Her father left her the house in his will and he recently passed away. Her parents never would talk about the house or book even though Maggie had many questions. Her parents divorced soon after the book was written. Now that she’s inherited the house, she’s planning on restoring it to sell because that’s what she does for a living. Maggie has no idea what’s in store for her once she returns to Baneberry Hall. She finds old Polaroid pictures and hears odd noises. A record player randomly plays a song from The Sound of Music and then skeletal remains fall from the kitchen ceiling. Maggie talks to town residents, reads articles about the house’s past and even talks to Marta Carver who lost her husband and daughter in Baneberry Hall when they were living there as a family. Every time I thought I had it all figured out, something else happened to reveal more secrets. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book!
A perfect spooky thriller, 5 stars!

The Companion by Katie Alender

Creepy, suspenseful fun!

Margot is the sole survivor of a tragic family car accident. She ends up at the Palmer orphanage until a rich family chooses her as their ward. When she first arrives at the mansion, Mr. and Mrs. Sutton are kind and treat her as if she’s special. Margot is soon told about their daughter Agatha who doesn’t speak or show emotion. Agatha used to be a normal teenager but then she became angry and eventually shut down. Mrs. Sutton tells Margot that doctors believe a brain infection caused damage to her frontal cortex and changed her personality. Margot meets Agatha’s brother, Barrett. He’s protective of his sister but eventually warms up to Margot. The longer she’s in the Sutton home, the more strange things she discovers and the foreboding keeps growing. I like Margot and rooted for her throughout the book. Creepy, suspenseful fun, 4 stars!

One of Us is Lying by Karen McManus

Interesting young adult mystery!

Five students get detention because of phones they didn’t know they had. Someone set them up. Cooper, Bronwyn, Simon, Addy and Nate arrive at detention but only four make it out alive. An allergy to peanuts kills Simon, who started and continuously posted to his online gossip site. Because of this site, many people have motive to want to hurt Simon and keep him quiet. The students in detention with Simon immediately become suspects. They’re interrogated several times but the mystery remains until one of them is arrested. The students have become somewhat tight knit after secrets about each of them are revealed. So, when one is arrested, they work together to figure out what really happened. No one is expecting the truth that they discover. An interesting young adult mystery, 4 stars!

The Damned by Renee Ahdieh

Fantastic sequel to The Beautiful!

As the tale unfolds, the background story of each member of Bastien’s unique family is revealed. The mystery surrounding the Court of Lions unravels. Celine now works as a seamstress in a shop with Pippa and two other women. Odette is the benefactor of the shop but Celine has no other memories of Odette or anything surrounding Sebastian. Celine does keep having intense dreams about a man she doesn’t recognize and they make her wonder who he is. Pippa mentions the restaurant Jacques’ and Celine’s memories click a little, so she goes to the restaurant expecting answers, only to be turned away and even more confused. As Sebastian searches for a way to be unmade, he learns who Celine truly is and becomes part of the deal to return her to her heritage. Another secret reveals itself and brings the Brotherhood (werewolves) and the Fallen (vampires) to a chaotic frenzy. Fantastic sequel to The Beautiful! 5 stars!

It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh

Disturbing…

It Will End Like This by Kyra Leigh is based on the true story of Lizzie Borden. Disturbing… Charlotte and Maddie miss their mother who died months ago when her heart supposedly stopped. They hate the young woman their father is now engaged too. They despise their father quite a bit also. The two sisters don’t trust anyone and sometimes not even each other. The cover isn’t my favorite and the voices in Charlotte’s mind become repetitive and annoying (which is the point, I’m sure). I found it difficult to care for Charlotte but Maddie felt more relatable. The ending made the reading worthwhile. I appreciate the author’s note which brought sense to it all. I feel like the story drug on with repetition and then the resolution was too quick. Interesting take on a twisted historical event, 3 stars!

The Hunger by Alma Katsu

Based on the tragically true story of the Donner Party.

Eerie prologue opens the story with a perfect creepy and ominous tone. This book is so much more than just a horror story! The author takes historical facts and mixes them with some historical fiction and then adds a touch of supernatural horror to create a scary tale out of a true horrific tragedy. The characters are many and we get to know each of them in turns as the author reveals their background stories and personal secrets. The characters range from timid, blustery, brave and to all out dangerous. The tragically true story of the Donner Party gives the perfect backdrop for a horror story and the author blends truth and fiction together seamlessly, 5 stars!

Beasts of Prey by Ayana Gray

Unexpected twist!

Koffi and her mother are indentured servants at the Night Zoo, which is a prison that the servants can’t seem to escape. The zookeeper continues to add time to their service and they’re kept inside a brick-walled area. One night, the zoo catches on fire and the servants set the animals free and Koffi tries to escape with her mother. Her mother is struck down and Koffi realizes that she’s on her own. Ekon, a soldier, allows her to escape because she saves him from a terrifying creature, the Shetani, but he faces punishment for helping her. The Shetani has been mutilating and killing people for as long as anyone can remember. Koffi meets a kind woman who offers her a job and as she’s heading back to accept the position, she’s attacked by the night zoo manager. Koffi makes a deal with the manager; in exchange for her freedom, she’ll capture the Shetani and return to the night zoo so the creature can be caged and bring curious, paying visitors to the zoo. He agrees. Meanwhile, Ekon plans to find the creature too and bring it back to the temple so the killings can be stopped. Through some mishaps, Koffi and Ekon eventually team up to capture the Shetani and their lives change forever. This is a delightful book to read, two emotionally flawed main characters, the mystery behind the Shetani, African mythology and the unexpected twist at the ending, 5 stars!

They’ll Never Catch Us by Jessica Goodman

The Steckler sisters are on their high school cross country running team. They live in Edgewater which is known for a string of murders of young adult women runners. The town’s name was changed to Deadwater in the papers because of these unsolved murders. Nothing fatal has happened recently and the town is booming with tourism once again. Ellie and Stella Steckler are both keeping secrets from each other but they eventually realize that they are there for each other to lean on and have each other’s backs. A runner goes missing and the town goes into lockdown mode once again until safety can be ensured. Secrets are revealed and eyes are opened in this small tourist town, 4 stars!

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

Infamous sisters, gruesome discoveries!

The Hollow sisters are infamous for disappearing for 31 days when they were children. There’s a big mystery surrounding their disappearance and Iris and Vivi don’t remember anything that happened to them or their whereabouts when they were gone but Grey seems to know more than she lets on. Ten years later and Grey is missing again, so Vivi and Iris go on a search for her. Along the way, they’re joined by Tyler, Grey’s boyfriend. Grey is a famous fashion designer and Tyler is a famous model. Vivi is a traveling musician and Iris is a seventeen year old in high school. During the search, Vivi and Iris make gruesome discoveries and a terrifying man wearing a bull skull chases them, trying to kill them. Once Tyler joins them, his life becomes endangered too. The mystery surrounding the sisters and their disappearance kept me interested and the more I read, the more I wanted to know. Tyler adds flair and humor and Vivi adds wild behavior while Grey adds darkness. I enjoyed every page of this supernatural fantasy, 5 stars!

Lovely War by Julie Berry

Two beautiful people open the story with their jaw-dropping presence. They turn out to be the god of war, Ares, and the goddess of love, Aphrodite. Aphrodite describes how she feels no passion or love and this is because she’s bound to give love to others but never be able to feel it in return, for all of eternity. She tells the story of James and Hazel; when they first met one week before he was heading into the Great War. Their story continues through letters after he’s sent to war, at least during his training. Hazel becomes a relief volunteer and heads to France. Aubrey, a pianist from Harlem, is in France with his unit heading to the war. Colette has lost her loved ones during the German attack on Belgium. The story floats around the interactions and experiences of these four, Hazel, James, Aubrey, and Colette. World War I history has been unclear to me but this book helped my understanding of this horrible war known as the Great War. I adore the four main characters and my heart soared and broke right alongside theirs. Based on historical facts and people, Lovely War tells a powerful tale, 5 stars!