The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix

Intrigue in a supernatural world!

In an imaginary kingdom full of mixed ethnicities, Ranka is desperate to find Yeva. So desperate that she agrees to the betrothal of the Prince so she can search for her. Soon, Ranka’s companions include Prince Galen, Princess Aramis and the noble young ambassador Percy. After the virus winalin is discovered throughout the kingdom, the four companions want to stop it. Winalin is turning witches into diseased monsters that are intent on killing. While trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, their lives are completely overturned. Ranka, Prince Galen, Princess Aramis and Percy each realize that none of them might survive.

Likes/dislikes:
I like that the story creates empathy and approaches the topic of abusive manipulation. Ranka’s character development is interesting. I like that there’s little swearing.
Mature content: PG-13 for drinking.
Language: PG-13 for 11 swears, no f-bombs.
Violence: PG-13 for non-detailed bloody deaths.

The Second Death of Edie and Violet Bond by Amanda Glaze

Riveting, suspenseful and fun to read!

In 1885 Sacramento, amidst the fight for women’s rights, runaway twins work for a performance troupe as psychics. Edie is reserved while her twin Violet is theatrical. They conduct a seance for an elderly woman who recently lost her cat. While pretending that the cat’s spirit is with them in the room, Edie senses the Veil thinning and a cold, uncomfortable feeling enters the room. She douses the smoldering lavender and the feeling goes away. They’ve helped their customer feel comfort but they’re shaken. Edie’s and Violet’s mother had spiritualist powers and she helped her daughters learn how to be safe with the powers they inherited from her. When their mother dies due to a shadow spirit, their preacher father threatens to send them to an asylum so they run away. They join up with the troupe and meet like-minded women trying to make a living. Edie and Violet become embroiled in a mystery that’s bigger than they ever imagined and much more dangerous than they planned on. Riveting, suspenseful and fun to read, 5 stars!

Likes/dislikes:
I appreciate the author’s note explaining how she based this story on her deceased great grandmother and her twin sister, who both happened to be spiritualists. I was riveted throughout the entire book because the story is interesting and I love the characters. The danger and suspense are intense. The ethnicity is mixed with white, Italian and Black.

Language: PG for 4 swears and no f-bombs
Mature content: PG for a lesbian couple mentioned. Edie (female) and Laws (male)kissing.
Violence: PG-13 for An angry shadow spirit threatening spiritualists, kidnapping and trapping and a bloody death.

Cruel Illusions by Margie Fuston

Unique story!

In a world where vampires exist, Ava Perry lives with her brother Parker, and Jacob, another foster kid, and their foster parent Deb. Ava’s and Parker’s Dad was killed in a suspicious mugging when they were really young and their mother was supposedly killed by a vampire less than a decade ago. Ava has always wanted to follow in her parents’ footsteps and become a magician and she wants revenge on the vampire that killed her mom. She meets magicians and is invited into their secret society, which turns out to be the home of vampire hunters who use their magic to kill vampires. While spending time with this society, Ava discovers the truth about her parents’ pasts and their deaths and does everything in her power to right the wrongs her eyes have been opened too. 3.5 stars for an original story!

Likes/dislikes:
The beginning of the story doesn’t flow well so it’s difficult to keep important details straight. The connections between the vampires/vampire hunters/magicians were confusing for a while until more of the background was explained. By mid-book, the story picked up momentum and grabbed my interest more.
Language: R for 54 swears and 3 f-bombs
Mature content: PG
Violence: PG-13 for bloody deaths, stabbings and shootings

These Fleeting Shadows by Kate Alice Marshall

An unusual story with twisted ideals!

Helen travels with her mom and stepdad Simon to Harrow; the place where her maternal family has resided for decades. Her grandfather has died and left Harrow and the responsibility of being the master of the manor and the family to Helen. If she doesn’t agree to stay, everyone in the family will lose their entire inheritance. Mystery surrounds the manor and the family. Several girls have disappeared through the years and it seems that Harrow is in the middle of the suspicion. An old journal is found describing the founder of Harrow, Nicholas Vaughn. In the journal are descriptions of poison and separating body parts of victims to control a being known as the Other. Nicholas wanted power and control and he found both by sacrificing girls to this being. Things have gotten out of control and the power is loose. Helen discovers more than she’s ready for and she wants to stop the violence but she’s going to need help. An unusual story about greed and twisted ideals, 4 stars!

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 Righteous by Renee Ahdieh

Pippa and Arjun become the main characters in this book!

Odette has been kept from death as much as Ifan can save her and now she’s in a limbo state while Arjun travels to the Fey world for help. He ends up owing six weeks of service to the dwarf king who is actually Sunan but Arjun doesn’t know that fact. Pippa desperately wants to find Celine who has supposedly left with Bastien, according to the note left for Pippa. With Eloise’s help, Pippa breaks into Arjun’s apartment and follows him into the Fey realm. He finds her surrounded by fey and quickly states they’re engaged, so he can save her. They become entangled in the Fey world and its rituals while desperately trying to find a way home. Most of this book involves Arjun and Pippa but Celine and Bastien show up too. The four of them get pulled into politics and danger in the Fey realm and so does Detective Michael Grimaldi. This book opens up so much more interest and adventure in The Beautiful series, 5 stars!

The Hacienda by Isabel Canas

I did not want this book to end!

Beatriz marries Rodolfo. He’s a businessman and owns a large estate. He leaves to do business so Beatriz runs the estate in his absence. Juana, Rodolfo’s sister, believes she’s the one in charge and she treats everyone gruffly. Beatriz starts to feel like she’s being watched and things get creepier from there, to the point that she’s afraid for her life. She asks the local priests for help and all but one shun her. Padre Andres helps her under the guise of being a priest to help the estate workers. He has knowledge from his ancestors that can help exorcise evil. The house has an extremely powerful, angry spirit and it’s harmful. This is an elaborate and beautifully written horror story that I didn’t ever want to put down. I also didn’t want it to end. 5 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!

Imaginary Friend by Stephen Chbosky

Uniquely strange!

Seven-year-old Christopher is on the run with his mom. Her boyfriend Jerry was mean one too many times. They reach a new town and she finds a job cleaning at a nursing home. Christopher struggles with school until he reappears after missing in the woods for six days. He can’t remember anything about that time. Everything seems to get better for Christopher and his mom, Kate. Then Christopher sneaks out with his friends to build a treehouse in the forbidden woods. He gets sick and doesn’t sleep because of the nightmares he keeps having. His mother sees him falling apart and before she can fix anything their lives and whole world turn upside down. This story has an eerie, spooky feel. It’s part supernatural and part mystery with a Stephen King, albeit mellow, feel. Unique and strange, 4 stars!

Kingdom of the Cursed by Kerri Maniscalco

The intensity multiplies in the second book of the Kingdom of the Wicked series!

Emilia finds herself in the Seven Circles of Hell with Wrath by her side. He’s guiding her to Pride and she’s reminded of the temptations surrounding her in Hell. Wrath keeps reminding her that what she’s seeing isn’t real but a test.
They eventually get to Wrath’s elaborate home and Emilia senses and eventually knows that he’s continuing to have secrets that either he won’t or can’t share. This is a story of intensities, secrets, curses, deception, bonds, passion, and twists. I could not put this book down and the ending is perfect for continuing the story into the third and final book! Wrath and Emilia have an intriguing relationship and they’re both stuck in a kind of limbo. Emilia has been kept in the dark and Wrath isn’t allowed to divulge information. I’m anticipating the third and final book. This series reminds me of Sarah J. Maas’ writing in the ACOTR series because they’re both awesome! 5 stars!