Bites

Published: August 5, 2014
Publisher: HarperTeen
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

When Dan and his friends meet Cal in Sanctum their impression of the privileged New Hampshire College student is less than stellar. But Cal wasn’t always the cold, sarcastic guy he is now. In this digital original story preceding the events of Sanctum, we meet Cal when he is experiencing college like any other kid with a group of close friends and a dad who piles on the pressure. Only, when the pressure starts getting to him and Cal accepts an invitation to meet a selective group of students and alumni known only as the Scarlets, the course of Cal’s life changes forever. And the price of joining the Scarlets might be higher than he can pay. (goodreads.com)

Another great addition to the Asylum series, I think a little more overall creepy than THE BONE ARTISTS, THE SCARLETS digs into the asylum itself (pun intended) and pulls out the strings of the Scarlets a little more, showing Cal in a different light all together.

Here things are more supernatural, creeping up on your shoulder when you least expect it. They’re more conniving as Cal’s father gets his hand in Cal’s life, forcing him in a direction he doesn’t want to go. Introducing him to a lifestyle he originally wants nothing to do with. It shows just how deep the Scarlets’ influence goes and it makes the world all the more chilling. Can anyone ever get away from them?

If you’re a fan of the series you won’t want to miss THE SCARLETS. It’ll make everything a little more robust and just a hint scarier.

4

Published: August 4, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

When Dan, Abby, and Jordan meet Oliver in Catacomb―the third book in the Asylum series―he is a mysterious young antiques dealer with a dark past. But before he was stuck in America’s most haunted city, he was a teenager with a bright future ahead of him. In this story, we find Oliver saving up to attend his dream college in the fall and leave behind his family’s New Orleans antique shop for good. And if his job just happens to involve robbing graves for a group calling themselves the Bone Artists, well—money is money, and it’s only for now. But Oliver soon learns that the Bone Artists don’t take kindly to deserters. And there are some debts that can never be repaid.

With a mounting sense of dread that builds to a terrible end, The Bone Artists is a thrilling installment in the Asylum series that can stand on its own for new readers or provide a missing piece of the puzzle for series fans. (goodreads.com)

I love getting these little peeks into side characters’ lives and THE BONE ARTISTS is no different. I love Roux’s world she’s created centered around the asylum and how its effect has trickled out around the country, infecting and infesting so many different corners.

THE BONE ARTISTS isn’t creepy like the novels are, but more insinuates creepy. There’s a bit of a gravedigging aspect going on, but that’s not really what the culmination of the story really is. It’s much more insidious and underhanded and it sneaks up on you at the end, forcing you to look over your shoulder at what could be there.

This short little story adds another layer to the Asylum world and it’s an excellent, and chilling, addition to the series. This is a pretty short review, but it’s also a pretty short story. Plus I don’t have anything bad to say about it and me just repeating how good it was won’t help any. So yeah. Read it.

4

Published: October 24, 2016
Publisher: Glass Apple Press
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

The town of Saltlick Bluff is famous for an urban legend. Does the spirit of a young girl wait on a misty cliff-hugging highway for her ride to the prom?

In the house on Beech Street a terrible tragedy occurred. Now neighbors won’t look at the place as they pass. Those who live nearby draw their blinds and shutter their windows after dark. What are they afraid of?

Hale Hallow Woods seems sinister and menacing even in the light of day. Does a thirst for revenge beat near its dark heart?

The answers lie within these pages, just waiting to send a chill up your spine! (goodreads.com)

I’m always up for scary stories and SPINE CHILLERS sounded interesting enough. And with my digital copy coming in at just 71 pages it was going to be a super short read regardless.

Overall this is definitely a middle grade read. My fifth and sixth grade self would have loved this book and probably would have kept it with my collection of scary story books in my desk at school.

In the vein of GOOSEBUMPS but less cheesy, SPINE CHILLERS is to the point and each story had its own level of creep. One of my favorites was  ‘Seaworthy’ where a too-proud boy gets his just desserts after bargaining for more than he could afford. ‘The Healer’ was another good one where a little girl has the healing touch and the jerk of a dad decides to capitalize on it. Except that might not work out too well for him. My most favorite was probably ‘Prom Date.’ A girl who feels she’s been wronged tries to get revenge only to wake something up from the dead. All three of these stories have the running theme of someone getting their comeuppance and those are sort of my favorite. There’s a sense of satisfaction at the end of them all.

The stories are simply written, but the punch is packed at the end where they all turn themselves on their heads. A younger reader will definitely be up at night reading these under the sheets with a flashlight, and probably won’t be able to get to sleep after that. The world needs more horror-addicted youth and SPINE CHILLERS will help convert those youths.

4

I received a copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

December 27, 2016

17062Published: September 2003
Publisher: Scholastic
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

When Coraline steps through a door to find another house strangely similar to her own (only better), things seem marvelous.

But there’s another mother there, and another father, and they want her to stay and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.

Coraline will have to fight with all her wit and courage if she is to save herself and return to her ordinary life. (goodreads.com)

How so thoroughly Neil Gaiman. If I had no idea this was his book I probably still would have been able to tell who the author was. He just has this lyrical way of storytelling that keeps things simple yet eloquent and dark but endearingly optimistic that is just so obviously him.

CORALINE is one hell of a dark book for a children’s book, and this coming from someone who grew up on SCARY STORIES. There’s just something about a fake mother kidnapping Coraline, holding her hostage, and threatening to sew button eyes on her that’s all rather terrifying. But the story’s told in a way that never gets away from Coraline. She’s never one to panic and she’s always firmly in control, even when she thinks she’s not. That juxtaposition keeps the story grounded and hopeful while at the same time being grotesque and off-putting. The storage sack of performers reminded me far too closely of Killer Clowns from Outer Space for my liking. Blech.

I shouldn’t say I was surprised by the depth in the story. It’s Neil Gaiman. There’s always so much more here than just a story. But I’d never seen the movie and the book wasn’t on my radar growing up. Really, I’m a new convert to all things Gaiman just within the last few years so take that for what you will. But I kind of loved CORALINE a little bit. She’s such a smart, astute, sharp little girl that doesn’t let anything by her, even among fantastical surroundings. Neither does she blink. She’s incredibly unflappable and she’s an incredible role model just for that. I mean any adult would run screaming by the dad thing in the basement. She was just like “Meh. I’ll figure this out.” And she did.

I’m so glad I [eventually] discovered Gaiman. I’ve yet to read a story of his that hasn’t left some kind of mark on me. That hasn’t stayed with me and left me in awe of his writing. CORALINE is no different. Screw children’s book. CORALINE is a BOOK and would be enjoyed by anyone. And would probably disturb everyone just a little.

5

23281665Published: July 7, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill
Author: Website
Info: Goodreads

We’re all gonna die down here. . . .

Julie lies dead and disemboweled in a dank, black subway tunnel, red-eyed rats nibbling at her fingers. Her friends think she’s just off with some guy—no one could hear her getting torn apart over the sound of pulsing music.

In a tunnel nearby, Casey regrets coming to Survive the Night, the all-night underground rave in the New York City subway. Her best friend Shana talked her into it, even though Casey just got out of rehab. Alone and lost in the dark, creepy tunnels, Casey doesn’t think Survive the Night could get any worse . . .

. . . until she comes across Julie’s body, and the party turns deadly.

Desperate for help, Casey and her friends find themselves running through the putrid subway system, searching for a way out. But every manhole is sealed shut, and every noise echoes eerily in the dark, reminding them they’re not alone.

They’re being hunted. (goodreads.com)

I found SURVIVE THE NIGHT rather long-winded for such a short story. There was a lot of built up to get them to the underground rave, and then a significant amount of time down there just kind of screwing around. By the time anything interesting started happening we’re at least two thirds of the way through the book and it’s hard for me to keep my interest going.

A lot of time was spent going over Casey’s addiction and rehab and her getting back together with her ex-boyfriend and reconciling with her best friend who did rather un-best friend-like things and really the focus of the story was more about finding out about oneself and who your friends really are than escaping any kind of Cthulhu-like monster dropped into the subway tunnels by Hurricane Sandy. I was less than impressed by it.

Shana as a character definitely hit home, though. Not because I hung out with anyone like that but I definitely traveled in some of the circles those types of people rode in and it was like getting smacked in the face. People like that were always considered wild and fun and they always had crappy reputations, but said reputations didn’t necessarily hold them back at all and you were a bore if you didn’t always want to do what they did. Except it turns out that person is really a loser sinking on the Titanic and wants to bring as many people down with them as they can. For all the crappy things Shana did to Casey, irrespective of Casey’s own consent or not (no, no one held a gun to Casey’s head, but Shana took advantage at every opportunity because she knew she had a rube she could manipulate on her hands), their Lifetime moment at the end of the book kind of irked me.

I guess that’s what people look for? Forgiveness? Maybe it’s just my sociopathy but I would drop people like that. I wouldn’t hold a grudge, but no amount of hugging it out will repair what was done so it’s really better for people to go their separate ways sometimes. Technically that happened at the end of SURVIVE THE NIGHT. Technically.

With the majority of the book being angsting and only a small portion of it being terror and horror and a giant tentacle monster killing everyone, I was disappointed. It fell far short from scary and weighed too heavily on issues to get it through. Even when they were trying to find their way out of the tunnels they weren’t actually being chased. They were just walking through the dark with their cell phones on. Meh. The blurb is ultimately misleading on this one.

The build-up to scary was non-existent. This was more a book about people working out their issues with a hint of tentacle monster as opposed to OMG HORROR with a dash of issues. I would have preferred the latter.

2