Hello and welcome to another Spooky October post! 👻
Vera here and, as you can see from the title, I’m going to be sharing two mini reviews with you today. As you’ve probably come to expect by now, I’ve grouped these novels together based on their genres which, true to the month, means that these books all fall under thriller and horror. It’s a mixed bag this time around, I had a disappointment and a positive surprise, but I do hope you’ll enjoy this post, especially as I had a lot of fun with formatting it. On that note, the graphics you’ll find – taken from canva – have absolutely nothing to do with the books, haha. I just think they’re adorable.
Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall
In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs.
Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?
It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side.
The blurb doesn’t tell you this, but the novel has a relatively large cast, which is something I’m always intimidated by. Not only do I have a terrible memory, but when it comes to mystery, thriller, and horror a large cast tends to mean that the characters will start to die soon after the beginning. Even though that’s something many such novels do, I’m not a fan of this technique because I struggle to care about the death of characters when they have barely appeared.
Obviously, I’m not going to spoil if Rules for Vanishing does this or not, but what I will tell you is that I didn’t find the characters particularly well made. The supporting cast was incredibly bland and uninspired, with most of them having one or two traits that defined them. For example, we have a male character who is a jerk and a hero, and both of these characteristics are pointed out multiple times, which is another pet peeve of mine. Authors, please, trust your readers that they can understand what a character is like based on their actions. We don’t need an explanation.
“What happened in the dark?”
That said, Rules for Vanishing did certain things well. The writing was solid, and Marshall did a fantastic job with some of the horror scenes. In the first half of the novel, we had many effective, atmospheric horror scenes that I loved and that made me think I’d love this book way more than I did in the end. The problems started after the halfway point where I realized that I was less and less affected by the horror, as the novel was becoming increasingly more bizarre. On top of that, it was around that time when the mystery really kicked in, which was lackluster, to say the least, and don’t even get me started on that anti-climatic mess of an ending.
I know that my review comes off as very negative – this always happens with three star reads – but Rules for Vanishing wasn’t a bad reading experience. I feel like I wouldn’t have missed out on much had I not read it, but I’m not mad that I read it, because it did draw me in for quite a big part of the book. So, my advice is, read it if you are terribly interested, but otherwise, I would not recommend it.
Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant
Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.
Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.
Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.
Remember what I said about being scared of sizable casts in the previous review? When I realized how many characters I was supposed to remember in Into the Drowning Deep, I wasn’t happy. However, I shouldn’t have worried, because every character – no matter how big or small their role was – felt so damn real. While Tori is possibly the most important character, we have others like Jillian, Theo, and Olivia who also have pretty sizable roles. I loved how much effort and care the author put into developing these characters, into making them complex and complicated beings.
“It was beautiful, in its own terrible way.
So many monsters are.”
The writing and the pacing were marvelous, my attention was captured on the very first page and I eagerly paid attention to the story until the very end. Seriously, A+ for the construction of the plot; the plot was built up in a way that I was never bored and the tension built up so nicely before any horror scenes, especially before the finale. I think this is where I should mention that the audiobook was excellent, probably one of the best ones I’ve ever listened to, so it is absolutely a good route to take if you want to devour this novel.
I’m 99% sure I’m going to leave you wondering why I rated this four stars after such a positive review, and the thing is, it’s a bit of an “it’s not you, it’s me” issue. Firstly, some of the science went above my head, which was frustrating, but fully my own fault. Secondly, the horror elements weren’t exactly effective for me – I’m not someone who would ever get scared of monster horror, so take this with a grain of salt, but this felt more like a dark fantasy than a horror fantasy for me. That said, there were some gory bits, but I want to be scared of horror, and gore doesn’t do that for me. Even so, Into the Drowning Deep was a fantastic reading experience, and I’ll be sure to check out the author’s other adult fiction.
Have you read either of these novels? Do you agree/disagree with my opinion? What novels have you read for the October season? Any I should check out?