Hello friends! It’s Vera here today, back with another Spooky October post of 2021. For today’s post, I decided to go with something simple but still fun – mini reviews to thriller and horror novels. I brought you four books that I really enjoyed and would gladly recommend, even if I had a couple of issues with some of them. Without further ado, let’s jump into the post! 🙂
Review of Clown in a Cornfield by Adam Cesare
Quinn Maybrook just wants to make it until graduation. She might not make it to morning.
Quinn and her father moved to tiny, boring Kettle Springs to find a fresh start. But ever since the Baypen Corn Syrup Factory shut down, Kettle Springs has cracked in half. On one side are the adults, who are desperate to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other are the kids, who want to have fun, make prank videos, and get out of Kettle Springs as quick as they can.
Kettle Springs is caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. It’s a fight that looks like it will destroy the town. Until Frendo, the Baypen mascot, a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat, goes homicidal and decides that the only way for Kettle Springs to grow back is to cull the rotten crop of kids who live there now.
I went into Clown in a Cornfield hoping I’d love it, but fearing I’d hate it. The thing is, I’m not a big fan of the slasher genre, as I usually want a more complex plot than what most slashers offer. However, all the praise Clown in a Cornfield received convinced me that this particular slasher was worth trying. I’m pleased to report that all the hype is, in fact, well-deserved, as I found this horror novel to be exciting and well-written. Seriously, I could not put this book down and I can’t recommend it enough to anyone who is even a bit tempted to pick it up based on the blurb. So, what are the things that made this book impossible to put down?
🗡️ The characters. From the first moment, I was rooting for our heroine, Quinn, and her father. They had such a good, albeit imperfect, relationship and it was hard to dislike them. The rest of the cast was a bit harder to like early on, but I found myself becoming really invested in the gang surviving by the time the killings started.
🗡️ The tension. As I mentioned above, I couldn’t put this book down, which is an indicator of how tension-packed and exciting it was all through. One of the reasons why I don’t like slashers like Scream, for instance, is that they typically aren’t able to pull me in and make me feel the tension. Clown in a Cornfield, however, was an utterly thrilling read.
🗡️ Excellent horror tropes. When done right, I love books that use a lot of tropes, and Clown in a Cornfield did not disappoint when it came to horror tropes. The final girl trope, the new girl trope, killer clown, teen party going wrong.. and I could go on. I loved it all.
Review of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
The case is closed.
Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?
I was hesitant about A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, as I feared it would be a pretty boring and typical YA mystery novel. Don’t get me wrong, I love YA novels and I love adult mystery, but YA mysteries just don’t do it for me anymore, maybe because I’ve read a ton of them back in the day. In any case, the hype surrounding A Good Girl Guide to Murder convinced me to give this book a chance, and even though it wasn’t quite as good as it could have been, I’m not at all mad I read it.
🗡️ Suspenseful mystery. The mystery was excellently written. I was putting together the clues right alongside the main character, so the novel definitely kept me on the edge of my seat. The only issue I want to mention in connection with the mystery is that I found the beginning of the story more compelling than the later parts, which took away some of my enjoyment of the story.
🗡️ The characters were mediocre. With that, we arrive to my biggest issue with the book, and something that might explain why I found the first quarter of the book the most interesting. Throughout that first quarter, I found the characters promising, i.e. intriguing people that I believed would be more fleshed out later. Sadly, that never happened – the characterization remained mediocre, which meant that my interest in the book dropped a bit as I got farther into it.
🗡️ Excellent audiobook production. Part of the reason why A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder kept me invested despite my issues was how incredible the audiobook was. The main narrator did a great job and on top of that we had a full cast for the transcripts and interviews the heroine conducted. Hearing the transcripts and interviews produced this way made them feel real which in turn made the stakes feel high.
Review of The Worm and His Kings by Hailey Piper
New York City, 1990: When you slip through the cracks, no one is there to catch you. Monique learns that the hard way after her girlfriend Donna vanishes without a trace.
Only after the disappearances of several other impoverished women does Monique hear the rumors. A taloned monster stalks the city’s underground and snatches victims into the dark.
Donna isn’t missing. She was taken.
To save the woman she loves, Monique must descend deeper than the known underground, into a subterranean world of enigmatic cultists and shadowy creatures. But what she finds looms beyond her wildest fears—a darkness that stretches from the dawn of time and across the stars.
I was incredibly excited to read The Worm and His Kings – even though it’s not a very well-known novel, the reviews I’ve seen of it were extremely positive which made me hopeful. Thankfully, this fast-paced, unique horror novella did not disappoint.
🗡️ Sapphic horror for the win. I love horror so much, but one big issue I have with it is that a lot of horror that I see around isn’t very diverse at all. I found The Worm and His Kings when I was looking for LGBT+ horror and I’m so happy I discovered this underrated gem.
🗡️ Fast paced and fun. One of the best things about The Worm and His Kings is that it was able to keep me on the edge of my seat all through the story. The other cool thing is that despite it being a novella of only about 100 pages, the story felt well-written.
🗡️ The characters, especially Monique, are great. As fun as novellas can be, the danger with them is that sometimes they don’t have enough space to flesh out the characters. The Worm and His Kings, however, didn’t have that issue – I found the characters captivating and well-crafted.
Review of The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould
The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.
Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.
The Dead and the Dark was one of my most awaited novels of 2021, and I’m really happy to say that it lived up to my expectations, 1000%. Before we jump into my bullet points, let me quickly shout out Caro’s review, which is what convinced me to push this book to the top of my to-read list.
🗡️ Complex family relationships. My favorite thing about The Dead and the Dark is easily the relationship that Logan has with her fathers, especially with Brandon. In the past, Logan believed that no matter where they were, the three of them were home as long as they were together. However, since then, Brandon has pulled away from her without an explanation and now Alejo is keeping secrets from her too, which makes Logan feel incredibly isolated.
🗡️ Captivating from the get go. I don’t remember when was the last time I literally couldn’t put a book down. I stayed up past 1 am (which I don’t think I’ve done in the months since I started working… apparently, I’m old now) and flew through the story. I was so invested in the plot and, more importantly, in the characters that I needed to learn what would happen to them.
🗡️ The romance was cute. I’d be remiss not to mention the budding romance between Logan and Ashley which – while only taking up a tiny part of the story – was really lovely to see, especially as I’m always excited for LGBTQ+ horror.
Have you been reading spooky novels throughout October? Which ones were your favorites? Have you read any of these novels? What did you think of them?