Three more spooky book reviews 👻
1. Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia ⭐⭐.5
Okay this is going to be a very polarizing book. If you’re a big horror or slasher movie fan – this book will probably be everything to you. Unfortunately, it’s just not the type of horror I vibe with.
I loved the slow, Gothic feel of the beginning of this book. And I was living for the ominous tone and suspenseful writing.
Throughout this entire book I was legitimately afraid to turn the page.
But the second half was just too much for me personally. I appreciated that Silvia Moreno-Garcia WENT THERE. But I was so grossed out and kinda nauseous for the last third or so. This is going to the part that makes or breaks this book for you! If you’re into weird, disgusting, messed up horror – pick. this. up! But if you’re at all queasy, I’d steer clear. The author pulls no punches and I really appreciated how dark she took this story (even if it wasn’t my personal reading preference).
My actual biggest complaint about this book is the ending. Because I kinda hated it…. I loved the dark, intense feminist themes and all the discussion about colonization and misogyny. But the ending gave the the most bland character a somewhat cheesy happily ever after. I just didn’t think it matched the tone of the rest of the book.
2. Ninth House (Alex Stern #1) by Leigh Bardugo ⭐⭐⭐
I was so excited when this book was released last fall. And then I promptly put it off for an entire year due to the polarizing reviews….
I think the dark, gothic atmosphere was the strongest aspect of this book. Everything felt menacing and ominous. This had great commentary on privilege, patriarchal structures, abuse, and addiction. I also liked the format – this jumps between time lines and includes little passages from secret society members between chapters.
All of that was good.
But this book was too long and slow at times. There were entire sections that felt dragged out or like were simply following characters throughout their day. And it was hard to stay focused and invested in the story during those times.
I felt like things – especially with the magic – were often too convenient. Whenever Alex needed something, she just so happened to have or come across the magical object to help her with said task. Or someone would accidentally let the one piece of information she needed slip in conversation.
But my biggest complaint (and this is tied to pacing) is that I felt like some of the darker aspects were added in purely for shock factor. While some of the dark themes were handled with a lot of care – particularly Alex’s backstory – others felt thrown in just to remind the reader that this book was ‘DARK’. I felt like I was constantly being hit over the head with reminders that this book was DARK. For example, without going into spoilers – there were 2 separate scenes of characters being drugged at a party. But neither scenario resulted in any discussion, plot development, or character growth. And then the side characters affected promptly just shrug it off. If you’re going to add content – especially triggering or potentially harmful content – I think it needs to be done with intention and purpose. Not sprinkled in for shock factor…
Overall I had mixed feelings, but I thought it was a decent start to a dark, urban fantasy series. I’m still considering caring on with the series because I did find the ending intriguing and I want to know where Darlington’s story goes.
3. The Headmaster by Tiffany Reisz ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Wow. This book was so unexpected and will definitely make my most surprising of the year.
I stumbled across this novella in an October recommendation video on Booktube (I don’t even remember who anymore…) and it’s been sitting on my Kindle since. I decided to pick it up on a whim in hope of staving off a reading slum – and boy did this do the trick!
This starts off like a pretty typical romance. You’re following a main character who is down on her luck and looking for what is next. She just lost her job and relationship and decides to take a chance at a school she overhears being discussed at a restaurant. She finds herself at a gorgeous, gothic castle-like school with a brooding handsome headmaster and a class of highly intelligent boys.
But things take a bit of a twist from there. I really don’t want to say anymore because this is one of those books that you should just let take you on the ride. It’s haunting and atmospheric and the perfect autumnal read!
If you’re looking for a romance that can get you into the Halloween spirit just as well as a spooky thriller, this is it.
I’m really interested to read more from Tiffany Reisz! This novella was a huge surprise and I enjoyed this a whole lot. Definitely want to check out some of their other work soon!