Year of Sanderson: “The Hero of Ages”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

“Year of Sanderson” is an on-going, monthly series that will post on the last Friday of each month in which I will cover various Brandon Sanderson-related things. This will largely be comprised of book reviews (some from his back catalog and some from the books being released this year), as well as assorted other topics like reviews of the items in the swag boxes that will be coming out as part of Sanderson’s Kickstarted campaign. Frankly, we’ll just have to see what we get from this series, very much like the Kickstarter itself!

Book: “The Hero of Ages” by Brandon Sanderson

Publishing Info: Tor Fantasy, October 2009

Where Did I Get this Book: own it

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: Who is the Hero of Ages?

To end the Final Empire and restore freedom, Vin killed the Lord Ruler. But as a result, the Deepness—the lethal form of the ubiquitous mists—is back, along with increasingly heavy ashfalls and ever more powerful earthquakes. Humanity appears to be doomed.

Having escaped death at the climax of The Well of Ascension only by becoming a Mistborn himself, Emperor Elend Venture hopes to find clues left behind by the Lord Ruler that will allow him to save the world. Vin is consumed with guilt at having been tricked into releasing the mystic force known as Ruin from the Well. Ruin wants to end the world, and its near omniscience and ability to warp reality make stopping it seem impossible. Vin can’t even discuss it with Elend lest Ruin learn their plans!

Previously Reviewed: “Mistborn” and “The Well of Ascension”

Review: Here we are, the last book in Sanderson’s first Mistborn trilogy! And this is very much where the proof was in the pudding as far as his future as a rock star fantasy author goes! It’s one thing to write a great started to a series. Another to not get caught up in the sophomore slump of the second novel. But it’s an entirely different beast to tackle an ending. And boy oh boy, what an ending it is!

Things are not looking up for Vin and Elend. Yes, Elend evaded death by becoming a Mistborn himself, but balancing his duties as leader with learning to master the powerful abilities now at his hands is more than most can accomplish. For her part, Vin is grappling with the world-changing results of her actions after she accidentally released Ruin, an almost all-powerful destructive force, back into the world. Now, with the very world around them turning against them, Vin and Elend must fight once again not just for the freedom of their people, but for their very survival.

What can I saw about this book that hasn’t been said a million times before and isn’t just me reduced to incoherent gushing?? I mean, simply put, it’s an excellent book and a fantastic finisher for the trilogy as a whole. It is the conclusion of large character arcs for both Vin and Elend which has seen each character grow from fairly simple beginnings to the very complex beings we see here. As the challenges they face have grown more complicated, so, too, do we see Elend and Vin grapple with decisions that seemingly have no “good” answer. Vin, in particular, a being who is almost all-powerful in her own way, must learn navigate the complicated fall-out of the decisions she made in the previous book. And, for his part, Elend, now granted the abilities that Vin wields so masterfully, must face where his strengths and Vin’s differ.

In many ways, this book has a much darker, more grim overall tone. The world is literally falling apart around our cast and crew, and, like I mentioned above, the decisions they are facing have no easy answers. That said, these dire circumstances are prime ground for more world-building and the exploration of this planet’s complicated history. There is one particular reveal that comes over the course of this trilogy that is truly impressive. In fact, there are so many reveals about how certain beings and magic systems work that come to light in this last book that it is proving fairly hard to review it! Suffice to say, one of the true joys of reading this book is seeing how it weaves together loose threads (and even things that the reader didn’t know was a threat at all!) from the previous two books.

I also think that Sanderson nails the end of this book. Almost all of the characters ended up in situations that were completely different than what I had expected going in. The stakes are high and the end result is appropriately bittersweet. This story is also fairly action packed from start to finish, as can only be expected in a plot focused on preventing the literal destruction of an entire people and world! In a similar vein as the “threads you didn’t know where threads” aspect of the first two books, this book lays out very subtle hints about Sanderson’s larger Cosmere universe as a whole that pay off nicely for fan who go on to read his other works.

Rating 9: An excellent conclusion to the trilogy and proof that Brandon Sanderson has all the goods, from start to finish!

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Hero of Ages” is on these Goodreads lists: Most Interesting Magic System and Best Heroine in a Fantasy Book.

Kate’s Review: “The Quarry Girls”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “The Quarry Girls” by Jess Lourey

Publishing Info: Thomas & Mercer, November 2022

Where Did I Get This Book: The library!

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: Minnesota, 1977. For the teens of one close-knit community, summer means late-night swimming parties at the quarry, the county fair, and venturing into the tunnels beneath the city. But for two best friends, it’s not all fun and games.

Heather and Brenda have a secret. Something they saw in the dark. Something they can’t forget. They’ve decided to never tell a soul. But their vow is tested when their friend disappears—the second girl to vanish in a week. And yet the authorities are reluctant to investigate.

Heather is terrified that the missing girls are connected to what she and Brenda stumbled upon that night. Desperately searching for answers on her own, she learns that no one in her community is who they seem to be. Not the police, not the boys she met at the quarry, not even her parents. But she can’t stop digging because she knows those girls are in danger.

She also knows she’s next.

Review: I had to wait a LONG time to get “The Quarry Girls” by Jess Lourey from my library. I saw it in passing at some point but didn’t look too much into it, but once I realized that it takes place in Minnesota, that explained a few things. Local author, local interest, that always hypes up the library patron community. I had heard some good things, and jumped in expecting a fairly straight forward and run of the mill mystery, so imagine my surprise when it took me totally off guard and really, really got under my skin. This is the kind of thriller that doesn’t just have a good atmosphere and pace, it’s also the kind that feels super, super real in the most upsetting ways. But that’s what makes it stand out so much.

The mystery itself is haunting and suspenseful. Heather is a teenage girl living in St. Cloud, Minnesota in the late 1970s. A local waitress goes missing, her absence first dismissed as a case of a runaway or a flighty girl off on an adventure, and Heather tries not to worry. She runs with her friend group, best friends Maureen and Brenda by her side, and tries not to fret about the cool older man her guy friends have started hanging out with, lest they think she’s a baby. But then her friend Maureen goes missing too, and Heather is convinced that it has to do with something that she and Brenda saw one night shortly before. I loved the slow build up on this mystery, with Heather trying to find clues as to what happened to Maureen (a girl with a ‘reputation’ and therefore dismissed as another runaway, but we are going to get into all THAT in a bit) and has to break out of her anxious, shy self to try and help her friend. I loved watching her find various clues and insights, and how those clues and insights start to point to an even bigger, more encompassing, and more disturbing mystery at hand. As Heather starts to realize that things she thought were true are false, and that there are people she thought she could trust, but actually can’t, it makes for a slow burn and dread building mystery that kept me hooked and terrified for this literal teenager just trying to help her friend.

And that touches on the bigger themes of this book, specifically the fact that in greater society, sometimes women are victims and sometimes men are either enablers and abusers themselves, and we don’t necessarily REALLY know all sides of a person, even when we care about them or trust them. Heather has many men in her life, whether it is her District Attorney father who has been placing a lot of responsibility on Heather after her mother had a mental breakdown (which had devastating effects on Heather, but also has a hidden backstory), or the Sheriff in town who may be hiding his own corruption and culpability when it comes to Maureen, or childhood guy friends that Heather thought she knew, but have started becoming more aggressive, or demanding, or cruel. As Heather starts to learn things about Maureen, things that others deem ‘wild’ or ‘bad girl’, and tries to piece things together, she starts to learn things about all these boys and men, and it’s very hard to watch her have to learn some really difficult truths. That isn’t to say that there isn’t hope here. Because once Heather learns things she never wanted to know, she can start to learn how to fight back. But growing up too fast always has a cost.

And now I need to talk about the setting of this book because as a Minnesotan I am obligated to gush about a well done book that takes place in my home state. And man oh MAN does Lourey hit the nail on the head when it comes to Minnesota culture and location (which makes sense since she spent a good amount of time in St. Cloud and is currently living in Minneapolis). I’ve been to St. Cloud maybe three times in my life, but it’s a bit notorious to those Minnesotans who live outside of it for a number of negative reasons. The first is it has a reputation for being incredibly racist. The second is that various cogs in the Stearns County law enforcement machine have come under fire for corruption and incompetence (the Jacob Wetterling case is one of the most infamous examples. If you want a good resource on how badly Stearns County fucked this case up for twenty plus years, seek out the “In the Dark” Podcast, Season 1. Your blood will boil). When I started reading I wondered if Lourey was going to tap into some nostalgia about 1970s St. Cloud, but it became quite clear quite quickly that nope, this was going to dive head first into the toxicity of the community, and how misogyny of the 1970s (which still permeates today), of small town look away culture, and general ‘not my business’ sensibilities of Minnesota ‘nice’ combined to create a tragic story that felt very, very real. There are also fun moments of Minnesota in here, though, which didn’t make it all about the very true faults of Minnesota culture. Whether it was references to how we love festivals in summer due to long ass winters, or a trip to Valley Fair, or the weird quirk that a Minnesotan canNOT be the last person taking an item of food from a shared plate, these fun bits were VERY on point and very amusing.

I really loved “The Quarry Girls”. It broke my heart many times but also gave me a little hope beyond the darkness. I need to go back and read more stuff by Jess Lourey, this was just great.

Rating 9: A searing, heartbreaking thriller about small town secrets, violent misogyny, and having to grow up too fast under horrible circumstances while trying to persevere, “The Quarry Girls” is emotional, raw, and yet somehow hopeful.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Quarry Girls” is included on the Goodreads lists “Best Modern Mystery, Crime Fiction”.

Serena’s Review: “Atalanta”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “Atalanta” by Jennifer Saint

Publishing Info: May 2023, Flatiron Books

Where Did I Get this Book: ARC from the publisher!

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: Princess, Warrior, Lover, Hero

When Princess Atalanta is born, a daughter rather than the son her parents hoped for, she is left on a mountainside to die. But even then, she is a survivor. Raised by a mother bear under the protective eye of the goddess Artemis, Atalanta grows up wild and free, with just one condition: if she marries, Artemis warns, it will be her undoing.

Although she loves her beautiful forest home, Atalanta yearns for adventure. When Artemis offers her the chance to fight in her name alongside the Argonauts, the fiercest band of warriors the world has ever seen, Atalanta seizes it. The Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece is filled with impossible challenges, but Atalanta proves herself equal to the men she fights alongside. As she is swept into a passionate affair, in defiance of Artemis’s warning, she begins to question the goddess’s true intentions. Can Atalanta carve out her own legendary place in a world of men, while staying true to her heart?

Full of joy, passion, and adventure, Atalanta is the story of a woman who refuses to be contained. Jennifer Saint places Atalanta in the pantheon of the greatest heroes in Greek mythology, where she belongs.

Review: While nothing has quite reached the high that was “Circe” when we read that for bookclub last year, I’m still feeling fairly positive about Greek retellings as a whole. There are just so many great female characters in that pantheon and collection of stories that are only mentioned briefly but who hint at fascinating, untold histories. Such is the case with Atalanta, a character who is only briefly mentioned as a member of the Argonauts and then has some brief adventures as a runner until, predictably, she’s tricked by a man into marriage and they both suffer tragedy at the hands of the gods. So…there’s a lot of small mentions, but not much of an overall arch. All of this to say, I was incredibly excited to see that Jennifer Saint was giving this powerful woman a story all of her own!

Left for dead on the side of a mountain as an infant, Atalanta’s life seemed destined to be short and cruel. But instead, the goddess Artemis takes her under her wing, raising her to become a powerful huntress. As a grown woman, Atalanta begins to long to test her skills in a human world that she has only ever seen from a distance. So when Artemis tasks her to join the heroic quest of Jason and his Argonauts, Atalanta is eager to join the adventure and bring glory to her goddess. As she journeys, she begins to understand that what makes a hero may be very different than what she had previously suspected. And that, as women, she and the other women she meets bring their own form of power in a world that often sees them shunted to the side.

So, I won’t skate around the main point: I loved this book! As I said, it’s been fairly hit and miss for me with these retellings from the perspectives of lesser known female characters from various pantheons. And when we read “The Witch’s Heart” for bookclub, it began to highlight one of the things I was starting to struggle with. While “Circe” was a powerful look at womanhood and motherhood, after reading a few other similar titles, I began to feel like they were all telling similar versions of these women’s experiences. And, yes, these are important insights into the challenges, joys, and sorrows of the life of these women. But, as with any good thing, too much of one version of any character can begin to feel reductive. So, into this landscape, Atalanta arrived like a breath of fresh air.

In Atalanta, we find a powerful woman who never questions her own value, even when faced with the doubters of the world. She remains confident in her abilities and is determined to gain glory for her goddess, not to just prove men wrong, but because it is simple what she desires to do. Atalanta joins a crew of men and sets out to live a life just as unrestrained as those around her, unwilling to be limited by false chains that others would place upon her based on her sex. I loved the fact that the author forego the tendency to force her powerful female character to suffer an onslaught of self-doubt in the face of ugliness from the world.

Not only was she an excellent character in all of these ways, but as the story progresses and the adventures take us through the lives of other Greek female characters, Atalanta provides a running commentary on the way these women’s lives are shaped by the men around them. And while poignant, the book never feels preachy about any of these points.

I also really appreciated the way this book dealt with the romance and motherhood aspects of Atalanta’s story. Here, the book really makes a name for itself as different than the other books in this genre that I have read. There are two romances in this story, and I very much appreciated the different ways that Atalanta experienced these relationships. They both do important work to further highlight Atalanta’s story as a human’s story, not just a woman’s. She, too, like the men around her, can enjoy a romance without wishing to tie her life to another. But then her experiences of pregnancy do focus in on the way that the biological reality of women is very different. However, again, I enjoyed this different experience of motherhood. Here we have a woman who never wished to have a child, who is not swept away by a magical sense of attachment when her baby arrives. Instead, she feels responsibility and duty to do best by this child, but recognizes that the best life for both her son and herself may be one apart from one another. I really liked this different approach, and it felt true to the character we had been reading about up to this point.

The last part of the book is devoted to the famous race that Atalanta takes part in. Here, too, I liked the subtle changes the author made to not reduce Atalanta’s agency in her own story. I also really liked the way the end of the story was dealt with, providing a unique, and, again, true-feeling conclusion to this heroic woman’s tale. I will say, however, that the last quarter of the story did feel a bit rushed. Overall, if I had one qualm about the book, it would be the pacing. In some ways, the story feels very much like it is ticking away at the bullet point references to Atalanta that we have from the original stories. But, again, I enjoyed this character and the highlighted experiences of the various women included too much to have many complaints about pacing and a rushed ending. This is a must-read for any fans of fantasy stories like “Circe” that feature strong, female characters.

Rating 9: Powerful and sure-handed, Jennifer Saint brings to life a new hero, a woman who knows her value and will not let any man shunt her to the side.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Atalanta” can be found on these Goodreads lists: Feminist Retellings Of Greek Myths and Historical Fiction – Greece.

Kate’s Review: “This Delicious Death”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “This Delicious Death” by Kayla Cottingham

Publishing Info: Sourcebooks Fire, April 2023

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an ARC from the publisher.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: Jennifer’s Body fans will clamor for this new sapphic horror standalone from New York Times bestselling author Kayla Cottingham.

Three years ago, the melting of arctic permafrost released a pathogen of unknown origin into the atmosphere, causing a small percentage of people to undergo a transformation that became known as the Hollowing. Those impacted slowly became intolerant to normal food and were only able to gain sustenance by consuming the flesh of other human beings. Those who went without flesh quickly became feral, turning on their friends and family. However, scientists were able to create a synthetic version of human meat that would satisfy the hunger of those impacted by the Hollowing. As a result, humanity slowly began to return to normal, albeit with lasting fear and distrust for the people they’d pejoratively dubbed ghouls.

Zoey, Celeste, Valeria, and Jasmine are all ghouls living in Southern California. As a last hurrah before their graduation they decided to attend a musical festival in the desert. They have a cooler filled with hard seltzers and SynFlesh and are ready to party.

But on the first night of the festival Val goes feral, and ends up killing and eating a boy. As other festival guests start disappearing around them the girls soon discover someone is drugging ghouls and making them feral. And if they can’t figure out how to stop it, and soon, no one at the festival is safe.

Review: Thank you to Sourcebooks Fire for sending me an ARC of this novel!

I read Kayla Cottingham’s debut novel “My Dearest Darkest” last year and enjoyed it due to the tone and the characters. I was also lucky enough to be able to say hello during ALAAC 2022, and she was super awesome and gracious over my awkward fangirling. So when I was offered a copy of her newest horror novel “This Delicious Death”, I jumped at the chance. Partially because I really wanted to see what she followed her debut up with. But also because when I saw that it was about cannibal monster girls going to a music festival, I was fully invested and on board.

Another example of a book that teenage Kate would have been so into. (source)

This was just such a fun read from start to finish. I really liked all of the characters, especially the core friend group of Zoe, Celeste, Jasmine, and Valeria, and I liked the ‘zombie’ (if that’s even the right word) mythos that Cottingham has created for the story. In terms of the characters, our core four feel like a pretty realistic and typical group of teenage girls with the usual insecurities and ride or die friend dynamics, just with a bit of a flesh eating twist to round it all out. While I wasn’t super invested in the will they or won’t they dynamic of Zoe and Celeste, I did like them a lot as friends and really liked how all of these girls have seen some serious shit and are still processing, all while relying on each other. You get to see flashbacks to when all of them were first infected with the Hollowing illness that transformed them into ‘ghouls’ that now can only live on human flesh (synthetically produced now, however), and how they all dealt with that change, that trauma, and how they all came together as friends who are now close as close can be. I loved their banter and their humor, and I loved as they band together to help protect Valeria after she goes feral and kills someone, and how they want to solve what is happening. The gal pal flesh eating teenage gumshoe vibe REALLY worked for me, and you throw that into a conspiracy whodunnit with the backdrop of a Coachella-esque music festival and you have a really, REALLY unique and fun story that will appeal to teens and adults alike. And along with all that, I really really liked all of the representation this book had, with trans characters, lesbian and bisexual characters, characters from different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

And now the horror. The references to “Jennifer’s Body” in the description of this book are pretty on point both in theme and tone, but I also felt like we got some “Left 4 Dead” elements with the descriptions of the way that the ‘ghouls’ look (to me, very much like The Witch in those games. If you know, you know!). I really liked how Cottingham thought out of how The Hollowing pandemic and fall out would have worked, from the way information would have spread to how the population would have reacted to how it would have adapted to try and contain it/cure those who were turned into ‘ghouls’. We get sprinkles here and there of outside perspectives beyond our main character flashbacks, and it fills in some of the blanks with a nice blend of genuinely unsettling bits as well as some fun tongue in cheek/cynical moments that would fit right in in a Verhoeven film. Cottingham doesn’t hold back on the gore and body horror elements either, with full on descriptions of gnarly transformations, some cannibalism, and moments so bloody you feel a bit like you’re in a literary splash zone a la “Evil Dead: The Musical”. It really is a blast.

“This Delicious Death” is the perfect horror read for the time of year we are in, with vacations and road trips abound. It makes it all the more perfect given that we are still trying to navigate a pandemic, albeit a potentially waning one, and the messiness that can come with the aftermath. Recommended reading to be sure.

Rating 9: A fun and gory body horror meets girl’s road trip tale, “This Delicious Death” is a must read horror novel for all your summer vacation plans!

Reader’s Advisory:

“This Delicious Death” is included on the Goodreads lists “Queer Horror”, and “Cannibal Books”.

Kate’s Review: “Hungry Ghost”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “Hungry Ghost” by Victoria Ying

Publishing Info: First Second, April 2023

Where Did I Get This Book: I received a finished copy from First Second.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: A beautiful and heart-wrenching young adult graphic novel takes a look at eating disorders, family dynamics, and ultimately, a journey to self-love.

Valerie Chu is quiet, studious, and above all, thin. No one, not even her best friend Jordan, knows that she has been binging and purging for years. But when tragedy strikes, Val finds herself taking a good, hard look at her priorities, her choices, and her own body. The path to happiness may lead her away from her hometown and her mother’s toxic projections—but first she will have to find the strength to seek help.

Review: Thank you to First Second for sending me a finished copy of this graphic novel!

I had been eying “Hungry Ghost” by Victoria Ying for awhile, and even had it on my NetGalley shelf ready to go, when I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to receive a print copy and to review it for the blog. The cover caught my eye from the jump, and then reading into the backstory and summary I was even more interested. Disordered eating is something that is a difficult and charged topic, but an important one to talk about. So I sat down and began my read, and found it to be a very emotional experience.

This is a very personal and unflinching story about Valerie Chu, a teenage Asian-American girl who has been pressured by her mother to stay thin since she was a girl, so much so that she has started making herself throw up in her teenage years and obsessively counting calories whenever she eats. It’s a really difficult read at times, but I liked how candid and straight forward Ying was with what Valerie was going through, and how complicated the various factors feeding into it could be. I really found Valerie’s inner turmoil to be compelling and upsetting, and I liked how Ying explores the familial pressure from her mother, the self pressure from Valerie herself due to seeing thinness everywhere as an ideal, and the pressures to be a perfect person and to have control, and how once control is gone how much it can make things spiral. For Valerie it’s the sudden tragic death of her father that sends her off, due to her grief, and the perceived need to be there for her devastated mother whose insistence on Valerie’s thin physique has been a pall over Valerie since childhood. There were so many moments in here that made me tear up, and I liked how Ying was sensitive but also very honest about these issues and how toxic all of this is for Valerie.

I also liked the depictions of how complicated Valerie’s relationships were with her loved ones. The most obvious one is her mother, whose domineering insistence on Valerie being thin has set up her disordered eating and mental health issues. It is made very clear that her mother is very wrong for putting this kind of pressure on Valerie (from the jump you see her denying Valerie a piece of her own birthday cake when she is in grade school, which is just… wow), but Ying is also very careful to not make her into a two dimensional villain. At first I was very ‘um maybe we should be calling this out a bit more?’, but thinking about it it started working for me a bit more because 1) this is her mother, and family dynamics can be so hard to disentangle, 2) it’s clear that it’s not just her Mom that has this hang up, as we also see some of her extended family voicing similar opinions, and 3) the death of Valerie’s Dad makes her mother’s emotional state all the more fragile and complex. Ying doesn’t excuse it, but also shows that sometimes people have to stand up for themselves or set boundaries in other ways. There is also the relationship between Valerie and her best friend Jordan, who is fat and is completely comfortable within her body and herself. Valerie adores Jordan, but it’s clear that her own standards of her body are constantly nagging at her (especially since her mother is always commenting on how fat Jordan is), and as things unravel more and more it starts to have an effect on their friendship. It is a really complex web, and I really appreciated that.

And finally I really loved the artwork. Ying is a very talented artist and animator whose work has been seen in various Disney ventures like “Moana”, “Big Hero 6”, and “Frozen” (among others!), as well as other books and graphic novels. And I really liked her style for this story, as it feels very accessible and engaging, while also hitting the emotional moments and beats.

Source: First Second

I really, really enjoyed “Hungry Ghost”. It’s poignant and powerful, and I am pleased that Ying has brought these various difficult and entangled issues to a moving graphic novel.

Rating 9: A gorgeous, emotional, and very personal story about grief, disordered eating, and complex family relationships, “Hungry Ghost” is a must read graphic novel.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Hungry Ghost” is included on the Goodreads lists “2023 YA/MG Books with POC Leads”, and “Great Graphic Novels (Released in 2023)”.

Serena’s Review: “Happy Place”

Book: “Happy Place” by Emily Henry

Publishing Info: Berkley, April 2023

Where Did I Get this Book: Edelweiss+

Book Description: Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college—they go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except, now—for reasons they’re still not discussing—they don’t.

They broke up six months ago. And still haven’t told their best friends.

Which is how they find themselves sharing the largest bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group’s yearly getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one vibrant, blue week they leave behind their daily lives; have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most.

Only this year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how desperately they still want each other. Because the cottage is for sale and this is the last week they’ll all have together in this place. They can’t stand to break their friends’ hearts, and so they’ll play their parts. Harriet will be the driven surgical resident who never starts a fight, and Wyn will be the laid-back charmer who never lets the cracks show. It’s a flawless plan (if you look at it from a great distance and through a pair of sunscreen-smeared sunglasses). After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one week…in front of those who know you best?

Review: Like many authors I’ve grown to love, I was first introduced to Emily Henry when we read “Beach Read” for bookclub a year or so ago. It was part of a romance theme we were doing at the time and was a great motivator to read a book and author I probably would never have picked up on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good romance, but I tend to stick pretty strictly the historical romance lane ala “Bridgerton” and the like. What can I say, Jane Austen really ruined me for other genres of romance. In particular, I’m not often a reader of contemporary stories in any genre, so contemporary romance was waaaaay down there. But boy, yet again am I thankful for bookclub because here I am, the biggest Emily Henry fan you’ll find!

Harriet’s happy place has long been established as not only a location (her friend’s rich dad’s New England beach home) but as the group of friends who have travelled alongside her through the past decade of her life. And part of that group has always been her longtime boyfriend, Wyn. But now, broken up for the past six months, Harriet is unsure whether she can find that happy place again. How can this close group of friends survive the sundering of one of its longest-running romances? Things are made more challenging when Harriet realizes that this will be the last year before their beloved gathering place is sold. Not wanting to ruining what may be the last time they’re all together for a long while, Harriet and Wyn decided to not break the news of their break up until after the trip is over. But keeping up this ruse may prove more difficult than either has expected.

There are a lot of things to love about Henry’s approach to contemporary romance. But I think one of the things I appreciate most is how deftly she manages to use very common, some might say worn to death, romance tropes and breathes new life into them. Here she tackles two tropes in one, fake dating and a second chance love story. In a lot of ways, I think this combination works better than either one does on their own, especially fake dating. I’ve always been a bit of a hard sell on fake dating. The scenarios used to make it a necessary thing always seem very contrived and unbelievable. And then the success of two people, often near strangers, successfully tricking people into believing they are a couple always seemed incredibly unlikely. Not only do these strangers need to fake their way through the awkwardness of physical interactions, but they have to somehow orchestrate the easy comradery and chemistry of a true couple. But, like I say, Henry wisely sidesteps this entire issue by combining it with a second chance love story.

Harriet and Wyn were not only a couple before, they were in a long-term, on the verge of marriage, serious relationship. Add in some unresolved feelings, and it’s easy to see how they could simply flip a switch into faking they’re still together. On top of that, the use of a very close friends group makes a compelling reason for why they would fake their relationship. Not only would a break up upend the boat of a small group of mutual friends, but a few of the friends have expressed reliance on Harriet and Wyn’s solid relationship as proof that long-term love is possible! It’s a perfect storm of circumstances that I think nicely lays the entire table for both of these romance tropes.

Another thing Henry does so well is ground her stories in other struggles and growth for her characters. As the story unfolds, we begin to see what went wrong in Harriet and Wyn’s seemingly perfect relationship. Through a series of flashbacks, we begin to learn that neither has ever been perfectly honest with the other about what they want from life. What’s worse, neither has been honest with themselves. Both are incredibly likable but flawed individuals, and we see how each has been swatting away the necessary work that would have lead them to healthier lives and a healthier relationship. Harriet’s struggles as a people pleaser and Wyn’s inability to place value in himself as he is were all incredibly powerful and well depicted.

And, of course, the romance is lovely. Henry also tends to write romances that read a bit bitter sweet. They end well, because that’s almost required of the genre. But given the way this book is structured, with the flashbacks slowly working their way towards the present, it’s difficult to watch Wyn and Harriet spiral towards the inevitable break-up. Between their own struggles and the challenges we see from some of the other members of this friends group, I wouldn’t necessarily call this a happy book. And yet, it also wasn’t sad. It simply felt very real and honest about the way even the closest relationships, romances and friendships, can be built on unhealthy habits and interactions. The ending was particularly cathartic after all of the build-up. I was also very happy with a few particular turns of events at the end where I think Henry improved on some of her previous character work in conclusions of other books I’ve read by her where I’ve been more frustrated. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance or of Emily Henry, this is definitely a must read!

Rating 9: Heartfelt and poignant, this story tackles not only the lies we tell others but, more importantly, the lies we tell ourselves.

Reader’s Advisory: “Happy Place” is on these Goodreads lists: That One Really Popular Modern Romance Novel Cover Style and 2023 Contemporary Romance Releases.

Kate’s Review: “For You and Only You”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “For You and Only You” by Caroline Kepnes

Publishing Info: Atria Books/Emily Bestler Books, April 2023

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: Joe Goldberg is ready for a change. Instead of selling books, he’s writing them. And he’s off to a good start. Glenn Shoddy, an acclaimed literary author, recognizes Joe’s genius and invites him to join a tight-knit writing fellowship at Harvard. Finally, Joe will be in a place where talent matters more than pedigree, where intellect is the great equalizer and anything is possible–even happy endings. Or so he thinks, until he meets his already-published, already-distinguished peers, who all seem to be cut from the same privileged cloth.

Thankfully, Wonder enters the picture. They have so much in common. No college degrees, no pretensions, no stories from prep school or grad school. Just a love for literature. If only Wonder could commit herself to the writing life they could be those rare literary soulmates who never fall prey to their demons. There is so much they’re up against, but Joe has faith in Wonder. He will sacrifice his art for hers. And if he has to, he will kill her darlings for her.

With her trademark satirical, biting wit, Caroline Kepnes explores why vulnerable people bring out the worst in others as Joe sets out to make this small, elite world a fairer place. And if a little crimson runs in the streets of Cambridge who can blame him? Love doesn’t conquer all. Often, it needs a little push.

Review: Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eARC of this novel!

I am fully aware that I have been obsessed with Caroline Kepnes’s “You” Series since I read “You” and “Hidden Bodies” in 2016, to the point where all of the “You” audiobooks have become insomnia fighters for long nights of anxiety driven sleeplessness. Yes, I do indeed put in my ear buds and listen to Santino Fontana talk about super creep and obsessive psychopath Joe Goldberg as he stalks women and inserts himself into their lives while slowly destroying them. Apparently this is relaxing listening to me.

I am fully aware this probably means I’m deeply traumatized, it’s fine. (source)

So quite obviously I was waiting on pins and needles for the fourth book in the series, “For You And Only You”. And I was so, so lucky to get a copy from NetGalley, and there was much rejoicing. I had so many questions and theories about what was going to happen in this book, as when we left Joe in “You Love Me” he was about to be widowed and was running his own book bar in Florida, ready to fall in love again. So when I read that this one was going to take place in Boston? WHAT? But I fully trusted Kepnes to bring me there and to convince me, and what do you know? She did.

I think that what continues to impress me about Kepnes and her “You” books is that even though there is a very clear set of expectations of formula for each of these books, she still manages to make it feel fresh, interesting, and unpredictable. You can be certain of the following things in these books: Joe is going to be a loner, he’s going to start to obsess over a woman who is emotionally unavailable for whatever reason, and people in the way of his obsession are probably going to start dropping like flies at his hand (granted, in “You Love Me” he wasn’t the direct cause of the deaths in that book, he was just a domino effect). I was worried that this was going to feel repetitive by book four in the series, and yet I still was fully on board and I was still completely hooked by the story, the characters, the plot twists, and the overall twisted cynicism and dark humor of it all. These books probably aren’t for everyone, but I feel that Kepnes always knows how to pull the satire out of some pretty unnerving subject matter and themes, by finding the hypocritical undersides of supposedly enviable lives (be it being young and single in New York, to uber wealthy in L.A., to small town cozy on Bainbridge Island). This time the target is the hallowed halls of Harvard and the academic life of ever ambitious literary authors. I’ll admit that I WAS disappointed that we didn’t stick to Florida, as there were so many things that I feel like could have been SO satisfying with that as a backdrop (especially since 1) Joe’s old boss Mr. Mooney retired there and I love that horrible old man, and 2) Florida right now has so many issues I would have loved to see Joe just lose his mind there), but hey. I’m fine with lambasting elitist Harvard culture as it exists within Boston’s many backgrounds, and Kepnes really nails it. Joe clearly is desperate to fit in, as while he has always had a chip on his shoulder about those more privileged then himself, he thinks that the is just as good as them and needs them to acknowledge it. This time it’s because of a book he wrote that he thinks is genius, and he needs their validation. You just know that’s going to go poorly.

Joe is still Joe, and I will spare you all from going on and on about why he entertains the hell out of me once again, so let’s focus on our other characters. While the cast of characters don’t really outdo the assholery of previous characters (who could be worse that Peach Salinger? I’ve yet to see it), there are plenty of cutting bites at snooty authors and those who aspire to that. Part of the appeal of these books is that everyone sucks so when Joe starts going HAM on them it feels over the top enough that it’s not distasteful, and the nastiness of just about everyone is pretty well done here. I found Wonder, Joe’s love interest, to be especially grating, probably my least favorite of Joe’s love interests (yes, worse than Beck), but I did think that the due diligence is done to make her the way she is. But most everyone else was grating in a fun way so that you are really enjoying the ups and downs as Joe plots against them but is also annoyed by them. A major stand out for me was Sarah Beth, a fellow member of the fellowship who wrote a thriller novel before the workshop, whose interest in a true crime podcast about a body found on Bainbridge Island (oh Joe, did you REALLY think you could get away with all your bullshit? I love that we are starting to see some of these things start to catch up to him) puts a serious thorn in Joe’s side. She is weird and probing, and she also caught me by surprise a few times as she and Joe start a cat and mouse game between themselves while having to work together in their writing group. Perhaps it treads to farfetched territory at times, but I really found it fun.

“For You and Only You” continues Joe’s reign of terror through the lives of unsuspecting victims and the jerks that surround them. I hope that there are more Joe stories in store. I shall be adding this one to the middle of the night insomnia treatments, and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Rating 9: Joe is back and I’m still fully on board. This series still catches me off guard and keeps me enthralled and engaged, and I’m still all about following Joe as he rips lives asunder all in the name of love.

Reader’s Advisory:

“For You and Only You” is included on the Goodreads list “Books Written By Scorpios Will Be The Death of Me” (it was too funny to pass up).

Kate’s Review: “The Haunting of Alejandra”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “The Haunting of Alejandra” by V. Castro

Publishing Info: Del Rey, April 2023

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC from NetGalley.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: Alejandra no longer knows who she is. To her husband, she is a wife, and to her children, a mother. To her own adoptive mother, she is a daughter. But they cannot see who Alejandra has become: a woman struggling with a darkness that threatens to consume her.

Nor can they see what Alejandra sees. In times of despair, a ghostly vision appears to her, the apparition of a crying woman in a ragged white gown.

When Alejandra visits a therapist, she begins exploring her family’s history, starting with the biological mother she never knew. As she goes deeper into the lives of the women in her family, she learns that heartbreak and tragedy are not the only things she has in common with her ancestors.

Because the crying woman was with them, too. She is La Llorona, the vengeful and murderous mother of Mexican legend. And she will not leave until Alejandra follows her mother, her grandmother, and all the women who came before her into the darkness.

But Alejandra has inherited more than just pain. She has inherited the strength and the courage of her foremothers—and she will have to summon everything they have given her to banish La Llorona forever.

Review: Thank you to NetGalley for sending me an eARC of this novel!

I have had a serious, serious fascination with the La Llorona folk tale ever since I stumbled upon it in an American folklore book in elementary school. The idea of a ghostly woman who drowned her children, and now wanders the river banks of the Earth looking for her children, weeping loudly along the way, scared the absolute crap out of me (especially since as a child I lived within walking distance of the Mississippi River). When V. Castro, a Latina horror author who has taken Mexican folklore and written some fantastic horror fiction, said she was writing a La Llorona story, it became one of my most anticipated reads of 2023. I had really high hopes for this book. And man oh man did it deliver.

I am SO excited that V. Castro decided to take on the La Llorona story because of my childhood obsession with it, and given that she’s a fantastic horror writer with a voice that is so unapologetically Chicana it is just the perfect fit. And the way that she applies it to this story to fit real world horrors is just fantastic. It’s told mostly through the perspective of spiraling mother Alejandra, who has started seeing visions of a woman in white during especially trying moments. But then there are the ways that we trace back through the generations of Alejandra’s familial line, and how this presence has been there to torment many of the women through the generations, and whose lives were impacted or destroyed, the trauma passing down and down. Whether it’s an Indigenous woman who is making a dark bargain with this entity to escape her Spanish abuser, or Alejandra’s biological mother who gave her up after becoming pregnant as a teenager (and thought she was doing the right thing, BUT Alejandra was left with a very cold and controlling Evangelical family’s care, that’s a whole other layer to this story that I really thought was well done), or her grandmother with few choices in a marriage with too many children and a philandering husband, the presence of ‘La Llorona’, or whatever it is, serves as the perfect metaphor for the horrors of marginalized women with very few options. I loved seeing all of these women and their stories, and seeing Alejandra be pushed to perhaps try and stop that cycle and to fight against this entity is really, really empowering.

But I also found a lot of the horrors of motherhood aspects of this story pretty relatable. Caveat, I am no means in the same position as Alejandra is, as she is in a loveless marriage with a controlling boob who pressured her into more children than she wanted and discouraged her from working outside the home, while I have a really great romantic and parenting partner and we are one and done with our hilarious but spirited three year old. But all that said, there were so many spot on moments that Castro put in this book, whether it’s the frazzled rush of having to go go go with meandering children in tow, or having to be in charge of schedules and chores and doctor’s appointments and more, or feeling like you really don’t get a break while having to sacrifice so much, and then feeling guilty for feeling like you deserve more. While the supernatural demon/La Llorona bits and the suspense surrounding Alejandra and her women ancestors were super effective and scary, I was more set on edge by the way that Alejandra was being pushed closer and closer to breaking, and what that would mean for her and her children. Because THAT is something that does happen in real life, and the consequences of that can be deadly and devastating. This is just as much a horror story about postpartum depression and psychosis as it is generational trauma, and it is SO well done.

“The Haunting of Alejandra” is harrowing and evocative and everything I could have wanted from a La Llorona story. V. Castro continues to thrill and amaze me, and I am so excited to see how she tops herself next time, as I feel like she is always exceeding my expectations.

Rating 9: A deeply unnerving and scary examination of generational trauma and the unspoken pressures of motherhood, “The Haunting of Alejandra” is another fantastic horror tale by V. Castro.

Reader’s Advisory:

“The Haunting of Alejandra” is included on the Goodreads “Latinx Horror/Fantasy”, and “The Female Malaise: She’s Sad, Mad, and Bad”.

Serena’s Review: “One for My Enemy”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “One for My Enemy” by Olivie Blake

Publishing Info: Tor, April 2023

Where Did I Get this Book: ebook from the publisher!

Where Can You Get this Book: Amazon | IndieBound | WorldCat

Book Description: In New York City where we lay our scene, two rival witch families fight to maintain control of their respective criminal ventures. On one side of the conflict are the Antonova sisters, each one beautiful, cunning, and ruthless, and their mother, the elusive supplier of premium intoxicants known only as Baba Yaga. On the other side, the influential Fedorov brothers serve their father, the crime boss known as Koschei the Deathless, whose community extortion ventures dominate the shadows of magical Manhattan.

After twelve years of tenuous coexistence, a change in one family’s interests causes a rift in the existing stalemate. When bad blood brings both families to the precipice of disaster, fate intervenes with a chance encounter, and in the aftershocks of a resurrected conflict, everyone must choose a side. As each of the siblings struggles to stake their claim, fraying loyalties threaten to rot each side from the inside out.

If, that is, the enmity between empires doesn’t destroy them first.

Review : Do you want to hear a first world reader problem with today’s booming SFF publishing industry? Way too often I find myself late to pick up a book by an author who is clearly widely popular and has been for a few years. Such is the case with Olivie Blake. Have I heard of “The Atlas Six” series? Yes. Do I even have a few eARCs of the books in that series on my Kindle now? Also, yes. Have I yet read and reviewed any of those books on the blog? Nope! Alas, there are just too many great books and great authors out there to stay on top of it all! So, instead of committing myself to a series, I thought I’d dip my toes into this author’s work by jumping on the re-release of one of her previously published books, “One for My Enemy,” a Romeo and Juliet retelling.

In the borroughs of New York City, witches and magic are closely monitored by the Council. That is, all except two shadowy and powerful witches: Baba Yaga, who creates powerful, hallucinogenic drugs, and Koschei the Deathless, who operates a shadow organization of favor-doing and debt-calling. Years ago, these two families fell into a dispute, and years later, it continues to play out on the street between the dueling families, each vying for power and control over the underground magical industry. Caught in these ebbs and flows of vengeance and retribution, the children of Baba Yaga and Koschei must decide where their loyalties truly lie and just how much they are willing to sacrifice to this ongoing war.

So, I’ll admit, I was a bit wary when I went into this book purely based on the “Romeo and Juliet” re-telling part. For one thing, I’ve read Chloe Gong’s “Romeo and Juliet”/modern gangster family duology and didn’t really love it. I’m not a “everything has to be rainbows and flowers” reader, but I also struggle to read a story where I’m being asked to become invested in two characters and their love story when I know it’s going to end in tragedy. There has to be more going on to make that feel worth my time, and in Gong’s case, there wasn’t. BUT! I’m happy to say that Blake has somehow caught magic in a bottle here and written a “Romeo and Juliet” story that both feels in-line with the original, but is also totally unique and not a total bummer of a read.

For one thing, there are no exact equivalents to Romeo and Juliet themselves. Indeed, there are two main couples in this book, and at various points throughout the story (some of it even taking place in references to past events), they all swap in and out of the roles of these two characters. There would be scenes and even lines that would directly reference the original play, but then a few pages later, a different character/couple would take on these roles. It was an interesting method that not only felt like a breath of fresh air to a classic story that has been retold countless times, but it also left me guessing as to what was going to come next. Very quickly, I came to understand that my knowledge of how “Romeo and Juliet” plays out in the actual play would give me next to zero hints as to how this story was going to go.

I also really liked the romance itself in this book. All told, there was actually a lot more romance than I has been expecting. It’s clearly an urban fantasy novel, but there were bits of it that read in a very similar manner to a romance novel. Nothing is overly explicit, but the author devotes a decent amount of page time and dialogue to the romantic dynamics and emotional aspects. This is in no way a dig, but it definitely had the rather flowery, dramatic proclamations and inner monologues that one comes to expect from romance novels. I also have to admit that one of the romances was a bit insta-lovey, but honestly, it didn’t bother me here. I think that’s because while the romance plays a big role, the story is equally (if not more!) concerned with the relationships between siblings, and most importantly, between parents and their children. Who would have expected any of that from “Romeo and Juliet??” Definitely not me!

Furthermore, I really liked the way Russian mythology and New York ganger fiction played into this. I’m honestly a bit bewildered by how Blake managed to juggle three very different types of books/genres and still come out with something that feels polished and organic. Baba Yaga and Koschei are both huge characters in Russian folklore with tons of background and fables exist to support them. Beyond that, we also had references to Ivan and other Russian fairytale characters. There were a lot of sly little Easter Eggs dropped here and there for readers who are familiar with those stories.

Overall, “One for My Enemy” was nothing like what I was expecting, and I loved it all the more for that fact. The writing could be a bit flowery and overwrought at times, but other than that quibble, I think this is a superb urban fantasy, especially those looing for a healthy dose of romance and family drama.

Rating 9: Heart-wrenching and sly, this “Romeo and Juliet” re-telling takes the original story and turns it on its head, adding in a healthy dose of Russian folklore and New York gangster fiction. A supreme work of modern fantasy fiction!

Reader’s Advisory:

“One for My Enemy” somehow seems to be on no Goodreads lists currently (how?!) but it should be on Romeo and Juliet Re-Tellings.

Kate’s Review: “Lone Women”

This post may contain affiliate links for books we recommend.  Read the full disclosure here.

Book: “Lone Women” by Victor LaValle

Publishing Info: One World, March 2023

Where Did I Get This Book: I received an eARC of this novel from the publisher via NetGalley.

Where You Can Get This Book: WorldCat | Amazon | Indiebound

Book Description: Blue skies, empty land—and enough room to hide away a horrifying secret. Or is there? Discover a haunting new vision of the American West from the award-winning author of The Changeling.

Adelaide Henry carries an enormous steamer trunk with her wherever she goes. It’s locked at all times. Because when the trunk is opened, people around her start to disappear

The year is 1914, and Adelaide is in trouble. Her secret sin killed her parents, and forced her to flee her hometown of Redondo, California, in a hellfire rush, ready to make her way to Montana as a homesteader. Dragging the trunk with her at every stop, she will be one of the “lone women” taking advantage of the government’s offer of free land for those who can cultivate it—except that Adelaide isn’t alone. And the secret she’s tried so desperately to lock away might be the only thing keeping her alive.

Told in Victor LaValle’s signature style, blending historical fiction, shimmering prose, and inventive horror, Lone Women is the gripping story of a woman desperate to bury her past—and a portrait of early twentieth-century America like you’ve never seen.

Review: Thank you to One World for sending me a link to an eARC of this novel on NetGalley!

Rejoice, horror fans, for we are once again blessed with a stunning new horror story by Victor LaValle. It has been awhile since I’ve dived into a LaValle book, and I was very, very stoked when “Lone Women” ended up in my inbox. And I was even MORE thrilled when Book of the Month had it as a choice for March, because I DO LOVE A PRINT COPY OF A GREAT HORROR NOVEL! I had high expectations for this novel, following a Black woman named Adelaide who decides to try and homestead in Montana in the early 20th Century, and who has a mysterious steamer trunk she just needs to keep an eye on and keep closed. Because that premise alone is VERY enticing, and when you throw in LaValle, you know it’s going to be even moreso. This man knows how to craft a well done horror tale with lots of subversions, after all.

I can’t really talk too much about the horror aspects of this novel, as I really don’t want to spoil too much because I do think that part of the appeal is the slow reveal and the surprises that come with it. What I will say is that LaValle has once again taken something that we’ve seen before, but turned it on its head and made it feel fresh, unique, and tragic on top of the scary. Adelaide is running from a violent moment that has changed the course of her life, and she is bringing with her the literal baggage that comes with that violent moment, and we have no clue as to what it is. But what we do know is that she is desperate to keep that baggage contained, whether it is the actual bag that she has brought with her, or the trauma that has been inflicted upon her and her family due to the circumstances that fell upon them all. I loved the slow tension of the trunk with the lock, and I also loved the slow burn horror elements that were more steeped in realism. I was just as nervous of Adelaide when she was surrounded by suspicious people whose motives we had no clue about as I was worried about just what it was that she was lugging around in the trunk. And I REALLY loved what exactly it was what was in said trunk, as it reminded me of a specific story that I had enjoyed at one point, but have turned my back on as of late due to questions of ethical consumption of it. And that’s all I will say.

And I won’t tell so as not to ruin it. (source)

But it is also the very gritty and realistically bleak historical fiction aspects of this book that jump off the page. LaValle weaves together a tapestry of not only the American imperialist ideals of Manifest Destiny, but also the way that the American Government would use this to its own advantage, and how it could appeal to a group of Othered women. Whether it is Adelaide due to her race as well as her horrific burden, or neighbor Grace and her son Sam who are functioning as a single mother and child trying to make it together, or Miss Bertie and Fiona Wong who are not only women of color but also two lesbians who have to hide who they are, the idea of being ‘lone women’ and trying to make a life in isolation, as well as while carrying various secrets that may keep them emotionally isolated, was profound as hell. The grim realities of trying to make it in an unfamiliar place with harsh winters, the danger of being a woman alone with strangers passing through, the way that the haves will try and take advantage of the have nots, all of it feels very real and unromantic takes on the idea of the West. This book absolutely feels like a Western, but it doesn’t make it seem like a charming simpler time you may find in a John Wayne movie. It highlights the misogyny, colonialism, and racism of that ideal. And I loved that.

“Lone Women” is another fantastic novel by Victor LaValle that takes on horror themes and tweaks them to feel more resonant and poignant than one may expect. I always love LaValle’s horror works, and this one is, I think, my favorite of the lot.

Rating 9: Breathtaking horror and gritty historical fiction rolled into one, “Lone Women” shows the tenacity of outsider women with secrets, some of which are otherworldly.

Reader’s Advisory:

“Lone Women” is included on the Goodreads lists “The Best Historical Horror Novels”, and “Horror to Look Forward To in 2023”.

%d bloggers like this: