Doll Bones | Holly Black

Bones BlackDoll Bones by Holly Black is a childrens book about imagination, childhood and growing up.

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends for ever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice.

But one night the girls pay Zach a visit and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – which claims to be made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

An impressive book.

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Lynnwood | Thomas Brown

Lynnwood (ebook ISBN 9781907230424)  by Thomas Brown is a horror about a town with a dark secret.

The unthinkable is happening in Lynnwood – a village with centuries of guilt on its conscience.

Who wouldn’t want to live in an idyllic village in the English countryside like Lynnwood? With its charming pub, old dairy, friendly vicar, gurgling brooks, and  its old paths with memories of simpler times.

But behind the conventional appearance of Lynnwood’s villagers, only two sorts of people crawl out of the woodwork: those who hunt and those who are prey. Visitors are watched by an entity between the trees where the Dark Ages have endured to the twenty-first century. Families who have lived behind stone walls and twitching curtains know that the gusts of wind blowing through the nearby alluring Forest bring with them a stench of delightful hunger only Lynnwood can appease.

This is really rather good.

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The Darkling | R.B. Chesterton

The Darkling by R.B. Chesterton is a horror novel about families and secrets.

When the Hendersons take in a mysterious teenager, they are happy to have a new addition to the family, but it soon becomes clear that Annie is no regular orphan . . .

In the 1940s, Coden, Alabama was a hideaway for movie stars – an isolated playground tucked among live oaks and placid bay waters where pleasure and vice could be indulged. By the summer of 1974 Coden”s glamour has faded, but it doesn”t bother Mimi Bosarge, who is just happy to have a job as a live-in tutor with the wealthiest family in town, the Hendersons. When the Hendersons generously open their arms to Annie, a troubled teenager with no recollection of her past, Mimi”s greatest concern is creating a curriculum for the family”s new ward.But it soon becomes obvious that something is wrong. Annie seems suspiciously savvy for her young age, and Mimi can”t quell the unnerving sense that there is something malicious about the waiflike beauty.

This is an effective horror novel that nonetheless has a lot of problems.

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‘Set | Luke Walker

Set Walker‘Set by Luke Walker Is a dark fantasy/horror with supernatural and apocalyptic elements.

Between Heaven and Hell, there is another world. To save her daughter’s soul, Emma Cooper will tear that world apart.

After the loss of her baby, Emma Cooper feels as if she’s just going through the motions of her life. That’s until an angel and demon knock at her door with news dwarfing life and death.

Emma’s daughter’s soul is trapped in a world of the dead, a world of permanent sunset. This is ‘Set and it’s to this world that Emma must travel after she is chosen by the celestial and infernal management. By working with Above and Below, she has a chance of helping her daughter and countless other souls move on from ‘Set.

In this world, recently deceased George Bryson has declared war on Heaven and Hell. But this fight with his maker has opened doors he cannot close. The forgotten remnants of Creation are coming to consume all worlds. If Emma can’t stop Bryson’s war, her daughter will be lost forever.

And so will everybody else.

Double special today: Not only was ‘Set provided to me free by Luke Walker, but Luke and I know each other from online. I do not intend this to bias my review, but it’s possible I will subconsciously treat this more kindly than a book from a stranger, so be aware.

Originally posted on In Case of Survival

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Sepulchre | Kate Mosse

Sepulchre book cover.

Sepulchre book cover. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sepulchre by Kate Mosse is an, erm, mishmash. Historical, Romance, Tragedy, and Supernatural, with a healthy dollop of Music.

From the author of the New York Times— bestselling novel Labyrinth comes another haunting tale of secrets, murder, and the occult set in both nineteenth-century and twenty-first-century France.

In 1891, young Léonie Vernier and her brother Anatole arrive in the beautiful town of Rennes-les-Bains, in southwest France. They’ve come at the invitation of their widowed aunt, whose mountain estate, Domain de la Cade, is famous in the region. But it soon becomes clear that their aunt Isolde—and the Domain—are not what Léonie had imagined. The villagers claim that Isolde’s late husband died after summoning a demon from the old Visigoth sepulchre high on the mountainside. A book from the Domain’s cavernous library describes the strange tarot pack that mysteriously disappeared following the uncle’s death. But while Léonie delves deeper into the ancient mysteries of the Domain, a different evil stalks her family—one which may explain why Léonie and Anatole were invited to the sinister Domain in the first place.

More than a century later, Meredith Martin, an American graduate student, arrives in France to study the life of Claude Debussy, the nineteenth century French composer. In Rennes-les-Bains, Meredith checks into a grand old hotel—the Domain de la Cade. Something about the hotel feels eerily familiar, and strange dreams and visions begin to haunt Meredith’s waking hours. A chance encounter leads her to a pack of tarot cards painted by Léonie Vernier, which may hold the key to this twenty-first century American’s fate . . . just as they did to the fate of Léonie Vernier more than a century earlier

I picked up loads of books in my chairty shop run, so it’s probably going to be older books for a bit. Sepulchre is Kate Mosse’s second book and is loosely connected to her first, Labyrinth.

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Shakespeare v Lovecraft | D R O’Brien

Shakespeare v Lovecraft by D R O’Brien is exactly as the title promises – a mashup of Lovecraft and Shakespeare.

Get ready for the War of the literary Worlds in the raucous new horror comedy, Shakespeare v Lovecraft!

In the same putrid vein as Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Shakespeare v. Lovecraft slithers hideously onto the literary mash-up scene, whispering of cosmic horrors and eldritch tales whilst espousing sweet soliloquies and profoundly contemplating mankind’s place in the universe.

The book follows the story of the powerful magician Prospero, driven dangerously insane by prolonged exposure to the dread Necronomicon, makes a terrible pact with the titanic alien beast known only as Cthulhu. Now only his enchantress daughter Miranda and a handful of history’s greatest heroes are all that stand between humanity and blasphemous eternal subjugation.

Macbeth, King Henry V and more clash with some of Lovecraft’s most memorable monstrosities including Dagon, The Colour Out Of Space, Night-Gaunts, Ghouls, a Shoggoth and, of course, the Great Priest himself. And which sides will the Dream-God Oberon, the monstrous Caliban and ethereal Ariel favour in this savage clash of worlds?

It sounded silly and fun, and I wanted to read something silly and fun.

Review copy provided for free through Netgalley.

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Last Days | Adam Neville

Last days by Adam Neville is a horror story centred around the activities of a cult.

Indie filmmaker Kyle Freeman is hired to create a documentary about The Temple of the Last Days—a notorious cult that met its chilling end in an Arizona desert back in 1975. As he travels to the cult’s birthplaces in London and France, and its infamous demise in the United States, a series of uncanny events plague all his shoots: out-of-body experiences, visits in the night, ghastly artifacts appearing in their rooms each evening, and the deaths of their interviewees.

What exactly it is the cult managed to awaken – and what is its interest in Kyle Freeman?

My review copy was an eARC provided for free by St Martins Press through NetGalley

Sorry for the dark horror two in one, readers! I tend to read in phases (even with review copies from publishers) so I review in phases too. But I’ll try to make the next review something different.

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14 | Peter Clines

14 by Peter Clines is a Weird House Horror thriller with an intriguing twist.

Padlocked doors. Strange light fixtures. Mutant cockroaches.

There are some odd things about Nate’s new apartment.

Of course, he has other things on his mind. He hates his job. He has no money in the bank. No girlfriend. No plans for the future. So while his new home isn’t perfect, it’s livable. The rent is low, the property managers are friendly, and the odd little mysteries don’t nag at him too much.

At least, not until he meets Mandy, his neighbor across the hall, and notices something unusual about her apartment. And Xela’s apartment. And Tim’s. And Veek’s.

Because every room in this old Los Angeles brownstone has a mystery or two. Mysteries that stretch back over a hundred years. Some of them are in plain sight. Some are behind locked doors. And all together these mysteries could mean the end of Nate and his friends.

Or the end of everything…

I love a good creepy house story. On reading this I was hoping for ghosts (I know that ghost stories are out of fashion in horror at the moment but I still love them) but what I got was just as good.

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The Possessions of Doctor Forrest | Richard T. Kelly

The Possessions of Doctor Forrest by Richard T. Kelly is a weird book, an attempt to recreate the Gothic Novel but with a more intelligent, questioning nature.

Three respected Scottish doctors – psychiatrist Steve Hartford, paediatric surgeon Grey Lochran and cosmetic surgeon Robert Forrest – have been close friends since their Edinburgh boyhoods, and now live handsomely in suburban London. But for each, midlife has brought certain discontents, especially for Forrest, a reformed womaniser who broods over his fading looks and the departure of his beautiful younger girlfriend.

When Dr Forrest goes missing one summer evening and fails to return, Lochran and Hartford are alarmed by the thought of what might have befallen their friend. The police can find no evidence of foul play, but the two doctors resolve to conduct their own investigation.

Soon, however, Lochran and Hartford find themselves bedevilled by bizarre, unnerving events, and the attentions of menacing strangers. Robert Forrest, they come to realise, has remained closer than they could ever have imagined…

I’m not entirely sure it works. Oh, plenty of ideas are presented and discussed within the text, but you are frequently hammered with them. And the dread, the melodrama, the creeping horror that should be present in a Gothic Novel simply, well, isn’t.

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Cold Earth | Sarah Moss

Cold Earth by Sarah Moss is a dark little novel about a group of archaeologists unearthing a Viking settlement as a pandemic rages in the world beyond.

A team of six archaeologists from the United States, England, and Scotland assembles at the beginning of the Arctic summer to unearth traces of the lost Viking settlements in Greenland. But as they sink into uneasy domesticity, there is news of an epidemic back home, and their communications with the outside world fall away. Facing a Greenland winter for which they are hopelessly ill-equipped, Nina, Ruth, Catriona, Jim, Ben, and Yianni write final letters home, knowing that their missives may never reach their loved ones.

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