November 25, 2021

Taste the Books: Review Morsels #27 Krystal Sutherland, Rebecca Mahoney, April Genevieve Tucholke et al.


Intro


Hello beauties!

Welcome again to my own brand of mini reviews! I never thought I'd do minis, until I recapped a few of my long reviews in some digest post in 2014, and then guest-posted some shorties for a blogging event in 2015. And Karen from For What It's Worth started praising my short recs/recaps 😊. Just to be clear,  I'm NOT taking a break from writing long reviews - no such luck LOL (though for anthologies, shorter books or books that I didn't enjoy/I don't have enough to say about, I decided to stick to minis). But while I'm making up my mind about a new book I've read, I might as well give you the short version πŸ˜‰. Just be warned - this feature will be VERY random!

Note: all the mini blurbs (in italics) are of my own creation.

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland

★★★★

Rated 4.5 really.

Ten years after mysteriously disappearing, only to come back with allegedly no memories of what happened to them, three sisters (17, 19 and 21) find out that the horror they fled isn't finished with them yet, and may have burrowed into their skin more than they could ever imagine.

***

This book is exactly what its cover promises: sheer horror and sheer beauty joined at the hip. What starts as a contemporary novel with a pronounced magical realism angle soon takes a turn toward the supernatural, and oh, it becomes darker and darker, and more and more disturbing, yet the lyrical, evocative writing takes the brunt of it. With fascinating settings and (mostly) satisfying characters to boot, House of Hollow combines Nova Ren Suma's brand of magic with Rory Power's brand of horror, only to produce something unique.

Full review to come. (Goodreads pre-review)

The Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney

★★★★

Rated 4.5 really.

A girl suffering from PTSD after the death of her best friend is drawn to a small town, where she learns she's fated to fulfill a prophecy of destruction about the town itself which turns out to be tied to her grief and anger.

***

A fascinating, often spellbinding, at times confusing, but utterly original exploration of trauma, grief, guilt feelings/intrusive thoughts, memory and loss, with a likeable cast and on the backdrop of a doomed small town that comes alive. Bonus points for the honest, non-romanticised (though lyrical) depiction of PTSD and the positive (if a little simplistic) outlook on therapy.

Full review to come. (Goodreads pre-review)

Slasher Girls & Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke et al.

★★★★

Fourteen dark and atmospheric stories by some of the most popular YA writers of today (or of 2015 at least - I read this one in 2021), all taking inspiration from books, movies and songs (sometimes more than one at a time) and putting a solid, creepy spin on them.

***

A very balanced collection (not an easy feat) with a number of winners. While I'm not sure why the mostly mundane Verse Chorus Verse by Leigh Bardugo and the quite clichΓ© The Dark, Scary Parts and All by Danielle Paige made the cut (probably just due to their authors' popularity at the time) and I DNF A Girl Who Dreamed of Snow by McCormick Templeman (not the story's fault - classic fantasy bores me), most of the entries kept me entertained on many levels. The highlights:
- Nova Ren Suma is a personal favourite, and The Birds of Azalea Street sports her usual brand of lyrical yet grounded writing and imperfect, often openly flawed girls you can't but love and feel like protecting - especially since they keep being wronged (and underestimated) by adults who should know better. Except some of these girls do fight back and protect their own kind (with a twist).
- In the Forest Dark and Deep by Carrie Ryan is yet another Alice-in-Wonderland inspired story, except it's far more imaginative, dark and disturbing than you could ever expect, though poetical in a way - and again, with a realistically flawed, complex heroine. Beware of the open (?) ending though.
- Hide-and-Seek by Megan Shepherd has a strong, resourceful protagonist who tries to beat death itself. Dead girls are this reader's weakness (dead girls looking for a way to outsmart death even more), the story kept moving and the twist was satisfying.
- Sleepless by Jay Kristoff started off slow for me, with all the annoying text banter (seriously, after a while it physically hurt my eyes), and then it began piling up twist after twist that I couldn't see coming. Now that's what a good short story should do IMO...have a solid ending AND mess with your brain while you're getting there.
- Not everyone will stomach Stitches by A.G. Howard, but to me, it was a strong, imaginative and surrealistic spin on Frankenstein (OK, not that the original story wasn't surreal, but this is next level) that straddled the line between monster and saviour.
- On the I-5 by Kendare Blake reads like the love child of Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace and the Ghost Roads series by Seanan McGuire (both yet to be published at the time though), so of course I would love it. The main character's predicament tugged at my heart, and I loved her voice. Also, who doesn't like a bit of retributive justice? πŸ˜‰

It's also worth mentioning that one of the stories (M by Stefan Bachmann) has a blind protagonist.

Note: definitive review (due to time commitments, I've decided not to write full-length reviews anymore for short stories, novellas and anthologies, except in special cases or unless they're part of a series).

So, have you read/are you planning to read any of the above? And if you have, what do you think of them? Do you post mini reviews? Do you like to read them?

12 comments:

  1. It's interesting to see Sutherland take on horror. Glad to hear it was successful for you. Not my genre, but I have enjoyed Sutherland's contemporaries. Flood is one I am trying to find time to read. Seeing that high a rating from you has me thinking it will be great for me too. I have been back and forth between book and audiobook, though after reading your thoughts, I think I should do the book. I can lose things when I listen to an audiobook and if the story is a bit confusing, I would most likely end up lost.

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    Replies
    1. LOL, no, I can't see you reading HOH - the horror is real. But she's a very skilled writer! It comes as no surprise that you would love her contemporaries.

      I think the visual version of Flood will work better for you. Looking forward to your thoughts (holy moly, we have a book in common? one except A.S. King's? 😲 πŸ˜‚).

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  2. I haven't read these. We read different kinds of books so I doubt these will be on my reading list. Sounds like they were pretty good though.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yep...we do have pretty different tastes LOL.

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  3. I love these short reviews (even if longer ones are coming). :) And this

    "horror and sheer beauty joined at the hip."

    great one!

    These all sound great. The last short story with Kendare Blake and a reference to Kali Wallace (who I love after reading my first books on hers) has my mind boggled.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! πŸ’š

      I definitely recommend Sutherland and Slasher Girls to everyone who loves horror. And yes, you need more Wallace in your life! πŸ˜‰ She's never let me down so far.

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  4. I have to get to Slasher Girls and Monster Boys. I've been wanting to read that one for along time. One day I will read with reckless abandon again lol

    Karen @For What It's Worth

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's blame the pets and their endless needs if you don't LOL.

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  5. The Valley and the Flood sounds really interesting, I may decide to check it out. :D
    -Quinley

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    Replies
    1. It's definitely a winner if you like magical realism.

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  6. Ooh I had been anticipating House of Hollow’s release, but I’d heard some not so favourable reviews of it so I wasn’t in any rush to read it, but seeing your rating and description makes me want to pick it up immediately! I’ve definitely got to give it a try, you’ve made it sound so good!
    I’ve never heard of The Valley and the Flood but I’ll be adding that to my TBR after your review too.
    Great post!!

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    Replies
    1. What a heavy responsibility...I hope you'll like it! πŸ˜‰ Same for Valley, if you decide to try it. Thank you Sab!

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