Daphne by Josh Malerman

Daphne by Josh Malerman

Published September 20, 2022 by Del Rey

262 Pages

Goodreads Summary: It’s the last summer for Kit Lamb: The last summer before college. The last summer with her high school basketball team, and with Dana, her best friend. The last summer before her life begins.

But the night before the big game, one of the players tells a ghost story about Daphne, a girl who went to their school many years ago and died under mysterious circumstances. Some say she was murdered, others that she died by her own hand. And some say that Daphne is a murderer herself. They also say that Daphne is still out there, obsessed with revenge, and will appear to kill again anytime someone thinks about her.

After Kit hears the story, her teammates vanish, one by one, and Kit begins to suspect that the stories about Daphne are real . . . and to fear that her own mind is conjuring the killer. Now it’s a race against time as Kit searches for the truth behind the legend and learns to face her own fears—before the summer of her life becomes the last summer of her life.

Mixing a nostalgic coming-of-age story and an instantly iconic female villain with an innovative new vision of classic horror, Daphne is an unforgettable thriller as only Josh Malerman could imagine it.

Review: My first encounter with Josh Malerman was with his book, Bird Box. I devoured it completely and thoroughly enjoyed the sequel. I struggled a little with Goblin but that’s mainly me struggling with short stories in general. So I was very excited to get an opportunity to read and review his most recent novel, Daphne. I was intrigued by the premise and the main character being a former high school basketball player myself. The majority of the book is told from Kit Lamb’s POV which I enjoyed for the most part with one major exception… a lot of her POV is herself writing in her diary which she named Jolly and she addresses it by name throughout her entries. That was a little strange for me and kind of off putting. There definitely were some scary moments, which I appreciated. I definitely would not want to go up against Daphne, that’s for sure. One of the scariest things was that you weren’t supposed to think about Daphne or she would come for you but when you know you’re not supposed to think about something OF COURSE that will just make you think of it more. I think that affected Kit heavily! She seemed to be constantly thinking about Daphne to the point where she was imaging people around her were speaking Daphne’s name when they actually said something completely different. In some ways it reminded me of a Bloody Mary-esque story. There were times when the POV shifted and it was a little hard to follow. Overall I would say this is a pretty decent horror read and I will continue to look forward to Josh Malerman’s books in the future.

3 Stars

Mini Review: The Wilderwomen

The Wilderwomen by Ruth Emmie Lang

Published November 15, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

336 Pages

Goodreads Summary: Five years ago, Nora Wilder disappeared. The older of her two daughters, Zadie, should have seen it coming, because she can literally see things coming. But not even her psychic abilities were able to prevent their mother from vanishing one morning.Zadie’s estranged younger sister, Finn, can’t see into the future, but she has an uncannily good memory, so good that she remembers not only her own memories, but the echoes of memories other people have left behind. On the afternoon of her graduation party, Finn is seized by an “echo” more powerful than anything she’s experienced before: a woman singing a song she recognizes, a song about a bird…When Finn wakes up alone in an aviary with no idea of how she got there, she realizes who the memory belongs to: Nora.Now, it’s up to Finn to convince her sister that not only is their mom still out there, but that she wants to be found. Against Zadie’s better judgement, she and Finn hit the highway, using Finn’s echoes to retrace Nora’s footsteps and uncover the answer to the question that has been haunting them for years: Why did she leave?But the more time Finn spends in their mother’s past, the harder it is for her to return to the present, to return to herself. As Zadie feels her sister start to slip away, she will have to decide what lengths she is willing to go to to find their mother, knowing that if she chooses wrong, she could lose them both for good.

Review: Two years ago I had read and loved Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance so when I got the opportunity to read and review Ruth Emmie Lang’s newest novel, I jumped at it. I procrastinated reading it and the longer I let it sit the less I felt like reading it so I finally picked it up one day. I would have thought a book that had characters with psychic abilities would have thrilled me a little more than it ended up doing. I had a very hard time connecting and caring about Zadie. This book has so many emotions running through it but I struggled to feel anything but boredom to be perfectly honest. The plot and characters just never fully gripped me. Overall I was just very disappointed with this book. Maybe if I read it in a more philosophical type mood this would have worked better for me as many people seem to have enjoyed it so I wouldn’t necessarily take my word on this one.

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

The Prisoner by B.A. Paris

Published November 1, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

298 Pages

Goodreads Summary: THEN
Amelie has always been a survivor, from losing her parents as a child in Paris to making it on her own in London. As she builds a life for herself, she is swept up into a glamorous lifestyle where she married the handsome billionaire Ned Hawthorne.

But then, Amelie wakes up in a pitch-black room, not knowing where she is. Why has she been taken? Who are her mysterious captors? And why does she soon feel safer here, imprisoned, than she had begun to feel with her husband Ned?

With Behind Closed Doors, B.A. Paris takes the psychological thriller to shocking new heights. Now she’ll hold you captive with this stunning new thriller about one woman wed into a family with deadly intentions.
In true B.A. Paris style, The Prisoner is a gripping survival story, a twisted tale of love and at its dark heart a thriller to keep you up all night.

Review: I have read all of B.A. Paris’s previous novels so I was originally ecstatic to get a chance to read an advance copy of The Prisoner. Unfortunately that feeling didn’t last very long upon starting to read the book. I read this several months ago and it’s only just now that I’m getting around to writing the review because I was honestly disappointed by this book. Normally I enjoy the marriage for the sake of convenience trope but only when it ends with the two characters falling for each other… This was not the case in this novel. Ned turned out to be an incredibly awful human being and there was no possible way that Amelie could have fallen for him even if she wanted to. He forced her into the marriage and then trapped her at his house, unable to see her friends or family. And then it gets even worse… People start to disappear. I don’t want to say too much more because parts of it were thrilling and captivating. But the whole situation of the marriage in the first place really discolored my enjoyment of this book. I also wasn’t too keen on the constant back and forth through time. It got a little muddled at times. Overall this novel wasn’t bad but it also didn’t quite meet my expectations when it comes to this author’s work.

3 Stars

I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

Spells for Forgetting by Adrienne Young

First published September 27, 2022

352 Pages

Goodreads Summary: A deeply atmospheric story about ancestral magic, an unsolved murder, and a second chance at true love.

Emery Blackwood’s life changed forever the night her best friend was found dead and the love of her life, August Salt, was accused of murdering her. Years later, she is doing what her teenage self swore she never would: living a quiet existence on the misty, remote shores of Saoirse Island and running the family’s business, Blackwood’s Tea Shoppe Herbal Tonics & Tea Leaf Readings.

But when the island, rooted in folklore and magic, begins to show signs of strange happenings, Emery knows that something is coming. The morning she wakes to find that every single tree on Saoirse has turned color in a single night, August returns for the first time in fourteen years and unearths the past that the town has tried desperately to forget.

August knows he is not welcome on Saiorse, not after the night everything changed. As a fire raged on at the Salt family orchard, Lily Morgan was found dead in the dark woods, shaking the bedrock of their tight-knit community and branding August a murderer. When he returns to bury his mother’s ashes, he must confront the people who turned their backs on him and face the one wound from his past that has never healed—Emery.

The town has more than one reason to want August gone, and the emergence of deep betrayals and hidden promises spanning generations threaten to reveal the truth behind Lily’s mysterious death once and for all.

Review: Initially I was drawn to this book because I loved the Fable duology so much and wanted to read more by this author. When I read the synopsis I was 100% sold on it and knew it would be the perfect read for autumn. Young’s writing in this novel truly sets the reader up for that autumn magic atmosphere between the magic, reading of tea leaves, the island’s orchard, etc. I really loved how the tourists coming to Saiorse saw things basically only at the surface level but didn’t truly know anything about the island’s true self. It really felt as though the island was an actual character in the story and not just the setting. As I read, I loved every moment of traveling all over the island as it was described and as the scenes were set. In addition to falling in love with Saiorse, I adored Emery and August. I desperately wanted the truth to come out about August’s past because I could just feel that everyone had the wrong idea about him. And just when you think you know what happened, both to Lily and the orchard, you realize you had no idea. The final reveal was shocking. The whole story reminded me of a cross between Practical Magic and an episode of Supernatural (specifically season 1 episode 11: Scarecrow). Everything about this book was exactly what I was hoping it to be. I fell so hard for this book and definitely had to get a finished copy for my collection. Highly recommended for an autumn read especially if you’re in the mood for that misty island/witchy feel.

5 Stars

I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

The Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth

Published April 4, 2022 by St. Martin’s Press

346 Pages

Goodreads Summary: THE HUSBAND: A heart surgeon at the top of his field, Stephen Aston is getting married again. But first he must divorce his current wife, even though she can no longer speak for herself. THE DAUGHTERS: Tully and Rachel Aston look upon their father’s fiancée, Heather, as nothing but an interloper. Heather is younger than both of them. Clearly, she’s after their father’s money. THE FORMER WIFE: With their mother in a precarious position, Tully and Rachel are determined to get to the truth about their family’s secrets, the new wife closing in, and who their father really is. THE YOUNGER WIFE: Heather has secrets of her own. Will getting to the truth unleash the most dangerous impulses in all of them?

Review: This was my first novel by Sally Hepworth and it definitely will not be my last. I was intrigued from the very beginning. The book starts out on the day of the wedding and things quickly take a turn for the worst and then rewind to how it all began. The book is told in alternating POVs of Tully, Rachel, and Heather. With each chapter new details are revealed and each one is more twisted than the last. In addition to the main plot line, each of the women have additional things going on in their own lives that have an effect on the story. Each woman is dealing with things from the past that are affecting their present lives and it really added depth to their characters. This book definitely kept me guessing on how it was going to end and when the final twist was revealed I will admit that I was shocked! Overall I really enjoyed reading this book and look forward to reading more from Sally Hepworth in the future.

Content Warning: Domestic violence, murder, rape, eating disorder, kleptomania

4 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.