Always the First to Die by R.J. Jacobs

Always the First to Die by R.J. Jacobs

Always the First to Die has a lot of good components - a category 4 hurricane, an island with no power, and a dilapidated estate. It makes for a very atmospheric novel. As a teen, Lexi was cast in the now-iconic horror movie Breathless filmed in the Florida Keys at Pinecrest Estate. It’s a summer she’ll never forget: falling in love with the son of the legendary movie director and learning the “curse” of Pinecrest is real when someone dies on set. Years later, Lexi finds herself racing back to the Keys in the wake of a hurricane to find her daughter who is visiting her grandfather at Pinecrest, the place where her husband died in mysterious circumstances just a year ago. Now Lexi’s life will turn into a real-life horror movie as she reckons with her past and avoids ending up dead. The story alternates to the present and back to 1998 when Breathless was being filmed. The horror movie theme is...
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Friend of the Devil by Stephen Lloyd

Friend of the Devil by Stephen Lloyd

Friend of the Devil is set at a posh boarding school on its own island off the coast of Massachusetts. The school, Danforth Putnam, also serves as an orphanage and has for ages. We've got the typical mix of high school kids, nerds, over-achievers, bullies, and staff who range from caring to a little nutty. Into this mix comes Sam, an insurance investigator on the trail of a valuable lost book. Friend of the Devil is slasher horror, with plenty of dead teenagers and lots of gore to slip in. Sam is kind of a hard-boiled detective not above threatening the kids on campus. Harriet, the school reporter, is also digging around, and they both uncover more than they expect. You know how some slasher movies and scary and some are lighter, despite the jump scares. This falls in that second camp. It's funny and over the top. You know who the monster's going to target, you know it's going to be...
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The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

The Book of Cold Cases by Simone St. James

The Book of Cold Cases is atmospheric, suspenseful, and a bit spooky. Shea Collins works as a receptionist in a medical office, but her true passion is her website, the Book of Cold Cases. She writes about unsolved murders, a project inspired by her own abduction as a child. Divorced and alone, she has few friends aside from her sister, Esther, and an ex-cop, Michael, who helps her with research. Then a client comes into the office: Beth Greer, who was charged and acquitted for the murders of two men in 1977. When Shea asks rich and aloof Beth for an interview, Beth surprisingly agrees. Shea gets sucked into the case, talking to Beth, Beth's lawyer, the police officer who was assigned to the case back then, anyone she can find with a connection. But the closer Shea gets to the truth, the more troubling and threatening the past becomes. We've got two timelines, 2017 when the book is set and forty...
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My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

My Heart Is a Chainsaw by Stephen Graham Jones

As I was thinking about what I was going to write about My Heart Is a Chainsaw, I had mixed feelings. Jade, the main character, is amazing in a damaged, determined, outsider way, but I didn't like where the story left her at the end. Actually, I didn't like how the story treated her all the way through. Even the adults that cared were disappointing. But I didn't realize it was the first in a planned trilogy. That gives me hope. Jade story isn't over. The opening of My Heart is a Chainsaw is perfect, sets the mood just right. Then we meet Jade. She's seventeen, knows all there is to know about slasher movies, and has a terrible home life. Things aren't much better at school or work either. When a new girl shows up, a potential final girl, Jade sees what she believes is a slasher cycle starting in her small town. The book moves slowly in parts, but...
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Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Harrow the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

First of all Harrow is not an easy read. It's absolutely necessary to read Gideon the Ninth first then take a short break before reading this one. At least, I had to take a break. I tried going from one right into the other and found I wasn't quite ready to immerse in that world again, but maybe that's just me. It's a dark, tense world and the writing style is very distinct, which is both good in the fact that it makes it mysterious and memorable, but also meant I needed a breather. Harrow has become a lychtor, a superpowerful, immortal magical necromance knight to the Necrolord Prime, the Undying Emperor — we know that — probably. In the present, told in the second person, Harrow is having a tough time. While she is an amazing bone magician, she's finding the process of becoming a true lychtor difficult, if not impossible. Sadly enough, we have no Gideon here, just...
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Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir

So I loved Gideon the Ninth. She sucked me right in with her attitude, her snarkiness, her sword. She's a fabulous character. She will tell the world she doesn't care, but at the same time is fiercely loyal and honestly cares about the other on this adventure. She is Cavalier to Harrowhark, Reverend Daughter of the Ninth House, ruler of their home planet. Harrowhark and the necromancer heirs of the other houses have all been brought Canaan House with possibility of becoming Lyctors, powerful, nearly immortal generals in the Emperor/God's army. Gideon the Ninth is maybe sci-fi. It takes place in space, there were a couple of space shuttles, but it is much more fantasy/horror. All the combat is hand to hand or with swords. Gideon and Harrowhark, her master/crush/frenemy, are exploring what basically a gothic space castle with skeleton servants and words written in blood that appear on the walls. Or maybe it's a murder mystery. The Emperor has...
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