Book Review – The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman

The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



In The Widow’s House by Carol Goodman, couple Jess and Clare Martin travel from New York City to the New York countryside where Clare grew up, to get away from their troubles and to repair their marriage. Or so Clare is led to believe. They become caretakers of the house of their old, wealthy writing instructor, but are uneasy as ghosts, both real and imagined, start to come out of the house.

This is the second novel I’ve read by Carol Goodman; the first I read was The Lake of Dead Languages. Overall, I very much enjoyed this novel. The atmosphere of Riven House was palpable – you could feel the secrets seeping out of its walls (sometimes literally!). Adding the touch of Winter to the landscape as well made this novel a bona fide ghost story (like in The Children of Green Knowe), even if the ghosts were only in the characters’ minds.

The characters were good, and mostly believable. There were times, however, when their decisions didn’t feel so realistic – though if you are frightened out of your wits, how realistic can you actually be? For Clare, though, Goodman did a fantastic job narrating the mind of someone who is almost certainly paranoid and delusional, but whose delusions are proved to be based in reality more and more over time. By the end of the story, you can’t be certain if Clare has overcome her paranoia or has been more soundly rooted to it. But, after reading her story, you can’t blame her for it, instead you feel empathy, like you feel that you yourself have her wits. And that is why Goodman’s characters are so well-written, even if I very much don’t agree with a lot of their decisions.

These themes, atmosphere, and characters (especially the crazy wife) recall such stories as The Yellow Wallpaper, Dragonwyck, and Jane Eyre, making this book feel wonderfully gothic, and a short version of the Bildungsroman story.

The Widow’s House was a good book to end the Autumn season with. I still like The Lake of Dead Languages much better, I felt it was a more interesting story, but that could just be because I’m biased towards people who study Latin. This story was still very compelling and had me anxious for Clare through to the end.



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Reading in the Autumn Time – Ghost Stories, Dark Academia, and the Autumnal Atmosphere

Autumn is my favorite time to read. It is the beginning of the cozy season — perfect for snuggling under the blankets with a sweater and a hot cup of something (tea or hot chocolate for me). It is also the time of Halloween, when the threshold of the living and the dead, of stories and reality, gets blurred. It is also a time of learning. School is starting for many, and there is a scholarly air about the place. The possibilities of growth and knowledge begin once more. I wake up craving the written word, and indeed craving to write my own.

It is my favorite time. The stories I read feel more alive, and the possibilities they promise all the more endless.

I wanted to share the types of books I love to read during this season, and what each genre and its books adds to my own Autumnal atmosphere. Perhaps you will find a book or two to make your Autumn cozier, spookier, or to add to your never-ending quest for knowledge.

*Note: many of these genres and aesthetics overlap, so I will cover what specifics I can.

1. The Cozy Mystery

Photo by Svitlana on Unsplash

For peak coziness, there is nothing better to curl up with than a cozy mystery. Give me Autumn, small town, unexpected intrigue, and maybe a hint of magic, and I am ready for a crisp Autumn day. There’s something about these types of novels that gives the reader a sense of hope. Often in these mysteries, the protagonist is a young adult who has moved somewhere new, started a new business, started a new school, etc. Someone who has started something new and who, with much trial and error, succeeds in the end. I think this is what we all hope life could be. Add the mystery and the intrigue, and you not only have the start of a new life, but the start of a new adventure. And several of my favorite adventures start off in the Autumn — The Lord of the Rings begins with Bilbo and Frodo’s birthdays, on September 22, the very start of Autumn.

The cozy mystery is not an invitation necessarily to go find your own adventure or mystery (though you may certainly do so!), but an invitation to start off the season with wonder, to see the miraculous in the mundane. Personally, I use these cozy mysteries to inspire a sense of adventure in my own home — when I am not sitting all cozy and reading the mystery, I will be starting new projects or creative pursuits (often trying to emulate the protagonist of the story I’m reading, who might just be a witch or a bookseller or some sort of artist: all things I want to be). I won’t go all out on these projects necessarily, but I will start them one step at a time, enjoying the figuring-it-out stages.

And that figuring-it-out portion is a crucial stage for the protagonists. Not only are they figuring out their new place in life, but also who they are and who they want to be. They are learning to be grounded within themselves, which is an essential part of the cozy season. I would like to talk more about this when I do an essay on reading in the Winter time.

Here are a few cozy mysteries I recommend that make me appreciate the cozy start to the season, with an added anticipation of new beginnings and the start of new endeavors:

— A Dark and Stormy Murder by Julia Buckley

This was my introduction to the bookish cozy mystery as an adult. I read it while I was completing grad school, which was the perfect time for me to need to feel like a cozy mystery protagonist. I was doing my degree in ancient literature, and our protagonist was moving to a new town to work with her favorite author on a new book — if that isn’t the dream of a lifetime! While I was not working with my favorite author on a new book, I was making valuable connections and writing meaningful things, and reading about someone starting a grand adventure helped me to value my own work just as much. All I was missing was the dark and stormy atmosphere of this mystery, though I was happy to do without the murder!

— In the Company of Witches by Auralee Wallace

It isn’t Halloween without some witches! Even the good kind, like the three witches in this cozy mystery. Think Sabrina the Teenage Witch meets Murder, She Wrote, though the main character in this is not as wise as Jessica Fletcher yet. This is a book about finding oneself again, about going back to one’s roots, and, of course, it’s about communicating with the dead. What better way to go back to one’s roots than to talk to the roots themselves?

— The Haunting of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes

I know I have talked this book to death, but it remains one of my favorite books of all time! Hickes combines the atmosphere of a cozy mystery with the wonderment of childhood, which I think a lot of other cozy mysteries could use (and I will come back to this idea in the Academia section). Aveline is starting a new adventure, but gets pulled into someone else’s story, and if she does not know herself, and trust her closest friends and family and the knowledge she has gained, then she may not survive the figuring-it-out stage of her own life.

2. Ghost Stories and the Haunted House

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The Haunting of Aveline Jones is a good segue into my real favorite genre of the Autumn season: ghost stories! These stories often take the protagonist of the cozy mystery and add danger to their journey. This is where self-reflection becomes crucial to survival, and, while wonderment is encouraged, it does not do to second-guess.

This is where the line between the living and the dead, between stories and truth disappears. It sends the heart racing, makes you feel the most alive. I have talked about ghost stories and their importance so often, as you my readers will know, and I will never stop. Ghost stories are vital. They become fodder in the Winter time, but in this, the Autumn time, they are the gateway into that strange land that Ray Bradbury calls the “October Country.”

The haunted house is that place in which all the terrors and strangeness of the Autumn are kept and maintained. It is where the threshold can physically be seen, and those who cross it do so with warning. But they can’t help it. The sense of wonder, of possibility that there might be something there that we haven’t encountered, is too tempting to resist. Often, the protagonists who enter these houses do so without a proper sense of the self, which is the most dangerous thing to lack for fear of it being stolen away by powers beyond our control. And if they try figuring themselves out along the way, it is often too little too late. But not always!

I love to spook myself with these stories. They make me so curious in ways I would not be with any other type of story — even sci-fi could not spark my sense of wonder like the possibility of ghosts and other worlds within our own. I know I’ve spent a lot of this essay talking about the figuring-it-out part of the self, but sometimes I like to read these stories to get a sense of things outside myself, especially if I am trying to be cozy or if the state of my mental health means that I cannot seek the unknown in all the ways that I want to. Even without a physical adventure, these books are doorways to the unknown, and they are just as real.

Plus, who wouldn’t want to be spooked out of their wits near Halloween? Below are a few books that I recommend with the spookiest of atmospheres, the most haunted of houses, and those protagonists who cross the threshold into the dangers of the unknown. Do they fail on their quests? Read to find out!

— The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This is a classic, I’ve talked about it lots, and I’m sure most of you have read it. But it is the classic haunted house story for a reason. It is one of those ghost stories that never confirms whether the unknown beyond the threshold is real, which, in my opinion, is one of the truest terrors. Is it the ghosts of this house, or is it the haunted mind of the protagonist? We’ll never know, and the house wants to keep it that way.

— Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Gallant is as if Eleanor from The Haunting of Hill House encountered the haunting force of the house and overcame it. The orphan Olivia finds out she has an ancestral home and goes to live there. But that home has secrets, both about her and that which threaten her very life. Again, the house, Gallant, is the driving force of this story, guiding Olivia through the thresholds into the world unknown, and into unknown dangers. What I love about this particular haunted house story is that it is not only the house that is haunted, but the very land it stands on. The house, it seems, maintains the haunting force (n.b. by haunting force, I don’t always mean ghosts or dead people).

— Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Another classic! This story is less about a haunted house, but there are forces that haunt. In this book, Bradbury emphasizes the fact that the Autumn time ushers in the Autumn people, those who live just beyond the threshold of reality, those who might bring darkness to the waking world. I love the way Bradbury illustrates the effects of Autumn and its many forms on his characters — the dangers that can and will follow you, the temptations that come with it, same as any haunted house. The carnival that comes to town promises wonder, but crossing that threshold and mingling with its people may bring terrors that stay with you. I love it. I love how unsettling this book paints the season. No other book illustrates the haunting atmosphere of Autumn as well as this one.

3. Dark Academia (and academia in general)

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What better time to start reading Dark Academia (and any literature in the academia aesthetic) than in the Autumn, the start of the school year and the darker months. This genre often uses elements from both our cozy mystery category and the ghost story. The protagonist is in the pursuit of something new, but crosses the threshold into a place that will either take them to some great adventure, or will lead them into danger.

If you have been reading my book reviews, you’ll know that I don’t read (Dark) Academia books in which the protagonists are, to put it bluntly, terrible people (see The Secret History) and don’t actually try to learn anything. In all of the Academia books that I like and that inspire me, the protagonist is working to overcome trials, to gain knowledge, and they usually come out better for it. And many of these trials, of course, are of the spooky or Autumnal variety.

— Equal Rites by Terry Pratchett

Kiki’s Delivery Service meets Monty Python (sort of). If you want cranky witches who criticize the education system of elite wizards, then this is the book for you. This has all the elements of Dark Academia — facing obstacles at a university, overcoming dark academics (in this case, discovering and overcoming an unknown dark magic), friendship, etc. While this book doesn’t make me want to go to Unseen University to study with the wizards, you bet that I want to go study with Granny Weatherwax. She is a witch that takes no nonsense, that pushes for equal education, but who will also tell you to pace yourself so you don’t explode. All Dark Academia books need a Granny Weatherwax.

— The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

This amazingly intricate story does not take place in a school, but has its beginnings in a secret library! Our protagonist goes to this library to choose a book that will shape the rest of his life. The rest of the book is about this young man trying to discover what happened to the author of the book he found. There is intrigue, mysteries, and hidden knowledge, and those who would keep our protagonists from learning the truth. What I love about this book is that the protagonist’s thirst for knowledge is insatiable. Reading this book makes me want to go discover new things, secret things, which definitely aligns with my love of studying folklore.

— Uprooted by Naomi Novik

There is no complete list of academia-themed books that doesn’t include the pursuit of magical knowledge, and that is Uprooted in a nutshell. This book is all about the protagonist, Agnieska, learning about magic, all while trying to figure out a way to deal with the growing threats of the woods (which happens to be very Autumnal!). In this story, Agnieska learns magic, but also learns about herself, what her role in the world is. I can almost think of her story as the origin story of Granny Weatherwax, for they are both no-nonsense witches whom I want to befriend.

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I want to recommend a couple more books that have to do with Academia, but in that they are academic books themselves and are meant for learning and study, but no less share that Autumnal atmosphere.

The first is The Ghost by Susan Owens, which is a survey of the idea of the ghost in many different cultures and time periods. Want to know why the ghost treads that threshold between life and death? The Ghost can tell you why the ancients thought so!

The second is not a reference, but it is an ancient work: The Aeneid by Vergil. This epic poem, through the mythology of their origins, illustrates the cultural and historical aspects that were important to ancient Rome. My favorite is Book 6, in which Aeneas, our hero, must make a journey down to the Underworld. Are there ghosts? You bet! In addition, you will be reading something from the pinnacle of academic cannon that has to do with death in the ancient world, and what could be more Dark Academia than that?! (And if you can read it in Latin, that is even better!)

This is the best time to start with learning something new, so that the momentum of learning stays through the Winter. In addition to reading new books, Academia or no, I also want to learn new things, academic or no. I love taking the Autumn time to learn new recipes, to work on my target language (which happens to be French right now, yay Canada), or to learn a new craft (right now I am working on watercolor painting!). Learning is not restricted to Academia, though it is a nice reading genre to get you in the mood for learning! And if it gets you in the mood to learn about the spooky season, so much the better!

*Also remember that Academia does not have to be dark, it does not have to be hard, or elite. What it does have to be is an interesting way to gain knowledge for everyone.*

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And there you have it, these are my favorite genres and atmospheres to experience in the Autumn reading season. These are by no means the limit to what the atmosphere of Autumn should be like, but these are what I like and I feel I come out all the better because of them.

I hope you all get inspired to find enjoyment in being cozy, starting a new adventure — whether it is learning something new or starting a new project — or seeking the unknown thresholds of the worlds beyond our world, even if that threshold is simply the written word.

But most of all, I hope you have the best reading season! Let me know some of your favorite books that capture the different atmospheres of Autumn.

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A TBR is Not to be Completed – My TBR and what I wish for the future.

A TBR is not to be completed. All over the bookish community, I see readers rushing to finish their to-be-reads, stressing over what they haven’t read, haven’t accomplished. But a TBR is not something to accomplish. It is not a road marker of achievement or failure. A TBR is a list of dreams of faraway places and wishes of new lives, hopes for the future, and a willingness to try.

That was a bit more poetic than I had originally intended, but you get the idea. I don’t want to think of my TBRs as a future of failure, cause I know I will never complete it, either because it is too long or my reading tastes change. A TBR should be something to look forward to, to think about, and I love thinking about it, even if I never read all (or any) of the books on the list. So, without further ado, I will talk about a few of the books on my TBR this Fall, why they are on my TBR, and whether I think I will actually get to read them.

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The first book is What Moves The Dead by T. Kingfisher. I’ve actually already started the audiobook on Scribd, and I am enjoying it so far. I picked this book because not only did it sound super spooky and gothic – which is right up my alley – but it is a retelling of The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allen Poe, one of my favorite Poe short stories.

I started reading it today, actually, to kick off September and the coming cozy month with a spooky read (not that I will ever stop reading spooky books at any given time). And what hopes do I have for this book? Well, I am starting to write my own spooky short fiction, and I am getting inspiration for style and topics. I have a lot of ideas brewing in my head, and reading more spooks only helps to solidify these ideas.

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Next are the books in the witches series from the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett. These books include Equal Rites (which I’ve already read), Wyrd Sisters, Witches Abroad, Lords and Ladies, Maskerade, and Carpe Jugulum. All of these books feature Nanny Weatherwax as a main character, and I will tell you all that I want to be like her as I grow older: no-nonsense, knows how to navigate life and the toughest people, again doesn’t take shit, and is a witch!

I don’t know if I’ll get to all the books in this series in the Fall, or ever, but I know they are there for when I want to dream of being a witch again. I will say, Equal Rites is a good book to read if you like Studio Ghibli, especially Kiki’s Delivery Service or Howl’s Moving Castle. I think at some point we all want to be in a Ghibli Setting, and the Discworld witch series definitely makes you feel like you’re in one.

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Coming out in October is The Vanishing of Avenline Jones by Phil Hickes. Readers of my reviews, you will know that I have loved the first two books in the Aveline Jones series, and I cannot wait until the third one this Fall! These books are fantastically spooky, but, personally, they make me think of my childhood and how much I loved ghosts and still do. I poured over every piece of material I could find about ghosts on the internet starting at age 11. I think the only difference between Aveline and 11-year-old me was that she encountered dangerous ghosts, whereas mine were far more subtle or simply not there. Didn’t stop me from looking though, just like Aveline. I want to read more of her story for the nostalgia of my childhood, and the possibility of ghosts that still remains in my sense of wonder. This book I will definitely read. It’s pretty easy to get through with Hickes’ amazing writing style and atmospheres.

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And there you have it: these are the books I know are absolutely on my TBR so far. There are others on my radar, but I am not sure I will read them yet. These books promise whimsy and wonder – two things I think everyone needs in life – the imaginings I have of being a witch or a whisperer of ghosts; and something wonderful to look forward to in the coming months. These are not books that I am going to push myself to finish. They are books I think I will love and that I want to enjoy and savor while I read them. And if I don’t like them or feel I can’t finish them, that’s okay. It’s not a failure or a broken dream. It’s just a change, and that’s okay.

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Book Review – Gallant by V.E. Schwab

Gallant by V.E. Schwab

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Gallant by V.E. Schwab is about Olivia, who cannot speak, but who can see ghosts. One day, she receives a letter at her orphanage/school from her uncle, asking her to come home to her family estate, Gallant. When she gets there, however, she finds that her uncle did not in fact write her that letter. So what brought her to Gallant? And why had her mother warned Olivia, in the journal she left behind, to stay away?

V.E. Schwab has written the perfect haunted house/gothic tale in Gallant. It has hints of The Haunting of Hill House and Crimson Peak mixed in with Coraline. I loved the juxtaposition of life versus death, of mirrored worlds where the reflection is lifeless. To me, this is true horror, the true fear of what lies on the other side of the threshold – it’s what we see when we think of the Faerie realm, of the place over the garden wall, and Schwab captures that terror so wonderfully.

I really don’t have anything I disliked about this book, so I will talk more about the things I did like. I liked the atmosphere of Gallant, how it was definitely spooky, but also definitely alive with something.
I loved the way Schwab portrayed the ghosts (or ghouls in this book), and the system within which they worked – seen by Olivia, and even able to be manipulated to an extent that made a lot of sense for this story. A lot of ghost stories I’ve read fall short on their representation of ghosts, but this one joins the ranks of Shirley Jackson, and even Edgar Allen Poe.
I liked the characters, too. How Schwab portrayed their pain and grief so well, how she portrayed Olivia’s lack of understanding of this grief in the beginning, and led her to understand it later. The characters (the ones on our side) are warm, are a family, are what you want for the hero who must (very literally) face death.

I don’t want to say any more because that would spoil the story. But this book was nothing short of perfection, and I really want V.E. Schwab to write more ghost stories in this style.



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Book Review – The Drifter by Richie Tankersley Cusick

The Drifter by Richie Tankersley Cusick

My rating: 3 of 5 stars



The Drifter by Richie Tankersley Cusick is about Carolyn and her mother, who, after the death of Carolyn’s father, find out that they’ve inherited an old house from their old aunt. Carolyn’s mother desires to turn the old house into a bed and breakfast. But Carolyn doesn’t like the idea, especially considering its location – right on the cliffs over the sea in dense fog – and considering is grisly history. Soon, the history of the old house comes out to haunt Carolyn.

This book was wonderfully atmospheric and spooky. I love haunted stories that take place by the sea, spooky or no (see The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, The Haunting of Aveline Jones), and I am adding this book to that list of mine. Cusick has such a talent for making a location – haunted house, haunted school, haunted seaside cliffs – the most frightening place you could ever go. I was on the edge of my seat worried for Carolyn in that old house; I am sure I started hyperventilating at some point.

There were points in the plot and aspects of the characters, however, that I didn’t like as much. For one thing, Cusick really knows how to make a character annoying. This is not necessarily a bad thing, and it makes sense for her stories. But I think I would like to have more chill, reasonable characters sometimes (like the brother in Trick or Treat). Carolyn also seems to trust or distrust other characters way too quickly: she doesn’t take enough time to process anything, but especially people she’s just met. Also, she really, really needs to stand up to her mother more.

The plot felt like things happened too quickly towards the end. I usually prefer very gradual revealings of different elements of a mystery, which is what I liked more about Trick or Treat. In this book, the beginning is slow with lots of atmosphere – this I liked. The end, though, hits you with a bunch of necessary plot points all at once. I would have liked to have gotten to know more in the beginning so that things would connect better later.

All of this said, I really did love the atmosphere of this book. I will definitely be reading more of Cusick’s work, and I am so happy there is a giant backlog of books of hers to read!

I read this book on Scribd



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Book Review – Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



In Trick or Treat, Martha, a sixteen-year-old high school student, moves into a new house with her dad, new step-mom and step-brother. She hates the situation, having been torn from her happy life in Chicago. Matters get worse, however, when she realizes that the house they’ve moved into, with its long hallways and secret passages, has a dark history she must soon contend with. Even worse, she might have to just get along with her new brother to survive.

You all know I love my spooky stories, my haunted houses, and this book had everything I wanted and more.
Here is what I loved about the book:

I loved the way the house is portrayed. You can imagine it as a house like Hill House or Hell House or Bly Manor, not just because the house is imagined so detailed and labyrinthine, but because you can feel the heaviness of its history (whether embodied by a ghost or not). I felt actual fear for the protagonists when they became trapped in the house’s winding passages, stuck in the dark with the evil of that house. I also loved the imagery of the woods surrounding the house, as if not only the house were trapping Martha, but the land as well.

I loved the way the history of the house was written, and how it was reflected in all the important characters of this story. For Martha and Conor, her new brother, it is walking into something dark, evil, and unknown; for Martha’s new friends, Blake and Wynn, it is reopening old wounds, but trying to move on the best they can (or so it would seem). For Martha and Conor’s parents, well, they couldn’t be more thrilled with a haunted house – I could get Martha’s frustration with them as she had her experiences.

There were few things I didn’t get on with in this book, but even these didn’t really affect my enjoyment of it. I didn’t really like how bratty Martha was (and even Conor, though he didn’t seem it). I understand why she was – moving to a new house with a whole new family – but it felt a bit much at times. I also wished that the book’s ending went beyond just the end of the mystery. Lots of horror/thriller books do this, but I do wish we could see their lives getting back to normal, or that we could see them coming to terms with their new life. Again, though, this was not bad enough to ruin my enjoyment.

This is the perfect book to read during the spooky season and Halloween. I know Cusick wrote many other books like this, and I will be checking out more, especially during this coming October!


I read this book on Scribd.



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Book Review – Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



Dark Matter is a story about a broke young man in 1937, who joins a group going on an expedition to the Arctic. The trip north is fine, but once they get to their destination, the young man realizes that there are dark forces present there that wish them harm.

As most of you know, I LOVE ghost stories. But what I liked about this one, that I like in other stories like The Haunting of Hill House and The Turn of the Screw, was that we don’t always know what part of the haunting is real or is just in the head of the protagonist. In Dark Matter, there are elements of both. There is definitely some malevolent spirit haunting the shores of the Arctic campsite. However, the polar night and increasing cold do nothing to help the paranoia of our protagonist. And I love this. I love that the protagonist is being haunted by both spirits and himself, and has to contend with the long darkness of winter. And as he says about the darkness:

“Fear of the dark. Until I came here, I thought that was for children; that you grew out of it. But it never really goes away. It’s always there underneath. The oldest fear of all.”

This is a very ruminating book, where the protagonist, writing in a journal, analyzes everything around him, including the behaviors of his companions and of himself. There isn’t a whole lot of action, but neither is the book particularly slow. There’s always something happening, though usually via the perceptions of the protagonist. I love that. I love a ruminating ghost story. It lets you know why there must be a ghost present for the protagonist to perceive. Michelle Paver writes this characterization and atmosphere so well.

I really want to read Paver’s other books now – I love the way she writes horror: it feels very much like the ghost stories written in the early 20th century (which are often my favorites). I recommend this book to those who want a chilling (literally) ghost story. I also recommend listening to the audiobook. Ghost stories were meant to be told aloud, and Dark Matter is great as an oral story. I listened to the fantastic narration by Jeremy Northam.



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Book Review – Slade House by David Mitchell

Slade House by David Mitchell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Slade House is a chilling, paranormal story – actually series of short, related stories – about a house and a set of twins who defy the laws of time and decay.

This book is like Coraline for adults, but without any inkling of warmth. Not to say that that’s a bad thing – this book is meant to feel cold, to feel fake and empty, to feel like a void, and it does it well.
I think, however, it was a little too empty and cold for me personally. But it was still a compelling read.

Here’s what I liked:

I liked that each character who gets lured to Slade House is already facing the brink of their own void. They come into this haunting already fragile, and that is why they are lost. I do wish that some of the characters had better qualities about them (I think Sally was the only one I actually empathized with), but that would mean they might not have been ripe for the picking.

I liked the atmosphere. This book is so wonderfully atmospheric, and David Mitchell makes each guest’s experience of Slade House different enough that you feel like you are yourself in a dream with them. The atmosphere of Slade House and its many forms is oppressive, in a way that sucks you in and refuses to let you go.

The biggest complaint that I have is that the book doesn’t go into the hauntings enough. Not of the house or the twins, but of the guests lost to Slade House. In the beginning, we get images of ghosts and their “residue,” but by the last couple of guests, the story has very little mention of these hauntings. I do wish we had seen more involvement from the ghostly inhabitants, maybe find out what happens to them in the end.

Overall, Slade House is a compelling book with a chilling and heavy atmosphere that will leave you wondering if it had all been a dream. I recommend it to those who liked books like Coraline, and other chilling haunts.



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Book Review – The Children of Green Knowe by L.M. Boston

The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston

My rating: 4 of 5 stars



The Children of Green Knowe by Lucy M. Boston is about Tolly, a boy who goes to stay with his great-grandmother in the castle-like home Green Knowe, or Green Noah. There, Tolly not only finds a kindred spirit in his great-grandmother, but also in the animals, and actual spirits that reside at Green Noah.

This was such a lovely read, one I know my childhood self would have loved too. I discovered this book when I was reading Wintering by Katherine May. May said that this was a favorite ghost story that she liked to read during the winter months, and so of course I had to read it too. I wouldn’t necessarily call this book a ghost story – the spirits in this book didn’t feel negative or haunting in any way. Rather, I would call this a child’s adventure with a gothic feel. Actually, it sort of reads like The Turn of the Screw but with a lot more adventure and positivity. I very much enjoyed The Turn of the Screw, and I think that, plus the sense of adventure, was why I very much enjoyed Green Knowe.

Tolly is my ideal type of kid: imaginative, playing pretend, with a sense of adventure, and a love of ghosts-that-might-be-friends. He is akin to many of my other favorite literary characters: Aveline Jones, Tilly from Pages & Co., the narrator from The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Hilda, and many others.
His great-grandmother has this sort of spirit and personality as well, and I so want to be like her as I grow through my life.

This book is simply written, but the imagination within is so alive with adventure and stories. I did also like the parts where Tolly’s great-grandmother told him stories by the fire – it made the whole thing so very cozy, especially now in the last of the winter months.

I recommend this book to those who want a quiet and cozy adventure in a gothic setting to bring them back to their childhood.



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Book Review – The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes

The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Bewitching of Aveline Jones by Phil Hickes


I am so, so happy that the first book I finished for 2022 was The Bewitching of Aveline Jones! I have been waiting to read this book after I read The Haunting of Aveline Jones last year, and just like that first book, this wonderful sequel did not disappoint.

In this book, Hickes brings back Aveline and her friend Harold into another dark and haunting mystery. However, instead of just an angry ghost to contend with, they have to deal with witches too. Now that was a great combination of paranormal plots!

As usual, I loved the haunting and paranormal elements that Hickes wrote. I also loved the folklore elements that he brought into this sequel – about the witches of England and the ways people used to ward against them (some of which I had only heard about recently from the Lore Podcast!). There are other elements of folklore that are included that I cannot mention (spoilers), but every single bit of folklore adds wonderful things to the story.

As always, I loved Aveline as a character. She reminds me so much of myself when I was around her age – always eager for the supernatural and the macabre. But The Bewitching of Aveline Jones also shows her ability to be the best of friends, and to be compassionate to those who are in need. She is a wonderful character, and I wish I had known about her when I was her age.

I do wish we had seen a bit more of Mr. Lieberman and Aveline’s aunt, I really enjoyed them in the first book. But this book featured Harold a lot, and I quite enjoyed his part in the story. What a knowledgeable lad!

I can predict that this is already going to be my top book for 2022, it was so good. This book and the first are easily two of my favorite books of all time. What a way to start the year!



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