REVIEW – The Residence by Andrew Pyper

“It was the dead who did it. The house was full of them.”

Something terrifying is happening in the White House (I mean, the jokes just write themselves at this point…) But seriously. Not long after Franklin Pierce is elected president, his son dies in a horrific train accident. When Franklin and his wife, Jane, move into the White House, that’s when the real terror begins.

PHEW. This book is a doozy. It’s definitely creepy but, more importantly, it’s incredibly sad. It’s hard enough reading about grieving parents, but when you add some really terrifying, demonic elements to that, it’s gut-wrenching. The opening especially is just chilling and heartbreakingly sad.

You see, Jane accidentally summoned some sort of malevolent presence when she was a young girl, and this presence has been tormenting and influencing her ever since. Is it responsible for the tragedy in her life? Probably. This presence seems to feed off of terror and grief and sadness. The book does seem a little repetitive at times (especially the scenes in the boy’s staged bedroom) but there are some parts that will stick with readers long after they’ve left the White House.

Also I would HIGHLY recommend reading the Author’s Note at the end! It’s absolutely terrifying and makes the book that much better. I mean, is it really hard to imagine that the White House is actually haunted?

Content warning: death of a child, suicidal thoughts

Thank you Gallery Books / Skybound Books for the finished copy!

REVIEW – The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix

“I wanted to pit Dracula against my mom. As you’ll see, it’s not a fair fight.”

Full disclosure: this is only the second Grady Hendrix book i’ve read. However, I can confidently say he’s perfected the balance of campy, fun (and funny!) horror with some pretty dark and creepy stuff. This book follows a group of “respectable Southern ladies” in the late 80s and early 90s who enjoy “trashy” true crime novels. When a stranger moves in down the street, things get…weird (i’m sure from the title, you know where this is going).

This book has some GROSS scenes, but they’re balanced with laugh out loud moments. However, one scene in particular was absolutely terrifying and played to exactly a specific scenario that gives me major anxiety (and it was done PERFECTLY). Obviously, as with a lot of horror, content warnings abound.

If you’ve been thinking of reading some Grady Hendrix, what are you waiting for?

REVIEW – Standalone by Paul Michael Anderson

“What you want and what existence needs are sometimes two different things.”

I had so much fun reading Standalone! I would recommend going into this one as blind as possible – there are some fun little Easter eggs here that will delight horror movie fans. There’s a LOT of plot and action packed into such a short little book, but it makes for a fun, quick read. This is definitely more sci-fi than it is horror (at least in my humble opinion) but there’s definitely some creepy, gory imagery that will shock and delight readers.

It’s worth noting: there’s a bonus story at the end of this book that expands on what the reader learns while reading Standalone. Don’t skip it!

REVIEW – The Bright Lands by John Fram

“We inherited this town. We all did. That don’t mean we have to love everything about it.”

The Bright Lands is…something different. It’s marketed as sort of a thriller/horror, and there’s for sure a Stephen King vibe at work here. Told from multiple perspectives, The Bright Lands is a slow burn that eventually leads to something pretty horrific (and, much like in King novels, the most horrific things could be entirely feasible in real life, at least to a point).

Joel has returned to his small hometown in Texas after some concerning text messages from his younger brother, Dylan. You see, Dylan is the quarterback for the local high school football team. The most promising athlete to come out of their tiny town, with the NFL being a very real possibility in his future. But Dylan doesn’t want to play football anymore, and he says a few things that remind Joel of why he left Bentley ten years before.

I won’t spoil too much, but i’ll give you a basic overview: Dylan goes missing. His friends and teammates seem to know more than they let on. Some of the adults are super shady and a little too involved with the lives of the local high school kids. I’ll let you guess what happens from there, but I doubt you’re right.

Some parts of this book are incredibly uncomfortable to read – it’s one of those books where you’re dying to know what happens but you’re relieved to finish the book because the atmosphere is so creepy.

Content warning: racism, homophobia, sexual assault, hate crimes, drug addiction/abuse, the list goes on…