Hello all, and welcome to my Spooky October monthly wrap-up where I had been reading books within the horror genre. I did make a couple of changes to my reading list for the month, and was also not able to read as many titles as I wanted to as one of these changes resulted in chonker of a story which surprisingly turned out to be much better than I’ve anticipated.
NB. Books are rated within its genre. For avoidance of doubt, rereads are not considered for Book of the Month.
Book of the Month
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
My book of the month turned out to be one that was not exactly planned. It was the sublime combination of a darkly whimsical and wondrous tale of a young boy growing up amongst ghosts and supernatural beings, and the perfect narration by Neil Gaiman that turned this into the best book that I’ve experienced in the month of October. Beautifully written with wonderful characterisation that didn’t take too long to sink its hooks on the reader, The Graveyard Book is one that will stand the test of time in my opinion.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Empire of the Vampire (Empire of the Vampire, #1) by Jay Kristoff
This was a book of two halves. While I enjoyed the first half enough thanks to the fascinating worldbuilding, the narrative choice of flipping between two timelines made it a bit harder to feel invested in the characters at this stage. Pretty much most of the characters at the beginning of the book were not likeable. While I didn’t have much of an issue with young Gabriel de Leon even though he was riddled with angst, the older version of him appeared to be a real bastard of a person. However, as the story progresses I started to empathise with him more as I begun to understand what it could have happened that made him so. Thankfully, the story and characterisation became much, much, better about halfway through the book. Together with the utterly intriguing vampire lore and seriously cool conceptualisation of the Silversaints, I was pretty much in love with this book when it came to a climactic end, and in desperate need for the next book to come around. One thing I have to say was that it definitely felt like Empire of the Vampire was inspired by quite a few popular books/series, but instead of just being derivative, Kristoff used those ideas to great effect to create a fascinating story in a captivatingly dark world.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
It by Stephen King
I was astounded that the book which I’ve dreaded to read for so long became the best Stephen King book that I’ve read so far. It was the next book in my journey through The Dark Tower reading order after I finished The Eyes of the Dragon back in June. I’ve held back for so long because, well, I was afraid. This could very well be the book that made clowns so darn scary, and the trailers for the latest movies didn’t help assuage my dread. Surprisingly enough, while it was a really scary book, I actually managed to get through it without losing much sleep.
Compared to The Shining and The Stand, two other highly-acclaimed and immensely popular King books, I enjoyed It more. The characterisation of the main characters, both as kids and adults, were really well done. The narrative structure of the story was fascinating and kept me engaged as I gradually found out what really happened 27 years ago as the adult MCs themselves regained their memories. Thematically, this was more than just a horror story about a monster, as it dealt with a range of the good and evil of humanity itself. Some of the humans in this tale was as monstrous, if not more, than the monster Itself. Admittedly, there were some sections which were either super trippy or sat really uncomfortably with me and hence why I couldn’t really give it the full 5-stars.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
I could see why this tale is a classic – dark and beautiful at the same time. However, even though the prose was poetic, I found it to be overwrought and wordy. I had to struggle to dig into the story as I was overwhelmed by the writing. Perhaps this will fare better upon a reread as the story itself was really good.
My ratings: 3 of 5 stars.
Small Spaces (Small Spaces, #1) by Katherine Arden
Katherine Arden can write atmospheric as proven in her Winternight Trilogy, which I absolutely loved. Her debut Middle Grade horror was no different, and Small Spaces was as creepy as it could get without going overboard for the target audience. Clowns might be the worst, but I found scarecrows to be almost just as bad (take a good look at the cover). The main cast were all very likeable as well, especially the character, Ollie, a delightfully precocious young lady. I’ll definitely be reading more from this series to see what Ollie and her best friends, Coco and Brian, are up to next.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Creepy, atmospheric as a gothic horrow should be, but oh my goodness, it was uncomfortably weird. There were some parts that were almost unbearable, and I don’t mean in an outright scary way but gut-churningly horrific. Characterisation was also a mixed bag and hence, I’ve mixed feelings about this as a whole. Fortunately, it didn’t actually put me off one of my favourite foods, mushrooms.
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
What’s Next in November
November is Science Fiction month and I’ve kicked it off with The Doors of Eden by Adrian Tchaikovsky. Aside from sci-fi, I’ll definitely be reading my most anticipated book of 2022 – The Lost Metal by Brandon Sanderson – the concluding volume of the Mistborn era 2 series.