Halloween Read-A-Thon Review: The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich



The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Genre: Horror / Young Adult

Publisher: Orion, 2015

My Rating: 5_star_rating_system_3_stars

Synopsis: Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High School burned down. The blaze killed three and injured twenty, and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. For two decades, little was revealed about what became known as the Johnson Incident.

Until now.

A diary has been found in the ruins of the school. In this diary, Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s twin, tells of the strange and disturbing sequence of events leading to the incident.

But Kaitlyn doesn’t exist. She never has.


My Review

This review is part of the Halloween Read-A-Thon hosted by Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews! I also reviewed I Am Legend here.

I really wanted to like this novel for two reasons:

  1. I was lucky enough to meet Dawn Kurtagich and get this book signed.
  2. I’m trying to give YA Horror a go, instead of just sticking to clearly adult Horror.

But however hard I tried, I just couldn’t enjoy this book as much as I wanted to.

I’ve seen mixed reviews for it. Some people have loved it, others just couldn’t get to grips with it, like me. It’s a novel with a promising premise, a truly unique one, and that definitely drew me in at the beginning. Carly and Kaitlyn are what some in the novel call “two souls in one body”. Carly manifests in the day, Kaitlyn at night. The sceptics, however, say that Carly is the real person and Kaitlyn a product of Dissociative Identity Disorder, an “alter” personality created by a traumatic event. It starts strong, dropping little hints about Carly and Kaitlyn’s life, creating unsettling details. But, for me, the first time I knew that this book had perhaps gone slightly astray was when a scene tried to shock me quite early on. I felt there hadn’t been enough build-up to warrant this sudden reveal of something scary and, as such, it didn’t freak me out.

I’ve read a fair few horror novels in my time that have genuinely terrified me, making my heart race as I read them, and keeping me up at night. However, The Dead House never managed this. And that’s what we read horror for, right? To feel scared. If you’re not scared, then the book isn’t doing its job. I think this book could perhaps be scary for some, as some reviewers have said, but it wasn’t scary enough for me. Is this because it’s Young Adult? Are the publishers trying to tone it down a bit? I’m not sure. After all, I’ve heard that Kurtagich’s second novel The Creeper Man is much scarier than The Dead House, and this novel did contain a fair amount of gore. It was the suspense and terror that was lacking.

So, why wasn’t I scared? Why couldn’t I get into this novel? Well, like I said, there was a “shock” scene too early on that killed the suspense trying to be created. But overall I think it was because the plot was quite muddied. There were a lot of different events that didn’t seem to correlate with one another. I won’t go into too much detail as I don’t want to give anything away, but all these interweaving sub-plots never satisfyingly tied together. From the beginning of the novel, we aren’t sure if this is a psychological horror or a paranormal horror. That ambiguity is there for a reason, yet neither side really explains its case coherently.

Honestly, I’m having trouble putting this into words because I’m still a bit confused about the entire plot. There was the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder and both Carly and Kaitlyn’s denial of that, there was a strange ghostly girl, there were random murders, there was a fictional Scottish magical mysticism known as “Mala”. Even though this all did intertwine, it just never felt right. Nothing quite clicked into place; there was no “aha!” moment. It just felt confused.

Also, I never warmed to the characters. It may seem like this book will be equal parts POV of Carly and Kaitlyn, but really it was just Kaitlyn. I never quite learned who Carly was and didn’t much care. I’m not sure if that was on purpose, however. Kaitlyn I would warm to and then grow distant from. It was a lot of back and forth and I couldn’t quite make up my mind about her. I know she was going through some tough stuff but I couldn’t connect, especially towards the end of the novel where some of her actions felt forced.

The other characters I wasn’t that bothered about. I think they all went to slightly unbelievable lengths to help Kaitlyn with her predicament. They were more pawns to get the plot moving than real people. The only one I warmed to a little was Carly and Kaitlyn’s school friend Naida. She was interesting, especially with all her Mala beliefs. That was perhaps the most exciting aspect of the novel, the Mala rituals and mysticism. However, it also got a bit tangled up by the ending. The climax was messy and a little rushed. I saw the big reveal coming, although I didn’t believe in it. It was another plot point that didn’t feel like it fit properly and the writing, whilst it started well, got harried towards the end.

So, sounds like this should be a one star review after I’ve been slagging it off so much! In actuality, it did have plus points. I really enjoyed the format in which it was written, with the diary entries, camera footage, interviews and files. I thought the changes between the formats were good and made me want to keep reading, to see what happened next. There were also interesting anecdotes from whoever supposedly compiled all this evidence together. Some of these could be quite unsettling at times.

I also obviously enjoyed the premise. Despite my grievances, I wanted to know what happened and there was no chance of me ever DNFing it. The novel showed a lot of promise. If it had been better organised and executed with more skill, it could have been really great. However, this is of course Kurtagich’s first novel so those are things I’m willing to overlook. I will definitely be picking up her second novel, The Creeper Man, because I’ve heard it’s much better and I’m keen to see if she’s improved.

Overall, it certainly wasn’t the scariest horror I’ve ever read, not to mention it was a messy plot and the characters were a bit bland, but I would recommend it to those who perhaps are scared quite easily yet want to see if they can get into horror slowly, or just get into the mood for Halloween.


And that concludes my part in the Halloween Read-A-Thon! I only had two horror novels to read but, if you’re still taking part, I hope you enjoy it! And thanks again to Lauren for organising it and making those great graphics!

Have you read The Dead House? What about The Creeper Man? (Or And The Trees Crept In for the US version). Did you enjoy them? Do you agree with my review? Disagree? Let me know in the comments below!




Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Horror Novels On My Wishlist


Top Ten Tuesday is a meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

This week’s theme is all centred around Halloween, one of my favourite times of the year (and also my Dad’s birthday). I’m a big fan of horror so I decided to do this week’s Top Ten Tuesday Halloween theme on 10 horror books I’m dying to buy.

If you want to see what horror books I’ve read and enjoyed, I did a post a few months ago and you can check it out here.

So, here are 10 Horror Books On My Wishlist:



The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED.

Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.

I know this isn’t a proper terrifying horror novel, but I’m starting this list off easy. I’ve seen a fair few people raving about Feed and I’m a massive zombie fan but, for some reason, I’ve just never got round to picking this series up. However, I know it’s more of a unique twist on the zombie apocalypse so I’m really intrigued to give this book a go.

Goodreads | Amazon UK


51suhtjb7ilThe lives of the Barretts, a suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents despair, the doctors are unable to halt Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls the terrifying events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories begin to surface and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed.

I can’t remember who, but I saw a blogger review this and enjoy it and since then it’s been on my wishlist. Possession stories can be hit and miss, yet if Stephen King likes it, I’m sold.

Goodreads | Amazon UK


51wd7fyg4elWhat if you only had 3 minutes to save your own life and the clock is already counting down…Three minutes. Nessa, Megan and Anto know that any day now they wake up alone in a horrible land and realise they’ve been Called. Two minutes. Like all teenagers they know that they’ll be hunted down and despite all their training only 1 in 10 will survive. One minute. And Nessa can’t run, her polio twisted legs mean she’ll never survive her Call will she? Time’s up.

I’ve been so hyped for this since its release and I can’t wait much longer! I’ve only seen glowing reviews of this book so I have very high hopes. It sounds like it has fantasy elements too. A horror-fantasy? What could be better?

Goodreads | Amazon UK


51mwcaml2bblOskar and Eli. In very different ways, they were both victims. Which is why, against the odds, they became friends. And how they came to depend on one another, for life itself. Oskar is a 12-year-old boy living with his mother on a dreary housing estate at the city’s edge. He dreams about his absentee father, gets bullied at school, and wets himself when he’s frightened. Eli is the young girl who moves in next door. She doesn’t go to school and never leaves the flat by day. She is a 200-year-old vampire, forever frozen in childhood, and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood.

I enjoyed the American film adaptation of this book, but I know that both the Swedish film and the Swedish book are much scarier, so I’m really keen to give both a go. The Scandi’s really know how to make something creepy.

Goodreads | Amazon UK


51cynf2baxhlFor sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, the New Hampshire College Prep program is the chance of a lifetime. Except that when Dan arrives, he finds that the usual summer housing has been closed, forcing students to stay in the crumbling Brookline Dorm formerly a psychiatric hospital.

As Dan and his new friends Abby and Jordan start exploring Brookline’s twisty halls and hidden basement, they uncover disturbing secrets about what really went on here . . . secrets that link Dan and his friends to the asylum’s dark past.

Because Brookline was no ordinary mental hospital, and there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

There is something particularly terrifying about asylums. However, this has always confused me a little because people seem to think that the patients are the scariest part, which is actually just really discriminatory. In fact, it’s the horrific ways in which the mentally ill were treated that’s the most terrifying.

But anyway, I digress, this still sounds like a chilling read.

Goodreads | Amazon UK



Summer. Massachusetts.

An old Silver Wraith with a frightening history. A story about one serial killer and his lingering, unfinished business.

Anyone could be next.

We’re going to Christmasland …

I loved Joe Hill’s latest novel, The Fireman (check out my review here), so I’ve been looking forward to trying more of his work. (Even more so when I found out he’s actually Stephen King’s son!)

I saw a review on Amazon label this as “horror-fantasy”, which I wouldn’t have guessed from the blurb as I thought it was more about serial killers, but I’m even more intrigued now.

Goodreads | Amazon UK


51lzwhj2u-lWhen sisters Silla and Nori escape London and their abusive father, Aunt Cath’s country house feels like a safe haven. But slowly, ever so slowly, things begin to unravel.

Aunt Cath locks herself in the attic and spends day and night pacing. Every day the forbidden surrounding forest inches slowly towards the house. A mysterious boy appears, offering friendship. And Nori claims that a man watches them from the dark forest – a man with no eyes, who creeps ever closer. . .

I just finished Dawn Kurtagich’s first YA horror The Dead House this morning and I’ll hopefully have the review up tomorrow. So, you’re thinking that if The Creeper Man is on my wishlist, then I must have loved The Dead House, right?

Well, it was okay. I think it got a bit confused if I’m honest. I’ll go more in depth in my review tomorrow, so look out for that, but I know that The Creeper Man is supposed to be better so I’m willing to give Kurtagich another try.

Goodreads | Amazon UK


51kf2bjjhr0lDanny is only five years old, but in the words of old Mr Hallorann he is a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father becomes caretaker of the Overlook Hotel, Danny’s visions grow out of control.

As winter closes in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seems to develop a life of its own. It is meant to be empty. So who is the lady in Room 217 and who are the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why do the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow, there is an evil force in the hotel – and that, too, is beginning to shine . . .

We’ve had Stephen King’s son, now here’s Stephen King himself.

And I know what you’re thinking: I’m a horror fan and I haven’t read any Stephen King?! I know, I know, but for some reason I’ve just never picked up one of his books. That’s not because I don’t want to; on the contrary, I really want to. It’s just I’ve never got round to buying one. And what better place to start than with what most would describe as King’s best horror: The Shining. 

I confess to not even having seen the film either, but I do obviously know all the iconic scenes, “Red rum” etc. I’m really looking forward to getting my hands on this sometime in the future.

Goodreads | Amazon UK


51ebegvjnqlDrip…drip…drip… In five days, she will come…

Roberta ‘Bobbie’ Rowe is not the kind of person who believes in ghosts. A Halloween dare at her ridiculously spooky boarding school is no big deal, especially when her best friend Naya and cute local boy Caine agree to join in too. They are ordered to summon the legendary ghost of Bloody Mary: say her name five times in front of a candlelit mirror, and she shall appear… But, surprise surprise, nothing happens. Or does it?

Next morning, Bobbie finds a message on her bathroom mirror – five days – but what does it mean? And who left it there? Things get increasingly weird and more terrifying for Bobbie and Naya, until it becomes all too clear that Bloody Mary was indeed called from the afterlife that night, and she is definitely not a friendly ghost. Bobbie, Naya and Caine are now in a race against time before their five days are up and Mary comes for them, as she has come for countless others before…

This has got great reviews since it was released so this is one I’m definitely excited to get. I find paranormal horrors the scariest and this one sounds right up my street.

Goodreads | Amazon UK


51br8b5znmlWhoever is born here, is doomed to stay until death. Whoever comes to stay, never leaves.

Welcome to Black Spring, the seemingly picturesque Hudson Valley town haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth-century woman whose eyes and mouth are sewn shut. Blind and silenced, she walks the streets and enters homes at will. She stands next to children’s beds for nights on end. So accustomed to her have the townsfolk become that they often forget she’s there. Or what a threat she poses. Because if the stitches are ever cut open, the story goes, the whole town will die.

The curse must not be allowed to spread. The elders of Black Spring have used high-tech surveillance to quarantine the town. Frustrated with being kept in lockdown, the town’s teenagers decide to break the strict regulations and go viral with the haunting. But, in so doing, they send the town spiraling into a dark nightmare.

I saw a blogger review this a little while back and I’ve been looking forward to reading it someday ever since. I think it’s such a unique and interesting premise how the town has become used to the haunting and that they’ve shut themselves off from the world. Definitely excited about this one.

Goodreads | Amazon UK


And there you have it! Ten horror novels from my wishlist.

I haven’t actually read a lot of YA horror but, as you can see from this list, I’m trying to rectify that. However, after The Dead House not being as scary as I hoped, I’m a little sceptical of YA horror. Can it really be as scary as adult horror? Do the publishers allow that? 

Do you have any horror recommendations? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments below! And keep an eye out for my review of The Dead House!



Halloween Read-A-Thon Review: I Am Legend by Richard Matheson


cpp-pabc-i-am-legendI Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Genre: Horror / Sci-Fi

Publisher: Gollancz (Originally published 1954)

My Rating: 5_star_rating_system_4_and_a_half_stars

Synopsis: Robert Neville is the last living man on Earth… but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville’s blood.

By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn.

How long can one man survive like this?


My Review

This review is part of the Halloween Read-A-Thon hosted by Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews! If you want to find out more about what I’ll be reading, check out my sign-up post here.

I’d been wanting to read I Am Legend for quite a while after seeing the film adaptation with Will Smith a few years ago. However, I had heard that the film was very different to the novel. I really enjoyed the film so I was a little apprehensive about what could be different. Oddly, it was one of those times where I was worried the book wouldn’t be as good as the film, when normally it’s the other way around! Thankfully, whilst the book and film are very different, I still thoroughly enjoyed the novel.

The two are only really similar on a basic level. The main protagonist is a man called Robert Neville, who believes himself to most probably be the last man alive in an America ravaged by a vampiric virus. And that’s pretty much it, if I’m honest. From here on out, the two take different paths.

Whilst the vampire-zombies of the film adaptation are these vicious, naked and hairless ex-humans with no semblance of humanity left, the vampire-zombies of the novel are a little different. They still hold a basic sense of humanity (in a feral way) in that some of them can speak a few words, still wear clothes, and like to stand outside Robert Neville’s house trying to goad him out. Most notably, the women do this by prancing about naked.

Sounds a bit funny, right? This book is actually full to the brim with dark humour. I felt a lot of sympathy for Neville’s plight, and his episodes of hysteria, but he was also quite funny. As I mentioned, some of the vampires are still able to speak, albeit simple things. I say “some”, but really the only one who does is Ben Cortman, Neville’s neighbour and workmate. Every night, the vampires come to his house, and every night Ben Cortman stands there and shouts, “Come out, Neville!”

Above the noises, he heard Ben Cortman shout as he always shouted.

“Come out, Neville!”

Someday I’ll get that bastard, he thought as he took a big swallow of the bitter drink. Someday I’ll knock a stake right through his goddamn chest. I’ll make one a foot long for him, a special one with ribbons on it, the bastard.

It’s just really quite funny, but also sad and distressing at the same time. Neville is hounded every night by a man who was once his friend and is now a vampire out for his blood. It becomes a sort of pitiful running joke throughout the book that made me laugh but also made me quite sad.

Whilst there’s a lot of dark humour, underneath it all is the realisation that Neville is a lonely and tortured man. After all, this is a horror. Whilst it has its moments of comic relief(ish), it’s also terrifying, especially the opening line:

On those cloudy days, Robert Neville was never sure when sunset came, and sometimes they were in the streets before he could get back.

It was such an unsettling opening line to read. It’s simple yet effective, and that’s what Richard Matheson’s writing is all about. It’s unsettling and without flourish, the kind that gets under your skin before you know it. He doesn’t need big chase scenes or the threat of death to scare you; it’s not your typical jump-scare horror. Instead, he ramps up the tension through Neville’s mental state. Sometimes Neville is doing okay, he’s getting on with things. Other times, he’s completely falling apart and making mistakes and rash decisions. You sit there thinking ‘what are you doing?!’ and praying that he makes it back to his house before sunset. I thought his character development was really excellent and the main highlight of the book.

The only reason I deducted half a star for this book is that I would have liked it to be a little longer. It’s quite a short book and didn’t take me long to read, and there were a few more questions I wanted answers to. Other than that, I thoroughly enjoyed it. A quick yet effective read. If you enjoyed the film, then I urge you to read the book; I think the premise is handled more effectively in the novel, and with more subtlety. And if you’re a big fan of all things zombie like I am, then read this! It’s well known that I Am Legend is the precursor to the modern zombie craze.


Have you read I Am Legend? Or seen the film? Did you enjoy it/them? Let me know in the comments below!


Halloween Read-A-Thon


Hello and welcome to my TBR for Lauren @ Wonderless Reviews‘ Halloween Read-A-Thon! I am super excited to join in with this because I love all things horror and Halloween. If you want to find out more about this challenge, then check out the announcement post.

However, I will only be partaking in two of the challenges because:

  1. I only have two horror books at the moment in my TBR and I can’t afford more because I am a poor graduate with student debt.
  2. Halloween is my Dad’s birthday and I don’t think he’d appreciate it if I ignored him because of books, so I’m not going to overload myself with challenges.

Anyway, here are the two challenges I’m taking part in and the books I’ll be reading:


cpp-pabc-i-am-legendRobert Neville is the last living man on Earth… but he is not alone. Every other man, woman and child on the planet has become a vampire, and they are hungry for Neville’s blood.

By day he is the hunter, stalking the undead through the ruins of civilisation. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn.

How long can one man survive like this?

This one is pretty obvious, right? Look at that cover. It’s terrifying. I actually got this book as part of my subscription with The Willoughby Book Club and it was such a great choice from them because I love the film adaptation with Will Smith and I’ve been eager to read the book. Now I’m finally getting round to it! Time to find out just how horrifying this book really is…


22396591Twenty-five years ago, Elmbridge High School burned down. The blaze killed three and injured twenty, and one pupil, Carly Johnson, disappeared. For two decades, little was revealed about what became known as the Johnson Incident.

Until now.

A diary has been found in the ruins of the school. In this diary, Kaitlyn Johnson, Carly’s twin, tells of the strange and disturbing sequence of events leading to the incident.

But Kaitlyn doesn’t exist. She never has.

I wasn’t too sure whether to include this book in the ‘Urban Legends’ category or the ‘Haunted House’ category. I couldn’t find out whether this book is a psychological horror or paranormal horror. However, I think that’s the whole point of the book. So, I’m including it in the ‘Urban Legends’ category because I think it falls more into that one.

I got this book at YALC and was lucky enough to get Dawn Kurtagich to sign it which was pretty exciting. I’m really excited to get started with this one as I’ve heard it’s very creepy.



So, there you have it, my Halloween Read-A-Thon TBR! Have you read any of these books? Are you participating in the Read-A-Thon? Let me know in the comments below! And thanks to Lauren for organising this!


Review: The City of Mirrors (Passage #3) by Justin Cronin

510kmqjtbslThe City of Mirrors (Passage #3) by Justin Cronin

Genre: Science Fantasy / Post-Apocalyptic / Horror

Publisher: Orion, 2016

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: The plague that almost ended humanity is finally over. For a new generation, the once-feared virals have begun to seem almost like imaginary monsters, creatures from a fairy tale they no longer believe in.

For Alicia, however, the bad dreams can never be forgotten. And the voice in those dreams is leading her towards one of the great cities of The Time Before. The ruined city of New York.

Ruined but not empty. For this is the final refuge of Zero, the first and most terrible product of the viral experiment. And Alicia knows that the nightmare can never truly be over until he is destroyed.

But what she finds is not what she’s expecting.

An opponent at once deadlier and more human than she could ever have imagined, who takes her on a terrifying journey into the past to learn how it all began.

And to find out how it must end.


My Review

WARNING: This review will contain minor spoilers for the first two books in the series. No major plot points will be revealed, nor information on who lives and who dies. Read on at your own risk. However, this review is spoiler-free in terms of the plot of The City of Mirrors.

I’m so sad to have finished this series. I started reading it back in 2010 when The Passage was first released. I was hooked from the start. At the time I was only 15. Now I’m 21 and this trilogy has remained with me, as well as remaining one of my favourite series of all time.

So, after the events of The Twelve, peace seems to have finally returned to North America. Or so it seems.

Make no mistake, this final book isn’t just a long, drawn-out conclusion tying up a bunch of pointless loose ends. No way. It’s just as poignant, hopeful and exciting as the first two installments, with an abundance of drama and tension.

The Passage was a rip-roaring read, most probably my favourite book in the series. The Twelve was excellent, however I felt it dragged a little in some places. Not enough for me to lose interest, of course, but still slightly slower in comparison. Thankfully though, it was by no means that dreaded filler book that the second novel in a trilogy quite often is; like The Passage, it had its own clear arc and revelations. As such, I like to think of this series as a vampiric The Lord of the Rings. Like The Fellowship of the Ring, The Passage gets the action started. We learn who the main players are and the identity of the main antagonist (Zero here, Sauron in LOTR), but we’re nowhere near close to defeating him yet. Instead, the antagonist of this first book is a lesser player, Babcock in The Passage and the Balrog of Morgoth in Fellowship. Subsequently, the group splits and moves on to the next antagonist, the main villain’s second-in-command. In The Twelve, it’s, well, The Twelve (or rather, the Eleven); the main virals, Zero’s henchmen. In The Two Towers, it’s Saruman, Sauron’s right-hand man. Now that they’ve been defeated, we’re onto the big one, the main villain, the final adversary who has been pulling the strings behind the scenes all along. Zero here is our Sauron, and The City of Mirrors is our The Return of the King.

Now, that’s where the similarities end, of course. No orcs or hobbits, but the The Passage series is no less epic in its own way. Thankfully, the final installment didn’t disappoint. I finished this book with tears in my eyes, barely able to see the last page. It’s a bittersweet book, a culmination of blood, sweat and tears from the characters (and from the author, I suspect). For years, the characters have struggled against the wasteland they inhabit – where the virals roam and Zero watches on – desperate to finally live in peace. The characters’ arcs reached their conclusion in this book, all in a satisfying way. There is an air of destiny in this trilogy and all the characters fulfilled theirs, whether it be good or bad, but I couldn’t argue that it all felt right. Everything about this book seems deliberate. Nothing is rushed or a coincidence. Everything is clearly mapped from the start, all the fates intertwined, and that’s what makes it a joy to read.

However, this series is all about a girl who saves the world, Amy Harper Bellafonte. Does Amy save it? I won’t say, but Cronin has written a remarkable set of characters, with Amy at the centre. This is a series with a huge cast and here we continue with the lives of Peter, Alicia, Sara, Hollis, Michael and Carter, among many other new characters. And we also finally get to know who Zero, aka Dr Timothy Fanning, really is. Somehow, Cronin has managed to create a villain you feel sorry for. Fanning has done terrible things, but in this book you’ll learn why. I could see the logic behind his actions and I pitied him, yet it didn’t excuse what he’d done; it was time for Fanning to give up his hold on the land.

What I’ve always loved about this story is its mix of Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Like I said, there’s a real sense of destiny in these books, a mysticism in its words, coupled with a raw humanity that I loved, and of course the origin of the vampiric, zombie-like virus isn’t wholly within the realm of science. This is a series of death and destruction, love and hate, joy and sorrow, with no punches pulled, but at its core is hope.

The plot of this book is faster-paced than The Twelve, I would say, and still as exciting as both its predecessors. All loose ends are tied up neatly, including the ending. I thought the ending was really well done. There’s nothing worse than getting attached to a series, only for the finale to be anti-climactic and just plain wrong. Thankfully, this trilogy doesn’t fall into that hole. As I said, I finished this with tears blurring my vision, and that was the case for much of the book.

I don’t really know what else to say. This series is brilliant. Complex, tense, exciting, heart-breaking and hopeful, it’s everything you could ask for. These characters are ones that will stay with me for a long time, as will the story itself. However, it’s not truly over. Before even The Passage was published, the film rights for the series were bought. Ridley Scott is the director so I am extremely excited; I don’t think anyone could do a better job at making these books into films than him. So that’s something to look forward to in the future. For now, I’m going to feel sad probably for a whole week, but also happy. It’s bittersweet to finish a series you loved, especially one as good as this, and I can’t recommend it enough.


Have you read this series? Or do you want to start it? Let me know in the comments below!



Book Recommendations: If You Liked That, You’ll Love This | Apocalyptic/Sci-Fi


I’ve been thinking for a while about recommending more books but I’d covered my favourite themes in my ‘A Novel Round-Ups’ such as horror, zombies, and lesser-known classics. So I got to thinking and realised whenever I’ve finished a really good book, I quite often crave to read another one with similarities. This led me to ‘If You Liked That, You’ll Love This’. One obvious example would be ‘if you liked Harry Potter, you’ll love Percy Jackson’. Male teenage protagonists, a type of magic, sidekicks in the form of a funny boy and an intelligent girl; the comparisons are obvious. So, without further ado, this week’s ‘If You Liked That, You’ll Love This’ is…

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If you liked The Passage Trilogy or the Silo Saga, you’ll love The Southern Reach Trilogy

I read the whole of The Southern Reach Trilogy in a week last December. I couldn’t put it down. It was the bright pink cover of the first novel, Annihilation, that had caught my eye in Waterstones, and the blurb only heightened my need to dive into this series:

For thirty years, Area X, monitored by the secret agency known as the Southern Reach, has remained mysterious and remote behind its intangible border– an environmental disaster zone, though to all appearances an abundant wilderness. Eleven expeditions have been sent in to investigate; even for those that have made it out alive, there have been terrible consequences.

‘Annihilation’ is the story of the twelfth expedition and is told by its nameless biologist. Introverted but highly intelligent, the biologist brings her own secrets with her. She is accompanied by a psychologist, an anthropologist and a surveyor, their stated mission: to chart the land, take samples and expand the Southern Reach’s understanding of Area X.

But they soon find out that they are being manipulated by forces both strange and all too familiar. An unmapped tunnel is not as it first appears. An inexplicable moaning calls in the distance at dusk. And while each member of the expedition has surrendered to the authority of the Southern Reach, the power of Area X is far more difficult to resist.

You get the gist of the series. A section of wilderness characterised by strange happenings that the government has been unable to comprehend. Numerous expeditions that have ended in death and disaster. And an anonymous, headstrong, captivating narrator known only as ‘the biologist’.

This series is unsettling, weird (in a good way) and beautifully written. I don’t want to ruin the plot too much, but it has the creepiness and the horror of The Passage Trilogy, and the science and sense of isolationism that can be found in the Silo Saga. I loved every minute of this series and a part of me wishes I hadn’t read it so fast, but it’s a truly unique trilogy, despite the comparisons I’ve made! VanderMeer is an excellent writer and I loved his characters, especially the biologist and John Rodriguez, the latter appearing in the second novel. The twists and turns of Area X aren’t easily guessed and there’s a sense that Area X itself doesn’t want us to know just what it is. This isn’t a series for the fainthearted.

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Have you read The Southern Reach Trilogy? Do you agree with my comparisons? Did you enjoy it? Let me know in the comments below!

Caitlin (1)

Review: Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

9781471144882-ukRot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Genre: Young Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Zombies

Publisher: Simon and Schuster

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: Nearly fourteen years ago, a freak virus swept across the world – turning those infected into the undead. Benny Imura has grown-up never knowing anything different; his last memory of his parents was of them becoming zombies. Now Benny is fifteen, and joining his brother Tom in the ‘family business’ of zombie killing.

Benny and Tom head into the Rot and Ruin, an area full of the wandering undead, and Benny realises that being a bounty hunter isn’t just about whacking zombies. Benny finds his beliefs challenged – and discovers that sometimes the worst monsters you can imagine aren’t the zombies, after all…

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My Review

If you’ve read my post of my favourite zombie novels, you’ll know I have a big love for zombies, but that it can be difficult to find books in the genre that aren’t corny or poorly written. For some reason, I’d just never bothered giving the Rot and Ruin series a chance, but now I’m glad that I have.

Good plotting, eloquent writing and a refreshing look at zombies, Maberry has crafted an excellent YA horror with equal parts gore and humanity. And it’s the humanity that I really enjoyed. If you’re looking for a book where zombies are smashed to bits and not a lot else, then don’t bother with this novel. But if you’re looking for a book that deals with the complications regarding the morality around zombie killing, questions on how ‘human’ zombies still are, and a good amount of action, then this is the book for you.

Maberry teaches us that it isn’t the zombies – ‘zoms’ – we should really hate, but the humans who do things consciously. 

“These zoms, every last one of them – even the smallest child – would kill him if they could, but not one of them meant him harm. Meaning, intention, will… None of that was part of their makeup. There was no more malice there than in a lightning strike or bacteria on a rusted nail.”

The true villains of the novel are the men trafficking children to an almost sicker version of The Hunger Games, where they throw kids into pits full of zombies and make them fight for their amusement. Maberry showcases the horrors of a world where law is no longer enforced by an omnipotent government, and many are to frightened to enact justice. That is, except Benny Imura, his older brother and protector Tom, and their friends, including the mysterious and vicious Lost Girl.

Maberry’s character development is very good, his characters three-dimensional and individual from each other. I especially liked Tom Imura and the Lost Girl. Both have witnessed unspeakable horrors, but Tom channels that into his ‘compassionate’ business (I won’t spoil exactly what he does), and the Lost Girl into seeking revenge. I did like the protagonist Benny. He’s funny and brash, but with a big heart. However, I struggled a little to get into the mindset of a 15-year-old and his 14-year-old friends, but I’m sure many other slightly younger readers wouldn’t have that problem.

My only small gripe is that something just didn’t quite work for me in the big finale. It wasn’t rushed or predictable, but something just didn’t seem right. I can’t put my finger on it. It might have been the dialogue, which was good throughout, but I think it lacked the punch it needed in a finale. However, there isn’t much I can fault in this book. I’m really looking forward to the other books in the series and, seeing as Benny has matured by the end of this novel, I should find it easier to get into his mindset. Hopefully, Maberry doesn’t fall into the trap of ‘gore, gore and more gore’, but instead keeps the stark humanity that made this novel so refreshing.

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Have you the read Rot and Ruin series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)


Review: The Silence by Tim Lebbon

61chy3sarilThe Silence by Tim Lebbon

Genre: Horror / Apocalyptic

Publisher: Titan Books

My Rating: 3/5

Synopsis: In the darkness of a underground cave, blind creatures hunt by sound. Then there is light, voices, and they feed… Swarming from their prison, the creatures thrive; to whisper is to summon death. As the hordes lay waste to Europe, a girl watches to see if they will cross the sea. Deaf for years, she knows how to live in silence; now, it is her family’s only chance of survival. To leave their home, to shun others. But what kind of world will be left?


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My Review

I reeeeally wanted to like this book. The back cover is peppered with quotes from other authors who enjoyed the book and I usually love anything apocalyptic.

Sadly, I didn’t love it.

Lebbon has written a fair few horror novels. He obviously knows what he’s doing, but this novel kind of just fell flat for me. I was never really scared. Maybe a little apprehensive at times as the Vesps (the name of the blind, bat-like creatures that lay waste to Europe; not a very scary name) make their way towards the UK. But I wasn’t on the edge of my seat by any means.

I didn’t care much whether the characters lived or died. At the end I think I did care for them a bit but if all of them had been killed off it would have been a moment of “oh, that’s a shame” and then I’d have got on with my day. In all honesty, it was the dog that I cared about the most.

Lebbon’s writing is perfectly fine – like I said, he’s obviously experienced – but I found the plotting to be a little off. Things seemed too conveniently placed. And as for the Vesps, they didn’t really scare me. I was expecting big, humanoid, freaky creatures, like the wendigo’s from PS4 horror game Until Dawn but with wings:


In reality, the Vesps were little bat-like creatures with no eyes and a lot of teeth. The teeth are the scariest thing about them. In fact, Lebbon’s descriptions of the creatures roosting in trees, snuggled up against the trunk, or gently swaying, actually sounded kind of cute. I’m not sure if there’s something inherently wrong with me but those descriptions just made the Vesps sound like sweet, but extremely hungry, bats. Some people might find them really scary, but for me the horror just wasn’t there.

However, it was interesting that the family were all able to sign what with the daughter, Ally, being deaf. This made life a lot easier for them, but it also attracted some unwanted attention from a crazed Reverend. I actually found the Reverend more unsettling than the Vesps. However, I won’t spoil any plot points around him in case you plan on giving the book a go.

Overall, not the scariest horror book I’ve ever read, nor the most engaging characters, but it wasn’t a wholly bad read. It was interesting to have a UK apocalyptic setting for once, and some people will surely love this book, but for me it just wasn’t scary enough. If you want to be really scared, check out my post of my favourite horror novels.

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Have you read The Silence? What did you think? Or do you have any other horror books to recommend? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

A Novel Round-Up: My Favourite Zombie Novels

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I used to be terrified of zombies when I was little. I was a huge fan of Scooby-Doo but I had this one film called Scooby-Doo on Zombie Island and it traumatised me; I had nightmares for weeks.

But now that I’m older, my feelings towards zombies have changed a lot. They still freak me out, but it’s that kind of relationship where something terrifies you but you really enjoy it. I even gave up on The Walking Dead because there were too many humans and not enough zombies (although I might go back to it once university is over).

As you can guess, I’ve read a fair few zombie novels and watched a fair few zombie films. So, in no particular order, here is the promised list of my favourite zombie books:


The Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class.

When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite. But they don’t laugh.

Melanie is a very special girl.

Why I loved it: I didn’t manage to get this book in the photo (it’s back at my university house and I’m at my family home), but it’s one I couldn’t leave out of this list. Where to begin? For starters, I always love anything apocalyptic that’s set in the UK. I’m so bored of almost every post-apocalypse or dystopia novel being set in the US. I may be biased because I’m English, but I think the UK as a setting has something really gritty about it that the US doesn’t have.

Anyway, this book was captivating from start to finish. A zombie plague, caused by some kind of spore, has taken over the UK. A remote army compound researches infected children who still have control of their faculties. I won’t summarise anymore because I think anyone who hasn’t read this book should do so immediately. The writing is haunting, the plot captivating, and the characters full of life (or virus, take your pick). Even if you aren’t into zombies, pick up this book, because it’s by no means a cliche addition to the genre. A film adaptation is also being made that was actually filmed in Birmingham! My sister turned up to work one day to find her street had been turned into an apocalypse-lover’s dream. Hopefully they do the book justice.

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth trilogy by Carrie Ryan

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis (just the first one, so no spoilers for the other two): 

In Mary’s world there are simple truths.

The Sisterhood always knows best.

The Guardians will protect and serve.

The Unconsecrated will never relent.

And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth.

But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future – between the one she loves and the one who loves her.

And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

Why I loved it: I remember I got the first book in this YA series quite a few Christmas’s ago and I was so excited about it I kept creeping into my parents room and just looking at it. At the time, I had no idea it was about zombies (the blurb doesn’t give much away) but this was what started my zombie obsession. The first book is so poetic and so tense. I think it’s actually time for a re-read. The plot is unique and heartfelt, and Ryan really manages to keep the novels toeing the line between emotion and action.

However, I only gave the series 4/5 because the magic goes a little bit in the final book. We’re out of the eerie isolation of Mary’s world so the mystery fades slightly, but the story is still engrossing and there’s an extremely tense scene of a main character fleeing from a horde.

The first book is also finally being made into a film with Game of Thrones’ Maisie Williams as Mary. She’s not who I envisaged as Mary but she’s a good actress and I’m excited to see what she does with the character.


Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: ‘R’ is a zombie. He has no name, no memories, and no pulse, but he has dreams. He is a little different from his fellow Dead.

Amongst the ruins of an abandoned city, R meets a girl. Her name is Julie and she is the opposite of everything he knows – warm and bright and very much alive, she is a blast of colour in a dreary grey landscape. For reasons he can’t understand, R chooses to save Julie instead of eating her, and a tense yet strangely tender relationship begins.

This has never happened before. It breaks the rules and defies logic, but R is no longer content with life in the grave. He wants to breathe again, he wants to live, and Julie wants to help him. But their grim, rotting world won’t be changed without a fight…

Why I loved it: Yet another zombie book I got for Christmas and devoured like there was no tomorrow. This book is so thoughtful and philosophic for a zombie novel, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t any gripping action. One thing I loved about this book was the character of Perry, whose brain R keeps and takes occasional bites from, and whose voice subsequently penetrates R’s mind. The dynamic between these two was beautiful and Perry has one of the best, heart-wrenching monologues towards the end of the book that I love to go back to and relive. I was really sad that they left this out of the film, but it still captured the sensitive humour of the novel. The long awaited sequel is coming soon and I am so so so excited.


The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell

My Rating: 4/5

Synopsis: God is a slick god. Temple knows. She knows because of all the crackerjack miracles still to be seen on this ruined globe . . .

Older than her years and completely alone, Temple is just trying to live one day at a time in a post-apocalyptic world, where the undead roam endlessly, and the remnant of mankind who have survived, at times, seem to retain little humanity themselves.

This is the world she was born into. Temple has known nothing else. Her journey takes her to far-flung places, to people struggling to maintain some semblance of civilization – and to those who have created a new world order for themselves.

When she comes across the helpless Maury, she attempts to set one thing right, if she can just get him back to his family in Texas then maybe it will bring redemption for some of the terrible things she’s done in her past. Because Temple has had to fight to survive, has done things that she’s not proud of and, along the road, she’s made enemies.

Now one vengeful man is determined that, in a world gone mad, killing her is the one thing that makes sense . . .

Why I loved it: I read this book quite a while ago but it’s definitely one that has stuck with me. Temple is such a strong protagonist and her young age makes her all the stronger. I loved her story and found it a really refreshing addition to the genre. It’s not about curing the plague and saving the world, but just getting on with it. The story is emotionally fraught, dark and tender. I only discovered recently that there was actually a sequel published so I’m excited to buy that sometime soon.

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Have any favourite zombie novels I haven’t suggested? Let me know in the comments!

Caitlin (1)

Stacking the Shelves | TBR April

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme from Tynga’s Reviews where you showcase the books you’ve received or purchased.

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This month, I’ve taken advantage of a birthday Amazon voucher and the £10 deals to purchase these bad boys (although Bone Clocks I got for Christmas).

The list is:

The Lie Tree, Rebel of the Sands and All the Birds in the Sky are the most recent releases and I’ve seen a lot of hype about the first two especially from other bloggers, so I’m excited to get into them. I was also a big fan of Hugh Howey’s Wool series so I can’t wait to read something else by him. And, obviously, the Red Rising series has garnered a lot of attention too. There are also two more books on the way to me:

I know, I know, I’m pretty late to both series, but I’m finally giving them a chance. I’d originally heard hit and miss things about both books upon their original release so I gave them both a miss. But I’ve had a severe lack of zombies in my life recently and the Rot and Ruin series has seemingly picked up so I’m looking forward to being entirely freaked out. As for Throne of Glass, if you’ve read my review of Starborn by Lucy Hounsom, you’ll know I can be a bit critical of the fantasy genre. I find it often slips into cliches and is just too cheesy sometimes, so I really need something fresh and well thought out to capture me in this genre. Saying that, though, I’ve put my initial hesitation aside about the Throne of Glass series after seeing how much the book blogosphere adores it. So, fingers crossed I like it.

And in terms of zombies, look out for my upcoming ‘A Novel Round-Up’ of my favourite zombie novels.

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Read any of these books? Let me know what you thought in the comments below. Happy reading this April!

Caitlin (1)