Adult Book Reviews by Genre: Horror

Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein", a young ambitious scientist decides to play God and, in the process, creates a monster. As the monster struggles with self-identity and the meaning of his life, he enacts revenge on his creator by destroying everything he loves. Any time you dive into a classic novel, it can be difficult to keep your expectations from getting too high. This novel met pretty much all of mine -- the rich character development of both Frankenstein and the monster, the excellent use of suspense and foreboding to create tension, and the well-paced action. There were definitely some slow parts, but that's mostly because the writing style has changed so much between then and now. However, the multiple perspectives helped keep things moving when they began to slow down. I really enjoyed this novel but I had one fairly big complaint: the ending felt rushed. I felt that we were building up to a much more action-packed ending, but things fizzle out very quickly and the novel ends on a strangely unsatisfying note. I think that there could've been more time spent creating a strong conclusion to a really strong story. Besides that, this classic is excellent and definitely worth a read.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Awards:
World War Z
Brooks, Max
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After finding myself slighlty underwhelmed by the movie; the book proved a welcome change. World War Z manages to capture the spirit of the zombie apocalypse trope while still remaining original. The story is told through chronological, short, personal naratives and expertly paints a large picture of disaster while continuing to feel intimate. People in the story act realistically and despite revolving around a fantastical event, the book always seems like a series of believable recounts. The story replaces continuous characters with a narrative of humanity as a whole and the reader become invested in this larger concept. Overall, the book is an entertaining read and completely worth the time.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:
The Exorcist
Blatty, William Peter
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the greatest horror novels of all time, The Exorcist was a genre-defining piece of literature. It's story has set the precedent for horror, and is the novel that essentially invented the modern possession in horror. It's story follows Chris MacNeil as she struggles to get help for her daughter, who has been possessed by a powerful demon. The book is intense; it moves at a breakneck pace, and is truly terrifying. What makes it scary is the premise: someone you love being invaded by an unknown being that you do not understand. This idea is consistent throughout the whole novel -- in the first half or so, her condition is thought to be scientific in nature, but is soon proven to be false. What do you do when you have a problem, but do not know how to fix it? This question is concurrent with the novel, and forces us to face humanities greatest fear: the unknown. I would highly recommend this novel to horror fans, or anyone who is looking for a truly terrifying read to keep them up at night.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Genres:
At the Mountains of Madness
Lovecraft, H. P.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

H.P. Lovecraft is commonly known as one of the titans of horror, one of the pioneers of the genre who influenced people such as Stephen King, and has even inspired several video games, such as Bloodborne. At the Mountains of Madness is considered Lovecraft's magnum opus, his best work to date. It is a novella telling the story of a small group of geologists, aviators, and explorers who travel to Antarctica in search of unique rock specimens. While there, however, they encounter several horrors, including unearthing ancient specimens known as Old Ones, a decadent, purely weird city built by the Old Ones themselves, and even giant albino penguins. This novella is truly horrifying, as the suspense Lovecraft is able to build through usage of the setting is gripping. If one is looking to begin reading Lovecraft books, this one is a great entry point, as it introduces the reader to the Old Ones, the Necronomicon, and even Cthulhu himself. I would recommend to anyone who loves horror novels, or anyone who wants to read Lovecraft.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After
Hockensmith, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While the original Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was a combination most
people never knew they needed, apparently making it into a trilogy was the
next logical conclusion. Combined with the prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls ,
Dreadfully Ever After puts the series to rest with a sequel that seems to
re-hash a lot of similar ideas presented in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,
but with enough connection to the prequel and at least one or two original
ideas that helped to round out the characters. These new ideas were logical
extrapolations from the events that concluded Pride and Prejudice and
Zombies, so they weren’t necessarily shocking, but still entertaining to
pull the thread nonetheless.

I think, overall, I prefer the prequel and sequel to the original
Austen/monster mashup. It probably helped that both were written by the same
author, who was essentially writing fan fiction based on the idea that this
romantic classic could be combined with the undead. Dawn of the Dreadfuls had
the problem of needing to set up Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, thereby
negating any dire threats to the main characters since they would need to
appear in the next book. However, Dreadfully Ever After does an excellent job
of adding the complexities of marriage in proper English society in the
zombie apocalypse to the mixture. Thus, this book expanded the universe
instead of just poking around its never quite fully-explained origins.

In fact, one might be able to read the books on either side of Pride and
Prejudice and Zombies and get a coherent and satisfying story out of it. I,
for one, struggled through Austen’s writing, so the more modern style
presented in Dawn of the Dreadfuls and Dreadfully Ever After was a welcome
change. Plus, with the ability to stray from the source material and add
additional characters in both “bookend” books, there is a continuity that
is satisfying to conclude in this book. In the end, though, the two books
that expand the Pride and Prejudice and Zombies universe don’t ever take
themselves that seriously and are a fun and silly read for anyone who had a
passing fancy to get into the topic.

A fitting and silly extrapolation of the idea that Jane Austen’s book
needed more gore and violence, I give Dreadfully Ever After 4.0 stars out of
5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Family Plot
Priest, Cherie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book provides a unique twist on the classic haunted house story. A salvage crew combs through an ancient house to save its architectural treasures before the house is demolished. The crew’s presence disturbs more than dust though, as a vicious spirit starts to attack the crew, who had made the unfortunate decision to sleep in the house to save on their budget. If they abandon the job, it could mean the end of the family business, but staying gets increasingly unbearable. I think I read this book entirely over the course of a few nights – I didn’t want to put it down! Hollywood has been notorious for sequels and prequels of established “brands”. I highly suggest that they snap up the movie rights for The Family Plot, and give their audience something rich and original.

Reviewer's Name: Chris
Genres:
Frankenstein
Shelly, Mary Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The classic tale of mystery and horror is also one that is an extremely entertaining read. While it may not be the scariest novel ever, the mere ideas that it presents are certain to make one a bit uneasy. The plot is iconic: Victor Frankenstein, aspiring philosopher and scientist, creates a horrifying monster out of dead bodies and reanimates it from the dead. The monster then goes on a murderous rampage after being rejected by his very creator. The novel is very good, and the message it presents, of not overreaching for knowledge, is a timeless one. The only downside to this icon of horror is that some chapters tend to drag, and have little purpose. However, this is not a huge detriment since the rest of the novel is so entertaining. I would recommend to thriller or horror enthusiasts.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Awards:
Bird Box
Malerman, Josh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Imagine, you are a mom who has had to raise her two kids in a world where going outside was a major undertaking. No! This world is not filled with the usual “monstrous suspects” you come to expect in horror novels, vampires, werewolves etc.. this evil is unseen and unknown. It can’t be known, for you see, the moment any person glimpses it, this “evil” drives them to unspeakable violence and shortly after, their own death. The world didn’t used to be like this, it used to be normal but since “the evil” infested our world, things have never been the same. This evil leaves no survivors, and no one can stop it because no one can see it. It simply is unbeatable.

Malorie and her two children live in this world where evil can ravage anyone if you were just to step outside. To protect her and her children she raises them and teaches herself, to live life almost completely blind with a blindfold on most of the time. They do the best they can, holed up in their home trying to survive. One day through their meager means of communication Mallorie hears of this place 20 miles downriver where her and her family might be safe. But only if they can get there. Malorie and her kids, soon after, set out on a harrowing and terrifying journey downriver, all while wearing blindfolds, that will test them in ways they couldn’t have imagine.

Mallerman creates a horrifying and terrifying experience for readers that will leave them continually guessing. The strength of this story is also what makes it the best kind of horror. It’s unknowable and theirs a mystery around every corner. It could be something that could turn out to be a monster or something that could help the hero’s on their journey. The tense and creepy atmosphere Mallerman creates from the character’s surroundings also adds to the overall terrifying and mysterious aura of the story. Add to this that the evil so talked about throughout the book, is never actually revealed. Mallerman does a brilliant job of revealing some things but not everything leaving the readers imagination to make up the rest. And that is the strength of this book really, it turns the readers mind against them. Highly original and so creepy this book is a solid five stars. Pick up this intense terrifying psychological horror story today. And check out the movie coming to Netflix this December. I promise you, you won’t regret it!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Gwendy's Music Box
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

While most people think of Stephen King's book as being scary, this book was more suspenseful than scary. It is the story of Gwendy, a 12 year old girl who decided to run the suicide stairs in her neighborhood to lose weight before school starts. She meets a man wearing a black hat at the top of the stairs. This man calls her over by name and gives her a specialw box that will give her chocolate and silver dollars. The box has buttons on top and Gwendy can control what may happen by pushing one of the buttons. Once she takes the box, good things start happening in Gwendy's life. Gwendy becomes obsessed with the box and keeps it with her until after college, when she comes home one day to see a familiar black hat in her apartment. The story moves quickly and keeps you interested throughout the phases of Gwendy's life. If you are interested in Stephen King books but don't want to read anything too scary, this is a great book to start with.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Awards:
The Loney
Hurley, Andrew Michael
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The raw intense power of this book is simply incredible. Gothic horror literary fiction at it’s best!

The Loney follows the story of 2 brothers Smith and his cognitively disable brother Hanny, known as the boy who does not speak, their family and their religious community as they take a pilgrimage to a religious shrine at the Loney, a bleak desolate part of the English coastline, in hopes of finding healing for him. This book takes place in the 1970’s and centers around a family and a tight knit religious community. It explores family dynamics, the tight knit relationship between the brothers, which I absolutely loved and felt was so strong, and between the brothers and their parents. Particularly their mom a religious overbearing figure who is definitely seen as not only the leader of her family but a very strong leader within the religious community as well often imposing her will on everyone. It also explores relationships between the religious community. Both among members and between the new more modern/ forward thinking priest and the parishioners as well as between the priest and the two brothers. The relationship study in this book, from a sociological and psychological standpoint is alone worth five stars.

But the Loney is more than just a sociological study, the Loney is also a desolate raw place riddled with secrets, rugged beauty and loneliness, a place time left behind. This is evoked perfectly in this quote describing the Loney.

“A sudden mist a mumble of thunder over the sea the wind scurrying along the beach with it's crop of old bones and litter was sometimes all it took to make you feel as though something was about to happen. Though quite what I didn't know. I often thought their was too much time there. That the place was sick with it. Haunted by it. Time didn't leak away as it should. There was nowhere for it to go and no modernity to hurry it along. It collected as the black water did on the marshes and remained and stagnated in the same way."

Eerie and creepy right! The sense of place and atmosphere that Hurley portrays here is so strong, that it’s like a a whole other character in the book. It slowly gathers itself around you like a invisible blanket and doesn’t let go. Add to that the tight writing, the slow burn of the story, the eerie terrifying conclusion, and the gothic dreary English coastline setting and you have the perfect fall read. Don’t expect a fast moving gore horror but if you like gothic creepy horror that slowly builds and creeps up on you, you will love this book! I highly recommend reading this beautiful piece of fiction! I cannot say enough about Andrew Hurley! No wonder Stephen King said this is a “great piece of fiction.” Hurley is definitely one to watch! You can put your copy of this atmospheric psychological suspenseful horror on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Tawnie
Monster
Peretti, Frank
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

One of the challenges of the Christian author is being able to craft stories and characters that share their beliefs, but without being too heavy-handed about it. In Frank Peretti’s Monster, the author mostly succeeds, providing characters that can easily be identified as Christian, but also exhibiting the traits of normal humans instead of straight-up caricatures. The main plot of this book was only tangentially related to an argument against evolution, so that was also a plus. Still, the way the book was put together, it was clear where the author’s bias was.

While some people might not appreciate the Christian undertones in this thriller, my qualms with it are more structural. Following a few different characters after a woman is abducted by an unnatural beast, the mystery of the disappearances and killings unravels to reveal a semi-plausible explanation. Unfortunately, the man and wife pair that are introduced at the start of the book are more annoying than likable. Ergo, when I followed the woman’s ordeal in captivity, I could not sympathize with her plight because her actions and reactions were so off-putting at first.

In the end, Monster is still a passable—if perhaps boilerplate—thriller. I did appreciate the realistic explanation for the fantastical elements of the story. I also found it somewhat refreshing to show a character who opposed the common scientific view of evolution just because everyone else thought it was true. For an audiobook, the author’s narration was filled with just the right amount of emphasis, which is to be expected. However, with so many short scenes and quick cuts between them, his reading could have stood to have a little bit longer pauses between sections in order to give the listener a better sense that the scene was changing from one character to another.

A passable thriller with semi-subtle Christian undertones, I give Monster 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
The Gunslinger
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With the recent release of The Dark Tower (2017), I became interested in the book series that inspired the movie. I already knew the books would likely take a different direction from the film, and I was prepared for them. Up until now, I’ve enjoyed many of King’s other works, including The Shining, On Writing , and The Green Mile. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy The Gunslinger; it’s more that most of his books have not been part of a larger series. I still want to know what happens in the next book of the Dark Tower series, so The Gunslinger certainly succeeded in that aspect.

Stephen King’s talent for description is in high form here as he crafts a world unlike our own but still linked to it via the wandering boy, Jake. Considering King’s background in describing all sorts of evil creatures and villains, the calm and calculating “Man in Black” is more terrifying than any violent antagonist, mostly with how psychological he is in his assaults against the eponymous Gunslinger. I also found following the main character of the Gunslinger led to an exciting journey as he overcomes the hurdles that prevent him from accomplishing his goal.

I understand that the first book in a series has a heavy burden to bear. It must introduce the characters and enough of their backstory to understand their motivation. It must also have a hook and be interesting enough by itself to warrant further reading. I probably could have done without some of the flashbacks and/or hallucination/memories, as they almost distracted from the action. I also felt this book didn’t necessarily cover enough ground, but I suppose that’s what the next books in the series will do: flesh out the conflict between the Gunslinger and the Man in Black.

A good foundation for a series that I hope improves over time; I give The Gunslinger 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
The Green Mile
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

While most people might not realize Stephen King wrote The Green Mile, I was completely unaware that the original version of this book was released serially—much like Charles Dickens used to do with his books. The novelty of experimenting with this format is somewhat lost now that the volumes are collected together to create a whole narrative. Even so, King is still the master of his craft, even if there’s minimal “horror” contained within the walls of this prison. At least, it’s an expected horror through the system of capital punishment, and not tied to the terror of the unknown.

Even though I enjoyed this story for its characters and plot, one element stuck out like a sore thumb: the framing via the retirement home. Sure, there’s a neat twist involved near the end, but so often the narrative would pull away from the time period in the prison to show some parallels to retirement living in a distracting way. I don’t think this added much to the story and it seemed to be more of a diversion than a benefit to the plot as a whole. Either way, these moments are few and far between, which helps move the action along.

Overall, King’s descriptive writing brought much of the book to vivid life. His imaginative ideas and foreshadowing give the reader just enough information to figure out the real culprit of the crimes mere pages before the characters themselves were able to. Each of the characters is unique and has their own qualities that causes you to either love or hate them—depending on who they are. Even if you’re not a fan of Stephen King’s other works, I highly suggest you read The Green Mile, regardless.

A fantastic non-horror Stephen King novel, I give The Green Mile 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Genres:
Ganymede
Priest, Cherie
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Now that I’ve read the first three books in the Clockwork Century series, any hope I had of some cohesive narrative is essentially gone. While following a new character for each book helps to provide a different setting of the steampunk alternate universe, when I know these characters won’t matter outside their own books, I kind of stop caring about them. Even previous heroines are relegated to cameo and minor character status as the persistent series of somewhat pointless events drags on. And don’t even get me started on the zombies, which are a distraction to any actual story in my opinion.

I think the main problem I have with these books is the fact that things happen without much lead-up or foreshadowing. Sure, there are some fascinating factors involved with making a submarine work in the Civil War era, but the resulting battle and conclusion went exactly as I expected them to. This isn’t foreshadowing as much as it is conforming to clichés. There doesn’t seem to be much at stake in any of the character arcs, which is made all the more prevalent by the relatively uninteresting characters themselves. Some have distinguishable quirks, but they all feel flat in a world that could be that much more interesting.

As for the “twist” near the end involving one of the characters, I feel it was poorly executed, let alone unnecessary. Considering the medical techniques at the time, even in an alternate universe, the individual in question probably didn’t have the necessary “assets” to convincingly pull this deception off. If anything, it was only hidden via clothing, but since there were no hints or foreshadowing about this surprisingly minor character, I had no way to even know if anything was off to begin with. I can believe that some of them might exist in that timeframe, but it just felt like a cheap add-in for the sake of “inclusion.”

Another steampunk book in a series that isn’t going anywhere, I give Ganymede 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
The Cask of Amontillado
Poe, Edgar Allan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This isn’t a full length book but rather a short piece of writing - the first I read of Poe’s but by far the most entertaining. The piece is set in an unnamed Italian city during the Carnival season and depicts the protagonist, Montresor, inviting Fortunato, a former friend, to a wine tasting in his cellar. Fortunato previously insulted Montresor and this invitation isn’t one of forgiveness, but revenge. The language isn’t difficult to understand as most pieces from the 1800's are and there isn’t any research needed to be done beforehand in order to read this piece. The Cask of Amontillado possesses a dark, morbid theme which is entertaining depending on the audiences interests, for example, if increasingly horrifying character behavior is something that surprises you. I felt a range of emotions from suspicious to terrified throughout the piece and if there are any audiobooks you can get your hands on, that definitely assists in terms of establishing a more realistic setting. When I listened to the audiobook, echoes of their voices and droplets of water dripping from the ceiling of the damp cellar were included to contribute to an overall eeriness.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W.
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I read this novel on a whim - I had never read any of Wilde before and did not know too much about him as an author apart from the fact he was put on trial and imprisoned during his life. The Picture of Dorian Gray was thoroughly surprising and unexpected. Dorian Gray, at the beginning of the novel, is perceived by Basil Hallward as an individual worth obsessing over, he is infatuated with him and without knowing Dorian yet, the reader is too.
But then the reader is introduced to him physically and I realized he isn't all that. He's almost pompous but somehow clever and he's beautiful. Both Basil and his friend Lord Henry Wotton are influenced to see him more positively by that but I think the fact that Dorian is not tangible to the reader allows us to see him for who he truely is. According to Lord Henry, beauty is worth more than genius is, depicting which friend he prefers over the other. I wanted to sympathize with Basil because he was more sensitive than the others and I felt pity for him as I realized he was not a character anyone particularly cared immensely for. I preferred Basil over both Henry and Dorian because Henry's beliefs appeared rather traditionalist and were more controversial than common and the fact that Dorian was supposed to be a character without any fault was already a warning for me. Honestly, from the title, I did not know what direction the novel was going in from any point during the reading. To clear a few things up, Basil is an artist who paints a portrait of Dorian because he appreciates him in a more aesthetic manner than others who enjoy his company but the portrait appears to change into something more demonic as time goes on symbolizing how awful Dorian was becoming as a person. I mean, I needed to stop reading for a few minutes because I could not believe how little Dorian cared for others but I will admit that the absurdity of it all was entertaining. There is a lot of murder in this book which definitely makes the novel more interesting but then I guess I should also mention not get too attached to some characters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W.
I Am Legend and Other Stories
Matheson, Richard
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After listening to this audiobook, it became abundantly clear why this story was adapted into a movie on three separate occasions (the most recent being the 2007 movie of the same name). While this latest adaptation didn’t seem to emphasize the “vampire-ness” of the creatures as much as its source material, many of the elements of the story were still present. In fact, I now prefer the original story, as its prose was almost poetic at times in its descriptions of the main character’s struggle to survive. While the ending wasn’t particularly satisfying in either incarnation, the plot development was superb.

I appreciated how the author was able to strip away the superstition that surrounds vampires and look at these fantastical creatures in a more logical and scientific light. Why do vampires hate garlic? Why does a stake through the heart kill them? Do crosses work against vampires who are Jewish or Muslim? His explanations of these well-known trappings of the vampire were as interesting in their revelation as they were in their research. Almost makes me wish that other “horror monsters” had the same treatment since it helps to make their existence somewhat more plausible.

As for the “other stories” included in this audiobook, it soon becomes clear that Matheson is a master of the macabre. Even if the remaining stories don’t necessarily pack the same impact of I Am Legend, many of them are entertaining enough to round out the experience. The narrator’s voice acting certainly added to the characterizations of these other stories, even if seemed a little over the top at times. Overall, these other stories might have been somewhat unnecessary, as I Am Legend can hold its own by itself. Still, the whole collection was entertaining, so I’d recommend it to anyone who likes to read horror.

A poetic and logical examination of a vampire-induced apocalypse, I give I Am Legend and Other Stories 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Genres:
The Shining
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the scariest and most tense books ever written, The Shining is a novel that will grab you by the neck and will not let go until you have turned the last page. The book is about Jack Torrance, a recovering alcoholic who takes a position as the off-season caretaker at a Colorado Hotel. However, he soon goes insane from cabin fever and tries to kill his family. I personally loved this book. The suspense that it is able to build is incredible. The characters are all fleshed out and unique, and the book is truly terrifying. In my opinion, this is one of, if not the best Stephen King book. I would recommend it to Stephen King or horror fans.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Genres:
The Gunslinger
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

While Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have had their moments as fantasy epics, I believe that The Gunslinger, and indeed, the whole series, deserves to be placed right next to Tolkien's masterpieces as one of the greatest fantasy books/series of all time. Taking place in a medieval world that is somewhat similar to the Old West, but exists in a parallel time frame to our own, we follow the journey of Roland of Gilead as he travels across this universe in search of the nexus of the universe--The Dark Tower. The novel is filled with adventure, intrigue, suspense, humor, and action that keeps you reading, no matter what. While not a traditional horror novel like King is known for, it is still a worthy addition to the King collection. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great fantasy book series to read, or any Stephen King fan.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Salem's Lot
King, Stephen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

One of King's most famous books, Salem's Lot is a story about vampires that doesn't exactly rival King's other books in terms of plot and suspense. However, it's still a great book that is very enjoyable. The book is about a vampire that eventually turns the entire town into vampires themselves, and a small group consisting of a doctor, a priest, a writer, and a little boy all fight back against the outbreak. The book does a good job of building up the villain and the characters, but the horror is not exactly the preliminary theme here. Instead, it is more focused on the drama and action, which is fine, but for an author who is famous for his horror novels, this book was slightly underwhelming. However, I would still recommend it to Stephen King fans or anyone looking for a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:

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