An excellent haul for the Halloween season!

5.  The Cabin by Natasha Preston

What it’s About:  A group of friends head up to a cabin, but two of them turn up dead.

What I Thought:  First you need to abandon any thoughts of this being like The Cabin in the Woods or Until Dawn, where the entire story takes place in a secluded cabin while the cast tries to understand the bizarre happenings.  This is a murder mystery where the murders happen to take place in a cabin, but the investigation all happens back in town.  A bigger problem for me is that I found the characters in the book to be completely unappealing.  Sadly, this book was a struggle for me to get though.

4.  Hollow Pike by James Dawson

What it’s About:  Moving in with her sister to escape a vicious bully, Lis quickly attracts the attention of two warring groups at her new school, the queen bees and the outcasts.  She initially joins the queen bees, hoping to avoid the problems that led her to flee her old school, but quickly sees that her new friends are even worse than her old bullies.  If that wasn’t enough, she discovers that a location near her new home appears to be the same palace she sees in her recurring dream of being stalked and murdered.  She tries to convince herself that it must be a coincidence.  Dreams don’t come true, after all, even if her new home is an eerie place that is legendary for being home to witches.

What I Thought:  This book starts out as Mean Girls with a touch of magic.  Then we hit a plot point which sends the narrative spinning off in a completely new direction.  This plot point is set up by what comes before it and the changes to the story flow naturally out of what happens, but this doesn’t change the fact that I kind of preferred the early part of the story to what comes later.  That said, there certainly isn’t anything wrong with the back part of the book, and in fact there is one twist that was very moving.  Looking over some other reviews, I see that some people agreed with me that the early part of the book was better, others who though the story got better after the twist, and some who thought it was basically the same (good or bad) all the way through.  In spite of my reservations, I would still throw this out as an option for anyone looking for a book to read during the Halloween season.

3.  The Graces by Laure Eve

What it’s About:  The Graces are the mysterious family in town, rumoured to be witches.  River is determined to force her way into their inner circle.

What I Thought:  A fairly recent release, which has generated some polarizing reactions.  While a number of reviewers have given it solid marks, many have ultimately failed to even finish the story.  I lean more towards the former, seeing this as an imperfect read but one that ultimately left me eager for the sequel.  The key to know about this book going in is that it is a very slow burn, as River slowly tries to win the trust of the three Grace siblings, while also uncovering their secrets.  Then we hit the climax, where a whole lot of stuff suddenly starts happening.  There are a few painful sequences, like when two of the young characters talk about death in a way that sounds anything but authentic, but I think it’s worth sticking it out past some of the awkwardness and slow building of the first two-thirds of the book to get to the end, and then decide if you want to continue with the series.  As I already noted, I am definitely in for book two sometime in 2017.

2. The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender

What it’s About:  When Deli is left an insane asylum turned home by a relative; she is forced to head down with her parents and sister to check the place out.  Upon arriving, Delia is instantly unnerved by the house and wants to leave, but is forced to stay by her parents, who assume she is just acting out.  Unfortunately, by the end of the night, Delia is dead.  Her grieving family depart, leaving Delia to sort out her new existence as a ghost, and forge relationship with the other ghosts that lurk around Hysteria Hall.  All this while she remains convinced that there was something supernatural about her death.

What I Thought:  An excellent, creepy read.  Delia’s quest to come to terms with her status as one of the many ghosts of Hysteria Hall while also discovering exactly what happened to end her life is very compelling.  The only real problem I had with this book is that something happens at the end of the story which feels completely out of left field and unearned.  Thankfully, it’s not part of the true climax of the story, which could have ruined everything that comes before.  The book still works in my opinion, but that bit at the end does knock it down a few notches.

  1. Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender

What it’s About:  Alexis’ life is hard enough as it is, with her dysfunctional family and being the outsider at school.  But all that is nothing compared to what’s about to happen.  Her younger sister Kasey starts acting very strange, and bizarrely, at times her eyes seem to change colour.  The family home also becomes a very strange, eerie place to be, what with door opening and closing by themselves and the air turning very cold for no apparent reason.  When things start to get very threatening, Alexis may be the only one who can save her family.

What I Thought:  The first book in a trilogy of creepy tales of supernatural evil.  With this series and the previously mentioned The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall, Alender has quickly put herself on my list of author’s I want to keep track of.  Bad Girls Don’t Die gets the top spot on the list because it doesn’t have any issue at the end like Dead Girls did.  I raced through this trilogy and Dead Girls, and am eager to see any other books from

Published by Andrew Clendening