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May 29, 2022

4 Books for Fans of Horror Novels

by MK French

I can read horror and dark fantasy any time of year, but I know some people prefer to only read it when it is bright and sunny outside. Today, I have books regardless of which category you fall in. Two are new books and two are older titles you might have missed.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. Free books were provided for an honest review.

Throw Me to the Wolves by Lindy Ryan & Christopher Brooks

book cover of horror novel Throw Me to the Wolves by Lindy Ryan and Christopher Brooks
May 2022; Black Spot Books; 978-1645481171
ebook, print (278 pages); horror

Ten years ago, Britta's family was sacrificed to turn her into a werewolf. The witch's remains were found in the house where Britta's family died, and rookie officer Aaron Labaye needs Britta's help in solving the crime. The investigation brings up her brother's ghost, a jealous member of her pack, and a former friend that is prejudiced against all wolves. Looking into the truth of the deaths forces Britta to face that terrible night, as well as her place in the present world.

We begin with Britta called back to Louisiana to help Labaye solve the mystery of the witch,  as only pieces of her were left. The hardest part for her was seeing the house and her brother's ghost; we get flashbacks of the family moving in, learn how Britta essentially raised her brother, and that neither really fit in. The flashback chapters progress forward as the novel goes on, tracking with the present-day investigation. Labaye is nervous around Britta and somehow isn't stunned by the sight of her wolf form. That immediately made me wonder if there was a romance subplot as well as the mystery surrounding the witch and the ritual turning Britta into a werewolf. 

The story is primarily Britta's, even though we see a lot of Labaye and other members of her wolf pack back in Maine. She never really settled there either, and never tried learning more than the basics about her wolf or the supernatural world. She considers herself a dead thing and doesn't like the thought of interacting with others in the pack if she doesn't have to. By the end of the book, we learn more about what happened the night she was turned and her family died, and we see her get closure. We also get tantalizing glimpses of that outer world she ignored, and a cliffhanger of an ending because this is book one of a series. I personally hate cliffhanger endings and didn't know this had one. But the story itself was neatly and cleanly done up until the last page, which had me gaping like "What?! Where's the rest of it?!" As much as werewolves aren't my favorite supernatural creature, I desperately want to read the rest of this series.

Buy Throw Me to the Wolves at Amazon

Little Bird by Tiffany Meuret

book cover of dark fantasy novel Little Bird by Tiffany Meuret
June 2022; Black Spot Books; 978-1645480617
ebook, print (226 pages); dark fantasy

Josie Lauer stays inside her home following her divorce and her father's death. To cope, she has a strict routine that ends with drinking too much vodka. Josie soon finds a small shrub, as well as a vine-like plant that brings a busybody new neighbor and a talking skeleton named Skelly. The sentient plant continues to invade Josie's life, and she realizes Skelly appears for a reason. Josie must figure out what that reason is before everything falls apart.

Josie's world is incredibly narrow at the beginning of the book, and the only interaction she has with living things is with her chihuahua. Occasionally the grocery delivery boy, too. With a new neighbor, sentient vines, and a talking skeleton, this is far more interaction than she's used to. There's a reason for that, one we gradually figure out as the novel progresses by clues dropped during texts with her mother, conversations with Skelly, and the stories traded back and forth. It isn't clear what Skelly wants, or why a story is so important to her, but we see how Josie's isolation, grief, and pain constricted her world and shut off any chance of bonding with anyone else.

Josie slowly circles the drain, so to speak. It's something that many who rely on alcohol or drugs hit at some point, and Josie does hit her rock bottom. It's sad, and I felt bad for her. Reaching that point was painful and lonely, but forced her to change. Change is scary, and the lonely life she had felt less painful up until that point. She must change, and can't stay how things are. Once we know her full story, it makes sense what she ultimately decides to do. It's a fascinating story, and one I raced through to finish.

Buy Little Bird at Amazon

Meat by Dane Cobain

book cover of horror novel Meat by Dane Cobain
October 2020; Indie; 979-8685539595
ebook, print (451 pages); horror

Veterinarian Tom Copeland escapes a scandal at his suburban practice by moving to the Sunnyvale factory farm, keeping animals alive long enough for slaughter. There are rumors of strange creatures beneath the complex, as well as the threat of a zoonotic disease. When disaster strikes Sunnyvale, all of its security begins to make sense. Now all of the staff must band together under the ruthless leadership of the CEO John MacDonald, or they’ll be at the bottom of the food chain.

Our opening has Tom arriving at Sunnyvale with two other workers, allowing us to see what kind of employees work there, as well as the extent of the security the facility has. We also see just how filthy and awful the place is, an environment that values nothing but fattening up animals for slaughter to put into supermarkets for the cheapest price. Even in chapter one there is a hint of more to come, in that other things going on are above their pay grade. Conditions there are poor, and no doubt help produce the virus that hits the facility and affects all of the animals there. The animals are violent and vicious, and the military quarantine isn’t enough to keep them from escaping.

From there, we have a grim tale of humans holed up in the admin building as the rest of the facility is isolated from the outside world. The humans must survive and outwit the animals roaming free, and pigs are smart to begin with. Add a viral vicious streak, and it's dangerous for everyone involved. Even without the eldritch thing living beneath the facility, this is the stuff of horror movies already. It feels like the book shifts genre. First, we see a factory farm and its hellish conditions breed a virus turning the animals vicious, then it mutates and can infect humans. It also becomes something of a zombie apocalypse, and even the characters mention movies like "28 Days Later" in the text. We get to see the worst of humanity as the survivor count drops until we get to a bleak end. I literally chewed off several nails while reading this late at night, because I find zombies terrifying, and zombie animals are somehow worse. This is a horror novel, after all, and death ultimately comes for everyone.

Buy Meat at Amazon
(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the ebook for FREE)

The Devil's Whispers by Lucas Hault

book cover of horror novel The Devil's Whispers by Lucas Hault
January 2022; TCK Publishing; 978-1631611742
audio, ebook, print (248 pages); horror

Gerard Woodward is meant to tie up a dying lord's affairs in his Welsh castle but soon feels more like a prisoner. He's locked inside his room, but escaping it doesn't help. Gerard hears wails and rattling chains, and the halls seem to echo secrets. A horrible secret is hidden in the dungeons of Mathers Castle as children begin to vanish in London, and animals are mutilated. A creature is loose, and Gerard’s wife Raelyn is the creature’s next target.

This is an epistolary novel, told in letters, journal entries, and other ephemera from the early 1900s. It very much evokes the nature of Dracula, with a bit more modernized language for current readers. The creepy atmosphere starts almost right away, with "baleful eyes" peering at Gerard through the window, and the traveling to the castle of his employer also mirrors Dracula. We also see Raelyn and others through their journals, where they detail nightmares and the concern that they create. The monster that worries the characters goes after small animals, young children and men in particular.

I'm a fan of vampire novels, and this was an interesting variation of the mythology. It's actually based on Asturian mythology, which I wasn't aware of before looking it up. The journals describe the creature, as well as others under its control, and the mounting sense of dread is well done. Anyone that enjoys Gothic horror will like this story.

Buy The Devil's Whispers at Amazon
(Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read the ebook for FREE)

Born and raised in New York City, M.K. French started writing stories when very young, dreaming of different worlds and places to visit. She always had an interest in folklore, fairy tales, and the macabre, which has definitely influenced her work. She currently lives in the Midwest with her husband, three young children, and a golden retriever.

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