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October 15, 2022

3 Books Perfect for Your Halloween Reading

by MK French


We have a little over two weeks until Halloween, and if you are still looking for spooky reads I have a few recommendations.

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

Little Eve by Catriona Ward

book cover of horror novel Little Eve by Cartriona Ward
October 2022; Tor Nightfire; 978-1250812650
audio, ebook, print (288 pages); horror

On Altnaharra off the coast of Scotland in 1917, a group is sure that the Adder is coming to end the world and restart it over again. One of the group will inherit his power, and Eve will do anything to ensure she's the one that does. A brutal murder interrupting their sacred ceremony leads to an investigation, so all of the island's secrets are being revealed. 

This is the American reprint of this novel, so the style might be a bit different from what others are used. The language is very straightforward and lulling, and switches between perspectives and time periods, but still deals with family secrets. Eve is sure that she's meant to take care of the others. The "family" that stays on the isle is all she knows, and they follow Uncle's directions. Whether that's having very little to eat, shunning the one that disobeys or displeases Uncle in some way, or getting shut away in the dark as a punishment, his word is law. Police are involved as a welfare check, but Eve staunchly resists and tries to stay in control of the clairvoyance she's sure she received as a gift from the Adder, as well as the income keeping their group afloat. This family sticks together, but resentment and secrets still run deep between them, and the outside world wants to intrude on their way of life.

The lulling way it's written pulls me into the story, into Eve's or Dinah's POV. The surety they have in Uncle and the Adder is nothing short of a cult, and turn-of-the-century isolation ensures that the rules are rarely questioned. The question of identity and family, of hiding the past versus exploring it, and the nature of power are themes that have come up in other Catriona Ward novels. Here, it's a very Gothic atmosphere, haunting and ultimately sad when we learn what actually happened on that fateful day on the island. The legacy of the Adder had a long reach so that even the future had a shadow cast over it. 

Little Eve is beautifully written and will linger long after the last page.

Buy Little Eve at Amazon

The Dark Between the Trees by Fiona Barnett

book cover of gothic ghost story The Dark Between the Trees by FIona Barnett
October 2022; Solaris; 978-1786187130
audio, ebook, print (304 pages); ghost story

In 1643, a group of seventeen Parliamentarian soldiers enter Moresby Wood following an ambush, despite its reputation for witchcraft and sorcery. Only two survive, with disjointed tales of something hungry and landscapes that move. In the modern day, Dr. Alice Christopher leads five women to explore Moresby Wood with metal detectors, GPS units, mobile phones, and the most recent map of the area. They think they're ready to explore.

We have the two threads of this story, past and present, each in the forest and quickly losing track of where they are. If compasses don't work and the tree cover blocks GPS signal, why wouldn’t the women mark a trail? They're academics for the most part, telling stories about the Corrigal and the folk tales of the area, so they use an older map "to go by feel." As with any group of people lost in the woods, in both timelines the people's nerves fray, they snipe at each other and try to find someone to blame. Even though the two groups are very different, their reactions are very similar each step of the way.


Legacy Witches by Cass Kay

book cover of horror novel Legacy Witches by Cass Kay
October 2022; Dream the Dream; 979-8986074511
audio, ebook, print (292 pages); horror

Vianna Roots is the last witch within her family, one of the founding families of witches in the Salem covens. She has no intention of remaining in Salem, planning to flip her family home for profit and leaving it behind. The house itself is haunted and she can see ghosts, including that of her childhood friend. In trying to find out what happened to her, Vianna is now crossing the most powerful coven in Salem. When they make an offer on the house to get rid of her, she hesitates. In solving her friend's murder, Vianna will have to make new friends and face the past she ran from.

This is the start of a fascinating new series. Witches really do live in Salem, seeing ghosts is a rare trait even in witches, and the dead can still affect the living. Plus, the haunted house has a demon that essentially animates it and gives it a sense of character in its own right, which I really love. The sass it gives Vianna when she returns in chapter one leads to some hilarious images before the creepy ghosts reliving their last moments kicks in. Finding out about her childhood friend Nancy is a shock to her system, especially since Vianna never felt like she belonged among the coven witches and didn't want to become the next witch assassin like her mother. She clearly has skills of her own, but would rather remain a solitary witch. Her old crush wanting her back in her life is suspicious, and I mistrusted all of the coven witches right away.

In addition to trying to discover what happened to Nancy, Vianna makes a new friend in Dee and gets back into doing magic. It isn't just lighting candles and saying words, which can be part of it. There are specific ingredients, bone and blood, spells, hex bags, and precise incantations. Grimoires are personal things to family lines, and there is power in legacies. All choices that Vianna makes have consequences, though she's determined to be a solitary witch and not get dragged into coven politics. Unfortunately, that means she's dragged into coven politics. Witches here are the kind that harm, hoodoo heals, and police are expected to stay far away from magical mayhem. I enjoyed seeing this version of Salem and its dangerous witches. This will be a fantastic series with lots of conflicts, ghosts, and magic in books to come.

Buy Legacy Witches at Amazon


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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