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Reflections on the #AtoZChallenge

by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

April 28, 2024

2 Books for Fans of Horror

by MK French

Did you whet your appetite for horror novels with my recommendation of horror short stories earlier this month? Or perhaps, Donna's discussion of Occult Fiction has you looking for more horror recommendations, check out these two books.

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

The Gathering by C.J. Tudor

book cover of horror novel The Gathering by C.J. Tudor
April 2024; Ballantine Books; 978-0593356593
audio, ebook, print (352 pages); horror suspense

The small Alaskan town of Deadhart hadn't seen a death where the body was completely drained of blood for twenty-five years. The Colony is a group of vampyrs living in a mine in the woods, and people are convinced it's them. Detective Barbara Atkins calls on the former Deadhart sheriff Jenson Tucker to help her investigate. The pair look into the town’s history, uncovering secrets neither knew about. Another body is found, and winter is deepening. There is more snow and longer nights, giving more opportunities for the killer. Time is running out for everyone involved.

A Gathering is meant to be the final showdown between humans and vampyrs in a world where they always existed. They age more slowly than humans and have the speed, strength, and blood-drinking abilities of myth. They have legal protection as minorities, but small towns near settlement areas are often full of religious fervor and guns. This small town in Alaska is left from an old copper mine, and it boasts a God-fearing preacher who has a penchant for calling vampyrs demons and all but calling for their obliteration. Into this town comes a detective with a vampyr anthropologist background, which automatically makes the local population unhappy as they call for a cull of the Colony.

The novel is well written, with questions along the way of not just who the killer is, but what happened twenty-five years ago, and the origins of the town when the copper mine was in full swing and abusive, hypocritical men were in charge. The different threads of the story are also interwoven with a captive; whatever you think her identity is, I promise you that you're wrong and it's a complete surprise. The town population falls as the mystery unravels and Barbara comes closer to the truth; there are multiple surprises along the way, and the finale is a bloody and fun mess as the truth is finally revealed and justice is served. The epilogue is a teaser, and I hope to see Barbara Atkins again. 

Buy The Gathering at Amazon

Burrows of Blood and Shadow by Rebekah L. Webb

book cover of horror novel Burrows of Blood and Shadow by Rebekah L Webb
October 2022; Indie;  979-8218094782
ebook, print (238 pages); horror

The Dream Surfer experiences life through the creams and memories of others. He generally stays in the calmer minds, living quiet lives and ordinary dreams. Some minds are more like burrows into the dark. When he wants to break free of the life he lives, he decides the burrows into pain and madness are his way to freedom.

The opening chapter outlines the mechanics of the Dream Surfer's life, entering dreams through doorways that appear in the dark alleyway of wherever it is that he exists. Each chapter afterward outlines the dark and horrible dreams of the burrows, becoming short bursts of horror, gore, and misery for the characters as the Dream Surfer watches. He feels like he should be learning something from these stories, and soon we see that some of them are interconnected after all. Angels and demons are real in this world, with heaven and hell associated with the torments and pain meted out to the vulnerable victims. The ties between some of the stories seem to show there is a lesson involved, bloody justice meted out to those that tortured the innocent.

While most of the stories centered on pain and death, the Dream Surfer tries to figure out the deeper meaning behind them. There is humor, joy, and love after all, not just pain; he decides his life is going to be more than the darkness of the burrows. It's an interesting format but with too many unlikeable characters and many passive ones. Like the Dream Surfer, you'll have to take your own meaning out of the stories and figure out your own path forward.

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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