Review: Dead Flip

Title: Dead Flip
Author: Sara Farizan
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Source: Thomas Allen and Son
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 30, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Edge-of-your-seat YA horror perfect for fans of Stranger Things
 
Growing up, Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable best friends, sharing their love for Halloween, arcade games, and one another. Now it’s 1992, Sam has been missing for five years, and Cori and Maz aren’t speaking anymore. How could they be, when Cori is sure Sam is dead and Maz thinks he may have been kidnapped by a supernatural pinball machine?
 
These days, all Maz wants to do is party, buy CDs at Sam Goody, and run away from his past. Meanwhile, Cori is a homecoming queen, hiding her abiding love of horror movies and her queer self under the bubblegum veneer of a high school queen bee. But when Sam returns—still twelve years old while his best friends are now seventeen—Maz and Cori are thrown back together to solve the mystery of what really happened to Sam the night he went missing. Beneath the surface of that mystery lurk secrets the friends never told one another, then and now. And Sam’s is the darkest of all . . .
 
Award-winning author of If You Could Be Mine and Here to StaySara Farizan delivers edge-of-your-seat terror as well as her trademark referential humor, witty narration, and insightful characters.

Review:

Cori, Maz, and Sam were inseparable friends growing up. Now, it’s 1992, and Sam has been missing for five years. In that time, Cori and Maz have drifted apart. One day when Maz is jogging, he runs into twelve-year-old Sam, who has returned, looking exactly like he did when he went missing. Maz and Cori have to figure out what happened to Sam that night, and how he has changed since then. 

This book is perfect for fans of Stranger Things! There were so many nods to the show. There were even some parts that reminded me of the latest season of Stranger Things, even though this book was written before that aired. 

This story was creepy and mysterious, but the ending made sense. It would probably appeal to a variety of age groups, since the characters are in middle school in some chapters, but in high school for most of the book. The story ended on a bit of a cliffhanger, so there could be a sequel. I would love to find out what happens next!

Fans of Stranger Things should check out this fun and creepy story!

Thank you Thomas Allen and Son for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Whispering Pines by Heidi Lang and Kati Bartkowski

Have you read Dead Flip? What did you think of it?

Review: Direwood

Title: Direwood
Author: Catherine Yu
Genre: Young Adult, Horror
Publisher: Page Street Kids
Source: Manda Group
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 20, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

In this velvet-clad 1990s gothic horror, Aja encounters a charming vampire who wants to lure her into the woods—just like her missing sister.

No one ever pays attention to sixteen-year-old Aja until her perfect older sister Fiona goes missing. In the days leading up to Fiona’s disappearance, Aja notices some extraordinary things: a strange fog rolling through their idyllic suburban town, a brief moment when the sky seems to rain blood, and a host of parasitic caterpillars burrowing their way through the trees. Aja’s father, the neighbors, and even her ex-friend Mary all play down this strange string of occurrences, claiming there must be some natural explanation. It seems everyone is willing to keep living in denial until other teens start to go missing too.

Aja is horrified when she meets Padraic, the vampire responsible for all the strange occurrences. His hypnotic voice lures her to the window and tells her everything she’s longed to hear—she’s beautiful and special, and he wants nothing more than for Aja to come with him. Aja knows she shouldn’t trust him, but she’s barely able to resist his enthrallment. And following him into the woods may be the only way to find Fiona, so she agrees on one condition: He must let her leave alive if she is not wooed after one week. Though Aja plans to kill him before the week is out, Padraic has his own secrets as well.

In the misty woods, Aja finds that Padraic has made his nest with another vampire in a dilapidated church infested by blood-sucking butterflies. Within its walls, the vampires are waited on and entertained by other children they’ve enthralled, but there is no sign of Fiona. Before her bargain is up, Aja must find a way to turn her classmates against their captors, find her sister, and save them all—or be forced to join the very monsters she wants to destroy.

Review:

Aja had always lived in her sister’s shadow, until Fiona disappeared on her eighteenth birthday. At the same time, strange things start happening in their small town. The rain looks like blood falling from the sky and lots of caterpillars are burrowing into trees. One evening, a young man named Padraic meets Aja at her window. She has a feeling that he knows about her sister’s disappearance, so she follows him into the woods. Padriac is a vampire, who is responsible for the strange things happening in town. Aja can’t help but be hypnotized by Padriac’s charm, though she tries to resist him while she looks for clues to her sister’s disappearance. 

This was an intense vampire story. There were some gruesome scenes involving blood and bugs, caterpillars and butterflies. I did predict the twist at the end, but it was a wild, fast-paced story that kept me hooked until the end. 

If you’re looking for a fast-paced vampire story, I recommend checking out Direwood!

Thank you Manda Group and Page Street Kids for providing a physical copy of this book.

What to read next:

Vampires Never Get Old edited by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker

Have you read Direwood? What did you think of it?

Review: Lord of the Fly Fest

Title: Lord of the Fly Fest
Author: Goldy Moldavsky
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Horror
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Source: Once Upon a Book Club
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: August 30, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

One of Us Is Lying meets Lord of the Flies meets Fyre Fest in this wickedly addictive and funny YA thriller.

Rafi Francisco needs something really special to put her true crime podcast on the map. She sets her sights on River Stone, the hearthrob musician who rose to stardom after the mysterious disappearance of his girlfriend. Rafi lands herself a ticket to the exclusive Fly Fest, where River will be the headliner.

But when Rafi arrives on the Caribbean island location of Fly Fest with hundreds of other influencers and (very minor) celebrities, they quickly discover that the dream trip is more of a nightmare. And it’s not just confronting beauty gurus-gone-wild and spotty WiFi. Soon, Rafi goes from fighting for an interview to fighting for her life. And, as she gets closer to River, she discovers that he might be hiding even darker secrets than she suspected . . .

Review:

Rafi Francisco has a true crime podcast called “Musical Mysteries.” For season 2 of her podcast, she decides to explore her theory that heartthrob musician River Stone killed his girlfriend and lied that she mysteriously disappeared. Rafi goes to Fly Fest, an influencer festival on a Caribbean island where River will be performing. However, there isn’t anything set up on the island when everyone arrives. There are no buildings, no food, and almost no Wi-Fi. Rafi convinces everyone to stay so that she can get her interview with River, but she discovers what lengths influencers will go to to have a good time at the festival. 

This story was more funny than I expected. The influencers who were on the island with Rafi were caricatures of influencers, going to extreme lengths to make it look like they were having a good time. I loved the quote: “People would rather live in a lie utopia than in a true dystopia.” So much on social media is a lie made to look much better than real life. I’ve done that too. When I’ve been having a bad day, I’ll post a positive, happy post rather than something that reflects how I’m really feeling. This story took it to the extreme where the influencers made it seem like they were having a great time while it was actually a disaster. 

I was expecting this story to me more dark and graphic, but I was pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t that dark. It had a creepy atmosphere on the island, but everything that happened had a logical explanation. There were some gross scenes, but there were so many funny parts that made up for it. 

Lord of the Fly Fest is a fun YA story.

What to read next:

You’re So Dead by Ash Parsons

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky

Have you read Lord of the Fly Fest? What did you think of it?

Review: Hide

Title: Hide
Author: Kiersten White
Genre: Horror, Contemporary
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: May 24, 2022
Rating: ★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

The challenge: spend a week hiding in an abandoned amusement park and don’t get caught.

The prize: enough money to change everything.

Even though everyone is desperate to win–to seize their dream futures or escape their haunting pasts–Mack feels sure that she can beat her competitors. All she has to do is hide, and she’s an expert at that.

It’s the reason she’s alive, and her family isn’t.

But as the people around her begin disappearing one by one, Mack realizes this competition is more sinister than even she imagined, and that together might be the only way to survive.
Fourteen competitors. Seven days. Everywhere to hide, but nowhere to run.

Come out, come out, wherever you are.

A high-stakes hide-and-seek competition turns deadly in this dark supernatural thriller from New York Times bestselling author Kiersten White.

Review:

Would you spend a week in an abandoned amusement park to win $50,000 dollars? That’s the challenge that Mack enters. She lives in a shelter and has nothing to lose, so she decides to enter the challenge along with thirteen other people. Each day the contestants must hide from the “seekers,” with two contestants being “out” each day. However, this is a much darker game than they predicted. They have to figure out how to hide so that they make it out alive. 

This was such a psychologically creepy story. There wasn’t anything actually scary on the page for most of the story, but the threat of some unknown seeker gave the story a spooky atmosphere. 

I wish there was more character development. There were three characters that had full backstories, but the other eleven contestants weren’t as well developed. It would have been helpful to even have a list of the contestants at the beginning so I could tell them apart. I had a higher opinion of this book when I read the acknowledgements at the end. Kiersten White tells her inspiration for writing this book, and it made me understand the terrifying atmosphere in this story. 

Hide is a creepy horror story!

Have you read Hide? What did you think of it?

Review: The Weight of Blood

Title: The Weight of Blood
Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Contemporary
Publisher: HCC Frenzy
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Rating: ★★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Author Tiffany D. Jackson ramps up the horror and tackles America’s history and legacy of racism in this YA novel following a biracial teenager as her Georgia high school hosts its first integrated prom. 

When Springville residents—at least the ones still alive—are questioned about what happened on prom night, they all have the same explanation… Maddy did it.

An outcast at her small-town Georgia high school, Madison Washington has always been a teasing target for bullies. And she’s dealt with it because she has more pressing problems to manage. Until the morning a surprise rainstorm reveals her most closely kept secret: Maddy is biracial. She has been passing for white her entire life at the behest of her fanatical white father, Thomas Washington.

After a viral bullying video pulls back the curtain on Springville High’s racist roots, student leaders come up with a plan to change their image: host the school’s first integrated prom as a show of unity. The popular white class president convinces her Black superstar quarterback boyfriend to ask Maddy to be his date, leaving Maddy wondering if it’s possible to have a normal life.

But some of her classmates aren’t done with her just yet. And what they don’t know is that Maddy still has another secret… one that will cost them all their lives.

Review:

Maddie Washington has always been teased by her classmates for being different. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and has wears old-fashioned clothes. When she’s caught in the rain one day during gym class one day, they learn her biggest secret: she’s biracial. Her classmates bully her even more, making fun of her hair by throwing pencils at her. Some students put out viral videos, which show how deep the racial roots are in this small town. Wendy, the popular white cheer captain, decides to make a change so her racist friends don’t look so bad to the rest of the world. She organizes the town’s first interracial prom, and she asks her popular Black boyfriend to ask Maddie to the dance so that she fits in. However, Maddie has one more secret that will destroy the town. 

The Weight of Blood is a retelling of Stephen King’s Carrie. That’s my favourite King novel so I was so excited to read this one. There were some Stephen King Easter eggs throughout the story. The ending of this book wasn’t exactly the same as Carrie, so I was surprised at the twists. 

The racism in this story was disturbing. Maddie’s white father tried to make her appear white and kept her away from the Black community. Maddie’s classmates said and did horrible things to her, including dressing in blackface. They even had segregated proms. I find it shocking and disturbing that this kind of thing can happen today. Hopefully, books like this one will promote change in the future. 

The Weight of Blood is a fantastic retelling of Carrie with an important message. 

Thank you HCC Frenzy for giving me a copy of this book!

What to read next:

White Smoke by Tiffany D. Jackson

Carrie by Stephen King

Have you read The Weight of Blood? What did you think of it?

Review: 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War (Graveyard Girls #1)

Title: 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War (Graveyard Girls #1)
Author: Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus
Genre: Middle Grade, Horror, Paranormal
Publisher: Union Square Kids
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: September 6, 2022
Rating: ★★★★

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Goodreads Synopsis:

Meet Whisper, Frannie, Sophie, Gemma, and Zuzu, five friends who tell eerie tales by night and navigate middle school drama by day.
 
MISERY FALLS, OREGON, IS ABUZZ AS the 100th anniversary of the electrocution of the town’s most infamous killer, Silas Hoke, approaches. When a mysterious text message leads the girls to the cemetery—where Silas Hoke is buried!—life can’t get any creepier. Except, yes, it can thanks to the surprise storyteller who meets them at the cemetery, inspires the first-ever meeting of the Graveyard Girls, and sets the stage for a terrifying tale from Whisper that they’ll never forget.
 
This slightly scary, extremely addictive story is the first in a five-book series by New York Timesbestselling authors Lisi Harrison and Daniel Kraus.

Review:

Whisper, Frankie, Sophie, and Gemma are best friends who have a club where they tell each other scary stories. Their small town of Misery Falls, Oregon is having a celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the electrocution of their most infamous serial killer, Silas Hoke. Just as the celebration week is about to begin, all of the girls get a mystery text, inviting them to the cemetery where Silas is buried. This sets them off on a scary adventure to find out of Silas has come back to haunt the town. 

This was a fun introduction to a new middle grade horror series. The friends were distinct and had their own subplots as well as the main plot. Many of them had problems with their families and issues at school. One of the big problems I noticed throughout the book was adults not listening to the children. I think that would be relatable because that’s a common feeling as a preteen or teen. 

The friends in this story made up their own scary stories to share with the group. There was one full short story in this book which was about technology addiction in kids. It was creepy and exaggerated, but definitely relevant with how much everyone is addicted to technology these days. 

1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War is a fun and creepy story!

Thank you Union Square Kids for sending me a copy of this book.

What to read next:

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

Hush-A-Bye by Jody Lee Mott

    Have you read 1-2-3-4, I Declare a Thumb War? What did you think of it?

    Review: Katzenjammer

    Title: Katzenjammer
    Author: Francesca Zappia
    Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Contemporary
    Publisher: HCC Frenzy
    Source: Publisher
    Format: Paperback arc
    Release Date: June 28, 2022
    Rating: ★★★★

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    Goodreads Synopsis:

    Cat lives in her high school. She never leaves, and for a long time her school has provided her with everything she needs. But now things are changing. The hallways contract and expand along with the school’s breathing, and the showers in the bathroom run a bloody red. Cat’s best friend is slowly turning into cardboard, and instead of a face, Cat has a cat mask made of her own hardened flesh.

    Cat doesn’t remember why she is trapped in her school or why half of them—Cat included—are slowly transforming. Escaping has always been the one impossibility in her school’s upside-down world. But to save herself from the eventual self-destruction all the students face, Cat must find the way out. And to do that, she’ll have to remember what put her there in the first place.

    Review:

    Cat lives in her high school along with a bunch of other students. None of them are able to leave. The school expands and contracts like it’s breathing, and the showers pour with blood. Cat wears a cat mask that she can’t remove, and her best friend, Jeffrey, is turning into cardboard. Many of them are transforming into animals or inanimate objects. The problem is that Cat doesn’t know why or how they got there. As she slowly regains her memories, she discovers the events that led them there. 

    This story was very good but also very unusual. It was inspired by the story Metamorphosis by Kafka, in which the main character wakes up to discover he has turned into an insect. This story was complex and disturbing. It’s one of those stories that I can’t say much about without spoiling it. 

    There were some disturbing scenes, but that’s expected with a horror. There was a lot of trauma experienced in the present story, along with bullying in Cat’s memories of the before time. The one thing that I didn’t like at the end was that there were a lot of questions left with open ended answers. I prefer it when everything is answered at the end, but that’s just my preference. 

    Katzenjammer is a suspenseful, high school horror story!

    Thank you HCCFrenzy for sending me a copy of this book.

    What to read next:

    Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

    We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

    Have you read Katzenjammer? What did you think of it?

    Review: Small Spaces (Small Spaces #1)

    Title: Small Spaces (Small Spaces #1)
    Author: Katherine Arden
    Genre: Middle Grade, Horror
    Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
    Source: Purchased
    Format: Paperback
    Release Date: September 25, 2018
    Rating: ★★★★

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    Goodreads Synopsis:

    New York Times bestselling adult author of The Bear and the Nightingale makes her middle grade debut with a creepy, spellbinding ghost story destined to become a classic

    After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn’t think—she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with “the smiling man,” a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. 

    Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she’s been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn’t have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: “Best get moving. At nightfall they’ll come for the rest of you.” Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie’s previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN. 

    Only Ollie and two of her classmates heed the bus driver’s warning. As the trio head out into the woods–bordered by a field of scarecrows that seem to be watching them–the bus driver has just one final piece of advice for Ollie and her friends: “Avoid large places. Keep to small.” 

    And with that, a deliciously creepy and hair-raising adventure begins.

    Review:

    Eleven-year-old Ollie finds a woman about to throw a book into a river, so Ollie steals it before it can be destroyed. The book tells a story about a family who made a deal with “the smiling man,” who grants huge wishes for even larger prices. Then, Ollie goes on a school trip to a farm which turns out to be owned by the woman from the river. While her class is leaving the farm, their school bus is trapped in a mist. Ollie’s broken watch tells her to run and begins a countdown. She escapes the bus with two other students Coco and Brian. They end up in an alternate world where the story about “the smiling man” is true. The three friends must escape creepy scarecrows and get back to their home without making a dangerous deal.

    Ollie was a big reader and there were lots of references to classic children’s novels. Two books that were compared to their situation were Alice in Wonderland and The Chronicles of Narnia. In both of those stories, the children are transported to a fantasy world. The only difference in this one was that this was a creepy and scary world, rather than whimsical.

    This was quite a creepy story. It would be perfect for fall since it’s set in a forest and a farm. There was also a corn maze and lots of terrifying scarecrows. I will never look at scarecrows the same way again!

    Small Spaces is a creepy middle grade novel!

    Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

    The Hiddenseek by Nate Cernosek

    Other books in the series:

    • Dead Voices
    • Dark Waters

    Have you read Small Spaces? What did you think of it?

    Review: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Manga Classics)

    Title: The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Manga Classics)
    Author: Edgar Allan Poe, Stacy King
    Genre: Manga, Horror, Short Stories
    Publisher: Udon Entertainment
    Source: Publisher via NetGalley
    Format: Ebook
    Release Date: October 17, 2017
    Rating: ★★★★★

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    Goodreads Synopsis:

    The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe is a brilliant collection of some of his best-known stories: 
    The Tell Tale Heart (a murder’s haunting guilt), illustrated by Virginia Nitouhei
    The Cask of Amontillado (a story of brilliant revenge), and illustrated by Chagen
    The Fall of the House of Usher (an ancient house full of very dark secretes), illustrated by Linus Liu and Man Yiu

    Also included in this collection are The Mask of the Red Death (horrors of ‘the Plague’), as illustrated by Uka Nagao, and the most famous of all his poems, The Raven (a lover’s decline into madness), illustrated by Pikomaro. 

    Best read in a dimly-lit room with the curtains drawn, Poe’s brilliant works come to life in darkly thrilling ways in this Manga Classic adaptation.

    Review:

    This is a manga collection of some of Edgar Allan Poe’s best short stories. They include: The Tell Tale Heart, The Cask of Amontillado, The Raven, The Mask of the Red Death, and The Fall of the House of Usher.

    These stories are some of my favourite short stories. They are all descriptive and have lots of imagery that translates well to illustrations. I loved revisiting these classic stories and seeing them illustrated for the first time.

    The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Manga Classics) is a great manga adaptation of his classic horror stories.

    Thank you Udon Entertainment for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

    Jane Eyre (Manga Classics) by Charlotte Brontë, Stacy King

    The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, Stacy King

    Have you read The Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Manga Classics)? What did you think of it?

    Review: White Smoke

    Title: White Smoke
    Author: Tiffany D. Jackson
    Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Contemporary
    Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
    Source: Purchased
    Format: Hardcover
    Release Date: September 14, 2021
    Rating: ★★★★★

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    Goodreads Synopsis:

    The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out in this chilling YA psychological thriller and modern take on the classic haunted house story from New York Times bestselling author Tiffany D. Jackson!

    Marigold is running from ghosts. The phantoms of her old life keep haunting her, but a move with her newly blended family from their small California beach town to the embattled Midwestern city of Cedarville might be the fresh start she needs. Her mom has accepted a new job with the Sterling Foundation that comes with a free house, one that Mari now has to share with her bratty ten-year-old stepsister, Piper.

    The renovated picture-perfect home on Maple Street, sitting between dilapidated houses, surrounded by wary neighbors has its . . . secrets. That’s only half the problem: household items vanish, doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows walk past rooms, voices can be heard in the walls, and there’s a foul smell seeping through the vents only Mari seems to notice. Worse: Piper keeps talking about a friend who wants Mari gone.

    But “running from ghosts” is just a metaphor, right?

    As the house closes in, Mari learns that the danger isn’t limited to Maple Street. Cedarville has its secrets, too. And secrets always find their way through the cracks.

    Review:

    Seventeen-year-old Marigold and her family move from their home in California to a Midwestern small town where her mom has accepted a job that includes a free house. The rest of the houses on the street are abandoned, and the neighbours in the area are suspicious of everything. As soon as they arrive, things start going wrong in the house. Doors open on their own, lights turn off, shadows appear in hallways and items disappear. Mari’s ten-year-old stepsister starts talking to an imaginary friend in the house, who wants Mari to leave. As the incidents in the house increase and become more dangerous, Mari has to do whatever it takes to save her family.

    This story had some heavy subjects that I wasn’t expecting. I didn’t think there would be as many realistic elements as there were. Some of these serious subjects were drug addiction, overdose, and a severe allergic reaction. Though this was a spooky horror, there were a lot of realistic implications to the story.

    I really enjoyed this story. I liked that the ending made sense and was logical. The only thing that I would have liked to see was justice at the end. There were many layers of destruction happening in the community, and I would have loved to see the events after the story finished where they got what they deserved.

    White Smoke is a thrilling horror story!

    The Girls Are Never Gone by Sarah Glenn Marsh

    Horrid by Katrina Leno

    Have you read White Smoke? What did you think of it?