Review: The Lake House

Title: The Lake House
Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Thriller, Horror
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Format: Ebook
Release Date: April 25, 2023
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Claire’s grown up triple-checking locks. Counting her steps. Second-guessing every decision. It’s just how she’s wired – her worst-case scenarios never actually come true.

Until she arrives at an off-the-grid summer camp to find a blackened, burned husk instead of a lodge – and no survivors, except her and two other late arrivals: Reyva and Mariana.

When the three girls find a dead body in the woods, they realize none of this is an accident. Someone, something, is hunting them. Something that hides in the shadows. Something that refuses to let them leave.


Happy Pub Day to The Lake House!

Claire, Reyva, and Mariana arrive on a remote lake for a summer camp that their parents went to when they were kids. Their parents all decided to send them now since the camp is reopening after being closed for years. However, when they get to the camp, the house has burned down. Then they find a dead body in the woods. It’s too late for them to return to the mainland because the boat that dropped them off has left. The three girls must conquer their fears to survive the mysterious dangers of the lake house. 

I don’t usually like survival stories like this one, but I was intrigued by the premise of this story. I really enjoyed it! The three girls had to figure out how to survive on the island with only the things they had brought for camp, but they also encountered other challenges throughout the story. There were a lot of unpredictable twists that kept the story suspenseful. There was a bit of a supernatural twist to the end of the story too that surprised me, but it all came together in the end. 

The Lake House is a suspenseful new YA story!

Thank you HCC Frenzy for providing a digital copy of this book. 

Content warnings: panic attacks, death, suicide, anxiety, broken bones, fire, gunshot death

What to read next:

Lord of the Fly Fest by Goldy Moldavsky

Have you read The Lake House? What did you think of it?


Review: Juniper and Thorn

Title: Juniper and Thorn
Author: Ava Reid
Genre: Horror, Gothic, Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From highly acclaimed bestselling author Ava Reid comes a gothic horror retelling of The Juniper Tree, set in another time and place within the world of The Wolf and the Woodsman, where a young witch seeks to discover her identity and escape the domination of her wizard father, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Catherynne M. Valente.

A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites. 

Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart. 

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.


Marlinchen and her two sisters are witches who live with their father, the last wizard, in the city of Oblya. Marlinchen and her sisters must use their magic to earn money for their family since their father was cursed. The girls are never allowed to leave their home. One night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak into the city to see the ballet. She falls in love with the show and the principal dancer Sevas. After this taste of freedom, Marlinchen pushes the boundaries to leave her home more, but her father’s anger becomes more threatening as she has more secrets to keep from him. 

I wasn’t familiar with The Juniper Tree story, which this book is based on, so this story was a surprise to me. I really liked Marlinchen, though the people around her didn’t like her at all. She suffered abuse from her family and some clients. Though some parts of this story were difficult to read, I loved the twists and it had a meaningful ending. 

I had the opportunity to meet Ava Reid yesterday in Toronto. After hearing her speak about the book, including her inspiration and publishing process, I feel like I understand the book much better. 

Juniper and Thorn is a thought-provoking gothic horror. 

Content Warnings: physical and emotional abuse, child abuse (emotional, sexual and physical), rape, murder, death of animals, death of parent, body horror, cannibalism

What to read next:

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Have you read Juniper and Thorn? What did you think of it?

Review: Delicious Monsters

Title: Delicious Monsters
Author: Liselle Sambury
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Paranormal
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: February 28, 2023
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

The Haunting of Hill House meets Sadie in this evocative and mind-bending psychological thriller following two teen girls navigating the treacherous past of a mysterious mansion ten years apart.

Daisy sees dead people—something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…

A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most—Daisy’s or her own?

As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.


Seventeen-year-old Daisy can see dead people. She’s constantly surrounded by them in Toronto, but she manages to deal with it. When her mother gets the news that she inherited a mansion in Timmins, a city in Northern Ontario, Daisy and her mother, Grace, move there. In the mansion, Daisy must confront her mother’s secret past. Ten years later, Brittney hosts a web series about haunted places. She decides that she wants to shape the new series around forgotten Black girls, like Daisy. Brittney and her co-host Jayden go to “Miracle Mansion” to investigate the haunted mansion where Daisy’s tragic story unfolds. 

This story started out as a ghost story, but it had a lot more meaning than that. It was quite intense, particularly towards the end. The ending of this story raised the question of what girls are forgotten and who is considered worth looking for. This horror story had an emotionally charged ending. There were extensive trigger warnings at the beginning of the book, which I will include at the end of this post.

One of my criticisms of the story is that I found there was too much back story at the beginning. There was a lot of Daisy’s life in Toronto in the first third of the book, and it wasn’t as crucial to the ending of the book. I would have liked it more if the main story started sooner. There were also many hints to tension points that were obvious by the time they were revealed, which minimized the tension they should have caused. 

Delicious Monsters is a horror story with and important message. 

Content warnings: child sexual assault (off page), child physical abuse (off page), child neglect, grooming, suicide, killing of a goat, body horror, violence, death

Thank you Simon and Schuster for providing a physical copy of this book.

What to read next:

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Have you read Delicious Monsters? What did you think of it?

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: ★★★★★


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.


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: ★★★★


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.


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: ★★★★


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 . . .


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: ★★★


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.


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: ★★★★★


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.


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: ★★★★


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.


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: ★★★★


    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.


    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?