Spooktober: Creatures of the Night

Welcome all to the final stop on the Spooktober express. We have reached Halloween! I wish you all a spooktacular Halloween – to celebrate, here are some popular Halloween creatures and books to go with them!

CATS

The Ninth Life – Taylor Brooke

For the past few months, The Ninth Life was known as The Unforgettable Lives of Austin Price – and its one of my most anticipated 2020 releases! Taylor has described it as:

“🌈queer non-binary MC who lived 8 past lives as CATS!!
✨portland, OR
🐶there’s a talking dog
💜complicated love triangle
🏔austin is such a soft boi
🐯life & love & grief”

The Travelling Cat Chronicles – Hiro Akirawa

Contains human owner trying to find a new home for his cat, but the cat doesn’t know why! Beautiful and heartbreaking and so much love!

Other Words for Smoke – Sarah Maria Griffin

Contains strange evil owls, fairytale like setting and a large, fluffy talking cat!

WITCHES

These Witches Don’t Burn – Isabel Sterling

Queer witches, dating and blood rituals!

The Hollow Girl – Hillary Monahan

To repay the boys that attacked her and her friend, Bethan has to collect body parts to complete a spell which will bring her friend Martyn back from the brink of death. Gruesome witchiness!

The Scapegracers – Hannah Abigail Clarke

This book is described on Goodreads as “An outcast teenage lesbian witch finds her coven hidden amongst the popular girls in her school, and performs some seriously badass magic in the process.” And it sounds epic! I am so hear for queer witches.

The Dark Tide – Alicia Jasinska

Retelling of a Scottish fairytale! YES YES YES! (I’m Scottish so I’m incredibly excited for this!!!) Enemies to lovers, sapphic, Witchy Queen, MC sacrificing herself to save her secret crush….then falls for the enemy?! Everything about this sounds perfect!

SKELETONS/NECROMANCY

Even though necromancy could in theory be considered a part of the above witches section, I am given it it’s whole section! Because necromancy is probably my favourite type of magic and I love love love books which feature it!

Gideon the Ninth – Tamsyn Muir

Science fantasy! Sapphic! Enemies to lovers! Skeletons! Oh god so many skeletons!

Reign of the Fallen – Sarah Glenn Marsh

Necromancers who have to bring back the dead by walking into the “Deadlands” to retreive the souls of the dead + bisexual MC + someone starts killing necromancers…Part fantasy, part mystery!

The Bone Witch – Rin Chupeco

MC who accidentally brings her brother back from the dead at his funeral, learning she is a Bone Witch.

MERMAIDS/SEA CREATURES

Into the Drowning Deep – Mira Grant

Absolutely terrifying! Mermaids have been discovered, after they were caught on camera devouring the crew of a ship. Now a new research vessel is setting off to find them. Cue unimaginable horrors. If you missed my review of this spooktacular book yesterday, check it out here!

The Abyss Surrounds Us – Emily Skrutskie

Sea monsters! Women fighting sea monsters! Pirates! Pirates trying to use a sea monster to control the seas!

Ice Massacre – Tiana Warner

Every year, a warriers are sent to fight the mermaids. Every year, no one returns. So this year, a group of women are sent, in the hope that the mermaids luring siren power won’t work on them.

GHOSTS AND OTHER HAUNTINGS

Missing, Presumed Dead – Emma Berquist

Lexi can see ghosts. When Jane is brutally murdered, she returns as a ghost and enlists Lexi’s help to hunt down her murderer. This book is so so amazing, it’s dark and gritty and really tense, I absolutely flew through it!

The Dark In-Between – Elizabeth Hrib

When Casey reutrns from the dead, its to discover her best friend has died. When an angel falls from the sky, Casey follows the angel to a place called Limbo, which she must learn to walk between, in order to save her friend.

Unbroken – Brooklyn Ray

Okay so this is why I had to add “And other hauntings”, because I wanted to mention this book. When Michael moves into his new home, he doens’t expect it to be haunted – by a witch turned demon who likes to bake…. Cue falling in love!!!! Please give me all the queer, demon romance.

WEREWOLVES

A Curse so Dark and Lonely – Brigid Kemmerer

A retelling of Beauty and the Beast! Harper is kidnapped and wakes up in a strange land, where Prince Rhen is trying to make her fall in love with him. He’s been cursed to repeat Autumn, turning into a mindless beast at the end of every season and slaughtering his kingdom. If someone can fall in love with him, the curse will be broken.

Red Hood – Elana K. Arnold

When Bisou runs into the woods on the night of homecoming, she encounters a wolf, and somehow, manages to kill it. The next day, one of her classmates has been found in the woods. Dead. She doesn’t know if it’s her fault. Loose Red Riding Hood retelling, dark and gorey, female empowerment!

VAMPIRES

Blood Countess – Lana Popović

Okay not technically vampires, but instead “A historical YA horror novel based on the infamous real-life inspiration for Countess Dracula”. This inspiration is Elizabeth Báthory, who has the title of most prolific female serial killer ever….I have chills just thinking about this book!

The Beautiful – Renée Ahdieh

The glitz and glamour of vampires in New Orleans! Serial killings, murder mystery and falling in love with a monster.

The Deathless Girls – Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Vampire brides of Dracula is all I’ll say!

***

Happy Halloween! With this post I have reached the last of my Spooktober posts. I hope you have enjoyed this spooktacular last week of October! I’ll be a little less around during November, as I’m aiming to do NaNoWriMo, and get some of my angsty bisexual pirate book written! If you’d like to keep up with my writing progress, follow me on Twitter, that’s probably where I will be most! Might even tweet a line or two from the book as I go (pending I have any lines I like enough…)

Finally, what’s your favourite Halloweeny book? Let me know in the comments below!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco

Spooktober Book Review: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Title: Into the Drowning Deep by Mira Grant

Publisher: Orbit

Publication date: 14 November 2017

Genre: Horror | Adult

Page extent: 440 pages

Rating: FIVE / FIVE GLORIOUSLY SPOOKY STARS 👻👻👻👻👻

Goodreads blurb: Seven years ago, the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a “mockumentary” bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a maritime tragedy.

Now, a new crew has been assembled. But this time they’re not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life’s work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost.

Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price.

***

“Do I think they found mermaids? Yes. Of course I do. And I think the mermaids ate them all.”

IT GIVES ME CHILLS

Well I’m never getting on a boat again. Continuing my dive (hahaha) into horror, which started with Wilder Girls, I picked up Into the Drowning Deep after seeing it recommended on Twitter. And holy smokes, this book is goddamn incredible and I am now officially a fan of horror. Cue immediate reserving of several titles at the library. Into the Drowning Deep is a psychological horror set in a world where mermaids exist. Except, instead of the ‘lovely ladies of the sea’ we expect to find based on all our myths, we find creatures who want to eat our faces. 

7 years before the start of the novel, the Atargatis set off to film a mockumentary about the existence of mermaids. Instead, they were devoured alive. Now, Imagine, the entertainment company who had arranged the mockumentary 7 years ago, are launching a new mission to fix their reputation. They will prove that the mermaids are not a hoax, by capturing one and bringing it back to land. Accompanied by an army of scientists driven to either find the mermaids and make the discovery of a lifetime, or just to study parts of the uncharted ocean, the Melusine sets off on its mission. 

The trouble with discovery is that it goes two ways. For you to find something, that thing must also find you.

From the very first page of the novel, there is SO MUCH tension. I was immediately enthralled from the very first page. Short extracts of interviews, talks, videos appear at the start of each ‘section’, and these really add to the sense of tension and fear. They add brilliant insights into the mermaids, as well as hint at some of the terrible things about to happen. Another tension enducing technique I adored was the way Grant would compare the mermaids to very specific animals, the second before something awful happens. There is a split second of realisation for both the characters, and the reader, as you realise oh shit yes that’s what the mermaids are doing, and then immediately the shit happens. It was so terrifying and so amazing, my stomach was like a rollercoaster. It was just SO INTENSE. I cannot express how incredible it was to be swept on this ride.

Cats chitter when they see a bird. They make this little squeaky noise…Cats chitter, because they’re excited, because they’re about to start hunting. But when the hunt begins, they’re silent. They don’t make a sound. They come at their prey as quietly as they can, because a hunt only counts if there’s a kill at the end.

I loved the hugely scientific focus of the book. It was so detailed and made everything so much more ‘real’ by adding the science element – and by real I mean, I could imagine this all happening in real life. One of the things I love most about scarier stories is making it as realistic and believable as possible. It’s why I really love stories about viruses/pandemics, because they are so believable. And that believability really does add to the sense of fear! I feel like Into the Drowning Deep really had that believability, in part because there was such a scientific focus. I loved all the descriptions of the different scientists and their work, and loved that many of these different characters got focus. There are lots of POVs, but it works! There is such a diverse range of characters and I love that they all got to feature so heavily. Whilst there are main characters, the side characters POV still add a unique and interesting take to the story, sometimes having some of the scariest POVs in the book.

Our ‘main’ crew can be narrowed down to:

Victoria (Tory) Stewart: bisexual icon, sister of Anne, one of the people who died on the previous mission, and who has got NO TIME for her foolish asshole scientist ex who also happens to be on the boat (Jason, he’s a total ass, I shall mention him no further).

Dr Jillian Toth, half-Hawaiian world-leading expert on mermaids, who has dedicated her entire life to studying mermaids and who feels deeply guilty that her research led to the massacre on the previous Atargatis expedition (Jillian is probably my favourite character because she just has her shit together so much, and I just absolutely hung off every word she uttered).

Olivia: autistic, lesbian TV personality from Imagine who is documenting the events on board the ship.

Theo Blackwell: physically disabled, representing the Imagine management on board, and Jillain’s ex-husband – and probably the one character I’ll say I wish we’d had more character development from. He’s definitely not a good character (as in “morally good”), and I wanted to find out more about his motives.

These four are joined by a host of others, including three sisters, Holly (chemical data analysist, deaf twin) and Heather (also deaf, twin to Holly, and underwater explorer, HOW COOL IS THAT?!), and Hallie (sign langauge extraordinaire); Luis, crytozoologist and Victoria’s lab partner and funder; Michi and Jacques, gun loving monster hunters. Honestly, this cast list is just amazing. Every single one is so damn unique and different, and every POV felt really different. Whilst the four main characters get more page time, I loved that we still got to read from the smaller characters POV. Their short POV sections were excellent and added so much to the book and the tension. 

On top of all this awesomeness, it all features a f/f relationship (though this is definitely not the focus of the book). We get to watch the romance bloom – and there was a part of the book, right near the end, where something happens, and I’m just like NO NO NO this can’t happen, because SHE will be causing it AND JUST I need someone to talk to about this book.

Finally, Into the Drowning Deep goes into some really deep discussions on the commercialisation of science, our treatment of species we consider “other”, and the impact humanity has on the world around us, which I thought were all handed brilliantly and really shows how terrible the human race can be.

“Humanity was cruel, and if you were prepared to try to find a bottom to that cruelty, you had best be prepared for a long, long fall.”

All in all, I loved this book! My first adult horror, I really wasn’t sure what to expect and I certainly didn’t expect to love it as much as I did (because I’m a visual media horror wimp). But everything about this book was fantastic, the plot, the science, the characters, the prose. It all added up to a superbly terrifying and intense novel, and I can’t recommend it enough! 

***

After this book, I am now so exicted to expand my reading into the horror genre! So, since I’m such a newby, do you have any horror recs? Let me know!

Paws out,
Rach + Draco