Hi guys! How are y’all? So it’s time for a slightly belated October wrap-up. October was a pretty amazing reading month for me. I read a lot of creepy, atmospheric books for Halloween, which was a lot of fun, and I only read one book that I didn’t enjoy. I think that must be a record!
The Wicked Deep by Shea Ernshaw ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Wicked Deep’s set in a town where three sisters accused of witchcraft were drowned 200 years ago. Each summer the sisters return to take revenge, possessing the bodies of girls and drowning boys int he harbor. This is the most atmospheric book I’ve read in a long time, reading it filled me with the same sense of magic and mystery as The Raven Boys. The main characters were both torn between the things they want and what’s right, which made their journey’s compelling to read, and I absolutely adore the setting, Especially the small island where the protagonist lives, with an old lighthouse, overgrown orchards and stray cats.
Monstress, Vol. 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Monstress is a beautiful, but gruesome graphic novel about a war between humans and Arcanics, so-called half-breeds with animal features. It’s gorgeously illustrated in a rich, detailed art-deco style and has some of the prettiest pages I’ve ever seen in a graphic novel. The plot reminds me of The Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy, but with a protagonist who’s more like Nevernight’s Mia Corvere. If you know how much I love both those series, you know that’s a big compliment.
Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
This little gem of a YA book took me by surprise, I wasn’t expecting to fall so completely in love with it. But it’s simply wonderful. Told from the POV of two teens who used to be best friend it deals with topics like grief, love, family, friendship, the meaning of words and discovering who you are. So all the big stuff, and the small stuff too. The characters in this book are all brilliant, and not just the main characters. All the side characters are nuanced, complex people who’s got their own shit going on – and that feels very true. And don’t let’s forget the true star: the wonderful second-hand bookstore where the characters live, work and read.
Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Crimson Bound is another book that took me by surprise this month. It’s a dark, ensnaring Little Red Riding Hood retelling with some Hansel and Gretel woven through – and it enchanted me from page one. Rachelle was going to succeed her aunt as woodwife and protect her village from the menacing forest, until she stepped off the path. She makes a bad choice, a reckless, dangerous choice, but it’s still her choice and the rest of her story is her taking responsibility for tit and learning to live with what she can’t take back – and that’s so powerful. I like my fairytale heroines best when they show some agency. The mythology of a sleeping forest god who will one day wake to eat the sun and the moon is also pretty fantastic. I think I’m a Rosamund Hodge fangirl now.
Favorite Quote: “She had walked willingly into a fairy tale, into a world where she could trade her heart for her freedom. She may as well have donned a red cloak and strode into darkened forest. She has always known there would be wolves”
The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Baba Yaga is one of my favorite characters from folklore and one of the most striking images in the folklore is her hut with it’s chicken legs, so I knew had to have this the moment I saw it. Marinka’s grandmother is a Yaga, a guardian of the dead, and Marinka’s her apprentice, but her biggest wish is to live among the living. This was such a lovely, heart-warming story, with one of the most charming and unusual casts of characters. My favorite’s the house itself, it has a strong personality and doesn’t need words to express itself. It grows vines of flowers to show affection and kicks Marinka off a cliff to teach her how to swim.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Through the Woods is a collection of stunningly illustrated graphic horror tales, all centered around the ancient fear of the deep, dark woods. The five tales all have a timeless, fairy-tale like feel and I was surprised by how genuinely creepy I found them all. I love the way Carroll used colors, each story had a distinct style and color palette, which gave them all their own distinct moods.
The Price Guide to the Occult by Leslye Walton ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Nor Blackburn just wants a normal life, unlike her ancestor who’s otherworldly abilities saw her burned from her home, but when her estranged mother publishes a book which promises to cast any spell for the right price, she knows a storm is coming. This book has such a dark and ominous atmosphere, you could practically sense the dark clouds rolling in in as the people, animals and even the island itself prepared for the dark magic Nor’s mother’s going to bring down on them. It’s one of the best witchy books I’ve read, I just wish there was more.
I read the whole trilogy this month, and enjoyed the last two more than the first. I’m not going to go into details about these two, cause it’s so hard without spoiling anything. But I loved them. You get to know the characters so much better and connect with them more deeply, and the mythology and magic are expanded in ways I really enjoyed reading about. While the first book was a little too slow for me, these two strike the perfect balance between characters and plot.
The Hearts We Sold by Emily Lloyd-Jones ⭐⭐⭐⭐
The Heart We Sold is a story about a girl from an abusive home who sells her heart to a demon, to pay for her expensive boarding school. She meets the other teens indebted to the demon and starts a romance with one. Despite the paranormal elements, this book felt so gritty and real. The characters and their relationships were very nuanced and compelling and the romance was simply lovely.
Favorite character: Nighteyes, from the Farseer trilogy. I love wolves and this is my first time reading a book where a wolf is a major character and I love it so much. I love everything about him. I love his kindness, loyalty and generosity. I love how sassy he is and that he has no time for human nonsense.
This is the first book in the Farseer trilogy and the start if the epic Realms of the Elderlings series. It’s a coming of age story about a young boy who’s born a royal bastard and raised to become an assassin in service of the king. It’s a very slow and character driven story, and while I enjoyed getting to know the characters and the world, this book felt like set-up for a bigger story. Which is exactly what it is, of course, and it’s a great start to the series.
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Wives & Daughter is a story about a girl who’s father remarries, bringing a step-mother and a step-sister into their lives and turning it upside down. I went into this not knowing it was an unfinished work, which did effect my reading experience. It’s hard to form an opinion on a book that ends so abruptly, but I liked where it was going – so a four star rating seems fair, even if the story as it is is probably closer to a three for me. I loved the main character, Molly, and most of the side character were also compelling, with the exception of the step-mother, who’s unlikable in the most annoying way possible.
Motherhood by Sheila Heti ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Motherhood’s not an easy book to sum up in a few sentences. Mostly, it’s Heti’s thoughts and questions about motherhood, about what it means to be a mother and what it means to chose not to be, what you lose and what you gain. It’s about her mother and her mother’s mother. It’s about being a daughter. It’s about being a woman in the world and wondering how to be a woman in the world. This was a very interesting and enlightneing read, even though I didn’t resonate as deeply with me as her first novel did.
The Seventh Bride by T. Kingfisher ⭐⭐⭐
This is a Bluebeard retelling, about a miller’s daughter who’s to marry a noble and there’s absolutely no Stockholm syndrome in this story. Which is one of the many reasons I love the main character so much. She was such a breath of fresh air with her common sense and incredulity, she takes nothing in stride, questions everything, including her own sanity. Which isn’t unreasonable when you’re introduced to your husband-to-be’s six wives, one of which happens to be a clock. I also loved the bond that formed between some of the wives, their compassion for each other and willingness to work together. If the plot has been a little more fleshed out, this would’ve been wonderful.
Favorite ship: Henry & Rachel, from Words in Deep Blue. I rooted so hard for those two lil’ idiots.
Melmoth by Sarah Perry ⭐⭐
I’ve read more than a thousand books and I can count on one hand the ones I’ve been disturbed/disgusted by (the others are The Enchanted and The Gargoyle, if any of y’all are into that) I thought this would be dark in a dark fairy-tale sense, and there are definitley fairy-tale elements, but mostly this book focuses on a very human darkness and cruelty in some of history’s darkest moments. From WWII to the Armenian Genocide. It explores topics like mercy, forgiveness and redemption and does so well, but I can’t honestly say that I enjoyed reading it. CW: rape, murder, genocide, infanticide, abuse.
Was October a good reading month for you? Did you read anything Halloween-themed? What’s your favorite thing you read this month?