Oct 26, 2023
#horror #Charmaine & Abbey #thriller #90's #conversationoffavorites #staffpicks #we recommend
Charmaine: I love this time of year, leaves are starting to change, Hallowe’en merchandise is out, and horror movies are aplenty on TV. Speaking of which, have you seen the new Scream VI movie? I just watched it, and —it was good- but it doesn’t compare to the original... It has me thinking about what makes a horror movie a classic, and what elements are needed to draw the viewer/reader right in and keep them engaged until the very end...
I recently read The Graveyard Shift by Maria Lewis, which totally gave me original 90’s Scream movie vibes but better. Tinsel Monroe is a night shift radio host. Her show The Graveyard Shift – features horror movie trivia and music. One evening while offering up a pair of tickets to a new horror film, the caller, Mera, ends up murdered while on the air. When Tinsel finds out, and bodies continue to fall around her, she teams up with her sister Pandora (a huge true crime podcast fan) and a handsome detective, to find out what is going on....as she has now become a target and time is running out.
It was such a great read, horror, a touch of romantic suspense, and twists and turns that will keep you guessing—this was definitely a read in one sitting kind of book! I can’t wait to see what Maria Lewis comes out with next.
Abbey: I’m not really into these new Scream movies... I find them kind of cheesy . . .I prefer a dark and creeping horror; ones that have an impending sense of dread. I loved movies like The Ritual (which is also a great book by Adam Nevill!), Don’t Worry Darling, and of course modern classics like Midsommar. The ‘something is definitely wrong here’ theme is what made me love Natural Beauty by Ling Ling Huang so much. This book follows an unnamed narrator as she transitions from young piano prodigy to getting scouted to work at a high-end beauty store in New York City – think The Body Shop but for elites who can afford to spend $600 on snail-slime eye cream. While this store seems to be selling miracles in a bottle, our narrator slowly uncovers a dark underbelly of exploitation, lies, betrayal, racism, and murder. While the reader can guess there’s something wrong with this too-good-to-be-true business, I doubt you’ll be able to guess where this story goes!
Charmaine: Interesting... sounds like it has similar vibes to Mona Awad’s Rouge—where the main character Belle is obsessed with her skin care and skin care videos. When Belle’s mother dies, she returns to California to try to find out what happened to her. Her mother had many beauty secrets, including a special mirror, and a membership to an invite only spa (La Maison de Méduse) and Belle wants to learn about all of them. She is determined to score an invite to the spa- as their promise of a transformative experience has piqued her interest.... in a perhaps unhealthy way...
Abbey: I actually picked up Natural Beauty thinking it was Rouge! I ended up really enjoying it but Rouge is definitely next.
I also recently read Near the Bone by Christina Henry. We meet Mattie and her husband William in their secluded mountaintop home, though this marriage is far from normal. As if the truth behind Mattie and William’s connection wasn’t stressful enough, Mattie is also finding mutilated animals in the woods and has strangers showing up looking to find evidence of a creature stalking the mountain. Now she’s forced to survive two evils – her husband, and whatever’s chosen her home as its hunting grounds. Some people have complained that this creature-feature doesn’t feature enough creature...I disagree. I love it when our mind is left to fill in the gaps (think about how scary the Blair Witch Project was without us ever even seeing the witch!) This is exactly the dread-building, survival, ‘is-something-actually-hunting-us?’ type of horror I love, akin to Adam Nevil’s The Ritual and Alma Katsu’s The Hunger (and you know how much I talk about those books).
Charmaine: Yes I do—I know how much you love a wilderness thriller type book!
Speaking of evils, have you added Black Sheep (Rachel Harrison) to your TBR (to be read) pile yet? I really enjoyed this book—very creative and entertaining (and got a starred review from Publishers’ Weekly, who describe it as:
“... small-town religious horror with wit as sharp as a ritual dagger piercing through a bleeding core of familial trauma.”
Vesper, left her religious community at 18 and has been working as a waitress since. Her mother is famed horror film star Contance, and her father, a mystery. She was excommunicated when she left, so she was very surprised to receive a wedding invitation on her doorstep to her cousin’s wedding (aka ex-best friend --who is marrying Vesper’s ex-boyfriend!). She decides to attend—and everyone is creepily happy to see her—arousing her suspicion that something is up...and it is...and it is coming.... and it will change everything!
Stay tuned for our next blog, and more fabulous horror!