This was highly recommended by a couple of my coworkers. A YA mystery, it is set in an exclusive school—fully paid for and invite only—in Vermont. Since it started in the 1930s, the school has been shrouded in a mystery of the founder’s kidnapped wife and child. Stevie is accepted to the school and her goal is to solve the 80-year-old mystery. This book did live up to its reputation. However! It ends on a cliffhanger and that drives me nuts. I don’t care if a story is a series, but each book should be its own story. I’m waffling on finishing the other two books in the series.
Bruja Born, by Zoraida Córdova
This is the second in the Brooklyn Brujas series. The story follows a family of Latina witches, with each book taking on the story of one teenaged sister. This book is about the oldest sister, Lula, a healer who, in trying to resurrect her boyfriend after a terrible bus accident, creates a host of undead. This book was all right. I like the first one better because we went to a magical world and this one is in regular old Brooklyn. Not to say that it didn’t have good worldbuilding, it did, but the setting didn’t intrigue me as much as in the first book. Still, the series has been worth reading.
The Hollow Places, by T. Kingfisher
I’ve been on a kick to find books that are scary … in a certain way. In my research, I’ve found that the type of horror that I like is Folk Horror. This is a book that was just out in October. I started listening to it, but was so into it, that I needed to read it fast, so I bought it and tore right through it. Kara, newly divorced, goes to live with her uncle who owns a museum of the unusual—taxidermy, skeletons, etc. She loves it there and has always felt like it was a safe space. Then one day, while her uncle is healing from knee surgery, she finds a hole in the wall on the second floor. With her friend, the barista who runs the coffee shop next door, they open the hole to reveal a different world. What follows is uncanny, creepy, and deadly. And so much fun.
Fugitive Telemetry, by Martha Wells
Not out until next April is another novella in the Murderbot Diaries series. I got my hot little hands on a galley for it! This novella follows Exit Strategies and is before the novel, Network Effect. While this story doesn’t have the immediacy of the other novellas and novels, it was still a lot of fun. Set on Preservation Station not too long after its arrival, Murderbot helps to solve a murder (unheard of in Preservation territory) at the behest of Mensah. I seriously can’t get enough of this character.
The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood
This is a novella by an English author first published in the early 1900s. It is the inspiration for The Hollow Places and a well-regarded early piece of horror (believed to have influenced Lovecraft). It definitely has some creep factor going on, but it is so vague as to not be really scary—reminiscent of The Turn of the Screw. The story follows the narrator and his companion, known as the Swede, on their canoe journey down the length of the Danube river. They come to a part that is entirely remote and they camp on an island in the river that is covered with willow trees. After a short while, they begin to get a nervous feeling blamed on the wind. But after a day on the island, they know that there are other forces at work against them.
The In-Between, by Rebecca K.S. Ansari
A middle grade scary story. I really enjoyed Ansari’s first book that came out last year, The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly. It’s plot was really different and surprising. This book’s plot wasn’t quite as twisty, but I think I liked it even more. Cooper is angry that his father left their family. Jess misses her dad even while dealing with diabetes. They team up for the first time in a long time to discover the mystery of the girl who lives in the newly renovated house next door, with the help of a mysterious new kid. This is kid horror-lite at its best—things are not what they seem! The other things I liked about it was the portrayal of divorce and Cooper’s anger. It’s rare that you get a young character who is truly angry. I felt like that made both main characters more real.