The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

Summary:
Courtney Gould’s thrilling debut The Dead and the Dark is about the things that lurk in dark corners, the parts of you that can’t remain hidden, and about finding home in places―and people―you didn’t expect.
The Dark has been waiting for far too long, and it won’t stay hidden any longer.
Something is wrong in Snakebite, Oregon. Teenagers are disappearing, some turning up dead, the weather isn’t normal, and all fingers seem to point to TV’s most popular ghost hunters who have just returned to town. Logan Ortiz-Woodley, daughter of TV’s ParaSpectors, has never been to Snakebite before, but the moment she and her dads arrive, she starts to get the feeling that there’s more secrets buried here than they originally let on.
Ashley Barton’s boyfriend was the first teen to go missing, and she’s felt his presence ever since. But now that the Ortiz-Woodleys are in town, his ghost is following her and the only person Ashley can trust is the mysterious Logan. When Ashley and Logan team up to figure out who—or what—is haunting Snakebite, their investigation reveals truths about the town, their families, and themselves that neither of them are ready for. As the danger intensifies, they realize that their growing feelings for each other could be a light in the darkness.

Book Cover

Review:
Thank you NetGalley and the publishers for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. The Dead and the Dark is a creepy story that follows Logan, the daughter of the two stars of ParaSpectors. Her dads star on a ghost hunting kind of show and they claim that their next big shoot is going to be in Snakebite, Oregon where her dads grew up. But when Logan and her Pop arrive, they are anything but welcomed by the towns people. This story was suspenseful and mysterious. It was an excellent read for spooky season. I’m still not writing reviews that I’m super happy with, so, I’m going to change up the format again for this one.

Things I Liked:

I really liked the diversity. Logan is a lesbian. She has two dads. There’s also a character that’s unsure about their sexuality.

I liked the family dynamic. Logan gets along with her Pop way more than she does with her dad. There were reasons behind this, but I think Gould did a great job showing the love that this family has for each other.

The setting. I love books that have small town settings and this one absolutely didn’t disappoint in that regard. The setting of Snakebite really made this story what it was.

The mystery that this story is trying to solve was a fascinating one. We see a bad thing happen at the beginning, but the person’s identity isn’t revealed so I spent the whole book guessing who this ‘big bad’ was. I never did figure it out until the big reveal.

I grew to like the romance. Logan ends up having feelings for a girl that we’re led to believe is straight. She’s also kind of shitty in the sense that she spends all this time with Logan, but she doesn’t defend her to her local friends. But I think she grew enough that I did really end up liking her and Logan together.

I really liked the family history that we learned about. Both of Logan’s fathers grew up in Snakebite, so there’s so much that she doesn’t know about their childhood. We get to learn bits and pieces about what things were like for them as the story goes along.

Things I Didn’t Like:

At times, I didn’t like Logan. She was rude as hell to her dad but so nice to her Pop. There were reasons for the things her dad did and the was that he acted and she never took the time to even ask about it. She just let her negative feelings fester and I really didn’t like that.

I think the story was a bit slow at times. I’m not sure how to explain it other than that. I don’t think that I was expecting creepy things to jump out at me, but there was just something about it that couldn’t hold my focus.

The ending felt like it was a bit rushed compared to the slower pace of the rest of the story. There were so many plotlines that needed to be tied together in order to wrap up the story and I think it all happened really quickly and neatly and I didn’t love that. This story was messy, but the ending wrapped up in a nice neat bow.

Overall, this was a suspenseful and atmospheric story about a family that returns to a small town full of secrets. I really loved the ‘small town full of secrets’ aspect of the story. I would definitely recommend this book for spooky season.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

Small Favors by Erin A. Craig

Summary:
Ellerie Downing lives in the quiet town of Amity Falls in the Blackspire Mountain range–five narrow peaks stretching into the sky like a grasping hand, bordered by a nearly impenetrable forest from which the early townsfolk fought off the devils in the woods. To this day, visitors are few and rare. But when a supply party goes missing, some worry that the monsters that once stalked the region have returned.
As fall turns to winter, more strange activities plague the town. They point to a tribe of devilish and mystical creatures who promise to fulfill the residents’ deepest desires, however grand and impossible, for just a small favor. But their true intentions are much more sinister, and Ellerie finds herself in a race against time before all of Amity Falls, her family, and the boy she loves go up in flames.

Book Cover

Review:
Small Favors is a new release that I was extremely excited about. I got it as a gift for my birthday (Thanks, Antonia!) and I read it during my birthday weekend. This would have been an excellent book to read for spooky season (much like her debut novel, House of Salt and Sorrows). Small Favors follows Ellerie, who lives in a small town. She’s grown-up hearing myths and folklore about the monsters that used to live in the forest around the town. But most within the town never really believed them. When a supply party goes missing, those that believe in the old stories worry that the monsters have returned. The book follows Ellerie for a year, through all four seasons, so, as the seasons pass, strange things continue to happen. Are there really monsters in the woods? Or is there something else going on?
Ellerie was a character that I immediately liked. The only thing that I didn’t like about her was her attraction to Whitaker (a name that she gave him because he wouldn’t tell her his actual name). There was something suspicious about him from the beginning, but Craig managed to tell his part of the story in a way that I felt bad for him and ultimately liked him and how things played out for him and Ellerie. Aside from not liking Whitaker, I really liked Ellerie. She’s the second born child. But her older brother, Samuel, is a bit of a shit. He isn’t following through with his responsibilities to the family and he continues to make selfish choices for most of the book. Ellerie really steps up as the head of her family when something happens to her parents. There were some parts of this story that were slow, following Ellerie just trying to keep herself and family alive. But just because they were slow, doesn’t mean that nothing was happening.  There was something unsettling about this story. All throughout the story, there was an overall creepy feeling. A sense that something more was going on in this town than we were being led to believe.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. There was a spooky feel to it, a mystery that was waiting to be unraveled. It’s a story full of questions just waiting to be answered. I really loved the characters. I liked the reveals of what was really happening to this town. I think it’s a fascinating story about how there is darkness in each and every person. I definitely would recommend this book.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Summary:
Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.
Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together — in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.
Rose Szabo’s thrilling debut is a dark and thrilling novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

What Big Teeth by Rose Szabo

Review:
Generally, I start my reviews with a bit of a summary of the story in my own words. Well, I can’t do that with this review because I honestly have no idea what just happened. I listened to the audiobook and really enjoyed the narrator. I felt like the story itself wasn’t super fast-paced (until the end anyway) but it still felt like I flew through the story. I think part of this is because I was so confused and filled with questions that I just needed to keep going so I could get some answers.
I gave this book 4 stars, but honestly, I’m still so confused. The story follows Eleanor after she flees her boarding school and returns home to a family she hasn’t seen in almost ten years. Her family is filled with monsters and she is missing quite a few important pieces of her memory. The things that Eleanor couldn’t remember was one of the more frustrating aspects of this book because it clear that her family remembers more than she does, but because she’s been gone so long with no communication from anyone aside from her grandmother, there’s a lot of distrust between all of them. Eleanor’s grandfather, sister, father, and cousin are werewolves (they’re never called that because their origin is a whole other thing. But they’re basically werewolves). Her paternal grandmother (the one that sent her away in the first place) is a witch of some sort and her mother is hinted to be something, but it’s never really addressed. Now, with all of this, it was easy to assume that Eleanor was also something, but we didn’t know what exactly that was. This was one of the big plot lines of the book. What is Eleanor? Well, we learn that what she is played a big part of everything that’s happened to her.
So, the things that I liked about this story were many. Despite being confused as heck for most of this story, I was interested. The setting was atmospheric and vivid. The author did an excellent job with stunning imagery. I liked seeing Eleanor uncomfortable. I think this was because I didn’t really like Eleanor. She doesn’t make good choices (her grandmother gives her advice on her death bed and Eleanor basically never thinks about it again even though following that advice would have saved her from literally everything in this book). But what compelled me to continue on in this story was that I couldn’t help but understand why Eleanor did the things she did. It wasn’t hard to sympathize with her even though I didn’t really like her. There were some things that were so clear to the reader that Eleanor didn’t want to see them, so she didn’t. But with her backstory, it was easy to understand why she was this way. I loved all of the fantasy/horror elements. The monsters and the magic, the stories that we heard the family tell, it was all so creepy in the best way. I also really loved Margaret. She’s Eleanor’s aunt. I liked the slow development of the relationship from actively disliking one another to finding themselves on the same side and working together. Margaret doesn’t speak and doesn’t like to be spoken to, so we get some fun charades scenes.
I would have liked to have gotten a bit more from some of the other characters though. We got a lot of Arthur (a family friend) because he is a love interest. I think the ‘romance’ was absolutely not needed for this story to work. Romance is in quotes because there was a sort of happily ever after that I didn’t really care for. I would have totally been okay with all the other bits of the ‘romance’ if they hadn’t gotten that HEA moment, especially after learning all the details of Arthur’s backstory. We didn’t get much from Eleanor’s cousin and sister other than the fact that they were spoiled adults that acted like children because they’d been given or had taken anything they had ever wanted or needed.
Overall, this was a wild ride that was spooky, creepy, scary, and a whole bunch of other things. I think it was written well. But sometimes there was just a bit too much going on. I loved all the monsters and magic and mayhem. I will definitely be reading more work by Szabo.

Keep on reading lovelies, Amanda.