Tuesday, August 31, 2021

YA/MG Horror Spotlight August 2021

The Ladies of Horror Fiction team is putting a spotlight on Young Adult and Middle Grade horror each month. Below we are featuring the books that were released in August as well as what our team has been reading and reviewing.

Young Adult New Releases

A Lesson in Vengeance by Victoria Lee

For fans of Wilder Girls and Ninth House comes a dark, twisty, atmospheric thriller about a boarding school haunted by its history of witchcraft and two girls dangerously close to digging up the past.

Felicity Morrow is back at Dalloway School.

Perched in the Catskill mountains, the centuries-old, ivy-covered campus was home until the tragic death of her girlfriend. Now, after a year away, she’s returned to graduate. She even has her old room in Godwin House, the exclusive dormitory rumored to be haunted by the spirits of five Dalloway students—girls some say were witches. The Dalloway Five all died mysteriously, one after another, right on Godwin grounds.

Witchcraft is woven into Dalloway’s history. The school doesn’t talk about it, but the students do. In secret rooms and shadowy corners, girls convene. And before her girlfriend died, Felicity was drawn to the dark. She’s determined to leave that behind her now; all Felicity wants is to focus on her senior thesis and graduate. But it’s hard when Dalloway’s occult history is everywhere. And when the new girl won’t let her forget.

It’s Ellis Haley’s first year at Dalloway, and she’s already amassed a loyal following. A prodigy novelist at seventeen, Ellis is a so-called “method writer.” She’s eccentric and brilliant, and Felicity can’t shake the pull she feels to her. So when Ellis asks Felicity for help researching the Dalloway Five for her second book, Felicity can’t say no. Given her history with the arcane, Felicity is the perfect resource.

And when history begins to repeat itself, Felicity will have to face the darkness in Dalloway–and in herself. 

Published August 3, 2021 by Delacorte Press Goodreads | Bookshop

The Dead and the Dark by Courtney Gould

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.

Published August 3, 2021 by Wednesday Books Goodreads | Bookshop

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino

Tess Matheson only wants three things: time to practice her cello, for her sister to be happy, and for everyone else to leave her alone.

Instead, Tess finds herself working all summer at her boarding school library, shelving books and dealing with the intolerable patrons. The worst of them is Eliot Birch: snide, privileged, and constantly requesting forbidden grimoires. After a bargain with Eliot leads to the discovery of an ancient book in the library’s grimoire collection, the pair accidentally unleash a book-bound demon.

The demon will stop at nothing to stay free, manipulating ink to threaten those Tess loves and dismantling Eliot’s strange magic. Tess is plagued by terrible dreams of the devil and haunting memories of a boy who wears Eliot’s face. All she knows is to stay free, the demon needs her… and he’ll have her, dead or alive.

Published August 10, 2021 by Page Street Kids Goodreads | Bookshop

Mark of the Wicked by Georgia Bowers

A young witch tries to unravel the mystery of who is framing her for dark magic in Georgia Bowers’ creepy YA debut fantasy, Mark of the Wicked.

Magic always leaves its mark.

All her life, Matilda has been told one thing about her magic: You use only when necessary. But Matilda isn’t interested in being a good witch. She wants revenge and popularity, and to live her life free of consequences, free of the scars that dark magic leaves on her face as a reminder of her misdeeds.

When a spell goes awry and the new boy at school catches her in the act, Matilda thinks her secret might be out. But far from being afraid, Oliver already knows about her magic – and he wants to learn more. As Oliver and Matilda grow closer, bizarre things begin to happen: Animals show up with their throats slashed and odd markings carved into their bodies, a young girl dies mysteriously, and everyone blames Matilda. But she isn’t responsible — at least, not that she can remember. As her magic begins to spin out of control, Matilda must decide for herself what makes a good witch, and discover the truth…before anyone else turns up dead.

Published August 10, 2021 by Swoon Reads Goodreads | Bookshop

Mine by Delilah S. Dawson

A twisty, terrifying ghost story about twelve-year-old Lily, her creepy new home in Florida, and the territorial ghost of the young girl who lived there before her.

Lily’s new house is a real nightmare. . . .

Lily Horne is a drama queen. It’s helped her rise to stardom in the school play, but it’s also landed her in trouble. Her parents warn her that Florida has to be different. It’s a fresh start. No theatrics. But this time, the drama is coming for her.

The Hornes’ new house is awful. The pool is full of slime, the dock is rotten, and the swamp creeps closer every day. But worst of all, the house isn’t empty . . . it’s packed full of trash, memories, and, Lily begins to fear, the ghost of the girl who lived there before her.

And whatever is waiting in the shadows wants to come out to play.

Published August 10th 2021 by Delacorte Press | Amazon | Goodreads

Have You Seen Me? by Alexandrea Weis

Lindsey Gillett is missing.

And she’s not the first girl at Waverly High to vanish without a trace.

To help cope with the tragedy, new history teacher Aubrey LaRoux organizes a student investigation team. But when the project’s key members start turning up dead across campus, Aubrey suspects there’s more going on than anyone is willing to admit.

The murdered students all had something in common with Lindsey. They shared a secret. And what they uncovered could threaten the future of the historic school.

At Waverly High, someone wants to keep the past buried—and you don’t want to get in their way.

Published August 17, 2021 by Vesuvian Books Goodreads | Bookshop

Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis

For fans of Us and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina comes a witchy story full of black girl magic as one girl’s dark ability to summon the dead offers her a chance at a new life, while revealing to her an even darker future.

Katrell doesn’t mind talking to the dead; she just wishes it made more money. Clients pay her to talk to their deceased loved ones, but it isn’t enough to support her unemployed mother and Mom’s deadbeat boyfriend-of-the-week. Things get worse, when a ghost warns her to stop the summonings or she’ll “burn everything down.” Katrell is willing to call them on their bluff, though. She has no choice. What do ghosts know about eating peanut butter for dinner?

However, when her next summoning accidentally raises someone from the dead, Katrell realizes that a live body is worth a lot more than a dead apparition. And, warning or not, she has no intention of letting this lucrative new business go.

But magic doesn’t come for free, and soon dark forces are closing in on Katrell. The further she goes, the more she risks the lives of not only herself, but those she loves. Katrell faces a choice: resign herself to poverty, or confront the darkness before it’s too late.

Published August 24, 2021 by Delacorte Goodreads | Bookshop

Burden Falls by Kat Ellis

Riverdale meets Stephen King in the terrifying new thriller from the author of Harrow Lake.

The town of Burden Falls drips with superstition, from rumors of its cursed waterfall to Dead-Eyed Sadie, the disturbing specter who haunts it. Ava Thorn grew up right beside the falls, and since a horrific accident killed her parents a year ago, she’s been plagued by nightmares in which Sadie comes calling—nightmares so chilling, Ava feels as if she’ll never wake up. But when someone close to Ava is brutally murdered and she’s the primary suspect, she begins to wonder if the stories might be more than legends—and if the ghost haunting her dreams might be terrifyingly real. Whatever secrets Burden Falls is hiding, there’s a killer on the loose . . . with a vendetta against the Thorns.

Published August 24, 2021 by Dial Books Goodreads | Bookshop

The Woods Are Always Watching by Stephanie Perkins

New from bestselling author Stephanie Perkins, and the perfect companion to her New York Times bestseller There’s Someone Inside Your House, soon to be a Netflix feature.

Bears aren’t the only predators in these woods.

Best friends Neena and Josie spent high school as outsiders, but at least they had each other. Now, with college and a two-thousand-mile separation looming on the horizon, they have one last chance to be together—a three-day hike deep into the woods of the Pisgah National Forest.

Simmering tensions lead to a detour off the trail and straight into a waking nightmare … and then into something far worse. Something that will test them in horrifying ways.

Stephanie Perkins, the bestselling author of There’s Someone Inside Your House, returns with a heart-stopping, gut-wrenching novel about friendship, survival, and navigating unmarked paths even as evil watches from the shadows.

Publishes August 31, 2021 by Dutton Books for Young Readers Goodreads | Bookshop

Middle Grade New Releases

Dark Waters (Small Spaces #3) by Katherine Arden

New York Times bestselling author Katherine Arden returns with another creepy, spine-tingling adventure in this follow-up to the critically acclaimed Small Spaces and Dead Voices.

Having met and outsmarted the smiling man in Dead Voices but fearful of when he’ll come again, Ollie, Brian, and Coco are anxiously searching for a way to defeat him once and for all. By staying together and avoiding remote places, they’ve steered clear of him so far but their constant worry and stress is taking a toll on their lives and friendship. So when Ollie’s dad and Coco’s mom plan a “fun” boat trip on Lake Champlain, the three are apprehensive to say the least. They haven’t had the best of luck on their recent trips and even worse their frenemy Phil is on the boat as well. But when a lake monster destroys their boat, they end up shipwrecked on a deserted island. This isn’t just any island though. It’s hidden from the outside world in a fog and unless everyone works together to find a way to escape, they won’t survive long. 

Published August 3, 2021 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers Goodreads | Bookshop

Escape to Witch City by E. Latimer

In a world ruled by fear of witches, some secrets are deadly. A thrilling new fantasy adventure set in historical London for fans of V.E. Schwab’s City of Ghosts and Serafina and the Black Cloak.

Emmaline Black has a secret. She can hear the rhythm of heartbeats. Not just her own, but others’ too. It’s a rhythm she’s learned to control, and that can only mean one thing… Emma’s a witch.

In a world where a sentence of witchcraft comes with dire consequences and all children who have reached the age of thirteen are tested to ensure they have no witch blood, Emma must attempt to stamp out her power before her own test comes. But the more she researches, the more she begins to suspect that her radically anti-witch aunt and mother are hiding something. The truth about their sister, her Aunt Lenore, who disappeared under mysterious circumstances years ago.

The day of the test comes, and Emma’s results not only pair her up with strange new friends, but set her on a course to challenge everything she’s ever been taught about magic, and reveal long-buried family secrets. It seems witches may not have been so easy to banish after all. Secret cities, untapped powers, missing family members — Emma is about to discover a whole new world.

Published August 3, 2021 by Tundra Books Goodreads | Bookshop

Hide and Don’t Seek by Anica Mrose Rissi

If you’re feeling brave, turn the page.
A game of hide-and-seek goes on far too long…
A look-alike doll makes itself right at home…
A school talent-show act leaves the audience aghast…
And a summer at camp takes a turn for the braaaains
This collection of all-new spooky stories is sure to keep readers up past their bedtimes, laughing, gasping, and looking over their shoulders to see what goes bump in the night. 

Published August 3, 2021 by HarperCollins/Quill Tree Books Goodreads | Bookshop

Paola Santiago and the Forest of Nightmares (Paola Santiago #2) by Tehlor Kay Mejia

Six months after Paola Santiago confronted the legendary La Llorona, life is nothing like she’d expected it to be. She is barely speaking to her best friends, Dante and Emma, and what’s worse, her mom has a totally annoying boyfriend. Even with her chupacabra puppy, Bruto, around, Pao can’t escape the feeling that she’s all alone in the world.

Pao has no one to tell that she’s having nightmares again, this time set in a terrifying forest. Even more troubling? At their center is her estranged father, an enigma of a man she barely remembers. And when Dante’s abuela falls mysteriously ill, it seems that the dad Pao never knew just might be the key to healing the eccentric old woman.

Pao’s search for her father will send her far from home, where she will encounter new monsters and ghosts, a devastating betrayal, and finally, the forest of her nightmares. Will the truths her father has been hiding save the people Pao loves, or destroy them?

Once again Tehlor Kay Mejia draws on her Mexican heritage to tell a wild and wondrous story that combines creatures from folklore with modern-day challenges.

Published August 3, 2021 by Rick Riordan Presents Goodreads | Bookshop

The Plentiful Darkness by Heather Kassner

In Heather Kassner’s spine-chilling fantasy novel, reminiscent of Serafina and the Black Cloak, an orphaned girl chases a thieving boy into a magician’s land of starless, moonless gloom where other children have gone missing before her.

Though the darkness is indeed plentiful, this book gleams with an eerie magic, its characters burning bright and fierce. A visual treat of a tale. –Stefan Bachmann, international bestselling author of Cinders and Sparrows

In order to survive on her own, twelve-year-old Rooney de Barra collects precious moonlight, which she draws from the evening sky with her (very rare and most magical) lunar mirror. All the while she tries to avoid the rival roughhouse boys, and yet another, more terrifying danger: the dreaded thing that’s been disappearing children in the night.

When Trick Aidan, the worst of the roughhouse boys, steals her lunar mirror, Rooney will do whatever it takes to get it back. Even if it means leaping into a pool of darkness after it swallows Trick and her mirror. Or braving the Plentiful Darkness, a bewitching world devoid of sky and stars. Or begrudgingly teaming up with Trick to confront the magician and unravel the magic that has trapped Warybone’s children. 

Published August 3, 2021 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Goodreads | Bookshop

Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko

Perfect for fans of Small Spaces and Nightbooks, Ally Malinenko’s middle-grade debut is an empowering and triumphant ghost story—with spooky twists sure to give readers a few good goosebumps!

Zee Puckett loves ghost stories. She just never expected to be living one.

It all starts with a dark and stormy night. When the skies clear, everything is different. People are missing. There’s a creepy new principal who seems to know everyone’s darkest dreams. And Zee is seeing frightening things: large, scary dogs that talk and maybe even . . . a ghost.

When she tells her classmates, only her best friend, Elijah, believes her. Worse, mean girl Nellie gives Zee a cruel nickname: Ghost Girl.

But whatever the storm washed up isn’t going away. Everyone’s most selfish wishes start coming true in creepy ways.

To fight for what’s right, Zee will have to embrace what makes her different and what makes her Ghost Girl. And all three of them—Zee, Elijah, and Nellie—will have to work together if they want to give their ghost story a happy ending.

Published August 10, 2021 by Katherine Tegen Books Goodreads | Bookshop

A Sprinkle of Sorcery (Pinch of Magic #2) by Michelle Harrison

This sequel to A Pinch of Magic is another spellbinding sisterly adventure, this time with a haunted shipwreck, a fierce pirate, and, of course, a little magic!

The family curse has been lifted, and the Widdershins sisters—Betty, Fliss, and Charlie—are free to leave the misty prison isle of Crowstone. But when a mysterious girl arrives at their inn accompanied by a will-o’-the-wisp, or ghost, it seems another adventure has landed on their doorstep. The stranger, named Willow, is an escaped prisoner from nearby Lament, desperate to clear her father’s name before he’s executed for a crime he didn’t commit. 

Then Charlie is kidnapped by poachers, swept away on a dangerous mission in search of pirate treasure that’s protected by a vengeful ghost. Betty, Fliss, and Willow pile into their trusty boat and embark on another incredible adventure, one that involves ghosts, fierce pirates, and a journey to a mythic island that exists only in legends. Can they save their sister—and themselves—once more?

Published August 17, 2021 by Clarion Books Goodreads | Bookshop

This Town Is a Nightmare by M. K. Krys

In the sequel to This Town Is Not All Right, Beacon, Everleigh, and Arthur think they’ve left the horror of Driftwood Harbor behind them, but the worst is yet to come.

After barely escaping Driftwood Harbor and the wrath of the town, twins Beacon and Everleigh McCullough are on the run with their father and their friend and resident genius Arthur. Only, there’s something strange going on with their dad. As they start to unravel what’s wrong, Beacon quickly realizes they have much bigger problems on their hands, as the group is drawn back to the very same place they left, in order to prevent a terrifying plot from unfolding. Because this time it’s not just their family or the town that’s in danger — this time, it’s the planet.

Published August 21, 2021 by Penguin Workshop Goodreads | Bookshop

Brackenbeast (Thirteens #2) by Kate Alice Marshall

On the night of their thirteenth birthday, Eleanor, Pip, and Otto bested the mysterious Mr. January before he could make them disappear. . . forever.

Eleanor and her two best friends have narrowly escaped the clutches of the January Society and their nefarious leader, but life in the too-quiet Eden Eld isn’t safe just yet. Not when there’s giant mud monsters snatching up their neighbors and classmates. This time, Mr. January’s devilishly stylish sister, Mrs. Prosper, is behind the chaos. Though unsuspecting adults can’t see past her irresistable line of make up and skincare products under the name SixSeed.

Inside their book of twisted fairytales, Thirteen Tales of the Gray, Eleanor, Pip, and Otto might find the secret to warding off the brackenbeasts and thwart Mrs. Prosper. That is, if they accept the help of a mysterious figure seemingly plucked from its pages, who looks disquietingly familiar to Eleanor. They quickly learn that the power of the stories they’ve turned to for help have a stronger hold on them–and their futures–than they realized. 

Publishes August 31, 2021 by Viking Books for Young Readers Goodreads | Bookshop

The Collectors (Fright Watch #2) by Lorien Lawrence

The Ladies in White want you to join their family—forever. . .

After defeating the Oldies, Quinn and Mike thought that things would settle down on Goodie Lane. But then new neighbors move in. Maybe it’s because they all work at the interior design firm, but Abigail, Eleanor, Jade, Brea, and Cami seem to always be together, dressed in only white.

After everything that happened last summer, Quinn’s a bit wary of the Ladies in White, but her friend Lex is thrilled that someone in town finally has some style. But when Lex starts volunteering at the Ladies’ design firm, things get strange. Lex is acting less like herself, and Quinn begins seeing strange shadows lurking in their neighborhood. She knows the Ladies are to blame; she just has to prove it.

Twisty and haunting, The Collectors is the second book in the Fright Watch series, which SLJ called “Perfect for fans of Goosebumps and Stranger Things” and Booklist called “Reminiscent of R. L. Stine’s Fear Street . . . [Fright Watch] can be counted on to deliver chills.”

Publishes August 31, 2021 by Amulet Books Goodreads | Bookshop

The Dollhouse by Charis Cotter

A creepy, mysterious dollhouse takes center stage in this atmospheric middle-grade mystery for fans of Doll Bones and Small Spaces.

Alice’s world is falling apart. Her parents are getting a divorce, and they’ve cancelled their yearly cottage trip — the one thing that gets Alice through the school year. Instead, Alice and her mom are heading to some small town where Alice’s mom will be a live-in nurse to a rich elderly lady.

The house is huge, imposing and spooky, and everything inside is meticulously kept and perfect — not a fun place to spend the summer. Things start to get weird when Alice finds a dollhouse in the attic that’s an exact replica of the house she’s living in. Then she wakes up to find a girl asleep next to her in her bed — a girl who looks a lot like one of the dolls from the dollhouse . . .

When the dollhouse starts to change when Alice isn’t looking, she knows she has to solve the mystery. Who are the girls in the dollhouse? What happened to them? And what is their connection to the mean and mysterious woman who owns the house?

Publishes August 31, 2021 by Tundra Books Goodreads | Bookshop

Young Adult Books Reviewed

It’s another 5⭐ spotlight month here at Ladies of Horror Fiction!

Emily read and reviewed Bad Witch Burning by Jessica Lewis. Don’t miss her review of Bad Witch Burning (“For whatever reason, I thought this was going to be a fun fantasy story, but it’s kind of the opposite (and ended up being one of my favorite books this year).”)

Kathy reviewed The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky. Be sure to check out her review of The Mary Shelley Club (“The mystery of this club and the reason/outcome of Rachel’s attack before she moves to New York City will soon be revealed. You will not be disappointed.”)

Jen is one of our LOHF admins. Jen manages the technical side of the Ladies of Horror Fiction website. She also keeps a spotlight on middle grade and young adult horror each month.

You can also find Jen on her blog Book Den, Twitter as @bookden, Instagram as @bookdenjen, on Goodreads, and Letterboxd.

Monday, August 30, 2021

Guest Post: The History Behind POISON PRIESTESS by Lana Popović

In the late 1600s, noblemen and women at the glittering court of Louis XIV, the Sun King, began dropping like flies.

Of course, court was always a dangerous place to be, with no end of intrigue, conspiracies, and relentless jostling for the King and Queen’s mercurial favor. The kind of snake pit where those who endured knew to watch their backs, even in the company of “friends.” But as the infamous affair of the poisons began sweeping through the aristocracy, so many influential players dropped dead—many of mysterious, gruesome symptoms, others seemingly out of the blue—that rumors ran wild. The court was rife with whispers of seances, divinations, the peddling of lethal poisons known as “inheritance powders,” and even scandalous Black Masses in which the nobility called upon the devil himself to grant them favors. As the rumors gained in fervor, even natural deaths were likely exaggerated into something ripped from a nightmare.

Poison Priestess by Lana Popavic

By 1975, the King himself had become alarmed. He called upon the Lieutenant General of the Parisian police, Gabriel Nicolas de la Reynie, to establish the chambre ardente, the burning chamber. Through interrogation and torture, Reynie’s forces uncovered a ring of alleged fortunetellers and alchemists—including Catherine Monvoisin, better known as La Voisin, the divineress seemingly at the center of this tangled web. Catherine even claimed to have helped the Louis’s own formal mistress, the Marquise de Montespan, wheedle her way into the King’s bed by appealing to Lucifer. 

By the end of the trials, thirty-six people had been condemned to death for murder by way of poisoning and witchcraft; Catherine herself was burned at the stake in 1680. The investigation was only halted because so many of those found to be guilty were at the uppermost echelons—essentially too powerful to be punished. 

Reader, I was hooked. Lurid and macabre decadence, brushed by the supernatural, is the kind of story that I live for. So why had I never even heard of Catherine Monvoisin, before I went looking?

Blood Countess by Lana Popovic

After writing Blood Countess, which is about the infamous Elizabeth Bathory and her twisted relationship with her servant and confidante Anna Darvulia, I’d begun hunting for my next irresistible murderess. After wading through way too many, way too depraved women who preyed on the sick, the old, and the very young, I finally discovered La Voisin. While Catherine Monvoisin was rumored to have sacrificed babies in her satanic rituals, most historians dismiss this claim. The services she actually offered included midwifery, abortions for women in dire straits, and the sale of questionable substances, like aphrodisiacs and poisons for those looking to rid themselves of rivals and offensive spouses. 

Catherine was apparently notably wasted while under interrogation, so many of her more outlandish claims were likely fabrications. But that she was the mastermind an entire ring of devious fortunetellers who sold both their knowledge of poisons and their alleged metaphysical expertise to gullible nobility—even as Louis XIV shunned superstition in favor of science—is indisputable. The Affair of the Poisons by Anne Somerset is a particularly fascinating account of everything that went down, if you want a deeper dive.   

Reading about Catherine got me thinking—what kind of person would have had the brains, the guts, and the extremely malleable morals to pull so many strings, and so fearlessly at that? Money is a potent motivator, but could it possibly have driven her to such lengths for its own sake? In young Cat, I imagined a clever, resourceful, damaged girl, both ambitious and conflicted. Touched by real magic and inexorably drawn to the occult, fueled by a furious drive to keep herself from falling back into the abject poverty she barely managed to survive… and an even fiercer devotion to never again becoming a man’s chattel, stripped of agency and power, as were so many women of her time.

A woman like that would have been formidable—and terrifying, once her desire for power dismantled her already shaky moral compass. The opposite, in every way, of the nurturing, maternal, safe archetype of femininity the patriarchy knows and loves. The kind of woman, in other words, who rarely gets a fair shake when it comes to historical coverage, no matter how fascinating her story. 

While we’ll never know the real Catherine’s deeper motives, I hope readers will find something compelling to relate to in Cat’s plight, and in her particular brand of bravery and boldness.  

Poison Priestess by Lana Popović

Poison Priestess by Lana Popavic

Book 2 in the Lady Slayers series, about French murderess and fortune teller Catherine Monvoisin

In 17th-century Paris, 19-year-old Catherine Monvoisin is a well-heeled jeweler’s wife with a peculiar taste for the arcane. She lives a comfortable life, far removed from a childhood of abject destitution—until her kind spendthrift of a husband lands them both in debt. Hell-bent on avoiding a return to poverty, Catherine must rely on her prophetic visions and the grimoire gifted to her by a talented diviner to reinvent herself as a sorceress. With the help of the grifter Marie Bosse, Catherine divines fortunes in the IIle de la Citee—home to sorcerers and scoundrels.

There she encounters the Marquise de Montespan, a stunning noblewoman. When the Marquise becomes Louis XIV’s royal mistress with Catherine’s help, her ascension catapults Catherine to notoriety. Catherine takes easily to her glittering new life as the Sorceress La Voisin, pitting the depraved noblesse against one other to her advantage. The stakes soar ever higher when her path crosses with that of a young magician. A charged rivalry between sorceress and magician leads to Black Masses, tangled deceptions, and grisly murder—and sets Catherine on a collision course that threatens her own life.

Published April 6th 2021 by Harry N. Abrams | Amazon | Goodreads


Lana studied psychology and literature at Yale University and law at Boston University. She is a graduate of the Emerson College publishing and writing program and the author of YA novels Wicked Like a Wildfire, Fierce Like a Firestorm, Blood Countess, the forthcoming Poison Priestess, and the forthcoming adult rom-com, Payback’s A Witch, from Berkley Books (10/5/21). Lana was born in Serbia and lived in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania before moving to the United States. She lives in Chicago with her family.

You can follow Lana on Goodreads, and you can talk to her here!


Friday, August 27, 2021

What We've Been Reading #103

We have a nice mix of recommendations for you today! Don’t forget to hit the tag up above to find more excellent books to add to your tbr piles.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Audra’s Teaser Review

I loved the epistolary style, with interviews, journal entries, and so on. That really gives the narrative this feeling of immediacy and puts you right in the action. I can’t wait to read the sequel to this one!

Read Audra’s entire review at Goodreads.

Feral Creatures by Kira Jane Buxton

In this stunning follow-up to Hollow Kingdom, the animal kingdom’s “favorite apocalyptic hero”is back with a renewed sense of hope for humanity, ready to take on a world ravaged by a viral pandemic (Helen Macdonald).

Once upon an apocalypse, there lived an obscenely handsome American crow named S.T. . . .

When the world last checked-in with its favorite Cheeto addict, the planet had been overrun by flesh-hungry beasts, and nature had started re-claiming her territory from humankind. S.T., the intrepid crow, alongside his bloodhound-bestie Dennis, had set about saving pets that had become trapped in their homes after humanity went the way of the dodo.

That is, dear reader, until S.T. stumbled upon something so rare—and so precious—that he vowed to do everything in his power to safeguard what could, quite literally, be humanity’s last hope for survival. But in a wild world plagued by prejudiced animals, feather-raising environments, new threats so terrifying they make zombies look like baby bunnies, and a horrendous dearth of cheesy snacks, what’s a crow to do?

Why, wing it on another big-hearted, death-defying adventure, that’s what! Joined by a fabulous new cast of animal characters, S.T. faces many new challenges plus his biggest one yet: parenthood.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Jen’s Teaser Review

I laughed, I cried, I fell in love.

Read Jen’s entire review at Book Den.

Crossroads by Laurel Hightower

Crossroads by Laurel Hightower

How far would you go to bring back someone you love?

When Chris’s son dies in a tragic car crash, her world is devastated. The walls of grief close in on Chris’s life until, one day, a small cut on her finger changes everything.

A drop of blood falls from Chris’s hand onto her son’s roadside memorial and, later that night, Chris thinks she sees his ghost outside her window. Only, is it really her son’s ghost, or is it something else—something evil?

Soon Chris is playing a dangerous game with forces beyond her control in a bid to see her son, Trey, alive once again.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Alex’s Teaser Review

Laurel Hightower explores grief horror and body horror in a way that is even more heartbreaking and traumatic than I could have anticipated.

Read Alex’s entire review at Goodreads.

Laurie’s Teaser Review

Crossroads is a fantastic piece of bleak fiction with some intense moments of body horror, totally worthy of all five stars. When you’re finished you’ll be left feeling the pain of having salt thrown in all of your bits that have just been brutally sliced open by the story.

Read Laurie’s entire review at Goodreads.

Thank you for joining us today! We hope you found something to add to your tbr list. Please share your recent reads with us in the comments below.

If you are a LOHF writer and have a book you’d like us to consider for a review please visit our review submission page here.

Laurie is one of our LOHF Admins. Laurie creates our review posts, coordinates review requests, oversees the Ladies of Horror Fiction directory, and manages our LOHF Goodreads group.

You can find Laurie on her blog Bark’s Book Nonsense, on Twitter as @barksbooks, on Instagram as @barksbooks, and on Goodreads.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

Project Q&A with Sloane Leong and Cassie Hart

We work hard at Ladies of Horror Fiction to showcase incredible writers and creators in the horror fiction genre, which doesn’t always limit us to ladies-only anthologies. We recently became aware of DEATH IN THE MOUTH, a BIPOC-led project currently seeking funding.

DEATH IN THE MOUTH is a horror anthology showcasing BIPOC and other ethnically marginalized writers and artists from around the world. It will feature twenty prose stories spanning from the distant past to the far future, real and fictive worlds, all while exploring new and unique manifestations of horror.

Death in the Mouth Official Kickstarter Page

Although unique here in that the anthology itself will include a mix of wonderful authors and artists and not only those who identify as women, we didn’t want to miss a chance to chat with the project’s creators and the book’s co-editors, two very talented women in the genre: mixed Indigenous writer and artist Sloane Leong, and Māori writer Cassie Hart.

We were grateful that they had a few moments to chat with us about this important project, and what funding it could mean for the genre. Check it out below!

Q&A with Sloane Leong and Cassie Hart, Editors of Death in the Mouth

Thank you both again for reaching out and for your interest in being interviewed on LOHF! We’re all in agreement over there that the project looks and sounds incredible! Can you tell us a little bit about the anthology’s title & the inspiration behind it?

Sloane: It’s based on a Hawaiian proverb ‘I ka ‘ōlelo ke ola, i ka ‘ōlelo ka make’ which can be interpreted as “There is life in the mouth and death in the mouth”. ‘Ōlelo can also mean a word or story, which I thought was apt for this horror collection. The stories we tell ourselves and others, the stories we are told, can wield life and death against us, figuratively and psychically. I also thought it had a nice ring to it!

Cassie: I agreed with Sloane. It was a title that drew me in and made me want to know more, and I hope that this anthology will do the same for readers.

How long has the concept for the book been in the works? Was there a specific situation that pushed it from being an idea to a fully fledged project?

Sloane: I think March? Me and some other authors were venting about gatekeeping in the lit world and how a new prestigious horror anthology was once again featuring an all-white roster of authors. This is an everyday occurrence but that day I was injected with a nitrous of spite and love for my woefully neglected writers of color and I was like ‘I’ll just make the space for us!’

Cassie: I think the idea of a book like this has been thrown around a fair bit in our circles, but recently it tipped over into a ‘we have to do this now!’ kind of vibe. Sloane is definitely the driving force here. She was bouncing off the walls with energy for it and I jumped right in, because that’s what I do when a project speaks to me. I’ve done a few anthologies in the past, so I know the processes and knew without a shadow of doubt that this was something I wanted in on. I need this book. The world needs this book.

It isn’t very common to see anthologies combining their fiction with unique illustrations, and we’re so excited to see the many awesome artists being featured. Why did you feel it was important that the project included both forms of art?

Cassie – This is Sloane’s incredible influence. She is such a multi-talented creative rockstar that it seemed like a really natural blend. A picture can say a thousand words, so, why not have literal illustrations alongside the words? There is so much talent in both of these areas – so many creators who are virtually unknown – and it’s really exciting to see how they will come together. Reflecting on it, I never once stopped to go ‘hey, why are we doing illustrations too?’ It was part of the concept of this book from the outset.

Sloane – Cassie is making me blush, haha. Yea, to me illustrations offer another lens to see the story through! I’m also just a fan of a lot of my fellow cartoonists and illustrators and wanted them to be a part of the project.

We love that the project is so devoted to showcasing creators and stories that are “outside the cultural mainstream”, to quote the Kickstarter. In your own words, what makes horror the perfect genre for doing so?

Sloane – Horror is such a dynamic genre to play in by itself but to speak to the relationship between marginalized cultures and horror and why I wanted to focus in on that, I find they are uniquely intertwined. When marginalization and Otherness is a foundational part of your being it gives you an intimacy with horror like no other. Objectification and commodification of culture, histories of brutal colonization, historical erasure, physical and psychic violence; these are all ways in which violence is perpetrated against us on a daily basis since the day we are born. We still survive and thrive but that sort of familiarity with horror is in our marrow and we understand the strata and nuance of it in a special way.

Cassie – As a big fan, I think horror is the perfect genre for exploring all kinds of things. Alongside what Sloane said, we thought it was important that there be room to explore non-western narratives as well, telling stories in the way of your culture rather than in the way we’re told we ‘must’ write stories in order for them to sell. We are really interested to see what people send in to us, and to read those within the context of who they are as writers, and where they come from.

What sort of themes can we expect to find in the stories?

Sloane – We’ll see explorations of dread, grief, fear and anxiety. Embodiments of obsession, mania and displacements of faith. Transgressions of the body and the spirit, the self and the community. The terror of love and the addictive nature of hate.

The Kickstarter has so many incredible rewards being offered for pledging – things like anthologies inscribed by Ellen Datlow, story critiques from authors, and even an hour long Zoom call with Paul Tremblay! How did you come up with the different things being offered?

Cassie: It was hard to know what level to go in with. We really wanted the book to be the main attraction – it’s going to be absolutely gorgeous – but it’s always cool to have other things on offer too. We reached out to a range of folks who work in horror, and we got some very generous donations from that. We’re so grateful for the support of everyone who offered something to our project.

Have you faced any unexpected obstacles or challenges in the process so far?

Sloane – It’s difficult to know if I’m doing too much or too little in the way of advertising. I don’t want to let opportunities go but I also don’t want to annoy my audience lol. Otherwise, it’s been smooth sailing thanks to our thorough planning.

Cassie – It has been a lot smoother than I thought, considering I had no idea what to expect as Kickstarter is a whole new thing for me. I may potentially have frustrated everyone in my house by constantly refreshing the page and reporting about how many % funded we are… 

Sloane is super easy to work with, and very thorough. I adore that.

What kind of impact do you hope that the anthology will have on the current horror market & space?

Sloane – I hope to feature lots of overlooked writers and artists and get them more readers and more work! I also hope this shows big publishers that there’s a market for PoC-led and PoC-focused anthologies.

Cassie – What Sloane said. I know that this is going to be a stellar anthology, and I really hope it gives our authors and illustrators a great boost and helps to show just how many amazing creators there are out there that don’t get the recognition/audience they deserve.

Paperback copies of DEATH IN THE MOUTH will only be available by pledging to the Kickstarter, which runs from August 1st until August 31st.

Thanks again to Sloane & Cassie for talking to us! You can support their Kickstarter by clicking here.

Cassie is one of our prolific contributing reviewers and helps with interviews and website content.

Find her online at her blog www.letsgetgalactic.com, Twitter as @ctrlaltcassie, or over at her Etsy store, where she has amazing original art prints, cross stitch kits, bookmarks, coloring & activity books, and more!

Monday, August 23, 2021

LOHF Three-Year Anniversary Celebration!

Mark your calendars: we will be celebrating our three-year anniversary throughout the month of September. We hope you will join us for a two-week readathon, two LOHF group readalongs, and an anniversary giveaway. More details below!

Readathon #LOHFReadathon

Our #LOHFReadathon is September 1–15 and is cohosted by Alex The Bookubus (YouTube/Instagram). For this readathon we invite you to read LOHF books from your TBR or use it as an excuse to pick up some new releases!

Share what you are reading across social media using the hashtag #LOHFReadathon.

Group Read #LOHFReadalong

We will have two group reads in September: Crossroads by Laurel Hightower and Betty by Tiffany McDaniel.

The readalong discussion will take place in our Ladies of Horror Fiction group on Goodreads:
September 2021 Readalong #1: Crossroads by Laurel Hightower
September 2021 Readalong #2: Betty by Tiffany McDaniel

The readalong will begin on September 1 and discussions will take place throughout the month of September (and beyond for anyone who wants to keep the discussion going!)

You can join in any time during the month. We often have group members who will join in mid-month or later.

We use spoiler tags to hide any spoilers so feel free to jump in when you are ready!

LOHF Giveaway

LOHF Giveaway

We want to thank you for all of the support over the last three years and for joining us in celebrating our anniversary! We will be hosting a giveaway on our Ladies of Horror Fiction Instragram. Be sure to give us a follow and stay tuned for the giveaway in September!

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

What We've Been Reading #102

We took a little break from our review round-up last week because sometimes we are tired but we’re back with more must-reads for your tbr!

Eartheater by Dolores Reyes

Electrifying and provocative, visceral and profound, a powerful literary debut novel about a young woman whose compulsion to eat earth gives her visions of murdered and missing people—an imaginative synthesis of mystery and magical realism that explores the dark tragedies of ordinary lives.

Set in an unnamed slum in contemporary Argentina, Earth-eater is the story of a young woman who finds herself drawn to eating the earth—a compulsion that gives her visions of broken and lost lives. With her first taste of dirt, she learns the horrifying truth of her mother’s death. Disturbed by what she witnesses, the woman keeps her visions to herself. But when Earth-eater begins an unlikely relationship with a withdrawn police officer, word of her ability begins to spread, and soon desperate members of her community beg for her help, anxious to uncover the truth about their own loved ones.

Surreal and haunting, spare yet complex, Earth-eater is a dark, emotionally resonant tale told from a feminist perspective that brilliantly explores the stories of those left behind—the women enduring the pain of uncertainty, whose lives have been shaped by violence and loss.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Audra’s Teaser Review

A feminist story of a young woman in Argentina with a compulsion to eat dirt that spurs her to visions of missing and murdered people—tell me that’s not what you’ve been looking for your whole life!?

Read Audra’s entire review at Goodreads.

Murder House by C.V. Hunt

It’s not the house you should be afraid of, it’s the people who live there.

Laura’s boyfriend, Brent, is an author and he’s writing a true crime book about the Hallows’ Eve Massacre. The publisher has given Brent a tight deadline and the opportunity to stay in the house where the massacre took place. But the basement creeps Laura out and she’s left questioning her sanity after she sees things that may or may not be there. When Brent begins to act strange, Laura writes it off to the pressure of his deadline. Is Laura really losing her mind or is there something in the house that’s changing the couple?

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Laurie’s Teaser Review

Some of the imagery here is bone-chilling, the descriptions of the decaying murder house were nightmare-inducing and beautifully written.

Read Laurie’s entire review at Bark at the Ghouls.

Many Restless Concerns by Gayle Brandeis

Poetry. Women’s Studies. “Although MANY RESTLESS CONCERNS illuminates the horror of absolute control over others, it also shines a beacon on the strength of women sharing their truths one by one, of spirits joining together to topple the seemingly untouchable. This work speaks to our own times, to our #metoo reckoning, to our power as survivors to take back our stories and reclaim the darkness. Oppression of any kind never holds, even if it takes the dead to bring it down. This book is a haunting, essential read for all uneasy souls.”–Laraine Herring

“‘Just know we all have stories worth your time. Just know we’re just starting to understand our own worth.’ This is how Gayle Brandeis opens MANY RESTLESS CONCERNS. Countess Bathory of Hungary allegedly killed up to 650 girls and women between the years 1585 and 1609, in a variety of cruel, heartless ways. Brandeis brings these words to our attention–stab, strangle, pummel, hack, burn, drown, freeze, scald. ‘Your body remembers even when you no longer have a body, some tender part of you still flinches; some immaterial nerves still flare,’ she writes. ‘We want you to bear witness,’ voices the chorus. I urge you, the reader, to bear witness to these centuries of silent voices rising up clearly, often beautifully, more often tragically. Bear witness.”–Alma Luz Villanueva

“Feels like a terrifying and gorgeously lyric fairy tale but never once does the author let us forget that the pain is real and the point is empathy, understanding and protecting the ones who come after. Ethereal and beautiful as its ghostly chorus, but with ‘muscle and scent,’ ‘meat’ and ‘bone,’ MANY RESTLESS CONCERNS is quickened with the blood of the victims, the essential, and ultimately healing, blood of story.”–Francesca Lia Block

“If all the women and girls who have been murdered, tortured, abused and disappeared were to raise their voices, they would create a song that would drown the world. In Gayle Brandeis’ haunting and haunted novel-in-poems, MANY RESTLESS CONCERNS, she invokes such a chorus, the true story of hundreds of young women tortured to death by the Countess Bathory. Brandeis presents their gifts, their dreams, as well as the ways they died, and demonstrates that it is through collective action that they ultimately find justice. You will never un-hear their mournful, defiant and triumphal song.”–Terry Wolverton

“Gayle Brandeis is a miracle. From the forgotten memories of murdered women, she’s created a monument of hope, pain, and demands for the justice of recognition. This is a startling, glorious, gorgeous book. What a vision. Read this book and be transformed.”–Rene Denfeld

Amazon | Goodreads | Bookshop

Cassie’s Teaser Review

This is a painful read, with lots of gruesome details being shared throughout in an attempt to truly give insight as to what some of these girls had to endure. It’s truly tragic that so many of them have been forgotten in name, but having their stories told this way shows compassion to their memories. I read it in a single sitting, and won’t soon forget it.

Read Cassie’s entire review at Goodreads.

Thank you for joining us today! We hope you found something to add to your tbr list. Please share your recent reads with us in the comments below.

If you are a LOHF writer and have a book you’d like us to consider for a review please visit our review submission page here.

Laurie is one of our LOHF Admins. Laurie creates our review posts, coordinates review requests, oversees the Ladies of Horror Fiction directory, and manages our LOHF Goodreads group.

You can find Laurie on her blog Bark’s Book Nonsense, on Twitter as @barksbooks, on Instagram as @barksbooks, and on Goodreads.