I decided to review the #COYER book club reads together in one post. These are our October 2021 picks – Horror month. Horror is one of my least favorite genres, so I’m amazed I even made a go of reading these. I liked one well enough, the other was a DNF.House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig
Published by Delacorte Press on August 6, 2019
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
Get swept away in Erin A. Craig's mesmerizing House of Salt and Sorrows. As one by one her beautiful sisters mysteriously die on their isolated island estate, Annaleigh must unravel the curse that haunts her family. Be careful who you dance with. . . .
Four of Annaleigh Thaumas's eleven sisters have returned to the Salt, the brackish water that surrounds their lonely island home, their lives cut short, each more tragically than the last. Whispers throughout the Highmoor estate say the girls have been cursed by the gods.
When Annaleigh finds out that her sisters have been sneaking out to attend glittering midnight balls and dance until dawn, she's not sure whether to stop them--or join them. And when she begins to see a series of horrific, ghostly visions and more sisters die, she realizes she must solve the mystery--with the help of Cassius, a sea captain who knows much more about her than he should--and unravel the Thaumas curse before she descends into madness or . . . it claims her next.
I should preface this review by saying I, generally speaking, do not enjoy horror and only picked this book up because it was our October 2021 COYER YA Book Club pick. So the fact that I’m giving it 3 stars – meaning I actually finished it AND found parts of it enjoyable – says a lot. If you like horror, I expect you’d enjoy it a lot more than I did. In fact, I buddy read parts of it with both Stephanie and Lillian and I know they enjoyed it more.
Let me start with what worked for me:
- The mystery side to the plot was well done. I had lots of guesses and while I circled the right answers, I was kept constantly guessing.
- The characters were well-written and full. I really feel like I grew to know and care about the central characters – and there were quite a few of them! From the many sisters (7 still alive when the book starts, 12 total), the step-mom, the dad, the friend Fisher, and the love interest, I grew to have distinct feelings (not all positive) about all of them. So that was well done.
And what didn’t work for me:
- I’ll just wrap all the horror into one bullet point. I just don’t think I’ll ever understand the appeal or the need to get so graphically gross, bloody, and just well, horrific. But if that’s your thing this book has it. I will say, it didn’t overwhelm the book. There were really decent lengths with no horror, which is why I made it through.
- The setting in terms of time and location was really poorly defined and it really bugged me. It made understanding their world and what could/could not happen really hard to predict. I think that might have been part of the goal, to keep me on my toes, but I don’t feel that providing a hard to understand world makes for a good mystery. While I knew we were in a sea-faring island, I couldn’t tell what time period we were in and what sort of island it was meant to be for a quite some time It really impacted my reading of the book.
So, I think the best way to sum this book up is, if you like your mystery with a healthy helping of horror, you’ll enjoy it quite a bit. I don’t, so it was just okay.
Qualifies for COYER Fall Scavenger Hunt item #8 – Book for October COYER Book club.
Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark
Narrator: Channie Waites
Published by Recorded Books on October 13, 2020
In America, demons wear white hoods. In 1915, The Birth of a Nation casts a spell across America, swelling the Klans ranks and drinking deep from the darkest thoughts of white folk. All across the nation they ride, spreading fear and violence among the vulnerable. They plan to bring hell to Earth. But even Ku Kluxes can die. Standing in their way are Maryse Boudreaux and her fellow resistance fighters, a foulmouthed sharpshooter and a Harlem Hellfighter. Armed with blade, bullet, and bomb, they hunt their hunters and send the Klans demons straight to hell. But something awfuls brewing in Macon, and the war on hell is about to heat up. Can Maryse stop the Klan before it ends the world?
This is going to be a DNF for me at 28% 🙁 To be fair, I wasn’t particularly enthused to be reading it, but it was a book club pick so I thought I’d give it a try. Thing is, the reason I wasn’t interested was that it was horror (which I don’t like) — and yet, horror has nothing to do with why I am quitting it. I just am bored AF. I feel no connection to the characters, the setting, nothing. This is just not my type of book in general, I think. Lots of the “N” word, not used pejoratively but still, I don’t like that. And the general tone just isn’t grabbing my interest. I see that lots of people have enjoyed it and I will say, the narration is GREAT if you’ve considered listening to it. I just wasn’t the right audience for the book.