Book Review: My Name Is Margaret Moore by Hannah Capin

“I am a girl. I am a monster, too.”

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Release Date: October 12, 2021

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Price: $18.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

Each summer the girls of Deck Five come back to Marshall Naval School. They sail on jewel-blue waters; they march on green drill-fields; they earn sunburns and honors. They push until they break apart and heal again, stronger.

Each summer Margaret and Rose and Flor and Nisreen come back to the place where they are girls, safe away from the world: sisters bound by something more than blood.

But this summer everything has changed. Girls are missing and a boy is dead. It’s because of Margaret Moore, the boys say. It’s because of what happened that night in the storm.

Margaret’s friends vanish one by one, swallowed up into the lies she has told about what happened between her and a boy with the world at his feet. Can she unravel the secrets of this summer and last, or will she be pulled under by the place she once called home?

Grade: B-

Review:

Margaret Moore loves her Deck Five girls – every summer she goes to Marshall Naval School and the summer is the only time she feels alive. But something happened the year before with a boy and that has changed the dynamics of the new year. The writing is a lyrical punch in the gut – and ever since I read Foul Is Fair last year I fell instantly in love with Capin’s writing style. However, this novel didn’t keep me as engaged as her previous one. Not because I didn’t enjoy the story or the protagonist, because I did. And there’s a huge twist towards the middle of the novel, and maybe it’s because I anticipated the twist or maybe because the ending happened way too long after the twist that the novel began to feel a tad repetitive.

That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because once you know the twist, you’ll understand why there’s the repetitiveness to it. And yes, this novel too is filled with ferocious friendships and violent revenge, but I suppose since reading her previous novel that was far bloodier, I was expecting a bit more?

If this is your first time reading Capin, you may love this book more because it’s got a group of friends you will root for, a protagonist that is both relateable and someone you can feel empathy for, and again, the writing is both razor sharp and poetically beautiful. So there is much to love in this novel if you’re a new reader.

I recommend this book if you love feminist revenge stories with strong female friendships.

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Book Review: Snow White’s Shattered Coffin by Cynthia Pelayo

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Price: $17

Plot Summary:

Chicago’s Graceland Cemetery is the resting place of thousands of people, and as many myths and legends. When a little girl attends a funeral at the cemetery she discovers some myths and legends refuse to die, and will remain with you, like an infection, unless you can find an escape.

Grade: A

Review:

My obsession for fairytales began at a very young age (3 or 4) and since I was living in Sardinia as a child, it meant that the fairytale books I was read from weren’t Disney-fied but rather literal translations of the original Brother Grimms. Snow White was one of my faves because in the versions I had, the stepmother is forced to wear shoes with burning coals in her soles – and thus has to dance to keep her feet from burning – ultimately resulting in her dancing herself to death. The image is very horrific and if that weren’t gory enough the book’s artist provided an actual visual. Is it any surprise that I grew up being drawn towards the dark and the macabre?

In this collaboration with It Came From Beyond the Pulp, Cynthia Pelayo returns with another fairytale retelling – and you guessed it – this time she tackles Snow White.

The short story is loosely inspired by the legend surrounding Inez Clark, a young girl that died and is buried at Graceland Cemetery in Chicago. The protagonist of the story finds herself becoming the victim of a curse when curiosity draws her towards the glass coffin of Inez. The coffin is littered with lady bugs (folklore stating that they bring good luck, but can also bring bad luck if you kill one). Much to the protagonist’s dismay she accidentally kills fifteen of them. This sparks Inez’s ire to start haunting the protagonist and having her befall horrendous things. The short story slowly builds up to the horror part, creating this suffocating sense of dread that hovers over the reader like a machete ready to strike. And when it strikes, it’s bloodshed.

The drawings that accompany the short story are Gothically horrific and capture the mood and horror found within its pages.

I recommend this book for all of those that love fairytale retellings and for those who love old school horror books that come with terrifying drawings that are just as nightmare-inducing as the story itself.

*Thank you so much to the author and It Came From Beyond the Pulp for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Book Review: Later by Stephen King

“Sometimes growing up, means facing your demons.”

Release Date: March 2, 2021

Publisher: Hard Case Crimes

Price: $9.62 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

The son of a struggling single mother, Jamie Conklin just wants an ordinary childhood. But Jamie is no ordinary child. Born with an unnatural ability his mom urges him to keep secret, Jamie can see what no one else can see and learn what no one else can learn. But the cost of using this ability is higher than Jamie can imagine – as he discovers when an NYPD detective draws him into the pursuit of a killer who has threatened to strike from beyond the grave. 
 
LATER is Stephen King at his finest, a terrifying and touching story of innocence lost and the trials that test our sense of right and wrong. With echoes of King’s classic novel ItLATER is a powerful, haunting, unforgettable exploration of what it takes to stand up to evil in all the faces it wears.

Grade: C

Review:

It’s no secret Stephen King is a veteran when it comes to the craft of writing and being such means that he can spin any tale and make it seem effortless. His newest novel is in the series of Hard Case Crimes. A few years ago I read Joyland and enjoyed it very much. Later was part of the Night Worms Book Club subscription and since it was short I decided to quickly dive in.

The premise is very much The Sixth Sense – a young boy sees dead people and with it comes good and terrible things. King is a master storyteller so he quickly reels you in – but nothing too interesting happens in Later that hasn’t already been seen in previous King novels – along with giving the novel one of the most God-awful endings of all time.

Although not particularly original – the story was entertaining although it references so many of his past works. But what really soured the experience for me was the end. Just terrible. I could go into details but that’s something for another time. Maybe, later.

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Excerpt: “Boys of Summer” by Azzurra Nox

The Lost Boys has been my favourite movie ever since I watched it for the very first time at 8 years old. The film has everything I love – vampires, rock music, and a combo of humour and horror. In light of my adoration for The Lost Boys and the fact that I spent most of 2020 writing so I wouldn’t have to deal with the stresses of a global pandemic – I decided to write a short story inspired by The Lost Boy, entitled, “Boys of Summer.”

My only gripe about The Lost Boys was the fact that the whole movie had only TWO female characters – so in my take – I made women the protagonists while I sidelined the boys into the background.

Here’s an excerpt of that story – it drops today and can be found in Little Demon Digest Volume II. You can pick up a copy HERE.

I was halfway into the cave when the drugs finally hit, and I regretted my decision. The scent of mildew, seawater, and copper hit me smack in the face before I had a chance to see the carnage. Before I had an inkling of what was to become of me too. Bugs pirouetted as I tripped over a bone. The candles scattered throughout the cave gave me tiny glimpses of a world that up to that point I never realized existed. The boys behind me laughed, their teasing casual as though I hadn’t just fallen on the remains of a decaying corpse. I screamed as I tried to move away from the maggot-infested body but unable to because the older boy with the bleached mullet and leather trenchcoat placed a hand on my shoulder to stop me.

“They’re only worms, Ashley. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” He laughed.

The others joined him. They were all in on the sick joke except me.

I blinked and saw that the body was gone and my hands weren’t dirty with blood as I thought. As the cave came into clearer view I realized that it was only seaweed tangled in my fingers and seasnails on a broken piece of surfboard ravaged by time.

The blond offered me his hand with a sheepish grin to remind me that they were just teasing. That I was in good company. That I was safe.

But I couldn’t stop thinking about all the vacant expressions of those girls whose photos were plastered all along the boardwalk. I was haunted by the words in bold hovering over their images, HAVE YOU SEEN ME? Only two weeks ago a crazed fan had shot and killed Rebecca Schaeffer, rising star of the popular sit-com My Sister Sam. Natalie and I would always watch the crazy adventures of Sam and Patti curled on the couch with Doritos and slurping Cherry Coke. A sudden dread overcame me as I saw myself as those boys saw me. Petite, lanky, unable to put up a good fight. My mouth felt dry as the aftertaste of chalk lingered on my tongue.

I know I shouldn’t have followed them there. Isolated from the rest of the world. And an isolated girl was always in danger. But I was aching for adventure. I yearned for a little thrill.

Standing up, I looked up at the blond’s unnaturally pale face.

“You never told me your name,” I whispered.

The other boys laughed and mocked me. “Go ahead, tell her your name.”

But he merely smiled without answering me. Instead, he handed me a jewel-encrusted bottle and said, “Drink.”

I knew that I shouldn’t have. But I was thirsty. Anything to rid myself of that awful taste. So I did as I was told.

The faint notes of Madonna’s hit song echoed in the night like a siren luring me back out into the world. Life is a mystery.

A misstep was made. I was never supposed to survive the night. Yet, I did. Life may be a mystery but there’s no greater mystery than death. Those who defy it are basically divine. Or possibly evil.

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Book Review: Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

 

certaindarkthings

“We are our hunger.”

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Release Date: September 7, 2021

Publisher: Tor Nightfire

Price: $17.99 (paperback)

Plot Summary:

Welcome to Mexico City, an oasis in a sea of vampires. Domingo, a lonely garbage-collecting street kid, is just trying to survive its heavily policed streets when a jaded vampire on the run swoops into his life. Atl, the descendant of Aztec blood drinkers, is smart, beautiful, and dangerous. Domingo is mesmerized.

Atl needs to quickly escape the city, far from the rival narco-vampire clan relentlessly pursuing her. Her plan doesn’t include Domingo, but little by little, Atl finds herself warming up to the scrappy young man and his undeniable charm. As the trail of corpses stretches behind her, local cops and crime bosses both start closing in.

Vampires, humans, cops, and criminals collide in the dark streets of Mexico City. Do Atl and Domingo even stand a chance of making it out alive? Or will the city devour them all?

Grade: A

Review:

I understand there was vampire fatigue when this novel was initially published and that’s a shame because Certain Dark Things resuscitates a very dead genre into something exciting and innovative. I love vampires, but I am highly selective when it comes to watching or reading about them.

First of all, I simply loved the fact that there were subspecies of vampires stemming from various cultures and mythologies in this novel.

The protagonist Atl is a vampire that’s descendent of the Aztec goddesses, meaning she’s a vampire that laso has bird-like wings and feeds with a stinger rather than fangs. What I loved about the novel is that although the vampire and human friend, Domingo have feelings for one another, the author never forgets what would truly happen between a vampire and human.

My fave character was a revenant called Bernardino that gives Domingo the best advice ever when it comes to dealing with vampires, “We are our hunger.” Meaning that vampires will kill you even if they love you because their hunger is stronger than their love.

This isn’t your typical vampire story, this book is packed with violence, loyalty, and what it means to truly love someone.

I highly recommend this to anyone who loves the undead and who wants a vampire story that isn’t the same old rehashed a thousand times.

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Books to Read During Black History Month & Women in Horror Month

Since both Black History Month and Women in Horror Month coincide in February, I thought that I’d incorporate both in this blog post. I’ve decided to focus on these two authors because I haven’t seen them on any recent lists and I’ve made similar posts in the past and don’t wish to repeat myself in recommending the same books over and over.

These two novels in particular (but I totally recommend checking out their other books as well!) showcase creepy dread and extraordinary talent.

WHITE IS FOR WITCHING BY HELEN OYEYEMI

There’s something strange about the Silver family house in the closed-off town of Dover, England. Grand and cavernous with hidden passages and buried secrets, it’s been home to four generations of Silver women—Anna, Jennifer, Lily, and now Miranda, who has lived in the house with her twin brother, Eliot, ever since their father converted it to a bed-and-breakfast. The Silver women have always had a strong connection, a pull over one another that reaches across time and space, and when Lily, Miranda’s mother, passes away suddenly while on a trip abroad, Miranda begins suffering strange ailments. An eating disorder starves her. She begins hearing voices. When she brings a friend home, Dover’s hostility toward outsiders physically manifests within the four walls of the Silver house, and the lives of everyone inside are irrevocably changed. At once an unforgettable mystery and a meditation on race, nationality, and family legacies.

DEVIL INSIDE BY KENYA MOSS-DYME

Kenya Moss-Dyme presents a page-turner about a young woman’s harrowing journey through cancer treatment at the hands of a beguiling nurse who gives her more than the normal care. The tormented patient morphs into something unrecognizable, as the mystery unravels and she unleashes a surprise of her own for the twisted nurse upon her return.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITE BLACK FEMALE HORROR AUTHORS? LET ME KNOW!

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Book Review: Nothing But Blackened Teeth by Cassandra Khaw

Some ghosts simply cannot rest….

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Release Date: October 9, 2021

Publisher: Tor Nightfire

Price: $19.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

A Heian-era mansion stands abandoned, its foundations resting on the bones of a bride and its walls packed with the remains of the girls sacrificed to keep her company.

It’s the perfect venue for a group of thrill-seeking friends, brought back together to celebrate a wedding.

A night of food, drinks, and games quickly spirals into a nightmare as secrets get dragged out and relationships are tested.

But the house has secrets too. Lurking in the shadows is the ghost bride with a black smile and a hungry heart.

And she gets lonely down there in the dirt.

Effortlessly taking the classic haunted house story and turning it on its head, Nothing but Blackened Teeth is a sharp and devastating exploration of grief, the parasitic nature of relationships, and the consequences of our actions.

Grade: C-

Review:

I was truly anticipating this novella sine it has everything that I simply adore in horror, creepy vengeful ghosts, characters that love the macabre, and it was set in Japan, one of my fave countries. The premise of the novella was also intriguing, a girl Cat, reunites with her friends for a wedding that will take place in a haunted Heian-era mansion. And let’s not forget that with such an incredibly frightening book cover, who wouldn’t be expecting to be scared shitless, right?

Now, my issue with the novella is the excessive purple prose that was interjected throughout the whole novella. Some of the writing was beautiful, but some of it was simply too over the top that a lot of times I had to reread to know exactly what was going on, and therein lies the issue, in a horror novella you want the action to be evident, not up to interpretation!

My second issue with the novella was that all of the characters seemed to have had some past romantic connections to one another, and while that isn’t unusual is a group of young friends, it seemed really odd that every single dude had slept with one girl and so everyone had underlying resentment towards one another.

The ending was very B-rated horror movie and maybe I’d enjoy this novella more if it had been a B-rated horror movie (because I enjoy those as mindless entertainment) but what works as a bad horror movie usually doesn’t work for a book and that’s why I couldn’t enjoy it.

I know many reviewers DID enjoy this book and I’m not discouraging others from checking it out, but I must be honest about how I felt about it and for me it’s a pass.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Tor Nightfire for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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Excerpt: “Of Guys And Dolls” by Stella B. James From Tainted Love: Women in Horror Anthology

True to my word, I leave the closet alone. Despite the various hats that fall on me when I move a hanger, or a random photo box that spills out at my feet, I don’t rearrange anything. I tackle under the bed instead.

With my long hair braided to the side to keep it out of the way, I lay flat on my belly to army crawl half way under and pull everything out. Balled up dresses, scraps of torn paper, an old pair of sneakers, and about five shoe boxes full of cards and letters find their way to freedom.

I leave those alone, wondering why she would stash them instead of throwing them away. I find a bigger box last, one meant for boots maybe, and back away to pull it out.

Opening the top reveals a bunch of weird looking homemade dolls. Thirteen of them total. Each of them looks different, but familiar all the same. I run my fingers over their stiff hair and rough bodies, trying to place the name for these things. Turning them over, I notice they have names stitched to them. The red haired one I’m holding is named Carla.

Carla. Carla. Oh, her friend. I find the scrapbook and match each obituary to a doll. Maybe she made these of them? It’s kind of sweet to preserve their memory in this way. Strange, and sad, but sweet. Only one of them doesn’t have a name yet and it also lacks any personal touches.

“I see you found my dolls.” Katy doesn’t look mad, but not too pleased either.

“They match your friends. Did you make them?”

She shrugs, handing me a coffee. “Kind of. I buy them in the French Quarter and finish them up the way I like.”

“Who is this?” I ask, holding up the plain one.

“Not sure yet. Guess it will have to be a surprise.” She sits down beside me, picking up a random doll.

I try to listen to how she fixes up each one, but I can’t stop the cold chill setting in my bones at her last remark.

It’s the last week of July that Katy finds me at the kitchen table doing a crossword puzzle. Something plops on the paper before me, and I recognize it as one of her dolls. It’s wearing a red dress and has long blonde hair, braided to the side. I finger my own braid as I look down at it.

“Is that me?”

“Sure is. I worked on her all week. Figured it would be a nice surprise since you’re heading back to Baton Rouge next week.”

Her sad tone catches me off guard, and I hold the doll to my chest. “You know I have to go back. I have to get my classroom ready and my apartment’s renovations were finished days ago.”

“I know.” She huffs out in frustration and takes the doll back, smoothing out its silky dress. “I’ll just miss you is all. I’ll keep her safe until you leave.”

Ted slams the door upon arriving home, barking out Katy’s name, and I excuse myself for a walk. I’m not in the mood to hear them fight. I don’t think I can stomach the guilt I’ll feel. I wish Katy would just pack up and leave with me.

I like Ted. He’s a good man.

Just not for her.

***

Get your copy of TAINTED LOVE: WOMEN IN HORROR ANTHOLOGY today!

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Book Review & Author Interview: Children of Chicago by Cynthia Pelayo

Don’t forget to pay the Piper…”

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Release Date: February 9, 2021

Publisher: Agora Books

Price: $26 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

When Detective Lauren Medina sees the calling card at a murder scene in Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood, she knows the Pied Piper has returned. When another teenager is brutally murdered at the same lagoon where her sister’s body was found floating years before, she is certain that the Pied Piper is not just back, he’s looking for payment he’s owed from her. Lauren’s torn between protecting the city she has sworn to keep safe, and keeping a promise she made long ago with her sister’s murderer. She may have to ruin her life by exposing her secrets and lies to stop the Pied Piper before he collects.

Grade: A

Review:

I decided to dive into Cynthia Pelayo’s Children of Chicago with no notion of the plot summary. I recently had read her harrowing true-crime poetry collection, Into the Forest and All the Way Through, as well as her short stories featured in the female driven anthology she edited with Gemma Amour and Laurel Hightower, We Are Wolves, and decided that I would take a leap of faith. I never could’ve been happier with my choice. I’m an avid reader of fairytales and the fact that Children of Chicago expertly weaves the fairytale of The Pied Piper and giving it a Candyman angle, made it a very intriguing read. The writing is both lush and concise, allowing the reader to be emerged in the Chicagoan city life as well as the dark realms of the fairytale forest. It’s a deep dive into darkness and for readers of horror, you will love this.

We follow homicide detective Lauren Medina who’s tasked with trying to figure out who is killing the teens of Chicago, in a city, notorious for its bloody past and violent present. Reality fuses with the supernatural and the reader is never certain if we’re witnessing true events or if the characters are simply victims of a mass hysteria.

The novel is part police procedural and part supernatural horror with hints of magical realism all coming to head with a very explosive truth about the protagonist that will leave readers reevaluating everything that’s happened throughout the novel. Fast-paced and eerily dark, Children of Chicago is the perfect winter read.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Agora Books for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

SHORT Q & A WITH AUTHOR:

I’m a huge fan of fairytales so reading the novel, this really drew me in. There are so many fairytales to choose from, and of course the Brother Grimms are the most popular, but what exactly drew you to the tale of the Pied Piper and why is he the bad guy in the novel?

It’s very odd, but I usually get an image for my stories before I start writing them and I had an image of a man in a black suit and a black top hat standing outside of a hospital waiting to whisk a small child away. That was all I had. Ultimately that image didn’t make it into the novel, but that’s where his story started. Then I started thinking about who he was. Why was he dressed in such old-fashioned clothes and why did he want to take a child? For a long time I thought maybe he was Slenderman, but that wasn’t quite right. Then the Slenderman stabbing happened in Wisconsin in 2014 and I put the story away in my head, because it just felt like it was in bad taste to continue on with the story during that tragedy.

I had taken courses in my MFA in Writing specifically on fairy tales, and so I have a lot of fairy tale books, and just a fascination with them and their history. It probably was not until I started going back to those books and reading them to my children that I found the Pied Piper again and it clicked. The man in the black suit was the Pied Piper and he wanted to lure the children of Chicago away. Then from there, it was just a manic rush to write the story while it was fresh in my head.

There are some accounts that claim that part of the Pied Piper story is true, to an extent, that children were led away from the town of Hamelin and they never returned. So, I wanted to speak to that tragedy, of this mysterious figure with only ill intent to destroy a society by taking away what was most precious to them, their children.

I also discovered that it wasn’t just the Pied Piper that needed to be weaved into the story, but much of the foundation of fairy tale lore, and other fairy tales, because so many fairy tales are based on some small, and gruesome, truth.

Chicago is as much a character in the novel as also the setting. What made you pick Chicago as the setting as opposed to any other big city instead?

I live in inner city Chicago. Not in the suburbs. Not in a fancy neighborhood in the city, but in a regular working class neighborhood in the city, with a high immigrant population, and a high poverty rate. I went to college, have a great professional career, but it was important for me to stay in the community that raised me, and what I later discovered was that Walt Disney was born just a few blocks away from me in a wooden house. L. Frank Baum who wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz wrote parts of that legendary book at the park that I have frequented my entire life. So, it was magical to learn that in my neighborhood, comprised of regular people, that magic was made here.

In addition to that, I can’t ignore the violence of the city that I grew up with, and that I live with still. So, there’s this strange dichotomy, a city that was founded on a lake and that has been home to creative legends that gifted us wonderful works of art, but a city that is plagued by violence, and historically has been plagued by violence – its founding was based on violence.

I wanted to then showcase this place where I live and love and to tell people that Chicago is the prime location for a dark fairy tale.

I feel that Children of Chicago can be read as a fairytale, meaning that most original fairytales served as cautionary tales. I feel that in the novel, we’re cautioned not to put our faith in supernatural entities because the price you have to pay may be bigger than you expect. And yet, I feel like humans tend to lean towards the supernatural if even on a low-key base such as sharing chainletters or keeping lucky charms or totems to ward off evil. Why is that?

Yes, I really would love if people read it as a fairy tale about fairy tales. There’s a lot that I was hoping to accomplish that I hope the careful reader catches on to, like my mentions of other fairy tales, and fairy tale devices, Chicago history and how I tried to hold a mirror up to the city and show the city its beauty, but its cruelty as well.

What I was hoping to communicate with the payment is due aspect of the story is that whatever energy you put out into the universe is the type of energy you are going to receive. If you are putting out negative energy, that is the energy that will return to you and serve you. I’m pretty spiritual and part of my path teaches me that we are all one consciousness, you, me, everyone. So, if I do or wish harm to someone else then I am doing or wishing harm to myself.

We turn to the supernatural for protections for a variety of reasons, religion, faith, but ultimately for the belief that the supernatural can shift our experiences and reality. For example, with regards to violence and harm, these things can sometimes be random, or there are people who just live in toxic situations or places. They turn to these things for the hope that the supernatural can guide them to a safer position.

I believe people need to do what gives them comfort, as long as it is not harming anyone, with regards to owning supernatural devices. However, I want to stress to anyone reading that if you are in a violent or harmful environment then please seek help and do so in a safe manner.

I also believe our words and actions are spells. I believe in being positive and speaking positively so that this is the type of energy we are granted.

This is a loaded question, but what is your favorite fairytale and why?

I love this question.

I love so many of them, but the one that I think about often and have written about is Hansel and Gretel.

It’s about the cruelty that can be done to us by those that are meant to love and protect us, and the tragedy of even when you find what you think is safety you aren’t really safe. There is betrayal. Ultimately, it shows that the only person you can trust is really and truly yourself, or in this case little brother and little sister who trust and save each other in the fairy tale. Hansel and Gretel teaches us that no one in the outside world can ever truly be trusted.

Humans often have motives that are beyond cruel, they are deadly.

What are you currently working on and do you have any other releases on the horizon?

I’m working on a middle grade novel I’m hoping to finish and get to my agent in a few days. I’m also working on a novella I hope to deliver in June. I’m not sure when that will be published but I will announce that soon. Then, I am working on the sequel to the “Chicago fairy tale series” which is not really a sequel to Children of Chicago but another fairy tale that takes place in the city. I also have a few short stories I’m working on. I’ve been very busy but it’s a great kind of busy and I am grateful for all of these creative opportunities.

AUTHOR BIO:

Cynthia “Cina” Pelayo is the author of LOTERIA, SANTA MUERTE, THE MISSING, and POEMS OF MY NIGHT, all of which have been nominated for International Latino Book Awards. POEMS OF MY NIGHT was also nominated for an Elgin Award. Her recent collection of poetry, INTO THE FOREST AND ALL THE WAY THROUGH explores true crime, that of the epidemic of missing and murdered women in the United States. Her modern day horror retelling of the Pied Piper fairy tale, CHILDREN OF CHICAGO will be released by Agora Books on 2/9/21. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, a Master of Science in Marketing, a Master of Fine Arts in Writing, and is a Doctoral Candidate in Business Psychology. Cina was raised in inner city Chicago, where she lives with her husband and children. Find her online at www.cinapelayo.com and on Twitter @cinapelayo.

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Book Review: Don’t Tell A Soul by Kirsten Miller

People say the house is cursed.
It preys on the weakest, and young women are its favorite victims.
In Louth, they’re called the Dead Girls.

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Release Date: January 26, 2021

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Price: $17.99 (hardcover)

Plot Summary:

All Bram wanted was to disappear–from her old life, her family’s past, and from the scandal that continues to haunt her. The only place left to go is Louth, the tiny town on the Hudson River where her uncle, James, has been renovating an old mansion.

But James is haunted by his own ghosts. Months earlier, his beloved wife died in a fire that people say was set by her daughter. The tragedy left James a shell of the man Bram knew–and destroyed half the house he’d so lovingly restored.

The manor is creepy, and so are the locals. The people of Louth don’t want outsiders like Bram in their town, and with each passing day she’s discovering that the rumors they spread are just as disturbing as the secrets they hide. Most frightening of all are the legends they tell about the Dead Girls. Girls whose lives were cut short in the very house Bram now calls home.

The terrifying reality is that the Dead Girls may have never left the manor. And if Bram looks too hard into the town’s haunted past, she might not either.

Grade: A-

Review:

I’ll be honest, I was tempted to DNF this book because it was sort of slow moving and it wasn’t really compelling until 40% in the book and then BAM did the novel really shift its gears and started to become unputdownable! I love the book Rebecca and this book was advertised as a retelling of sorts loaded with snowy creepiness and mystery. I must say that I started to like the protagonist Bram way better once we got a chance to really know her better. I really couldn’t tell where the story was going and that’s good! I like the element of surprise and figuring things out alongside the protagonist.

I love that we as readers, just like the protagonist, are wary of all the characters we encounter, because it gives you this feeling that nothing is sacred and you can’t trust anyone. I must say that I really enjoyed this book a lot and am glad that I went against my initial feelings to put it down, and decided to give it a chance.

This book is ideal for readers who love twisty thriller/mysteries or Gothic influenced thrillers with unrealible side characters.

*Thank you so much to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the digital copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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