Where Darkness Blooms by. Andrea Hannah | ARC Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️

Title: Where Darkness Blooms

Author: Andrea Hannah

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 320

Publication Date: 2/21/23

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Young Adult, Thriller, Mystery, LGBT+, Horror, Magical Realism

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Wednesday Books for giving me a chance to read this eARC in exchange for an honest review!

Andrea Hannah’s Where Darkness Blooms is a supernatural thriller about an eerie town where the sunflowers whisper secrets and the land hungers for blood.

The town of Bishop is known for exactly two things: recurring windstorms and an endless field of sunflowers that stretches farther than the eye can see. And women—missing women. So when three more women disappear one stormy night, no one in Bishop is surprised. The case is closed and their daughters are left in their dusty shared house with the shattered pieces of their lives. Until the wind kicks up a terrible secret at their mothers’ much-delayed memorial.

With secrets come the lies each of the girls is forced to confront. After caring for the other girls, Delilah would like to move on with her boyfriend, Bennett, but she can’t bear his touch. Whitney has already lost both her mother and her girlfriend, Eleanor, and now her only solace is an old weathervane that seems to whisper to her. Jude, Whitney’s twin sister, would rather ignore it all, but the wind kicks up her secret too: the summer fling she had with Delilah’s boyfriend. And more than anything, Bo wants answers and she wants them now. Something happened to their mothers and the townsfolk know what it was. She’s sure of it.

Bishop has always been a strange town. But what the girls don’t know is that Bishop was founded on blood—and now it craves theirs.

Content Warning: rape, violence

I wanted to read something creepy and look at this cover – it’s totally creepy. This is what I thought of the story:

+ I like the four different main characters. Four girls, who’s mothers are gone/missing or dead – the town assumes they are dead. So these four girls: Bo, Whitney, Jude and Delilah all live together and basically are trying to move on with their lives. They had distinct personalities and their lives are intertwined with certain events that culminated at a bon fire party. There is a big mystery in this story and these girls are the ones trying to figure out what is going on. I like the feminism theme in the story

+ The town of Bishop is strange. Women and girls go missing or end up dead every few months – but why? There is no “hospital” even though one of the girls had to be brought to one. There are the Harding boys who seem like they are the popular boys in school who can get whatever they want, but what they is to mess with these girls. There are these random storms or tornados but they are in a small town so that doesn’t seem totally mysterious…or is it? And what’s with the sunflowers?

~ A few things didn’t work for me – I was thrown into the story and left to figure things out. And it took me awhile to care about what was going on in this town. All I knew was that the boys were awful and two of the girls were in love with one of these awful boys, and that sucked. I knew right away this town was killing it’s women, but why? And why didn’t anyone else in town care about missing women?

~ I’ve read a few books similar to this but I don’t think I enjoyed the execution of this one. Everything is a big mystery but it didn’t creep me out as much as I wanted it to and it had all the potential to do so. I didn’t know what the connection was to the tornados, sunflowers and missing women and when the mystery is revealed I wasn’t super surprised. I wanted to know more about the town and get a better feel for the people, even the villains. I just wanted more from the story and I wanted to be spooked. Sunflower fields and a strange, small town with missing women has such a big potential to scare me, but this didn’t.

Why you should read it:

  • you like lite-horror and magical realism
  • the feminism message in the story

Why you might not want to read it:

  • didn’t scare me enough
  • slow start

My Thoughts:

This one didn’t work for me. I liked the concept and I like the creepy town, and the sunflowers fields, but it wasn’t as scary as I was expecting. I also feel like the story just didn’t flow easily. The bright spot for me in the story is the one about the girls working together to figure out why the women were going missing. The girls survive what is coming for them together, which is awesome, especially because it is such a dark story.

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble


That Dark Infinity by. Kate Pentecost | Book Review

My Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Title: That Dark Infinity

Author: Kate Pentecost

Format: hard cover (own)

Pages: 384

Publication Date: 10/18/21

Categories: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Lite Horror, Paranormal

By night, the Ankou is a legendary, permanently young mercenary. By day, a witch’s curse leaves him no more than bones. Caught in an unending cycle of death and resurrection, the Ankou wants only to find the death that has been prophesied for him, especially once he begins to rot while he’s still alive….

After the kingdom of Kaer-Ise is sacked, Flora, loyal handmaiden to the princess, is assaulted and left for dead. As the sole survivor of the massacre, Flora wants desperately to find the princess she served. When the Ankou agrees to help her find the princess, and to train her in exchange for her help in breaking his curse, she accepts. But how can she kill an immortal? Especially one whom she is slowly growing to understand—and maybe even to love?

Together, they will solve mysteries, battle monsters, break curses, and race not only against time, but against fate itself.

Content Warning: gory scenes, death, rape, assault, violence

I’ve had this one on my shelf for half the year and wanted to read it during spooky season. Here’s what I thought:

+ My favorite thing about this book was the creative world-building. There are monsters, different kingdoms, an awkward but efficient monster slayer, automatons and even a tiny bit of romance.

+ The characters are great! We have the Ankou, Lazarus, who is cursed to be a monster slayer. I loved how awkward he was outside of monster slaying. Flora has gone through so much – she lost her best friend, her position as a ladies maid and her innocence in one violent event. The friendship she builds with Lazarus is careful – I love how he gives her space and the friendship grows into something more but it’s never the focus of the story. And then there is Antonais who is a lightning mage and helps them on their quest to break Lazarus curse. He is a fun character who is into everything science and engineering.

+ I loved the darkness of the story. I don’t feel like the story itself was dark in a scary way, it just had dark themes but I felt like the writing was light-hearted and lyrical. Lazarus turns into a skeleton every night, which is kinda awesome. A lot of the descriptions got gory but never in a spooky way – hence why I dubbed it lite horror. I also loved all the action of fighting different monsters on their quest, that was fun.

~ Pacing was a bit off at times. For example, Lazarus is going to train Flora to fight and I swear it took one page of training and she was deemed proficient (yes time goes by…but quickly!). Also…there was modern day humor to the dialogue and the characters which was kind of strange but I went with it!

~ Also, Lazarus wants to break his curse, and Flora wants to know what happened to her best friend Beth and if she escaped the massacre. Flora’s goal kind of gets pushed aside – maybe because their goals were intertwined but I felt like we could have gotten more of Flora’s thoughts. She suffered through a lot. I just felt like she forgot she was looking for Beth at times. Maybe I just needed more of her perspective.

~+ There isn’t much to the romance – it’s barely there which is a good thing if you are there for the quest and action scenes. The romance happens basically at the ending and I did love how they went from companions to friends to lovers. It’s very sweet when you think about it.

Tropes: quest, monster slayer, girl who overcomes trauma, found family

Spice Level:

Why you should read it:

  • there is a quest and lots of actions scenes battling monsters
  • Lazarus is the most reluctant monster slayer but he’s so good at it and he’s funny and awkward at times. Love him!
  • great world building, creative and unique

Why you might not want to read it:

  • pacing is a bit off at times – at times rushed, maybe because it’s a standalone?

My Thoughts:

This was the perfect read for spooky season! The story is about a monster slayer who basically hates his job but is so good at it – he wants the curse to be over. Then there is Flora who has been seriously traumatized by a horrific event and has lost everything but she gains back strength, and love. There is a quest, lots of adventure and monster slaying and a happy ending. Only thing that threw me off at times was the pacing but overall and enjoyable story!

Book Links:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Within These Wicked Walls by. Lauren Blackwood | ARC Review

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Title: Within These Wicked Walls

Author: Lauren Blackwood

Format: eBook (NetGalley)

Pages: 336

Publication Date: 11/9/21

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Categories: Paranormal, Fantasy, Gothic Romance, Young Adult, Ethiopian Inspired, Jane Eyre Reimagined, Lite Horror

Disclaimer: **I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.**

Thank you to Wednesday Books for giving me a chance to read an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Kiersten White meets Tomi Adeyemi in this Ethiopian-inspired debut fantasy retelling of Jane Eyre.

Andromeda is a debtera—an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. When a handsome young heir named Magnus Rochester reaches out to hire her, Andromeda quickly realizes this is a job like no other, with horrifying manifestations at every turn, and that Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained for. Death is the most likely outcome if she stays, but leaving Magnus to live out his curse alone isn’t an option. Evil may roam the castle’s halls, but so does a burning desire. 

Forgive me for not knowing right away that this is an Ethiopian inspired, Jane Eyre reimagined story. The NetGalley blurb gave no indication of it but when I went to Goodreads after I read the book, I was surprised. In a way, I liked not knowing it was Jane Eyre inspired because as I read the book I kept wondering why it kept reminding me of one of my favorite books! So in that instance, it did it’s job in capturing the classic story.

Within These Wicked Walls is a mash-up of everything I was craving! It is set in a very unique location where the cleansing takes place in a castle, but in a desert landscape and our main character Andromeda is a debtera. She is trained to exorcise households cursed by the Evil Eye. The house she is currently exorcising has walls that bleed and a Librarian demon that threatens people by leaving books open to a certain quote. Be still my heart! Then there is Andromeda’s conflicted relationship with the man who raised her and of course the new young man in her life, her employer – an eccentric, sometimes sweet, sometimes oblivious guy named Magnus. Put this altogether and for me, at least, it was a match made in light horror heaven.

I found the debtera and exorcisms unique. I liked how they used amulets for protection. I liked how the house is a horror show (and I’m a wimp with horror) with staff disappearing and residents getting hurt. Andromeda was trained to be a debtera by the man who raised her, Jember. Andromeda is a great character. She is tough and independent because how she was raised but still good at heart. A secondary character I loved as well was Saba who showed Andromeda love through action.

It’s because of Jember, Andromeda finds herself in a challenging spot with Magnus and this job to cleanse his house. She didn’t finish her training and is unlicensed, so patronage through Magnus is her best bet to make a living. It’s that or survive on the streets. Eventually she realizes cleansing the house would mean more to her than a patronage, it would mean helping the people she has come to care about.

I realized it was a Jane Eyre retelling when Andromeda and Magnus would interact. The banter between them is so good, and the longing made me swoon. They balanced each other out, Magnus trying to open Andromeda to fun and affection, and Andromeda grounding Magnus when he was losing himself.

Triggers: abuse, depression, blood, violence, death, gore, toxic relationships, kidnapped

I think some people will have a problem with the insta-love between Magnus and Andromeda. But I didn’t mind because it’s a Jane Eyre retelling, and the reason I love Jane Eyre was because of Jane and Mr. Rochester. So yes, give me the insta-love.

The abusive relationship is hard to swallow but Andromeda confronts Jember about it and makes her peace with him in the end. Could I be as forgiving as Andromeda? I don’t think I could but who knows if I were in her shoes?

I’ve been looking for something different to read and this was unique and familiar at the same time so it checked all the boxes for me! I read this book in one sitting. I loved how it was creepy enough but it didn’t scare me, it had a lot of action and the story was filled with all the romance drama I was craving. I love this reimagined story of Jane Eyre.

📚 ~ Yolanda