Waiting for Wednesday: I am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Book Synopsis:

“A supernatural superthriller from the author of Let the Right One In

Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.

This gripping conceptual horror takes you deep into one of the most macabre and unique imaginations writing in the genre. On family, on children, Lindqvist writes in a way that tears the heart and twists the soul. I Am Behind You turns the world upside down and, disturbing, terrifying and shattering by turns, it will suck you in.”

Why I need it:

What is going on in this novel?! Why has outside been deleted?! What did these families do?!
All of these questions I need answers for.

I am a huge fan of John Ajvide Lindqvist’s writing. Let the Right One In is probably one of my favourite novels and definitely my favourite vampire novel. You can read my review of it here. So it is safe to say that I am looking forward to his newest book.

The concept of this novel sounds like something from a Stephen King novel. It almost reminds me of The Langoliers with it being about a group of people who suddenly find themselves cut off from the rest of the world. Hopefully it won’t contain any of The Langoliers time-whimy plot nonsense because that was when that story reached the point of stupidity.

Will this book be another brilliant novel from a brilliant author? I guess we will have to see when it comes out.

I am Behind You is scheduled for release on September 7th 2017

Waiting for Wednesday is a weekly meme started by Break the Spine to spotlight upcoming releases, and continued by Wishful Endings

Dark Reads of the Month: July

July was a mixed month for reading for me. I blame the sunshine. I read 6 books this month but none of them were books that I planned to read because I kept getting distracted by pretty short story collections and rereads. At least I had a great time.

I will have a few interesting new releases for you next month because Random House and a few other publishers have sent me a small pile of upcoming horror releases to read. I am sworn to silence about some them until the start of September. Just in time for my next Dark Reads of the Month. The rest will have to wait until October.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


I know I promised to read Cujo this month but I ended up rereading a different book about a killer dog instead. I am pretty sure I have read this book ten times already.

I picked this for this list because even though Sherlock Holmes is not a gothic character many of his stories contain elements that are found in gothic literature. It is like the plot of a gothic novel is happening around a non gothic character. If you haven’t checked out the Hound of the Baskervilles yet you need to. It is easy to follow even if you havent read any other Sherlock Holmes stories previously, as this was published when Sherlock was canonly “dead”, and secondly Doyle sucks at timelines. The stories are all over the place and some are even openly flashbacks.

Random fact: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was so bad at remembering his own story details that James Moriarty has a brother called James.

Some day I will stop being a living Sherlock Holmes ad, but this is not that day.

Dolly by Susan Hill


“The remoter parts of the English Fens are forlorn, lost and damp even in the height of summer. At Iyot Lock, a large decaying house, two young cousins, Leonora and Edward are parked for the summer with their ageing spinster aunt and her cruel housekeeper. At first the unpleasantness and petty meannesses appear simply spiteful, calculated to destroy Edward’s equanimity. But when spoilt Leonora is not given the birthday present of a specific dolly that she wants, affairs inexorably take a much darker turn with terrifying, life destroying, consequences for everyone.”

This was another reread. I didn’t really enjoy this book the first time I read it but I ended up loving it the second time around. I think when I first read it I was expecting more creepy horror but got gothic literature instead which I wasn’t in the mood for at the time. Sometimes you just need to come back to a book later with a different mindset. If you didn’t know already, Susan Hill is the writer of The Woman in Black.

The only real flaw that I found with Dolly is that it is billed as a ghost story but isn’t a ghost story at all. Yes it is horror but more in the usual vague gothic literature sense of horror. If you read a lot of gothic literature you will know the sort of vagueness I am talking about. A simple and enjoyable story about how someone’s internal ugliness will always find its way outside.

Travelling Bag by Susan Hill


I loved Dolly so much that I ended up reading a second Susan Hill book right after it.

The Travelling Bag is a collection of short gothic ghost stories and they are some of the best I that have read in a long time. I will admit that they are not the most inventive stories but they are sweet and simple. Sometimes you just need a straight to the post ghost story to flick through on a summer’s night or to add to your upcoming Halloween reading list.

One of the best things about Susan Hill’s writing is that her stories cover various time periods. Some stories are obviously set in the past, while others are more modern, and some are simply timeless with no obvious time period. My favourite story in the collection was Alice Baker. A ghost story set in a modern office work place. There is something special about a gothic story being set in modern times. They are usually all about old manor houses and people in billowy dresses, not an office building.

If you havent checked out Susan Hill books yet you are missing out.

So what was the best book you read this month? Leave me a suggestion I am always open.

As always feel free to add me on Goodreads  to keep up to date with what I am reading throughout the months, and follow me on Instagram @Belle_and_Books , where I post photos of whatever I am reading and my various adventures, like eating sandwiches in cemeteries. Seriously though…

…Cemetery Sandwiches.

A King Hater Reads King: The Shining

This might be a surprise to a lot of people but I hadn’t read The Shining before this month. I loved the film with Jack Nicholson but when it came to the book my view on King’s work has been seriously tainted so I just didn’t bother reading it even though I owned a copy. I have so say now that I regret not picking it up sooner. Was it a masterpiece? No. Was it one of the best King books I have read? Yes. I don’t think it is as good as Carrie or IT but I can say that is probably comes third on my very short list of enjoyable Stephen King books. So far that list consists of three books.

If you have been living under a rock and don’t know what The Shining is about already I will explain it to you. It is about a couple and their young son who spend the winter in the haunted and isolated Overlook Hotel. Madness and creepiness ensues. The kid is psychic and the husband is an ex alcoholic, because this is a Stephen King book and addicts and random psychic powers have to appear somewhere. At least they are done well in this one, probably because it is one of his earlier novels and he hasn’t started beating those dead horses to a pulp yet.

What I enjoyed the most about this novel was the atmosphere and the pacing. It was slower than most horror novels that I enjoy, and usually when King does slow he adds mountains of pointless waffle, but this time it was different. The slow pacing of The Shining was perfect and every trivial scene in it added something to the story, especially when it comes to the father, Jack, slowly loosing his mind.

That brings me to my second favourite part of this novel: Jack. Dear god, he is probably my all time favourite Stephen King character. He was beautifully written. You really feel his torment at times and when he starts going mad it is slow and gradual so at the start you are not sure if he is loosing it or he is just in a normal bad mood. I will admit though, I probably found him more comical than threatening most of the time. There were a few scenes were he was internally monologuing and I realised that this guy was just standing there starting at a snowmobile and ranting about how much he hates it for no reason. At one point he was monologuing about how much he hates disinfectant. This man was standing in a bathroom glaring at a sink while hating on disinfectant. It was hilarious.

I have one big negative point about this novel and that is the mother, Wendy. By the time I was half way through the novel I wanted to beat her with a hammer. Little things annoyed me about her thoughout the novel but the big turn off came around half way through. Answer me this, if you had a child who appeared to have been strangled by an unknown person and your husband openly admits to breaking the only radio that would let you call for help, what would you do? You would get mad, right? Not Wendy. She makes out with her husband instead and quickly gives up complaining about it. By the time Jack went mad I was rooting for him to kill her.

Overall The Shining was a good book and I would recommend it if you haven’t already read it. I will warn you that it is very different from the film so don’t go into it expecting bleeding elevators and creepy twins. It is more Psychological horror than ghost horror.

I am starting to think this King challenge is a bit too easy. I have read too many enjoyable novels while doing this challenge. To remedy that I am going to reread the novel that destroyed my love of Stephen King in the first place. I am going to reread Cujo.

TBR Spotlight: Japanese Horror & Thriller

I have been on a bit of a quest lately to find more diverse horror novels from around the world and this seemed like a perfect excuse to add lots of books to my to-read list from my favourite subgenre of horror and thriller: J-horror. I generally read A LOT of Japanese literature and I find that their darker novels can be atmospheric, creepy and chilling in ways you would never see in Western fiction. I might write a list of my favourite Japanese novels on a later date but for now, these are some of the ones I have recently added to my to-read pile.

Another by Yukito Ayatsuji

About:
“In the spring of 1998, Kouichi Sakakibara transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. In class, he develops a sense of unease as he notices that the people around him act like they’re walking on eggshells, and students and teachers alike seem frightened. As a chain of horrific deaths begin to unfold around him, he comes to discover that he has been placed in the cursed Class 3 in which the student body head count is always one more than expected. Class 3 is haunted by a vengeful spirit responsible for gruesome deaths in an effort to satisfy its spite. To stop the vicious cycle gripping his new school, Kouichi decides to get to the bottom of the curse, but is he prepared for the horror that lies ahead…?”

Another is a horror manga series rather than a novel. I didn’t hear of it until a week ago and I have been interested in reading more horror manga lately so it automatically ended up on my GoodReads to-read list. I will probably start this one once I am finished reading Tokyo Ghoul.

(If you don’t know what manga are, they are simply Japanese graphic novels.)

Goth by Otsuichi

About:
“Someone had taken apart her body in the forest. Her eyes, tongue, ears, thumbs, organs–each was nailed to a tree.

One tree had, from top to bottom: the left big toe, the upper lip, the nose, and the stomach. Another had other bits of her arranged like Christmas tree decorations.

The murder was soon the talk of the nation…

Psychologically twisted and emotionally wrenching, this compelling story takes Japan’s horror tradition to a whole new level of fear.”

I saw this novel on a few lists of diverse horror reads and was drawn to both the title and the dramatic cover. I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but this one is so monochrome you can’t help but look at it. The blurb of this novel sounds very grim and disturbing but I tend to look for that in books, especially Japanese ones. I would say that I am weird and apologise, but you are reading my horror blog, you should expect this sort of book taste by now.

Auto Fiction by Hitomi Kanehara

About:

“Rin is flying back from her honeymoon. She’s madly in love with her husband, Shin, and the future looks rosy. Then Shin disappears to the bathroom while he thinks Rin is sleeping and she starts to imagine that he has gone to seduce the flight attendant. As her thoughts spiral out of control the phrase ‘madly in love’ takes on a more sinister meaning.

Prizewinning author Hitomi Kanehara’s sensational novel, Autofiction, follows Rin’s life backwards through time from this moment so that we see her when she is eighteen, sixteen and finally fifteen, and a picture of the dark heart and violent past of this disturbed young woman gradually develops.”

This is more of a thriller novel than a horror novel. I discovered this book when it appeared in my GoodReads recommendation list after I read Battle Royale recently. Battle Royale was so good that I naturally added books suggested because of it to my to read pile. Also I love books about stalkers and I haven’t read one about a “madly in love” woman before.

Six Four by Hideo Yokoyama

About:

“Six Four. The nightmare no parent could endure. The case no detective could solve. The twist no listener could predict.

For five days in January 1989, the parents of a seven-year-old Tokyo schoolgirl sat and listened to the demands of their daughter’s kidnapper. They would never learn his identity. They would never see their daughter again.

For the 14 years that followed, the Japanese public listened to the police’s apologies. They would never forget the botched investigation that became known as Six Four. They would never forgive the authorities their failure. For one week in late 2002, the press officer attached to the police department in question confronted an anomaly in the case.

He could never imagine what he would uncover. He would never have looked if he’d known what he would find.”

A best selling thriller novel that is starting to pick up popularity all over the world. Usually I have to buy Japanese novels online but I have seen this one for sale in shops here in Ireland. I plan to snatch it up soon and get reading. I haven’t read a book about a missing child in a long time so I am excited for it.

The Summer of the Ubume by Natsuhiko Kyogoku

About:

“The Summer of Ubume is the first of Japan’s hugely popular Kyogokudo series, which has 9 titles and 4 spin-offs thus far.

Akihiko “Kyogokudo” Chuzenji, the title’s hero, is an exorcist with a twist: he doesn’t believe in ghosts. To circumnavigate his clients’ inability to come to grips with a problem being their own, he creates fake supernatural explanations–ghosts–that he the “exorcises” by way of staged rituals. His patients’ belief that he has vanquished the ghost creating their problems cures them.

In this first adventure, Kyogokudo, must unravel the mystery of a woman who has been pregnant for 20 months and find her husband, who disappeared two months into the pregnancy. And unravel he does, in the book’s final disturbing scene.”

An Umbume is the ghost of a woman who died while while pregnant they normally appear holding their dead baby or care for living children they find. They are one of my favourite ghosts from Japanese folklore so naturally I wanted to read this book once I saw the title. I also badly need to know what the “final disturbing scene” is that is mentioned in the blurb.

Have you read any of the books mentioned above? If so let me know what you thought of them. Or suggest a diverse and dark book to help me with my quest. They don’t have to be horror or thriller, they can just be on the dark side.

REVIEW: Into the Water by Paula Hawkins

Synopsis:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:
“A single mother turns up dead at the bottom of the river that runs through town. Earlier in the summer, a vulnerable teenage girl met the same fate. They are not the first women lost to these dark waters, but their deaths disturb the river and its history, dredging up secrets long submerged.

Left behind is a lonely fifteen-year-old girl. Parentless and friendless, she now finds herself in the care of her mother’s sister, a fearful stranger who has been dragged back to the place she deliberately ran from—a place to which she vowed she’d never return.”

Review:

This book had so much potential. I was excited for it, I enjoyed the writer’s previous work and it had no shortage of good ideas. In the end I was left disappointed. I was so disappointed that I got three quarters of the way through it and decided to just skip ahead to read the big “who done it?” reveal you get at the end of every mystery novel, because I can’t leave a mystery unsolved even if the book is disappointing.

The main downfall I found was the characters. It was hard to care about any of them. That makes it hard to get into a book if everyone is your cardboard cut out, mystery novel trope character. Girl on the Train had those elements but it did them well and you ended up caring about the characters and what happened to them. This wasn’t the case with this book.

Another issue I had was the narration. This book was written in the same format as Girl on the Train: a mystery novel told from different perspectives. This can work well. It adds layers to the story and you can see the same mystery from different perspectives. It might have been done well in that novel but in Into the Water that style fell short for one big reason: There were too many point of view characters! We heard EVERYONE’S perspective. I am surprised there wasn’t a chapter dedicated to what a random cat’s thoughts on the whole thing. That and the fact that few of the characters were memorable made for a confusing read. I am normally perfectly fine with books that change character perspective but the fact that some of the characters were boring and non memorable made it hard to remember who was who in the story.

I doubt I will rush to read a Hawkins book again after this one. It might not have been the worst book in the world but it was such a default, dull mystery novel that it just left me disappointed and bored. I had to force myself to read it every day.

Warnings:

Strong language at times. Sexual references.


Rating:

2 our of 5

There was nothing overtly offensive about this book but overall it was just a snooze fest.

Dark Reads of the Month: May


This is a series that I started on Goth Amino in December and decided to add to my proper blog. It isn’t really a wrap up, I just read a pile of books (9 this month) and then pick out 3 of the darkest and most interesting. It gives me the chance to discuss and recommend classics or older books which might not get full reviews.

This month I had an accidental reading theme. I read a lot of books about people being kept locked up against their will or in situations they can’t escape. I don’t know what caused that theme, my to read pile just lined up that way. It was an intense month of reading.

The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum

This is a fiction novel based on the real life torture and murder of Sylvia Likens. A young girl and her sister are left in the care of a woman who locks her in the basement, beats her and tells neighbourhood children to abuse her.

This book was so upsetting that I had to take a break from reading for two days, and that is impressive because I’m not normally bothered by things I read. It was just so intense. It is hard to say you enjoyed a book about someone being tortured to death but this is a great book. Well written and atmospheric. I will warn you though, this book has ALL of the trigger warnings. Rape, torture, abuse, general very adult content, it is all there. So if you are easily upset maybe this isn’t the book for you. Maybe read the wiki page on the real crime so you know what you are in for.

Read my full review here

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

If you don’t know what this book is about I am going to do you a favour and not tell you. Rosemary’s Baby is pretty famous so I already knew everything about it when I started reading and  I feel like it ruined the ending for me, so that is why I am not telling you anything. Don’t even read the blurb because that contains spoilers too. If you know what this book is about please don’t be a twat and write spoilers in the comments.
I have read a few of Levin’s books now and  I think this one is my favourite. Since I refuse to give out spoilers I can’t say why. Levin just does a brilliant job with writing horror that takes place in a normal every day situation. It makes you wonder if things are real or not. This is the worst review because I refuse to spoil things. Just read Rosemary’s Baby and enjoy it. A bit of a warning, this book is very much a product of its time so some of the attitudes to things like marital rape are a bit worrying by today’s standards.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C Andrews


This is an American gothic horror novel about 4 children who are told to stay in the attic of a grand mansion for a few days so their mother can claim an inheritance, but 3 years later they are still there.

I discovered this book through Tea with Mermaids blog. She has great taste, go check her out. We disagree on this book though because I enjoyed it and she didn’t. I read a lot of upsetting literature so I was a bit more immune to this novel and its upsetting plot twists.

This is a book that has been banned in several places due to its content, and banned books are always fun to read. I have read a few books about people in this situation but this book stands out because I have never seen one set in a large mansion where the captives get nice clothes and gifts when they are not being horribly abused. It also packs plenty of plot twists and mystery which is just the cherry on top of an already great novel. This book contains incest, abuse and sexual themes. The incest is the reason why it has been banned.

A King Hater Reads King: ‘Salem’s Lot

If you are unfamiliar with ‘Salem’s Lot, this book is about a writer who returns to his home town to write a book and the locals start turning into vampires.

This is going to be a very mixed review. I know a lot of people love this novel and say it is their favourite Stephen King book, but it isn’t mine. I will admit it is a pretty decent vampire novel. I like my vampires evil and behaving like actual monsters, which this book certainly delivers on. I know that King was inspired by Dracula when he wrote this novel and that certainly shows in the plot and the writing. He wanted to show what would happen if Dracula came to small town America, and the book did just that. It even reminded me of zombie survival fiction at points. The problem is, Stephen King wrote it.

Now, I know I am not a fan a King. That is the point of this whole series, and I will admit to enjoying  some of his other books like Carrie or It, but ‘Salem’s Lot is let down by its overall King-ness. This is one of his first novels so his tropes are not as obvious and silly, but it is the birth of them all. Parts of the book are cartoonish, like the dead baby scene. They are scenes that are trying so hard to be scary that they just end up just being silly and overdramatic. No one acts like that in real life.

I also had an issue with the sexual thought tracks in the novel. I am in no way a prude, but again, this was just over the top and ridiculous. A question for parents, when your kid brings home a boyfriend/girlfriend do you think about their genitals every time you see them? Well, that is apparently normal in Stephen King world. There was also several grown men who have sexual thoughts about the same teenage girl. I understand one creep having those thoughts, but most male characters? That is just creepy.

I did enjoy that this book didn’t have the King trope of pointless scenes. Everything tied together very well and scenes that seemed mundane actually added to future plot points. The narration changed character perspective which added to the story because it showed you the vampire outbreak throughout the town. It let you get to know everyone and it allowed for plenty of creepy scenes. It even had more than one likeable character, which is nice for King novel. I wonder when he started making all of his characters awful people, I will let you know when I find out.

Will I be reading this book again? Probably not. Was it terrible? No. I can see why people enjoy it but personally it was the writing style and the scenes that tried too hard that let it down. If you want a vampire novel where your monsters are actual monsters maybe give this book a read.

If you have read ‘Salem’s Lot tell me what you liked or disliked about it. What King book will I read next?