The Librarian’s Bookshelf: Teeth in the Mist

REVIEW

I’ll say it right up front: this book is not for the faint of heart. I’ve never read something that so aggressively grabs you by the throat and doesn’t let go until the last page.

In generic horror novels, a few grizzly deaths happen along the way, maybe sprinkled with some restless ghosts and demonic activity.

And then there are books that transcend – in this case, levitate – above the run of general horror. They take your brain, twist it a thousand ways to Sunday, and leave you gibbering in the corner.

Teeth in the Mist will do that to you and you’ll be so utterly entranced, you won’t be able to look away until the very last page. I’ll be hard pressed to write a review about this book because it’s highly experimental in it’s format so it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what the plot was???

At the same time, that experimental format was both a head scratcher and a refreshing delight (well, as much “delight” that can be found in devil spawn and human sacrifice). If you don’t give this book your complete attention, you WILL get lost very easily. Good luck finding your way after that.

The story is a sprawling cobweb of narratives, following a number of characters as they gravitate around this one house: Mill House, and the dark presence that encompasses it. Mill House sits atop a mountain, swathed in soupy, gray fog and ceaseless, thunderous storms that are unrelenting.

The narrative switches between characters in the 1800s when Mill House is still a private residence, and characters in the modern day, vlogging about the ghost activity reported in the dilapidated, crumbling old mansion. Both past and present figures struggle with their own magical identities as well as the magical identities that seek to destroy them – dark, powerful, and impossible to resist.

This is not happy-go-lucky magic associated with starlight, elves, or your friendly neighborhood witch. This is gritty, screaming, terrifying magic. Each new twist reveals some new horror lurking in the shadow-laced corners of Mill House. And you don’t want to know what lies in the Underneath…

Can a group of teens separated by centuries defeat the evil buried within the very foundations of Mill House? Or were they born to become the evil they seek to destroy?

WHAT I LIKED ABOUT THIS BOOK

Experimental storytelling

Kurtagich takes an experimental approach to her storytelling. It challenges the traditional book format, adding extra dimension besides just plain text.

When a character falls into a tunnel, the pages go black with tiny pale words scattered over the page, representing the lost, scrambling, searching way the character claws her way through the black until she reaches the white pages again.

Text regularly spills and sprawls down the pages, making it feel as if you’re experiencing the rough-and-tumble adventure alongside the characters.

For those who enjoy visual aids, pictures of the characters are included as the story unfolds, i.e. when an old journal is found, or when the characters have their pictures taken with daguerreotypes.

Setting

From the beginning, we are launched into the world of Mill House. As with most horror novels, haunted houses are, by definition, creepy. They creak and groan, personified into unholy terrors. Mill House is no exception but something about the place sets it apart from the typical run of haunted houses. It’s merciless. Brutal.

Winds howl and scream outside, whipping heather and bracken by. The House sits atop a mountain of gray slate, casting a ghostly pallor over everything. Creatures, gray as the mountain itself, squirm and writhe and crawl through Mill House, indicating something sinister is happening deeper in the tangle of passages.

The setting takes an enormously active part in the story, just as much as any of the characters. It pulls you in alongside the rest of its victims and it doesn’t let you go. You have no choice to be caught up in the otherworldly hellishness of Mill House, where any semblance of normalcy becomes only a cold, faded memory, too far away to ever be yours again.


Overall, Teeth in the Mist is not for everyone. The style requires more than a skimming read. The content certainly won’t appeal to those looking for light-hearted and happy. This book requires dedication and focus to follow what’s going on. But it’s worth it. There aren’t many books that create such an immersive experience as this one manages to pull off.

Rated PG-13 for brief sexual content


What book surprised you with how it challenged the traditional norm? Let me know in the comments!

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Librarian’s Bookshelf: Gunslinger Girl

The wide open plains of the desert and a girl with her guns. Gunslinger Girl is a wild romp of an adventure with plenty of western swagger and girls you don’t want to mess with.

REVIEW

Serendipity is on the run. Her father is an angry, violent man and the world affords no mercy either, especially for a female. In a futuristic, apocalyptic West, her hometown is a harsh and unforgiving place. Every capable body is needed to bear children and keep the community running, leaving Serendipity with a target on her back.

So, she makes a break for it, to the den of iniquity known as Cessation. She’s been warned about it all her life, what a hellish place it is. A “good girl” would never set foot there. And that makes it the perfect place for Serendipity to disappear, to cover her tracks in case her father comes after her and decides to drag her back home, wedding her to the first man who glances her way.

When Serendipity reaches Cessation, it’s a bittersweet revelation – she has more freedom and more opportunities, especially with the pretty pair of guns at her hips, but there are some ugly happenings behind the curtain. Maybe her father was right all along. Has she simply traded one hellscape for another?

What I liked about this book:

Girls don’t mess around

A decent portion of the cast is female and none of them pull their punches.

Serendipity is proficient with the six-shooters her mother gave her.

The Big Boss of Cessation, Miss Selene, is notorious for her merciless, no nonsense business manner. She rules Cessation with an iron grip and anyone who wrongs her faces the firing squad. Literally.

These are women who grit their teeth and draw blood. They don’t hesitate to kick, bite, shoot, or kill. Whatever it takes to be the one left standing.

Action, Action, Action

From the first page, the pace stays fairly upbeat and keeps you on the edge of your seat. The shows Serendipity took part in could get a tad long-winded. Otherwise, there were twists and turns that left you wondering who was biding their time to stab you in the back and who was the good guy – if they even exist in this dog-eat-dog world.

Rated: PG-13 for violence and discussions of sex

Are you a fan of westerns? Are you a traditional western fan? Or are you willing to dabble in the spin off genres, i.e. sci-fi? Let me know in the comments!

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Pick Me Up Monday: Winterwood

Summary

Be careful of the dark, dark wood . . .

Especially the woods surrounding the town of Fir Haven. Some say these woods are magical. Haunted, even.

Rumored to be a witch, only Nora Walker knows the truth. She and the Walker women before her have always shared a special connection with the woods. And it’s this special connection that leads Nora to Oliver Huntsman—the same boy who disappeared from the Camp for Wayward Boys weeks ago—and in the middle of the worst snowstorm in years. He should be dead, but here he is alive, and left in the woods with no memory of the time he’d been missing.

But Nora can feel an uneasy shift in the woods at Oliver’s presence. And it’s not too long after that Nora realizes she has no choice but to unearth the truth behind how the boy she has come to care so deeply about survived his time in the forest, and what led him there in the first place. What Nora doesn’t know, though, is that Oliver has secrets of his own—secrets he’ll do anything to keep buried, because as it turns out, he wasn’t the only one to have gone missing on that fateful night all those weeks ago.


PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2019


Halloween might be over but there will always be room on the shelf for another witchy read! What atmospheric, spine-tingling books have you read this year? Let me know in the comments!

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Librarian’s Bookshelf: Hocus Pocus and The All New Sequel

Witches, spell books, and black magic, oh my! Hocus Pocus and The All New Sequel by A. W. Jantha is a wild broomstick ride from start to finish.

hocus pocus, witches, magic, halloween, teen fiction, teen books, ya literature, ya books, ya fiction, young adult fiction, young adult books, disney, movie novelization, fantasy, cult classic, holiday reads, librarian's bookshelf,

SUMMARY

Shortly after moving from California to Salem, Massachusetts, Max Dennison finds himself in hot water when he accidentally releases a coven of witches, the Sanderson sisters, from the afterlife. Max, his sister, and his new friends (human and otherwise) must find a way to stop the witches from carrying out their evil plan and remaining on earth to torment Salem for all eternity.

Twenty-five years later, Max and Allison’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Poppy, finds herself face-to-face with the Sanderson sisters in all their sinister glory. When Halloween celebrations don’t quite go as planned, it’s a race against time as Poppy and her friends fight to save her family and all of Salem from the witches’ latest death-defying scheme.

REVIEW

As movie novelizations go, Hocus Pocus is pretty standard fare. What I’m looking for in a novelization is a glimpse into the characters’ brains that I wouldn’t otherwise have in the movie. It adds an extra dimension to what I’ve seen and pulls me a little deeper into the world that I enjoyed enough, I wanted to re-visit in book form.

Hocus Pocus details the adventures of five kids – three modern, two from the past – as they face the infamous Sanderson sisters. These three witches are eager for a bite of child stew and there are plenty pint-sized humans to choose from, running around on Halloween night. But that child chili isn’t just to appease the witches’ hunger. Munch on enough children and the Sandersons would be young and beautiful forever!

The witches’ plans are foiled.

Or so it seems.

In book two, we enter the present day. The Sandersons haven’t been seen in decades. The same kids who defeated the witches before – Max, Dani, and Allison – are grown up, with kids of their own.

And they do NOT speak of witches, especially witches with the name Sanderson.

As you can imagine, their kids are the first to encounter the reincarnation of the Sandersons when they arise on Halloween in Salem, Massachusetts.

I have mixed feelings on the sequel. Maybe it was the first person, present tense style. I have trouble reading that perspective comfortably. Maybe it was the roundabout way that the story went on and on.

There were callbacks to the original Hocus Pocus though which were entertaining to spot, i.e. the witches struggling to adjust to technology. But it certainly had a different flavor than the original. Perhaps it needed a dash more eye of newt to the child stew.

What I liked about this book:

Cozy Halloween goodness

Halloween around every corner! Candy and costumes, parties and superstitions, graveyards and ghosts. Hocus Pocus and its sequel provide a heady rush of sweet Halloween traditions to binge on.

Witches, witches and more witches

Both books are chock full of witches. Not just the Sanderson sisters either. In the sequel, we meet the rest of the Sanderson family, both the Pure of Heart witches and the Extra Wicked witches. Winifred Sanderson meets her match when her mother breaks through the veil and confronts her. If you’re craving witches this Halloween season, you can’t go wrong with this book.


Do you have any cult classic Halloween reads or movies you enjoy? Let me know in the comments!

The Librarian’s Bookshelf: Pumpkinheads

S’mores and autumn leaves, soft over-sized sweaters and pumpkin spice everything, caramel apples and bonfires. Rainbow Rowell has captured the starry-eyed joy of Halloween in this cozy, adorable, and sweet graphic novel. The very definition of “heart warming”.

REVIEW

Every year throughout high school, Deja and Josiah work at the Pumpkin Patch together during the Halloween season, manning the Succotash Hut. They’re seasonal friends – when Halloween is over, they don’t keep in touch, they don’t do anything together. But when Halloween rolls around, Deja and Josiah are attached at the hip.

Changes are on the horizon though. Next year: college. No more Pumpkin Patch. And Deja and Josiah are determined to make the most of their last night together.

Deja, the spunky best friend, is dead set on pushing Josiah to finally stop mooning over the cute fudge shop girl and actually talk to her. But things go haywire, again and again and again. Will Deja and Josiah’s last night together tear them apart?

Continue reading “The Librarian’s Bookshelf: Pumpkinheads”