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: 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!

Pick Me Up Monday: The Itty-Bitty Witch

SUMMARY

Betty can’t wait to be a first-grade witch. But on the first day of school, her classmates start calling her “Itty Bitty” because she’s small and still uses her kinder-broom. Betty doesn’t like the nickname—or how it makes her feel itty-bitty inside. So she comes up with a BIG idea to prove herself: winning the Halloween Dash.


PUBLISHED JULY 2019


When I stumbled across this book, I honest-to-god gasped. The cover illustration alone is like a giant shiny chocolate bar. The color palette is perfect Halloween aesthetic. The style reminds me of the storybooks I grew up with that made me want to crawl in between the pages and stay there forever.

And Betty! is! adorable! I love her determination, her fierceness, her attitude. She’s a Make Things Happen witch, no bones about it. I can’t wait to get my hands on this book!

Yes, this book is for a preschool/kindergarten age range. Yes, I have no children of my own to read it to (do my cats count? can I read to my cats like they’re kids? they wouldn’t like it but they’re house cats, they can’t hide forever. I know where they live.)

I don’t care if this book is waaaay below my reading level. It looks like a book that would put a smile on my face and I’m looking forward to it like a kid on Christmas (Halloween!) morning.


Do you have a favorite witch book to recommend for my insatiable witch fiction appetite? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Note: this post contains Amazon affiliate links