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!

This post contains Amazon affiliate links

Pick Me Up Monday: The Starless Sea

SUMMARY

Zachary Ezra Rawlins is a graduate student in Vermont when he discovers a mysterious book hidden in the stacks. As he turns the pages, entranced by tales of lovelorn prisoners, key collectors, and nameless acolytes, he reads something strange: a story from his own childhood.

Bewildered by this inexplicable book and desperate to make sense of how his own life came to be recorded, Zachary uncovers a series of clues—a bee, a key, and a sword—that lead him to a masquerade party in New York, to a secret club, and through a doorway to an ancient library hidden far below the surface of the earth.

What Zachary finds in this curious place is more than just a buried home for books and their guardians—it is a place of lost cities and seas, lovers who pass notes under doors and across time, and of stories whispered by the dead. Zachary learns of those who have sacrificed much to protect this realm, relinquishing their sight and their tongues to preserve this archive, and also of those who are intent on its destruction.

Together with Mirabel, a fierce, pink-haired protector of the place, and Dorian, a handsome, barefoot man with shifting alliances, Zachary travels the twisting tunnels, darkened stairwells, crowded ballrooms, and sweetly soaked shores of this magical world, discovering his purpose—in both the mysterious book and in his own life.


PUBLISHED NOVEMBER 2019


This book.

Oh, THIS BOOK.

I was thoroughly enthralled with Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, swept away on a dizzying, swirling, spinning display of carnival magic. How do you follow that? How do you conjure that kaleidoscope of glorious enchantment for Project #2?

Ever since then, I’ve been waiting. Patiently and not-so-patiently in equal measure. Masterpieces cannot be rushed. But at long last!!!! It’s time to be swept away on Morgenstern’s tidal wave of illusions once more, bewitched by her prose and the images she weaves together like brightly colored ribbons.


What whimsical read are you looking forward to for the dreary winter months? Let me know in the comments!

this post contains Amazon Affiliate links

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!

Note: this post contains Amazon Affiliate links

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: Sorcery of Thorns

sorcery of thorns, margaret rogerson, ya fiction, teen books, witches, halloween, young adult books, young adult fiction, magic,

SUMMARY

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.


PUBLISHED JUNE 2019


I’ve talked A LOT about witches this month during Pick Me Up Monday, so I thought I’d switch things up a little bit. This time around, I found a new release about sorcerers.

(Don’t look at me like that! It’s different from a witch, I swear!)

Sorcery of Thorns sounds absolutely full to bursting with fantastical world-building. I’ve read Rogerson’s debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens, and if her work follows the same quality, Sorcery of Thorns will be incredibly decadent with colorful descriptions and settings that will leave you breathless.


What are some of your favorite magical books? Let me know in the comments!