Apocalyptic, Fantasy, Fiction, Horror, Humor, Paranormal, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Young Adult

9 Books to Get You in the Mood for Halloween

With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to round up some of the spooky (and not-so-spooky) books I’ve read and reviewed. Books are ranked from least to most creepy! Bonus: many of these books and series have become films and tv shows since they were published!

The Gates by John Connolly

Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Boswell, are trying to show initiative by trick-or-treating a full three days before Halloween, which is how they come to witness strange goings-on at 666 Crowley Road. The Abernathys don’t mean any harm by their flirtation with the underworld, but when they unknowingly call forth Satan himself, they create a gap in the universe, a gap through which a pair of enormous gates is visible. The gates to Hell. And there are some pretty terrifying beings just itching to get out…

Can one small boy defeat evil? Can he harness the power of science, faith, and love to save the world as we know it?

Apparently I don’t have a true review of The Gates by itself on the blog, but I absolutely love, love, love this three book series from author John Connolly. Such a fun, cute story that’s perfect for those who like their Halloween fare on the sweeter side.

Click here to read my mini-review of The Gates 

 

Ghost Bully by Brian Corley

Roommates can be hell.

Like when they’re late with the rent, late on bills, or constantly trying to kill you.

Jonah Preston thought he knew what he was getting into after signing the paperwork to buy his new home: yard work, a leaky pipe here and there, maybe the occasional squirrel in the attic.

He just didn’t expect to share that new home with a ghost.

Before all the boxes are unpacked, Jonah learns the previous owner, Willard Hensch, committed suicide in one of the bedrooms. It’s bad news, but Jonah and his (corporeal) roommate, Max, take it in stride. Jonah’s just happy to own a home and begin this new chapter in his adult life.

Unfortunately, it’s an incredibly short chapter.

Unhappy with his new roommates, the resident ghost quickly makes his presence known. Like, really known. When Jonah wakes up dead, he knows exactly who’s behind it.

Willard. Effing. Hensch.

For the newly deceased Jonah, that’s where his new chapter truly begins. He will befriend angels, fight demons, and take on a ghostly army in this comic-paranormal thrill ride through the freakish underworld of Austin, Texas. 

If you like your ghosts at the speed of The Haunted Mansion, you will love this book. Follow along with Jonah as he hilariously navigates the afterlife and discovers a whole new side of Austin, Texas. I’m lucky enough to be friends with the author so I can tell you the sequel to Ghost Bully is going to be just as fun – so make sure you pick up a copy of this book and get caught up!

Click here to check out my review of the book plus an exclusive interview with the author

 

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

A mysterious island.

 An abandoned orphanage.

 A strange collection of very curious photographs.
 It all waits to be discovered in Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an unforgettable novel that mixes fiction and photography in a thrilling reading experience. As our story opens, a horrific family tragedy sets sixteen-year-old Jacob journeying to a remote island off the coast of Wales, where he discovers the crumbling ruins of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. As Jacob explores its abandoned bedrooms and hallways, it becomes clear that the children were more than just peculiar. They may have been dangerous. They may have been quarantined on a deserted island for good reason. And somehow—impossible though it seems—they may still be alive.

This book and the subsequent series are primarily on this list because the found photography that is sprinkled throughout the pages of the book is more than a little creepy. I found the first book a little spooky in places, but overall I wouldn’t classify it as a scary read. Perfect for those who want to be just a little spooked for Halloween!

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

I’m actually still reading this one, but it’s the perfect spooky read for Halloween.  Stalking Jack the Ripper presents an interesting spin on the historic serial killer’s story. Not too scary though! If you like the show Mind Hunter, you’ll enjoy this YA take on a famous criminal case.

Book review coming soon!

 

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

A carnival rolls in sometime after the midnight hour on a chill Midwestern October eve, ushering in Halloween a week before its time. A calliope’s shrill siren song beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two inquisitive boys standing precariously on the brink of adulthood will soon discover the secret of the satanic raree-show’s smoke, mazes, and mirrors, as they learn all too well the heavy cost of wishes – and the stuff of nightmare.

This book didn’t scare me too much, but it IS pretty much the perfect Halloween read. Atmospheric and utterly enchanting, this is a short read about a circus of nightmares that preys upon a small Midwestern town.

Click here to check out my review

 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

I remember this series starting out more than a little creepy, but my fears subsided after awhile so that’s why it’s not ranked higher on the list. So not as tame as the books that have come before it, but not all-out scary. This is a great series about the end of the world, aliens, and the teenagers who are fighting to survive.

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

The Passage by Justin Cronin

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy – abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape – but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world. 

Apparently I’ve never reviewed the first book in this series of my blog – WHAT! I recommend this series all the time so this is a travesty. Guess it just means I’ll need to do a re-read for you guys. I do have reviews for the subsequent two books in the series The Twelve and The City of Mirrors, but you do need to start with The Passage. This series about a vampire apocalypse is definitely creepy – I read this book while camping in Joshua Tree which, oddly enough, is one of the settings in the later part of the book. 10/10 do NOT recommend that experience, but 12/10 do recommend starting this series.

 

The Strain by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.

In a pawnshop in Spanish Harlem, a former professor and survivor of the Holocaust named Abraham Setrakian knows something is happening. And he knows the time has come, that a war is brewing.

So begins a battle of mammoth proportions as the vampiric virus that has infected New York begins to spill out into the streets. Eph, who is joined by Setrakian and a motley crew of fighters, must now find a way to stop the contagion and save his city – a city that includes his wife and son – before it is too late.

Guillermo del Toro is one of authors – I mean, do you need me to tell you this is scary?! It’s freakin’ scary. But good. So, so good. The Strain is the first book in another trilogy about the vampire apocalypse told by one of the masters of the horror genre.

Click here to check out my review of the series

 

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the world for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In Annihilation, the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.

The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one another, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.

This series is INTENSE. So CREEPY. I mean, I almost couldn’t handle it and I wasn’t home alone. But I also couldn’t put it down. If you like being intensely unnerved and riveted by a story, give this series a try.

Click here to check out my review of the first book in the series

 

Bonus:

Cursed Collectibles: An Anthology

Spend an afternoon antiquing and it’s not hard to figure out why picking has become one of America’s fondest pastimes. It’s treasure hunting while connecting with history. But what if those treasures hunt us back?

From old books, to vinyl records, antique mirrors, vintage figurines, or a Bob’s Big Boy piggy bank, curses have no limits.

With twenty-three spooky stories in this anthology, you’re sure to find the perfect one to put you in the mood for Halloween. From the not-so-scary to the downright frightening, pick up your copy of Cursed Collectibles today. Click here to buy!

 

What’s your favorite Halloween read? Leave me a comment below!

Apocalyptic, Dystopian, Fiction, Paranormal, Reviews, Sci-Fi, Thriller, Uncategorized

The City of Mirrors

By Justin Cronin

The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?

The Twelve have been destroyed and the terrifying hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew—and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy—humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

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Along with The Last Star, this was one of my most anticipated series endings of this year. I got both of these books around mid-June, but it took me much longer to finish The City of Mirrors.

A few reasons for that, I think. First, I’d never really realized how dense these books are until I sat down to read The City of Mirrors. A lot happens in the text and very little of it is fluff to be glossed over. The book is 600 pages, but I’m sure they squeezed in another 100-200 pages worth of words. Second, while the book was never calling to me to hurry up and get back to reading it, whenever I did get back to it, I’d read for hours. Which is a problem because I read before bed most often.

All in all, this was a terrific series closer. A writer with an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop writing a vampire apocalypse trilogy sounds ridiculous on the face of it, but the result is just incredible. I would recommend doing a re-read of the first two books before tackling this one. This is one of my all-time favorite series and I regret not doing that myself because I think I would have gotten even more enjoyment out of The City of Mirrors. But I’ll definitely be rereading the series at some point in the future!

 

Apocalyptic, Fiction, Reviews, Uncategorized

9 Best Apocalyptic Fiction Novels

No book review this week as I’m still working through two chunkers: Roses by Leila Meacham and The City of Mirrors by Justin Cronin. The latter reminded me that I wanted to do a roundup of my favorite piece of apocalyptic and dystopian fiction, a subject that I read a lot of.

Merriam-webster defines “Apocalypse” as:

A great disaster : a sudden and very bad event that causes much fear, loss, or destruction.

I’ll be doing a separate post on dystopian fiction next week. I personally make the distinction that a dystopian novel puts forth the notion of a flawed utopia, which usually occurs after a great disaster. You can normally identify a dystopian by the presence of a strong government or ruler. Apocalyptic fiction either deals directly with the disaster itself or puts forth a society after the apocalypse that is still reeling from the events and has not yet achieved peace and order, utopian or otherwise.

Mary Shelley’s novel, The Last Man, published in 1826, is considered to be one of the first modern apocalyptic novels. I didn’t love this one so it’s not included in my list, but it’s interesting to note that apocalyptic fiction has been enchanting our hearts and minds for almost 200 years now.

9 Best Apocalyptic Fiction Novels

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The Passage by Justin Cronin

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

My Take: Two words: Vampire. Apocalypse. Add to that that the author holds an MFA from the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and you end up with stunning novel. The passage is the first book in a trilogy, with the third book being the recently released City of Mirrors. 

 

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The Road by Cormac McCarthy

A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.

The Road is the profoundly moving story of a journey. It boldly imagines a future in which no hope remains, but in which the father and his son, “each the other’s world entire,” are sustained by love. Awesome in the totality of its vision, it is an unflinching meditation on the worst and the best that we are capable of: ultimate destructiveness, desperate tenacity, and the tenderness that keeps two people alive in the face of total devastation.

My Take: I started this novel not knowing what to think, but instantly found my afternoon falling away as I was transported by this incredible novel.

 

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The 5th Wave by Rick Yancey

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother-or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

My Take: I started this book not realizing it was about aliens. I’m a scardey-cat so I almost stopped reading cause I wasn’t sure if I could hang. But I ended up totally loving this book. The 5th Wave is the first book of a trilogy.

You can read my full review of The 5th Wave here.

 

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Gone by Michael Grant

In the blink of an eye, everyone disappears. Gone. Except for the young.

There are teens, but not one single adult. Just as suddenly, there are no phones, no internet, no television. No way to get help. And no way to figure out what’s happened.

Hunger threatens. Bullies rule. A sinister creature lurks. Animals are mutating. And the teens themselves are changing, developing new talents—unimaginable, dangerous, deadly powers—that grow stronger by the day. It’s a terrifying new world. Sides are being chosen, a fight is shaping up. Townies against rich kids. Bullies against the weak. Powerful against powerless. And time is running out: On your 15th birthday, you disappear just like everyone else…

My Take: This was an epic six book series that managed to stay just an engaging in book six as in book one. This book was the right amount of creepy, thrilling, horrifying, and hopeful. A must read.

 

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The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

What if — whoosh, right now, with no explanation — a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down? That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened — not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.

Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.

My Take: This is one of the first novels I reviewed on Isle of Books almost 5 years ago (gasp!) This novel is very different from the others on the list, notably because life isn’t all that bleak. It’s bleak, sure, but it’s not death-around-every-corner bleak. The best way to describe The Leftovers is a non-religious take on the rapture.

You can read my full review of The Leftovers here.

 

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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

One snowy night Arthur Leander, a famous actor, has a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Jeevan Chaudhary, a paparazzo-turned-EMT, is in the audience and leaps to his aid. A child actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror as Jeevan performs CPR, pumping Arthur’s chest as the curtain drops, but Arthur is dead. That same night, as Jeevan walks home from the theater, a terrible flu begins to spread. Hospitals are flooded and Jeevan and his brother barricade themselves inside an apartment, watching out the window as cars clog the highways, gunshots ring out, and life disintegrates around them.

Fifteen years later, Kirsten is an actress with the Traveling Symphony. Together, this small troupe moves between the settlements of an altered world, performing Shakespeare and music for scattered communities of survivors. Written on their caravan, and tattooed on Kirsten’s arm is a line from Star Trek: “Because survival is insufficient.” But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who digs graves for anyone who dares to leave.

Spanning decades, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, this suspenseful, elegiac novel is rife with beauty. As Arthur falls in and out of love, as Jeevan watches the newscasters say their final good-byes, and as Kirsten finds herself caught in the crosshairs of the prophet, we see the strange twists of fate that connect them all. A novel of art, memory, and ambition, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.

My Take: Starting this, I didn’t expect such a beautifully written novel. I was expecting something on par with the movie, Contagion. But Station Eleven is beautifully imagined and beautifully written.

You can read my full review of Station Eleven here.

 

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Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer

Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; all the members of the second expedition committed suicide; the third expedition died in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another; the members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within months of their return, all had died of aggressive cancer.

This is the twelfth expedition.

Their group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain and collect specimens; to record all their observations, scientific and otherwise, of their surroundings and of one another; and, above all, to avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.

They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers—they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding—but it’s the surprises that came across the border with them, and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another, that change everything.

My Take: This was a pretty darn creepy book. I almost gave up on it (and by extension, the series) because I wasn’t sure I could hang, but I’m so glad I did. The atmosphere of Area X is just superb…chills you right to the bone.

You can read my full review of Annihilation here.

 

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Blindness by Jose Saramago

A city is hit by an epidemic of “white blindness” that spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and assaulting women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides her charges—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and their procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. As Blindnessreclaims the age-old story of a plague, it evokes the vivid and trembling horrors of the twentieth century, leaving readers with a powerful vision of the human spirit that’s bound both by weakness and exhilarating strength.

My Take: This is a dark, tough, and gritty novel. It should be noted that this novel features a scene of graphic rape that is hard to stomach. But it’s certainly worth a read if you can get through it. There is also a sequel to Blindness called Seeing, which I have not read yet.

You can read my full review of Blindness here.

 

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Left Behind by Jerry B. Jenkins and Tim LaHaye

An airborne Boeing 747 is headed to London when, without any warning, passengers mysteriously disappear from their seats. Terror and chaos slowly spread not only through the plane but also worldwide as unusual events continue to unfold. For those who have been left behind, the apocalypse has just begun.

My Take: No list of apocalyptic novels would be complete without this thirteen book series detailing the events of the rapture and Earth’s last days. This is a Christian series, but it is also imaginative and engrossing.

 

Anything you would add to my list? Leave me a comment below!

Dystopian, Fiction

The Twelve

Read my review of The Passage

The Twelve by Justin Cronin

In the present day, as the man-made apocalypse unfolds, three strangers navigate the chaos. Lila, a doctor and an expectant mother, is so shattered by the spread of violence and infection that she continues to plan for her child’s arrival even as society dissolves around her. Kittridge, known to the world as “Last Stand in Denver,” has been forced to flee his stronghold and is now on the road, dodging the infected, armed but alone and well aware that a tank of gas will get him only so far. April is a teenager fighting to guide her little brother safely through a landscape of death and ruin. These three will learn that they have not been fully abandoned—and that in connection lies hope, even on the darkest of nights.
 
One hundred years in the future, Amy and the others fight on for humankind’s salvation . . . unaware that the rules have changed. The enemy has evolved, and a dark new order has arisen with a vision of the future infinitely more horrifying than man’s extinction. If the Twelve are to fall, one of those united to vanquish them will have to pay the ultimate price.

I loved The Passage so much I was kind of afraid to read this one. What if it somehow tainted that perfect, perfect bit of storytelling? Even though I was excited to read this one, I let it linger on my shelf for a little bit, afraid it would fall short of my expectations.

It didn’t.

I’ll admit, though, the narrative structure is kind of odd in this one. You start in the “present” (year 97) then jump back to year zero, then jump further ahead into narrative time while remaining in the past (year 77) and then back to the present. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised though. In The Passage, Cronin spends roughly 1/3 of the book in year zero and then the rest in year 92. It all makes sense in the end, but the structure is just plain weird.

Regardless, though, I was just an enraptured with this novel as with the others. It still made me nervous, but at this point, I’m pretty used to the Virals, or as used to them as you could get. Fair warning though, this novel manages to somehow be even more violent and even more bloody than the others.

My favorite favorite part of this book was how he recapped what happened in the first book, in the form of biblical verses that are reminiscent to the opening verses of the Book of Revelations. Clever, Cronin, clever. If I hadn’t already had an inkling you could read this story as a biblical parable, that kind of cemented that.

As always, I find it difficult to talk about this novel without giving away much from the others, but as always, Amy was my favorite character, followed by Peter. I wish I could have gotten more of them, especially Amy. I could read about Amy forever.

Another difficult thing about this book, since I’d been waiting two years for this, I forgot what love triangles/relationships were brewing and thus found myself sort of lost in this one, which picks up four or five years after the end of The Passage. So maybe considering re-reading the first book, before you dive into this one. I’m sure it will help.

This series is supposed to be a trilogy. I see that it’s going that way. But I don’t want it to end. I want it go on and on and on forever.

Fiction, Top Ten Tuesday

TTT: Books for People Who Liked The Historian

TTT is hosted, as always, by The Broke and The Bookish. Today’s topic is: Top Ten Books for People Who Like X Book. I chose The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. It’s doubtful you’ll see a review of this book on Isleofbooks. It’s been some years since I read it and as my current goal is to finish reading all the books I have and haven’t read, rereads are a long way off. That said, I really love this book.

Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of – a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.

The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known – and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself – to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive.

What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed – and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends? The answer to these questions cross time and borders, as first the father and then the daughter search for clues, from dusty Ivy League libraries to Istanbul, Budapest, and the depths of Eastern Europe. In city after city, in monasteries and archives, in letters and in secret conversations, the horrible truth emerges about Vlad the Impaler’s dark reign – and about a time-defying pact that may have kept his awful work alive down through the ages.

Parsing obsure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions – and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vald’s ancient powers – one woman comes every closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil.

Without further ado, here is my list!

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker.

-I’d be remiss if I didn’t recommend this book. Not the first fiction book about vampires, but definitely the first to cement the Dracula legend.

2. The Passage 

-Another of my absolute favorites. This is a chunky book like The Historian, but it moves fast. Love the modern take on vampires.

3. The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan

-Watch for a review of the entire series later this week! Somewhat like the passage, this series posits vampirism as a virus. Titles include The Strain, The Fall, and The Night Eternal.

4. The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice

-What good list of vampire books doesn’t include this series? Anne Rice was writing about vampires before Twilight made it cool.

5. Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz

-Speaking of Twilight, here’s another YA vampire series. I admit, other than the Twilight series, I haven’t read much at all of the market saturation of YA vampire novels. I happen to like these, but no idea how they stack up to the numerous others.

6. I am Legend by Richard Matheson

-This is a vampire book, but I tend to think it of it more as a zombie book. Anyways, it’s worth a read.

7. Vampire Knight by Matsuri Hino

-Okay, technically I haven’t read this. But I watched the show! And the show was awesome! So since manga > its anime counterpart, these must be extra awesome. Makes sense, right?

8. Mina by Elaine Bergstrom

-Typically, I don’t like books the purport to be sequels of other books that weren’t written by the same person. But I did actually like this one.

9. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

-I never resist a chance to promote this book. Not about vampires, but the writing has a similar tonal quality to The Historian.

10. Interred with their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell

-I really love historical fiction thrillers. E.G. The Historian. E.G. Interred with their Bones. This one’s about Shakespeare.

And no, I don’t watch True Blood or read the Sookie Stackhouse books.

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Literary Characters Who Remind Me of Me!

As always, TTT is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s challenge is 10 literary characters who remind you of yourself or someone else.This was actually a little bad hard.

1. Daenerys Targaryen (Game of Thrones Series)

2. Madeline (The Marriage Plot)

3. Aria Montgomery (Pretty Little Liars Series)

4. Hermione Granger (Harry Potter Series)

5. Hazel (The Fault in Our Stars)

6. Mia Thermopolis (Princess Diaries Series)

7. Daine (Immortals Series)

8. Sabriel (Abhorsen Series)

9. Tibby Rollins (Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants)

10. Amy Harper Bellafonte (The Passage)

Dystopian, Fiction, Reviews, Thriller

The Passage

The Passage by Justin Cronin

An epic and gripping tale of catastrophe and survival, The Passage is the story of Amy—abandoned by her mother at the age of six, pursued and then imprisoned by the shadowy figures behind a government experiment of apocalyptic proportions. But Special Agent Brad Wolgast, the lawman sent to track her down, is disarmed by the curiously quiet girl—and risks everything to save her. As the experiment goes nightmarishly wrong, Wolgast secures her escape—but he can’t stop society’s collapse. And as Amy walks alone, across miles and decades, into a future dark with violence and despair, she is filled with the mysterious and terrifying knowledge that only she has the power to save the ruined world.

Vampire apocalypse. I sort of imagine this book was a hard sell. Yes it’s about vampires and vampires are a hot-ticket item right now (also, a subject that makes publishers want to scratch their eyes out), but if it’s not vampire sex, it’s a no-go. Luckily for us, someone decided to stick their neck out on this non-sexy vampire book that is -wait for it- a whooping 800 pages long. And every page is delicious.

    

I read this book last December while camping in the desert of Joshua Tree. A few days later, I went home to Colorado. The funny thing is, the two main settings of this book are Colorado and the stretch of land by Joshua Tree. Alright, personal amusement over.

This is a really excellent book. It’s poetic, sad, scary, hopeful, funny, and above all, just a damn good read. Cronin expertly navigates multiple story lines, points of view, and a cadre of characters to rival War and Peace. Every page, every word is gripping. I wouldn’t recommend reading this book while camping in a desert in winter with just you and the boyfriend the only people around for miles. It definitely scared the bejeezus out of me. I do recommend staying up late under a nice thick layer of blankets to read it though. I couldn’t leave this book alone and I swear my eyes were going to fall out of my head. And really, how could you not love a book that opens with:

Before she became the Girl from Nowhere — the One Who Walked In, the First and Last and Only, who lived a thousand years— she was just a little girl in Iowa, named Amy. Amy Harper Bellafonte.

That’s the kind of opening you kick yourself for not coming up with first. The kind of opening that sticks word for word in your mind over a year later.

I was excited for this book ever since I saw a pre-review for it in People Magazine. And I wasn’t disappointed. The Twelve comes out later this year and I couldn’t be more excited. You bet I’m starting it the day it comes out.

One more thing: the film version is being directed by Ridley Scott. We all remember Blade Runner. Get ready.