what I’ve been reading

by Kaylah Stroup
a house with good bones by t. kingfisher

A House With Good Bones by T. Kingfisher.

‘”Mom seems off.”

Her brother’s words echo in Sam Montgomery’s ear as she turns onto the quiet North Carolina street where their mother lives alone.

She brushes the thought away as she climbs the front steps. Sam’s excited for this rare extended visit, and looking forward to nights with just the two of them, drinking boxed wine, watching murder mystery shows, and guessing who the killer is long before the characters figure it out.

But stepping inside, she quickly realizes home isn’t what it used to be. Gone is the warm, cluttered charm her mom is known for; now the walls are painted a sterile white. Her mom jumps at the smallest noises and looks over her shoulder even when she’s the only person in the room. And when Sam steps out back to clear her head, she finds a jar of teeth hidden beneath the magazine-worthy rose bushes, and vultures are circling the garden from above.

To find out what’s got her mom so frightened in her own home, Sam will go digging for the truth. But some secrets are better left buried.’

I’ve read a couple of books by T. Kingfisher at this point and I think one of the things I love the most about her writing is the world building. I find it so easy to visualize every one and every place in her books and I think that’s just wonderful. A House With Good Bones is a solid horror book that I’d feel comfortable recommending to just about anyone who’d listen!*

Also by T. Kingfisher I really enjoyed The Twisted Ones! I made my husband read it after I did. We both loved it. Since reading it I’ve been on the hunt for similar books and still haven’t found anything that scratched the itch.

*That sounds weird and robotic, right? But what I mean is that I read a lot of really icky, uncomfortable, just plain old triggering horror that I feel like pushes limits. This book feels like something that could be enjoyed by everyone, even folks who don’t necessarily love horror.

Abnormal Statistics by Max Booth III.

Abnormal Statistics is a collection of thirteen stories by author Max Booth III, ten of which are reprints, and three are original to this book including a novella called “Indiana Death Song”. First things first, I had never read anything by Max Booth III prior to this but you guys… a tweet of his showed up on my twitter where if you Paypal-ed him money, he’d send you a signed book. That’s how easy it is to hook me. I’d seen his name floating around before in the horror world so I figured why not.

This book was awful. The good kind of awful! The kind of awful you’re reading horror for! Just absolutely unflinching, uncomfortable horror. This is the kind of horror I’m talking about above, it’s not for everyone but for the people who like that stuff? THIS IS A GOOD ONE!

The first 84 pages start with the aforementioned novella which immediately made me a fan of his writing. It was bleak and heartbreaking. (Even more so when you read the story notes in the back of the book and learn it was based heavily on his own childhood. What!!!)

I tore through this book and hopped online as soon as I was done to order another of his books. I look forward to reading everything I can get my hands on now. I highly recommend this book!

OOZE: Little Bursts of Body Horror edited by Ruth Anna Evans.

This was another twitter find. I honestly just really loved the look of the book. It’s so cute and tiny and pink! Don’t let that fool you though. It is disgusting!

Ooze: Little Bursts of Body Horror is a collection of bite sized stories that plunge you into a world where the boundaries of the human body are stretched and distorted in the most grotesque and imaginative ways. It’s a quick read. I couldn’t put it down and ended up finishing it in one sitting.

We Need to Do Something by Max Booth III.

‘A family on the verge of self-destruction finds themselves isolated in their bathroom during a tornado warning.’

I wasn’t really sure what to gather from that very small snippet but after reading Abnormal Statistics I knew I could trust the author to take me on a wild ride. We Need to Do Something is slow-burning and anxiety-inducing.

This book was turned into a movie with the same name in 2021. It has… uh, not the best reviews but, I’ll tell you what, I watched it right after I finished the book and really enjoyed it. I felt like the casting was pretty spot on with what I was imagining too!

I always like when I can watch the movie version right after finishing a book, especially when it’s something like this that I’m still mulling over in my brain.

Just Like Mother by Anne Heltzel.

The last time Maeve saw her cousin was the night she escaped the cult they were raised in. For the past two decades, Maeve has worked hard to build a normal life in New York City, where she keeps everything―and everyone―at a safe distance.

When Andrea suddenly reappears, Maeve regains the only true friend she’s ever had. Soon she’s spending more time at Andrea’s remote Catskills estate than in her own cramped apartment. Maeve doesn’t even mind that her cousin’s wealthy work friends clearly disapprove of her single lifestyle. After all, Andrea has made her fortune in the fertility industry―baby fever comes with the territory.

The more Maeve immerses herself in Andrea’s world, the more disconnected she feels from her life back in the city; and the cousins’ increasing attachment triggers memories Maeve has fought hard to bury. But confronting the terrors of her childhood may be the only way for Maeve to transcend the nightmare still to come…’

When I finished this book and was thinking about what to write about it here the first word that came to mind was ‘predictable’. I know that sounds bad but hear me out, okay? It’s predictable in the way you can absolutely see what’s coming a mile away and there’s nothing you can do to stop any of the events that are about to happen. You just have to buckle up and hold on tight. It was so fantastically stressful. I loved it!

Peruse the ‘books‘ category here on the blog for similar posts. Keep an eye on my instagram stories if you’re looking for even more recommendations!

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1 comment

Indya | The Small Adventurer August 29, 2023 - 9:16 am

I am NOT into horror – whether it be books or movies – *but* that is completely different when it comes to reading about someone’s life, as I had a pretty rough childhood (and honestly, adulthood hasn’t been very kind either), so I’m always open to reading about other people’s stories, especially if they were brave enough to write a book about it! They can be such jaw-dropping and heart breaking books, yet I cannot ever put them down, and Abnormal Statistics sounds like a book I definitely need to read.

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