Guest Review: Whispers in the Dark by Laurel Hightower

Greetings friends, I am super excited to announce the first guest review on Reader Voracious! Lilyn from Sci-fi & Scary read Whispers in the Dark and loved it so much that they needed to write a review for it. The problem? One of the SF&S contributors already reviewed it and was looking for a blog to host their review. I was more than happy to lend Reader Voracious for the day to give you a bonus review, so please give Lilyn a warm welcome!

Lilyn’s Review

I normally don’t review books by authors that I ‘know’ (even if it’s just a loose connection on Twitter). I feel like there is a potential for bias there as soon as you develop any sort of affection for them as a person. It’s gotten cracks about me being a princess in a white tower before, but I don’t care. We all operate to our own personal standards of what we’re comfortable with.

Well, this is the princess coming down from her white tower and breaking her own rules to tell you all that You Need to Read This Book because it’s just that damned good.

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Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

☠️ You can read an excerpt on PenguinTeen.com!

Holy moly, ghouls and pals! This book. I was looking for a spooky read and this faux-documentary style story in the vein of The Blair Witch Project looked incredibly promising. Not only does it deliver on the spookiness, but it is so much more than that. If you are a fan of found footage and mixed media storytelling, please add this one to your October TBRs.

“FIND THE ROAD. FIND THE GATES. FIND THE GIRL.”

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Wilder Girls by Rory Power

Friends, I really wanted to enjoy this book more than I did and no one is more disappointed than I am. While I absolutely loved the world-building that Power crafts in her debut novel, unfortunately, I struggled to connect with any of the characters and found it difficult for me to suspend disbelief – but not for the reasons you’d think.

“Wonder what she’ll get, if it’s anything at all. Gills like Mona, blisters like Cat’s, maybe bones like Byatt’s or a hand like Reese’s, but sometimes the Tox doesn’t give you anything – just takes and takes. Leaves you drained and withering.”

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The Dark Game by Jonathan Janz

TLDR: Deliciously dark and imaginative, ten writers are brought off the grid for a prestigious competition. Little did they know the competition is more than they bargained for and they would fight for their lives. If you are a fan of horror, then you need to pick this one up.


“I learned that stories have incredible power. They can teach. They can transport. But they can also bring misery. They can enslave. Some stories can kill.”

Friends, I have been itching for a new release from Janz since being wowed by The Siren and the Specter last year. I’ve been reading his backlist voraciously and I was so happy to be offered an eARC of this title. I was not disappointed: The Dark Game is deliciously macabre and unputdownable; while I struggled with the multiple perspectives at first, I settled into the narrative and was fully engrossed!

“Wells’s mansion looked like every ghost story he’d ever read. And as they drew closer, Rick couldn’t shake the feeling he was about to become part of one.”

One of my favorite writing devices is when the ending is set up or heavily alluded to at the beginning of the book. I love the sense of foreboding behind every chapter as I try to piece together what is happening, and as a person that adamantly avoids spoilers like a cat avoids water this is one of the greatest mysteries of my psyche. From the beginning of the book we know that The Dark Game is to pit the authors against one another as they fight for their lives. The deaths aren’t a surprise, we are just left wondering who will be first. The journey is following the characters as they notice all the weird things happening and trying to figure it out… and will they make it out alive?

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Shutter by Courtney Alameda

“Nothing monstrous was conquered with a kiss, nor by love. Evil went down by the trigger, overcome with bullets, shutters, blood, and courage.”

After reading and loving Pitch Dark last year, I was excited to check out Alameda’s debut for some more spooky goodness. Friends, while I expected to enjoy Shutter a lot more than I did, it was a creepy and enjoyable read for me. It’s fast-paced and hauntingly atmospheric; Alameda has a way with words that is impossible to ignore. If you are a fan of spooky stories that deliver on the horror with imaginative detail, then keep reading because this book might be for you!

Shutter is told in the third person perspective of Micheline Helsing, the one of the last descendants in the lineage of the Van Helsings, and I honestly was sucked into the book with its opening lines: “Call it a reaper’s insomnia, but the dead wouldn’t let me sleep at night. Everytime the sun went down, I swore I sensed them stirring, starving.” There is something about the writing style that sets an almost noir mood with the words and painting the scene of my mind in black and white.

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