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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Obsidio (Illuminae Files #3) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

BRIEFING NOTE: This is a fantastic end to one of my favorite series ever, chum. This is a trilogy that is excellently plotted into three acts and is never ███████ boring. If you haven’t yet read Illuminae and Gemina , tread with caution as this review has spoilers for the first two books.
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“Every story needs its villain. And its hero. And its monster.”

I am so sad that this amazing series is over, chum. If I am being honest, it took me almost two months to read this book because I didn’t want it to end and was savoring every single page. I simply didn’t want to say goodbye to the characters I had come to love, especially Nik.

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Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

“But in trying times, truth is the first thing we betray.”

Friends, this book gripped me from the first page to the very last. Descendant of the Crane is a stunning debut fantasy that delivers on the “Chinese version of Game of Thrones” comparison that I’ve seen. This is a fast paced and action packed book that you cannot miss!

The plot of the book seems simple enough: the king died mysteriously and his daughter launches an investigation because she’s convinced it was murder and is determined to uncover the truth. But it is so much more than that. It turns out the truth is more than just with the king’s death, but the 300 year history of the country following the revolution against the previous empire. The oppressed rose up to make things more equal for everyone… except for the sooths. I appreciated Hesina’s sympathy for the sooths and the moral dilemma she faces while having to also not increase tensions and fear for her people.

“A dead king. A deceived populace. A truth seeker. Sounds like a story that could end very well or very poorly, and I want to spectate.”

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Nancy Drew: The Palace of Wisdom by Kelly Thompson

“We have so much history…those ties go deep and aren’t easily cut.”

Friends, this was such an enjoyable read! I’ve been suffering from the worst reading slump for the past couple of months and just wanted to read and finish something. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Hardy Boy books, and I figured that there is probably no better cure for a slump that a dose of nostalgia — and how right I was!

One of the things I loved most about reading Nancy Drew was how strong, smart, and capable she a character she is. I loved the reimagining of the characters we know and love as modern day teenagers, and unlike some other reboots that I’ve read this is written in a way that doesn’t alienate a younger reader unfamiliar with the source material but also doesn’t alienate people my age that are in it for the nostalgia factor.

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