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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Winter 21 scary books: one good, one bad

Updated: Apr 22, 2023

Last month, I read a horror book that really left a bad taste in my mouth. It was The House of a Hundred Whispers by Graham Masterson. I really expected to like it, but it just grated my nerves the whole time. I think I need to give horror a pass. I like some literary horror, scary fantasy or sci-fi, and old-fashioned ghost stories, but horror or weird fiction leaves me cold and I'm tired of it.

***Spoilers all over the place***This book was nearly 400 pages. About 300 pages in, I didn't like it anymore, but I felt like I should just finish it, and I was kind of curious. There are ghosts that aren't really ghosts; it's a long, weird story. There's a gang-rape scene, which gets interrupted, but it's horrifying to read for about two pages, and there's no reason why the person who interrupted couldn't get there faster. He literally had nothing else to do. Then there are two really gross deaths. It's a horror novel, so the really gross deaths weren't unexpected, but I felt like the rape scene was unnecessary. I didn't need to know what kind of underwear that character was wearing. The bad guys had already beaten people up and acted like creeps, so what's the point of this? The female character seemed to mostly be there to be pretty and have large breasts. They're mentioned more than once, in case the reader forgot about them in between her scenes. Also, the main point of the novel is that a child is taken, and it's never explained why. There's a big scary monster at the end but by then I was just along for the ride because I'd invested so much time in it.

Here's another review by a horror magazine, so someone who enjoys the genre more:

Now, for the good...

I've already written about this next book, but it was a few months back, and I want to revisit it since it comes out soon. I got to read a galley last summer. The Lost Village by Camilla Sten is creepy and mysterious, and it has held up. Sometimes a scary book is fun while you're reading it, but after you put it down you start to realize some ways that the story doesn't add up, or some of the scares that were thrown in to heighten the fear but aren't really connected to the story. But this book didn't disappoint.

The MC goes to an abandoned village that someone in her family used to live in. Everyone in the village disappeared- they didn't die, they just left. They didn't pack or lock their doors or anything. So there's this whole village with old food in the cabinets and clothes in the closets, etc. There's no cell phone reception, of course. The MC is a film maker and wants to finally solve the mystery of the village. Naturally, all kind of weirdness starts happening when her crew arrives.

A word of warning: There is violence against a female character. It doesn't feel gratuitous to me, but it isn't pleasant.

I like scary stories, but I'm learning that straight-up horror is not for me, and I'll be avoiding it. Last October, I read Monster, She Wrote, and I could remember all the paperback horror books from the 80s that freaked me out so much- not because I read them but because I'd stare at the covers at the library or the supermarket.

Anyway, here is a link to some scary books that I do like, alot.

I'm always open to recommendations to books that are scary without being really gross :)


Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.

The links are affiliate links to, so if you buy from them, I'll receive a small commission. If you haven't bought from them before, check them out- they support independent bookstores.

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