Review: The Hike by Drew Magary

The Hike

The Hike
Author: Drew Magary
Published: August 2016
Genre: Horror/Fantasy
Series: N/A
Rating: C


In the mood for something trippy? Then “The Hike” is for you. Ben is on a work trip when he decides to take a short hike while waiting for a meeting. When he sees two men wearing the skinned-off faces of Rottweilers dragging a dead body in the woods, he makes a run for it. Pursued by the killers, Ben quickly finds himself stumbling down an unfamiliar path where things like talking crabs, cannibalistic giants and a humongous cricket wait for him.

The best way to describe “The Hike” is as a series of crazy nonsensical events. While the constant barrage of weirdness coming at Ben was exactly what I had been looking for, it stopped working for me around the mid-point. Mostly because “The Hike” seems to be trying to make a point about anger or depression through an “Alice in Wonderland” style story, which doesn’t come across very well. Continue reading

Review: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

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Horrorstör
Author: Grady Hendrix
Published: 2014
Genre: Horror
Series: N/A
Rating: A-


You don’t have to wait long for creepy things to start happening in “Horrorstör”. Employees of Orsk, a knock-off IKEA, have been dealing with weird things since the store opened. Staff keep getting lost on the floor, are receiving text messages that say “help” from blocked numbers and the furniture is trashed while the store is closed. Amy, a disenchanted employee, can care less about all this. Her main goal is to fly under manager Basil’s radar until her transfer comes in. When corporate sets a date for a team of evaluators to visit, Basil panics. He’s desperate to figure out who is vandalizing the store before corporate’s arrival. So, he bribes Amy into staying overnight with him to catch the culprit. As the night deepens, Amy begins to realize they’re trapped inside the building with a malevolent entity bent on “reconditioning” them.

Seeing as I’ve definitely gotten lost in the twisting labyrinth of an IKEA store before, I loved the idea of a haunted knock-off version. Orsk’s similar windowless floor layout is what made it such a great setting for a ghost story. It was easily believable that the characters would have such a hard time escaping the store, especially in the dark with things hunting them. Continue reading

Review: My Best Friend’s Exorcism

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My Best Friend’s Exorcism
Author: Grady Hendrix
Published: 2016
Genre: Horror
Series: N/A
Rating: B+


Ever since bonding over a disastrous birthday party in the 5th grade, Abby and Gretchen have been inseparable. Now in high school, the ladies are closer than ever. However, an ill-conceived decision at a friend’s lake house leads to Gretchen disappearing into the night. When Abby finds her in the morning, Gretchen is nearly catatonic. As the weeks progress, Gretchen starts acting strange and odd events begin happening whenever she’s around. Abby soon becomes convinced that something horrible happened to her friend that night and that she’s the only one who can help her.

Gretchen’s possible possession plays out pretty slowly here, which I really enjoyed. Going into the book I had been expecting a fast paced and possibly cheesy 80’s themed story to unfold. So, I was surprised to find things built up slow enough that it was believable that most people would be able to turn a blind eye to what was happening with Gretchen.  Continue reading

Review: The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon

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The Night Sister
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Published: 2015
Genre: Horror
Series: N/A
Rating: B-


The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon has been heralded as one of the best horror books of 2015. Honestly, I’m not sure I would agree. While McMahon has a writing style that’s very easy to fall into, I found the book kind of boring. Also, this barely qualifies as horror.

The Night Sister spans about 50 years and switches point of views between several characters, at different ages. In the 1950’s, young Rose watches as the motel her family owns slowly dies after a highway is built. Amidst the crumbling backdrop of the once busy motel, Rose begins to suspect that her sister, Sylvie, is not quite human. In the 1980’s, Rose’s young daughter, Amy, lives in the decrepit motel with her grandmother. Amy shockingly resembles Sylvie, who ran away to Hollywood years ago. One summer, Amy and her friend, Piper, stumble across a suitcase full of Sylvie’s things and begin to search for what really happened. Present day, an adult Piper is shocked when she receives a call that Amy and her family are dead. Distraught, she travels home to the sleepy town she grew up in, only to unearth a secret Amy’s family had been keeping for years. Continue reading

Review: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

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Jurassic Park
Author: Michael Crichton
Published: 1990
Genre: Horror
Series: Jurassic Park #1
Rating: B


If you’ve seen Jurassic Park the movie, you pretty much know the gist of the plot. It’s also a safe bet that you’re going to find the first half the book mind numbingly boring. It goes into a lot of detail about how a billionaire managed to make real live dinos. If I hadn’t been so familiar with the set-up, I would’ve enjoyed the world building a lot better. However, using 50% of the book to explain the science, technology and different theories that went into creating Jurassic Park is a wee bit excessive. But the second half of the book makes all that waiting well worth it.

Jurassic Park doesn’t get interesting until the dinosaurs finally start escaping and eating people. As wonderful as the animatronics were in the movie, they couldn’t quite live-up to how the dinos are portrayed here. Crichton makes it clear that these aren’t the dinosaurs that used to inhabit the Earth, but things pieced together by humans making assumptions about how nature works. It’s a combination of arrogance, lack of responsibility and laziness that makes the park turn into such a disaster.
Continue reading

Review: Perfume by Patrick Suskind

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Perfume
Author: Patrick Süskind
Published: 1985
Genre: Horror
Series: Standalone
Rating: A


Perfume follows the life of fictional serial killer Jean-Baptiste Grenouille in 18th century France. From the minute he’s born, the people who come into contact with Grenouille recoil from him without truly knowing why. As Grenouille ages, we see him develop  from an emotionless child to a full grown adult who develops a sick obsession.

Throughout the entire novel the reader is in Grenouille’s head. It’s this and the extreme lack of humanity we experience through Grenouille that makes this book so creepy. The narrator likens Grenouille to a tick, a person with cold detachment from anything remotely resembling human emotion and with a self-serving drive that is the only thing spurring him onward through life.

Grenouille lacks a key component that signals humanness, a scent. His lack of a scent immediately disturbs people, even if most of them don’t understand why they have such a strong aversion to him. Because of this, Grenouille gets passed around until he’s an adult. Yet, despite seeing how sadly his childhood unfolds, Grenouille evokes no sympathy because he has no emotional reaction to anything that happens to him. He just accepts whatever is thrown his way and quietly watches the world while he bides his time. When Grenouille finally decides what he wants to pursue, he does so in a methodical and ruthless style that is chilling in how easily he seems to accomplish it.

If you’re looking for a quietly creepy book to read for Halloween this year, I highly recommend giving this one a shot.