What I Read – March 2023

Women in Horror Month just concluded. Each year, I try to read all female authors in March. Unfortunately, this year, I mixed up months and was halfway through March when I realized this. Still, I plan to focus on reading female authors for more than just 31 days a year.

Demon Seed by Dean Koontz

I’ve been trying to get into the work of Dean Koontz. Considering his popularity, I ought to, right? After reading three of his novels prior to this, I must admit that Demon Seed is my favorite. Like the others, there is a certain unreality about it, the characters don’t seem like real people, but I found myself riveted for much of the book. Stories about out-of-control AIs are a dime a dozen, but even for its age, I thought the book did this well. I plan on giving Mr. Koontz another shot. He’s written over a hundred novels after all.

Carrie by Stephen King

I much prefer to read the book before I see the movie. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen with Carrie (after all, the 1976 film is quite iconic). Yet even though I knew most of the story, this was still a whirlwind book and some of the best epistolary writing that I’ve read. The articles and interviews within fill in every little crevice, giving the reader a vast vantage point from which to take in the story. It is by far the most tragic novel by King that I’ve read and the scene in which death is described froze me to the bone.

Below by Laurel Hightower

This novella was recently nominated for the Bram Stoker Award. It is a masterclass in writing strong, character-driven fiction. And yet, I found myself uninterested for the middle portion of the book. That said, the ending redeemed it, one of the most powerful and haunting things I’ve read in a long time. The book is ostensibly about the West Virginian cryptid known as the Mothman, but really it was about so much more. Hightower shows what it feels like to be gaslit, what it’s like to be a woman around men who think they know better. That may have been the scariest part of all.

Your God Can’t Save You by Judith Sonnet

This is the first book I’ve read with a warning on the front cover: This anthology contains extreme gore. And let me just say, that warning was well-earned. This collection is one of the most disturbing books I’ve read. At the same time, the violence isn’t merely a spectacle, but rather has deeper meaning. Sonnet employs beautiful language to describe ugly things. There were a few shocker endings that left my jaw hanging open, and the novella at the end chilled me, but even after that harrowing experience, I plan to pick up more of her work.

The Hollower by Mary Sangiovanni

Leisure Horror put out some great books in the early 2000s, names I love like Brian Keene and Edward Lee. But of all their titles, The Hollower might be my favorite. Sangiovanni has a way with words, her language a step above so many other genre writers, and her descriptions are some of the most vivid I’ve encountered. But while the prose is superb, it is the titular villain that steals the show. This book is downright terrifying. I daresay, it’s close to a perfect horror novel, if not for one scene toward the end that dragged on too long.

Keep reading!


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