Book Review: In the house in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

In the House in the Dark of the Woods by Laird Hunt

The Blurb:

“Once upon a time there was and there wasn’t a woman who went to the woods.”

In this horror story set in colonial New England, a law-abiding Puritan woman goes missing. Or perhaps she has fled or abandoned her family. Or perhaps she’s been kidnapped, and set loose to wander in the dense woods of the north. Alone and possibly lost, she meets another woman in the forest. Then everything changes.

On a journey that will take her through dark woods full of almost-human wolves, through a deep well wet with the screams of men, and on a living ship made of human bones, our heroine may find that the evil she flees has been inside her all along. The eerie, disturbing story of one of our perennial fascinations–witchcraft in colonial America–In the House in the Dark of the Woods is a novel of psychological horror and suspense told in Laird Hunt’s characteristically lyrical prose style. It is the story of a bewitching, a betrayal, a master huntress and her quarry. It is a story of anger, of evil, of hatred and of redemption. It is the story of a haunting, a story that makes up the bedrock of American mythology, but told in a vivid way you will never forget.

This book read like a combination of fevered nightmare and fairytale. And I mean that in the best way possible. The story takes our heroine (?), known only as “Goody” and sets her down in a wood where magic weaves into the bark of the trees, and the stench of rot can be sensed when the wind blows the right way.

Like a traditional fairy tale, the story begins by showing us the fantastical…the sharp teeth are well hidden. But as the story goes on, the underlying menace comes to the fore, and the smile widens into a razor grin.

This isn’t your traditional horror story … but the dream-like prose and ever-fascinating subject matter make this book shine. Anyone out there looking for something a bit different for the Halloween season and the dying of the year should consider this book.

An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

the-fifth-petal

The Fifth Petal by Brunonia Barry

This book is the sequel to Barry’s The Lace Reader, which has been on my TBR for quite some time (I picked it up at a library book sale a couple of years ago and simply never had the time). And while the characters in the Lace Reader do appear in this book, in The Fifth Petal, Barry chooses to focus on a few new characters in her slightly offset Salem, Massachusetts.

In 1989, three young women were murdered on Halloween night, allegedly while performing a satanic ritual. The crime, falling into legend as “The Goddess Murders,” were never solved, and continue to haunt the subconscious of Salem, Mass, ever since. Twenty-five years later, the sole suspect in the original murders is once again involved in an unusual homicide. The incident rips the scab off old wounds, bringing the Goddess Murders back into the limelight. Police Chief John Rafferty, with the aid of Callie Cahill, the only survivor of the massacre, must uncover the truth of what happened on Halloween two and a half decades ago, before more evil befalls the town.

This was an intriguing little mystery. The plots twists in and out of the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692, and the lives of those victims and their accusers. Modern day witches, healers, and psychics abound. Banshees, wronged goddesses, and black magic infuse the plot. The modern day and the darkness of Puritan New England collide uniquely in Barry’s book. The plot meanders a bit, certain elements occasionally make the story seem overlong, but in all this is a tidy and engrossing mystery.

Any fan of mysteries will probably enjoy this book. The inclusion of plot lines from the Salem Witchcraft Trials was a big bonus for me. I had not read The Lace Reader before picking up this one (alas, I didn’t get the chance), but I was never lost. This book can be read as a stand-alone if preferred, though now I am doubly excited to read the first in the series.

An advance ebook was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The Fifth Petal will be available for purchase on January 24th, 2017.