IT’S FRIDAY THE 13TH!! 🕷🎃
If you don’t know, I absolutely love this day because I’m someone who loves all things creepy and spooky. I love scary stuff so much, that I celebrated my 21st birthday on Friday the 13th (I was also super lucky that Friday the 13th fell on my birthday month, only three days after my actual birthday).
Here’s a photo of me and one of my best friends on my birthday! I’m dressed as Cruella de Vil and she’s dressed as one of Dexter’s victims!
I love this day so much, that I’m a fervent believer in all the superstitious nonsense that this day is associated with: staying away from black cats, not stepping on sidewalk cracks, not walking under ladders, and trying not to break a mirror. There are so many more of course, but those are the ones I try to follow. Do you have any weird superstitions on this day?
So seeing as I love Friday the 13th, I thought I would share all my favourite creepy and spooky reads with you! I have quite a weird list, so here’s hoping you find a new favourite read among these books!
The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel Greenberg
In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle–and Cherry.
But what Jerome doesn’t know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.
“Let’s form a secret society … a league. The League of Secret Storytellers. We shall tell all the stories that are never told. Stories about bad husbands and murderous wives and mad gods and mothers and heroes and darkness and friends and sisters and lovers … And above all … stories about brave women who don’t take shit from anyone.”
My thoughts: I love this graphic novel! It’s such a beautiful tale of two women’s love for each other, and a secret history of female storytellers protecting women over the centuries. It’s a wonderfully feminist tale, but it’s also creepy as all hell! The artwork is both at times lovely and a bit disturbing, and the worldbuilding is so frightening, incorporating gods and a wildly misogynistic patriarchal society.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
We might be Paper Girls, easily torn and written upon. The very title we’re given suggests that we are blank, waiting to be filled. But what the Demon King and his court do not understand is that paper is flammable.
And there is a fire catching among us.
My thoughts: Oh I adored this book! It’s an epic tale about a girl fighting back against a demon king who has enslaved her people, but it’s also about standing up for yourself. The worldbuilding in this book is terrifying, especially the demons. The demon king is the worst of the bunch, but honestly every single one of them creeped me out. Still very excited for the next book in the series though! Trigger warnings: rape, attempted, rape, sexual assault, sex trafficking, slavery, murder, torture, violence, animal death.
Mr. Big Empty by Gregory Ashe
Vie Eliot arrives in the small town of Vehpese, Wyoming with little more than the clothes–and scars–on his back. Determined to make a new life for himself after escaping his abusive mother, he finds that living with his estranged father brings its own problems.
Then Samantha Oates, the girl with blue hair, goes missing, and Vie might be the only one who can find her. His ability to read emotions and gain insight into other people’s darkest secrets makes him the perfect investigator, with only one small problem: he wants nothing to do with his gift.
When the killer begins contacting Vie through a series of strange cards, though, Vie is forced to hone his ability, because Samantha was not the killer’s only target.
And, as Vie learns, he is not the only psychic in town.
“I don’t think you could be a good influence if you tried,” she said, and her smile flashed genuine. “You’re carrying a pack of trouble and you think it’s all for yourself.”
My thoughts: A grimdark YA magical realism novel? Um, yes please! This book is super fucked up, but it’s so unputdownable. The characters are horrible people and the main character, Vie, goes through so many horrible things, but the plot is awesome and the romance is lovely (even though it’s a love triangle … kind of). Trigger warnings: suicidal thoughts, attempted suicide, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drug use, child is shot, kidnapping, and homophobia.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon
The year is 2059. Nineteen-year-old Paige Mahoney is working in the criminal underworld of Scion London, based at Seven Dials, employed by a man named Jaxon Hall. Her job: to scout for information by breaking into people’s minds. For Paige is a dreamwalker, a clairvoyant and, in the world of Scion, she commits treason simply by breathing.
It is raining the day her life changes for ever. Attacked, drugged and kidnapped, Paige is transported to Oxford – a city kept secret for two hundred years, controlled by a powerful, otherworldly race. Paige is assigned to Warden, a Rephaite with mysterious motives. He is her master. Her trainer. Her natural enemy. But if Paige wants to regain her freedom she must allow herself to be nurtured in this prison where she is meant to die.
This was what my spirit longed to do, to wander in strange lands. It couldn’t stand being trapped in one body all the time. It had wanderlust.
My thoughts: This is such an atmospheric, creepy book that I could not stop reading. Samantha Shannon has created a ghostly and magical world, with awesome characters (who I really want to get together in the next few books please. The book also features creatures from another dimension and my favourite found family trope!
My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first.
Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other …
The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder.
My thoughts: I’ve never read a thriller book quite like this before, where the main character already knows who the serial killer is … but protects them instead of trying to bring them to justice. Because it’s her little sister! This is a very dark tale of abuse, the expectations men demand of women, and a family drama. All in all, a very creepy, intriguing read.
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
As children Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy were students at Hailsham, an exclusive boarding school secluded in the English countryside. It was a place of mercurial cliques and mysterious rules where teachers were constantly reminding their charges of how special they were.
Now, years later, Kathy is a young woman. Ruth and Tommy have reentered her life. And for the first time she is beginning to look back at their shared past and understand just what it is that makes them special–and how that gift will shape the rest of their time together.
All children have to be deceived if they are to grow up without trauma.
My thoughts: This is a book unlike any other I’ve read. You think you know where the book is going, and then it turns the complete other direction. I can’t say too much without spoiling it, because there’s a massive plot twist — or maybe its easier to say, you finally find out what’s going on — and it’s super creepy. I still have the shivers just thinking about it.
Ice Massacre by Tiana Warner
A mermaid’s supernatural beauty serves one purpose: to lure a sailor to his death.
The Massacre is supposed to bring peace to Eriana Kwai. Every year, the island sends its warriors to battle these hostile sea demons. Every year, the warriors fail to return. Desperate for survival, the island must decide on a new strategy. Now, the fate of Eriana Kwai lies in the hands of twenty battle-trained girls and their resistance to a mermaid’s allure.
Eighteen-year-old Meela has already lost her brother to the Massacre, and she has lived with a secret that’s haunted her since childhood. For any hope of survival, she must overcome the demons of her past and become a ruthless mermaid killer.
For the first time, Eriana Kwai’s Massacre warriors are female, and Meela must fight for her people’s freedom on the Pacific Ocean’s deadliest battleground.
A mermaid hunter must be aggressive, bold and, more importantly, nimble on her feet.
My thoughts: This is a super violent, gory book about mermaid hunters. It features badass women warriors who find themselves losing touch with reality on the high water as they hunt mermaids. And it also has an awesome, taboo romance between two women: a mermaid and a mermaid hunter! Trigger warnings: violence, murder, blood and gore, ableist language, murder of a baby mermaid.
The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang
When Rin aced the Keju—the Empire-wide test to find the most talented youth to learn at the Academies—it was a shock to everyone: to the test officials, who couldn’t believe a war orphan from Rooster Province could pass without cheating; to Rin’s guardians, who believed they’d finally be able to marry her off and further their criminal enterprise; and to Rin herself, who realized she was finally free of the servitude and despair that had made up her daily existence. That she got into Sinegard—the most elite military school in Nikan—was even more surprising.
But surprises aren’t always good.
Because being a dark-skinned peasant girl from the south is not an easy thing at Sinegard. Targeted from the outset by rival classmates for her color, poverty, and gender, Rin discovers she possesses a lethal, unearthly power—an aptitude for the nearly-mythical art of shamanism. Exploring the depths of her gift with the help of a seemingly insane teacher and psychoactive substances, Rin learns that gods long thought dead are very much alive—and that mastering control over those powers could mean more than just surviving school.
For while the Nikara Empire is at peace, the Federation of Mugen still lurks across a narrow sea. The militarily advanced Federation occupied Nikan for decades after the First Poppy War, and only barely lost the continent in the Second. And while most of the people are complacent to go about their lives, a few are aware that a Third Poppy War is just a spark away . . .
Rin’s shamanic powers may be the only way to save her people. But as she finds out more about the god that has chosen her, the vengeful Phoenix, she fears that winning the war may cost her humanity . . . and that it may already be too late.
Children ceased to be children when you put a sword in their hands. When you taught them to fight a war, then you armed them and put them on the front lines, they were not children anymore. They were soldiers.
My thoughts: This book is a wild ride from start to finish. Based on the Rape of Nanking, this book is a grimdark fantasy that’s violent, gory and very creepy, especially with the inclusion of shamanic magic. The characters are all super realistic and horrible people, but you can’t help but root for them too. Trigger warnings: genocide, drug use, self-harm, racism, misogyny, bullying, abandonment, abuse, animal death, torture, murder, rape (off screen, but described in detail), mutilation, human experimentation.
All in Fear: A Horror Anthology by Steve Berman,K.J. Charles, Avon Gale, Roan Parrish, Kris Ripper & J.A. Rock
Some of the top names in queer fiction come together to spin their own versions of horror.
Company by Roan Parrish
Nick Levy’s family is falling apart and he has no friends, but at least he can escape into the world of his favorite comic book series, The Face of the Vampire. Naturally, when the vampire in question shows up one day, Nick is enthralled. After all, what could be better than his own personal fantasy made real? Except that Nick isn’t exactly sure whether Michel is real or not. And when the arrival of a new boy in school promises romance, Nick sees a side of Michel he never could have imagined. This Michel is cruel, jealous…and he’ll do anything to keep Nick for himself.
Love Me True by Kris Ripper
Palmer’s life is as good as it gets. Well, okay, so he hates his mind-numbing office job. But he’s found a hot, smart, incredibly kinky guy. The sex is explosive. The power play is off the hook. And if he gets his way, Jon will soon be his husband.
When Palmer asks, Jon says yes. For the first time ever, Palmer thinks things might be really good. Sure, bad things happen in the world—to other people. But this is all he needs: Jon at the end of the day, in their bed, arms around him.
How could he have possibly been so stupid?
The Price of Meat by KJ Charles
Johanna Oakley will do anything to save her beloved Arabella from the cruelty of Mr Fogg’s madhouse—but ‘anything’ turns out to be more than she bargained for when she finds herself working for a man suspected of worse than murder. As Johanna is plunged from the horror of Sawney Reynard’s barber shop into the foul, lawless labyrinth at the heart of London, can she or anyone get out alive?
His Mouth Will Taste of Chernobyl by Steve Berman
Joining Zeta Psi isn’t Steve’s dream, it’s his dad’s. Nevertheless his dad’s gift of the mysterious Bailey flask gets Steve an in to the frat house, and maybe his best shot at being accepted on campus. But the flask’s silver sheen may only be lighting his way into the darkness at the heart of the frat—and the darkness he’s learning is within himself. Steve wants to choose who he is, but choices are dropping like flies as he learns the true mystery of the Bailey flask. How does he give back a gift that’s also a curse?
Legion: A Love Story by Avon Gale
STAFF SERGEANT JASON ESSEX, YOU HAVE RECEIVED THE FOLLOWING ORDERS FROM THE UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS:
REPORT TO: CAIN INSTITUTE [ADDRESS REDACTED]
ACTIVE DUTY COMMITMENT: GUARD AN ENTITY CURRENTLY HELD IN AN ENCLOSURE AT THE CAIN INSTITUTE. RECORD DAILY MEASUREMENTS. KEEP ANY AND ALL PERSONS FROM ENTERING OR LEAVING THE FACILITY. ENSURE THE ENTITY REMAINS COMPLETELY INCARCERATED. OBSERVE THE ENTITY WITHOUT ENGAGING.
ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS: THIS ASSIGNMENT WILL BE CARRIED OUT IN FULL ISOLATION. PLEASE BE ADVISED.
Beauties by J.A. Rock
When Dr. Lester Usole attends an event at AI developer Carnificiality, he’s introduced to Beauties: artificial beings designed to provide tailored sexual experiences for their human owners. Lester isn’t interested in sex—but he is fascinated by Ira, a Beauty too violent to be sold.
Lester convinces Carnificiality to give Ira to him.
Today I asked Cain if demons really did eat human souls. I expected him to tell me that wasn’t true (they don’t live in a lake of fire, either) but . . . well. Apparently that part of demon-lore is true.
“When I’ve broken these bonds of magic and found those who summoned me, Jason, I’m going to feast on their souls so slowly they will die a thousand deaths before I swallow them.”
My thoughts: This anthology is awesome and horrific and super creepy. Some of the stories gave me nightmares, but I have to say Legion is my absolute favourite! (And I need Avon Gale to sell it separately, because I want more people to read it!) The anthology features serial killers, vampires, cannibalism, artificial intelligence, and terrible Greek fraternities. Trigger warnings: rape/non-con in Beauties.