The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, by Catherynne M. Valente

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There. Catherynne M. Valente. Book Review.

September has waited all year for Fairyland to reveal itself to her again. She wants nothing more than to experience the lightness and joy that Fairyland has to offer, after the darkness of her last adventure. But Fairyland is losing its magic, and September knows that it's all her fault.

Not as well-crafted or as shrewd and worldly as The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland, but an enjoyable return to beloved characters.

You can read a prequel to this series, The Girl Who Ruled Fairyland—For a Little While, at

Good for: Fans of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Lewis Carroll, or even The Magicians.


Seraphina, by Rachel Hartman

Seraphina. Rachel Hartman. Book Review: Though humans and dragons have lived peacefully for 40 years, old tensions run high. Dragons take human form and act as ambassadors, and as lightning rods for anti-dragon sentiment. Seraphina Dombegh has just joined the court as assistant musician, when a member of the royal family is gruesomely killed. Seraphina is drawn into the investigation, but must be careful not to reveal her own secrets... Best: political intrigue, a well developed world, and a fresh take on a fantasy favorite. Worst: the romantic plot is obvious, and its conclusion unsurprising.

Good for: Oh come on, you know who you are, fantasy fans. You saw dragons and your ears perked up. You're not fooling anybody.

This book is advertised to both adults and young adults.


The Aviary, by Kathleen O’Dell

The Aviary. Kathleen O'Dell. Book Review: Clara Dooley has spent most of her life in the decaying Glendoveer mansion with her mother; the maid, Ruby; and Mrs. Glendoveer herself, a magician's widow. The only other company is an aviary full of cacophonous birds, long-lived and very dear to the kind old woman. As Mrs. Glendoveer grows ill, the birds begin to speak—and Clara discovers a magical mystery, and a dark tragedy in the past of the Glendoveers... This book has great atmosphere and an interesting mystery. Some elements of the story are superfluous to the plot, but overall this book is engaging and wraps up its mysteries to reader satisfaction.

Good for: fans of kids' gothic horror and mystery. It has a lot in common with books like Splendors and Glooms, (while not as scary) Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, and (while not as funny) The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place.


The Twelve, by Justin Cronin

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The Twelve. Justin Cronin. Book Review.

In this sequel to The Passage, more stories of the apocalypse and its victims are told. And 100 years in the future, the story of the last human stand against the Virals, and Amy, the Girl from Nowhere, continues.

For 5 years, the search for the remaining eleven of the twelve original Virals has been fruitless. Though their accomplishments bought humanity precious time, Some of Amy's friends from the Colony are lost forever, and those that are left are scattered and demoralized.

Only in investigating a truth that the government and the military would rather ignore—a new evil, more insidious than they've encountered before—can they be reunited, and continue on the path toward the salvation of humanity.

The Twelve is pretty good horror that weaves together multiple storylines about survival and freedom. But, it's not as scary or thrilling as The Passage, messes with internal consistency, and I found it overly sentimental.

Spookiness: 3/5 ghosts

Spooky elements: The Virals are still pretty scary, and this book has some good frightening exploration of the effects of trauma and mob mentality on the way humans treat each other.

Good for: Fans of The Passage


The Passage, by Justin Cronin

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The Passage. Justin Cronin. Book Review.

A government experiment to prolong human life goes horribly wrong, releasing 12 Virals—mutated, super-strong, undying creatures with an insatiable hunger and a desire to spread—upon North America.

The 13th experiment, a young girl named Amy, is rescued by her former captor, but no one can save society from collapse.

As decades pass, and the world, desolate but for a few small pockets of survivors, sleeps, Amy survives, and with her the power to save what is left of humanity.

An epic, suspenseful thriller about devastation and survival, encompassing several generations during and after the Viral apocalypse.

While some people may have trouble keeping the many characters straight over the span of a hundred years, I thought they were easy to remember and easy to care about.

Spookiness: 4/5

Spooky elements: "Spooky" is the wrong word, but this book is about apocalyptic vampire zombies and the end of civilization as we know it. Enjoy!

Good for: Do you like Stephen King? Horror? Suspense thrillers? This is a pretty perfect example of the genre.

At first, the premise of the book (how many times have we already read about vampires?) seemed hokey, but The Passage turned out to be very difficult to put down. The book was suspenseful, engrossing, and interesting: in short, everything that was promised on the cover. It's exactly what you'd want from a book of this type.


Locke & Key, by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez

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Locke & Key. Joe Hill. Gabriel Rodriguez. Book Review. [Image: several keys, on a background image of an immense house].

After their family is attacked and their father is brutally murdered, the Locke siblings, Tyler, Kinsey, and Bode, move with their mother to Keyhouse, their ancestral New England home.

Keyhouse has many doors, and many keys. When a door is unlocked, it might lead somewhere other than where you'd expect—or you might be changed in crossing the threshold. Even in their grief, exploring Keyhouse is an exciting prospect for the Lockes.

But the Lockes aren't Keyhouse's only inhabitants. The creature who caused their father's death is behind one door, searching for a way out—and the murderer under its control is outside, searching for a way in.

Locke & Key is an amazing comic series. It's horror that will keep you up at night, but that's not all: it's a richly layered, well-developed fantasy / mystery / suspense-thriller, with gorgeous artwork.

Spookiness: 5/5.

Terrifying elements: Extremely grisly murders (with pictures). Evil creatures taking people over and making them go on killing sprees. Horrible things happening to characters you are fond of. A key that kills you for a bit, a key that opens your brain, a key that plays a music box that controls people, a key that lets the evil out...

Good for: This series is very disturbing and is not appropriate for children or adults who aren't into nightmares. If you are an adult and you want your pants scared off you, this series is amazing.

Locke & Key is written by Joe Hill (who you may remember from my 5-star review of Horns from last All Hallow's Read) and drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez. This story is currently collected into 5 volumes, with the 6th and and final volume on the way. The fifth volume is the best yet!


Girl of Nightmares, by Kendare Blake

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Girl of Nightmares. Kendare Blake. Book Review: Cas Lowood's job is to send ghosts on, but that work is being affected by his unwillingness to let one ghost go. Cas sees and hears Anna everywhere—and always in terrible pain. It distracts him, and that could cost him and his friends their lives. But Cas can’t forget: they owe those lives to Anna. Are his visions just hallucinations, or does Anna still exist somewhere, desperately needing his help? This sequel to Anna Dressed in Blood is fierce, suspenseful, and intriguing. The back half, especially, draws you into the wider world that Cas is only one part of, and makes me hope for more to come in this series.

Spookiness: 4.5/5 ghosts

Spooky elements: All the terrifying dead stuff of Anna Dressed in Blood, plus some good, ghastly world-building and creepy secret societies!

Good for: If you like/are freaked out by Anna Dressed in Blood, you will also enjoy/be freaked out by this sequel!


Anna Dressed in Blood, by Kendare Blake

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Anna Dressed in Blood. Kendare Blake. Book Review: Teenager Cas Lowood travels this world, sending ghosts into the next. His mother wishes he would stop putting himself in danger, and stick around one high school long enough to make a friend, but Cas is doing the work of his father before him—the father he hopes some day to avenge. [Image: News clipping with photo of girl. Headline reads: Local Girl Murdered] When Cas moves to a new town, on the trail of a murdered—and murderous—girl called Anna Dressed in Blood, he finds a ghost more powerful, and more compelling, than any he has faced before. Scary, suspenseful, and much better all around than I had any right to expect from a book that is, at least partially, ghost-themed paranormal romance.

Spookiness: 4.5/5 ghosts

Spooky elements: I thought the idea of corporeal ghosts (the better to make out with) was pretty silly at first, but damn if it isn't scary as heck.

Good for: The obvious answer is paranormal romance fans, but the romance is actually pretty light and the scares and thriller bits are fast and frequent.


Splendors and Glooms, by Laura Amy Schlitz

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Splendors and Glooms. Laura Amy Schlitz. Book Review: When Clara Wintermute sees Grisini's show on the street, she's enchanted by the wonderful puppets—but most of all, by the two children assisting Grisini; children unlike any she encounters in the home of her well-to-do family. Neither Clara nor the puppeteer's helpers, Parsefall and Lizzie Rose, could imagine that their very different lives share undercurrents of sadness and hardship. [Image: A girl watches a marionette] Nor could any of the children imagine the machinations, of adults with grand power and little conscience, that they will be drawn into together. A creepy, Victorian gothic with great characters and plotting, though the ending is a bit too pat.

Spookiness: 3/5 Ghosts

Spooky elements: Creepy atmosphere, dueling magic, deadly artifacts, plenty of villains (including one who is downright dastardly).

Good for: It's very similar in atmosphere and subject to The Night Circus. It can't seem to decide if it's a middle grade or young adult book, and I'd say it falls somewhere in between. The Night Circus for teens!


In A Glass Grimmly, by Adam Gidwitz

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In a Glass Grimmly. Adam Gidwitz. Book Review: At the end of a generally humiliating day, cousins Jack and Jill make an unwise bargain and begin a journey that will lead them to the highest cloud but Heaven, the deepest pit but Hell, and a treasure they could never have imagined. [Image: Silhouettes of a girl, a boy, a frog, a beanstalk.] A great story about knowing yourself, and separating what you really want from what other people want from you.
Book review: Scariness: 4/5 ghosts. Gross-i-tude: 4/5 germs.

Spooky elements: Creepy retold fairy tales, creepy made-up fairy tales, frightening sea creatures, bone collections. Also: there's lots of vomit and entrails and it is pretty gross.

Good for: Kids-and-up fans of scary, spooky, gory fairy tales. While the story didn't resonate with me the way A Tale Dark and Grimm did, for adolescents going through the struggle of creating their own identities, it may be an even better fit.