10 Dark Reads For Halloween

Here I am, once again, coming at you with books to read on Halloween!

One of the first ever posts I made on Rarely in Reality was Halloween Book Recommendations and, in honour of the fact that today is my two year Blogiversary, I thought I’d recreate it. So, without further ado, here’s my top 10 dark book recommendations for reading next weekend:

Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – this book was definitely featured on my Halloween recs post two years ago, but it’s too good not to include again. It’s an incredible YA thriller/horror/romance with a heart-crushing sequel and I definitely cannot recommend it enough.

Slasher Girls and Monster Boys by April Genevieve Tucholke – I will never shut up about this anthology, and one of the best things about it is that there is a story for everyone. There’s so much variation in this collection and so many incredible authors that, even if one or two of the stories are not to your taste, there will be a story that you absolutely love. And at least one that scares the life out of you.

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin – Any book that features a sleepover in an abandoned asylum and a girl who can kill creatures with her mind deserves a place on my Halloween recommendations list. This is dark, creepy and one of my favourite series’ ever – and also features your next fictional crush, Noah Shaw.

Good Girls Die First by Kathryn Foxfield – A YA horror set on an abandoned pier with a creepy magical presence, a group of suspicious teens and a mysterious invitation is also the perfect book to curl up with on Halloween. It’s a really easy standalone with the kind of scene-setting that makes you nervous to read while home alone.

The Shadow in the Glass by JJA Harwood – This one’s a little different to the others on the list in that it’s not exactly horror, but it’s just as deserving of a spot on your TBR. It’s a very gothic and creepy Cinderella retelling with a morally corrupt protagonist and a fair amount of gruesome deaths so, if fantasy is more your thing than straight-up horror, this could be the book for you.

In the Ravenous Dark by AM Strickland – or this one! This is another fantasy where the author does not shy away from gore. It’s got an excess of dark magic, a royal setting and plenty of untrustworthy characters, and it’s one of the first books that comes to mind when I think of genuinely dark YA.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager – the first and only non-YA book on this list, this adult thriller is dark, unpredictable and very fast-paced. It’s got a completely unreliable, grieving narrator, a mysterious stranger and an overnight car journey that could go wrong in a million ways. Though it’s definitely more thriller than horror, it’s perfectly creepy for Halloween.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco – A YA fantasy about beautiful princes of Hell, a sacrifice and a vengeful, witchy protagonist. I think everyone knows about this book at this point and it’s not exactly a niche recommendation, but it definitely deserves a spot on your TBR if you haven’t already read it.

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino – a very recent addition to this list, since I only read this book earlier this month! It’s a dark academia horror with a haunted library, gruesome violence and a demon that resides in an old grimoire. It’s very traditional YA horror and a straight-forward choice for reading on Halloween.

The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky – if you’re into horror films and looking for something more along the lines of your favourite slashers, this could be a great option. With a film buff protagonist who’s obsessed with horror movies and gore, a group of disturbed outcast teens and a masked stalker, this is another obvious choice to curl up with on a dark and stormy night…

And that’s it! I’d love to hear your favourite Halloween recommendations, so please let me know in the comments what go-to read for October 31st 🙂

August Wrap-Up & September TBR

Hi! How is everyone? Hope August was a wonderful reading month!

I’m back from my first ever blog hiatus and excited to share my August wrap-up and September TBR 🙂 I took it easy in August and had some me-time, so I’m back with an overwhelming amount of books to read – once again – and even more to talk about.

I only read a book per week last month so it’s quite a modest wrap-up, but there are some really fun books on here. So, without further ado, my August wrap-up:

Fire With Fire by Destiny Soria – 3.5/5

This was a really fun read with a lot of action, rivalry, drama and… dragons. It was a fun and easy read with an interesting cast of humans, sorcerers and dragons alike and, if you’re a big fantasy reader, I’d recommend.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager – 4/5

I was in the middle of a slump when I picked this book up, and it pulled me out of it so quickly. This is a fast-paced, set-in-real-time thriller with a lot of twists, a lot of tension, and an insanely unreliable narrator.

These Hollow Vows by Lexi Ryan – 4/5

A story about a girl caught between two rival faerie princes from the Seelie and Unseelie courts??? Honestly, I’m not sure I need to say more, but this was a fun, Cruel-Prince-esque fantasy about handsome princes, dark magic and a fierce heroine.

Every Line of You by Naomi Gibson – 5/5

I think I’d read any book in existence about AIs/VR/futuristic tech at this point. This is a gripping thriller about a girl who falls in love with her morally-corrupt AI and all of the havoc that ensues as a result. It’s such a quick read and I one-billion percent recommend.

And that’s it for August! If you’ve read any of the above, I’d love to hear what you thought!

Although I’m happy with my August wrap-up, I definitely need to be slightly more ambitious with my September TBR to keep on track with my GR goal, so I have quite a lotthat I want to get through this month.

First up, Fools in Love, a short story anthology based on all of the most popular romance tropes out there right now. I’m partway through this and really enjoying it, so I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the stories.

Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro – this is absolutely not my usual type of book but my fiancé is obsessed with it right now and really wants me to check it out. I’m really looking forward to trying something difference and seeing what the hype is all about.

Jade Fire Gold by June CL Tan – this has been on my ARC TBR for so long and I don’t know why I haven’t picked it up already. It’s an intense fantasy YA (ie. right up my street!) and I’m really excited to check it out.

Defy the Night by Brigid Kemmerer – another that has spent too long on my ARC TBR and another that I’m insanely excited about. Corruption, action and a star-crossed romance? Yes please.

The Devil Makes Three by Tori Bovalino – I started this one a while ago and really enjoyed it, so I’m not entirely sure why I haven’t finished it sooner. I’m only about 20% in but really excited to see where this one goes. It’s been a while since I read YA Horror, so it’ll be such a fun change from the rest of the month’s reading.

And that’s it! I’d love to read more, but I got some advice to put less on my TBR than I plan to read so that I can branch out a little, and that’s what I plan to do.

What’s the number one book on your September TBR? I’d love some more recommendations and to hear what you’re excited to read.

ARC Review: The Last Girl by Goldy Moldavsky

THANK YOU to Electric Monkey for this ARC.

Okay, so I made an observation a while ago that I’ve never disliked a book published by Electric Monkey and, as a result, I have ridiculously high expectations for every single one of their books that I read. The Last Girl– a high-school-set, YA thriller about horror addicts- is really no exception.

And yet, I still found myself taken aback by how completely hooked I was by this book. I started it at 11:30pm with the promise of ‘just one chapter’ and, by the time I went downstairs for breakfast, I’d finished the whole thing and was raving about it to anyone who would listen.

So… you can probably guess how my review is about to go 🙂

The Last Girl (publishing in the US as The Mary Shelley Club) is about a girl named Rachel who moves to a new city and a new school after a break-in at her former home scars her for life. In an attempt to forget the nightmares from that terrible night, she develops a coping mechanism of immersing herself in horror movies and gore, which has her completely shunned by her new classmates. That is, until she meets the rest of the Mary Shelley Club: a secret group of misfits, dedicated to arguing over horror tropes and terrifying their classmates.

Rachel finds herself rapidly becoming wrapped up in the twisted club, beginning to fall for the mystery of it, as well as the allure of its members, and finding it to be her only source of peace as trouble picks up for her at the new school. But the Mary Shelley Club is not as perfect for her as it seems, and what started as a simple game suddenly seems a lot more lethal the more they play it.

This book was the most unputdownable book I read last year. Rachel, as a result of her trauma, is an innocent and likeable character who develops a warped sense of what is right, along with some mildly disturbing coping mechanisms that help her fit right in with the Mary Shelley Club. Each character plays an entirely different role and it was really fun figuring out who I should and shouldn’t trust as the game turned deadly. The horror movie references (there are a lot) largely went over my head, but I love the way they are included throughout as a reminder of just how sinister the characters’ minds are and how deeply captivated they are with all things truly gruesome.

I would definitely consider this much closer to the thriller genre than the horror genre despite this, but if you like any form of exciting, twisty YA, I would absolutely recommend this book.

Rating: 5/5

The Last Girl is publishing in the UK in April 2021!