A Golden Fury book review

A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

While I enjoyed this book, for me, it had no big zing. The writing was solid, but I like books with lines that are so beautiful I have to read them over and over again, and this book didn’t have that lyrical style I prefer. The story was well-plotted, but I saw every twist coming from a mile away. The magic system is clear, but much of that is because the idea of a philosopher’s stone having great power at the cost of a curse isn’t exactly new.

That being said, the curse was very well handled, and I enjoyed seeing a young girl find herself by herself. It was refreshing to have a story that let a toxic relationship break down and not be instantly replaced. Samantha let Bee (the MC) stand on her own, and find happiness alone, which I loved. Though I didn’t love this, I have quite a few fiction students I’d recommend this book too.

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Horrid- I’d eat this book.

Horrid’s first page is one of the best beginnings I’ve ever read.

Horrid by Katrina Leno

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Karina Leno’s Horrid is like the old house it takes place in, a typical haunted mansion that you’ve seen a hundred times, but you still want to explore the dark insides.

I was excited when I came across the Owl crate addition of HORRID in a used bookstore, especially since the timing aligned with my YA Horror binge. I loved the cover, and the creepy poem in the beginning hooked me immediately. Leno’s use of the old rhyme is stellar, and as a writer that loves to add poetry to prose, I’m 100% partial to a creepy nursery rhyme being part of a novel.

That said, I went in with low expectations. I hadn’t heard raving reviews for Horrid. After all, I found my copy in a used book store less than year after it’s release.

Maybe that’s why I loved this story so much! I got a much better book than I anticipated. I adored the creepy house and garden, the Agatha Christie references, and the simple, classic feel to the writing. The first page is perfect, one of the best beginnings I’ve ever read. Horrid doesn’t have a flashy plot. It’s not groundbreaking. The characters are familiar because I’ve seen similar ones before. But Horrid is creepy, and sometimes I want less flash, more comfort. Horrid is a thunderstorm read, a book you grab over a quiet fall weekend and read by the window while it rains. Exactly what I needed at the time. I devoured it in two days.

I have a feeling the ending might throw some readers, which I can understand. If you aren’t prepared for a horrid ending (Sorry about the pun, I couldn’t resist), or you’re looking for something truly terrifying or out of the box, I recommend passing on this one. I happen to be in the mood for classically creepy when I read this, so I loved this book. That said, I’m ready to find an out of the box YA horror now.

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Book Review: WHAT BIG TEETH by Rose Szabo.

I picked up Szabo’s debut, What BIG TEETH, during my last YA Horror binge. It’s a story about an everyday girl forced to go home to her creature-filled family. A story about generational trauma, and what makes a monster.

Yes, I binge genres. Think of it as wine tasting. Is that cabernet really delicious, or do I just like Cabernet? Same goes for books. Do I love this latest YA horror because it’s good, or because I adore a good fright? Only way I can know it to read six horror stories in a row.

I’ve never been the type that picks a book because of the title and cover. I’m more of a concept person. But when I saw the the faux rip revealing wolfish fangs above the words What BIG TEETH, I have to admit, I fell prey to the marketing. It was the first Horror book I read in my line up. I was intrigued.

Unfortunately, my intrigue waned with the rather slow beginning. Don’t get me wrong, What BIG TEETH isn’t the slowest book I’ve ever read, and it wasn’t slow enough for me to put down. Parts of the writing hooked me deep enough to stay. The monsters were incredible, dare I say, unique.

It’s a serious challenge to come up with something unique in this over-saturated, over-stimulating YA speculative market, but Rose Szabo pulled it off. What Big Teeth gets points for creativity. I haven’t read a book with such unique creatures in a very, very long time.

In fact, it was almost too creative. As the story unraveled, things went from imaginative to weird. I’ve heard What Big Teeth described as overtly odd, and it’s true. The first half of the book rambles through the plot. It leans on the creatures and intrigue of an old mansion and mysterious, handsome archetype a little more than necessary. It’s not scary. It’s strange. Many readers might be disappointed by that.

I appreciated the oddities. The book is about a family of outcasts, creatures the world rejects because they’re weird themselves. It’s an interesting peek into the interior of what something other might live like, and how living on the outskirts might effect relationships, family, and personal value for generations to come. That is the theme of What Big Teeth, someone different finding their place in a world that refuses them, and how to outlive mistakes of the past.

For some, this book might not resonate. I can understand that. If you’re looking for an old fashioned fright, this wouldn’t be my first recommendation, or even in my top ten. While is sits comfortably in horror, I suspect many readers might be disappointed with the lack of classic horror moments.

But if you’re looking for a horror story that turns the concept of a monster on it’s head and explores what it might be like to exist in a world not designed for you, read this.

What Big Teeth isn’t typical, and I think that’s exactly what Szabo intended. And thought it’s not my favorite book, I’m glad I read it, and will be recommending it to many of my students, specifically the ones who like weird, twisted, and strange

Those students are always my favorites. I can’t to share this with them.

Keep reading everyone,