Hey there GoH fam! Dustin here again with another edition of ‘Recent Reads’, where I dive into my thoughts on three books I’ve lately read. I’m keeping things bloody with a vampire novel that’s considered a modern classic, and two slasher horror novels.
Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
First published in 2004, Let the Right One In is a vampire horror novel written by John Ajvide Lindqvist. It tells the story of Oskar, a lonely and troubled young boy who forms a bond with his mysterious new neighbor, a young girl who’s more than meets the eye. Their companionship sets in motion a dark change within their community.
The author has a unique writing style that draws the reader in right away, he does a great job of putting you in the head of the character in focus at the moment. For example, in one passage we find something out about one character, then in the next passage where we focus on another character he treats it as if we didn’t just read about the previous revelation. I also appreciated the vampire lore in this book. It follows classic tropes of the genre while making it grounded. For instance, a vampiric character’s faster-than-human speed is shown as them running really fast, instead of, say, the Flash-like running of vamps in Twilight.
Next, I want to talk about the characters. Whether it’s a vampire or human character, they are shown to be human. By that, I mean these aren’t cardboard cutout “good guys” and “bad guys”. Almost everyone has a motivation and background for doing what they do. Sometimes it’s justified, sometimes it’s just understandable as normal, impulsive, or emotional reactions they have as people. These characters help make the story so investing and believable, you are enticed to keep reading on even if the narrative is a slow-burn.
Finally, what I didn’t jive so much with in the book is on the character side as well. I appreciate how fleshed out most of them were. However, there were some points where it felt a bit crowded story-wise. We could’ve done without some of the minor characters is what I’m saying. With that said, it is still a minor inconvenience at the end of the day that ultimately doesn’t impact my overall thoughts but I feel it is worth mentioning.
Overall, Let the Right One In was a more than satisfying. Creepy, disturbing, and heart-wrenching. Could maybe cut out some characters, but that doesn’t detract from the reading experience.
Disco Deathtrap by Cameron Roubique
Disco Deathtrap is a slasher novel first published in 2016. It’s written by Cameron Roubique, who penned the Kill River trilogy, which instantly became a favorite of mine. I shared my thoughts on the first book before but I didn’t get the chance to share my thoughts on the sequels, so here’s my thoughts on those from Goodreads:
Going back to Disco Deathtrap, we also go back to 1981. A class of high school teens and two of their teachers chaperoning them celebrate the new year by staying overnight at a roller skating rink. Little do they know that a killer is in their midst, ready to take them out.
This was quite the pleasant surprise from Mr. Roubique, going from the character-heavy Kill River books to this one, which still provides ample time to develop the characters but also doesn’t shy away from carnage at the drop of a hat. The kills in here were brutal and gruesome. While we don’t veer much away from death by scythe, the desired effect is still there, making for a gross yet fun read.
I love how the characters were developed in such a way that they’re all worth rooting for. While we do get a focal character in Dan, the rest of the cast are focused on enough for the reader to be lulled into thinking that they’re safe from the roller-skating murderer. Anyone can die at any time is what I’m saying.
Gorehounds will be pleased with this kill-a-minute thrill ride which perfectly balances the scares and entertainment that the best slasher films are known for. While the plot does slow down a bit in the final act, it’s in the service of a clever killer reveal that you might see coming but the motive will no doubt be a surprise.
There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
This YA slasher novel from author Stephanie Perkins follows students of a Nebraska high school being stalked and killed by a mystery killer. A teen transplanted from Hawaii to avoid a troubled past must solve the mystery with her friends before they too end up on the chopping block — all while sorting out her relationship with the local loner in this book first published in 2017.
The book’s greatest strength is more in the development of its characters than the kills. It is as gruesome as YA can be (which is a lot, surprisingly) but as a reader, I felt like I was reading about real people with real struggles grappling with tragedy after tragedy as the killer takes lives in grisly fashion. You read about how the main character, Makani, grapples with the guilt of her past while dealing with the trauma after being targeted by the killer. You read about the insecurities and anxieties the teen victims have about their lives before their candles get snuffed out.
Those elements make the kills effective because you’re inside the characters’ heads. Even though we don’t get to know the would-be victims in-depth before their deaths, we do get a glimpse of their home life, their crushes, regrets etc. That said, the kills are pretty gruesome as previously mentioned. The author describes in detail about what exactly the killer has done while still leaving room for the imagination. Sure, it’s mostly stabbings but the killer’s finishing blows do provide a little bit of body horror: opened skulls, carved-out hearts, the works.
Overall, there’s really not much I could ask for in a slasher, and There’s Someone Inside Your House had what I mainly look for in slasher stories: character development and impactful kills.
It lifts up my dark heart having been satisfied with this round of recent reads. Each of the books mentioned are vastly different from one another but I think there’s plenty to like with each one, depending on your horror preferences. It just so happens that these three align with mine! I got all three books here in the Philippines from Shopee but you can get them from Amazon and wherever else books are sold. Cheers, GoH fam! ‘Till next time.
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What is up, GoH friends! Dustin here again with a new batch of Recent Reads. Both of the books in this edition were a change of pace, to say the least. No One…
Dustin is a horror fan and sometimes short story writer who hails from the Philippines. He likes a lot of the horror genre but usually goes for slashers and arthouse/slowburn stuff. Currently, he’s trying to make up for lost time in the horror literature world by digesting as many horror books as he can.