Tag Archives: scary

Breathe: A Ghost Story by Cliff McNish

Teen Picks: Breathe by Cliff McNish

You know those book fairs that your school hosted back when you were a kid? That’s where my little sister and I stumbled upon a book called Breathe. We were suckers for ghost stories like books by Mary Downing Hahn, and this seemed like it was right up our alley. We stole it away into our bedrooms and read it under the blankets late, late into the night using flashlights. I still have the original copy we shared. I can honestly say that it is one of my favorite ghost stories. Not only is it easy to read, it is fantastically vivid and well written.

It follows the story of Jack and his mother, Sarah, a mother and son who move into a haunted farmhouse where the souls of four children are being held hostage by what is known as the Ghost Mother, a spirit that feeds off of other souls to prevent being taken away by the Nightmare Passage. The Nightmare Passage is an Inferno-esque plain of ice where a constant wind beats and batters its residents. It is where the souls of those who refuse to go (or are kept from going) to the Other Side eventually are taken.

The book is full of metaphors for abusive behavior, rape and sacrifice. The Ghost Mother tortures these poor children’s souls, feeds off of them, and even forces one of them to try to behave like a daughter. It is disgusting. Disturbing. And it’s not hard at all to hate her. The children, who are put through so much pain and suffering, do eventually find redemption and get a happy ending, thank goodness. As does Jack and Sarah. For most of the book the Ghost Mother possesses Sarah and actively abuses Jack, emotionally and physically. It’s gut wrenching to read as Jack desperately tries to save his own mother.

All in all, it is an incredible story about loyalty, fighting for the one’s we love, about the acceptance of death, and how death is not the end. I reread this book every once and a while, because boy-howdy is it a doozy. Talk about heavy. And reading it as a twelve year old? You can bet that my sister and I had some nightmares after the first time. Sheesh. But we still love it, and in fact, it still comes up in conversations sometimes. The deep and complex issues of abuse and consent, as well as life after death, the different afterlife planes, the inspiration from Dante’s nine circles of Hell inspiring the landscape for the Nightmare Passage. It is a really fascinating read. I highly recommend it. I give it a 4/5, just because it does have some pretty sensitive topics it covers.

Birthday by Koji Suzuki

Image result for birthday koji suzuki

For anyone who has ever heard of The Ring or Ringu, this is a must read. I, myself, am a huge fan of Japanese horror, whether it be books, movies or video games, so when I found this book on thriftbooks.com, you can imagine how ecstatic I was. My favorite movie in the Ringu/Ring franchise is Ringu 0: Birthday, the movie directly inspired by this book. 

The story begins with introducing us to a character called Takano Mai. As with all Ringu characters, she doesn’t stick around for long. The majority of this book is set 24 years after Yamamura Sadako’s death, and is told from the perspective of Toyama, a man who knew Sadako when she was eighteen and nineteen years old. They were lovers and he recalls the events that led up to her death, unbeknownst to him. 

My favorite character in the Ringu franchise has always been Sadako. In fact, when I was younger she used to be my imaginary friend. I used to write letters to her and doodle pictures of her in the margins of my homework assignments. I felt a kinship with her, what preteen hasn’t? Being misunderstood and feeling like an outcast, a freak, comes with the territory of growing up. But Sadako always held a special place in my heart because she was so powerful, powerful enough to exact her revenge upon her murderers and abusers from beyond her watery tomb at the bottom of that well. 

That’s why this book has easily become one of my favorites. It is the prequel and the sequel to all the events that lead up to the first Ringu/Ring book and movie. It tells us the story of who she was, how she loved, and and what kind of personality she had before she because a curse. Koji-sama is an amazing writer, creating for us a vivid depiction of a horrific and tragic number of events that created Sadako’s infamous video tape. 

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes horror. It’s very well translated from its original Japanese and it’s easy to read. I finished it in less than two hours. Overall, it gets a 5/5 from me. I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the Ringu books (Ring, Spiral, Loop and Sadako) so I can wax poetic on how awesome they are, too.

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Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes by Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley

Five Nights at Freddy's: The Silver Eyes by Kira Breed-Wrisley, Scott ...

I confess, I am a gigantic fan of the Five Nights at Freddy’s Franchise. I have posters, plush toys, figurines and even fan-made music based on the games. Buying the book Five Nights at Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes only seemed natural, and I was incredibly excited for its release. The recent release of Sister Location prompted me to write a review on Scott’s recent book, his re-imagining of the Five Nights plot as a coherent story. I read the book over a month ago and absolutely loved it. My life has been a little crazy lately, however, so I just haven’t gotten around to reviewing it yet.

The Silver Eyes is a horrific and twisted story about a child murderer who kills many children over a period of decades. The main character is Charlie, a young girl who returns to her hometown of Hurricane after ten years for a scholarship memorial dedicated to her friend, Michael, who was one of the murdered children. The story follows Charlie and her friends’ journey as they return to the scene of the murder and become involved in a decade long sinister plot.

The setting of this book is inherently creepy-even if you haven’t played the games-you get a very clear picture of this old, dilapidated and abandoned Chucky Cheese-esque pizza place. The haunted, revenge-seeking animatronics are an entirely new concept in horror and lord, do they deliver the scares! The Silver Eyes combines a cute, budding romance, good representations of anxiety and PTSD, as well as the coming of age story of a young girl haunted by her past.

Charlie, the leading female character, is the daughter of one of the co-owners of Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza, the location where the five children were murdered, five children that Charlie was friends with. Her father committed suicide shortly after, causing the town to belief that he was guilty. Charlie and many of her friends left the town to escape the darkness of what had occurred. Each character has a complex personality and is very well written. I can’t say that I was surprised, because Scott is known for hiding deep story elements behind jumpscares in the video games. This story was a wonderful experience for a Five Nights fangirl such as myself.

My favorite part of the story was definitely near the end, where everything starts falling into place and Charlie remembers her past and uses it to help her and her friends escape the horrors they now face. Charlie is such a dynamic character who uses her tragedy and becomes stronger because of it. For such a dark story, it has a pretty happy ending. I was pleasantly surprised by that.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys horror, but especially people who like Five Nights at Freddy’s and want to know more about the new Sister Location game, as Scott has confirmed that they are both part of the same timeline and canon. It’s a very good story with twists and turns and amazing characters with flushed out personalities and believable traits. Also, it has an adorable underlying romance tale and a good balance of darkness and comedic relief. It’s a very creative and unique work. I give it a 5/5 and it is definitely on my top 3 favorite books of all time list.

Buy it here!

The Bargaining by Carly Anne West

The Secret Writer: 'The Bargaining' by Carly Anne West

The Bargaining is Carly Anne West’s second book I believe, (the first being The Murmuring, which I will probably read very soon) and it follows the tragic life of Penny, a child of divorce who has recently loss someone close to her. She suffers from dissociation and hallucinations, and struggles with depression as well. She constantly blames herself for what happened, even though West does not really give us a clear picture of exactly what that event was until near the end of the story.

The tension in this book is completely fathomable. It is so thick you could cut it with a knife. The characters are well written, each having a unique personality and a story. When Penny is dragged away for the summer to help her step mother renovate a dilapidated old house, you find out more about the step mom, April, as well. She is actually my favorite character and is really likable, dispelling the ‘evil step mother’ stereotype. Her parents, on the other hand, are both pretty awful.

The setting for this is small town Washington in the dense woods of the Pacific Northwest. I actually have family who live in that same environment or area, just south of Seattle. So that was really cool for me to know exactly what the author was describing. It is definitely a creepy setting, so well done, Carly! The personalities in the small town near their summer project are very colorful and spooky. The house itself, located in the middle of the woods, completely isolated from the world, has a certain air about it that makes you heart beat a bit faster, even as a reader. It is actually a place I would love to spend the weekend! I’m a sucker for haunted houses!

West is a master of leaving bread crumbs and holding back, so that the twists and turns are huge and hard to see coming. I picked this book up and two hours later I was finished with it. It was so good that I could not put it down! The introduction is captivating and terrifying. You really feel for these characters, especially if the reader has come from a broken home, lost a loved one, been abused, or dealt with mental illness. It really hits close to home for me, as I have lost many people that I love, some of which I blame myself for not being there enough for them (suicide). I also cope with chronic depression, history of suicide attempts and bouts of suicidal thoughts, and severe social anxiety. I guess that is why I relate so much to Penny, and what she has been through.

Penny also has a love of photography, and it is one of her coping mechanisms throughout the book. This I can also relate to, as I enjoy photography in my spare time with my Nikon. All of these personal ties really made the book easy to ‘get into’ and I enjoyed it a lot.

I will say that the ending left me a bit conflicted and wanting more. I reread the last two chapters over and over, trying to understand them better. I do not know if this is just me being silly or if the author did that on purpose to leave me stumped.

In conclusion, if you like ghost stories that have a lot of depth and are extensively creepy, this is the book for you!
You can search for the book on amazon to support this lovely author!

Thank you so much for reading and I hope you have a good day!

Buy it here!

The Suffering by Rin Chupeco

The Suffering

I picked this book up after I got home from work yesterday and didn’t put it down until I was finished. It was fantastic, and everything I expected from a sequel to such an incredible book as The Girl from the Well. It continues to follow Okiku and Tark after the events of the first book. I love this series so much that I can barely contain myself!

This book has a perfect setting for a horror book–Aokigahara in Japan. This is actually one of my favorite sites to study, as it’s history fascinates and mystifies me. The Suffering takes all the best elements of Ringu and Fatal Frame and squishes them into an action-packed, scary-as-hell, made-me-weep-like-a-child tale. There’s love, there’s loss and there is a whooooole lot of creepy ghosts and spine-chilling moments.

Did I mention Fatal Frame? If you have ever even heard of the story of Fatal Frame (any of the games, really) then this book should appeal to you. The whole lost mansion/village, creepy dolls, ritualistic sacrifice, crazy priests, yuurei out the wazoo and whole searching-and-fighting-for-the-person-you-love-most thing are all super prominent themes in this book. I saw so many similarities in the stories that it got me thinking that surely this must be an actual legend in Japan, and since I know Chupeco-sama is a crazy good researcher, I bet it probably is. And that interests me to no end!

Everyone should read these books. Seriously, they are so, so good. Anyone who likes horror, J-horror, anything of the like, will love this series. Do it! I give it four out of four stars!

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The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco

The Girl from the Well (The Girl from the Well #1) – Rin Chupeco

This incredible novel of terror and love is everything I have ever wanted in a piece of literature. Ever. It has jumped to my ‘Favorite book’ slot faster than any other novel I have read. As a student of Japanese culture, I am constantly pushing my ear to the ground in the latest releases as far as J-horror goes. Ju-on, Ringu, Kairo, Kaidan: these are just a few of my favorite movies in the genre. So, when I spotted this lovely book in Barnes and Noble and read one review that called it a mix between ‘The Grudge’, ‘The Ring’, and ‘The Exorcist’. Well, you can imagine how thrilled I was. I actually squealed in the middle of the store. This book seemed so perfect!

The story begins with a legend. The most famous ghost story in Japan (aside from maybe Kaidan) is of Okiku, a ghost who was betrayed by her lord and thrown down a well. This book follows the un-life of the very same Okiku as she traverses modern day America, sucking the life out of abusers and murderers. You actually (Finally!) get to experience a Japanese horror movie from the perspective of the yuurei!

Half of the story takes place in America, and half of it takes place in Japan, which I feel is a reference to the other main character–Tarquin–as he is half Japanese and half American. The book is a perfect blend of horror, cute factor, and history. It takes a real, honest-to-goodness three hundred year old Japanese ghost story and puts a whole new spin on it. Chupeco introduces the reader gently into the ways of Japanese culture. I myself am well versed, but even if I had never heard of hakama, miko, or onigiri, I would have enjoyed the book just as much, as she very clearly and tactfully explains every reference to Japanese culture that she makes (which, to my delight, was many!).

It is so rare for me to find a book that so quickly grabs my attention and steals my heart. It is fantastically well written, the characters are so real and easy to sympathize with, the setting is alive and vividly described, the plot is so deliciously immersive and wonderful that I finished the book in two hours flat! I could not put it down (even reading it while cooking dinner, book in one hand and spatula in the other!). And I will be honest and say that on payday, the first thing I am buying is the sequel: The Suffering.

If you are interested in Japanese culture, horror movies, Japanese horror movies, ghost stories, supernatural and the paranormal, murder, mystery, history, legends, mythology, then this is a book you absolutely HAVE to read! It is an acceptable novel for people of all ages and genders, I myself am 22 and a girl. There is a touch of romance, but it is merely hinted at, so it does little to affect the overall plot, which I thought was a nice touch, as the events that unfold were a strange scenario for a love story. Rin Chupeco is my hero, because she has created a story that is everything I have ever wanted in a book, or even any kind of literature at all. A story that crosses the boundaries of culture, and delivers you into the eyes of the monster-who you discover very quickly was never the monster in the first place. 8)

Buy it here!