Mini Reviews #21: Recent Spooky Reads


Êl síla erin lû e-govaned vîn! I'm not usually one for themed readathons or anything along those lines, so I didn't plan on purposefully reading a bunch of scary books this month. However, it seems the universe happened to drop a few Halloween books in my lap. In case you're looking for a couple last-minute Halloween reads or just love a good horror novel, here are a few reviews you might find handy!

Vittorio the Vampire by Anne Rice

Educated in the Florence of Cosimo de' Medici, trained in knighthood at his father's mountaintop castle, Vittorio inhabits a world of courtly splendor and country pleasures - a world suddenly threatened when his entire family is confronted by an unholy power.

In the midst of this upheaval, Vittorio is seduced by the vampire Ursula, the most beautiful of his supernatural enemies. As he sets out in pursuit of vengeance, entering the nightmarish Court of the Ruby Grail, increasingly more enchanted (and confused) by his love for the mysterious Ursula, he finds himself facing demonic adversaries, war and political intrigue.

Against a backdrop of the wonders - both sacred and profane - and the beauty and ferocity of Renaissance Italy, Anne Rice creates a passionate and tragic legend of doomed young love and lost innocence.

3/5 wizarding schools.

If you know me, you know I'm Anne Rice trash. Lives of the Mayfair Witches, The Vampire Chronicles - you name it, I'm here for it. Unfortunately, Vittorio was one of the most disappointing books of hers I've read.

Let's start with what I liked. The setting of Renaissance Florence, especially the emphasis on Renaissance art, really appealed to me. The ending was also lovely. I like that it was relatively happy compared to a typical Rice book, and the unexpected message of seeing everyone around you as equally human was presented beautifully.

But Vittorio himself, while not the worst of characters, wasn't terribly enjoyable to read about. The prose also lacked that vividly breathtaking vibe characteristic of Rice's work, and the plot wasn't that different from her typical vampire genesis story. I didn't have to drag myself through it, but I could put it down fairly easily.

Overall, this was a mildly enjoyable but overall lackluster installment in Rice's vampire saga. (At the bottom of this post, you'll find links to a few I liked a lot more.)

The Ghost of Graylock by Dan Poblocki

Does an abandoned asylum hold the key to a frightful haunting?

Everyone's heard the stories about Graylock Hall.

It was meant to be a place of healing - a hospital where children and teenagers with mental disorders would be cared for and perhaps even cured. But something went wrong. Several young patients died under mysterious circumstances. Eventually, the hospital was shut down, the building abandoned and left to rot deep in the woods.

As the new kid in town, Neil Cady wants to see Graylock for himself. Especially since rumor has it that the building is haunted. He's got fresh batteries in his flashlight, a camera to document the adventure, and a new best friend watching his back.

Neil might think he's prepared for what he'll find in the dark and decrepit asylum. But he's certainly not prepared for what follows him home. . . .

4/5 high-functioning sociopaths.

I picked this up completely on a whim from my library's 25-cent bin. I wanted a light paperback to take with me on vacation and love paranormal middle-grade, so this seemed like a good fit for me.

Usually when I'm reviewing middle-grade, I can say that the book in question is likely to be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Although I liked The Ghost of Graylock, I do have to say that I think mid-teens (which is where I am) is the upper limit for enjoying this book. All of the elements of the story were done well, just not in a way that can transcend age too much.

Neil and Bree were awesome together. I'm an only child, so it's often hard for me to get excited by sibling relationships in books. I just can't understand or appreciate a lot of the unspoken intricacies that go into such a unique relationship. But the complexities of Neil and Bree's relationship, as well as the strong love they had for each other, was very well done. On the other hand, I don't understand why Wesley and Eric were necessary. I can see having one of them, but I feel like there were only two because the author felt like each sibling "needed" a sidekick.

The plot of this book was pretty straightforward. It kept me interested, though, and the twists and turns were good.

Overall, I'd recommend this one to 9-13 year olds who like a mildly scary read. Although this book won't make it onto any of my top 10 lists, it was still and enjoyable story!

Artemis Fowl and the Last Colony by Eoin Colfer

Ten thousand years ago, humans and fairies fought a great battle for the magical island of Ireland. When it became clear that they could not win, all of the faeries moved below ground—all except for the 8th family, the demons. Rather than surrender, they used a magical time spell to take their colony out of time and into Limbo. There they have lived for decades, planning their violent revenge on humans.

Now the time spell is unraveling, and demons are beginning to materialize without warning on Earth. If humans were to find out about them, all faeries would be exposed. To protect themselves, the faeries must predict when the next demon will materialize. But in order to do so, they will have to decipher temporal equations so complicated, even a great brain like Foaly can't understand them. But he knows someone who can: Artemis Fowl.

So when a confused and frightened demon imp pops appears in a Sicilian theater, Artemis is there to meet him. But he is not alone. Someone else has unlocked the secrets of the fairy world and managed to solve complex mathematical problems that only a genius could. And she is only twelve years old...

5/5 perfect Galadriel cosplays.

Does this count as a spooky read? I'm going to say it counts. I always see at least four kids wearing devil costumes on Halloween.

MAN OH MAN. Y'all, it would be slightly harder than impossible for me to exaggerate how much I love the Artemis Fowl books. Last Colony was pitched to me by a friend who's read them all as the least fantastic in the series, but I have to disagree.

With the exception of The Eternity Code, The Last Colony is my favorite installment thus far. No1 and Minerva are fabulous additions to the character list, and the recurring cast is at their best - brilliant Artemis, long-suffering Butler, snarky Mulch, and Holly, who despite being an elf is the most human of all. The plot has the most twists and turns of any Fowl book thus far (and that's saying something.) The mysteries and intricacies kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time!

If you're a lover of middle-grade, high adventure, or paranormal reads without the spook, this is the perfect choice to cap off your Halloween month.

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Other spooky reviews from Halloweens past:

Let's chat! Do you enjoy celebrating Halloween? Did you read any scary books this month? Have you read any of the ones on my list? Comment below, and have a fabulous(ly spooky) day.

Namarië,
Ellie

2 comments:

  1. I'm often surprised by the amount of people who dislike Lost Colony - it's always been one of my favorites. Minerva was especially fun. I'm so glad you liked it!

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    1. Me too! Yes, it was so refreshing to see a direct rival to Artemis. (Opal was sort of Foaly's issue, you know? At least, personally.)

      - Ellie

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