Mini Reviews – Horror Novellas

I’ve been able to read some short horror stories recently and I was reminded that I need to get more horror books on my 2021 TBR.

A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE – Josh Malerman (Released January 19th, 2021)

HELENA – Claire L. Smith (Released October 13th, 2020)

GO DOWN HARD – Ali Seay (Released November 13th, 2020)

Check out my mini reviews for these novellas below!

A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE by Josh Malerman – Synopsis

Both seventeen. Both afraid. But both saying yes.

It sounded like the perfect first date: canoeing across a chain of lakes, sandwiches and beer in the cooler. But teenagers Amelia and James discover something below the water’s surface that changes their lives forever.

It’s got two stories.

It’s got a garden.

And the front door is open.

It’s a house at the bottom of a lake.

For the teens, there is only one rule: no questions. And yet, how could a place so spectacular come with no price tag? While the duo plays house beneath the waves, one reality remains:

Just because a house is empty, doesn’t mean nobody’s home.

My Thoughts: 3/5 stars – Mini Review:

I don’t even really know what I read here. It’s been really hit or miss for me with Malerman’s books because I loved BIRD BOX, THE INSPECTION was alright for me, and this one is difficult to place. A HOUSE AT THE BOTTOM OF A LAKE has been billed as a horror book, but I don’t think it is at all. I’d have to say that I’d place this in the magical realism genre. So when you start this, it’s best to know that you shouldn’t expect a horror story or you may feel a little disappointed. For being a shorter book (under 200 pages) there were parts that felt like they dragged for me, but the ending I think made up for it. Again, my feelings are hard to place on it, but if the synopsis intrigues you, I’d say give it a shot.

HELENA by Claire L. Smith – Synopsis

On the outskirts of London, 1855, mortician and funeral director Helena Morrigan struggles with her limited finances and the heavy burdens of her past. Desperate to secure herself, she takes up residence in an aged house closer the graveyard, closer to the lost souls that sense her torment and are determined to take her place in the mortal world.

As she tries to tame and free the ghostly figures around her, she becomes acquainted with the owners of the home, the recently orphaned siblings, Eric, Audrey and Christian Tarter.

Yet, the souls she wants to save are on edge as a horrific serial killer runs rampant, giving Helena a boost in business and suspicion. Against her best efforts, Helena is suddenly thrown into a bloody mystery where new and old friendships are tested, innocents are maimed and a horrific family secret that threatens her chance at a peaceful existence and her existence itself.

My Thoughts: 3.5/5 stars – Mini Review

This book was so atmospheric and spooky! This would have been perfect around Halloween to read with the supernatural elements and the overall Gothic feel to it. It did take a tiny bit longer than I would have hoped for to get into (simply considering the length), but once the pacing picked up then I flew through the rest. I loved the character of Helena. Just someone in a class all her own and I want to see more of her! I think this was an incredible debut and I can’t wait to see what Smith comes out with next.

GO DOWN HARD by Ali Seay – Synopsis:

What if a victimized woman decided to be a silent guardian angel for other women and turn the tables on predatory men? What if she stumbled into the hunting grounds of a cocky serial killer while looking for her own private murder den? What if a confident killer met his match in the form of a jean-clad, whiskey-swigging stranger in an hour glass-shaped package – and she made him want things – things he’s far too superior to want?

When predator meets predator, the only question is: Is the attraction they feel to bed one another… or kill one another?

Meg isn’t expecting to catch Jack red-handed with his most recent victim. Jack isn’t expecting Meg to come busting through his front door while chasing her current prey. Now that each recognizes a fellow killer, what urge will win – kiss or kill?

My Thoughts: 5/5 stars – Mini Review

This book. I loved all of it. GO DOWN HARD is one of those novellas that I wish I more – not that the story didn’t feel complete but in the sense that I need more of these characters. Who doesn’t love a good story about a serial killer? Well, add a second one and their paths cross. Meg and Jack happen to come upon each other as they’re with their most recent kills.

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