Mini Reviews Reviews

MINIS — spooky reads, poetry, & fae!

July 8, 2020

The House on Abigail Lane by Kealan Patrick BurkeTITLE: The House on Abigail Lane
AUTHOR: Kealan Patrick Burke
GENRE: Horror
AGE RANGE: Adult
PAGES: 68pg
SOURCE: Purchased
In its sixty-year history, a record number of strange events have been attributed to the house, from the neighbors waking up to find themselves standing in the yard outside, to the grieving man who vanished before a police officer’s eyes. The animals gathering in the yard as if summoned. The people who speak in reverse. The lights and sounds. The music. The grass dying overnight…and the ten-foot clown on the second floor.
And as long as there are mysteries, people will be compelled to solve them.
Here, then, is the most comprehensive account of the Abigail House phenomenon, the result of sixty years of eyewitness accounts, news reports, scientific research, and parapsychological investigations, all in an attempt to decode the enduring mystery that is…
…THE HOUSE ON ABIGAIL LANE.

 

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ALL HAIL THE SUNFLOWER GOD.

First of all, the author note at the end of this book says it’s already been optioned for a film, so 1) you absolutely need to read this and then watch it when the adaptation happens, and 2) HOLY SHIT I AM SCREAMING because this is going to make SUCH a good film!

Now, if that wasn’t enough to convince you to pick up this absolutely delightful little novella, let me go on. The House on Abigail Lane follows the story of the titular house and all of its assorted hauntings and tragedies over a 60-year span, presented as nonfiction — which immediately sold me, as I love any sort of horror presentation that blurs the lines between reality and fiction. Kealan pulled this off magnificently and I was wholly sucked in from cover to cover.

Houses are empty shells of wood and brick and plaster, devoid of souls, or intent. It’s us, the creatures that are installed within them, that ultimately define their character.

Throughout the story, we catch glimpses of life for different victims of the house, and it’s so intriguing to watch it all come together, while I constantly wondered how they would connect in the end. The finale wasn’t anything I could have predicted, but it fit perfectly. I absolutely loved how bizarre of a story it all boiled down to be in the end.

One last thing: as a strong believer in the idea that fiction can and often should offer perspective on real life issues, I loved the brief but effective message on racism and how cases of missing Black people don’t receive the same attention and investigative power as those of missing white people do. It’s a harsh and unhappy truth that we need to face more often, especially in the horror and thriller genres, I think.

All in all, The House on Abigail Lane was such a fun, twisted little story and I absolutely hope the adaptation comes to pass, because I think it’s going to make for one hell of a film!

Buddy read with Bex! ♥

 

c o n t e n t – w a r n i n g s →

violence, death, body horror, missing persons/children

d i v e r s i t y →

one subject is Black; brief commentary on racial bias in missing-persons cases

51374911TITLE: A Collection of Dreamscapes
AUTHOR/ILLUSTRATOR: Christina Sng
GENRE: Horror/Fantasy Poetry
AGE RANGE: Adult
PAGES: 170pg
SOURCE: Publisher
Sng’s poems are a blend of dark fantasy and science fiction, a changeling’s whisper and an ogre’s cry. They are both subtle and violent, and they weave themes of empowerment and strength through stars and earthquakes, forcing us to push away the rubble and look at what we’ve had to do to survive. They are the sacrifice in the forest and the haunting in the house, every gasp and ancient fear a reflection of the violence we’ve had to bury deep inside ourselves, all those battle cries and reimagined dreams we desperately try to forget. Here, Sng marries blood and magic, forever walking hand-in-hand with scar and ash, their imprints both a nightmare and a blessing, a dream and the truth.
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Wow. This is my first time experiencing Christina Sng’s writing voice, but it certainly won’t be my last. She has such an incredible way with words, weaving together dark fantasy and horror, fairytales and social commentary — needless to say, I enjoyed this quite a lot. I don’t think this leans as heavily on the “horror poetry” side as I expected it to, but I enjoyed the SFF and speculative elements to it all the same and found it a nice mixture of genres and themes.

Most of all, I loved the section of fairytale retellings and, without going into too much detail and risking spoilers, the way many of those stories blended into one another seamlessly. I tend to view most fairytales as singular beings separate from one another, and to view them as all being connected like this was such a fascinating take on the presentation that I really enjoyed.

Though this wasn’t what I expected, I’m truly so happy I had the chance to pick it up because Sng’s writing just blew me away. It made me desperately want to pick up more of her collections, starting with this one’s predecessor, A Collection of Nightmares, which I have no doubt will be another instantly beloved piece of work for me.

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this review copy in exchange for an honest review!

c o n t e n t – w a r n i n g s →

violence, death, assault

d i v e r s i t y →

Finding Faeries by Alexandra RowlandTITLE: Finding Faeries: Discovering Sprites, Pixies, Redcaps, and Other Fantastical Creatures in an Urban Environment
AUTHOR: Alexandra Rowland
GENRE: ??? (Fantasy? Nonfiction? I’m still not 100% what this was meant to be marketed as)
AGE RANGE: Adult
PAGES: 208pg
SOURCE: NetGalley
Featuring descriptions of magical creatures from around the globe, this encyclopedic collection details the history and adaptability of more than fifty different species of fae. Describing little-known and fascinating creatures such as the Luck Pigeon of Baltimore, the Ghost Cat of India, and the Brain Sucker of South Africa, this book will expose readers to fantastical species from a variety of cultures and communities.
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I’m not giving this a star rating because I simply can’t. I could not tell you once, during this entire book, if Rowland was trying to be legitimately informative, or simply piecing together social commentary and jokes with a little splash of beliefs from cultures around the world. It doesn’t help that discussing fae from so many cultures would require far more pages than this book allows for, and half of the book is compiled of illustrations and graphic design art.

It’s a difficult book for me to review because I understand that I’m coming at this book from a different angle than many people are (which is the other reason I won’t give it a star rating). Most readers I know are going to pick this up looking for fun stories and illustrations; those of us looking for something deeper, like many practicing witches, are probably going to be left feeling about as let down as I was.

On a positive note, I really appreciated how much attention Rowland gave not only to the impact that climate change and humanity’s abuse of the planet has had on fae populations, but also to the impact that colonialism has had on society’s general perception of spiritual beliefs that don’t align with the more widely accepted religions (such as the author’s complaint regarding US scholars’ dismissal of Native beliefs as “superstitions” and “myths”).

The bottom line is this: if you’re someone who thinks of fae as pure fantastical fiction and you want to learn more about the history there, this would probably be a great, fun fit for you. If you’re someone who is actually invested in the idea of recognizing fae in our modern reality, I’m not so sure. I’d love to hear the thoughts of other readers, though, especially ones who are coming at it from the same angle I am!

Thank you so much to the publisher for providing me with this review copy in exchange for an honest review!

c o n t e n t – w a r n i n g s →

mentions of colonialism and racism

d i v e r s i t y →

destiny

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9 Comments

  • Reply universewithinpages July 8, 2020 at 12:20 pm

    I’m so glad you liked The House on Abigail Lane! That’s so exciting that it could potentially become a film!

  • Reply Mel July 8, 2020 at 12:23 pm

    oh, the house on abigail lane sounds really interesting! I love the idea of horror being written as nonfiction. I’ll definitely be checking this one out.

  • Reply Sofia @ BookishWanderess July 8, 2020 at 3:46 pm

    The House on Abigail Lane sounds intriguing! I’m currently reading Mexican Gothic and I’m loving the haunted house in that book and I want to read more books about haunted houses, so I’ll definitely check out The House on Abigail Lane soon!

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries July 19, 2020 at 7:10 pm

      It’s excellent! I adore a good haunted house story. I am dying to read Mexican Gothic ASAP – I think I’m actually group reading it with some people in August, and I seriously can’t wait, so I’m really happy you’re loving it!

  • Reply Kathy @ Pages Below the Vaulted Sky July 8, 2020 at 8:15 pm

    Oh I’ll definitely be picking up A Collection of Dreamscapes! Always looking for more horror-y poetry with gorgeous writing. <3 And I didn't even know Alexandra Rowland had a fae book coming out! It sounds….interesting? But probably not my cup of tea. 🙂

    • Reply Destiny @ Howling Libraries July 19, 2020 at 7:11 pm

      A Collection of Dreamscapes was really lovely! I hope you enjoy it. 🙂 And yeah, the fae book was… sigh. I STILL have such mixed feelings on it!

  • Reply Blog Awards #29: The Vincent Ehindero Blogger Award – Hot Shot Headlines July 9, 2020 at 3:42 pm

    […] Destiny – Howling Libraries […]

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