Review: The Ruins by Scott Smith

Note: I wrote this review in October 2018 but since this Top 5 Saturday was about plants/flowers on the book covers, I decided to share my review for this book (I honestly thought I’d already shared it before)!

Goodreads: The Ruins
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Panda Rating:


Trapped in the Mexican jungle, a group of friends stumble upon a creeping horror unlike anything they could ever imagine.Two young couples are on a lazy Mexican vacation–sun-drenched days, drunken nights, making friends with fellow tourists. When the brother of one of those friends disappears, they decide to venture into the jungle to look for him. What started out as a fun day-trip slowly spirals into a nightmare when they find an ancient ruins site . . . and the terrifying presence that lurks there.

*minor spoilers ahead*

We all know how much of a chicken I am, so while I did enjoy reading it, I know this isn’t something that I’ll be reading again! I’m writing this review directly after finishing it so I think I’m still feeling the lingering effects of the horror and nausea that were my constant companions for at least a good 50% of the book. I still find myself looking around in paranoia for any cracks in the wall and I’m keeping my feet lifted and well away from dark spaces, such as the one under my bed. Ya know, just in case there’s a killer plant/tree with acidic sap in its vines that will grab my legs and pull me under there to devour me.

I wanted to sprint through this book but the level of detail just wouldn’t let me. I would find myself trying to skim ahead but worried that I’d miss some important detail and so I’d force myself to slow down. I thought the pace at the start was good but towards the latter half of the book, as there was less “action” involved, the pace slowed down considerably. I also didn’t particularly latch on to any of the characters. I don’t know if it was intentional as the characters were on a beach holiday but I found that the characters were either extremes of passive and lazy or neurotic and overthinking and it didn’t make it easy to lend any sympathy. Although several times I did question how I’d react if I were in their shoes… Would I be the complainer? The proactive leader? The joker or the drunk? Or would I be the quiet one that decides that enough is enough and “get things over with” as quickly as possible? What would be my instinctive reaction?

While Scott Smith writes in a very simple and straightforward way, I found that sometimes his writing was unnecessarily detailed, to the point where I found myself really fighting not to skip ahead. I understand that Smith was trying to expand on the characters’ thoughts and how they were coping with their situation – the thoughts, rationalisations and emotions of a human facing imminent death (but being in denial about it) – but I feel that if much of this content was taken out, the story would still flow and you wouldn’t miss out on any crucial details. I have to admit that when we got to the end and still got no further information about this killer thing – how did it get there and how long has it been there? where did it come from? how many people had it killed? – I felt frustrated. Almost like I was robbed of this information with no chance of ever learning more. But I guess maybe that’s the appeal of these horrors?

I am personally not the biggest fan of horrors. I read this as a way to get into the “Spooky/Horror October” that many monthly reading challenges have centered on this month. I don’t dislike the genre but I just have a very, very overactive imagination that does not do me any favors when I’m trying to sleep at night. So although I don’t read them that often, I guess this book was filled with everything you’d expect from a horror – including plenty of blood and gore. I know that I’ll be imagining the scenes that played out in my head for at least days to come… Will I read another horror after this? Nope! Will I (eventually) read another Scott Smith book? Probably, yes.

Have you read The Ruins or is it on your TBR?

Harrow Lake Blog Tour Review

I’m back with another blog tour with The WriteReads gang and this time it’s for the paranormal horror thriller Harrow Lake by Kat Ellis. And I mean, I know–Dini, reading horror? Who am I even, right!? Yep. I’m a masochist but we’ll come back to this one later 😉 Special thanks to Dave @ TheWriteReads for organising this amazing blog tour and to the publisher and author for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review!

Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers who are also on this tour!

Goodreads: Harrow Lake
Publisher: Penguin Random House UK Children’s Penguin
Release Date: 09 July 2020
Genre: Horror, Thriller
Panda Rating:

Welcome to Harrow Lake. Someone’s expecting you . . .

Lola Nox is the daughter of a celebrated horror filmmaker – she thinks nothing can scare her. But when her father is brutally attacked in their New York apartment, she’s swiftly packed off to live with a grandmother she’s never met in Harrow Lake, the eerie town where her father’s most iconic horror movie was shot. The locals are weirdly obsessed with the film that put their town on the map – and there are strange disappearances, which the police seem determined to explain away.

And there’s someone – or something – stalking her every move.

The more Lola discovers about the town, the more terrifying it becomes. Because Lola’s got secrets of her own. And if she can’t find a way out of Harrow Lake, they might just be the death of her. 

Continue reading “Harrow Lake Blog Tour Review”

Book Review: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall

Goodreads: Rules for Vanishing
Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: 24 September 2019
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Paranormal Fantasy, Mystery

Panda Rating:

(4 pandas)

In the faux-documentary style of The Blair Witch Project comes the campfire story of a missing girl, a vengeful ghost, and the girl who is determined to find her sister–at all costs.

Once a year, the path appears in the forest and Lucy Gallows beckons. Who is brave enough to find her–and who won’t make it out of the woods?

It’s been exactly one year since Sara’s sister, Becca, disappeared, and high school life has far from settled back to normal. With her sister gone, Sara doesn’t know whether her former friends no longer like her…or are scared of her, and the days of eating alone at lunch have started to blend together. When a mysterious text message invites Sara and her estranged friends to “play the game” and find local ghost legend Lucy Gallows, Sara is sure this is the only way to find Becca–before she’s lost forever. And even though she’s hardly spoken with them for a year, Sara finds herself deep in the darkness of the forest, her friends–and their cameras–following her down the path. Together, they will have to draw on all of their strengths to survive. The road is rarely forgiving, and no one will be the same on the other side
.

WHO AM I EVEN?!

Continue reading “Book Review: Rules for Vanishing by Kate Alice Marshall”

Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1) by Kerri Maniscalco – #BookReview

Goodreads: Stalking Jack the Ripper (Stalking Jack the Ripper #1)
Genre: Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Young Adult Fiction
Rating:

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life. Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

This book has received a lot of love in the community and I think I had pretty high expectations going into it, so I was little bit flummoxed that it ended up being very different to what I expected. That’s not necessarily in a bad way, but I think this might be a big case of it’s not you, it’s me. I mean, I liked it well enough but I didn’t love it. I read this as part of a big group read on Twitter, and they’re continuing on with the series throughout the month but I think I’ll put off continuing it for now.

SJTR was told through the perspective of Audrey Rose Wadsworth, who was smart, fiercely independent and very ahead of the times for that period, and she wasn’t at all shy to show it. I found her rebellious and spunky character refreshing. I love that she was a bit of a nerd, who just wanted to do cool things like autopsies and solve murders, but that she also loved fancy clothes and dressing up. She spends the majority of the story with her uncle, a famous doctor who people think is insane, and Thomas Creswell. Everyone who has read this book seems to have loved Creswell’s character the most. He definitely gave me Sherlock vibes, with his observant deductions and brilliant mind, but I liked that he was also sassy, sarcastic and bold. I felt a little like the romance between Audrey and Thomas was a little insta-love and I wasn’t actually here for it (sorry, please don’t kill me)! I just didn’t feel any spark between them and because of that their romantic interactions fell flat and felt forced! With how quickly the romance evolved between Audrey and Thomas, it was easy to forget the period which this was set in. If it was realistic, half the things that happened with Audrey traipsing around on her own, and especially alone with men, would not have happened. I mean, we’re talking the late 1880s here, so it’s a bit unrealistic. While the more modern tones of the story made it a much easier read than it would’ve been otherwise, I think it also detracted from the whole vibe/setting of the story.

I’ve always had a morbid fascination with the ‘legend’ of serial killers and murderers, and Jack the Ripper is one of the most infamous even until now. While reading, the names of his victims were familiar, but since the last time I went into a spiral binge of reading up on The Ripper was over a decade ago, I didn’t actually remember all the details of what he did to them. So I really enjoyed the fictional liberties that Maniscalco took to develop this story around his legend, while still remaining as close to what happened as possible. I also appreciated Maniscalco’s author’s note that detailed what she took liberties with. That said, I was a little shocked by how easily I deduced who Jack the Ripper was. I won’t say that I figured it out from the very beginning, but it was like a lightning strike moment when I figured it out and I was a little upset that Audrey didn’t see the <b>very obvious</b> clue that was like a big, bright red waving flag in front of her. I ended up wanting to shout at her for the rest of the book because it was SO OBVIOUS and the fact that Thomas didn’t pick up on it when he’s supposed to be a genius who sees everything, was kind of disappointing. I thought the ending was also a bit too rushed, and I was a little disappointed with how it was so… easily resolved and a little too picture perfect happy for such a horrifying story!

Another thing I appreciated was the detail of added photos to some of the chapters. I always find black and white photos a little creepy, even when they’re innocent, and these fit so well with the content of the story. I think only one of them, which I wasn’t expecting at all, gave me a right fright when I was reading this at around 3am on Friday/Saturday, and so I made sure to check the photos ahead of time (during the day!) so I wouldn’t get another shocker. I will say though that this book was a lot darker and more gory than I anticipated, so a word of caution if you’re looking to pick it up and aren’t so good with gore!

I was thinking about going straight into Hunting Prince Dracula, but I’m glad that I didn’t because it would’ve been too much for me. Apparently as I get older my constitution gets weaker LOL I am interested in continuing the series eventually though. So while I did enjoy this thrilling historical fiction, I felt a little too detached from the characters to really fall in love with the story. I’d still recommend it to anyone who likes a thrilling mystery, historical fiction, quirky characters and great banter, as well as a strong female lead ahead of her time.

Have you read Stalking Jack the Ripper? Did it live up to the hype for you? Leave me a comment below and let’s chat!