There’s an angel and a devil on my shoulders. The angel is telling me to wait until October 1st to start Halloween season like a rational person. The devil wants all the pumpkins, spookiness, and candy NOW.
So I’m starting a little early. Just a smidge. No big deal, right?
First off, I’m participating in Scaredy Cat Bingo, which is hosted by Cats Luv Coffee Book Reviews. It’s a reading challenge full of Halloween-themed categories, and the only catch is that you have to finish all the books in September and October for them to count.
Since it took me half a year to get a bingo on my last reading challenge, I don’t expect to win, but it’ll be fun to try. Here’s my board so far:
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For the “short story collection” spot, I just finished The Lady of the Watchtower: Six Stories of Magical Transformation by Nancy O’Toole Meservier. You may remember her name from her guest post about her second superhero novel, Black and Blue, or my review of her first book, Red and Black, which is also excellent.
My favorite story from this collection is The Lady of the Watchtower from the title, which is a reverse-gender Beauty and the Beast retelling–and yes, it’s exactly as cool as that sounds. Another stand-out is The Fox, an action/adventure epic fantasy tale about the crafty avatar of a fox god. Gretel is a dark and creepy modern version of Hansel and Gretel, and really, there’s not a bad story in the bunch.
I highly recommend it if you like fantasy short fiction, and at the time that I’m writing this post, the ebook is only 99 cents on Amazon.
For the “monster mash” spot, I read the graphic novel Monstress. People were talking about this book everywhere online when it first came out. So much hype–and it completely lives up to it. This book is awesome! It’s part horror, part epic fantasy, part steampunk, and all amazing.
It has talking cats! Which makes it sound cute and fun–and there are definitely cute and fun moments–but it also features graphic violence, war crimes, eldritch abominations, betrayals, and all kinds of dark stuff.
The main character, Maika Halfwolf, is so compelling. Ruthless to her enemies yet caring beneath her tough exterior, she’s brave not because she’s fearless but because she can push past her fear. The supporting characters are memorable (there’s an adorable fox kid in addition to the talking cat), and the villains are despicable but complex. And every page has artwork as gorgeous and detailed as the cover.
Magic of the Gargoyles was a short, fun read. You’d think it would be a contender for the “monster mash” spot, but it’s about rescuing cute baby gargoyles from evil humans, so it fits the “oh the humanity” spot instead.
The main character, Mika, is working on a magical commission that’s supposed to be her big break: a high-paying job that will finally earn her enough money to open up her own business, something she’s been working toward for years. But she’s interrupted when a baby gargoyle crashes into her apartment and begs for her help.
Mika drops what she’s doing to help it (Who could say no to a cute baby gargoyle?) and gets caught up in a dangerous adventure.
This book is an action-packed, fast-paced read that I finished in one evening, and my only complaint is that it felt a bit too short. Evidently, later books in the series are longer, and it’s currently free on Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.
Last, I want to give you a heads up about what to expect on the blog next month. Every week in October, I’ll be running a Halloween urban fantasy web serial!
I won’t say too much before it starts, but ghosts are involved. 👻 And it’s a preview of a new urban fantasy project that I have in the works for (hopefully) next year, so I hope you enjoy it.
Until then, stay spooky!