Nyx Book Reviews

fantasy ♥ paranormal ♥ horror ♥ science-fiction

A Cauldron of Witches – Some Hexingly Good Reads (Nyx at Night)

nyxjpg3Nyx at Night is the darkly delicious event at Nyx Book Reviews. To see all of the posts, go to the schedule

Although a big part of Halloween is the scares, not everyone enjoys that tingling sensation in their spine and quickly beating hearts. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing reads out these featuring witches, both old and modern, which aren’t scary at all. Below I’ve collected some of my favourite witchy reads, listing some of the ingredients that make them such enchanting stories.

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Witch of Salt and Storm by Kendall Kulper (Goodreadsreview)

  • Haunting historical setting
  • Magic is laced into the society of a small island, putting great responsiblity on the main character’s shoulders to become a witch like her grandmother before her
  • Magic isn’t easy, but requires great sacrifice

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins (Goodreadsreview)

  • The main character is fun and bubbly instead of moody and introvert
  • Magic boarding school!
  • Hex Hall has ghosts, betrayals, and romance

Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood (Goodreadsreview)

  • The setting is reminiscent of a historical dystopian
  • It features three sisters, and their comraderie and conflicts are so life-like
  • Just look at that cover. LOOK AT IT

Industrial Magic by Kelley Armstrong (Goodreadsreview)

  • Although part of a larger Women of the Otherworld series filled with other supernatural beasties, the witches in this series are my favourite
  • Features the impossible romance of a witch and a warlock
  • Lots of amazing spell- casting action

Dead Witch Walking by Kim Harrison (Goodreadsreview)

  • Amazing wicca-based magic system
  • Rachel is a great main character you can root for
  • Has the best secondary characters ever (JENKS!)

witchesfiveWhat is your favourite book featuring witches?

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Nyx at Night Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Title: Asylum
Author: Madeleine Roux
Series: Asylum #1
Rating: 3.5 Stars Stars

313 pages
Published August 20th 2013 by HarperTeen
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

Everything about Asylum screams creepy. The title, the disturbing cover, the pictures inside. It’s good for some classic scares, but falls short in the characterisation department.

Dan is excited to be going to a summer program filled with exciting courses and like-minded students. The dormitories are in an old sanatorium, and together with his new-found friends, Abby and Jordan, he finds out that there are plenty of secrets in the asylum.

The set-up for Asylum is very archetypical for a horror story. Night-time explorations: check. Creepy happenings: check. Inexplicable notes and thoughts: check. Disturbing experiments: check. I have to admit that Asylum definitely worked its job on me. I read it at night while my boyfriend was asleep, and it was pretty scary. It wasn’t completely comfortable to read it in the dark.

Dan is supposed to be sixteen years old, but he and the other main characters read more like they’re fourteen-ish. The book is narrated through Dan’s eyes, and the story unfolds his own connection with the asylum. Ms Roux goes for a King-eske evil that lumbers within the asylum, influencing the students. Although I really enjoyed this concept, the execution wasn’t satisfactory. It’s hard to connect to Dan, of whom we only get glimpses of his inner life. I would have enjoyed the book more if we had dug into his psyche, really see all of the consequences being in the asylum has for him. Sadly all interaction of the reader with the characters stay superficial, and it’s hard to truly care for their plight.

Asylum provides solid horror vibes and cool artwork, but doesn’t go beyond that. It doesn’t have the amount of introspection other young-adult books display, and leaves many questions open for the second book in the series.

Blurb

nyxjpg3For sixteen-year-old Dan Crawford, New Hampshire College Prep is more than a summer program—it’s a lifeline. An outcast at his high school, Dan is excited to finally make some friends in his last summer before college. But when he arrives at the program, Dan learns that his dorm for the summer used to be a sanatorium, more commonly known as an asylum. And not just any asylum—a last resort for the criminally insane.

As Dan and his new friends, Abby and Jordan, explore the hidden recesses of their creepy summer home, they soon discover it’s no coincidence that the three of them ended up here. Because the asylum holds the key to a terrifying past. And there are some secrets that refuse to stay buried.

Featuring found photos of unsettling history and real abandoned asylums and filled with chilling mystery and page-turning suspense, Madeleine Roux’s teen debut, Asylum, is a horror story that treads the line between genius and insanity.

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Horror by the Master of Horror – The Scariest Stephen King Books

nyxjpg3Nyx at Night is the darkly delicious event at Nyx Book Reviews. To see all of the posts, go to the schedule

I’m quite the unapologetic Stephen King fan. I love his books, from his horror to his thriller to his pseudo-literary books. I even once did an event called #SKweek to celebrate anything Stephen King. Steve has written in many genres, and has all kinds of different books that will appeal do different kinds of readers. However, I think his horror books are his most praised and most well-known books. Here is a short guide to a few of my favourite horror books by him.

divThe Shining (Goodreads)

The ultimate haunted house novel must be The Shining. Like many of King’s novels, The Shining features a writer. In this particular one, an aspiring writer tries to make some extra money by living in an abandoned hotel in the middle of a mountain range for the winter, together with his wife and son. The son has a certain ability, called the shining, which makes him know things. The Overlook hotel has some less than savoury ghostly inhabitants, and in true King fashion things go wrong, until things truly hit the fan. The Shining has one of the most nail-biting climaxes I have ever read, and as far as horror goes, this might be my favourite overall.

Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control.

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel – and that too had begun to shine…

It (Goodreads)

Are you afraid of clowns? No? Well, you should be. It is an incredibly epic story spanning several decades, following a group of friends trying to defeat the evil in Derry, Maine. Many of the quotes from It still give me chills, especially the ominous “They all float down here…” It is one of the only books ever to actually give me nightmares. Usually I don’t get scared from books, but It managed itself to worm inside my subconsciousness, giving me a few very uncomfortable nights. It gives the classic fight between good and evil a pair of very nasty teeth. Highly recommended if you’re willing to dive head-first into a 800 page tome.

The story follows the exploits of seven children as they are terrorized by an eponymous being, which exploits the fears and phobias of its victims in order to disguise itself while hunting its prey. “It” primarily appears in the form of a clown in order to attract its preferred prey of young children. The novel is told through narratives alternating between two time periods, and is largely told in the third-person omniscient mode. It deals with themes which would eventually become King staples: the power of memory, childhood trauma, and the ugliness lurking behind a façade of traditional small-town values.

Misery (Goodreadsreview)

The supernatural doesn’t scare you? Are you rather fascinated by the twisted workings of the human mind? Misery provides some solid scares for the paranormally sceptic. Instead of some supernatural evil, Misery shows the everyday human evil. The story of a writer captured and blackmailed and tortured by his biggest fan is terrifying. Misery also happens to be one of King’s shorter reads, making it more accessible for first-time readers. Gruesome, heart-breaking and frightening, Misery is impressively thrilling for a book that for the biggest part is set within a single room. The worst about it is that it’s so damn believable…

Paul Sheldon. He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house. Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work—just for her. She has a lot of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty…

Do you like King’s books? What is your go-to horror writer?

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Nyx at Night Interview + Giveaway: Mark Cantrell (Silas Morlock)

Good evening my readers… Tonight I’m interviewing Mark Cantrell, and ask him the important questions. What does he think of Halloween candy? And would he rather be a werewolf or a vampire? If you make it to the end, there is a prize awaiting you…

The Interview

Nyx Book Reviews: Hi Mark, welcome to Nyx Book Reviews! Could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Mark: Sure, here goes. I was born and bred in Bradford, but I moved to the West Midlands about eight years ago and I commute to Manchester for the day job, so I kind of think of myself as an ex-pat Tyke (with tongue firmly in cheek for the most part; I’m only a semi-professional Yorkshireman). I work for a multimedia publisher as a journalist, covering the social housing industry. It’s gritty stuff and my nose is to the grindstone on a lot of convoluted and controversial issues. I write news, features, interviews, and a lot of social and political commentary. It’s not as glamorous as it sounds. In my other life, I’m the author of two novels. Citizen Zero, which I self-published in 2010, has now been picked up for publication by Inspired Quill next year. This is the outfit that released my second novel, Silas Morlock, onto an unsuspecting public in 2013.

Could you describe Silas Morlock in one sentence?

An age-old struggle between good and evil nears its end, humanity is poised to slip into the shadows of forever, and all appears lost, until the most powerful mind-altering drug ever created offers hope for redemption.

Do you enjoy horror books? If yes, what is your favourite?

Oh, yes, I love a good horror book. It’s a little difficult to pick out a favourite, though. There’s so many to choose from, and if I’m being honest I’d have to think long and hard to try and recall suitable candidates. My head just doesn’t work that way. But there’s a few authors jostling for that position. I’ve not read enough of Stephen King’s work, but he’s up there all the same, but I think I would have to put the late James Herbert ahead of him (sorry, Stephen). I never set out to become a horror writer, and don’t really class myself as such, even though I’ve written works of horror, but Herbert stands out as an early influence on my writing. Ian Woodhead is another author whose works I’ve got a soft spot for. He’s an Indie horror writer, and a fellow Bradfordian, and while his work can be a little rough around the edges, it makes up for that with its sheer exuberant delight in macabre horror. So, I feel he deserves an honourable mention.

nyxjpg3Did you celebrate Halloween as a child?

In a half-hearted way, I guess we did. But when I was a kid it wasn’t really celebrated the way it is today. Well, at least it wasn’t where I grew up. Halloween was overshadowed by Guy Fawkes Night, so that’s where most of our effort went. Penny for a Guy, that kind of thing, and then burning the effigy on the bonfire. Halloween has become much more celebrated in recent years, though. I guess after a few centuries of burning poor Guy, it gets a little samey.

Halloween candy, yay or nay?

Sweets are always good, whatever the time of year. Although I don’t think my dentist will agree.

If you had to pick, would you rather be a vampire or a werewolf?

Hmm, tough choice. Suave, cultured, elegance with a touch of dangerous sophistication, and a serious need for industrial-grade sunblock, or a great big walking carpet with anger management issues… No contest. I’m a vampire. No, wait, put that stake away – I mean I’m not actually a vampire…

Thank you for answering my questions!

Thank you for asking the questions! :-)

The Giveaway

To enter the giveaway, simply fill in the Rafflecopter below.
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Nyx at Night: Night Has Fallen

nyxjpg3It’s here…

Hello ladies and gentlemen, half-demons and fallen angels, witches, warlocks, wizards and anything were. Creatures of the night, rejoice!

Welcome to Nyx at Night, the two weeks before Halloween wherein Nyx Book Reviews turns really dark. We have ghost stories, scary book and movie reviews, features and a whole army of giveaways.

Whereas posts on Nyx Book Reviews usually get posted in the mornings, during Nyx at Night the posting schedule is shifted to the evenings. Every evening at nine o’clock, when darkness has fall in the Netherlands, you can expect a new post of horror-y goodness.

This is the main post for the event, where I will link up the posts every day. It also has the schedule, although some of these dates might be subject to change (:

Schedule

Tuesday 21st
Interview + Giveaway: Mark Cantrell (Silas Morlock)

Wednesday 22nd
Horror by the Master of Horror – The Scariest Stephen King Books
Maniac Movie Discussion

Thursday 23rd
Review: Asylum by Madeleine Roux

Friday 24th
A Cauldron of Witches – Some Hexingly Good Reads

Saturday 25th
A Ghost Story from Rin Chupeco (+Giveaway)

Sunday 26th
Thrills and Chills for the Younger Reader

Monday 27th
On Eternal Love by Isis Sousa (+Giveaway)

Tuesday 28th
Review: Eye Spy by Tahir Shah

Wednesday 29th
Amityville Movie Discussion

Thursday 30th
Interview + Giveaway: Chase Novak (Brood)

Friday 31st
End of the Line Post

Main Giveaway

For the duration the event, these two giveaways will stay open. You can earn extra entries by spreading the word about Nyx at Night. The first giveaway is graciously donated by JoFletcher books and is only open for European residents. The second giveaway is open internationally, as long as The Book Depository ships to your address. To enter to win, fill in the Rafflecopter.

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The Sunday Post #5

Sunday PostThe Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted by Kimba from The Caffeinated Book Reviewer.

2014-10-05 12.58.43Another week filled with studying! Looking through the syllabi, I’ve noticed the semester is nearing its end, which also means that my thesis is coming ever closer.

I’ve been brainstorming thesis ideas but it’s just SO HARD to pick one idea and work with that. I’ve considered everything from analysing A Series of Unfortunate Events from an essentialist perspective to the influence of West-European literature on Turgenev. I also still need to ask a teacher to be my supervisor. I’m keeping my fingers crossed my first choice will say yes.

This week on Nyx Book Reviews

Last week I announced the return of the discussion post – well, I’m taking the next step. One full month of nothing but discussion posts and original features. No memes, no reviews. It’ll be Blog Detox November! I’m very excited for it. I’m also very excited for Nyx at Night. So close, you guys. So close…

This week on Irresponsible Cactus

Nothing! Oh well.

Read this week

postI see a certain… theme in my reads. All of them dark horror-ish reads! I read almost all of these at the beginning of the week, since the rest of the week I’ve been reading the giant brick that is Outlander.

How was your week?

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Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon

Good morning! In just two hours, the one and only Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon starts. During this readathon readers try to read as much as possible of those 24 hours, while dedicated cheerleaders cheer them on. It’s a fun challenge, and every time hundreds of readers from all over the world participate.

Because my boyfriend is staying over, I probably can’t read for the entire day, but I’ll try for at least six hours. I will update my progress on Twitter, so if you’re interested, go look over there!

I choose two short reads to read today, one for school and one for fun. The book for school is a book with plays by Sartre; I’ve already read the two shorter plays in the bundle, and quite enjoyed them. The other book is We Were Liars, one of my Epic Recs reads for this months.

readathonHappy reading everyone!

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Review: The Midnight Queen by Sylvia Izzo Hunter

Title: The Midnight Queen
Author: Sylvia Izzo Hunter
Series: A Noctis Magicae Novel
Rating: 4 Stars

432 pages
Published September 2nd 2014 by Ace Trade
Bought

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

In an age of instant gratification, a scrambling rush for “fast-paced” and “nail-biting” reads, The Midnight Queen is a breath of fresh air, recalling books as they used to be – stories to be savoured.

Grey is asked by his fellow Merlin college students on a strange mission. It goes out of hand, leading to the death of one of his friends, and Grey tumbles head first into a conspiracy that is much bigger than he could ever imagine.

The Midnight Queen is a story that follows characters rather than a plot. It reminded me of a sort of mash-up between Jane Austen and Harry Potter – on one hand we have the sweet unfurling of a romance, and on the other we have a magic college set in some sort of alternate history. The writing has put off a lot of readers, but I thought it quite beautiful. The story isn’t to be rushed, and neither are the sentences themselves.

Beautiful, Callender Hall’s gardens might be, but after only half a day he had already conceived a passionate hatred of them, and of flowering shrubs in particular. What was he doing in this distant corner of the kingdom, so far from all he knew? Why condemned to this sweaty, thirsty, apparently pointless labout?

Also reminiscent of archaic books, The Midnight Queen uses the descriptive type of chapter titles, like Chapter II: In Which a Prediction of Sophie’s Comes True, and Sophie and Gray Discuss Magick. The chapter titles were very well done, raising just the smallest amount of suspicion of what is about to come, without spoiling any of the fun. You can safely read through all of the chapter names before starting the novel.

The Midnight Queen is the sort of book I love, but don’t nearly read enough. It provides a world that can enfold you like a warm blanket. For a debut novel I found this to be very impressive – even accomplished novelists don’t always manage to build a world from scratch, inhabited by genuine characters, with specific mannerisms and constructed through and through, a world that feels like it lives on even when you close the book. Although there might be more books set in the same world, The Midnight Queen stands on its own exceptionally well.

If you enjoy the writing style in classics, The Midnight Queen might be for you. Its world is a mix of historical, feint magical, and mythological elements, and instead of writing historical through a 21st-century lens, the language fits the time period. The Midnight Queen is a long journey through mistaken identities, conspiracies, and finding the limitations of magic capabilities, and a journey that was highly satisfying in the end.

Blurb

In the hallowed halls of Oxford’s Merlin College, the most talented—and highest born—sons of the Kingdom of Britain are taught the intricacies of magickal theory. But what dazzles can also destroy, as Gray Marshall is about to discover…

Gray’s deep talent for magick has won him a place at Merlin College. But when he accompanies four fellow students on a mysterious midnight errand that ends in disaster and death, he is sent away in disgrace—and without a trace of his power. He must spend the summer under the watchful eye of his domineering professor, Appius Callender, working in the gardens of Callender’s country estate and hoping to recover his abilities. And it is there, toiling away on a summer afternoon, that he meets the professor’s daughter.

Even though she has no talent of her own, Sophie Callender longs to be educated in the lore of magick. Her father has kept her isolated at the estate and forbidden her interest; everyone knows that teaching arcane magickal theory to women is the height of impropriety. But against her father’s wishes, Sophie has studied his ancient volumes on the subject. And in the tall, stammering, yet oddly charming Gray, she finally finds someone who encourages her interest and awakens new ideas and feelings.

Sophie and Gray’s meeting touches off a series of events that begins to unravel secrets about each of them. And after the king’s closest advisor pays the professor a closed-door visit, they begin to wonder if what Gray witnessed in Oxford might be even more sinister than it seemed. They are determined to find out, no matter the cost…

Other reviews you might be interested in

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Blog Detox November

detoxA little while ago I was scrolling through my blog posts and they all felt so… uninspired. It was just reviews, some event posts or interviews, and then memes to recap the reviews and other posts. I wondered what my blog looked like without any reviews or memes – and came up with a challenge for myself.

During the month of November I will not post any reviews or memes*

* Unless I overlooked a previously accepted engagement, in which case there will be one review for that book.

But the challenge stands – no hiding behind those posts that I have done for years. When you take away my comfort blanket, what will my blog look like? Will there be tumbleweeds and awkward apology posts about how hard it all is? Or will something amazing happen and I’ll find new inspiration to blog about? Also interesting, what will my readers think?

I decided not to completely ban events, so I will still post for Sci-fi Month. However, there will be no sign up posts or readathon posts, as I’m counting these as filler. I’m looking for the meat of blogging, the essence of me sharing my thoughts with you guys, and sign up posts don’t fit with that picture.

Have you ever done anything like this? Would you try it?

PS. In case anyone got offended – the 100% blogging thing is a joke. Reviews and memes are blogging too. There is no right or wrong way to blog :D

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