American Monsters

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Please note that this review may contain spoilers for earlier instalments of this series. You can read my reviews for these novels [here] and [here].

American Monsters was written by Derek Landy and first published in 2016. It follows the continuing adventures of Amber and Milo as they try to find a way to finally stop Amber’s twisted parents. The book forms the final instalment of The Demon Road Trilogy, and is preceded by Demon Road (2015) and Desolation (2016). I’d strongly advise that you read the books in sequence if you want to have any idea of what’s going on.

Amber is struggling to come to terms with her new role as the Shining Demon’s representative on Earth. She’s stronger than ever, her demonic side fuelled by vials of her benefactor’s blood, but using these is starting to come at the cost of her sanity. And then there are the things she must do – things that enable serial killers to go on killing. She knows that she needs to find a way to break her contract before she completely loses her soul.

And then there is the problem of her parents. Bill and Betty are still on the run and know that they’re living on borrowed time. When Amber finally catches up with them, they cut a deal. They know that they won’t live long while the Shining Demon is still in power. They want Amber to deliver the monster to them so that they can devour him and take his place. If Amber can do that, they promise that they’ll leave her alone to live her life.

Amber knows that her parents can’t be trusted, but there is one small problem. They’ve taken Kelly hostage and will kill her if Amber doesn’t deliver the goods within six days. With Kelly’s life on the line, Amber and Milo have no choice but to hit the road to find chains powerful enough to bind a Lord of Hell. However on the way they will encounter many old friends and enemies and, now that it’s known that Amber is the Shining Demon’s lapdog, it’s difficult to know who they can trust…

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown was written by Holly Black and first published in 2013. It is a dark fantasy story, set in a world where a vampire plague has swept America. The novel is loosely based around one of Black’s short stories, and the original can be found in the collection The Poison Eaters and Other Stories. However, this story is intended to stand alone and so you don’t have to have read any of her other work to fully appreciate it.

The world changed rapidly after the existence of vampires was revealed. While they had previously kept to themselves, a rogue vampire went out of his way to spread their sickness across the globe. Bitten humans quickly became Cold, rapidly gaining an uncontrollable desire for human flesh. If they managed to consume this, they then transformed into a true vampire. In a bid to contain the infection, the American government created the Coldtowns – quarantined areas where both vampires and Colds could live without fear of being hunted.

Tana is in trouble. She woke up after a party to find that all her friends were dead. While trying to find a way to escape without waking the vampires who feasted on them, she came across a strange scene. Her Cold ex-boyfriend, Aidan, and a strange vampire both chained in one of the bedrooms. Unable to leave them to the mercy of the killers, she tries to rescue both. However, during this escape, she is grazed by a vampire’s fangs. Realising that she may now be infected, Tana drives towards the nearest Coldtown. She knows that she has no choice if she wants to keep her family safe.

Tana just wants to find a place to sweat off her infection, but Coldtown is not as safe or glamorous as the internet feeds make it appear. Most of the population are humans who have thrown away their freedom for a chance at immortality. If these people realise that Tana and Aidan are Cold, they would do anything to force them to complete their transformations. Added is the complication that Gavriel – the vampire she saved – has a history with the most popular superstar of Coldtown. If Tana wishes to survive, she may need to become a monster…

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The Dark Days Club

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The Dark Days Club was written by Alison Goodman and first published in 2015. It’s a dark fantasy story set in England’s Regency Era, focusing on a young lady finding out about the existence of a demon-hunting secret society. The novel forms the first part of the Lady Helen series and is followed by The Dark Days Pact (2017). The final instalment of the trilogy has yet to be announced.

Lady Helen Wrexhall has just reached eighteen years of age and is finally old enough to make her debut in society, attending balls and soirées to make a good impression on any potential husbands. Although she carries the stain of her family name, her uncle is convinced that the inheritance left to her by her disgraced mother will be enough to attract a suitable match.

However, the first man that seems to be interested in Helen is the infamous Lord Carlston – a man suspected of murdering his previous wife. Helen’s uncle is not impressed that Carlson – a distant relation of his – is trying to use their name to catapult himself back into high society. However, Helen soon learns that Carlston is not interested in her as a match. He is a Reclaimer – a member of a secret society called the Dark Days Club – and he believes that Helen is one as well.

Through secret meetings with Carlston, Helen learns all about his organisation, the horrible monsters that they fight and their sacred duty to protect humanity. However, the more that Helen sees of their world, the more certain she is that she doesn’t want anything to do with them. Yet Carlston is certain that a powerful creature known as a Grand Deceiver is on the rise. How could Helen be able to deny her calling when she could be the only one capable of stopping it?

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The Diviners

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The Diviners was written by Libba Bray and first published in 2012. It’s a paranormal novel set in the Roaring Twenties, which focuses on a flapper discovering her psychic powers as she faces a supernatural murder. The novel forms the first part of a series and is followed by Lair of Dreams (2015), though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Evie O’Neill has caused her parents trouble from the last time. Her “party trick” of divining a person’s darkest secrets from a personal item has led to nothing but trouble in her hometown and so her parents decide to ship her off to stay with her uncle in New York City. Although her uncle runs the boring Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult (known to locals as the Museum of Creepy Crawlies), Evie is still thrilled. She can’t wait to meet up with her childhood friend, Mabel, and take the town by storm.

However, she soon discovers that a great evil has gripped the city. People are being found ritually murdered, missing body parts and branded with occultist symbols. The police are baffled and turn to Will for advise. When Evie comes into contact with an item belonging to one of the victims, she has a vivid vision of the murder taking place. She realises that she could use her power to help catch the killer, but how can she find a way to do so without making her superstitious uncle suspicious?

Meanwhile, something strange is happening all across America. Individuals with powers that are similar to Evie’s are finding themselves drawn to New York without even being aware of why. In Harlem, a young seer begins to prophesise a coming storm. Its clear that these Diviners are being drawn by some power far great than themselves, but what can it mean and how can they be expected to face it?

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The Name of the Star

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The Name of the Star was written by Maureen Johnson and first published in 2011. It’s a paranormal fantasy story which focuses on a teenage girl who is drawn into a supernatural murder investigation. The novel forms the first part of the Shades of London series and is followed by The Madness Underneath (2013) and The Shadow Cabinet (2015), as well as a prequel novella titled The Boy in the Smoke which was published for World Book Day 2014.

Sixteen-year-old Aurora “Rory” Deveaux is thrilled to be leaving Louisiana to study at a real London boarding school. It’s always been her dream to visit England and she can’t wait to get stuck into her new life. However, she arrives in the city at a terrible time. A brutal murderer has just struck, replicating Jack the Ripper’s first murder to the tiniest detail, and London is rife with gossip as people wait to see if he will kill again.

Although her new friend Jerome is fascinated by the case, Rory is more interested in focusing on her difficult classes and overcoming her culture shock. However, this proves impossible when the Ripper strikes on the school grounds. To make it worse, Rory might well be the only witness to a crime. She had thought it odd to have seen a strange man in the square but the weirdest thing was that her roommate, Jazza, claimed not to have seen anyone.

Following this encounter, Rory’s life just gets weirder and weirder as she continues to see people that no one else can. When she is approached by a strange young policeman who seems to want to help her, she starts to realise that nothing is as it seems. She has abilities that might just be able to catch the Ripper. But who will be his next target, and how do you stop someone that isn’t exactly human?

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Five Nights At Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes

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Five Nights At Freddy’s: The Silver Eyes was written by Scott Cawthon and Kira Breed-Wrisley and first published in 2015. It’s a horror story set in an abandoned family restaurant and is loosely based around the video game franchise of the same name. The novel stands alone and at the time of writing no sequel has been announced.

Charlie didn’t have a happy childhood. Her mother left, her father committed suicide and, most horrifying of all, one of her closest friends disappeared without a trace. Michael was believed to have been snatched while eating at Freddy Fazbear’s Pizza – a popular local restaurant – yet no trace of him was ever found.

Ten years later, Charlie and her friends return to the town of Hurricane for a memorial service for Michael. Reminiscing about the past, the group of teens decide to take a look for the old pizzeria. When they arrive, they’re disappointed to find that a mall has been built in its place and immediately abandoned. Yet as they explore, they make a shocking discovery. Freddy’s is still there, bricked into the wall of the mall but still entirely as they remember it. Even the animatronic mascots that it was known for seem to be in full working order.

The group return on subsequent nights to explore the abandoned restaurant, but as they do so things start to grow increasingly weird. Electronics malfunction, pictures seem to move and the robots begin to behave erratically. When one of the teens disappears, apparently dragged away by a mascot, the rest search frantically for him. What they discover sheds light on what happened to Michael all those years before…

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Scythe

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Scythe was written by Neal Shusterman and first published in 2016. It’s a science fiction novel with horror elements that is set in a world where humans have conquered death and old age. The book forms the first part of a planned series, though at the time of writing no future instalments have been announced.

There is no one alive who remembers the Age of Mortality – the time when the world was dangerous and the tiniest slip could result in death. People now have the power to live forever, resetting back as far as their early twenties whenever they felt the touch of old age. However, death is required in order to keep down the population. The service is performed by the Scythes – an order of men and women who are permitted to “glean” the chosen – taking their life for the good of all.

When there becomes a need for more Scythes to be ordained, Honourable Scythe Faraday takes it upon himself to train two apprentices – Citra and Rowan. Both of the teenagers are taken from different walks of life and neither is keen to don the cloak and ring of Scythe. Yet this is for the best. Faraday believes that a good Scythe is one that does not want to burden. A Scythe that enjoys killing is nothing more than a mmurderer.

Yet taking on two apprentices is unheard of and not all of Faraday’s colleagues are impressed. It is decided that only one of his students is to become a Scythe and their first task will be to glean the loser. Citra and Rowan began their apprenticeship as allies but soon find themselves as rivals, torn between their friendship and desire to survive…

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Dew from a Dark Mourning

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Dew from a Dark Mourning was written by Brenda McGee Holdsworth and first published in 2012. It is a Christian horror story which focuses on a group of teenagers who are targeted by a faceless entity. The novel stands alone, so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

Jessica is fifteen years old and wants to fit in with her friends. They’re all good teenagers but there is only one problem. None of them are Christian like she is and Jessica is worried that they won’t take her seriously if the find out. She is also nervous about whether her boyfriend, Maurice, is really into her. All her friends seem to be in close relationships with their partners, yet Maurice hasn’t even held hands with her.

However, Jessica’s worries turn out to be very small when she and her friends are stalked by a strange creature. The sinister being takes the form of a man but its face is oddly blurry and indistinct. When the being causes their car to crash on the way to the beach, Jessica awakes to find herself trapped in a shadowy world. The creature plans to take more than just her life and Jessica and her friends soon find themselves battling a monster with the power to turn their fears and insecurities against them.

Yet the being isn’t content in tormenting Jessica alone. It soon turns its sights on her family and other members of her community. Their enemy isn’t the kind that can be defeated by brute force, but is their faith enough to save them?

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Strange Star

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Strange Star was written by Emma Carroll and first published in 2016. It is middle grade novel which presents a fantastical account of how Mary Shelley found the inspiration to write Frankenstein. The novel stands alone and so you don’t have to have read any of the author’s earlier work to fully appreciate it.

June, 1816. The year that a bright new star appears in the sky, drawing a long tail behind it. Lord Byron invites four esteemed guests to Villa Diodati on the shore of Lake Geneva for an evening of ghost stories to chill the blood. For his young servant, Felix, it is an exciting night. Not only is it a good time to prove he is worthy of being Byron’s footman but he can also listen to tales told by some of the greatest thinkers in England.

Yet as darkness falls and a storm begins, there comes a frantic knocking at the door. Felix reluctantly answers it to find the body of a girl on the doorstep. Although Dr Polidori declares her dead, Mary Shelley is not prepared to give up on her. Through sheer force of will she manages to revive the girl, and the girl immediately accuses her of having kidnapped her younger sister. Horrified at the accusation, Mary denies any wrong doing, but the girl has a terrible story to tell.

As Felix and Mary listen, the girl – named Lizzie – tells a terrifying story of her own. One that began the previous winter in a small English village. It is a tale of freak storms and stolen livestock. Impossible science and the possibility of curing death itself. Although Mary is not sure if she believes Lizzie, her story is truly more terrible than anything that the writers could have dreamed of.

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Labyrinth Lost

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Labyrinth Lost was written by Zoraida Córdova and first published in 2016. It is a fantasy novel about a teenage bruja who is forced to travel across a hostile spirit world to save her kidnapped family. The story forms the first part of the Brooklyn Brujas series, though at the time of writing no further instalments have been announced.

Alex has grown up hating her family’s magic ever since an encounter with her Aunt’s reanimated corpse. Although her sisters – Lula and Rose – take pride in their abilities, Alex wants nothing more than to be normal. However, Lula is certain that her sister’s power is just being blocked and will try anything to get it to surface. What she doesn’t know is that Alex has been hiding a power so terrible that it scares her. She has kept her magic a secret for years, praying that it will go away.

After an incident at school, her secret is revealed. Naturally, her family is thrilled. She is an Encantrix – the rarest and most powerful of brujas – and her mother rushes to arrange Alex’s Deathday to call upon their ancestors to bless her powers. With no one listening to her fears, Alex finds herself confiding in a young brujo named Nova. Nova reveals to her that there is a way to ask the gods to remove a bruja’s power and Alex sets about obtaining the items to sabotage her Deathday. However, that’s when things start to go wrong.

As her spell backfires, she summons a terrifying apparition who drags her entire family into Los Lagos, the place where spirits wait after death. Alex learns that the being – known as the Devourer – will only hold on to her family until the next eclipse and then will feed on their souls. With Nova at her side, she travels to Los Lagos to rescue them. But Los Lagos is a world of hidden dangers, especially for one as powerful and untrained as Alex…

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