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If you want to talk to ghosts, you have to summon Mr. Splitfoot. Who is Mr. Splitfoot, you might ask? Well, I’m obviously not going to tell you that. You’ll just have to find out for yourself.  

Samantha Hunt’s Mr. Splitfoot is a ghost story filled with mediums, cult leaders, terrifying men and a boatload of tragedy. Seventeen-year-olds Ruth and Nat met when they were five at Love of Christ!, a foster home led by the abysmal and prejudiced Father and the Mother. Ruth and Nat have the closest relationship imaginable; they call each other sisters and sleep head-to-toe in the same bed every night. They also have a habit of talking to ghosts. 

A generation later, we meet Ruth’s niece Cora. In a desperate and sporadic decision, she joins Ruth on a journey across New York. The only problem? Ruth doesn’t talk and Cora has no idea where the hell they’re going. 

A Gothic Delight

“Shall

Shall I

Shall I come

Shall I come back

Shall I come back again?” 

-Samantha Hunt, Mr. Splitfoot page 29

Hunt has a knack for writing strange, compassionate and witty tales. Not unlike her other works The Seas and The Dark Dark: StoriesMr. Splitfoot’s strangely wonderful characters are both nuanced and a thrill to read. What I found most refreshing is how unique the cult leaders are in this book. There are so, so many fictional white Manson-type desert hippies. And while I understand this is an archetype for a reason, I am tired of reading such cookie-cutter characters. That is why I appreciate how Samantha Hunt gives us people like the Father and the Mother and the charismatic Mardellion. They are original, while also reminiscent of and just as sadistic as real life leaders Marshall Applewhite and Warren Jeffs. Hunts’ fiction illustrates the vastness of religion and belief, with a concentration on just how deep it can pull any person in.

Verdict

I loved reading this book. My main criticisms are the “all foster homes are bad” stereotype present throughout the story, along with some off-putting, micro-aggressive character descriptions. Now, I know the latter are the characters’ points of view and these comments are how they view the world. Still – and I understand that this is probably more of a me-problem – they bother me and I just can’t seem to shake them off. Additionally, there are a few continuity errors in the dialogue. However, the errors are slight enough that they don’t take away from the overall quality. 

Mr. Splitfoot is a delightful and tragic read. The prose is poetic, the characters are enthralling and the buildup to the twist is so satisfying to experience. As Charlotte Brontë’s review from the grave states, this contemporary gothic is just “what people want”.  

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Kristin Cleaves

    May 16, 2020 at 2:39 pm

    I’ll have to check this one out!

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Book Reviews

A Murder in Reverse: “Wrong Place Wrong Time”

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The Plot

“A brilliantly genre-bending, mind-twisting answer to the question How far would you go to save your child?”  — Ruth Ware, #1 New York Times bestselling author

Jen watches her son murder a stranger. Stab him to death. She and her husband, Kelly, watch as their son Todd is taken into custody.

The next morning, Jen wakes up and it’s yesterday. Jen knows that at the end of the night, her son kills someone. She is determined to stop it.

Jen goes further and further back in time trying to discover why Todd murdered a stranger and how to stop it.

The Verdict

This book is twisty. Right when you think you know the ending, something else is there to prove that the story is more multifaceted than that. While the premise of the novel is simple, Gillian McAllister elevates a simple concept with deep, dark twists.

It is best that you don’t know too much going into this one. For fans of Blake Crouch, this is such a good thriller with time travelling vibes.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Woom: An Extreme Horror Novel

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“That doesn’t invalidate it,” Angel said. “There’s no statute of limitations on pain.”

The Plot

Angel is a man who knows pain: physical, mental, sexual. The story begins with Angel visiting Room 6 at the Lonely Motel and ordering a plus-size sex worker to his room. What comes next is Angel’s retellings of painful stories while performing sexual acts on the sex worker, Shyla.

The novel reads as a book of short stories, as Angel relays stories to Shyla and she tells him stories back. This is a novel of pain and disgust. Angel’s stories are so dark and traumatic that Shyla can’t believe they are true. As Angel bares his soul, we see a side of him that is melancholy and unable to process hurt in a natural way.

The Verdict

This novel is full of disgusting visuals and isn’t afraid to get dirty. This truly is an extreme horror novel. As a warning, there is discussion of feces, blood, rape, sex, and body horror. This novel is not for the faint of heart. You’ll close this short novel feeling dirty. Angel is a character that begs for sympathy while his stories narrate that he may not be as innocent as he perceives.

When the subtitle says this novel is extreme horror, believe it. Only the strong will survive Duncan Ralston’s Woom. It is more splatterpunk than anything, but true literary quality lies beneath the filth.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Read it yourself by clicking below!

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Book Reviews

Did She Do It? Stacy Willingham’s “All the Dangerous Things” Asks Us Just This

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One year ago, Isabelle’s life crumbled when her baby was abducted from her home. Her marriage to her husband, Ben, is destroyed as they try to navigate the fallout.

The Plot

Even one year after the abduction, Isabelle seeks answers. She is still doing appearances at true crime expos to get information on the attendees, thinking the abductor will be there one day. Abductors usually revisit their crime and Isabelle swaps her appearances for the event guest list, never taking any money for her talks.

Some think that Isabelle killed her own baby as evidence from the case says the perpetrator came from inside the house. Isabelle hasn’t slept – not fully – since Mason was abducted. Her therapist is worried that she may be having hallucinations. Is Isabelle the killer or is she on a quest for true justice?

The Verdict

I absolutely loved the complication of not knowing whether Isabelle was a reliable or unreliable narrator. This was my favorite aspect of the novel. It made me question everything that Isabelle had to say and the actions she executed.

Isabelle is a character that, as a mother, I really felt for. I wanted to believe that Isabelle was innocent, but I was hanging on the edge of my seat waiting to find out. Stacy Willingham is the master of a story that winds all around, waiting for you to find the truth.

If you are interested in reading Willingham’s first novel, A Flicker in the Dark, check out my review here.

4.5 out of 5 stars (4.5 / 5)

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