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Often, us horror fans love to dabble in the horrors of real life. That’s right. I’m talking true crime. When I stumbled across this book bringing together 27 murder houses, I knew I had to read it.

The book is set up as such – Lehto explores each murder case, giving the reader background into the killings as well as the victims and murderers (if there is one!). After giving the reportage on the murder, he gives us some information about the house, or place, the murder took place in. All of the houses have their addresses listed, including any address changes since the murder. Lehto does a great job of updating the reader on each house’s history of sales and ownership. Many of the homes mentioned in the book are now privately owned, but some are museums or host tours.

I have seen many reviews trashing Lehto for his “basic” writing style. True crime can only ever be such when the writing is more reportage than emotional and opinion based. I believe Lehto’s writing style is perfect for the narrative he is trying to create in this text.

  • Title of the infamous home
  • Year the murder(s) took place
  • Address of the home
  • Background into the murder details, including information about the killer(s) and victim(s)
  • Updates as to the houses’ statistics, including size and layout, ownership history, and current visiting capacities

There is no room for emotion in this layout for each house exploration that Lehto has presented. With a writing style other than reporting, this book would quickly become speculative and filled with rumors. True crime must remain facts only and critics of this novel are asking for the opposite.

One of my favorite features in this book is the middle insert that includes photos of the houses described in the text. It is spectacular to read each house’s history and then turn to view the house.

This book covers cases from the insanely famous (The Lizzie Borden House, the Helter Skelter Houses, and the JonBenet Ramsey home) to more lesser known houses and the cases surrounding them. The “Hex House” in Stewartstown, Pennsylvania proved to be one of favorites throughout the collection.

It is obvious that Lehto did a great deal of research and information compilation for this collection and those of us who love real life horror and its details are sure to enjoy the effort that went into this publication.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

Sarah Moon is a stone-cold sorceress from Tennessee whose interests include serial killers, horror fiction, and the newest dystopian blockbuster. Sarah holds an M.A. in English Literature and an M.F.A. in Fiction Writing. She works as an English professor as well as a cemeterian. Sarah is most likely to cover horror in print including prose, poetry, and graphic forms. You can find her on Instagram @wellreadredhead18.

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Book Reviews

“The Writing Retreat” Gone Bad: Julia Bartz’s Debut

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Keeping it all in the family, Julia Bartz’s The Writing Retreat is the debut novel of the sister of Andrea Bartz, author of We Were Never Here, which I reviewed here.

I was much more impressed with The Writing Retreat than I was We Were Never Here.

The Plot

Five up and coming female writers under 30 are invited to a writing retreat hosted by the reclusive and acclaimed horror writer Rosa Vallo. Rosa reveals the details of the retreat: each writer must complete a full length novel from scratch over the next month. The best novel wins a multi-million dollar publishing deal with Rosa.

Suddenly, the retreat turns into a nightmare when one writer goes missing in the snowy terrain outside.

The novel hinges on friendships in turmoil and has a focus on LGBT+ representation as well as interpersonal female relationships. The novel explores the dark publishing world and the search for fame and the Great American Novel.

The Verdict

This novel is atmospheric and intellectual, page turning, and the English major’s required reading. I absorbed this novel and found Julia Bartz’s writing and conceptual chops to be leagues above her sister’s.

Ths novel releases on February 21, 2023 and it should be in your cart right now.

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Buy it here!

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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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