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Well folks, it’s July: we’re now halfway through this year. These past few days I’ve been reminiscing through some old travel photos (peep my old friends from the Sedlec Ossuary above). Since traveling is a bit out of the question right now – at least for us living here in the United States – I decided reading is the second closest thing to it. I now present you with a list of summer recommendations to read the hot days away. These ten books are just a few of my scary favorites.

The Between by Tananarive Due

“Hilton was seven when his grandmother died, and it was a bad time. But it was worse when she died again.”The Between pg. 1

If you’re not reading Tananarive Due, you need to get on it. The Between is her debut novel, and an astounding one at that. She has been and continues to be a pivotal voice in horror, using it to scrutinize and condemn racism and oppression that often dwell in the genre. In the Between, we follow Hilton, a thirty year old man haunted by death, nightmares and unnatural realities. When his wife, Dede, receives racist threatening letters from a man she once prosecuted, Hilton makes it his mission to find the man terrorizing his family. But what if the truth is not even from this world?

Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enriquez

There is a lot of South American horror we need to keep our eyes on, and Things We Lost in the Fire is one of them. Translated in English by Megan McDowell, Mariana Enriquez takes us to Argentina with eerie stories of black magic, ghosts, history, violence and political deceit. This short story collection, infused with different aspects of horror from cosmic and gory to gothic and psychological, is a force to be reckoned with.

The Farm by Joanne Ramos

The Farm is dystopian thriller about race, families and capitalistic control. The story takes place in a fictional facility called Golden Oaks, aka “the Farm,” where women live as surrogates for wealthy clients. Once the women enter the facility, they belong to the Farm and all their autonomy is gone. The novel follows four women in the facility, and Ramos details their experiences in suspenseful and jarring prose.

Poso Wells by Gabriela Alemán

This is a fast-paced feminist eco-thriller. Women in Poso Wells continue to disappear. But the political leaders of the settlement couldn’t care less; their only concern is the upcoming election. When the leading presidential candidate and his posse are electrocuted, dark mysteries and secrets unveil an even more horrifying reality. Translated from Spanish to English in 2018, this book uses elements of horror, sci-fi and humor to tell a tale just as relevant now as it was when Alemán wrote it in 2007.

Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s edited by Kier-La Janisse and Paul Corupe

The Satanic Panic, one of the world’s many moral panics, was a tumultuous time that impacted much of the English speaking world. While parents feared D&D and heavy metal, lies and misinformation ruined the lives of countless people, including young adults (e.g. the West Memphis Three) and teachers. Satanic Panic: Pop-Cultural Paranoia in the 1980s is a collection of visual and written accounts from various people who experienced this unforgettable era. Photographs and essays of horror movies, Christian comics, board games and religion are just the cusp of this extensive anthology.

Monstress by Marjorie Liu and Sara Takeda

Monstress is a beautifully illustrated steam punk horror-fantasy comic series. There are currently five volumes, but here’s a simplified plot: Set in 1900’s Asia, Maika struggles with the trauma of war while fighting to control her psychic link to a powerful monster. The story is filled with an array of magical creatures, demons, humanoid wolves and talking cats with big personalties. There is so much to love about this dark and inventive comic. I couldn’t put it down.

Preacher (Complete Collection) by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon

The entire Preacher series is difficult to describe in only one paragraph, so I’m going to do it in two. In short, the story is about preacher Jesse Custer, Tulip O’Hare and Irish vampire Cassidy, all on a mission to literally find God and ask him, “Hey God! What’s the big idea? Why’d you dip out when a demon and angel procreated a creature named Genesis? The world is kind of a crapshoot right now, man. Thanks for nothing, you piece of shit.” (Okay not verbatim but you get the idea.) But that’s only the big, vague picture. Preacher is encapsulated with fantastical story arcs and virtually everything you could ever want in a comic book series: sibling cannibals, Arseface, serial killers, political Vatican cults, Jesus on a bicycle.

Now, how you feel about religion may impact how you feel about Preacher. From a religious perspective, the best way to describe the series would be “blasphemous.” If you’re like me, blasphemy might be one of the reasons you love it (where are all my lapsed Catholics at?). Preacher is by no means a perfect comic – at least by my standards – as there are some themes and moments that are… problematic. But then there are many times where the series was well ahead of its time, sometimes even a little progressive given that it was published from 1995 to 2000. But my most favorite part of all is the art. Even when the dialogue goes a bit on an endless tangent, Dillon’s illustrations always make up for it. They are detailed, colorful, exciting and wonderfully disgusting. Preacher is just so damn fun to read, and reread, and rereread… I recommend you join the fun.

Get in Trouble by Kelly Link

Get in Trouble is another fantastical short story collection by Kelly Link. In this collection, she creates magnificent worlds filled with ghost boyfriends, demon lovers, pocket universes and microchipped teenagers. While every story is a standout, my favorite is “I Can See Right Through You,” a story filled with Ouija boards, movie stars and murder. Exhilarating and spooky, Get in Trouble is unforgettable.

Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado

Machado shows just how incredible of a writer she is in her 2017 debut. Her Body and Other Parties is the winner of both the Shirley Jackson Award and National Book Award. The collection consists of eight stories, each encapsulating elements of body horror, magical realism, apocalypses and science fiction. In haunting prose, Machado illuminates the outlandish, yet very authentic, realities that strike women’s lives and their bodies.

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes

Shining Girls is the story of a time traveling serial killer named Harper Curtis. When Curtis finds a House in 1930’s Chicago, he travels through centuries to destroy the lives of shining girls. With limitless ability to escape the scenes of his crimes, he’s never been caught. But when one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, escapes, it’s now Harper’s turn to fear for his life.

Beukes has a knack for writing serial killers. Shining Girls is a genre bending exploration of fantastic histories and a condemnation of violence against women.

Happy reading!

What are you reading this summer?

Tell us in the comments, we want to know! And while you’re at it, make sure to check out more of what we’re reading here at Haunted MTL.

*Cover photo and final photo taken by CourtCourt, May 2019.

*Book photos screenshot from Goodreads


CourtCourt is a writer, horror enthusiast, and may or may not be your favorite human-eating houseplant.

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Book Reviews

Beyond the Witching Hour: a review of J. Pagaduan’s Tales from 3 AM



J. Pagaduan’s Tales from 3 AM is a collection of wonderfully witchy wisdom and wit that touches on eerie energies, fairy fickleness, and supernatural spirits. Building on very human concerns about life, love, and death, the subjects of these twenty-two haunting tales find themselves in a myriad of mayhems, beffudled by unseen and inscrutible magics all around them. Lured by fae, ghosts, mermaids, and other mysterious presences, we journey with the protagonists as they wade through doubt, grief, and uncertainty. Recurring themes of death and drowning take special roles in this collection, speaking to the overwhelm of longing and love, internal, external, and even otherworldly.

The Humanity

For a book prominently featuring supernatural sentimentality, Tales from 3 AM expresses worldly triumphs and tribulations in very human ways. The mystical meanderings serve to provide a more intimate glimpse into our own nature. The focus is actually on us, not the unknown, which comes and goes to offer glimpses of our true being. The supernatural makes manifest our yearning, to be with our loved ones who have passed, to find peace, to belong… It casts both light and darkness on our utmost desires, good and bad.

The Flip Side

Many of these Tales from 3 AM drift into and out of being, without clear beginning or ending points, as if you’ve only stepped into the scene long enough for a brief glimpse into a larger situation. The spirit realm can only provide so much insight before releasing you to the world once again. I personally like the fluidity of this writing style, because it doesn’t feel so contrived as when a story just falls out in a neat bundled package, but if you are a reader who wants more clearly defined circumstances then you may feel unfulfilled, as many of these musings end rather abruptly.

I give this book 3.75 Cthulhus.

3.8 out of 5 stars (3.8 / 5)

My biggest takeaway from Tales from 3 AM is that it reflects on life in all of its misshapen muddled messes. Though at times awkward and forthright, the concepts and explorations are genuine and heartfelt. More surreal and magically mysterious than terrifying, the mirror to our human vulnerability is nonetheless haunting, laying bare our fears, hopes, and hurts.

Similar Sentiments

Tales from 3 AM has similar appeal to the Obsolete Oddity, with its nostalgic sentimentalty for days of yore and haunting tales of woe and wonderment. I find this book to be more inclusive as it features less melancholic misanthropy (which can seem misogynous, with so much attention paid to the wanton murders of women). And I think it is a bit more accessible than the YouTube channel which comes across as overly melodramatic at times. Regardless both would be right at home in death-obsessed Victorian life. So if you’re into that sort of reminiscent rumination, it’s well worth a read.

The book can be found here through books 2 read on various platforms. You can read more about the author on their web page here.

J. Pagaduan Tales from 3 AM book cover
J. Pagaduan Tales from 3 AM book cover

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Book Reviews




Published in September of this year, Holly is the latest novel from the undisputed king of horror, Stephen King.

I was excited when I heard that Holly was getting her own book. If you’re not familiar with the larger body of King’s work, she was a secondary character in the Mr. Mercedes trilogy. She was also a secondary character in The Outsider, though that was called Holly Gibney #1. Holly Gibney #2 was If It Bleeds, part of a short story collection by the same name.

While you don’t have to read any of this before you read Holly, it will help you get some of the references.

The Story

When our story begins, Holly is mourning the death of her mother. Her partner Pete is in the hospital with Covid, and she is not supposed to be working.


But when a woman named Penny Dahl calls, asking for Holly’s help finding her missing daughter, she can’t ignore the plea.

As Holly searches the last place Bonnie Dahl was seen, she starts to learn of other missing persons cases. The cases don’t have anything in common, and neither do the victims. Except that they all had an interaction, however small, with a married couple named Rodney and Emily Harris.

Retired, Rodney and Emily are suffering from the usual but heartbreaking ailments that come along with age. Arthritis, sciatica, failing memories. But they believe they just might have found a miracle cure. One that most people would refuse. At least, we hope they would.

While Holly digs deeper, her friend Barbara Robinson is seeking a poetry mentor. This search brings her dangerously close to the two killer professors.

What worked

The reason I was excited about this book was to spend more time with Holly. She was easily the best part of The Outsider and inspired me to read the Mr. Mercedes trilogy.


And she was just as wonderful in this book. She was clever, insightful, and kind. Holly manages to be innocent and very aware of how the world works at the same time. She’s fiercely loyal to her friends and has a strong grasp of right from wrong. I sincerely hope that there’s a Holly #4 in the works.

I also loved the way this story was told. Through the course of the book, we see the story from different points of view. We see flashbacks to each victim and their terrible ends. We see Holly hunting a poor lost woman. And we see Barbara circling dangerously close to the true killers. The tension this built was incredible. It was hard not to shriek, watching all the pieces come so close to being together, only to be blown away and come together again.

What didn’t work

That being said, this was not a perfect novel. For one thing, there was an inordinate amount of attention to Covid 19.

Honestly, there were three killers in this book.

And I get it. Covid continues to be a terrible thing. It’s just one of many horrific world events we’ve suffered through, and yet another that is going to leave a scar on everyone who experienced it.


I don’t need to tell you about the fear, and supply chain issues. The deaths and medical professionals stretched to their limits. The mass graves. The horrific reality that there were people who just did not care to take it seriously, even as people were dying.

I don’t need to tell you, and neither did King on almost every page. And it was on almost every page.

Yes, Covid took over every part of our lives. It didn’t need to take over every part of this story.

My other irritation with this book is one more difficult to explain without giving away the ending. Forgive me if I ruin anything for you, it’s not my intention.

I wanted something terrible to happen to the antagonists. I wanted them to suffer. And they didn’t suffer nearly enough.


Finally, I wish we’d gotten some sort of closure for Holly over her mother stealing all of her inheritance from her. I understand that sometimes in life people die and we don’t get answers that we’d like from them. But this is fiction. We, and the characters, are supposed to get some sort of closure.

Is Holly my new favorite Stephen King novel? No, not really. It isn’t as good as The Stand, or From a Buick 8. But it was a good story. It was suspenseful, exciting, and a little sad. It was everything you’d want from a thriller.

Holly appears to be King’s new Castle Rock. He keeps coming back to her, over and over. And I couldn’t be happier about that.

3.5 out of 5 stars (3.5 / 5)

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Book Reviews

Monastery Series 3: a Book Review



The time has come for another installment of our resident mystery novel Monastery. We continue to follow our set of characters trying to uncover the secrets of their grandfather’s murder. Too bad members of their family are going to great lengths to stomp their efforts. Anyway, enough rambling, let’s begin! 


We start this part of Monastery with our crew coming to a simple conclusion – they must seek answers wherever possible. What better place to find them than visiting Albert’s sister? It’s a shame they’re not going to the Old Farm, there would definitely be some answers there. Francis’s character development is quite intriguing to me. He’s clearly uninvolved in the cover-up and yet there seems to be a lot of understated trauma. One can only wonder if it will all boil to the surface. 


While I know some people don’t enjoy flashback sequences, Albert’s trip down memory lane provided some nice characterization for me. It’s his story after all, and even though his and Cassandra’s relationship is far from #goals, it’s complex and interesting. I also enjoyed his commentary on selective memory, I feel like that applies a lot to our daily lives. 

David and Nicole’s dynamic is also explored more. The pairing bond over their taste in music and share a kiss after he helps her recover from a werewolf attack (yes, you heard that right, and I want to know more immediately). Tensions between them rise further to the point where she actually considers breaking up with Fred. That is, until he pulls a grand gesture (something David was advised to do). While I don’t condone cheating or flirting with someone to make your partner jealous, those are all love triangle tropes and this one is in full swing. 

Things escalate further at the town’s raffle draw party when Aunt Doris shows up and gets paid off by Cassandra. While I’m not certain how I feel about her character, she does provide the group with valuable information – Albert’s cause of death was faked. Of course. 

We end this installment of Monastery on a bit of a harrowing note. Cassandra abuses her own son in front of Henry, who is left completely traumatized. This stuck out to me as a change in tone and I wonder how much darker it will get. We’ll find out soon… 


Overall thoughts

This part of Monastery focuses a lot on Albert’s youth and the love triangle between David, Nicole, and Fred. While some people would say it’s unnecessary, I think the additions, especially the romance, both keep the pacing so we don’t fly through the mystery too quickly and lighten the mood a bit. Not to mention there is some interesting characterisation brought to light because of this. The questions are still piling up and I can just feel we’re on the cusp of things hitting the fan. I can’t wait for more. 

5 out of 5 stars (5 / 5)

Read further for some insight from the author himself:

  1. 1. Last time I asked you how you integrate comedy into your writing. How about romance? How do you pick the moment that feels right to sprinkle some spice into the story without turning it into a full-blown chick flick? Do you have a personal preference of who you would like Nicole to end up with (if you can share)? 

Funny you should ask about picking the right moment because David originally kissed Nicole in episode 1, but it felt rushed then, so I ultimately moved it to this third episode. I always knew there would be a romantic triangle, trite though it may seem, because at its heart this story is very soapy. As for when the right moment is, the story itself always tells me that, but have no fear, the murder mystery will always be at the center of everything.  

Also, who do I think Nicole should end up with? I think she needs to work on loving herself a bit more. It may seem she loves herself a bit too much, at surface level, but do read on. 

2. There is no doubt Cassandra is a bitch and a murder accomplice (if not the murderer). However, you are showing the readers layers of her character (such as her being abused as a young woman). Is this something that will be relevant in the story later on or just a device to provide her character with some humanity? 

Relevant. So, so relevant. There are many glimpses of Albert’s past throughout the series, but the events surrounding St. John’s Party in 1976 compose the main flashback thread. I want to believe there is great re-read value to my story, as there are so many clues and little elements spread throughout, things you might only catch on to when you have the full picture. I mean, the werewolf’s identity is revealed in every episode they feature in – it’s just a matter of knowing where to look for it! As for Cassandra, in my opinion, she is the best character, and I am so excited for people to dive into her story. 

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