Bad Magic and the Big Top (Blackwood Bay Witches #2) by Misty Bane

The circus has come to town. But first, Dru Rathmore Davis has to do something about the dead clown on her doorstep. She wakes up one morning to discover her bookshop has been broken into, but something more sinister awaits.

Life in the sleepy seaside town Dru moved to recently has been anything but sleepy. It’s been a month since she found out she’s a witch, can see ghosts, and talk to animals. And now she, along with her Guardian, Harper, have to contend with an influx of acrobats, fire breathers, and – to Dru’s disdain – clowns. As a clown hater myself, I feel her pain.

While Harper and the rest of the police force are on the case, Dru pulls her former life’s private investigator skills out of her back pocket. As circus performers start dropping like flies days after their arrival in Blackwood Bay, it’s all hands on deck despite Harper’s pledge as a Guardian to keep Dru away from all things dangerous.

Bad Magic and the Big Top by Misty Bane is the second installment in her Blackwood Bay Witches series. It’s not as good as the first, but it’s a quick little cozy mystery if you’re into that sort of thing. I enjoyed Harper and Dru’s friends but wishing they were more thing, and their banter is realistic. Dru is the kind of woman who isn’t looking for a hero to save her, and I find it relatable and refreshing. This one needed more Granny and the rest of the Coven. Granny’s sarcastic demeanor and the witches lovable personalities were definitely missed.

But I did enjoy the breaking and entering chicken escapades. As someone who lives in a town where chickens occasionally get loose and stop traffic, it’s frustrating and hysterical and I loved that it showed up in a book I was reading. Also, I’d really like my own cleaning fairies. That would be fire.

Goodreads rating: 2 of 5 stars.

Would I read it again? Probably not.

It’s Spooky Season – October TBR

I love fall.

Being from the east coast, I grew up with seasons. There’s lots of snow in the winter, spring brings flowers and allergies, and summer is hot and humid. And there’s bugs. I hate bugs more than anything. Since we had the hottest summer on record in the last few years, I am more than ready for sweaters and candles and much, much cooler weather.

This also means I’m ready for fall and Halloween themed books! I like Freeform’s 31 Nights of Halloween as much as the next person, with Hocus Pocus being one of my all time favorite movies, but there’s something about a book set against a backdrop of colorful leaves and pumpkins that gives me a thrill.

I’ve been compiling a list of books I’m planning to read this October and thought I’d share it here.

The Ex Hex, formally (Hocus Pocus but they F)

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling, who is also former YA author Rachel Hawkins. Releasing September 28th, I don’t know much about this book other than I made a promise to read every book the author puts out. Rachel Hawkins is my spirit animal. And truly, she had me at Hocus Pocus but they F. (A/N – I scheduled this post before winning a giveaway copy of this book. If you want to read my review, check it out here!)

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Previously reviewed here, this is an interesting gothic novel involving murder, magic, and two sisters willing to take their secrets to the grave. Fun fact, I live near a preschool called Merricat’s Castle, which is both awesome and terrifying at the same time.

Hell House by Richard Matheson

Another reread, and one that will likely be saved for Halloween night, is one of the most terrifying books I’ve ever read. A physicist and two mediums are paid handsomely to spend time in a sealed Maine mansion in order to figure out what comes after death. Together, they find out the secrets the abandoned Belasco manor holds, and why the townsfolk call it Hell House.

The Blackwood Bay Witches Mystery series by Misty Bane

This might be an overly ambitious amount to try and get through in October, but a challenge I’m willing to take on.

I pose a question to anyone who reads this: what are your favorite fall/Halloween books? What are you hoping to read this October?

Review: House of Furies (House of Furies #1) by Madeleine Roux

Seventeen year old Louisa Ditton is unwanted. By her parents, by her grandparents, by her school. By the general populace. She’s telling fortunes in the streets for pennies until an old crone tricks her into coming to Coldthistle House, where she begins working as a maid. But things aren’t as they seem inside the mansion, where the next day Mrs. Haylam, the old crone, isn’t quite so old or quite so cronish, and there’s a girl working that reminds Louisa a little too much of her childhood imaginary friend. There’s also the Residents, terrifying smoke-like creatures that may or may not be protecting her, but are extremely dangerous to the guests. And don’t forget Mr. Morningside, the owner of Coldthistle House, who seems to be a few hundred years old and has backwards feet, like a demon.

Coming across Mr. Morningside’s diary, Louisa starts to unravel the alarming histories of her employer, as well as those of the inhabitants of the house itself. And it’s not long before she realizes that all the guests that come to Coldthistle House don’t actually leave.

House of Furies by Madeleine Roux is a gothic novel set in Victorian times and is filled with murder and mystery, making it the perfect book to read in late September / early October. I found the side characters to be more interesting than Louisa and her love interest, Lee Bremerton, and hope they’re further explored in the next book. Unfortunately there is a lot of unnecessary plot, a lot of side plot, and not a lot of getting to the point, but the strange and weird that happens within the 400-odd pages is enough that I will pick up the second book in the series at one point.

Roux seems to be a fan of shorts within her different book universes, so hopefully we will get one featuring the Residents, and how they came to be. The hints that were dropped have me itching for more.

Review: We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

It may not be October just yet, but it’s officially fall. Which means, to me at least, that it’s time to read everything spooky, scary, weird, and harvest themed. I started my journey with a reread of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Not my typical light flavor, but a gothic novel told in a unique voice that’s worth the read.

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death cap mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

Merricat and Constance Blackwood, along with old Uncle Julian, are the only Blackwoods left. Together, they live in seclusion on the family estate after a horrible incident involving an ingestion of arsenic killed the other members of their family. Uncle Julian, being too ill to go anywhere and Constance, borderline agoraphobic, leave Merricat to do as she pleases throughout the day. Routine is important to her, so aside from neatening the house and burying protective talismans in the yard, she goes into town twice a week for groceries and library books. Merricat does this while imagining different ways the cruel townspeople who taunt her and her family die.

One day, Merricat “feels a change coming, and no one knows it but me.” Her cousin Charles comes to call, with plots within plots but too stupid to carry them out smartly.

Truth be told, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is extremely fascinating. It’s told to us in real time by Merricat, but she is a most unreliable narrator. Seemingly stunted in development from the time of her family’s murder years ago, we can’t quite tell if what’s she’s telling us is how the story actually unfolds. She’s very imaginative and child-like, believing in magic and making up games and rules for herself, but clearly unbalanced.  My personal favorite way to look at her is as if she’s a ghost herself.