• Booktastically Amazing


by Ania Alhborn

Spoiler- Free Synopsis:

From the bestselling horror author of Within These Walls and The Bird Eater comes a terrifying novel that follows a teenager determined to break from his family’s unconventional—and deeply disturbing—traditions.

Deep in the heart of Appalachia stands a crooked farmhouse miles from any road. The Morrows keep to themselves, and it’s served them well so far. When girls go missing off the side of the highway, the cops don’t knock on their door. Which is a good thing, seeing as to what’s buried in the Morrows’ backyard.

But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow isn’t like the rest of his family. He doesn’t take pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees. Michael pines for normalcy, and he’s sure that someday he’ll see the world beyond West Virginia. When he meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop in the small nearby town of Dahlia, he’s immediately smitten. For a moment, he nearly forgets about the monster he’s become. But his brother, Rebel, is all too eager to remind Michael of his place…

I've been apologizing a lot, these couple of days, but this takes the cake. Knife. It takes the knife.

Okay. I gave up on page 125. And against my better judgment, I fought against the onslaught of semi-smart thoughts barraging my mind (because I'm smart like that) saying that perhaps, I should stop reading. But INSTEAD, I finished it. I finished the book. I finished reading...the book. The book...was finished. The finish was---I'll stop. I honestly don't know what to say for myself. Other than try to save y'all's brain cells (I am also a very good human being if you didn't know) If you like reading about super gory, cannibalistic tendencies of a family, which said detail, is useless concerning the story. Slight (yeah, right) levels of violence, murder, kidnapping, mentions of past abuse, harm to animals, cannibalism, and an unnecessary mention of incest (which again, didn't do anything for the story line). Without forgetting the insta love, you know? Let's just keep on adding layers to this. If you like reading about ALL of those things, or are merely curious (which I wouldn't judge). You REALLY don't want to read this review. The only saving grace? The writing. That was the only thing that made me want to go on. Mrs Ania. I really don't know what else to say (that is productive and not verging on the edge of rudeness). Oh! And did I forget to mention, the fact that I read this book on January 1? Seriously *knocking on skull*, there's nothing here. Nada, zero, zilch. I hope y'all are prepared for a VERY ranty review. Better yet, Ranty EVERYTHING. This review is definitely not sponsored by Losing Brain Cells at the Speed of Light Campaign. ~enjoy

RANTIN--I MEAN, RATING: 🌟🌟🌟⭐⭐ 2.5 (because for one, it was mildly entertaining. And two, because the writing was good)


The reason why the rating is so low (even though the book had its good points) Is disappointment. Which is at the same level as, let's say, when I read Fight like a Girl. Or oh! Carve the Mark. (Seriously, I almost cried from the pain of how bad I felt that I didn't like them. Almost, though. I can't let sadness ruin my Resting Witch Face, have a certain reputation *snort*) Since this is basically me ranting, I shall divide this into rant-worthy sections (again, where was this intelligence when I was reading the book? I'll tell you where, the toilet. Next to my dreams).

First Section: The Characters

Um, I honestly couldn't tell you how much I ABSOLUTELY DESPISED EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK. Besides, you know, the record store. That didn't do anything to deserve my wrath. So yes, browny points for you, my friend.

Michael: Dear, naive, useless, idiotic, moronic, imbecile, piece of disgusting trash, humanoid mosquito (realizes she still needs adjectives to describe everyone else), Michael. How shall I ever let anyone know of your detrimental sense of self, that is SO intense, the family with whom you live, has been beating you around like a rag for hmm *tilts head* 20 YEARS. Can somebody see why I don't like this guy very much? And I completely understand the effects of Stocholm Syndrome, because it IS a thing, and it IS real. But come on, 20 years old, hates seeing what his family does for a living (kill girls and skin them to be made food, and every girl is analyzed by dear ol', mother dung, here), DESPISES what they force him to do (read: basically everything). And stays for the solely reason of protecting Misty. Okay, *shakes head in disbelief*, let’s just touch lightly on that subject, yeah?

Michael in concern to Misty (because it deserves its own craptastic section):

I’ll admit it, okay? I’ll admit that I ROOTED for the guy. I was all, ‘Yes! You go dude, sit there and...do absolutely nothing as your mother (who is about 7 feet smaller than him) beats the ever living poop out of of who? Can anybody help me find the victim here? You guessed CORRECTLY! BEATING MISTY. Does anybody else see the problem here? This is their whole relationship in a basket full of blood sucking leeches *clears throat* *deep inhale*, Misty hears injustice directed at Michael who by no means even TRIES to defend himself, Misty then intervenes DEFENDING Michael, and who gets beaten? Michael? That mouse at the corner of the kitchen? That inkling of hope that diminished in me whilst reading this? Nope, Misty. And my guy here, just stays right THERE. Hearing her screams for mercy. I just—I need a second.

Misty (because she deserves a section of her own, and because I need to do some ranting about her, as well): This girl...actually didn’t irritate me as much as I would’ve thought. Huh. Lemme just *rapidly starts searching through notes* GOCTHA. Man oh man, so Michael was adopted, right? (He was kidnapped by little Reb who will be introduced later on in this ~very~ detailed rant of mine) And I KNEW, I just KNEW, they couldn’t have a nice, wholesome, fantastic, slightly cringey, sibling relationship. Surprise, surprise, none of that was present. Michael would buy her records and would listen to them with her (without forgetting, the fact that he would steal trinkets from the girls he helped kill and gift them to her, which was actually not the worst thing in this book). MISTY TRIED TO KISS HIM. And honestly? I felt meh, about it. Since they are not blood siblings, nor are they related, I actually didn’t care about their relationship status. At ALL. But then, BUT THEN, they just had to get all weird. And by weird, I mean, the entire monologue Michael had, that left me with the feeling that it was really useless to the story. Other than that, the girl was okay. I could understand her. And oh! Did I forget to mention she was 22 years old? I swear. This is just plain frustrating. And speaking of frustrating, the next character to get a lovely rant section.

[UPDATE ON MISTY’S SITUATION: She’s dead. Her mother killed her. Michael stood by, crying. I cannot express to you, how dumb this scene was.]

Reb (AKA Rebel, AKA Ray, AKA an absolute psychopathic demon in disguise): This guy, he was a good villain. He was repulsive, absolutely disgusting, evil to the rotten core of his rotting self. Honestly? He was the character that had the most depth in this story.

a.) Jealousy

b.) Jealousy

c.) Serial Killer

He was raised this way, and through his eyes, we saw him becoming the monster he became *snort*. Made his dad (we’ll get to him later) kidnap Michael when he was just 4 years old. All because he wanted to make his older sister happy (not Misty) and make her want to stay. Which she did, just not with life on her. He assaulted, killed, murdered, ad manipulated his way into women’s lives to satiate the want of his mother. Which, again, what? He was 24 years old, at this time. He enjoyed it, we could ALL tell. After 3 chapters of him describing how much anger he felt towards everyone and anything. So yes, such a ~surprise~

The dad (Wade, I just can’t with you): At times, I actually pitied the guy. He felt remorse (slight) and found it hard to look on as his wife basically almost killed her children. So again, wonderful family, we have here. He was the guy I WANTED to know about. Not Michael. Not Ray, okay, yeah, I did want to get to know him. But it got tiresome REAL quick. The fact that this guy didn’t get a reboot SOMEWHERE, angered me to the pits of oblivion. And speaking of angering me to HADES’S Throne, we have the marvelous Mrs. Death.

The mother ( don’t care to try to remember her name): Her abuse, both mentally and physically goes back a loooonnngg time. And that saddened me beyond belief but to this day. After eight days of TRYING to figure out why she did exactly what she did. I still don’t get it. All of the victims looked (maybe, was not actually confirmed) like a younger version of her. So she wanted to kill her younger self’s innocence? I would’ve expected the victims to look like her mother. Who did absolutely nothing to help her daughter. Which is disgusting. We are told that she is (basically) a cannibal. By who? Michael. Because he had the job of...doing THAT. Won’t scar you with the details. A whole chapter, people. A whole chapter of prepping...THAT. I just ugh. UGH. Moving on to the next theme on the list, because I could be here alllll day ranting about him.

THE ROMANCE: *laughs in puke worthy relationship* SPOILER ALERT: THE LOVE INTEREST TURNED OUT TO BE HIS SISTER. AND RAY KILLED MICHAEL’S REAL MOTHER, AND GUESS WHAT?! MICHAEL KISSED HER DEAD BODY. HIS MOTHER’S DEAD BODY. Does that—does that somehow make sense to y’all? Again, was it necessary? Nope. And how much did Michael’s and his mother’s scene last? A whole chapter. *slams laptop shut*

*opens it back up with regret*

Guys, Michael, and the love interest had a love at first sight kind of thing. *breathes through tears* How—What—WHY?! First thought on his part when he met her (don’t remember her name either)

“Their eyes met, and Michael’s heart tripped over its own beat. She looked like Snow White from Lauralynn’s old book of fairy tales, except a hundred times more beautiful and wearing all black, looking about as modern as the music sounded.”

...“Michael watched her lips move, mesmerized by the way she formed her words. He smelled spearmint. She turned to file a couple of records into the crate at his elbow. Her profile was astounding. The length of her neck. The way her earlobes seemed to flow into the angle of her jawline.”

Um, excuse me, sir. Are you describing a girl? Or a chicken? *laughs in ‘why the heck did I finish this’*

At least, at LEAST, this girl was semi-interesting. But dude, seriously? She explained her style as ‘freaky’. *snort* She was wearing all black. Wow, so FReakY.

The good points:



The writing was very good, as mentioned before. And don’t get me wrong, I can deal with gore WHEN IT IS NEEDED. In a war? Absolutely, go for it, throw pieces of bloody entrails at me. I can handle it. In mystery and thriller novels? Yes! Completely okay with it. I applaud you. But when it doesn’t even make sense? Why? That’s my question. Why? These were the only parts that I can say, I did not waste my time in vain. Which again, if you still want to read this, don't continue por favor.

“Having gathered herself off the ground, she (Alice) held the switchblade in her shaking, bloodied hands. He pulled in a shallow breath, his gaze flitting between the blade and her eyes.

“I’m your brother,” he whispered.

Something about saying that aloud made him feel at peace. He hoped it would bring her some comfort, some assurance that he was on her side. But rather than rocking back on her heels and letting the switchblade slip from her hands, she leaned into him—as if to give her long-lost sibling a hug—and buried the knife deep in his gut.”

CAN I GET A STANDING OVATION FOR MY GIRL ALICE (love interest, searched it up)? The incredible feeling of PROUDNESS that I felt. Also, loved that there was no happy ending, at least that was used correctly. Come to me with a happy ending in a thriller *cough* novel. *cracks knuckles* just TRY.


“And just as the world was about to fade, he felt his heart stop. Felt the world collapse. Felt himself dying as the hard bite of an eight-ball dug into his hip.

Because the keys to the Olds were still in his pocket.

They were still in his [...ing] pocket as Alice’s fingers drifted across the handle of the Delta’s driver-side door.”

And now that you’ve reached the point where my ranting skills have deteriorated, I must say, thank you. Because not everyone would stick through this whole mess of a thing. I’ll say this, when I rant against a book, it by no means, me ranting against the author. I’m sure she’s a wonderful person. Albeit with a darker mind that most, like, seriously. Wow. Also, here are some bonus notes I threw in just to have an excuse to use them (and yes, I do take notes while reading, it’s a whooooolee thing *snicker*)

“Michael?!” Misty’s eyes were wide. She was waiting for direction, pleading with him for some means of flight. Before Michael could smash the glass, Rebel filled the doorway and gave them both a strangely upbeat smile.

“Oh, hey guys,” he said.

Then he lunged.”

{Honestly? This was so good} 👆🏼

“A sob wrenched out of Michael’s throat. He folded himself over Misty’s crumpled frame, his cheek pressed against her ear, and whispered, “I’ll go to the woods for you, Misty. If you want it, I’ll go.”

{Okay this, I felt a smidgen of something. Right there.} 👆🏼

“Michael sat with Misty in his embrace, rocking her back and forth as he stared across the kitchen into nowhere. By the time he finally gathered the strength to look up, the room was empty and the house was eerily quiet.

And for the first time in his life, he truly understood.

This was not his family.

This was not supposed to be his life.”

{Oh really? Now you notice? Really? Bruh, are you for real?}👆🏼

Concluding with a combined GIF that represents how I felt after/ during/ and before, finishing this book. I hope you have a blessed bookish week, unlike mine. Also, for those curious, Michael ends up killing his parents and Ray. Never have I ever rooted so much for someone's death IN MY LIFE.