Monster Book Challenge Day #5: Demons [Reblog] Book Review: Horns

Monster Book Challenge Day #5: Demons [Reblog] Book Review: Horns

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Challenge Week: Monster Book Challenge Day #5: Demons

Welcome to the final day of my Monster Book Challenge! So far, there have been book reviews on vampires, zombies, witches and ghosts. Today’s chosen monster is… Demons [sort of]!

  • Title: Horns
  • Author: Joe Hill
  • Published: 2010

I don’t know about you, but I get demon/devil vibes from a book with a title like Horns – not to mention Daniel Radcliffe’s portrayal as Ig with some creepy looking horns in the 2014 film adaptation. Hence, my decision to feature Horns.

However, this is where I leave my opinions on Horns, as I haven’t actually read the book!

If you’re particularly eagle-eyed, you’ll noticed that the following Horns book review is actually a reblog from Stephanie’s blog at Adventures of a Bibliophile.  I’m a follower of Stephanie’s and I absolutely loved reading this book review, and thought it just perfect for Halloween, so I thought I’d share it with you all.

You can find Stephanie’s review below – read and enjoy!

That’s all from me; I hope you enjoyed my various Halloween book reviews! I’ll definitely be adding Horns to my TBR!

– Judith


Monster Book Challenge Day #4: Ghosts

Monster Book Challenge Day #4: Ghosts

Hi! This is Day 4 of my Monster Book Challenge. If you’ve missed my first three posts (where have you been?) you can catch up on Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 here. Today’s chosen monster is… Ghosts!

  • Title: Northanger Abbey
  • Author: Jane Austen
  • Published: 1817

Northanger Abbey is a satirical Gothic work. The protagonist Catherine, travels to Northanger Abbey and imagines her life as parallel to the plot of a Gothic novel, although her real life brings her back down to earth.

Although Northanger Abbey isn’t strictly a Gothic novel, or in fact wholly a ghost story, I wanted to talk about some more Jane Austen, and I didn’t feel like discussing Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was entirely appropriate in the run-up to Halloween!

I’m a huge fan of the Gothic genre, and so I went into reading Northanger Abbey with great excitement, eagerly waiting for Austen to satirise the genre as much as she could.

However, I was disappointed in how long it took Austen to start talking properly about the Gothic; I was halfway through the novel and Catherine hadn’t even arrived to Northanger Abbey yet! I did appreciate the references to some more Gothic classics though, such as Matthew Lewis’ The Monk and Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho.

The character of Henry was also really amusing – he painted fantastic Gothic images in Catherine’s mind, images which reminded me of Brontë’s Jane Eyre, of haunted rooms, and hints at mysterious family deaths, raising the question of ghosts.

It’s particularly ironic to read Northanger Abbey as a Gothic-loving English student, because it makes me even more aware of the stereotypical Gothic conventions. I can only imagine how Austen’s readers felt at the time, when the Gothic genre was so popular.

All in all, I did enjoy Northanger Abbey but it’s definitely not my favourite Austen novel.

Do you have a favourite ghost story? What book would you have chosen? Share some thoughts in the comments!

Stay tuned for the final day of my Monster Book Challenge tomorrow!

– Judith

Monster Book Challenge Day #3: Witches

Monster Book Challenge Day #3: Witches

Welcome back my Monster Book Challenge! We’re on the third blog post in a series of book reviews, each one of a book based on a different monster! Today’s chosen monster is… Witches!

  • Title: Macbeth
  • Author: William Shakespeare
  • First Performed: 1611

Naturally, my favourite literary witches are the ones from Macbeth, but it seemed silly to write a “book review” of a play meant to be performed, and I have talked about Macbeth before on ReadandReview2016. Instead, I thought I’d share some thoughts on Shakespeare’s Witches, and why they are so iconic.

1. Are The Witches male or female?

At the time Shakespeare wrote Macbeth, the fear of witchcraft was rife, and this perpetuated many stereotypes that we still have today. Mainly, it continued the belief that witches are old women, with a warty complexion and a companion of some kind, usually a black cat or a toad.

Interestingly, we can’t assume that Shakespeare intended his Witches to be female. Although certain pronouns and descriptions could suggest they were female, plays were performed by all-male casts, making it more difficult to work out the intended gender of certain characters. Furthermore, Banquo himself says in in Act 1 Scene 3, “You should be women, / And yet your beards forbid me to interpret / That you are so.”, emphasising how difficult it was to pin down gender.

Personally, I don’t believe it matters whether The Witches were meant to be male or female. However, it is really fascinating to watch various adaptations of Macbeth, and see how different directors choose to portray the appearance of The Witches, so if you’re interested, I encourage you to compare different versions for yourself.

2. How powerful are The Witches?

After reading the play, it is clear The Witches have a lot of different powers: they can control the weather, they can see the future, they can create potions and spells, they can cause sleep deprivation and madness, and communicate with animal familiars.

There are numerous interesting theories that it was The Witches who granted Lady Macbeth her lack of remorse, and sent Macbeth visions of the dagger, to indirectly influence both characters and lead them to their downfall. Indeed, there are even theories that The Witches are not even real, but merely hallucinations and symbolic of the evil and sin in the world, which would have resonated with Shakespeare’s Jacobean, strongly Christian audience.

3. Who is Hecate?

We only meet Hecate once in the play, in Act 3 Scene 5.

She is essentially the Goddess of Witchcraft, and she can be seen as the leader of The Witches. However, I take issue with this: if Hecate is such a powerful character, why does she only really appear once? Why is it the 3 (lesser) Witches who cause Macbeth’s downfall, rather than Hecate?

Furthermore, we don’t really experience any of her powers, making it curious as to what her significance is. In addition, there is a theory that Hecate is not even Shakespeare’s creation, due to the rhyme and rhythm of her lines, so it is believed Hecate was added afterwards by another playwright. Again, this is just another theory and I don’t believe it adds or detracts from the play either way.

Those are my 3 key thoughts about The Witches in Macbeth – I hope you enjoyed this slightly different style of book post! These are not meant to be comprehensive, hard and fast answers, but just some initial thoughts and ideas.

If you have any other questions, ideas or suggestions, leave them in the comments below!

That’s all for now!

– Judith

Monster Book Challenge Day #2: Zombies

Monster Book Challenge Day #2: Zombies

Welcome back to my Monster Book Challenge! This week I’ll be releasing a series of book reviews, each one of a book based on a different monster! Today’s chosen monster is… Zombies!

  • Title: Frankenstein
  • Author: Mary Shelley
  • Published: 1818

Okay, I know Frankenstein’s Monster isn’t technically a zombie, but I really wanted to talk about some classic Gothic horror, especially at Halloween.

I really like the plot synopsis given on Goodreads, so I’ll pop it here:

“At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.”

Although I’m a self-professed lover of Gothic horror and Classics, I actually found Frankenstein quite a disappointment.

Despite Victor’s obsession with grave-digging and the creation of the undead, the description and language Shelley used hardly struck me as truly Gothic. I was expecting gory details and gruesome imagery, but the language was so vague that in some places, I had to read passages twice just to realise the scene was about a dead body.

I also didn’t enjoy Frankenstein’s Monster as a Romantic or Pantheist: a gruesome corpse comes back to life and one of the first things it decides to do is some soul-searching, and hypothesise about the meaning of life in the beautiful Swiss countryside. This is complete juxtaposition in comparison to his character as a ruthless, bloodthirsty murdering, vengeful monster! Whilst I understand that juxtaposing character traits can be really effective at times, I just don’t understand how these two particular conflicts can work in a novel and still be considered Gothic.*

*If you have any ideas about this that can enlighten me, please share them below

However, I still admire Shelley for her ideas – ideas which are genuinely creepy and Gothic – and the boldness of her to write such a novel as a woman in the 19th century.

I also enjoyed the storyline as portrayed in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the 1994 film adaptation, directed by and starring Kenneth Branagh, as well as Helena Bonham-Carter and Robert De Niro. For me, this film brought to life the gory details of the plot I’d read in a genuinely horrific way, that I then found enjoyable.

All in all, I don’t think I’ll read Frankenstein again, but I’m still glad I read another classic Gothic novel anyway!

I hope you enjoyed this post – please click ‘Like’ or leave a lovely comment.

That’s all for now!

– Judith

Monster Book Challenge Day #1: Vampires

Monster Book Challenge Day #1: Vampires

Welcome to my Monster Book Challenge! This week I’ll be releasing a series of book reviews, each one of a book based on a different monster! Today’s chosen monster is… Vampires!

  • Title: ‘Salem’s Lot
  • Author: Stephen King
  • Published: 1975

‘Salem’s Lot is a horror novel set in the town of Jerusalem’s Lot (affectionately known as ‘Salem’s Lot to quickly highlight the direction this novel goes in). The main protagonist, Ben Mears, is a writer who came from ‘Salem’s Lot. He returns to his home town, but makes the discovery that the residents are gradually becoming vampires.

This is the second Stephen King novel I’ve ever read, and I absolutely loved it!

Inspired by the traditional tale of Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), King draws on stereotypical vampire story tropes, yet in a clever, imaginative and personalised way, making vampires even more terrifying. I really appreciated this, as the narrative style of Stoker’s Dracula disappointed me, and I felt it detracted from the horror.

King’s narrative style is similar to the original Dracula; you experience life in ‘Salem’s Lot through the eyes of a number of different characters, and yet you don’t feel “bogged down” by insignificant dialogue or background stories. The level of description and characterisation for each character is incredibly well-done, so I felt like I knew each main character and could easily understand their own sub-plots.

Of course, being inspired by a traditional vampire tale, there were still some stereotypes that I half-wished Stephen King had jazzed up a bit, like the use of garlic and stakes to banish vampires.

However, I found the way he used the “sunlight stereotype” quite amusing. There comes a point where the almost the entire town have been turned into vampires and have no idea – they just avoid the sunlight and assume they have the flu or a migraine.

I really enjoyed reading ‘Salem’s Lot and I can’t wait to read more of Stephen King’s work! Unknowingly, it turns out I’ve been reading Stephen King’s novels in publishing order; first I read and reviewed Carrie (1974), now I’ve read and reviewed ‘Salem’s Lot (1975)! To keep up this trend, I suppose I should read The Shining (1977) next!

I hope you enjoyed this post – please click ‘Like’ or leave a lovely comment! Do you have any Stephen King recommendations for me? Let me know!

– Judith

The Halloween Book Tag

The Halloween Book Tag

Happy Halloween!

Okay, so it might not be Halloween just yet, but there’s no reason we can’t get into the spirit of things. I found this tag on and I thought it was just perfect for the occasion.

1. Pumpkin Carving: Which book would you carve up and light on fire?

Hmm, a book I really dislike… I would have to say The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (2003). I’ve already discussed my strong dislike to The Kite Runner already on ReadandReview2016, and the idea of seeing it on fire is somewhat amusing, if not a little Hitler-ish…

*Honourable Mention: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925). Another book I’d love to take apart.

2. Trick or Treat: What character is a trick? What character is a treat?

In terms of a ‘treat’, I would pick a really lovely, heartfelt character. My natural instinct is to say someone like Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter series, or Jane from Pride and Prejudice (1813), both of whom are brilliant women that have lots of admirable qualities.

As for a ‘trick’ character, I want to talk about someone who is misleading, evil and duplicitous. I want to say Macbeth, from Macbeth (1611) but other villains such as Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights and Professor Moriarty from the Sherlock Holmes series also spring to mind.

3. Candyfloss: Which book is always sweet?

I’m tempted to say Candyfloss by Jacqueline Wilson (2006) for fun! I think I’ll pick Anne of Green Gables though, by L.M. Montgomery (1908).

4. Ghosts: Which character would you love to have visit you as a ghost?

I’d be intrigued by any character that decided to bridge the gap between fiction and reality, as well as the gap between life and death! I like the idea of chatting with The Ghost of Christmas Past from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843).

5. Fancy Dress: Which character would you want to be for the day?

A really evil, sassy woman; I think they are so well-portrayed in literature. I think I would choose Bellatrix Lestrange from the Harry Potter series. Then again, I also really liked the characterisation of Amy in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (2012) and I liked her sinister plotting and cleverness.

*Honourable Mention: The Evil Queen from Snow-White and the Seven Dwarfs by Jacob & Wilhelm Grimm (1812).

6. Witches and Wizards: What is your favourite Harry Potter moment?

How am I supposed to choose?! I really like Harry Potter and rhe Deathly Hallows (2007) – particularly the scenes in Malfoy Manor and Hermione’s interrogation and torture. Grim, I know, but it was gripping.

7. Blood and Gore: Which book was so creepy that you had to take a break from it for a while?

The goriest book I’ve ever read so far is ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King (1975), but I didn’t have to ‘take a break’ at any point. In fact, I was captivated by King’s work and could hardly put it down!

Those are my answers! Would you choose different books? I tag anyone who wants to do this tag (and I’d love to see some of your responses in the comments).

That’s all for now!

– Judith