What We've Been Reading
Book Reviews,  Reading Recommendations

What We’ve Been Reading #124

Today our team recommends books by Angela Sylvaine, Kinitra D. Brooks and Muriel Spark. Take a look and add a book or three to your tbr pile!

Please click the tags above to find more team recommendations.


Chopping Spree by Angela Sylvaine

Eden Hills, Minnesota is famous for one thing—its ’80s inspired Fashion Mall. When high school junior, Penny, lands a job at one of its trendy stores, she notices her teen coworkers all wear a strange symbol they won’t explain. Suspicious but wanting to belong, she agrees to stay after closing for a party in the closed store. Her fun turns to terror when Penny discovers a mortally wounded boy and learns there is a killer loose in the mall. Soon the teens are running for their lives.

Will Penny discover the truth behind the mall cabal and survive to slay another day, or will she fall victim to the galleria of gore?

Book 27 in the Rewind-or-Die series: imagine your local movie rental store back in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, remember all those fantastic covers. Remember taking those movies home and watching in awe as the stories unfolded in nasty rainbows of gore, remember the atmosphere and textures. Remember the blood.

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Alex’s Teaser Review

CHOPPING SPREE by Angela Sylvaine is a fast-paced, culty slasher novella wrapped up in the nostalgia of an 80s inspired fashion mall.

Read Alex’s entire review at Goodreads.

Laurie’s Teaser Review

This was a fun murderous romp set in a mall where a young lady stays late for an after-hours party and discovers A LOT.

Read Laurie’s entire review at Goodreads.


Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror by Kinitra D. Brooks

Searching for Sycorax highlights the unique position of Black women in horror as both characters and creators. Kinitra D. Brooks creates a racially gendered critical analysis of African diasporic women, challenging the horror genre’s historic themes and interrogating forms of literature that have often been ignored by Black feminist theory.

Brooks examines the works of women across the African diaspora, from Haiti, Trinidad, and Jamaica, to England and the United States, looking at new and canonized horror texts by Nalo Hopkinson, NK Jemisin, Gloria Naylor, and Chesya Burke. These Black women fiction writers take advantage of horror’s ability to highlight U.S. white dominant cultural anxieties by using Africana folklore to revise horror’s semiotics within their own imaginary.

Ultimately, Brooks compares the legacy of Shakespeare’s Sycorax (of The Tempest) to Black women writers themselves, who, deprived of mainstream access to self-articulation, nevertheless influence the trajectory of horror criticism by forcing the genre to de-centralize whiteness and maleness.  

Goodreads | Amazon | Bookshop

Tracy’s Teaser Review

Searching for Sycorax: Black Women’s Hauntings of Contemporary Horror is just what this reader was looking for. Means’ book, Horror Noire, has since been adapted to a documentary (available on Shudder), and this book is an excellent companion piece for those looking for a new angle or a deeper dive into this topic of Black horror creators. Recommended for horror scholars and fans alike.

Read Tracy’s entire review at Sci-fi & Scary.


Ghost Stories by Muriel Spark

I aim to startle as well as please,” Muriel Spark has said, and in these eight marvelous ghost stories she manages to do both to the highest degree. As with all matters in the hands of Dame Muriel her spooks are entirely original. A ghost in her pantheon can be plaintive or a bit vengeful, or perhaps may not even be aware of being a ghost at all. One in fact is the ghost of a man who isn’t even dead yet. Another takes the bus home from work, believing she is still alive, though she is haunted by an odious tune stuck in her head (which her murderer had been relentlessly humming), and distressed by a “feeling of incompletion.” And a reflective ghost recalls her mortal days of enjoying “the glory of the world, as if it would never pass. Spark has a flair for confiding ghosts: “I must explain that I departed this life nearly five years ago. But I did not altogether depart this world. There were those odd things still to be done which one’s executors can never do properly.” In her case the odd things include cheerily hailing her murderer, “Hallo George!” and driving him mad. The remarkably nonchalant stories here include some of her most wicked and famous”The Seraph and the Zambesi,” “The Hanging Judge,” and “The Portobello Road”and they all gleam with that special Spark sheen, the quality The Times Literary Supplement has hailed as “gloriously witty and polished.”

Goodreads | Amazon

Audra’s Teaser Review

I was reminded of Shirley Jackson’s short stories, as Spark also has the talent of mixing scary with comedy. Just a true mastery of tone that you don’t often find with modern writers.

Read Audra’s entire review at Goodreads.


Thank you for joining us today! We hope you found something to add to your tbr list. Please share your recent reads with us in the comments below.

If you are a LOHF writer and have a book you’d like us to consider for a review please visit our review submission page here.


Laurie is one of our LOHF Admins. Laurie creates our review posts, coordinates review requests, oversees the Ladies of Horror Fiction directory, and manages our LOHF Goodreads group.

You can find Laurie on her blog Bark’s Book Nonsense, on Twitter as @barksbooks, on Instagram as @barksbooks, and on Goodreads.

2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: