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What: Monstersona by Chloe Spencer

Who: Tiny Ghost Press

When: February 14th 2023

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Tiny Ghost Press for review.

After her parents’ divorce, 16 year old Riley Grishin is forced to move from Portland, Oregon all the way to Little Brook, Maine, a small town that serves as the headquarters for Titan Technologies, an international science corporation.

Having no friends, Riley spends most of her days running through the woods with her dog Tigger, and eavesdropping on her classmates—in particular, the gorgeous, but very strange, Aspen Montehugh.

On the night of the homecoming game, Riley wakes up to find that her town is on fire, and being terrorized by an unseen monster. With the flames rapidly spreading, Riley and her dog Tigger have no choice but to pile up in their beat-up pickup truck and flee the town. But as they’re driving away, they come across the only other survivor: Aspen.

When Aspen and Riley reach safety, they realize that something far more strange and sinister is happening. According to the news, all of the other Titan Tech laboratories on the East Coast have spontaneously combusted. All air travel has been grounded, so Riley has no way to fly to her dad who lives in Seattle. Riley and her dad agree to meet up in Minneapolis, and Aspen comes along in hopes of finding her aunt.

As they travel across the country, they are attacked by monsters and strange armed men in the dead of night. Slowly, Riley realizes that something’s not quite right with Aspen, which puts her feelings for her—and her own humanity—to the ultimate test.

The first thing you need to know about Monstersona is that Tigger lives. Tiny Ghost Press actually confirmed this for me on their Instagram because I cannot handle Good Boys like Tigger dying in horror just for the sake of it (because LBR most animal death in horror is for the sake of it and serves no greater purpose).

Monstersona might be the first sci-fi horror I’ve ever read, and I must say it was an interesting intersection. It reminded me of quite a few different movies/TV shows because it had the end of the world vibes, on the run through an apocalyptic world, as well as creepy men in black suits wanting to kill you. I sometimes thought that maybe it tried to be too much, but for the most part I just went with it.

The bi rep was to be expected from a Tiny Ghost Press (a spooky and queer specific publisher) book, but it is always great to see queer rep expanding into new genres like sci-fi horror. For so long it was just contemporary books and no we have queer rep in so many genres and I am here for it.

I do have to admit I wasn’t full invested in Riley and Aspen together but that could just be a me thing! I guess when a story is only set over 10 or so days then the romance is going to feel rushed, even if they are bonding over mutual traumatic experiences. But I am a sucker for romance development so what can I say?

Overall, Monstersona was really unique, and if you’re looking for a story quite unlike anything you’ve read before with bonus bi rep, body horror, and a doggo sidekick then I suggest giving this a go!

© 2024, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

gore, death (including parental death), strong language, kidnapping, physical violence and gun violence, PTSD, biphobia and sexual assault (provided by the author), as well as depiction of a deceased infant

What: This Pact Is Not Ours by Zachary Sergi

Who: Tiny Ghost Press

When: October 3rd 2023

How: A copy of this novel was provided by Tiny Ghost Press for review.

The summer before college Luca Piccone returns to Copper Cove, the idyllic campsite he and his closest friends have visited every year since they were kids. To Luca, Copper Cove is like the setting of the fantasy movies he loves, a sanctuary, protected from the dangers of the outside world, where nothing goes wrong and everything stays the same.

But this year things are changing.

Desperate to make this summer the best one yet, Luca tries to ignore the freshly torn rifts within his tight friend group, the pangs of unrequited love, the anxiety attacks he thought he’d left back at school, and the shadows at the edge of the forest threatening to break free. Until he learns the terrible truth.

Every generation the children of four families are bound by a pact. A pact designed to keep the camp pristine and the monstrous force lurking beneath the campsite imprisoned. But in order to do this, an unthinkable price must be paid–a price that has soaked the previous generations in blood. Can Luca keep his friends, and his favorite place, from being ripped apart?

By the end of the summer, only one thing is for Copper Cove will never be the same again.

The entire time I was reading This Pact Is Not Ours I thought it would have made a better TV show. There are things that just didn’t work in a novel that would have worked on screen, like Luca’s absolute obsession with Copper Cove, the traditions that the friend group had, their nicknames, and even the scary parts. As it was, a lot of it unfortunately came across as really cringe.

One thing that really came out of the blue was Luca’s faith, and the way he talked about prayer and meditation. I guess this was something that I really didn’t expect so it threw me a bit. Not saying it’s a bad thing, just something that didn’t seem to 100% fit into the story.

The horror bits were definitely the strongest aspect of This Pact Is Not Ours, and to be honest I wish there was more horror! Give me more of the creepy entity that, like, eats people. I am here for it!! As it was, the scary moments that were in the book were really good and gave off the perfect vibes of a summer horror story (which actually kind of reminded me of I Know What You Did Last Summer, which was fun).

I have to admit the ending did feel a bit rushed considering everything, but at least there was closure because horror endings that leave too much to interpretation really grate on me to be honest.

All in all, This Pact Is Not Ours was a quick and fun horror read perfect for either the spooky season or a nice summer scare.

© 2024, Chiara @ Books for a Delicate Eternity. All rights reserved.

trigger warning

forced outing recounted & off-page, panic attacks, suicide, murder, fire (from Trigger Warning Database)

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Posted on: April 17, 2024 • By: Chiara

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