In case you’re new to the blog, Spooktober is an annual event (at least, I tried to make it annually) where I talk about all the ~spooky~ things in honor of Halloween and fall for the whole month of October. You can check out past Spooktober tags by clicking on this link.
October is the month where apparently the fall festivities went into full swing, with the temperature dropping and Halloween just around the corner. Which also makes it the perfect month to read all the atmospheric books- old sleepy towns, magical happenings, and the likes. Unfortunately, not all books with the perfect atmosphere will ended up being a beloved read- sometimes things just don’t work together and I ended up disliking it.
However, what didn’t work for me doesn’t mean it will not work for other readers! People can just have different tastes; what works for me might not work for other readers and vice versa. I saw this idea from Sabrina @ Wordy and Whimsical and it sounds like the perfect type of post to write for this time of the year. So today I’m going to recommend some books that despite having amazing atmosphere, just didn’t work for me. I’m going to format it by telling you guys what buzzwords or tropes that drew me in, what didn’t work, and who I think will enjoy these books before linking it to goodreads and its synopsis.
Without further ado, let’s get started!
01. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
What drew me in: That cover! Plus the promo was comparing the book with Supernatural, with the whole inherited ghost-hunting job going on. And finally, there’s the fact that people keep saying that this book was really scary and Anna did seem notorious for leaving no survivors.
What didn’t work: *sighs* It was heavy on the romance, which felt like an insta-love and came out of nowhere. Of course I was aware going in that there was going to be romance, but I didn’t expect it to happen so soon and become such a huge focus of the story. I was really enjoying the lore and the atmosphere but the romance really ruined it for me.
You will enjoy it if… You’re looking for a story set in small, sleepy town with an infamous haunted house and murderous ghost; nothing too creepy, but still a well-built lore; an enemies to lovers romance.
Searching for a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas expects the usual: track, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, now stained red and dripping with blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.
Yet she spares Cas’s life.
02. Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin
What drew me in: Masquerades! I was promised a lot of masquerades, amidst a devastating plague that decimated the population.
What didn’t work: This one’s on me since I wasn’t familiar with the source material (The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe) so I found the plot and the whole multiple room arrangement confusing. I read Poe’s story a few years later and loved it, so I think I might appreciate this book better if I read it now.
You will enjoy it if… You enjoy The Masque of the Red Death by Edgar Allan Poe and wanted to read a retelling; you’re in the mood for some mysterious parties and mysterious love interest 😉
So what does Araby Worth have to live for?
Nights in the Debauchery Club, beautiful dresses, glittery makeup . . . and tantalizing ways to forget it all.
But in the depths of the club—in the depths of her own despair—Araby will find more than oblivion. She will find Will, the terribly handsome proprietor of the club, and Elliott, the wickedly smart aristocrat. Neither is what he seems. Both have secrets. Everyone does.
And Araby may find not just something to live for, but something to fight for—no matter what it costs her.
03. Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
What drew me in: Sleepy seaside town, crumbling gothic manor, charming boy and unexplainable things started happening…. It just sounds like it had everything I ever wanted in a book 🥺
What didn’t work: The main character was frustrating, the plot was convoluted, and the villain was not fleshed out. It was a really frustrating reading experience
You will enjoy it if… You have more patience than I did? 😅 The atmosphere was so on point and I had to admit I can see why the main character Violet was written the way she did, but I just couldn’t overlook how annoyed I was with her. In a way, the romance was very romantic? Like it was manipulative yes but the writing was gorgeous in a way that when Violet was under the spell, you can feel her floating and devotion towards River.
I would admit that it was the author’s debut and I’ve read Tucholke’s other books, for which they also have unique & whimsical premise. While Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea wasn’t a perfect read, it offered something different in a market saturated with vampires and werewolves.
Nothing much exciting rolls through Violet White’s sleepy, seaside town… until River West comes along. River rents the guest house behind Violet’s crumbling estate, and as eerie, grim things start to happen, Violet begins to wonder about the boy living in her backyard.
Is River just a crooked-smiling liar with pretty eyes and a mysterious past? Or could he be something more?
Violet’s grandmother always warned her about the Devil, but she never said he could be a dark-haired boy who takes naps in the sun, who likes coffee, who kisses you in a cemetery… who makes you want to kiss back.
Violet’s already so knee-deep in love, she can’t see straight. And that’s just how River likes it.
Blending faded decadence and the thrilling dread of gothic horror, April Genevieve Tucholke weaves a dreamy, twisting contemporary romance, as gorgeously told as it is terrifying—a debut to watch.
04. Strange Grace by Tessa Gratton
What drew me in: Small isolated community, deal with the devil, human sacrifices, queer polyamorous romance
What didn’t work: The pacing was horrible, it was frustrating. I think it took around 40% for things to picked up?
You will enjoy it if… You’re in the mood for something slow burn- because all the elements are perfect, it’s just it took time to reach the “good” parts
Long ago, a village made a bargain with the devil: to ensure their prosperity, when the Slaughter Moon rises, the village must sacrifice a young man into the depths of the Devil’s Forest.
Only this year, the Slaughter Moon has risen early.
Bound by duty, secrets, and the love they share for one another, Mairwen, a spirited witch; Rhun, the expected saint; and Arthur, a restless outcast, will each have a role to play as the devil demands a body to fill the bargain. But the devil these friends find is not the one they expect, and the lies they uncover will turn their town—and their hearts—inside out.
05. Evernight by Claudia Gray
What drew me in: Vampires going to a gothic boarding school in the middle of nowhere…. I was fresh out of Vampire Academy so I was really intrigued with this one!
What didn’t work: Honestly…….. It was the romance 🤡 Again, I knew going in that it’s going to be romance heavy but it was very tropey. It has all the tropes from late 2000s – early 2010s paranormal romance it was unbearable 😬
You will enjoy it if… I would say the vampire lore is very well built in this series, it was interesting to read! Also, the gothic aspect of the book did not disappoint. It will be perfect if you’re in the mood for some YA paranormal!
She’s been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn’t fit in.
Then she meets Lucas. He’s not the “Evernight type” either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs, and warns Bianca to be careful—even when it comes to caring about him.
“I couldn’t stand it if they took it out on you,” he tells Bianca, “and eventually they would.”
But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can’t be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them apart . . . and to make Bianca question everything she’s ever believed.