Tag Archives: gothic horror

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Book Review: The Hunted Mate, by Darcy Dahlia

Here we are in 2024, and my first read was Darcy Dahlia‘s The Hunted Mate. I picked it up as an Amazon freebie back in September 2023. I think there was some sort of horror stuff-your-kindle sort of event.
the hunted mate cover

The only thing I want is revenge. I just never counted on the monster that wants me.

The ocean’s seemingly endless depths call to me, tempt me not to surface. I want to obey, to push myself until it’s too late to turn back. For years, I’ve fought the call. But when an accident claims my mentor’s life my resolve weakens. Only my anger keeps my feet on firm ground.

The only thing stronger than my grief is my hatred for the man that so casually takes her place.

Jack Hunter.

He erases her memory and no dares to stop him.

I will.

The only thing that can stop my quest for revenge is the monster. When I’m trapped on the beach alone with it I have to admit it’s real. A thing that isn’t just shadows. It’s something that is real, and hungry for me.

Now I’m a woman hunted by something I don’t understand and as much as I want to get away from Jack, I’m drawn to him. Hungry for him.

It’s no longer a matter of revenge, but survival of both my body and heart.

my review

This was a fine—if rambly—read. Often, when I give such vague praise, it’s because I didn’t like the book but can’t explain why. That’s not the case here. I generally liked the book. But I also quibble with both the description (which is accurate but also gives all the wrong impressions) and its categorization of gothic romance. Personally, I would call this light horror. Just because two individuals have sex and eventually become mates does not necessarily make it a romance. I, for example, would not call the ending a happy one. And that is a must for a romance novel.

This paragraph is a spoiler: While on paper, the female character is happy to be mated to Jack at the end, she had been magically coerced and biologically adapted to be so. It is very clear throughout the story that this was not something she knew would happen or wanted. In fact, she was horrified and tries to escape. The fact that she failed and, thus, the transformation was successful was not a good thing for her autonomy. Let’s compare it to brainwashing. If she had been forcefully brainwashed into accepting something that she fundamentally did not want, would we call that a happy ending? I consider free will essential to happiness, so I would not. Thus, this cannot be called a romance, in my opinion (not even dark romance). Others may disagree. But that is where I am.

Further, the fact that she (as a whole person) was handed over to a man as a reward makes me angry. This is such an old trope—going all the way back to the texts of the ‘religions of the book.’ I hate it more than I can speak because it literally treats women as objects to be exchanged and owned. Have we not progressed past this? Dahlia really leans into it in this book, especially in the sex scene, which is, at best, dub-con. I would call it violent non-con myself. I disliked it. I honestly think the book would have been significantly better without the ‘you’ve been given to me’ element. The plot could have the hunted mate photoremained largely unchanged without it, a sure sign it wasn’t really needed.

In the end, I quibble with the categorization. But as light horror, it’s pretty good. (If I read more horror, I could probably say which horror subgenre to put it in—probably gothic—but I don’t read much horror. So, I’m going to stick with light horror as a hand-wavey descriptor.) I’d read more of Dahlia’s writing.

Other Reviews:


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Book Review: Black Forest, by Laramie Dean

I accepted a review copy of Laramie Dean’s Black Forest for review through Pride Book Tours. And I try really hard to stay on top of any commitment I make. But I owe profuse apologies for this one. I got buried in schoolwork and just had to set the book aside for about two weeks and didn’t get it done in time. It sat on my side table, haunting me in a manner truly worthy of its content.

black forest cover

Nathan has always been haunted by what he calls “deaders,” frightening, disfigured creatures—once human but now hungry and relentless ghosts. After a séance to banish them goes awry, Nathan escapes high school to start over at Waxman University in idyllic Garden City, Montana. But when young men begin to go missing from campus, Nathan finds that the deaders have returned, more frightening and hungrier than ever.

With the help of the mysterious Theo, Nathan seeks to learn the truth behind the disappearances. But something worse than the deaders begins to haunt Nathan . . . something with glowing yellow eyes and giant wings. As reality grows thin, things emerge from the cracks. Is Theo what he seems? Or could he be some kind of monster? Will Nathan learn the truth before he vanishes into the darkness? 

my review

I’m torn about how to feel about this book. On the one hand, I enjoyed it. I liked the realness of it and Nathan’s unreliable self-destructiveness. I thought the writing purple as hell, which will probably bother some people, but I enjoy it. But on the other, I felt like (after a strong start) the book flagged, and I got bored.

Plus, the blurb talks about Theo and disappearances, etc. Theo and Nathan don’t truly meet until well PAST THE HALFWAY MARK. So, I have to quibble with that being in the blurb as if it’s the most significant plotline. It’s important, don’t get me wrong. But if I have to read 200+ pages before I get to it, I can’t consider it prime real estate blurb-worthy.

All in all, this is atmospheric and mind-bending (if at times mind-numbing). But I enjoyed more of it than I didn’t. So, I’ll give it a thumbs-up.

Other Reviews:

Black Forest by Laramie Dean _ Book Review


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Book Review: Weep, Woman, Weep – by Maria DeBlassie

I agreed to review Maria DeBlassie‘s Weep, Woman, Weep as part of its Goddess Fish Promotions Book Tour. The book has also previously been featured over on Sadie’s Spotlight. So, you can nip on over there for author information and an excerpt.


The women of Sueño, New Mexico don’t know how to live a life without sorrows. That’s La Llorona’s doing. She roams the waterways looking for the next generation of girls to baptize, filling them with more tears than any woman should have to hold. And there’s not much they can do about the Weeping Woman except to avoid walking along the riverbank at night and to try to keep their sadness in check. That’s what attracts her to them: the pain and heartache that gets passed down from one generation of women to the next.

Mercy knows this, probably better than anyone. She lost her best friend to La Llorona and almost found a watery grave herself. But she survived. Only she didn’t come back quite right and she knows La Llorona won’t be satisfied until she drags the one soul that got away back to the bottom of the river.

In a battle for her life, Mercy fights to break the chains of generational trauma and reclaim her soul free from ancestral hauntings by turning to the only things that she knows can save her: plant medicine, pulp books, and the promise of a love so strong not even La Llorona can stop it from happening. What unfolds is a stunning tale of one woman’s journey into magic, healing, and rebirth.

my review
I admit that I am not really a raver. I tend to be fairly reserved in my praise. Regardless, I have to say that Weep, Woman, Weep is a truly exceptional story of surviving and escaping generational trauma (sometimes over generations, by virtue of dilution as much as individual grit). Through Mercy the reader is able to see the struggles and challenges of the endeavor—as well as the failures— and feel the exuberance of growth, revelation, freedom, and rejuvenation.

The writing is haunting and lyrical (quite gothic) and DeBlassie manages to relay the despair and dangers to Mercy’s (and the other young women of her town) without forcing the reader to sit through anything graphic for the shock factor. (It wasn’t needed.) The characters are likeable and distinct. The editing is clean and the cover is gorgeous. Whether you call it gothic horror, fairy-tales, or magical realism, I’ll be well up for more of DeBlassie’s writing.


Other Reviews:

Coffee and Wander Books – Review: Weep, Woman, Weep

Review: Weep, Woman, Weep by Maria DeBlassie (2021)

Weep, Woman, Weep