By 5D Literature writer, Amy Glass
Cover image https://leakeysbookshop.com
Part One – Horror
From a reader of Fantasy, Scifi, and Horror -or speculative fiction in general – you could be reasonable in the assumption that this is a trope, confined to the realms of a specific novel due to the outlandishness of its sound. However, this is my new year’s bookish resolution. Yes, I plan on engaging in a News Year resolution that will both save me money, the planet and, ultimately, diminish the epic nature of my current TBR.
2023 saw me revisit the Bookish honoured tradition of the reading challenge, which was updated regularly through my TikTok (read_with_grace). An article will be dropping later this month with round ups and reviews of the first books I have read.
The book challenge sees the quester presented with prompts to find books that represent them. I LOVED it! And this coming year I can see both the scope and the motivation to ditch the book buying for the ultimate quest any fantasy fan can embark upon, the Tackling of the TBR.
2024 I have chosen three Challenges; one horror, which addresses the subgenre of the Gothic and my personal favorite; Scifi, which turns the common tropes in Sci Fi literature into prompts; finally, Fantasy, which again looks at the key tropes for the genre. They total around 95 books over the 3 challenges, with a grand total of 355 books currently waiting on my TBR; I hope to deal some damage to the mountain by the end of the year. My reward – A bookish spree later on – defeats the purpose I know but I am a self proclaimed Book Dragon and those beautiful tomes are my gold.
Continue reading for the Gothic Horror Prompts and the books I have chosen to fulfill them.
As with all my Bookish choices, I believe in diversifying my reading with Own Voices books. Therefore, the following books are representative of a number of communities.
The Dark Place by Britney S. Lewis
Follows the story of seventeen year old Hylee Williams who disappears from our world and ends up in a dark, twisted version of the night that changed her life forever, the night her brother disappeared. When she comes close to solving the mystery she is yanked back into our world, craving normalcy she attends a party where she meets Eilam Roads. It’s a classic teen meets boy situation until she is yanked again and disappears right in front of him.
Together they investigate the truth, but the more they look, the more Hylee begins to see, including her own darkness within.
Certain Dark Things by Sylvia Moreno Garcia
I love Sylvia Moreno Garcias writing, this year I got to begin my journey into the luscious and evocative worlds she creates with the Gods of Jade and Shadow. It was a beautifully woven story of love, sacrifice and truth which has stayed with me long since I finished that final chapter.
Certain Dark Things is set in Mexico City, Domingo is a street kid. Atl is a descendant of the Aztec blood-drinkers, is smart and beautiful- and very dangerous.
Atl needs to escape the city, escaping the narco vampire clan, Domingo wasn’t part of the plan but Atl warms to their scrappy nature and together they run.
Vampires, humans, cops and criminals collide. They stand little chance of getting out alive before they are devoured by the city, but they are determined to try.
Gothic Horror or Thriller (Free choice)
Rouge by Mona Awad
Bunny was a huge success – funnily enough this also sat on my TBR- Rouge is a sinister take on several fairy tales including Snow White. Bella (get the reference?) is obsessed with her skin and skincare videos, Noelle (her mother) mysteriously died, Belle finds herself bach in southern california dealing with the debts and questions following Noelles death.
At the funeral, a mysterious woman in red, baring a trip to a spa and promise of answers. With a pair of helpful red shoes Bella is lure to La Maison du Meduse. Bella discovers shocking secrets, including the reasons for her mothers obsession with mirrors. Theres fairy tale references galore – so I’m already there- and the question of potential demonic forces – I already said I was interested, way to sugar the pot!
The Spirit Bares its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White.
Another autobuy author for me, his writing is visceral, gruesome and plays around with what is a “safespace” and what isn’t. His writing is extreme at times, and while a young Adult title trigger warning should be consulted before entering as trauma is openly explored throughout. Hell Follwed with us was a flawless debut and I cannot wait to read more from this amazing voice.
The Spirit Bares its Teeth is a deep dive into Victorian Medium culture with heavy elements of steampunk throughout. London, 1883 and the veil between the living and the dead has thinned. Silas Bell would rather rip out his violet eye than become a Speaker Wife. He will be married by the end of the year. It doesn’t matter that Silas is a boy, not the girl that everyone else seems to see, practicing surgery on dead pigs. Following a failed attempt to escape, Silas is sent to Braxtons Finishing School and Sanitorium under the diagnosis of Veil Sickness – a disease which sends young seers mad. Silas decides to fight back and expose Braxton and the Royal Speaker Society’s dark innards to the world – if he isn’t broken first.
The Reformatory by Tananarive Due
A new author to me, I was very excited to buy this one, I even had a hot head moment when the delivery of my copy was pushed. Two months ago it arrived and then sat on my shelf waiting for me to choose it.
The Reformatory takes a deep dive into the horrors of boarding schools and reformatory, somewhere where Black boys tend to end up disproportionately to any other cultural background. This novel looks at the story of Robert Stevens Jr who, following a scuffle with a white boy, is sent to Gracetown School for Boys. The segregated reformatory is a chamber of horrors, haunted by the boys who have died there. To survive the Governor, and his Funhouse, Robert must enlist the helps of these ghosts – but they have their own motives too.
Gothic Classic or Retelling of a Classic
All the Dead Lie Down by Kyrie McCauley
This book, like rouge has a lot of elements, snippets and homages to some of the greats that have come before it, taking from materials such as the Withered Hand and Turning of the Screw, there are delicious references throughout to Gothic Horror Classics.
Marin Blythe is alone, she is offered a job by Alice Lovelace to mind her two, strange children. Thea buries her Dolls, then hosts funerals for them. Wrens focus is to drive Marin away. Alices Eldest daughter returns unexpectedly and Merin quickly becomes obsessed with her compelling behavior and ethereal grace.
But as Marin settles in, the pranks escalate, dead birds in her room and something wicked is in the woods.
Set in an isolated location
The Daughter of Doctor Moreau by Sivia Moreno-Garcia
Sivia Moreno-Garcia, If I could find a book for every prompt, then I would. But sadly that would be a very biased article. This is one I have yet to read, and I am very much looking forward to it. I have found a strong enjoyment for the more feminist leaning retellings of the classic horror stories.
Told through the eyes of the daughter of the eccentric Doctor Moreau, who lives on a sprawling estate far from the conflict and strife of the Yucatan Peninsula. Her only company are the monstrosities created by her father, hybrids who are blindly loyal to their creator.
Enter Eduardo Lizalde, the charming and careless son of a patron to her fathers work. Amidst the sweltering heat of the jungle and the awakening of her own desires, Carlota finds herself questioning her fathers secrets, which could be deadly.
The Haunting of Allejandra by V. Castro
Ghosts are a strong staple of the Gothic genre. They tell stories, making sure we don’t repeat the mistakes made by those before us, or the suffering inflicted on others. They are usually a physical manifestation or pain, be it generational or persecution.
The haunting of Allejandra is a La Llarona story. I greatly enjoy folklore and this story in particular has sparked a strange obsession. TikTok is also currently obsessed with this one, and it will be my first, hopefully of many, V. Castro books.
Allejandra doesn’t know who she is, she is wife and mother, but for herself she is struggling. A ghostly vision appears to her, crying, and wearing a ragged white gown. This leads to an exploration of family history and the realisation that tragedy isn’t the only thing she shares with the generations that came before her. Because the crying woman has been with them all.
Gothic and Dark Academia Vibes
In These Hallowed Halls by Various.
It wouldn’t be a reading challenge if Dark Academia didn’t pop up somewhere, this is not a complaint as it is now one of my most favourite sub genres which is incredibly versatile and spans across most genres of fiction.
In These hallowed Halls is a collection of short stories by some of the big names within Dark Academia, including Olivie Blake – I cannot talk enough about how much I love the Atlas Six. I also adore a short story collection because sometimes you do not have the motivation to power through an epic saga, or interplanetary catastrophes spanning hundreds of pages.
None European Setting
Our Share of Night by Marian Enriquez
Gaspar is Six when the order comes, they have exploited his fathers talents for years. His ability to commune with the dead meant they could hold their rituals and reap the rewards those dead had to offer. The desperate and the unwanted sacrificed to satisfy the darkness the lies beyond the veil. Now the order wants a successor.
Decent into Madness
The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling
The “is it real” questioning prevalent in this trope is incredibly satisfying when executed efficiently. The Death of JAne Lawrence Jane Shoringfield, a practical woman, realises that the only way forward is to marry a man who will allow her to continue with both her work, and her studies. Her main option, Doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees under one condition; Jane is never to go to his family estate Lindridge Hall.
On their wedding night there is an accident which strands her there for the night. Her husband transforms into a terrified, paranoid man, no longer the bold and courageous surgeon, he can no longer tell reality from a nightmare and believes Jane is an apparition. By morning, Augustine is himself once again but Jane knows there is something wrong with both Lindrige Hall and the man she has tied herself to.
This book gives me strong Jekyll and Hyde and REbecca vibes and I am incredibly excited to dive in. I will be reading this via Audio book.
Starling House by Alix E Harrow
Nobody in Eden remembers when Starling House was built. But it is agreed that it goes to hell, both the house and its last heir. Stories about this house, and its dark history are passed down the generations like heirlooms.
Opal should know better, but an opportunity presents itself, and Opal doesn’t have many options and the money could get her brother out of Eden. strangely, Starling house could be home. But dark forces are converging on Starling House. If Opal wants her home, she’s going to have to fight to keep it.
Starling House is your haunted house story with a twist, drawing from tropes that are well known to readers of Rebecca and Blythe manor. This will be one of my most anticipated reads for this challenge.
It will be a busy year of reading – I know, the hardship. But the Gothic Horror Trope challenge is one I am very excited to get stuck into this year. The only struggle is where to start first.
Science Fiction Trope Challenge
|AI Take Over
|The Ticking Clock
|Morals and Ethics
A total of 35 prompts for this one, I will try to tackle 3 books off this List in January. The Prompts and Books I have chosen include:
Splinter in the Sky by Kemi Ashing- Giwa
A colonial space story which follows the Main Character of Enitan. She is taken as a political prisoner by the conquering kingdom of Vaalbaran. Enitan is searching for their sibling and attempting to solve the mystery surrounding the death of her Lover. There are strong messages of Colonialism throughout, forced assimilation and indoctrination.
Several People are Typing by Calvin Kasuike
I love the storytelling approach to this one, it is told entirely through group chats and slack messages, it is satire surrounding Gerald, a mid level employees in a public relations firm, who is sucked into the system, Tron style. It is supposed to be hilarious and poignant in parts. I am very looking forward to this.
The Death I gave Him by Em X. Liu
This is a modern take, Hamlet inspired story set in a Lab which is under lockdown. There are 5 suspects, one murder. The son attempts to unlock the mystery of his fathers murder in the lab they work at. The lab is close to unlocking the cure for Death. The story is supposed to be incredibly tense with high stakes.
Fantasy Trope Challenge prompts and round up!
|The Hero’s Journey
|Paying the Price
|Gods and Deities
|The Lucky Novice
|The Waiting Evil
|Libraries filled with Books
|Enemy Turned Ally
|Secret Hidden Worlds
|Novice to experts
|All the Fairy tales are True
|All Hope Lost
|Free Choice – Favourite
|The Black and White Morality
|The World that never progresses
|The Training Sequence
|Pseudo-european medieval setting
|Epic Storylines with Lots of Characters
|Damsel in Distress
|The Chosen one
|High Stakes Good Vs Evil
|Rescued by the Cavalry
|The Evil one
|Heir to the throne
|The Reluctant Hero
|Goblins, Dwarves and Trolls
|Best of the Best
There are a lot of Prompts that go into this one, month by month I will update on what I have chosen with small reviews for each.
January I am hoping to tackle 5, These include:
The Hero’s Journey
Perilous Times by Thomas D Lee
Is a queer King Arthur retelling, following the reawakening of the knights to deal with Britain’s latest peril. Centuries ago the knights were blessed, or cursed, by Merlin to return whenever Britain is in Peril. They have reawoken a number of times with a clear mission or enemy. This time, the lines are blurred and Kay has discovered that their objectives may have been abused in the past by large corporations and governments alike. Now Kay must embark on a new journey, accompanying a trope of warrior eco feminists to save Britain once again from Peril.
A Pirate’s Life for Tea by Rebecca Thorne
Last year I had the pleasure of “discovering” Rebecca Thorne in the Cozy fantasy side of Booktok, and let me tell you what a freaking treat of a book that was. I so enjoyed their beautiful mildly perilous journeys and encounters as the FMC and her All powerful wizard girlfriend set up a book/teashop in a small corner of the world. This is part two as Kianthe and Reyna are off searching for stolen dragon eggs and there are seafaring hijinxs ahead.
Walk Among Us by various
Is a series of vampire stories featuring a number of my faves, but most notably Cassandra Khaw. It is centered around the theme of vampires, masquerades and monsters so I am happy to say, I am there!
Rage of Dragons Evan Winter
A story of dragons, Magic and Revenge. I feel ashamed that I have yet to dive into this world. I will be reading books 1 and 2 this month. It follows the story of Tau, who is magicless and therefore destined to be cannon fodder. But he has a plan, get himself injured so that he can settle down and start a family. But he is betrayed and all he loves is destroyed. Tau sets out on a journey of revenge to kill those who betrayed him.
The Tensorate Series by Neon Yang
A number of my Fantasy options would have fit this trope, however, I love the genre subversion often at play in Neon Yang’s books. They play well with the expected and lead the reader on a wonderful journey, with lyrical prose and luscious scenes. This series is a collection of short stories set on the backdrop of prophecy and the resulting actions or inactions of others and I am very excited to read.
For January I am hoping to tackle five from the Fantasy challenge, I think I have chosen well we shall see. Will you be joining me in the Reading Challenge? I’ll be updating TikTok regularly with my progress (@read_with_grace) if you want to catch me there. At the end of the Month I will be writing up my thoughts here, and hopefully sharing the books of others.
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