If you’re struggling to read right now, you’re not alone — a ton of people are reporting book slumps like no ones business. And to be honest, it makes sense — most people are dealing with a lot of stress right now. For over a year, we have been confronted with our own mortality in dealing with a global pandemic.
We have also been confronted with the duality of life — joy and grief, birth and death. These themes have become inescapable in our daily lives. This is why I’m recommending alternating romance and horror to break your book slump. It will help you feel connected with the good, the bad, and the ugly of humanity in a time when it’s quite frankly really easy to feel isolated.
It may seem like a weird pairing on the surface, but I promise you, it’s not. Gothic horror and gothic romance actually share a common ancestor, so it’s not that far-fetched of an idea to pair them together. In the late 1700’s, the Romanticism movement saw the birth of the Gothic literature genre. A lot of the themes and tropes present in horror were also present in romance novels, at least in Gothic horror and romance. And the great thing about modern-day horror and romance is that there are SO MANY subgenres to choose from.
After the horrors of the pandemic and societal implications surrounding it, you may need help processing the events of the last year. Horror books will offer a glimpse behind the mask of everyday cruelties that can seem slippery or hard to face head-on. It helps us understand the roots of horrible acts in our world too. At its core, horror seeks to remind us all that we can fight the atrocities in our world and come out victorious, even if bruised and a little worse for wear.
Alternatively, romance has a balancing effect, bringing joy and consolation to you in a time where comfort can be hard to come by. We often seek out romance novels because of the need for an optimistic and hopeful plot. Romance novels encourage empathy and increase our emotional awareness of other people. We find comfort in the stability and familiarity of an ending that’s happily ever after, every time!
So, you may have been skeptical initially but I hope now you see that horror and romance are like cheese and crackers (or Sour Patch Kids?) Anyway, what I’m getting at is they make an unlikely pair but they balance your reading palette quite nicely. Try it for yourself!
This novella is a sci-fi alien story wearing the skin of a noir, and it is every bit as twisty and grotesque as that sounds. With raw and visceral prose that is equally repulsive and transfixing, I couldn't put this horror novella down. Cass Khaw is an auto-read for me now.
Emmy Harlow thought that she left the magical town of Thistle Grove and her painful past with her ex behind for good - until she gets summoned to participate in the annual magical competition. While back at home, she realizes that two of her friends have also been hurt by the same ex and want revenge - her hometown best friend linden and the beautiful and intoxicating witch talia. A revenge pact is born, and three spurned witches make a pretty terrifying adversary. But soon, Emmy and Talia have a connection unlike any other, and Emmy is torn between two worlds: her life as a normal person in Chicago and her life in Thistle Grove. Maybe she can have the best of both worlds!
On a drowned world, the last refugees live on stranded ship surrounded by bloodthirsty monsters, and pregnant outsider Iraxi is their last hope at survival and repopulation. But when Iraxi gives birth to a being that isn’t exactly human, she soon realizes she might be their doom. And maybe, her anger and grief is fuel for a destiny bigger than any she could have imagined.
This novella is razor sharp teeth and the smell of death. Rocklyn weaves a tale of loss, pain, betrayal, rebirth, and vengeance that will haunt me for a while. It is bloody and brutal and devastatingly human at its core.
A delightful rom-com that acknowledges its tropes and celebrates the genre in a seamless and authentic way. Olive and Adam are two lonely spirits who don't understand their true worth and how they are better together. A fascinating look inside the stressful world of academia and science and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
This Gothic horror did not disappoint, with an unreliable narrator, psychological twists, and hungry entities that haunt the halls of a crumbling mansion at night. Jane is a practical, logical woman, prone to studying mathematical theorems in her spare time. But when she enters into an arranged marriage with Dr. Lawrence, an enigmatic surgeon, little does she know that he comes with a significant amount of baggage - a haunted mansion, and maybe even murder? The tension increases page by page as the characters question their sanity, and slowly sink into madness. I felt a sense of creeping dread reading this that left me shaken. Gripping, twisty, horrifying and grotesque, I was repulsed by parts of this book but found myself unable to look away with the same sick curiosity that led to Jane and Augustine’s ruin.
The Sound and The Fury meets Fast and Furious in this queer gothic horror from Lee Mandelo that made me laugh out loud, cry (a lot), and pace the room clutching the book to my chest and talking to myself because I had so many feelings about it. Andrew and Eddie have always been unnaturally close for best friends, but after Eddie dies and Andrew essentially inherits his life, he has to learn to function alone. Eddie's death raises more questions than it answers, though, and Andrew's investigation will unearth deeper truths than he bargained for. -Lizy
The Greek Gods like you’ve NEVER seen them before! This Hades and Persephone romance in contemporary Olympus was scorching hot - like fiery public sex hot. Persephone wants to leave the Thirteen behind, but when her mother forces her into an arranged marriage with Zeus of all the gods, she knows her days alive are probably numbered. Zeus has quite the reputation for unaliving his wives, and Persephone is afraid she’s next. She flees Zeus and accidentally rushes straight into the arms of Hades, god of the underworld and resident myth/ goth hottie but secret soft boy whose story she’s always been intrigued by.
While having sizzling hot sex scenes, this book also had great dialogues on consent, protection, and codependency. I really enjoyed it and my thirst for more hot Greek God stories is insatiable.
A moving portrait on grief and acceptance, Under the Whispering Door is the perfect book for people who need to be reminded it’s ok not to be ok.
Wallace Price lived a life of wealth and career success, but it’s only after he dies that he truly learns how to live with the help of his found family. He also learns to embrace the unknown when he starts to fall in love with the ferry man who’s supposed to help him ultimately cross to the other side.
Full of heart humor and emotion, this book comforted me and held me in my feelings in a way other books just don’t. It’s like TJ Klune can see humanity’s pain and suffering and wants all of us to know we don’t have to face it alone, which is so powerful and beautiful.
This book will be my go to comfort read whenever life throws big hurdles my way next.
THE MONSTER OF ELENDHAVEN is twisted, gritty, grotesque, and violent, and left me breathless. Johann is a dark creature wearing the skin of a human who delights in murder and other heinous acts. Florian, a rich man of Elendhaven who has a tragic backstory, some magical abilities, and a brutal revenge scheme, enlists Johann's help. By the end of the novella, I was as hungry for blood as Johann. Johann and Florian form an unforgettable relationship and their banter and dark humor was satisfying. A gothic dark fantasy debut that is sure to leave readers wanting more!
With Japanese folklore, a sentient house that devours its victims with a black grin, and an incisive look at the complexity of people, this ghost story is vicious with visceral terror that cuts deep!
I was so happy to be back at the Renaissance Fair. This year, as her friends from Well Met get engaged, tavern wench Stacey takes stock of her life and sees where she’d rather be instead. She reaches out to her summer Faire fling partner Dex to see if they can develop a deeper connection. To her surprise, a tender and deep online relationship is forged between her and Dex... or does it? The Renaissance Faire comes around again and brings some startling realizations.