Indie Fantasy TBR

With the recent influx of novels on my reading list thanks to SPFBO and new connections on Twitter, I wanted to post about some of the awesome looking books I’m hoping to read over the summer. I also read this really great blog post recently by Zack Argyle about the great fantasy books coming from indie authors, which of course only made this list longer. (I think I’ve added more than these, but I can’t remember them all off the top of my head! I’ll probably end up making multiple posts.)

There’s a good mix of different types of fantasy in here, from historical fantasy to epic fantasy to urban fantasy, so it’s a pretty broad grouping! They all look so good O___O

Has anyone read any of these?

They look great, don’t they?

Individual summaries (with links!):

Blade’s Edge by Virginia McClain

Goodreads

Two friends.
Two forbidden powers.
One chance to change everything.

When Mishi is taken from her orphanage home, she fears she’ll never see her best friend Taka again. And when Taka is taken to the infamous Josankō that same day, it seems as if more than distance will keep them apart.

Suddenly alone in their fight to survive, each girl must come to terms with her true nature—Mishi as warrior, Taka as healer. Years after their separation, the girls’ journeys lead them each to uncover the horrifying secret that the Rōjū council has spent centuries killing to keep.

Now the Rōjū council wants Taka and Mishi dead and they’ll have only one chance to save their people.

How much will Mishi and Taka sacrifice in order to protect all they hold dear?

The Flight of the Darkstar Dragon by Benedict Patrick

Goodreads

Impossible world. Impossible dragon. Impossible adventure.

Lost with her ship and crew in an unfamiliar land, Min’s first command could be her last.

Nothing here behaves the way it should:

The magic that powers her skyship has been drained, rendering it immobile.

The sky is an endless twilight, lit by the luminous fish that swim in it.

Off starboard, there’s also the country-sized dragon that is looking particularly hungry.

It will take all of Min’s training and experience to get her people safely back home, but as the truth about the Darkstar Dimension begins to be revealed, Min will have to prove to her crew – and to herself – that she is still the best person for the job.

From the twisted mind that created the ‘delightfully weird’ Yarnsworld series comes a fantasy adventure like no other.

Grab it now, to set sail on a journey you’ll never forget! 

Last Memoria by Rachel Emma Shaw

Goodreads

Sarilla has learnt one thing from stealing memories. Everybody lies.

There’s nothing Sarilla hates more than stealing memories, but the king forces her to take them to keep his subjects in line. She wants to escape to where nobody knows what she is or what she can do, but her plans go awry when she runs into Falon.

Falon has a six month void in his memories that he’s desperate to restore. He doesn’t know why they were taken or what they contained, nor why the man he loves is acting so cagily about what happened during that time. He hopes to use Sarilla to get back his stolen memories and doesn’t care what she wants or why she’s desperate to escape. She will help him get them back, whether she wants to or not.

A Wind from the Wilderness by Suzannah Rowntree

Goodreads

Hunted by demons. Lost in time.

Welcome to the First Crusade.

Syria, 636: As heretic invaders circle Jerusalem, young Lukas Bessarion vows to defend his people. Instead, disaster strikes.

His family is ripped apart. His allies are slaughtered. And Lukas is hurled across the centuries to a future where his worst nightmares have come true…

Constantinople, 1097: Ayla may be a heretic beggar, but she knows one thing for sure: nine months from now, she will die. Before then, she must avenge her father’s murder–or risk losing her soul.

Desperate to find their way home, Lukas and Ayla join the seven armies marching east to liberate Jerusalem. If Lukas succeeds in his quest, he’ll undo the invasion and change the course of history.

But only if he survives the war.

Only if his enemies from the past don’t catch him.

And only as long as Ayla never finds out who he really is.

Lesser Known Monsters by Rory Michaelson

Goodreads

Being the chosen one isn’t always a good thing.

Oscar Tundale is useless, or at least that’s what he’s always thought. He and his friends are about to discover that not only are monsters real, but some of them are very interested in Oscar. Now, they must find out what the monsters want, before something terrible happens to London; or worse yet, the world.

Lesser Known Monsters is an own voices queer dark fantasy featuring diverse characters on a found family adventure. Perfect for fans of action and paranormal romance seeking LGBTQ+ heroes.

Voice of War by Zack Argyle

Goodreads

While preparing for the birth of his first child, Chrys Valerian is tasked with uncovering the group responsible for a series of missing threadweavers–those able to see and manipulate threadlight. With each failure, the dark voice in his head grows louder, begging to be released.

A young girl from a secret city in the center of the Fairenwild veers off course to explore the streets of Alchea. She never expected that her journey would end in chains.

Far in the deserts to the south, a young man’s life changes after he dies.

When Chrys learns who is responsible for the missing threadweavers, they come for him and his family. He must do everything in his power to protect those he loves, even if it means trusting strangers or, worse, the dark voice in his mind.

Together, they will change the world–whether they intend to or not.

The Lost War by Justin Lee Anderson

Goodreads

The war is over, but something is rotten in the state of Eidyn.

With a ragged peace in place, demons burn farmlands, violent Reivers roam the wilds and plague has spread beyond the Black Meadows. The country is on its knees.

In a society that fears and shuns him, Aranok is the first magically-skilled draoidh to be named King’s Envoy.

Now, charged with restoring an exiled foreign queen to her throne, he leads a group of strangers across the ravaged country. But at every step, a new mystery complicates their mission.

As bodies drop around them, new threats emerge and lies are revealed, can Aranok bring his companions together and uncover the conspiracy that threatens the kingdom?

Strap in for this twisted fantasy road trip from award-winning author Justin Lee Anderson.

Each Little Universe by Chris Durston

Goodreads

If Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett had written an earnestly nerdy story in a setting running on the ridiculous logic of Scott Pilgrim, it might have come out something like this.

For two oddball inventors, taking care of an unexpected new arrival – a girl from the stars – is hard enough. Dealing with the things that want her back may turn out to be harder.

A story about love in all its forms (but not a love story), Each Little Universe wonders with wit and insight about what it means to be human in a vast, peculiar cosmos. A celebration of all that is wonderful and strange about people, each member of its cast of twenty-first century weirdos is both larger than life and peculiarly familiar.

Banished by Lou Yardley

Goodreads

Welcome to the monstrous world of Venari. Try not to get eaten.

Elkbury is an idyllic village, hidden away in a rural area of pseudo-medieval Venari. It’s a place free of death and disease due to a mysterious ceremony called the Banishment. It’s a secret system that has worked well for decades. But, secrets rarely stay secret forever. When Hedwin’s grandmother is about to undertake her own Banishment, he and his best friend Laura Beth decide to find out what their beloved Anastasia is about to experience.

Just like disease, murder has no place in Elkbury, but it has wormed its way in. Wren Goodwort takes it upon herself to find the mysterious killer and clear her name in the process.

Soon Wren, Hedwin, Laura Beth, and the rest of the villagers are thrown together to fight for their lives as deadly, monstrous, and hungry secrets are uncovered and Elkbury’s delicate balance is destroyed.

They Mostly Come Out At Night by Benedict Patrick

Goodreads

He locked himself away from the dark, but in the Magpie King’s forest nowhere is safe…

Lonan is an outcast, accused of letting the monsters that stalk the night into the homes of his fellow villagers. Now, he will not rest until he wins back the heart of his childhood love and reclaims the life that was stolen from him. However, locked safely in his cellar at night, in his dreams Lonan finds himself looking through the eyes of a young prince…

Adahy has a destiny, and it terrifies him. How can he hope to live up to the legend of the Magpie King, to become the supernatural protector of the forest and defender of his people? But when the forest is invaded by an inhuman force, Adahy must rise to this challenge or let the Wolves destroy his people.

Watching these events unfold in his sleep, Lonan must do what he can to protect his village from this new threat. He is the only person who can keep his loved ones from being stolen away after dark, and to do so he will have to earn back their trust or watch the monsters kill everyone that he holds dear.

The Wolf and the Water by Josie Jaffrey

Goodreads

The ancient city of Kepos sits in an isolated valley, cut off from the outside world by a towering wall. Behind it, the souls of the dead clamour for release. Or so the priesthood says.

Kala has never had any reason to doubt their word – until her father dies in suspicious circumstances that implicate the city’s high priest. She’s determined to investigate, but she has a more immediate problem: the laws of the city require her mother to remarry straight away.

Kala’s new stepfather is a monster, but his son Leon is something altogether more dangerous: kind.

With her family fractured and the investigation putting her life in danger, the last thing Kala needs is romance. She would rather ignore Leon entirely, however difficult he makes it. But when she learns the truth of what really clamours behind the wall at the end of the valley, she faces a choice: share what she knows and jeopardise her escape, or abandon him to his fate along with the rest of the city.

If she doesn’t move fast, then no one will make it out of the valley alive. 

Rise of the Dragon Queen by Darragh Steffen

Goodreads

The creatures of old have vanished. Dragonia was once a kingdom where magic roamed freely, but now magic wielders are hunted without mercy. A resistance has formed to fight against the king’s oppression. Legend holds that one called the Dragon Queen will rise to return Dragonia to its former glory.

When Crown Princess Sammaria is kidnapped, the land is thrown into chaos. Her sister Jennica is determined to bring her home safely. Jennica will have to rely on her friends – and the gods – to save her sister, but an ancient force has returned to take control of a weakened Dragonia and threaten her quest. Will Jennica be able to bring her sister home? Will the gods interfere? Will the Dragon Queen rise in time to save the world from destruction? 

Red Harvest Moon by Miles Hurt

Goodreads

THE TABLES FOR THE HARVEST FEAST ARE SET. AND THE GHULS OF URIZAN ARE COMING, UNINVITED.

Led by the colossus Krond, the flesh-eating ghuls are ready to blaze and burn across the lands of Soren. The village of Puttle lies in their path, where they will bring fire and death.

The Black Feather is an outlaw, an outcast, a Wandering Knife. But he is the only hope the villagers have in this dark hour. Bandit turned protector, the Black Feather is hired by the villagers to take up his sword against the marauders.

Krond seeks the Black Feather. The ghuls are hungry. And the harvest moon will shine red.

Daughter of Flood and Fury by Levi Wallace Jacobs

Goodreads

Aletheia Vjolla is a walking heresy: a girl born with a man’s magic, she studies among the city’s revered monks only on the authority of her father, head seer of the temple. Already disliked for her gender and blasphemous magic, things fall apart when her father is deposed and murdered. Searching for answers to his sudden death, Aletheia stays on at the temple only by being the best—and by burying her grief in the quest.

It isn’t enough.

Enemies in her class bring her to the new head seer, who publicly sentences her to death while privately admitting he killed her father. Calling on those few loyal to her father, Aletheia manages to escape, but finds herself alone in a hostile city, unsure how to survive and unable to hide her heritage. Hunted by the temple and darker elements in the city, to vindicate her father she must first learn the lesson he couldn’t teach her: how to find the strength in her heresy. 

Film Reviews: Battle (2018) & Fierce (2020)

Dance/musical competition films are such a fun subgenre that I don’t watch nearly enough. I grew up with Save the Last Dance (2001) and Honey (2003), but there was a good stretch there where I didn’t watch any. Although Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) was bloody hilarious. Break, that I reviewed a few weeks ago, reignited my love of the genre, so I marathoned a couple this week: Battle (2018) and Fierce (2020).

Fierce is a Polish film that follows a young woman who gets herself involved in a singing-on-television competition in order to impress/frustrate her estranged father, who is one of the judges. The singing in this is really, really impressive. The lead actress, Katarzyna Sawczuk, competed in the Voice of Poland competition in real life, and she’s fantastic. Maciej Zakościelny, who plays her dad, is equally as talented, and I loved his guitar scenes, haha. I also really adored the mother and grandmother! Honestly, the cast overall were awesome, the songs were really catchy and I liked the ending. There is one scene in this that had me like WHOA though, and totally took me by surprise. I won’t spoil you, but it’s near the end and I was like O.o for about five minutes.

Battle is a Norwegian film that follows a dancer after her father loses all of their money and they lose their home. They move to a new place and she hides the reality of her situation from her friends and boyfriend. When she meets Mikael, a young hip-hop dancer, she ends up discovering a whole new side of her new life and of other kinds of dancing. It’s very much like Save the Last Dance and Break, and I totally recommend it! The dance numbers are worth it and the main couple are adorable. Lisa Teige and Fabian Svegaard Tapia are brilliant actors!

Short Film Review: Query (2020)

I stumbled upon this film randomly, but it makes for a really good short watch (I believe it’s less than ten minutes!). It kind of follows a similar format to the Before Trilogy, with two people walking around and talking the entire time. This one centres around two friends, Jay and Alex, as they discuss the ins and outs of sexuality and how they know for sure that they’re heterosexual. They go back and forth on the matter, open-minded and bantering. I think the film could’ve used just a few more minutes of dialogue and maybe a few more topics and twists, but it works well as is. Definitely worth a watch!

The Outlands Pentalogy – new covers!

I’m absolutely delighted to unveil the new covers for The Outlands Pentalogy. My dear friend Heather made them (she’s a wonderful designer, for anyone looking for a book cover!). These books are dystopian/science fiction, with a dash of romance!

Behold:

The book’s map is here, for anyone curious! Add on Goodreads.

October Recommendations

October is probably my favourite month of the year. I love the themes, the bite in the air and the scented candles. Everything is orange and yellow and red, everyone’s wearing jumpers and scarves, and things seem quieter, calmer. So I wanted to compile some of the things I associate with October into one place. And because I think this is a season that blends cosiness with spookiness well, these recs are very varied!

Gilmore Girls (2000), without a doubt. This has been a childhood favourite of mine for years, but whenever I think of autumn and fall, I think of Lorelei and Rory. Everything about Stars Hollow is cosy and cute, the colours are so vibrant and the town so festive. Definitely a fall favourite! I also really find the small town theme very cosy, so following this theme, allow me to also recommend Virgin River (2019) and Hart of Dixie (2011).

The Exorcist (2016) is another show to watch this month, for sure. I really loved the storylines and everyone should give it a go. It got cancelled after two seasons, but it ends on a good note that isn’t utterly frustrating or cliffhangery. Some other really good shows are: Bates Motel (2013), Slasher: The Executioner (2016) and Zone Blanch (2017). Unfortunately, I think Zone Blanch was cancelled, too, but gosh if it wasn’t amazing noir-misty-mystery.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) has amazing Hallowe’en episodes and they’re basically classics by this point: people turning into their costumes, a haunted house that becomes real, Giles and his costumes, Dawn getting into trouble. Stranger Things (2016) is also definitely going to enter the realm of classics someday.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is probably one of the top October recs. I want to actually watch The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949) soon, which I haven’t seen yet, but I really love the movie Sleepy Hollow (1999). I also recommend It Follows (2014), which is so eerie, I can’t even describe. It’s all filmed on site in Detroit, which was really cool. Some other more classic recs are: Practical Magic (1998), Hocus Pocus (1993), Scream (1996), The Addams Family (1991) and The Cabin in the Woods (2012).

I recently watched The Skeleton Key (2005), which follows a young nurse when she goes to tend to an aged couple on an old plantation in Louisiana. She quickly discovers that not everything is as it seems and there’s something else in the house. It’s an interesting addition to the Southern Gothic genre, although I didn’t like it as much as I’d hoped. The cast is great, though!

Other general horror movies for you to peruse, if you’re in the mood: Christine (1983), Friday the 13th (2009), #Alive (2020), The Possession (2012) and It (2017). I also have some horror-comedy recs here. Horror-comedy is one of my favourite subgenres and I wish there were more in the category!

Candles! I love candles. They’re absolutely one of the best things about fall and winter. I mean, I have candles year round, but the best scents come out around this time: pumpkin, spice, ginger, apple, cinnamon. All smells I associate with autumn and all are pretty much guaranteed to put me in a festive mood.

The clothes! I’m not a summer clothes kind of lady. I prefer jeans, boots, jumpers, scarves and knit hats. I definitely prefer the cold weather, too, but I also just think the styles are so much better. Fall styles > summer styles, for real. I got a new coat and scarf recently (on sale!) and love wearing them when I go out. I’m not much for short sleeves, to be honest.

As for reads, I think Pumpkinheads (2019) definitely picks up the spirit of the season! Such an adorable comic/graphic novel, honestly. I also absolutely loved The Monsters We Deserve (2019). Like, really truly loved it. I finally got to The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (1820), which I reviewed here and can wholeheartedly recommend it. Of course there’s the always relevant The Exorcist (1971), Dracula (1897) and Frankenstein (1818). The Witches (1983) is another classic.

General horror reads: I Know What You Did Last Summer (1973), Everything’s Fine (2020), Anything Resembling Love (2020), Eyes I Dare Not Meet in Dreams (2017), Selfies (2014), These Deathless Bones (2017), A Forest, or a Tree (2019), Lullaby for a Lost World (2016), A Gift of Magic (1972), Gallows Hill (1997), The Third Eye (1984), Killing Mr Griffin (1990), Stranger With my Face (1990), Down a Dark Hall (1975), and Summer of Fear (1976).

And, of course, Hallowe’en, or All Hallows’ Eve, or Samhain. I have a huge fascination with history, especially the history of religions and holidays. And I am fascinated by Pagan and Celtic history. I was never much into the trick or treating aspect of the modern holiday, although the few times I went as a kid were good fun. But I’ve always loved the atmosphere of the time, the idea of a thinning between the worlds.

Annnnd that’s all I can think of for now. What do you love during October?

Film Review: Friday the 13th (2009)

I’m definitely not a fan of gore-horror. And yet for some reason I’ve still seen a good number of them? I don’t know. I’m easily grossed out and scared, but sometimes I’m also in the mood for an over the top kind of flick. So today I decided to rewatch Friday the 13th (2009). I’m not really into the franchise (again, I like my horror spooky, not gore-y), but I like the casting of this film: Jared Padalecki, Danielle Panabaker and Ryan Hanson are all fantastic, so I sort of endure the gore.

I think Jason is probably one of the scariest film villains of all time. Like, I have absolutely no desire to watch Freddy V Jason. I am a wimp. But I previously watched this one when it first came out because I was watching Supernatural at the time and I made a point of watching all of Jensen Ackles’ and Jared Padelecki’s filmography. I also watched My Bloody Valentine 3D (2009) right around the same time. And it’s funny that I’m so scared of horror given that Supernatural was my favourite show of all time when I was younger. But I suppose half the fun of watching a horror movie/show is scaring yourself. And this one is certainly frightening!

What I like about Friday the 13th (2009) is Clay’s determination to find his sister. I really like those kinds of characters. I didn’t care much for any of the other characters apart from Clay, Jenna and Whitney, but they’re in the majority of the film and bring good characterisation to an otherwise nonstop gore fest, which is a plus.

I’m not sure if this made me inclined to see the original, but if you like terrifying movies with lots of screaming, this might be up your alley. I’m mostly just glad I watched it during the day time and not while staying at a cabin by the lake.

Short Film Reviews: Toy Story of Terror! (2013) & Toy Story That Time Forgot (2014)

One of my favourite movies this year was Toy Story 4 and I was super bummed that there weren’t any more in the series to watch. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across the shorts!

Toy Story of Terror! is a Hallowe’en tale where our favourite group of toys are watching a horror movie in the boot of the car. The tyre pops and Bonnie’s mum is forced to divert to a motel for the night. Pricklepants is convinced that they’re walking into a horror movie and spooks everyone as things start to unfold in line with his predictions. When Jessie disappears, Buzz and Woody lead the charge to find her, and high jinks ensue!

Toy Story That Time Forgot is centred around Bonnie’s trip to her friend Mason’s house at Christmas time. When Bonnie and Mason ditch the toys for video games, they’re left to fend for themselves amongst Mason’s toys, who have never been played with and don’t know they’re toys.

I was really impressed that these short films were just as good as the movies. The comedy is perfect and the storylines are short and sweet. I totally recommend both. They’re seriously good fun and I laughed the whole way through!

Random Articles I’ve Read This Week

I read so many good articles that I want to recommend to people, and usually I just toss them onto Twitter for anyone who might be interested, but I thought I’d post a few really good ones here to collect them all in one place. In fact, I might actually start doing these regularly, just so I remember which articles to come back to later!

One of my favourite articles recently was Marilyn Manson’s interview with Nicolas Cage on Interview Magazine.I adore Nicolas Cage and I’m sitting here *most impatiently* waiting for National Treasure 3, and I really loved this interview. My other favourite article is, ‘100 Years of Photographs of Gay Men in Love‘, which is just such a lovely collection.

As I was watching a new Turkish drama the other night (Filinta), I ended up doing a bit of research about the history of Turkish television. I read Fatima Bhutto’s article on The Guardian, ‘How Turkish TV is taking over the world‘ and Murat Sofuoglu’s article on Medium, ‘The giddying rise of Turkish television series‘. Both them were so insightful. Also, feel free to recommend any Turkish dramas you like! I’m always here for more recs.

On a radically different note, I’ve been reading a lot about the pandemic’s impact on the world at large. Some really insightful articles that I’ve stumbled across are: ‘Out of Work in America‘ on The New York Times, which is super depressing. So many people are out of work and struggling. My heart breaks for each and every one of them. ‘Manhattan Hits a Virus Milestone: Median Rent Below $3,000‘ just made my mouth drop. Did anyone ever see that old website that listed New York City apartments pictures versus prices? It was insane.

Today’s ‘America hits highest daily number of coronavirus cases since pandemic began‘ on The Washington Post hit me really hard. This pandemic isn’t nearly over and it’s so heartbreaking. Also, in Irish pandemic news, this article today offered some information on pandemic vaccine progress: ‘Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine could be available ‘within weeks’ and Ireland would be one of the first countries to get it‘.

Pull Yourself Up by Bootstraps? Go Ahead, Try It‘ is another one that’s really worth a read. That article followed this clip, for context. I’m always so impressed with AOC’s know-how and I just adore her. ‘There’s Something About AOC‘ is another wonderful read. I also read John Cusack’s interview about American politics, which was fascinating, and Jacobin‘s new article was really insightful, too. I also want to recommend: ‘How Americans View Foreign Policy in the Trump Era‘ on TIME, for anyone interested in foreign policy.

Has anyone read any good articles this week? I’d love some recs!

A Glimpse into the Gothic

Gothic as a genre is something that’s always intrigued me. I love the idea of dark, spooky manors, of mysteries that lurk beneath, of fog and shadows and whispers. Of course, being named after a Gothic novel – Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca (1938) – probably has something to do with it, but I’m always wanting more. Give me the ghostly, the haunted, the mysterious, and bring it dressed in pale colours, windswept and chilling. Bring it in gorgeous architecture, in castles and manors, in forests and fields and by the sea, with grey skies and constant rains.

The first novel I ever remember properly encountering and identifying as ‘Gothic’ was Northanger Abbey (1871) by Jane Austen. Then there’s Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847) and Gaston Leroux’s Le Fantôme de l’Opéra (1909), which are probably some of the most well known classics. Robert Louis Stevenson’s Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) is on my list, although I haven’t read it yet. I’ve always known the peripheries of this story, but don’t actually know the finer points of the story, so I’d like to read it properly soon. Actually, add Dracula (1897) to that list as well because even though I’m familiar with the names of Count Dracula, Mina, Harker and Van Helsing, and the ins and outs of vampire lore, I haven’t actually read the novel itself. I’ve started it, but never delved in. Must fix this! Carmilla (1872) and Frankenstein (1818), too. For those who don’t know, Frankenstein is considered the first science fiction novel by many! And I adore Mary Shelly and studied her mother Mary Wollstonecraft for college, so I really must read the whole darn thing at some point. I also want to properly read The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891) as I love Oscar Wilde and I’ve seen the adaptation (2009) with Ben Barnes. I very much recommend that one, by the way!

As for more modern stories, I really want to check out Mexican Gothic (2020) by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and can’t wait to get enough time to actually sit down and read it. I’m also curious about Other Words for Smoke by (2019) Sarah Maria Griffin.

There are also a great many wonderful Gothic films and shows worth checking out. I loved Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Underworld (2003) when they first came out, both bringing a bit of action and horror into the genre. And when The Haunting of Hill House (2018) – based on the book by Shirley Jackson (1959) – first came out, I was immediately intrigued. Of course, I wasn’t able to start it straight away due to a busy schedule, but I loved the look of it. (I’ve since started it and it’s great.) The Haunting of Bly Manor (2020), based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw (1898) and other stories, dives right in with a woman telling a spooky tale from the 1980s in England and I’m already on episode three. I’m loving the aesthetics. I’m used to Gothic settings in the 1880s, and seeing it set in the 1980s is a great contrast. I love me some old-timey spookiness, but it’s great to see other decades enter the genre. Crimson Peak (2015) was particularly gruesome, but engrossing all the same. Guillermo del Toro is always good and his signature style really comes through in this one. The cast is also amazing! If you haven’t seen this one yet, I definitely recommend it. Be warned, though, things are twisty in this one! And then of course, Penny Dreadful (2014), which was cancelled much too soon.

I also really like Southern Gothic, which needs more love! True Blood (2008) is a great example, and I really enjoyed the show. When I think of Southern Gothic, the introduction to that show is the first thing that springs to mind. Winter’s Bone (2010) and Mudbound (2017) are also well worth a watch. The Gift (2000), is truly traumatising from what I remember, but it definitely fits the bill of a Southern Gothic! I also watched The Devil All the Time (2020) a couple of weeks ago and it was intense, but definitely engrossing. Justified (2010) could also probably be added to this list, but it’s more Western procedural in my mind. The show is based on Elmore Leonard’s books and it’s one of my top favourite series of all time either way, so if you haven’t seen it, you totally should! The cast is stellar.

There’s so many more books, films and shows that belong on this list, so this is by no means exhaustive!

Do you like Gothic – or a subgenre of Gothic – fiction or romance? Any recommendations? I’d love to know!

Show Review: Marriage Contract / 결혼계약 (2016)

Oof. This one’s tough and beautiful.

Marriage Contract deals with two very tough situations: a son dealing with his mother’s illness and his desperation to find her a new liver; and a young mother, hiding from loan sharks after her deceased husband left her a massive amount of debt, who finds out that she has a brain tumour. The pair cross paths when Kang Hye-soo, the young mother, begins working at Han Ji-hoon’s restaurant. She overhears his plans to marry someone and pay for a liver, she offers herself and requests that he gives her enough money so that her daughter Eun-Seong will want for nothing. Not knowing the reasons why, Ji-hoon pays off the loan sharks, marries Hye-soo, and the pair begin to sort out plans for her giving her liver to his mother.

The more time they spend together, the closer they become, but that only makes things more difficult as Hye-soo doesn’t want to share what’s happening to her with anyone or ask for help. Her scenes are absolutely shattering. Ji-hoon’s mother’s storyline is also devastating; his father’s the absolute worst, though.

One of the best parts of this show, other than Hye-soo and Ji-hoon’s relationship, is their relationship with Eun-Seong. She doesn’t warm up to Ji-hoon at first, and is deeply protective of her mother, but soon the pair begin to bond and it’s clear they come to see each other as family. I loved how fatherly he was and how much he cared about both Hye-soo and Eun-Seong.

I’m not gonna lie, this show will make you cry. Constantly. Hye-soo’s pain is so real and all I wanted to do was reach into the screen and hug her. Ji-hoon is such a good son and caretaker and partner. He really grows over the course of the show and I loved his character progression. His dedication to his mother and now-wife are amazing. LOVE IT.

This show is truly wonderful and touches on some really rough topics. I definitely recommend giving it a chance!