My Haunted Library

All things spooky. Your source for paranormal and supernatural book and movie reviews, strangeography, Halloween crafts and a little cozy fall baking.


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Review: The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death

How exactly did a tomato decimate humankind and cause vampires, witches, werewolves come out of hiding? Find out in this prequel to Harrison’s bestselling Hollows series.

The Turn: The Hollows Begins with Death—Kim Harrison, 2017. Rating 3/5

Trisk, a dark elf, is a top-notch geneticist but the glass ceiling keeps her from getting a plum job. Her bitter nemesis, elf Trent Kalamack—“Kal”—has had his way smoothed by his parents’ name and money. Trisk lands a position in a human lab as part researcher and part elven corporate spy. While keeping an eye on fellow scientist, Dr. Plank, who is working on a tactical virus, Trisk develops a genetically modified tomato that promises to end world hunger. Kal, out to discredit Trisk’s research and steal her ideas for himself, links the tomato to the weaponized virus and unleashes a killing plague that rips through the human population.

Trisk and Dr. Plank hop trains, avoid weres, escape the police, and race pell-mell towards Washington, DC to warn humans not to eat tomatoes. But the Inderlander species who have been in hiding for years (witches, pixies, werewolves, vampires, and elves) aren’t so sure they want humans to survive. Political infighting ensues.

I am an enthusiastic fan of Harrison’s Hollows series. While The Turn offers interesting detail on the backstory of series heroes and villains like Kalamack, the demon Algaliarept, and security guard extraordinaire, Quen, the novel is a disappointment. It runs long, takes a while to get going, feels repetitive, and would have worked better as a novella. Believe it or not, even those issues didn’t irritate me too much: The characters are the major turn off. Trisk and Kal are egoistic, selfish, petty, and prideful. I know that’s Harrison’s point, but it makes for a downer read. You don’t care about either of them. The two throw fits of pique, worry about each other stealing their thunder, loathe each other, deceive each other, lead each other on (while totally aware they’re being led on)—and then have sex. Please. I also realize that Harrison is making a stand for women’s rights in the male workplace: Trisk is more competent than Kal, yet her skills are dismissed. Trisk longs for geneticist glory, but it is hard to relate to her struggle when she is as self-serving as Kal—to the point of summoning a demon to thwart him. Fortunately, Trisk has a modicum more empathy than Kal and genuinely wants to warn people about her tomato. But on the whole, The Turn is just meh.

If you’re new to the Hollows, don’t start with this book. Pick up Dead Witch Walking (2004), the first in the series and you’ll enter a beautifully realized world where the supernatural exists alongside the mundane; one that is filled with well-rounded characters and great stories. Save The Turn for last.

rating system three crows


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Review: Monster Hunter International

Monster Hunter International  Larry Correia, 2007.

Owen Pitt works very hard to live a normal, boring life as an accountant

That all goes to hell one day when his boss turns into a werewolf and tries to eat him.

Throwing his boss out of a nice, high office window understandably loses him his accounting position, but, on the bright side, lands him a job offer with Monster Hunter International. MHI is a private cadre of warriors gleaned from librarians, Army Rangers, chemistry teachers and others who have survived encounters with one of the many horrors that secretly roam the earth. MHI’s job is to handle those unfriendlies that go bump in the night.

What follows is the end of Owen’s normal life and the beginning of a ripping good read for all of us. Our narrator, Owen, is smart (he graduated top of his class as a CPA and speaks five languages fluently), a crack shot (thanks to his over-militant dad who essentially prepared Owen for an apocalypse while still in elementary school), a wise-ass, and an all-around big-hearted, no-so-handsome lug.

Owen attends a monster version of basic training, bonds with a handful of new trainees and quirky mentors, falls hard for the boss’s niece – a glasses-wearing, sharpshooting, intellectual hottie – and is soon on a mission to save the world from a cadre of master vampires and a powerful 500-year-old cursed being.

Monster Hunter International is just great fun. Parts are actually laugh-out-loud funny. The scene with the elves: priceless. That’s all I’ll say about that. You need to read it yourself. There is tons of monster-hunting action and intricate gun battles against vampires, wights, gargoyles, and demon things from another dimension. Correia, a past firearms instructor and competitive shooter (and accountant!), clearly knows and respects his ordnance.

The storyline, which travels wildly around the Alabama swamps, jumps to a little old Jewish man chatting with Owen in his dreams, and flashes back to conquistadors in the early Americas holds together because it is so well-written and the characters are fantastic. Eccentric but not one-dimensional: you truly come to care for them.

The only thing wrong with this book? There is nothing wrong: I’m just kicking myself because I haven’t read it sooner. On the plus side, there are more books in the series lined up ready for me to read like cookies waiting on a plate. That’s how enjoyable this book is. Like a lovely, violent, monster-filled, warm-hearted cookie treat. No kidding. Delicious fun.


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Vampire-Defying Chocolate Chip Cookies

Worried about vampires? No need to, after you have a few of these delectable cookies.  I know!  Garlic!  In cookies!

Absolutely. The garlic is rendered subtle and sweet by a quick boil and a soak in maple syrup. The combination with dark chocolate, a sprinkle of sea salt and a nice buttery cookie is irresistible.

You’ll be picking delectable little bits of sweet garlic out of your teeth for the rest of the night! Except maybe don’t indulge on date night.  Just saying.

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