Series Review: Asylum Trilogy by Madeleine Roux

Book 1: Asylum – 2.5 stars out of 5
Book 2: Sanctum – 3 stars out of 5
Book 3: Catacomb – 1.5 stars out of 5

Protagonist: Dan
Character(s): Abby, Jordan

Review: Since I didn’t have a chance to review books one and two I think its pointless for me to even try reviewing this. Not only will it ruin book 1 and two for you, but you won’t have any idea as to what I’m talking about.

The first time I heard about this book, Aylum, it was being compared to Miss Peregrine’s home for Peculiar Children. Although, I’m not really a fan of the latter, I still decided to pick this up because the premise held promise. Plus, I had nothing to read at the time and this was available in audio at Overdrive. Unfortunately for Miss Peregrine fans, besides the haunting pictures, these who books are the polar opposite. Where the former is in the sci-fi/fantasy genre, this trilogy is considered to be a mystery/paranormal book. Since I listened to this on audio, the pictures are actually not the highlight for me and I think this made my reading experience less terrifying. Which in turn, didn’t make me love the trilogy.

In Asylum, we meet our protagonist Dan who attends a special summer program in a prestigious school, where he befriends Abby and Jordan. Eventually, the three find out that their dorm was a previous asylum for the criminally insane and the three find out that their invitation was not a coincidence, someone or something wants them to there.
*From the synopsis of this novel, I was instantly intrigued and envisioned late night frights and sleeping with the lights on. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. I found the story to be dull and the climactic scene was disappointing. Although, the author tries her best to incorporate as many intense moments, I feel that she wasn’t able to convey the frightening scenes in words. I believe this is the reason why the pictures would have been more effective in this case. I’m not trying to bad mouth her writing, I just found some of the moments she included were cliche and eye-rolling scenes. Even until the end I was hopping for a little bit more scare factor. As for our three characters, I found the protagonist to be just as dull and at times I wanted to shake him to give some life to his personality.

Dan, Abby and Jordan are back at the Asylum to determine who has been sending pictures of the old Asylum. Wanting to leave the memory of their experiences last summer, they must return to make sure that the evil that lurked is no longer following them.
* I’m pretty sure you’re wondering ‘why read the second if you disliked the first so much?, well to answer your question, I actually have two. 1. I’m on the waiting list for all my library books and 2. I wanted a ‘scary’ story to read for Halloween. To be honest though, I actually enjoyed this book a lot better than the first. I’m still not a fan of the three protagonists, but I had creepy moments while reading this book. I enjoyed the whole freaky, haunted carnival scenes. That being said, the Warden arc of this trilogy actually ends with this book and was a sufficient ending for the heroes/heroine.

After the ordeal in Sanctum, the three teens are now ready for a new beginning and put the past behind them. Unfortunately, for them the past is not yet ready to let go of them.
* I was actually surprised that there was a third book to this series, because as I said before the second book ended the story. I was intrigued as to where Roux was taking the story so I decided to pick it up and since I did enjoy Sanctum, I thought maybe this would be even better, I was so very wrong! I actually really regret picking this book up because I feel like this is the worst out of the three books. The things that sold me in the second book, the creepy factor and the equally freaky Warden, is actually not present in the last installment. I feel that this book was useless and didn’t really add anything new to the story of Dan, Abby and Jordan, in fact, I think this book is pointless and should have kept the Asylum Trilogy as a Duology. The only winning factory for this book was the actual ending. I enjoyed seeing the outcome of the three protagonists and their lives after the events from the last book. If Roux created a novella, it would have been more welcoming, in my part, but this book bombed (and not in a good way!).

All in all I would give this trilogy and overall rating of 2.5 out of 5 stars. Although I did enjoy the second book, I feel like the other two brought the rating down. Also, I wasn’t invested on the characters at all. I felt them to be two-dimensional and lacked the fight that I usually enjoy in my protagonists. Like I said before, I did listen to this book on audio and therefore my reading experience might not be the same as compared to someone who read the physical books and saw all the fascinating pictures. If I will recommend this trilogy, I’ll sell it as a Duology since I did find the second to be worth a read.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: I’m really not sure how I go about revealing the ending for these books since technically there were two different endings.

For the story arc of the Warden: Dan, Abby and Jordan was able to defeat the evil that possessed one of their friends, which was the warden. We also learn that the Warden is actually the great uncle of Dan and one particular ghost is seeking his revenge on the protagonist. Eventually they were able to defeat the ghost and in the second book, the Warden as well.

As for the third book, which is a bit hazy in my memory, all I remember is a cult base on the Warden, that three were able to defeat. Jordan meets his biological mom and the three go off to three different colleges. They still keep in contact and are still great friends, with the events they experience bonding them for life.

The Final Descent by Rick Yancey

the final descent

Author: Rick Yancey
Rating: 3.5/5
Protagonist: Will Henry
Other Characters: Pellinor Warthrop, Von Helrung, Lily Bates, Samuel, Mr. Faulk

Synopsis: In the fourth installment of Yancy’s Monstrumologist, we see an older Will Henry. Although, Pellinore is still guiding and mentoring him, he is now making his own decisions and mistakes. Faced with a tough situation, he must find a solution that will allow himself and Pellinor to live. The final book in this quadrilogy Will must finally make his ultimate decision, stay with Pellinor, or finally live the life be wants.

Review: I’m really happy that I’ve finished this series, its bittersweet, but it’s always rewarding to achieved such an accomplishment, for me anyways, since it takes me years to finish a series. So when I picked this up, I was pleasantly surprised that I was able to finish it in a day. It was so beautifully written that I remember now why I love reading his books and it kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Now, I’m not really sure how to feel about the actual ending of the book or some of the details that Yancey included, but its still worth a read. As a conclusion to a series that, I’ve grown to love, its a fitting end to our Will Henry and Dr. Warthrop.

The Narration of this book is different than the other three. Yes, it’s still Will Henry, but where the other three is being told in the perspective of a young Will, this last installment is told in two intertwining stories of Will as a 16 years old boy, and a 35 years old grown man. I’m not really all that thrilled by the change of perspective, but since this is the conclusion, we also need to have an ending for our beloved Will Henry. Just a warning though, the finale of this story is no sunshine and rainbows, truth be told its actually quite confusing. Now, you have to know that one of the main reason why I love this series is because of this kind, selfless and amazing young kid who above everything he has gone through is still trying his best to be a good person. Time and time again he has faced evil and has assisted the doctor countless of times in his adventures and even ventured on his own with only his knowledge and wits. This is the Will I grew to love. Unfortunately, this is not the Will we get. I really hated what Yancey did to his character. He became an immoral and violent young man, which I would never have thought it would happen. Although the doctor’s actions are questionable at times, there was never a point where Pellinore risked the lives of other people. Will, yes, but even then he was still careful about his health and safety. This is were I get all muddled up. Where would Will get his cut-throat personality when the people around him has always been morally sound. I really can’t picture anyone, especially our protagonists acting in such a villainous manner and it is really out of character. Even some of Pellinore’s decision making came into question. I agree that his work always came first, but he has always been careful of situations that would be dangerous and risky. This is why I can’t imagine this ending to be very realistic and I feel that a different author has written the actions and motivations of both the doctor and his assistant. they are very different from the previous books and it as an unwelcome change.

As much as I enjoyed Yancey’s beautiful writing, I feel that this book was very rushed that the author included bits and pieces that contradicted some information that he had previously stated in his other books. This then made the book very confusing as I was reading it, but then again its been while since I read the first two that my mind might be playing tricks on me. Either way, there is still part of the book that made me read it over and over again to make sure I got it correctly and even then I was still uncertain of the actual outcome. This will be discussed further in the SPOILER section of the review.

I understand that all I’m doing is complain about the book, bit I did enjoy it as a stand alone. Not exactly an ending that I would have picked, but its a fitting enough conclusion to a great series. I wished that there would have been more monster hunting present in the Final Descent, but I think Yancey’s goal was to just focus mainly on the relationship of Pellinore and Will. Don’t get me wrong, there are still detailed encounters of Will’s hadnling with monsters, but I would have enjoyed another trip before the farewell. I also wished that the researcher had a more conclusive answer to his questions, which coincidentally enough are the same questions most readers would probably have, but I guess we will have to live with them being unanswered.

Although, I’m not all too happy with the contents of the final book of the Monstrumologists series, I’m not going to grieve about it too much because, like I said, this book was so well written, that you don’t really notice the inconsistencies. All I know is that this book made me remember just how much I love Yancey’s writing and that’s enough for me. It’s hard to say good-bye to your beloved doctor and Will, but their adventures are now a thing of the past.

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: There are three things I’m willing to reveal about this book. These information are actually very pertinent to the story and if read, the whole book will be revealed. So keep that in mind.

1. Von Helrung dies half way into the book by the hands of the Sicilian Mafia.

2. There are three confusing things about this book: (1) The question of Lily Bates life. The monster, which is a giant snake, has resided in the body of Lily. Will witnesses Samuel and the Doctor trying to extract this monster without killing her, but before the Monstrumologist headquarters crumble Samuel kills Lily due to his fear of the unknown. Then at the very end of the book we see Will talking to Lily during the funeral of her father. So if Lily is alive, who is the woman on the table? I’m really not sure, if anything it might have been Mrs. Bates, but in a description before the death, it was hinted that it was Lily Bates.

(2) In the first novel, the researcher indicates that Will marries a woman name Lily Bates. In this last book however, Lily and Will barely talked to each other. So are we to conclude that either Yancey forgot this detail or I made an assumption that was incorrect.

(3) At the end Pellinore dies because of a house fire. It is not hinted or even said that it was Will who committed this arson, but from his anger and previous violence, it could mean that he is the culprit.

3. The monster is a baby snake that can grow into and infinite length depending on where the snake is residing. The poison of this snake is very potent and can be used as drug substance, this is the reason many would want such a monster. In the end of the book we are brought to an old Pellinor who has hidden this monstrosity in his basement.

172 Hours on the Moon (aka Darlah) by Johan Harstad

172 Hours

Author: Johan Harstad
Genre: Horror
Rating: 4/5
Protagonist(s): Mia, Midori, Antoine
Other Characters: n/a

Synopsis: In order to get the younger generation excited on the re-launch of a moon expedition, NASA has decided to hold a lottery. Three teens will be selected to accompany experienced astronauts to the moon. For 172 hours, they will collect samples and materials that will be beneficial to earth, at the same time experience life at the moon on the Darlah II base.

As the crew explores their new surrounding, they realize that something else has settled in with them.

Review: When I was trying to look for an audiobook to listen to, this one caught my attention because of one particular review. They said that this books is “a horror novel, disguised as sci-fi”. This held my attention for some weird reason and I’m glad that I did. I have a feeling tho, that this book is one of those book where you either really enjoyed it or really hated it. There was no grey areas. For me, I fall on the former category. Yes, there are some questions that’s unanswered, but the almost seem irrelevant I was reading the book. It’s really only after I got over the fright that I start to question things. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t give this a 5 then took out a point because I started to doubt some of the stories. To me its a solid FOUR since my reading experience was highly enjoyable.

In all honesty I love reading YA horror. For me there is that subtle fright that doesn’t really leave me sleepless for nights on out. I can do a light read, enjoy the thrill and be done with it. I’ve read handfuls of them and they have never left me as scared as this novel did. There were times in the book where I had to stop because I just couldn’t keep reading for fear of a heart attack. The way this book is written I felt that I didn’t get attached to the characters. It was told in a way that showed you the life of each individual winners, but in a cut-scene format. Each chapter follows the life of a different character both our teen winners and other characters that was pertinent to the story. So although I didn’t get too attached to them, it doesn’t necessarily mean its a bad thing. It’s really awful how I’m describing this, but if you read it, you will understand what I mean. I’m actually glad that the author decided to write this book where she didn’t focus on the training and the relationship building of the teens. I’ll leave it to that since I don’t want to say anything more, in fear that I might write something that will give the ending away (If you want the ending, then spoil yourself at the end of this page). I also enjoyed the references that the author made on other real moon landings. This addition to the story made the lottery realistic and a lot more frightening.

As I said before, I didn’t really see all the negatives until a few days afterwards. When my fear finally abated that’s when I started to question some things in the book. There were some parts of the book that was left unanswered, which I admit is annoying, but unfortunately this is a standalone and so any questions will stay that way. The one particular part that left me scratching my head are the events that happened to our protagonists before they landed on the moon. Those left me questioning why the author added those tidbit, I understand the whole puzzle and premonition, but I feel that it was unnecessary. The other instance is the letter at the end. That left me even more frustrated. Even if there were things that left me with questions, overall I really didn’t mind since the book did leave me, well in terror, but that was the intention.

Would I read another horror story by Johan Harstad? Yes, without hesitation. He write very well, and obvious for my previous statement, his writing style is effective. I highly enjoyed this book and if you’re the type of person who enjoys being scared and psychologically scared then picking this book up is a definite must.

Audiobook Review: I really enjoyed this audio. The narrator did the voices perfectly for each protagonist considering they were from different countries and gender. If you have a chance to listen to it on audio, then take the chance!

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: Truth be told, when they were explaining the whole evil thing being left in the moon, I pretty much tried to tune it out. The book was creepy enough that I don’t really need to know how the evilness lingered in the moon. From what I remember, the doppelgangers are not living material since they comprise of inorganic matter. They can take on any shape of the anyone and believe to be pure evil. They have no other agenda, but to kill.

Every since the first moon landing, there has been reports by astronauts witnessing someone that looks exactly like them on the moon, just minus the space suit. These ‘twins’ tries to attack them, but never have really been able to get on a ship to travel back to earth. Until this expedition.

All the crew member was unfortunate and even at the end we find out that the Mia who survived was an actual doppelganger.

Monstrumologist: Isle of Blood (Book 3) by Rick Yancey

isle of blood

Author: Rick Yancey
Genre: Horror
Rating:3/5
Protagonist(s): Will Henry
Other Characters: Pellinor Warthorp, Lily Bates, Arkwright, Von Helrung, Jack Kearns

Synopsis: An unfortunate accident happens regarding Will. Fearing for his life, Pellinor decides to leave him behind on his new journey on hunting down the “Holy Grail of Monstrumologist”. Instead he brings with him a young apprentice named Arkwright, who preys on Warthrop’s vain personality. When Arkwright comes back without Warthrop and claiming that he has been taken by the monster, Will refuses to believe the events that occur and goes out to find what has happened to his master.

Review: I feel that this book was a deal breaker for me. I really did feel that this series would become part of my favorites since the first two books are so beautifully written. Unfortunately, I have to say it but this was a let down. That hurts for me to say, it really did fall flat from its predecessors. As much as I love seeing Will Henry and Warthrop again, I was rather disappointed on the actual story line. Yes, there is death, there is blood and there are things that go bump in the night, but the author was writing towards an ultimate climax, that just didn’t own up to the expectation. I felt really frustrated by the end of the book and wished that Yancey created a better ending than what he settled for. Instead of the book being about scary monsters and gory details, it almost seemed – preachy. Yes, preachy and if you read the book I think you’ll understand what you mean. Dont get me wrong there are parts that I did enjoy in this book but ultimately, it was a disappointment.

I really did enjoy the parts with Wymond Kendall. This was one of the worthy part of the book that did scare me and almost gave me a heart attack. The parts about Will, Kendall’s ribs and some finger chopping, a worthy scene. Really, when I put those three together they sound almost ominous. Obvious enough, Will Henry is one of my favorite characters in this series, and you have to admire Will’s constant loyalty and patience with Warthrop, to choose a life of sleepless nights and moments of hunger strike to normalcy, is amazing. At the same time though, this is the book were you see the attachment that the master has for his assistant. As much as I hate to admit it, you really get to see the “human” side Warthrop in here. The moments of weakness and uncertainty that I saw within him made him more likable and human, but it takes away from his mysterious aspect as a monstrumologists. On another point, I enjoyed the little banter between Will and Lily Bates, it seems so cute and so normal, just something that Will needed. Although his reasons for being with the Bates was a bit annoying. I feel that this series always underestimate the “children”.

Anyways, I know I said I was disappointed in this book, but I’m still going to read the last book. Of course it might be some time since this did leave a bad taste for me. Boo!

***********************SPOILER ALERT!!*********************

Ending: As the two get a late night visit from a man named Kendall, we find that he has delivered a package from Jack Kearns, a man we met in the second book of the series. The Nidus, a scary inhumane object that is part of the “Holy Grail”. When touched, the person become a indescribable, unnatural person with no rational thinking, similar to a zombie, and just like it, when bitten the host also becomes the terrible creature. Now all throughout the book we learn that the Nidus is suppose to originate from a larger creature that is the “Holy Grail” of Warthrop’s society. No one has ever seen or discovered its origins, and those that might have, does not live long enough to tell their story. Seriously, the whole book was leading up to this one climatic event. The whole time it was a big mystery what this monster is, how big it is or even where it originated from. I was so disappointed in the ending. I WANTED a monster, a real live monster that lives in the clouds that kills people and let their body and blood rain down on the village. Unfortunately that is not the answer we get. All we get is that the ultimate monster is men, just us and the greed that have in the word consumes us to the core that we become these monsters. This is what I mean that the book kinda got a bit preachy. Only because the author got a bit out of hand with the-whole-human-greed-will-consume-us-in-the-end bit. Now I’m not saying that the whole book is bad or even that its badly written. Not at all, I just wished that there really wasn’t such a build up on this one matter, only to be given a lame outcome.

I won’t really go into details on what happens between Will and Pellinore since I think that it was the most enjoyable part of the book. You really get to see the bond between the two.

Creepy, Scary YA Books for October

October for me is a time when reading becomes all creepy and scary. Seriously, October just screams Halloween, so of course, creepy books are in order!

Here are some books I would recommend for those, like me, who loves being scared. These are in no particular order. I think all of them are good in their own creepy way.

divinersThe Diviners by Libba Bray
If you love historical fiction and you love supernatural books, then look no further because this book screams “read me”. Not only do you get a spunky and up beat protagonists but you also get the golden age of the roaring twenties. Really, this book is the glorification of the twenties, with speakeasies references, flapper fashion and the introduction of Jazz music. Everything you love in the twenties is in here, plus of course, the supernatural. (note: Audio version is pretty good!)

the naturalsThe Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Since we’re talking about the supernatural, then we might as well move on to this book. The Naturals almost has the same feel as the Diviners, just minus the flapper trend. It’s set in modern times, but still has the creepy vibes. If you’re a Criminal Minds fanatic, or you just enjoy the show, then definitely this is a must read. I don’t have a physical book of this since I borrowed the ebook, but this is going to be something that I will purchase in the future.

I HuntI Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga
Now, if you like the whole serial killer aspect of the creepy, scary part of The Diviners and The Naturals, but doesn’t necessary like the supernatural attributes, then this is the book for. I Hunt Killers actually take scary in a more sub-conscious part only because there are no ghosts or demons in these books. Just people who do what they do. But this book is beautifully written in a very haunting way. I have yet to finish the trilogy, but from what I have read so far, its a series that you won’t regret you started.

monstrumologistMonstrumologist by Rick Yancey
I cannot stress enough how good this book is. I’m not really sure why not a lot of people like this book, but I think its just amazing. The author not only write about the different monsters Will Henry and his master hunts for, but it also discusses the growing up of the narrator. I love how each book shows just how much more mature Will Henry has gotten and I even enjoy the small story in the Prologue and Epilogue. This is just a very beautiful story that more people should read.

rotandruinRot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Now, I’m not really much of a zombie reader, but I found this series to be really good. There are different elements as to why this series is good, and I think for me the main reason is that the author emphasis the importance of family and friendship. He does a great way of balancing the gore with the love. Which makes me love reading these books. For those zombie lovers though, don’t worry, there is plenty of that in here too.

badgir;sBad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender
Now if you’re not into serial killers, zombies or historical fiction, say no more. I’ve got the book for you. This is a great read for those who wants to be just plain scared. I admit, the chill factor of this book is not as intense as the other books I’ve mentioned, but it still has a great story plot, and it will still make the back of your hair rise! Plus, I think Alender is such a great writer of scary books.

name of the starThe Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson
Seriously don’t let the name fool you. It does sound like an all girl rock band, but its not. Now a list, in my opinion, is not complete without a little Jack the Ripper. This book is perfect for those who enjoys reading about the most feared serial killer in 19th Century London. So its just natural that a good haunting story must be written about him and Maureen Johnson does a perfect job of joining 19th century and present London.

through the woodsThrough the Woods by Emily Caroll
I really cannot end this post about all things creepy without mentioning this graphic novel, yes it’s not a books, but it’s still worth mentioning. Seriously, just spare less than one hour of you time, pick up this book and start reading. You won’t regret it. The stories are haunting, the pictures are creepy and it will leave you scarred for awhile.

So that’s my list of creepy and scary Ya books that should definitely be read in October, or any day of the year. Comment down below, what are your favorite Halloween reads? or do you even like reading scary, horror books during this time of the month or any other months!

Through the Wood by Emily Carroll

through the woods

Author: Emily Carroll
Genre: Horror, Graphic Novel
Rating:4/5

This is technically not a review since its pretty hard to review a graphic novel. This is just my thoughts and take on Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods.

I’ve been hearing about this book all over the place, goodreads, youtube and other bloggers. Everyone has been saying that its amazing and creepy. So when I was at the bookstore looking for something scary and I saw this on the shelf, I decided to give it a try. I am so glad that I did. Who knew these five short, and I mean very short, stories could be so terrifying. If I wasn’t reading it in broad daylight and with people around me, I probably would have put it down, burrow in my blanket and sleep with the lights on.

I enjoyed all five of the stories, each are different but all are just as creepy as the next. I admit thought, I hated that their endings are always cut short. I wanted to read more of it and wished that the writer would have elaborated more on each story. I understand the questioning of “what happened?” leaves more to the imagination of the readers, but I feel that I’m craving for something that I know won’t have a second part. I guess I’ve been spoiled with all these series and trilogies lately. Other than that one complaint, there really isn’t much that I disliked about this graphic novel.

As for the art itself. Its beautiful! The pictures are not gory or graphic, but there is something unsettling in each of the story that is well conveyed in the pictures. I love the little details in the artwork and it must be praised as much as the stories.

If you’re looking for something scary and just gives you the shivers, this book is a must read. IF you’re one of those readers who enjoys reading creepy stories in the October month, then you should definitely pick this up!