Sneed's Reads 2022
Oh man, where do I start and how much do I say? A group of people are summoned to, well, a nice house on a lake, for a fun and relaxing vacation, and end up getting more than they bargained for. Some of these folks know each other, but they all have the host in common. I’m hesitant to say more because I know exactly how shocked I was when I turned that page at the end of issue #1, so you’ll just have to trust me that this is a must-read for horror/thriller/suspense fans. Collects the first five issues of the ongoing comic.
The story of a woman living apart from her mother for the first time who is finding it difficult to reconcile all the parts of herself, all the things she feels as she works to become her own person. Oh, also, she’s a vampire. And a foodie who can’t eat food. She wants to exist alongside the artists she shares a studio with, but the blood calls to her, reminding her exactly what makes her different. A thoughtful and charming character-driven exploration of a bifurcated life.
Penny, an elderly artist, plans on living out the rest of her life alone in the apartment she shared with her partner before his passing, but after a nasty fall she discovers that plans were made for her admittance to a mysterious assisted living residence called Six Cedars, where time is slippery and strange, and unexplainable things keep happening. A psychological thriller that ratchets up tension with each page, building to a horrific and inescapable conclusion.
A modern retelling of Stephen King’s Carrie with plenty of twists thrown in to keep the reader on their toes. Maddy Washington is an outsider who is frequently bullied in her school, and the targeting gets worse when it’s revealed that she’s actually biracial and has been passing as white by order of her white father. And then the school decides to host its first integrated prom, and the fact that we all more-or-less know where this is going doesn’t diminish the power of the story or its conclusion. A fantastic book that builds enough on the source material to feel like a fresh and necessary step forward for the horror genre.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s a lot of post-apocalyptic literature out there these days. This book is not like the others and is so much better for it. A bloody and wild ride through a decimated world full of feral men and the women who hunt them that pushes trans identities to the forefront and exposes the genre’s total lack of awareness/interest in non-binary lives. Oh, and it’s super gory and gross in all the best ways.
A young woman decides to spend the last summer before starting law school with her boyfriend in his idyllic hometown of Crestfall Bluffs, meeting his wealthy family and the small community of people who seem just a little too happy to be there. A wonderfully terrifying tale of hidden horrors and secrets that might just consume those curious enough to unearth them. This collects the first five issues of the ongoing comic book.
What can I say about Paul Tremblay that hasn’t been said over and over again? The dude is a master of horror and suspense, and every new book ups the ante in clever and gruesome ways. Tremblay is the best at mixing the real with the supernatural to a point where you’re not sure what’s really happening, and The Pallbearers Club might be the most fully-realized version of that. It’s a memoir written by the character who formed the titular club full of notes by the character reading the memoir, who the memoir is about..? I don’t know, dude, but this book is amazing and scary and deeply moving.
Lucy Westenra (from Bram Stoker's Dracula) and Bertha Mason (from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre) are roommates in 1967 Los Angeles, going to the drive-in, feuding with neighbors, and trying to keep Dracula himself from returning to feed on the living. Further complicating matters, Edward Rochester is still around and has become a bit of a celebrity with a group of followers eager to do his bidding. A fresh and fast-paced novel about reclaiming identity and overcoming trauma, full of blood, guts, and the power of friendship. Also, Jane Eyre shows up.
Jun-su, a young boy living through the brutality of the North Korean Famine, comes across a copy of the Dungeons and Dragons Dungeon Master's Guide and falls deeply in love with the worlds he can now create, enormously different from the life he's used to under Kim Jong-il. The D&D book's striking cover and themes land him in a brutal prison camp where he has to fight to stay alive and try to hold on to himself in the face of cruel totalitarianism. A well-researched, beautifully told blending of fact and fiction, the story of a kid growing up and trying to do more than survive.
A tight-knit group of friends is shaken when tragedy strikes and one of their own disappears. With no answers and no closure, the kids drift apart, until a few years pass and the missing friend shows back up having not aged a day. A supernatural-horror mystery set in the 90s, a great story about friendship and acceptance.
Pola Oloixarac's Mona is an insightful exploration of tokenism in the mostly white, mostly male world of the ultra-hip literary elite, and the feeling of isolation that it fosters. How can someone be a complicated and realized person when one is made to be a representative for a whole group? A fascinating read that deals with the different types of violence these often self-aggrandizing and inward-facing groups are capable of.