THE COMPANION by Katie Alender


Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 25, 2020
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Rating: ★★★★


The other orphans say Margot is lucky.

Lucky to survive the horrible accident that killed her family.

Lucky to have her own room because she wakes up screaming every night.

And finally, lucky to be chosen by a prestigious family to live at their remote country estate.

But it wasn’t luck that made the Suttons rescue Margot from her bleak existence at the group home. Margot was handpicked to be a companion to their silent, mysterious daughter, Agatha. At first, helping with Agatha–and getting to know her handsome older brother–seems much better than the group home. But soon, the isolated, gothic house begins playing tricks on Margot’s mind, making her question everything she believes about the Suttons . . . and herself.

Margot’s bad dreams may have stopped when she came to live with Agatha – but the real nightmare has just begun.


“So I lay in the dark without making a sound, waiting and wanting to die. Three months later, I was still waiting.”

THE COMPANION is a creepy and addictive YA thriller that put me on edge. Sixteen-year old Margot is orphaned when her family dies in an accident, and she ends up in a group home for several months. The other girls consider her “lucky” when a prestigious family takes her into their home, a remote Gothic mansion in the country. But there’s a catch — Margot was chosen because the Sutton family wants her to be a companion to their silent and curious daughter, Agatha.

Copeland Hall may be beautiful and grand, but Margot can sense that something is off. She slowly uncovers its disturbing history, while always looking over her shoulder. What secrets are lurking in the shadows of the ominous manor, and what’s behind the locked garden gate?

Margot was a compelling character, and I loved the bravery and humor she kept throughout the book. Agatha was a mystery! I enjoyed the unique bond that formed between the two girls. You knew there was something just below the surface that Agatha so badly wanted to say…..

THE COMPANION was an intriguing mystery, and though I guessed right at some of the twists, it was an enjoyable read. If you’re looking for a tense and eerie page-turner perfect for the spooky season, this is it!

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through BookishFirst in exchange for an honest review.

THE HEATWAVE by Kate Riordan


Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Release Date: August 18, 2020
Source: Review copy from NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★★


Under the scorching French sun, a tense homecoming unearths a long-buried family secret in this deliciously propulsive beach read of a mother’s greatest fear brought to life.

Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was manipulative. Elodie is dead.

When Sylvie Durand receives a letter calling her back to her crumbling family home in the South of France, she knows she has to go. In the middle of a sweltering 1990’s summer marked by unusual fires across the countryside, she returns to La Reverie with her youngest daughter Emma in tow, ignoring the deep sense of dread she feels for this place she’s long tried to forget.

As memories of the events that shattered their family a decade earlier threaten to come to the surface, Sylvie struggles to shield Emma from the truth of what really happened all those years ago. In every corner of the house, Sylvie can’t escape the specter of Elodie, her first child. Elodie, born amid the ’68 Paris riots with one blue eye and one brown, and mysteriously dead by fourteen. Elodie, who reminded the small village of one those Manson girls. Elodie who knew exactly how to get what she wanted. As the fires creep towards the villa, it’s clear to Sylvie that something isn’t quite right at La Reverie… And there is a much greater threat closer to home.

Rich in unforgettable characters, The Heatwave alternates between the past and present, grappling with what it means to love and fear a child in equal measure. With the lush landscape and nostalgia of a heady vacation read, Kate Riordan has woven a gripping page-turner with gorgeous prose that turns the idea of a summer novel on its head.


THE HEATWAVE is a completely absorbing family drama and simmering psychological thriller!

In the summer of 1993, Sylvie and her teenage daughter, Emma, return to their home in the South of France after a ten year absence. After she learns of some vandalism on the property, Sylvie decides it’s time to fix up La Reverie and sell it. This is a difficult place to face again, as it’s filled with painful memories of the tragedy involving her troubled first child, Elodie. Emma remembers very little about her older sister, and Sylvie’s not sure how much longer she can shield her from their disturbing family secrets.

“I would die for her, without hesitation. I am her mother. It’s just that, sometimes, I wish I wasn’t. I am her mother but I wish I wasn’t.”

The story is told from Sylvie’s point of view in alternating time periods — during the summer of 1993, and then 1968 forward — as we learn about the disturbing mother/daughter relationship between Sylvie and Elodie during her childhood. What does a mother do if her child is evil? How far would she go to protect one daughter from the other? Elodie’s character was truly creepy! The tension surrounding what she might do next was unsettling.

THE HEATWAVE is an atmospheric Gothic suspense with an amazing and unique setting. The characters and their conflicts are memorable, the writing and descriptions are gorgeous (I enjoyed the French mixed in), and the reveal at the end was perfect. Highly recommended.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

THE TWO MRS. CARLYLES by Suzanne Rindell


Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Source: Borrowed from the library
Rating: ★★★★


A suspenseful and page-turning descent into obsession, love, and murder in the wake of San Francisco’s most deadly earthquake–and Suzanne Rindell’s most haunting novel since her acclaimed debut, The Other Typist

Which wife holds the darker secret?

San Francisco, 1906. Violet is one of three people grateful for the destruction of the big earthquake. It leaves her and her two best friends unexpectedly wealthy–if the secret that binds them together stays buried beneath the rubble. Fearing discovery, the women strike out on their own, and orphaned, wallflower Violet reinvents herself.

When a whirlwind romance with the city’s most eligible widower, Harry Carlyle, lands her in a luxurious mansion as the second Mrs. Carlyle, it seems like her dreams of happiness and love have come true. But all is not right in the Carlyle home, and Violet soon finds herself trapped by the lingering specter of the first Mrs. Carlyle, and by the inescapable secrets of her own violent history.


The cover of this book is so stunning that I had to read it! Suzanne Rindell has written a Rebecca-esque historical mystery set against the backdrop of the 1906 San Francisco Earthquake.

Violet and her two best friends ran away from an orphanage the day it burned down. A few years later, after a dreadful stint working in the red-light district, the great earthquake strikes, and the girls come into an unexpected fortune. Their new-found wealth comes with the burden of a dark secret, and Violet, Flossie, and Cora decide to go their separate ways.

Violet reinvents herself as a proper, upstanding shop girl, and she catches the eye of the dashing and wealthy widower Harry Carlyle. The one sore subject with Harry is any discussion of his wife, the first Mrs. Carlyle. Harry and Violet marry, but life inside his mansion is anything but bliss.

The oppressive presence of the first Mrs. Carlyle is everywhere. What really happened to her? Violet hears shocking rumors about her fate, but should she ignore them and believe Harry? And who’s behind the strange occurrences happening at night?

THE TWO MRS. CARLYLES is classic Gothic suspense, and I enjoyed it. There were a few times that I wanted to scream at Violet for being so naive or not standing up for herself! Overall, though, it was an intriguing historical mystery with some surprising twists. Borrowed from the library.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

What I’ve Been Reading Lately 📚 #DarkCorners #HushCollection

“By all these lovely tokens, September days are here, with summer’s best of weather, and autumn’s best of cheer.” — Helen Hunt Jackson

Instagram 📷 | Pinterest 📌 | Goodreads 📖


📙 THE SLEEP TIGHT MOTEL by Lisa Unger (★★★★★) | A Dark Corners short story from Amazon. Lots of creepy goodness packed into less than 50 pages! A woman running from an abusive ex and the police takes refuge in a roadside motel on a isolated stretch of highway. Even though Eve is the only guest, she keeps hearing weird and disturbing noises at night coming from the room next door. Is she brave enough to find out what’s happening on the other side of the wall? Highly recommended to fans of spooky motel stories.

📘 SLOW BURNER by Laura Lippman (★★★★★) | A Hush Collection short story from Amazon. An intriguing dose of domestic suspense! I loved this one. Phil was caught cheating once, and has promised not to do it again. Liz believed him, until she finds his secret burner phone that suggests otherwise. Instead of confronting him, she quietly reads his back and forth flirty texts with another woman. Realizing that he will never change, what will she do? Great twisty ending.

📙 HANNAH-BEAST by Jennifer McMahon (★★★★) | A Dark Corners short story from Amazon. Yikes. This was a horrifying and gruesome Halloween tidbit. Find out what a group of mean girls from 1982 and 30+ years of guilt will do! Enjoyable, yet disturbing, psychological suspense.

📘 I KILLED ZOE SPANOS by Kit Frick (★★★★) | Very good! This novel is a young adult psychological suspense with a Rebecca-like atmosphere and a modern twist — a teen-hosted true crime podcast. Recommend if you enjoy Gothic mystery/suspense. Read for the B&N YA Book Club.

📙 THE SEARCH PARTY by Simon Lelic (★★) | Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to review THE SEARCH PARTY. Unfortunately this book wasn’t my cup of tea. I was intrigued by the premise, and the intro sure grabbed me — until the teenagers started their monologues. Their chapters were just ramblings, and honestly I could barely differentiate between the speakers. I did enjoy Detective Fleet’s character, and it was a relief to return to his POV. The twisty ending was exciting, but overall I didn’t enjoy THE SEARCH PARTY like I did his previous thrillers.

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪

Vintage Gothic Romance: ALWAYS IN AUGUST by Ann Head


Publisher: Signet
Release Date: August 1974
Rating: ★★★★★


PASSION AND HATE,
JEALOUSY AND VENGEANCE,
WERE HIDDEN BEHIND THE GREAT WALLED ESTATE OF MENLO…

It was August again, and Gloria was returning to Menlo. Gloria, with her stunning beauty and vast wealth, who hungered for everything that belonged to Lucy – even Lucy’s husband. Lucy could only wait in dread of what menace Gloria would unleash in this place of haunting beauty and mounting terror – of what evil she would bring to Lucy’s life and to the man Lucy loved and knew she could not hold.


“It was August again. And as always in August tempers are frayed, nerve ends laid bare by the heat.”

ALWAYS IN AUGUST is a Gothic Romance originally published in 1961. The story seems to take place around the time it was written, probably late 1950s, in the small coastal town of Royal Bay, South Carolina.

Lucy and Gloria were childhood friends, for a while. Gloria grew into a fiery and gorgeous young woman, while Lucy, though lovely, was level-headed and down to earth. Lucy had also been lifelong friends with the heir to Menlo Estate, a boy named Stark.

It was thought by all that Lucy and Stark would marry, until ruthless Gloria set her sights on him, and she always got what she wanted, especially if it was Lucy’s first. After tragedy strikes and Gloria flees Royal Bay, Lucy falls in love with another.

“The bad things always happen in August. Whatever potential evil sleeps here, beneath the easy, gentle surface of our days, is nourished, brought to fruit in the heavy, fetid August air.”

So, in August, years later, Gloria returns to Menlo, this time with the intention of stealing Lucy’s husband. But Lucy knows the tragic secrets hidden within the grand estate, and she’s not giving up without a fight.

I loved this book. The characters were well-crafted and memorable. Gloria was the perfect devious villain, while Lucy was easy to empathize with. You may or may not agree with her decisions, but I believe she did what she thought was best. The blurb makes the book sound so scary (menace! terror! evil!), but in reality ALWAYS IN AUGUST is a dramatic & gripping domestic suspense.

I read the 99¢ Kindle edition, which unfortunately is full of typos. I’m going to keep an eye out for an old paperback copy to add to my collection. (And, yay! I finished this review on the last day of August.)

— 𝓓𝓲𝓪𝓷𝓪