When Tess and Eliot stumble upon an ancient book hidden in a secret tunnel beneath their school library, they accidentally release a devil from his book-bound prison, and he’ll stop at nothing to stay free. He’ll manipulate all the ink in the library books to do his bidding, he’ll murder in the stacks, and he’ll bleed into every inch of Tess’s life until his freedom is permanent.–GoodReads
WHO IS NEVER LOOKING AT PENS THE SAME WAY AGAIN?
This YA Horror was more of a psychological horror on a lot of levels but oh man don’t let that fool you. It’s definitely got some proper creepy stuff happening outside of the minds of Tess and Eliot. I will say I noticed a lot of horror fans in the discord for the Illumicrate readalong wouldn’t really rate this as horror to their standards. And I’m not a huge horror reader so I don’t know that I can comment on this but I’ve read The Exorcist and as that was an adult horror, I would say this was probably level with it on the ‘you don’t exactly always see it but it terrifies you anyway’ vibe.
The premise was definitely the sort that drew me in. There’s a book that’s giving off major ‘do not touch vibes’ and of course, they touch it. I don’t know that the romance worked for me as well as it does in other horror books I’ve read with romance in it (like I would die for the couple in Mexican Gothic), but I do know I did really like both characters. Tess and Eliot.
Major issues for me? The romance wasn’t forced, just rushed a bit maybe so not a major issue. But what was for me was the aging of the characters. I’m not sure if she had to age them down to make it YA, but they’re high schoolers and yet every aspect of the school feels like a college. It’s not even the lack of supervision necessarily it’s just everything vibing screamed college campus and dorms. I think it would have also worked better for the characters and their plight if they were slightly aged up. (There are other amazing books where they’re YA and teens and it fits perfectly Idk why this felt off to me. Like for the love of all that is good, where were the R.A.s?!)
Anyway, the pacing is slow in the beginning but I do appreciate the build up for the moment when everything goes from creepy to SUPER creepy to ‘HIDE AND DO NOT READ WITHOUT THE LIGHTS’ creepy.
It’s the sense of the unknown; how much is in their head and how much is happening? Why is it happening, what is, and the fact that they aren’t sure how or if they can stop it at all. I loved the creepy aesthetics. The ink, holy crap, the ink..*shudders* it’s like mushroom level Mexican Gothic for me (though I would pick Mexican Gothic over almost all books ever).
Anyway, the interactions between Tess and Eliot are *okay* not magnificent but their teamwork progresses a lot to where I do enjoy reading them together by the end.
The ending was also pretty well done, I hate those kinds of endings in books but they do tend to work a lot better for horror than any other genre.
Overall? Super enjoyable and creepy! 4/5 Cups of coffee from me, and here’s another back listed review for your Spooky tbrs!