February is Women in Horror Month, which means it’s time to celebrate all the amazing, talented women horror writers who keep our TBR shelves stacked with nightmares. I certainly had plenty of incredible authors to choose from, but there is one author I’ve become acquainted with in this last year of reading horror whose books never fail to captivate me. With plots full of mystery, and the sort of quintessential horror imagery that will stick with you for days, her multimedia style of storytelling is always a visual delight and made an instant fan of me. I’m talking, of course, about Dawn Kurtagich, author of chilling YA horror (and, if you follow her on Instagram, purveyor of delightful chicken content).
Her backlist (thus far) is short, but oh so spooky sweet.
Only not sweet.
Definitely scary though.
Reading Dawn Kurtagich Books
I can honestly say that never before Teeth in the Mist have I ever I rushed off to the bookstore to buy a book based just on nothing more than goat tweets. But A24’s 2015 film The Witch sort of set a new trend (or perhaps, rather, revived a trend) for creepy black may-not-be-but-probably-is-actually-the-devil goats. Yay, Black Phillip. So when Dawn Kurtagich, who I had heard of but not read before, started tweeting about black goats while promoting her newest book, I thought “what the heck, let’s get spooky”, and off I went to the bookstore. Let me tell you: 0 regrets, 1 very menacing goat.
Teeth in the Mist is the epitome of everything I love: big, isolated Gothic houses located in vast, empty, weather-swept landscapes; evil that seems to rise out of the land itself; ominous goats (as promised!); witches; the possibility of the devil lurking in the background. The novel uses its multimedia format to simultaneously tell the stories of three girls, separated by centuries yet bound together by the haunting presence of Medwyn Mill House. I do not have words enough to tell you know much I love this book, but I will tell you that if you are looking for a book that should not be read in a dark room? You want this one.
This book was so good. It’s 419 pages and I never once knew who to trust or what to believe. You’ve got two main characters, but they’re sharing the same body. Are they both real? Can they both be real? Or is there something else at play. A memory, a persona created to deal with a traumatic loss, or something darker, something evil, trying to attach itself to the soul of a vulnerable teenage girl.
And what does their strange relationship—one asleep, one awake, Carly in the day, Kaitlyn at night—have to do with the burning of Elmbridge High? When a diary belonging to a Kaitlyn Johnson is found in the ruins of the school after the tragedy, it only deepens the mystery of what happened that night, and of what happened to Carly Johnson, who has been missing ever since. Honestly this book was so wild. I got to the end and still felt like I had as many questions as answers. Like the best of horror stories we’re left knowing we “survived,” but still not knowing exactly how, why, or if it’s really over.
And if you’ve read The Dead House, or if you want more once you’ve read The Dead House, make sure you snap up the companion novella, The Dead House: Naida. Just in case you’re not done playing with secrets and devils.
Trees are scary. If you grew up surrounded by the woods on all sides then you know what I mean. Even if you love the woods, spend all your days in it, and are quite literally a tree-hugger (sometimes you just have to see if you can fit your arms around it, okay?), you still know that those same trees that seem so friendly and safe in the daylight become a thing of terror when the lights go out. Trees that seems so nice while your walking on the well-marked path are much more menacing in their similarity and whispering when you realize that you’ve lost your way.
Trees, people. Don’t trust them. And be even more wary of what might be lurking between them.
Silla and her little sister Nori learn that the hard way in Dawn Kurtagich’s And the Trees Crept In. At first their Aunt’s home in the countryside feels like an escape from the oppression city life in London, and from their abusive home. The country is beautiful! The air is clean! They are safe at last. Until the trees start (take a guess) creeping in. It’s bad enough that the forest seems intent on devouring the house, but then their Aunt locks her self in the attic (thanks Auntie), and strange people start appearing from the woods. Including the man with no eyes, and a big thank you to Dawn Kurtagich for THAT particular nightmare.
We’ve still got time left in February, and in Women in Horror Month, so make sure you head over to these fantastic lists and restock your TBR!
(Is your TBR ever un-stocked? Because mine is not. Definitely not.)