Six For Sunday | Scary Characters

Six for Sunday is a weekly book meme run by Steph at A Little but a Lot, and this week we’re doing scary characters! Here are six characters who give me the heebies.

Jack Torrance – The Shining

The character of Jack Torrance is one of the main reasons I couldn’t enjoy watching the movie adaptation of The Shining. He’s a weird sinister dude in the movie from the start, but the book is much more focused on his descent into madness and it’s SO unsettling.

Craddock James McDermott – Heart-Shaped Box

The beauty of Heart-Shaped Box is that it taps into the most relatable scare of all and uses it to great effect: the horrible, sick feeling that you’re going to walk into a dark room in your house and encounter something malevolent and horrifying.

In this case Joe Hill has created a genuinely creepy ghost to fill that role, so every time I went downstairs to check the heating after reading at night I had to sing “If You’re Happy and You Know It” to ward off my terror.

Cujo – Cujo

Cujo is scary for one main reason: he’s a horror character that you could conceivably meet. Ghosts and zombies and vampires are far-fetched enough to be scary but “safe”, in a way, but Cujo is a rabid dog trapping a family in their car, and the everyday realness of the character – if not the situation – is what makes it so terrifying.

Mrs. Danvers – Rebecca

Rebecca technically isn’t a horror novel, but Mrs. Danvers gives me the fear, the creepy Rebecca-stan that she is. There’s something uniquely unnerving about an obsessed housekeeper who tries to convince people to jump out of windows.

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille – Perfume: The Story of a Murderer

Grenouille is creepy rather than outright scary, but he still makes me feel incredibly uneasy when I read about him. Now that I’ve got a baby the idea of one having absolutely no inherent scene whatsoever makes me skin crawl a bit.

And that’s not even starting on the murder and making perfume out of virgins.

Whatever The Fuck Is Going On In The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty

Okay I haven’t read this book, but the film traumatised me so much at the age of fourteen (why was I watching it at the age of fourteen?!) that it’s only recently I’ve been able to actually say the name of it without breaking into a sweat. I had panic attacks when I heard Tubular Bells. I don’t even know what sort of nasty is floating around in Regan MacNeill’s head, but I’m never going to find out because I’m not touching this book. Ever.


What characters creep you out? Have you read the ones I’ve mentioned? Let me know!

Classic Horror Books I’ve Never Read

For someone who’s into books and did an undergraduate degree where there was an entire module on gothic literature (I was a terrible student) I’ve read a frighteningly low (hah) number of classics when it comes to horror. Here’s a list of spooky stories I’m ashamed to admit I haven’t picked up.

Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

I’m actually embarrassed to admit I’ve never read Frankenstein. Goth queen Mary Shelley, feminist icon, creator of science-fiction.

I think I actually OWN a copy of this book somewhere and I’ve never read it. I am mortified.

The Turn of the Screw – Henry James

Aside from having the coolest name for a novel that I can think of, this contains one of my major creepy-no-nos: freaky little children. I can’t wait to read this and spend the whole thing whispering “absolutely not, you creepy little bastards”.

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

Pretty much THE seminal “haunted house” story, and nothing simultaneously thrills me and makes me rack up a huge electricity bill from turning lights on like a haunted house story.

The Fall Of The House of Usher – Edgar Allan Poe

Okay, I actually read a bit of this in uni – enough for me to know it’s really cool and spooky – but I’ve never gone back to it even though I know I enjoyed the bit I read. Bumping up my TBR in an attempt to rectify this.

Literally anything by HP Lovecraft

HP Lovecraft is a horrible racist, but before I discovered he was a horrible racist I bought an enormous shiny hardback collection of his work (pictured) purely because I liked the front cover. (It is a really nice cover, in fairness.) I have never opened it.

And yes, I KNOW what his cat’s called. I DIDN’T WHEN I BOUGHT THE BOOK.

The Monkey’s Paw – W.W. Jacobs

I keep seeing memes about the monkey’s paw curling a single finger and every time it reminds me that I haven’t read this book yet. Honestly I think I might just to fully appreciate them.


Have you read these? Are they good? Which should I read first? Are you as mortified for me as I am for myself? Chuck me a comment and let me know/berate me.

Top Ten Tuesday | Books I Read Because They Were Recommended To Me

I have two main sources of book recommendations: Book Twitter and my mum. This list is mostly a mixture of the two, with some other people thrown in for good measure.

All The Light We Cannot See – Anthony Doerr

A recommendation from my mother. Didn’t do a huge amount for me, but she enjoyed it.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

My mum’s friend insisted she read this and loaned her a copy, and my mum loved it so much she went out and bought her own. Then insisted I read it as well.

Fair play Maw, it was EXCELLENT.

Fault Lines – Doug Johnstone

I put a call out on Twitter before a trip to Waterstones one day looking for recs and then used a random number generator to pick one. Fault Lines was the winner. I enjoyed it so much I gave it to my mum. Our recommending relationship goes two ways.

On The Road – Jack Kerouac

Fun fact: my auntie teaches American Literature and Beat Poetry in the US, did her PhD thesis on Kerouac and is a pretty well-known voice on the subject. My granny famously called the Beats “hippy muck”. Between them they got me to read On The Road.

Magician – Raymond E. Feist

This is one of my husband’s favourite books (he’s a huge high fantasy dork) and he kept suggesting it to me. I’ve read it in bits and pieces because…high fantasy usually isn’t my thing. When I have the time and inclination I will go back and read it all, in order, properly.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

I think Sara Barnard must be one of the most beloved UKYA authors, so when I was just getting into the scene her books were among the first I went looking for. AQKOT is so sweet and relatable and relevant, and I can see why people love her so much.

The Fandom – Anna Day

The Fandom is a book that came highly, highly recommended from Twitter before it was even released, so obviously I got a copy pretty soon after it was released.

Bit of a lesson in tempering my expectations because I feel like the hype let it down – it was good, but the hype combined with the premise (I love a bit of fandom) meant I was expecting it to change my world, and it didn’t.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

Fear and Loathing came to me via my Advanced Higher English teacher. I wanted to write my dissertation on On The Road but I had to pick at least two novels, and when I was stumped for a second choice this was her suggestion.

I can’t remember her name but shout out to you, teacher-who-wasn’t-the-one-obsessed-with-Shakespeare.

Lion – Saloo Brierly

Lion was another rec from my mum, and the little quote on the front got me. Once I’d started reading it got me even more. By the end I didn’t know whether to punch the air or cry.

The Loneliest Girl in the Universe – Lauren James

Another one Book Twitter got me all excited about (although if it hadn’t, the cover would have sold me on it). Also taught me an important lesson: nothing ruins a good twist like everyone talking about how good the twist was.


While we’re at it, REC ME A BOOK. I have an outlandishly large TBR and it needs to be bigger.

Book Review| Mary’s the Name by Ross Sayers

Orphaned Mary lives with her granpa, but after he is mixed up in a robbery at the bookies where he works, they flee to the Isle of Skye. Gradually, Mary realises that her granpa is involved. And the robbers are coming after him–and their money.


You might have heard of Ross Sayers, particularly if you follow any Scottish Tweets social media. He’s pretty funny and can always provide a scathing yet relatable tweet about Scotrail. Which at this stage is rather like shooting fish in a barrel. But I digress. He also writes books.

My hopes for Mary’s the Name were high, especially after seeing many people saying they physically wept. “We’ll see about that,” I said. “I am a robot, immune to being moved by literature. I can appreciate it yes, but emotions? Unlikely.”

Well played Mr. Sayers, you got me.

The narrative is simultaneously innocent, because Mary’s only eight, and filled with a lingering sense of unease. The dramatic irony is delicious. The narrative voice is spot on – no easy task when you’re an adult writing from the perspective of an eight year old. It’s funny and poignant and touching and honest and unflinching.

If you want another cracking example of the Scottish literary scene, pick up Mary’s the Name. If you want a genuinely good read, pick up Mary’s the Name. If you want to cry on a rail journey for a reason other than your train has been cancelled due to lack of staff, read Mary’s the Name.

Just read Mary’s the Name.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Six For Sunday | Books That Gave Me Feels

For someone who loves books, I get proper PROPER feels surprisingly rarely when I’m reading. Mostly I get them from a cheeky wee romance, but a particularly brutal twist or a powerful message can do it as well. Here’s six books that managed.

The Singing – Alison Croggon

The Pellinor series made me feel A Lot in general, but the slowburn romance undercurrent that culminates in The Singing genuinely had me sitting with my nose nearly touching the pages on the train until I finished.

Also the surprise romance at the end. INJECT IT DIRECTLY INTO MY VEINS.

Six of Crows – Leigh Bardugo

I tend to be disappointed by books that come to me hugely hyped because my expectations are astronimocally high, but I quickly became very heavily invested in this ragtag bunch and their escapades. I still haven’t read the second one in the series to my eternal shame because the end of this one did Things to me.

Also: I ship it. Hard.

Mary’s the Name – Ross Sayers

Oh, Mary. You broke my heart entirely from beginning to end, with your innocence and your relationship with your Granpa and the way I saw your story unfold through your eight-year-old narrative. Emotionally ruined.

Ironside – Holly Black

The romance between Kaye and Roibin had me grinning like an absolute dickhead all the way through Tithe so the continuation of it in Ironside was just DELICIOUS. It’s been long enough since I read it that I’m dying to pick it up again so I can relive the joy.

Blaze – Richard Bachman (Stephen King)

More of a thriller than a typical Stephen King horror, Blaze made me feel like I’d been roundhouse kicked in the solar plexus by the time I’d reached the end. What a journey.

The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas

This book made me angry, made me uncomfortable, made me question myself and made me want to educate people. Everyone should read THUG.


Because it’s pretty rare for me to get Proper Feels from a book, I’m always looking for something that’s going to sucker punch me. I’m going to be browsing other blogs to find recs!

Book Review | Sight Unseen by Sandra Ireland

1648. Alie Gowdie marries Richard Webster during a turbulent time in Scotland’s history. Charles I is about to lose his head, and little does Alie know that she too will meet a grisly end within the year.

2019. Sarah Sutherland is struggling to cope with the demands of her day job, caring for her elderly father and keeping tabs on her backpacking daughter. She wanted to be an archaeologist, but now in her forties, she is divorced, alone, and there seems to be no respite, no glimmer of excitement on the horizon. However, she does have a special affinity with the Kilgour Witch, Alie Gowdie, who lived in Sarah’s cottage until her execution in 1648, and Sarah likes nothing better than to retreat into a world of sorcery, spells and religious fanaticism.

Her stories delight tourists as she leads them along the cobbled streets of her home town, but what really lies behind the tale of Alie Gowdie, the Kilgour Witch? Can Sarah uncover the truth in order to right a centuries-old wrong? And what else might modern-day Kilgour be hiding, just out of sight?


I started drafting this review while I was on the last wee bit of Sight Unseen. I just finished reading it, at midnight, and I’ve deleted everything I’d written so far and started again.

Let’s begin with the basics. Sandra (one of my uni creative writing cohorts, by the way, let me just name drop a little) calls herself a “purveyor of Fine Tartan Gothic”, which is a pretty accurate description of her books. Sight Unseen is set in the fictional town of Kilgour, which has a past steeped in witchcraft and mysticism.

Sandra is incredible at writing settings that are essentially characters in their own right – they’re evocative and you can feel their presence in every scene, likebackground music. You can tell she absolutely immerses herself in her settings when she writes and it shines through. After a few chapters of Sight Unseen I felt like I’ve grown up in Kilgour, with all its charm and uncomfortable history.

I’ll tell you something else about Sandra: she’s an absolute master of the curveball, of weaving multiple seemingly unrelated threads through a story and suddenly yanking them all together behind you. The twists aren’t outlandish, but you never see them coming until they’re upon you and everything falls into place. She’s got phenomenal talent and Sight Unseen is an absolute joy to read from beginning to end – it’ll chill you and shock you and make you smile.

Sight Unseen ends on a “to be continued”, and I can’t wait for the next one. I have a feeling I know what it’s going to focus on, although knowing Sandra I’m probably miles wrong…

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Top Ten Tuesday | Books With Super Long Titles

Long book titles are fun! I find them more intriguing than short or one-word titles. I’m a million times more curious to read The Miseducation of Cameron Post than I am Atonement.

I decided I’d omit anything with a colon in the title, because that feels like cheating, and I haven’t written my usual wee paragraph because…well, they’re all fairly self-explanatory. Onward!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon

All God’s Children Need Travelling Shoes – Maya Angelou

It’s OK, I’m Wearing Really Big Knickers – Louise Rennison

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret – Judy Blume

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe – Fannie Flagg

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World – Ashley Herring Blake

Chocolate Mousse for Greedy Goose – Julia Donaldson

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas – Hunter S. Thompson

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance – Robert M. Pirsig

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams


Going to be browsing everyone’s TTT list this week for some additions to my TBR. Long titles forever!

Six For Sunday | Characters I’d Be Scared To Meet

Last week I talked about the authors and characters I’d like to have coffee with, and this week it’s characters I’d be scared to meet!

(I have anxiety so that’s generally most people, but I’ll try to be discerning.)

Kell – A Darker Shade Of Magic

I had Kell in my “Characters I’d like to go for a coffee with” S4S post last week, but like I said then I doubt he’d have time for my self-consciousness and dreadful awkward patter. He would CUT ME DOWN.

I do want a look at his coat though.

Inspector John Rebus – Ian Rankin

Rebus is a compelling character and his humour and attitude are familiar to me (I live near Edinburgh, where the books are set, and not far from where Ian Rankin is from) but like Kell I think he’d have no time for my nonsense, and I think he’d probably tell me.

Hailey – The Hate U Give

In years gone past I MIGHT have given characters like Hailey the benefit of the doubt, because the internet has made it much easier to be come educated and learn about the lived experiences of other people and why seemingly innocuous things stem from harmful sources and perpetuate negative stereotypes, but she literally has a Tumblr and STILL doesn’t get it. So she doesn’t get a pass from me, and even though I’d probably try to educate her I feel like I’d end up snapping.

Augustus Waters – The Fault In Our Stars

This is a fairly seminal YA text and it’s touched a lot of people and I feel awful for slagging off the main characters but Gus is so boring and pretentious that he makes me gnaw on my own knuckles.

Anyone out of Twilight

Okay I know it’s a bit passé to slate Twilight now but every single character in this series is so unbelievably insipid that I can imagine every single conversation being excruciating. HARD PASS.

Enkir – The Pellinor series

Enkir is the personification of everything I hate: a misogynist, a power-hungry villain, a disloyal and two-faced creep. Someone running behind the scenes to make sure the bad guys win for his own personal gain. Just the absolute antithesis of everything I stand for and we’d probably get into a fight. And then he’d probably try to kill me.


I can’t wait to see everyone’s suggestions! Seems ideal for Halloween…

World Mental Health Day | YA Books Tackling Mental Health

Mental health is a subject close to my heart – I had a nervous breakdown when I was 14 and have struggled with depression and anxiety ever since. I nearly dropped out of uni, I’ve been on medication since I was 19 and I’m currently battled postnatal depression.

I lost my teenage years to mental illness and it’s something that I’ve struggled to come to terms with. It has a profound effect on you if you suffer in your adolescence. The social and emotional development that comes with going through high school just didn’t happen for me, and I had to try and find my way through it in a couple of years in my early 20s. It was awful.

That’s why I’m such a huge advocate of mental health representation in Young Adult books. Being able to see your own emotions and experiences is incredibly validating, and it can help you to recognise aspects of mental illness that you perhaps hadn’t picked up on. Reading about other peoples’ experiences can help you understand and empathise with the suffering of others.

Here are three of my favourite YA books that tackle mental health issues, and a selection of books from my TBR list that come highly recommended.

The Impossible Knife of Memory – Laurie Halse Anderson

There are few authors who do it as well as Laurie Halse Anderson. The Impossible Knife of Memory tackles parental PTSD and narrator Hayley’s trauma as she struggles with her past, caring for her veteran father and starting a new school.

I like the angle of having Hayley be the onlooker while a close family member suffers through their mental health. It’s something that affects a lot of young people and allows them to find a character going through the same struggle, as well as providing PTSD representation.

A Quiet Kind of Thunder – Sara Barnard

I spent a lot of high school too anxious to speak to anyone, and it had a disastrous effect on my social and emotional wellbeing. Steffi’s experience of social anxiety really spoke to me, and A Quiet Kind of Thunder is a book I really wish I’d had as a teenager – I had no idea what selective mutism was, and it might have empowered me to look into ways of coping.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? – Holly Bourne

I’ve read a fair few books on anxiety and depression, but bipolar disorder is still a hugely stigmatised and misunderstood condition, particularly in young people.

Olive isn’t a likeable character, but mental illness – especially before you get help – can make you unlikeable, and a lot of people don’t realise that it’s a symptom. I think education is vital to prevent misconceptions and judgements about how people struggling with their mental health are “supposed” to behave, and hopefully to increase understanding and empathy.


Here’s what’s currently on my TBR in terms of YA mental health. Most of these I’ve been meaning to pick up for months (or years…) so hopefully as my major reading slump falls into the distance I’ll get to them. They all look INCREDIBLE. In terms of both cover and content.

What am I missing? Who’s got some great MH rep coming out next year? LET ME KNOW.

My Spoopy Halloween TBR

I’ve never been daft on Halloween. It seems to have rocketed in popularity since I was little – I don’t remember there ever being the swathes of decorations and costumes and events when I was little. You went ducking for apples in a leotard and some whiskers drawn on with eyeliner.

Nevertheless, it seems to be a Big Thing now, especially in book circles, so I thought I’d get involved. I’ve read a disappointing amount of horror for someone whose uncle is a literal horror author, so I’ve decided for the month of October to try and vibe with it and read only creepy horror things.

Sight Unseen – Sandra Ireland

My current read!

Sandra’s really good at creating atmosphere and weaving history into a story until the setting and figures from the past become just as important as the main characters. It’s a thriller rather than a straight up horror, but it’s got enough witchcraft and eerie atmosphere to chill you as we head into Halloween season.

Sefira and Other Betrayals – John Langan

I didn’t appreciate how cool it was having an uncle who wrote books until I was coming into my early teens, probably because he doesn’t write the kind of stories you’d take out of the library for your kids.

We got a copy of Sefira as a wedding present (my uncle signs and dates and doodles in the books he gives us, which is cool) but it was around that time I fell out of reading because I was pregnant and ill. Definitely going to break into it one night when my daughter has me awake at 4am…

Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill

I’ve read Heart Shaped Box before, but OH BOY is it a cracker. One of two books that has actually properly chilled me before. I picked it up because it’s got the same title as a Nirvana song (yes, it really is that easy to get me to buy your book) and then basically inhaled it. There’s one scene in particular that actually scared me so much I felt sick, which doesn’t happen often when I’m reading.

It was a bit of a revelation when I discovered that Joe Hill is actually Stephen King’s son, which makes sense when you consider that the only other book to seriously freak me out is…

The Shining – Stephen King

If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s classic adaptation of The Shining but not read the book, I would thoroughly recommend you do so. It’s a completely different beast. Stephen King can be very hit and miss for me, but The Shining is brilliant, atmospheric and even though you know what’s coming (because it’s such a famous story) it still grips you.

Seize the Night: New Tales of Vampiric Terror – ed. by Christopher Golden

Another gift from my uncle that I’ve only really dipped in and out of (he’s got a cracking story in it as well! but it’s wall to wall bangers – a short story anthology with the common theme of vampires. I can read one a day as the sun go down!

Also it’s got a cool as fuck title. “Vampiric Terror”? OKAY.

Rebecca – Daphne du Maurier

Another one that isn’t technically a horror, but it’s a bloody good book anyway. It might not have literal ghosts in it but the atmosphere is so thick and ominous you could carve it like a pumpkin, and there’s a no small amount of haunting in a sense.

Also Mrs. Danvers gives me the fear. So it’s a scary book.


Those more versed in horror than I am – what else should I be reading? What’s likely to leave me a quivering mess? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!