Today I am sharing with you 10 books that didn’t quite work for me in 2021. I don’t want to use words like ‘worst’ or ‘bad’ anymore. I feel that isn’t respectful to the authors and frankly, a bit unnecessary. I want readers to know that there is nothing wrong with the list of novels below. They simply did not suit my style. Also, if you want to check out my favourite reads of last year, please click here. Without further ado, let’s get into it!
Before we begin, I just want to let you know that my upcoming horror novella: The Devil Within Me, will be published Valentine’s Day. Pre-orders will be available January 31st. In the meantime, if you wish to read a PDF Advanced Reader’s Copy, let me know and I will send you one for review.
1.) Horrid by Katrina Leno
This was the You’ll Read Too Bookclub pick for February 2021. I gave this book a 2/5 stars. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy it. The ending was too abrupt and unsatisfying. In the last twenty pages, everything became very rushed and ridiculous. Jane’s mother Ruth disappeared and her ‘supposed’ love interest never developed into anything. It felt a bit lazy. I loved the beginning and even predicted a 5 star read. However, a whole lot of nothing happened after that. It was more of a contemporary novel with horror undertones. I’ve never been a fan of ambiguous, disjointed writing. It works for some but not for me. That’s just personal taste and not a slight on Katrina.
2.) Sister Of Darkness by R.H. Stavis
I read this as part of my buddy’s bookclub on Instagram. If you wish to join, you can get more information here. It’s a non-fiction memoir about a “professional exorcist” living in Los Angeles. She discusses how she got into the business, the types of demons she sees and how her exorcisms work. I have so many mixed feelings about this autobiography. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I believe it would’ve made an amazing fictional story but as a non-fiction book, it was very difficult to buy what the author was selling. Frankly, I don’t believe in what she does. Rachel has been through a lot of trauma in her life and I sense that her work is how she processes past damage. There was a lot of name-dropping, righteousness and egoism in the way she wrote. I also found it insulting how she claimed that women who have fertility issues, must have demon-infested ovaries. It is a medical issue and a medical issue alone. The same goes for her paranormal take on mental illness. I will say, it was an interesting read but very problematic.
3.) The Haunting Of Gillespie House by Darcy Coates
In 2021, I did a blog post ranking all of Darcy Coates works. You can check that out here. Out of her 22 publications, I placed The Haunting of Gillespie House last. Darcy mentioned in an interview that this was the first book she ever wrote. It showed. It wasn’t as fleshed out or detailed as the rest of her novels. I am not a big fan of cults to begin with, so it lost points for that too. Overall, it wasn’t terrible, it just didn’t represent the author I know and love today.
4.) Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
I am normally the biggest fan of Elizabeth Acevedo, but for some reason, I felt like this book didn’t work written in verse. I struggled to connect with the characters and story in this format. That’s just my opinion though. I didn’t dislike it, just didn’t love it. The post-reading experience left me feeling quite down. Not much more to say.
5.) The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix
This is quite ironic because my No #1 favourite book of 2021 was also written by Grady Hendrix. How does that work? The Final Girl Support Group had an excellent concept but the execution was lacking. My reading experience reminded me of a roller-coaster. Very stop start. I appreciated the homage to final girls and slasher films but I needed a less disjointed, convoluted plot. Once again, this style just doesn’t work for me.
6.) Afterlife by Duncan Ralston
I don’t know if this sequel suffered second book syndrome or Ghostland was just so epic, nothing could live up to it. Whatever the case, I struggled a lot to get through it. The middle was really slow and only towards the end, did things begin to ramp up. I’m hoping the final book delivers and does justice to the trilogy as a whole.
7.) Wilder Girls by Rory Power
This dystopian novel is a feminist retelling of Lord of the Flies, set on a fictional island far from civilisation. It was so action packed and captivating. I really enjoyed how entertaining it was. The ending however, was quite anticlimactic. It felt rushed and unfinished. It would’ve worked better if there were at least an extra 100 pages to the story. I’m glad I checked it out, but it wasn’t a favourite.
8.) The Haunting Of Leigh Harker by Darcy Coates
I wrote an entire blog post reviewing this book. You can check it out here. I don’t blame Darcy at all, but this book was marketed as her scariest novel ever written. Darcy is extremely skilled at creeping me out, so I had high expectations. Unfortunately, it barely raised a hair on the back of my neck. I wasn’t frightened in the slightest. After the big reveal, things seemed a lot less threatening. That disappointed me. Also, the build up to the twist was quite slow. I like a novel with a lot of dialogue, so if you’re anything like me, don’t go in expecting a lot. This book is mainly made up of poetic language and description. Once again, not a fault of the author, just personal preference.
9.) Archibald Lox And The Forgotten Crypt by Darren Shan
I loved the first Archibald Lox trilogy but the second installment was sadly less enjoyable. The political system within the Merge is very confusing. From what I’ve read, the rest of the books only dive deeper into the fantasy world’s governance and legislation. I’m not here for that, so I’m going to DNF the rest of the series.
10.) The Year Of The Witching by Alexis Henderson
Last but not least, we have The Year of the Witching. This was the You’ll Read Too Bookclub pick for April 2021. I gave it a rating of 3/5 stars. It was a bit of a roller-coaster reading experience. I loved the beginning, was bored and confused by the middle and captivated by the end. I wanted more but I also felt the author was trying to do too much. Does that make sense? The plot needed more direction. It definitely felt like a debut novel. However, I did appreciate the dark and twisted setting. I was invested in the story, the characters and feminist undertones. It gave me plenty of Handmaid’s Tale vibes. Overall, I believe it is an excellent book to discuss with a group.
I hope you enjoyed my post. What books didn’t quite work for you in 2021? Thank you for reading!
Peace & Love xoxo