Book Reviews by Mae Clair: The Reunion by Kiersten Modglin, Among the Headstones, An anthology of Gothic Horror Stories edited by Rayne Hall @RayneHall

Striped kitten lying on open book, eyeglasses resting on pages. Book and kitten on white blanket

Book cover for The Reunion shows standing broken wine glass over red background

THE REUNION
by Kiersten Modgllin

I’m a fan reunion books, so it was a no brainer to scoop this one up. Cait DuBois, shunned by “the Populars” in her high school, is now a celebrated novelist with an amazing husband and lovely twins. Ten years after graduation she returns to her hometown and the hotel that hosted her senior prom—the scene of a tragedy that still haunts her. Returning to Hotel Lilith means encountering the girls that made her life miserable in the past, plus reconnecting with one of her oldest friends. Not long after arriving at Hotel Lilith, she meets a woman claiming to be a fan. Anna’s presence seems to be the catalyst for a series of mysterious events that grow increasingly threatening.

The story didn’t follow the path I expected, but it held my interest and kept me flipping pages. The plot moves at a crisp pace with chapters alternating between Cait’s high school years and the present. We get a group of bitchy girls both in past and present, replete with underlying pettiness and snark. There’s also relationship angst and a dark secret Cait has harbored since the night of the prom but has never shared.

I admit being frustrated with Cait’s behavior in the last quarter of the book but without giving away spoilers the reasons are hard to address. There’s also a plot hole at the end, but it’s relatively small and doesn’t distract from the climatic scenes. If you’re looking for a quick read that plays out like a Lifetime movie, The Reunion is a good fit.

AMAZON LINK


book cover for Among the Headstones shows illustration of old tombstones in a graveyard, black cat sitting atop one stone

AMONG THE HEADSTONES
Creepy Tales from the Graveyard: Gothic and Horror Stories
Edited by Rayne Hall


This fantastic collection of short stories, centered around graveyards and burials, is beautifully atmospheric. By turns spooky, dark, and lyrical—a few even tongue-in-cheek—the tales range from classic to contemporary, bringing together a variety of voices and styles. As someone who finds cemeteries equally restful and mysterious, imbued with the echoes of those who’ve lived before, I was enthralled.

Rayne Hall has done a stellar job with presentation. The entire work is professional and polished. I especially liked how each author is given a moment to share their thoughts at the end of their specific story regarding the inspiration behind it. Overall, it’s a rare anthology when almost every single work delivers.

Although I enjoyed this collection cover to cover, the following stood out as my personal favorites: Dead Person Collection, The Story of Salome, The New Catacomb, Lucretia’s Hum, Another Oldie but Goodie, The Shortcut, and Behind Him.

Take a walk among the headstones—you won’t regret it!

AMAZON LINK

53 thoughts on “Book Reviews by Mae Clair: The Reunion by Kiersten Modglin, Among the Headstones, An anthology of Gothic Horror Stories edited by Rayne Hall @RayneHall

  1. I find it a bit ironic that I also like reunion books, yet I have little interest in going to my reunions. I suppose because the post-high school years were far better.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Modglin’s book sounds good. I like it when the story goes where I didn’t expect it to. Good review.

    I think it was especially fun in Among the Gravestones to read a few classic stories along with contemporary tales. Thanks for reading and reviewing that one, Mae!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Modglin’s book def took detours I didn’t expect, Priscilla. And I loved the inclusion of the classics with contemporary tales in Among the Gravestones. One of the best anthologies I’ve read in quite a while! Needless to say, I loved your story! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Reunion probably isn’t for me, Mae, as I have little tolerance for “mean girls” and all the pettiness. But Among the Headstones sounds like it’s right up my alley with spooky and often lyrical writing. Thanks for sharing your reviews. 🙂

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  4. Oh, my gosh! My daughter thinks I’m so weird because I find cemeteries peaceful and atmospheric. I am so glad to know I’m not the only one who isn’t creeped out by them.

    Great reviews, Mae. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’ve always enjoyed the peace and quitude of cemeteries. There’s a serenity about them, a restfulness we rarely find in other places – yet spookiness is is always just round the corner, and the stories of the dead can inspire our imagination. This combination of peaceful and creepy creates a unique atmosphere which stimulates the writer’s imagination – at least, this writer’s imagination, and, as I found, the imagination of many other writers, too.
      Let’s open the gate – can you hear it creak on its hinges? – and enter the realm of the dead. Listen to the wind rustling the yew, the grating of footsteps on gravel, the hoo-hoo-hoo of the collared dove. Run your fingers across the tombstones to feel their lichen-rough sandstone or smooth cool marble. Inhale the scents of decaying lilies and freshly dug earth. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    • Staci, it doesn’t surprise me that you love cemeteries, too. I find them very restful, and I love thinking about the histories of the people who are buried there and all that they would have seen and done. My father used to take rubbings of gravestones and my love for cemeteries grew from him.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for the recommendations, MC…I think. My high school years were fraught with teenage angst, but I loved every minute. My class had reuned every five years since and now every two years as we are losing members. College was a bummer.

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    • I’m sorry to hear you’re losing members. I’m glad that those who remain are getting together more often. I admit I’ve never attended any of my reunions. It’s awesome that you enjoy yours!

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  6. Thanks for reviewing Among the Headstones: Creepy Tales from the Graveyard. It’s great to read your impressions, and I’m glad you enjoyed this collection. I loved selecting the stories – different graveyardes in different countries, different storytellers with different voices, and plenty of creepiness and atmopshere./@:::::::::::::::::::;. Ooops. This last bit was typed by my black cat Sulu. It seems he wants to share his views, too – perhaps a commeent about the black cat on the cover. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Rayne. It’s rare that an anthology keeps me glued cover to cover, but this one did. I also loved the way it was presented. I’m delighted to share my review today, and it looks like a few commenters have grabbed it for their reading.
      I have to chuckle over Sulu. My black cat, Raven, has a habit of strolling across my keyboard when I’m working, too. Felines are so demanding, LOL!

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  7. Both of these books sound like must reads! I have them added to my Kindle list. Thanks so much for sharing your reviews with us, Mae, and for introducing some new books! 🙂

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  8. Just bought the anthology. My daughter and I used to walk through one of our local cemeteries when she was taking a photography class. It’s a beautiful place, and she got lots of great pictures there.

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    • Tombstones make for great atmospheric photography. I bet the shots were awesome, and I’m sure visiting the local cemeteries was restful, too. There is a very old one where I used to live with graves dating back to Revolutionary times. I always found it so interesting visiting that cemetery.

      Enjoy the anthology. The combo of classic and contemporary tales is really cool!

      Liked by 1 person

  9. There’s a park here that has a connecting path into a large, old cemetery. My friend and I walk there every couple months, and I’ve always found it interesting. Honestly, I could spend hours there. So you know that last book grabs my attention. Great reviews, Mae!

    Liked by 1 person

    • It sounds like a great place to walk, Teri. There is so much history in old graveyards.
      I think you’d enjoy Among the Headstones. It’s a cool mix of classic and contemporary tales. I really enjoyed each story!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Mark, thanks for such an awesome comment. That really means a lot to me. I can’t wait to see what you think of The Prince and The Prodigal (I hope you enjoy it every bit as much as I did), and I wish you happy reading with Among the Headstones!

      Liked by 1 person

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