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Starling House is presented as a gothic horror, and it is, sort of: while it isn't frightening in the monstrous way, its chills brush up against the frightening topics of generational trauma, poverty in late-stage capitalism, and the worst of Southern culture. Opal is an opportunistic thief trying to pay for her brilliant little brother's education; when she is offered a job cleaning the mysterious Starling House by a caretaker described as "intense" and "ugly," you know exactly where this is going: a love story, skeletons in the closet brought to the light, and catastrophic danger. It reminded me of all my favorite gothic tropes: the mysterious and tortured gentleman, the canny and terrified woman with a secret, the house that looms like a menacing character all of its own. I'd classify this readily as "cozy horror": it brushes along the aesthetic without actually descending into them. I very much enjoyed this one. — Whitney, Snail Readers Circle
Having read and enjoyed Broder's Pisces several years ago, I was pretty sure I knew what I was getting into with Death Valley: a hallucinogenic piece with a troubled main character behaving badly. I wasn't off the mark. "Death Valley" features hallucinations and a somewhat self-interested main character - but this one also features a brittle emotional heart that is as sincere as it is effective. A meditation on grief, Death Valley takes Broder's stranger impulses as a writer and harnesses them in service to a caretaker who needs a break — and gets a nightmare of one lost in the desert. I loved this book because the main character was extremely relatable amidst a plot that's metaphorical enough you're never quite sure what's actually happening and what's being hallucinated. — Whitney, Snail Readers Circle
"Midnight Is the Darkest Hour" is a humid, thoughtful, mean-spirited thriller aimed at religious hypocrisy and misogyny. It's complex — I was never quite sure I was rooting for the right person — and more interested in character work than in planting twists. The time spent getting to know the main character paid off beautifully; I was deeply invested in the choices she made along the way, even if I disagreed with them, and the vibe is something along the lines of "Thelma and Louise" meets "Dexter". This is a book I'm going to think about for a long time. — Whitney, Snail Readers Circle
I loved it because the characters were flawed and real and beautiful. No one was one-dimensional, and the plot was perfectly paced. I couldn't put it down. A story about the immigrant experience, America's treatment of veterans, but mostly a story about families and relationships and connections that supercede social norms. Every character I both loved and was frustrated with, which made them feel like my own family and friends. —Sarah Catherine, Snail Readers Circle