HomeFeaturesTBRs/Wrap-UpsOctober 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

October 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

October 2020 Reading Wrap-Up

Honestly, October was a large stack of mostly disappointing reads. I started out strong, quickly knocking off spooky read after spooky read, but hit a major slump after Mexican Gothic and was just plain sick of anything spooky. So, that was interesting.

Here are the 13 books I read in October, reviews linked where applicable.

5 Stars:

The Once and Future Witches

The Once and Future Witches book coverWritten by Alix E. Harrow

Published by Redhook

I was really impressed by the sheer extent of content all wrapped up in this novel – from women’s rights, women’s voice, sisterhood, women lifting women, magic, ancient spells, ancestry, violence, policies, politics and a slowly built plot with poetic writing. Part one left me uncertain as I wasn’t particularly fond of the marrying of the real life suffragist movement with this fantasy-based witch story, but the course of the story was eventually corrected as Alix honed in on and focused solely on these women, these witches, and their fight for autonomy. The sociopolitical juxtaposition with our current times was well done.

Full review HERE.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book book coverWritten by Neil Gaiman

Published by HarperCollins


For me this story took a bit to get going, and I was surprised that it wasn’t really a “spooky” ghost hunting story as I assumed, considering it takes place, you know, in a graveyard. But more, The Graveyard Book is a sneaky little story that explores the nature of growing up, leaving “the nest”, and going out into the world to find your way/find your self. It was surprisingly heartfelt and really touching. I thoroughly enjoyed this one.

Full review HERE.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

Seance Tea Party

Seance Tea Party book coverWritten and illustrated by Reimena Yee

Published by Random House Graphic

As with The Graveyard Book, Seance Tea Party is commenting on growing up – but focusing more on the how we each venture down this path differently. It’s okay to still make-believe at 12, it’s okay to not like social media, it’s okay to like social media – what’s important is the staying true to your inner self and you will find your people as you go. An excellent story to hand to any preteen girl in that uncertain time between longing to play and curious about being more “adult”. Charming, warm illustrations full of autumnal delight, this was a delightful October read.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

The Night Circus

The Night Circus book coverWritten by Erin Morgenstern

Published by Anchor Books

(Audiobook, re-read)

There is no better month than October to read The Night Circus – Morgenstern’s amazingly transcendent speculative fiction surrounding the Carnival of our dreams and the old standard story of a classic magician’s dual. Full of romance, wonderful characters, and fantastic descriptions – I adore how this story sweeps me away. But I’d avoid the audiobook, which I found overworked and overacted.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

4 Stars:

A Pinch of Magic

A Pinch of Magic book coverWritten by Michelle Harrison

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Honestly, I don’t have a lot to say about this one other than it was fun! My daughter and I really enjoyed the magical elements, the charmed objects, and the time traveling story lines. A fun, easy read that begins on Halloween night, this is a great October story. Maybe a titch too long with some drawn out scenes and repetitive theme of sisterly love conquering all, but overall full of plot twists and peril to keep the reader engaged.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

Once Upon a River

Once Upon a River book coverWritten by Diane Setterfield

Published by Atria Books

This novel had a tough job, The Thirteenth Tale is one of my all-time favourite reads, and so every novel by Diane Setterfield will be compared to it. No, I didn’t like it as much, but this was still a worthy read. Very atmospheric, perfectly paired with cold winter nights and warm drinks, this is the story for those who enjoy a plot that takes its time to weave numerous characters together, enjoy character driven stories, and purple prose. As with The Thirteenth Tale, Diane hasn’t shied away from some disturbing topics and those scenes are tough, but they are not gratuitous and do enhance the thematic elements of the story; an honest reflection of the period in which the story is played. Ghostly, moving, atmospheric and deliberately paced.

Full review HERE.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

Mexican Gothic

Mexican Gothic book coverWritten by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Published by Del Rey Books

This was a weak 4-star read for me – I truly love Silvia’s ability to completely wow me with completely weird, out there fantasy but whereas Gods of Jade and Shadow was a psychedelic fascinating trip, Mexican Gothic was a psychedelic over-done horror-filled miss for me. Yes, I know it was a gothic horror – so the horror shouldn’t be a surprise, I just felt that those elements of horror were excessive, repetitive, gratuitously disturbing and overtook, rather than enhanced, the story.

Full review HERE.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

3 Stars:

Witches of Brooklyn

Witches of Brooklyn book coverWritten and illustrated by Sophie Escabasse

Published by Random House Graphic

A really entertaining, strong 3 star read that will definitely be enjoyed by the intended audience – middle grade readers. Likeable characters, fiery grandma-types, and magic – this read like an episode of The Worst Witch. I know my daughter has really enjoyed rereading it.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue

The Invisible Life of Addie Larue book coverWritten by V.E. Schwab

Published by Tor Books

Thoughts. Many. To come.

Update: those thoughts are HERE.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org


Small Spaces

Small Spaces book coverWritten by Katherine Arden

Published by Puffin Books

While it is a fine middle grade adventure, that I argue can be a bit too scary/disturbing for the spook-sensitive middle grade reader – I was just left a little wanting. Maybe it was the high esteem with which I hold Arden’s writing, but I was hoping for more. More on the conversation of grief, more exploration of the themes of parallel worlds … but at the same time I found this to be wholly original, seriously scary, and completely entertaining. I continually grapple between 3 and 4 stars for this one.

Full review HERE.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org


Witchy book coverWritten and illustrated by Ariel Slamet Ries

Published by Oni Press

Graphic novels are tough for me to judge because it takes a lot for me to connect with them and I am more drawn to powerful social themes and commentaries on inclusivity than fantasy; much preferring the platform of middle grade graphic novels. A long way of saying, this wasn’t written for me and as such it wasn’t my favourite. I think it was fine and I really thought the concept of hair length = witch strength to be exciting & unique … but I wasn’t blown away.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

2 Stars:


Horrid book coverWritten by Katrina Leno

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

I was straight up not the right audience for this one and was wholly disappointed. Not lot of time here was spent on plot development, character development or the conversation on mental illness and grief that I was expecting after reading the blurb. It did deliver some nice, cold, autumnal atmosphere and plenty of creepy noises, “faulty” lighting, and a delicious crumbling, eerie, old mansion. Unfortunately this scary story didn’t quite deliver on the scary and instead served up a platter of all too common “scary” plot elements. I felt the overall story struggled to find its rhythm or direction, waffling between a contemporary trying to discuss grief & mental illness and a straight up paranormal ghost story, but never marrying the two. A plot that meandered, was repetitive, and eventually just headed nowhere, characters that couldn’t be told apart, little description, plot lines and characters left abandoned and an ending that just … well, ended.

Full review HERE.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

The Keeper of Lost Things

The Keeper of Lost Things book coverWritten by Ruth Hogan

Published by William Morrow

What should have a been a cozy, warm and charming read full of cups of hot chocolate, tea, and biscuits quickly soured for me under outdated, harmful sexist and homophobic digs. I am really surprised that this novel is only two years old and was allowed to go to print with sentiments like “no amount of hairspray is good for a man, only those Liberace types” and when are SS jokes ever funny? Not to mention the sexist notions of women having to clean up the Christmas dinner while men get to laze with their bellies out, an incredibly narcissistic 35 year old who constantly obsesses over her appearance and the furthering of “he likes you Laura if he is mean to you” just brought the whole work under for me. I unfortunately was unable to get past these sentiments that continued to stack up and skim-read the last 50ish pages. Really disappointed with this one.

You can find a copy here: Bookshop.org

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