So today I’ve decided to do something different! For the past four years I’ve been working towards both my BA and MA in English Literature [Medical Humanities] and I’ve only just finished my final dissertation. As I chose to give myself a break rather than heading straight into my next adventure I’m finally able to participate in my first ever readathon. I love watching vlogs of readathons like the Reading Rush, for example, and I’ve chose Spookathon for my first readathon as it’s hosted by one of my favourite content creators BooksandLala.

The Spookathon announcement went up earlier today and you can watch it below. This is one of the more casual readathons with five reading challenges and maybe some on Instagram but not too many requirements for books to fulfil those challenges. It will be running from the 14th of October to the 20th of October. You can keep up with the content created for Spookathon by using the hashtag on Instagram or by visiting @Spookathon on Twitter. I won’t be vlogging the readathon but I will be doing blog posts to review each book or catalogue any thoughts I have but you can find my live and creative thoughts throughout the week over on my Instagram.

In this first blog I’ll be going through my TBR [To Be Read] pile and explaining just how they fit the challenges and why I’ve chosen them. Some readers choose not to set a strict TBR before the readathon and let their mood take them but the organisational side of my brain just couldn’t resist the idea of lists and sorting out books to be read within the time allowed. Old habits from reading for my degree are dying hard. So, the reading challenges set out in Lala’s video are:

  1. To read a thriller.
  2. To read a book with red on the cover.
  3. To read a book with a spooky word in the title.
  4. To read a book with a spooky setting.
  5. To read something you wouldn’t normally read.

[1] The Death of Mrs Westaway by Ruth Ware

I must admit despite always being willing to read a thriller it was difficult to pick just one out of the blue for the first challenge. However, when I went through my general ‘want to read’ section of Goodreads I found a host recommendation and after reading the blurb I thought it would be perfect. Lala rated The Death of Mrs Westaway four stars and I remember liking the sound of the narrative whilst watching her reading experience in a vlog. As she’s very experienced in reading thrillers in particular and the narrative sounded intriguing I decided that this would be a good place to start.

The Death of Mrs Westaway follows Hal Westaway who receives a letter bequeathing her a substantial inheritance upon the death of the elderly Mrs Westaway. Something is wrong, however, as Hal’s own grandparents have been dead for twenty years. Needing the money, she finds herself at the funeral and beginning the process of claiming the inheritance but it soon dawns on her that there is something very wrong with this strange situation.

As I mentioned above I’m always up to reading a thriller or horror novel but this one sounds like it should be able to balance life altering stakes with a calmer surrounding than others due to the centrality of inheritance. Most reviews which I’ve glanced at so far include comparisons to Ware’s other novels, however, I have never read a Ruth Ware book so I intend to go into this one knowing nothing but the general synopsis above or the conventions of Ware’s writing.

[2] The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

I. Cannot. Wait. To. Read. This. Book. Actually, I almost didn’t even put it on this TBR just so that I didn’t have to wait until the middle of October to read it. I’ve decided to include it for the challenge to read a book with red on the cover as I’m very likely to sit down to read it and not get up until it’s done which could be helpful when trying to fit it in to the timeframe.

This is another 2018 release thriller which has been described as an incredibly innovative novel requiring nearly all of your brain power to read. The synopsis of this book begins ‘tonight, Evelyn Hardcastle will be killed… again’. Evelyn Hardcastle is the young daughter of the house who is killed as the celebration held at Blackheath culminates in the fireworks overhead. Aiden, one of the guests summonsed to this very party, must solve her murder and until he does the day will repeat itself, over and over again. It ends each time with the fatal pistol shot. The only way to break this cycle is to identify the killer. However, there are more fantastical elements to this narrative. Each time the day begins Aiden wakes in the body of a different guest.

While the very similarly named Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was dominating the ‘Best of 2018’ lists of many booktubers The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle has been named by several publications, including The Guardian, I Paper, Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph, as a Book of the Year. I’m just so intrigued to see how this narrative is going to play out and I really want to sink my teeth into it sooner rather than later. I’m going to be good and wait for the readathon and this should make sure I make it through a big book quicker than I normally would.

*Please note that this book is published under two names. It seems that The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is the UK name and in America it is published as The Seven 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle.*

[3] This Monstrous Thing by Mackenzi Lee

A theme of this TBR is catching up on books I’ve wanted to read for a longtime and making sure I get them off my general TBR shelf. However, this book is the pinnacle of that. It was published in 2015 and I bought my copy in 2016 so I’ve certainly been waiting a while to just sit down and get it read. I do want to approach this book on its own merits but I can’t deny that I was drawn to it because of my deep rooted love of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I am actually planning to re-read Frankenstien which should happen before this readathon so I will have that in my recent memory but as I said I want to appreciate the ways this book departs from the Frankenstein narrative. I also want to see if any references to the original text do crop up, however, as so many common understandings of the original narrative come from film adaptations for example and are actually not true if you’re only looking at Shelley’s book. Overall I think this book will be a very intriguing read both just as a very fall, halloween themed read but also as one in-keeping with my current research into Frankenstein.

It is set in the same year as Shelley’s original publication of Frankenstein but in Geneva. Men are built with clockwork parts and live hidden away from society, cared for only by illegal mechanics called Shadow Boys. Two years ago, Shadow Boy Alasdair Finch’s life was shattered as he lost his brother, his sweetheart and his chance to leave Geneva. As he grows more desperate he brings his brother, Oliver, back from the dead but soon discovers that putting together a broken life is more difficult than adding clockwork pieces. Oliver returns more monster than man.

Then comes the publication of Frankenstein and the city intensifies its search for Shadow Boys, aiming to discover the real life doctor and his monster. Alasdair finds refuge with his idol, the brilliant Dr. Geisler, who may offer him a way to escape the dangerous present and his guilt-ridden past, but at a horrible price only Oliver can pay…

I’m counting this for the challenge to read something with a spooky word in the title.

[4] A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

At this point I noticed that I have selected three larger books page-wise. I also wasn’t exactly sure what to pick for my spooky setting. So, I looked over my smaller books and found the one with the spookiest setting: a nightmare vision of the entire future. How could a setting get spookier? This future sees the criminals take over the dark and the book follows the teen Alex who talks in an inventive slang that renders his intense reaction against his society.

I have never seen the film adaptation of this novel so, other than a general understanding garnered from top ten book and film lists, I’m going into the exact narrative completely blind. My edition also includes the apparently controversial last chapter and I’m genuinely shocked that I’ve managed to avoid delving deeper into this controversy at all in a research context whilst this books has been on my TBR shelf. Very excited for this but I feel like I’m going to need a breather and a relaxing hobby planned for afterwards.

[5] Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Yes you read that title correctly. Despite loving books for as long as I can remember and studying English Literature for four years… I have never read a single Jane Austen novel. So when I was thinking of something I would never normally read she popped into my head. I had never been planning to give her a try really despite my love of reading classics. I’m not quite sure why I’ve just never been drawn to any of her books. However, as all of my other selections are quite intense heavy books I wanted something I could read intermittently in between as a break or something to get on audiobook in case I end up travelling more than I’ve got planned at the moment. This all seemed to line up best with a novel like Northanger Abbey.

This novel is an easier fit into Spookathon than it may initially appear. As I was looking through Jane Austen’s published works I saw that Northanger Abbey specifically is a Gothic satire as Catherine Morland finds herself believing crimes to be taking place in Northanger Abbey despite her sometime habit of self-delusion. Again I’m going into this quite blind but I think this will be the perfect in-between novel keeping me on theme but giving my brain at least a little break between the intense reads above.

So there we have it! That’s my TBR for Spookathon 2019. Remember the readathon is running between October 14th and 20th.

You can follow my in-depth reviews here or on my Goodreads account: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/83424031-vicky-lord

However, if you want quick updates on my progress throughout the week I’ll be updating my Instagram stories very often: @Vickylrd

You can also follow BooksandLala’s YouTube, Twitter and Instagram and the official Twitter account for Spookathon.