A Light Most Hateful (Hailey Piper) / The Haunting of Alejandra (V. Castro) – Titan Books Review

We take a look at two of the newest releases from Titan Books.

A Light Most Hateful (Hailey Piper)

Hailey Piper’s new horror novel, A Light Most Hateful, begins if not auspiciously, then benignly enough. Teenager Olivia, self-exiled from her religious parents for kissing a girl, is working the drive-in and wishing for both a better life and the romantic attentions of her best friend Sunflower, when all hell literally breaks loose. Typical Friday night then.

Although it does suffer from a sometimes muddled plot and internal logic, there’s little denying that A Light Most Hateful makes up for its shortcomings with strong, electric writing, a good sense of creeping dread, and an interesting examination of grief and loss as they intersect with concepts of selfhood. The central pair of protagonists are well-written, filling out archetypes with aplomb – Olivia, the ostensible heroine is angst-ridden and likeable, fighting to survive, while her best friend (and unrequited crush) Sunflower, is an enigmatic, mercurial presence.

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Utilising some clear cultural touchstones such as Silent Hill and HP Lovecraft, A Light Most Hateful combines the chilling darkness of cosmic horror with the emotional heft of teenage heartbreak at the end of the world; Piper is a clear talent with regards to blending the mundane with the terrifying, and is therefore one to watch.

A Light Most Hateful is out on 10th October from Titan Books.

The Haunting of Alejandra (V. Castro)

Latinx horror is, fortunately, having a boom in recent years, whether that’s the genre-bending Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Mexican Gothic, Certain Dark Things, Silver Nitrate), the atmospheric Isabel Cañas (The Hacienda, Vampires of El Norte), or any number of talented wordsmiths. Amongst this number is V. Castro, of Queen of the Cicadas, who has released her new chiller The Haunting of Alejandra.

The Haunting of Alejandra follows the titular Alejandra, a wife and mother feeling constrained and stifled by her stay-at-home lifestyle, unwittingly trapped by her rich husband. The novel vacillates between various time periods in Alejandra’s ancestry, finding common ground as Alejandra fights to break a centuries-old curse and save her family from the dark forces, namely the iconic La Llorona, threatening to devour them.

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Although it suffers from some staid prose, The Haunting of Alejandra is replete with rich, complex themes about motherhood, intergenerational trauma, and the expectations that women continue to face in society, all through the lens of one of Mexico’s most iconic supernatural entities. Combining these themes with a root-worthy heroine and apt use of grisly, distinctly feminine body horror, V. Castro has crafted an enjoyable, dark tale of empowerment, a perfect tale for the spooky season.

The Haunting of Alejandra is out on 17th October from Titan Books.

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