Kate Alice Marshall's Thirteens & lots more movies!

Also, a wildlife update.

Hi, friends,

So the big news around the homestead is that The Lady—a squirrel who’s been coming to our window almost daily for walnuts for a couple of years now—is now taking food DIRECTLY OUT OF MY HAND, which is so absurdly delightful and gives me a thrill every single time. Squirrels have the coolest little hands.

Reading: Thirteens, by Kate Alice Marshall

Eleanor is the new kid in Eden Eld, and things there are… weird.

For one thing, she’s seeing things that other people don’t seem to see. And not just sort of normal-weird things, like the grandfather clock that appeared in the hallway overnight that counts thirteen hours and has hands that run backwards. No, she’s also seeing weird-weird things, like a big menacing dog with glowing red eyes.

But she doesn’t want to point anything weird out, because it’s only a matter of time before the other kids in town find out that she’s The Girl Whose Mother Tried To Kill Her, and so she’d rather not bring attention to herself.

The thing is, she’s in Eden Eld against her mother’s wishes. Her mother always told her never to go to Eden Eld. Never, ever. Then again, her mother also set the house on fire—with Eleanor in it—and disappeared, so… Eleanor’s understandably not ready to take her mother’s advice on anything at the moment.

But, you know. When your gut is telling you that something is wrong, something is probably wrong:

Ms. Foster stepped forward, reaching up, and it took Eleanor every bit of control she had not to flinch away as she tucked a strand of Eleanor’s hair behind her ear. Then she took Eleanor’s hands in hers, looking into her eyes. “I hope you’ll feel at home here in no time. You belong to this town,” she said.

You belong to this town.

I really don’t know if there’s ANY context in which that statement wouldn’t come off as A) creepy and B) ominous, but in a horror novel, it’s c) TERRIFYING.

I loved this! It’s scary and smart and exciting and there are secret rooms and clues in a book of fairy tales and the majority of the action takes place on Halloween! It’s about friendship and trust and family and feelingsssssssss!

There is a sequel! I have it in my hand! I am so excited to read it!

Three things I Love About Thirteens: A Non-Exhaustive List

• I love that it acknowledges and engages with the fact that emotions keep happening, even in the midst of adventure. Is it inconvenient to take a pause from running for your life in order to let your brain and your heart to re-calibrate enough to allow you to KEEP running for your life? YES. Is it sometimes still necessary? ALSO YES.


“Aren’t you going to say everything’s going to be okay, or something?” Pip asked.

“No,” Eleanor said. “People say that a lot to me and it never helps. It just makes me mad. Because everything isn’t okay. Even if it turns out better in the end, it’ll never be okay that this happened.”

• There are human bads and there are fae bads—what I’m terming “fae” are never explicitly referred to as fae, but there are very carefully worded bargains and human sacrifice, so I think it’s fair to put them in the fae family at LEAST—but in MY OPINION, the humans are worse, and that’s as it should be. Fae gonna fae, but human adults should know better than to sacrifice the next generation in exchange for an easier present.


Also, the main human bad even explicitly acknowledges that it’s about the economy, which… if it hadn’t made me laugh, it might have made me cry.

Added to the TBR:

Movie posters: Dementia (1955); Pledge Night (1990); The Evil (1978); Dearest Sister (2016); Prescription: Murder (1968); Chandramukhi (2005); Secrets in the Hot Spring (2018); Witchery (1988)


As of writing this, I’m now 39 movies into my 61 Horror Movies in 61 Days Challenge, and I’m Still! Going! Strong!

Here are a few highlights from this batch:

  • Dearest Sister (Mattie Do, 2016): Hoo boy, this is somewhat heavy, but I loved it. There are ghosts, but it’s much more of a domestic drama about differences of social and economic class within a family; it’s wonderfully acted, and the main character makes some CHOICES, phew.

  • Prescription: Murder (Richard Irving, 1968): Columbo’s first case! Peter Falk is so young and this version of Columbo is relatively clean-cut! The epitome of my personal comfort viewing to watch on the couch when I’m feeling rotten! Or when I’m crocheting! Or, just… because I feel like it!

  • Witchery (Fabrizio Laurenti, 1988): Without a doubt, the absolute stinker of this entire batch. Starring David Hasselhoff and Linda Blair, this movie, like its kill scenes, goes from gross to boring to excruciatingly boring to absolutely disgusting to boring again, and is borderline incomprehensible throughout. And I’d have said all that even if it hadn’t featured an unnecessarily endless demon rape scene, which it did. Ugh. And also barf.

Interlude: Some thoughts on human sacrifice in middle grade fiction

I realized recently that middle grade horror is currently one of the only things that’s making me hopeful about the future? It occurred to me after reading quite a few in a row that dealt with human sacrifice, of all things.

For me, the human sacrifice storyline represents the willingness of an older generation to sacrifice a younger generation to make their own lives easier and more comfortable. Why make changes to solve problems that’ll come to a head tomorrow when it’s easier to ignore them today, right? Instead of the price coming due after the older generation has died—when they don’t have to worry about them—these stories are making their decisions literal and immediate.

And I guess that makes me hopeful because it means that there are people in multiple generations, very much including the intended audience of the books, who see those actions for what they are?

What I’m trying to say is this: I appreciate that so many middle grade authors are truth tellers.

Well, that got unintentionally heavy.

So I’ll leave you with this—the other day, I witnessed a giant wild turkey brawl in our backyard, which was probably just as bonkers—if not more so—as whatever you’re imagining.

Talk to you soon,