Halloween Host: A Holiday Novel by S. M. Barrett

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I was given this as a review request, and I didn’t know what to expect since I don’t typically read holiday-themed novels, but I was in for kind of a trippy ride.

A middle-aged man, newly divorced, also the new bad guy at work since he was forced into firing 6 people finds himself down in the dumps. Who could blame him? He was so down he turned down his own kids Halloween plans because he thought he would be bad company for his kid and that he would have more fun on his own. He was wrong, the kid was devastated and his Halloween was ruined.

One morning, Artie is drinking coffee in his kitchen when a random woman shows up next to his refrigerator with a thing of wheat in one hand and a scythe, she tells him that she IS “fall”, she is an entity made of humanities collective rituals and customs that occur in the fall. Pumpkins, going back to school, cooler weather, an, of course, the colors of Autumn. She tells him that the October Senate is displeased with his behavior toward his kid. He ruined his Halloween and now he has a debt to pay. The October Senate is a group of all the entities relevant to October. Every month has a Senate each comprised of different entities relative to that month. For instance, July would have the entity of Fireworks or something, Labor Day has its own entity etc.

Artie has to repay the debt by allowing different members of the Senate to reside in his house, from October 22nd through October 31st. His other option is to be punished with permanent “Lamentations” where each Halloween he’s revisited with painful memories that get worse each year.

Each night a different member of the Senate will make his home their home for the evening. It starts off well enough, Nyx was a rather relaxing, calm, and sane Senator that was able to ease Artie into this process. She represented Night, and all that came with it, and appeared to him at first as a swarm of bats that eventually transformed into a dark cloaked figure with no distinct face.

Some of the Senators that came after her, though, were not as pleasant as she was. He really starts to lose a grip on reality and question his own mind as night after night stranger and stranger things happen to him while he plays host to these Senators. Death was almost too much for him to handle, he couldn’t wrap his head around the fact that he was sitting and speaking to the same entity that would eventually kill him.

This was a pretty intimate story, there’s just one main character and almost the entire book was set in just one house. You get to know him pretty well as he interacts with different gods who want to ask him different questions about his life and what it means to him.

I thought this was a pretty good holiday book, granted I haven’t read any other Halloween specific novels. It was well written, well paced, and overall gave off a creepy and supernatural tone. I do think this would be fine for young adults, there’s no cursing, the book is clean and it didn’t deal with anything gory or violent. It does get pretty trippy sometimes with the stranger entities that come lurking around, like Disguise and Tricks – I really enjoyed those chapters.

Audience:

  • single pov
  • intimate stories
  • quick reads
  • gods are real
  • creepy/supernatural tone
  • young adult
  • Halloween lovers

Ratings:

  • Plot: 11.5/15
  • Characters: 11/15
  • World Building: 11/15
  • Writing: 11.5/15
  • Pacing: 11/15
  • Originality: 12.5/15
  • Personal Enjoyment: 7/10

Final Score: 75.5/100 – 4 stars  Amazon Link

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