Old Country by Matt Query & Harrison Query

In their debut novel, brothers Matt and Harrison Query explore the ultimate in buyer’s remorse: What if the home of your dreams wanted you dead?

Based on the Reddit sensation, Old Country is a horror-thriller about a young couple who buys the perfect, secluded house—only to discover the terror within.

It’s the house of their dreams. Former marine Harry and his wife, Sasha, have packed up their life and their golden retriever, Dash, and fled the corporate rat race to live off the land in rural Idaho. Their breathtaking new home sits on more than forty acres of meadow, aspen trees, and pine forest in the Teton Valley. Even if their friends and family think it’s a strange choice for an up-and-coming pair of urban professionals, Harry and Sasha couldn’t be happier about the future they’re building, all by their lonesome.

That is, until their nearest neighbors, Dan and Lucy Steiner, come bearing more than housewarming gifts. Dan and Lucy warn Harry and Sasha of a malevolent spirit that lives in the valley, one that with every season will haunt them in fresh, ever-more-diabolical ways. At first, it seems like an old wives’ tale. But when spring arrives, so does the first evil manifestation, challenging everything Harry and Sasha thought they knew about the world.

As each season passes, the spirit grows stronger, the land more sinister, and each encounter more dangerous. Will Harry and Sasha learn the true meaning of a forever home before it’s too late? Haunting and bone-chilling, Old Country is a spellbinding debut in the horror genre.

“You don’t know anything.”

This book takes a deeper look at the realism behind horror. It reflects on society, authenticity, and mortality, but most of all humbles us to our place in the grand scheme of things.

“We’ve been out here on borrowed land and time, and while I don’t regret a minute of it, this land was never really ours.”

In a larger sense, the demon of the seasons represents a very real danger. If we, as humans, continue to take from the Earth as we do, we will anger the Earth, and it will turn against us. This book reminds us of our place in nature, and pleads with us to recognize and respect that balance.

“Follow the rules, and we can live a safe life here.”

The Earth is not ours. Nature belongs to no man—it belongs to Spirit itself. Trying to take land away from Spirit will only anger it. Trying to banish this spirit will not work—you must learn to understand the spirit, it is a part of Creation. You may not own it, but you may learn to live with it—if you can find respect and understanding for the land itself, you can find a balance, and Spirit will allow you space on this land. Must learn to coexist with you the forces of the universe, we must understand and respect the give-and-take nature of the earth and its cycles, and only then will you find harmony.

“All our lives, every hour, are subject to the whim and caprice of the spirit, we all share that, and in the end, it takes us all.”

You can still read the original publication on Reddit r/nosleep here. Some changes were made to flesh out the story and turn a short story into novel length. Notably, there is much more character development from Harry in the book; he has much more space to reflect on himself, his choices, and his place in nature.

Netflix has made a commitment between rights to the Matt Query short story My Wife & I Bought a Ranch, and scripting fees for the author’s brother Harrison Query to write the screenplay.

Thank you so much to Grand Central Publishing for sending me an Advance Reading Copy of this title. All opinions are my own.

Honeycomb by Joanne Harris

Honeycomb is a sweeping grand tale, made up of many smaller ones, each woven together like the threads of a spiders web.

“But certain dreams thrive best in the waking world, and these are among the most powerful.”

Dreams of the Barefoot Princess

Long ago and far away, in the dreamy world of magical fae and honeybees, the Lacewing King and the Spider Queen spin a tale of love and trechary that spans across worlds.

“For, as the Honeycomb Queen had said, love is often half-sweetness, half-sting, and he had been stung once too often.”

The Honeycomb Child

The story is so beautifully written.  It’s a fantasy. It’s horror. It’s mythology and fairytales at their best. I would describe it as Grimms Fairytales meets Aesops Fables, and I loved the imagery and the world building.

“For the midwife had realized that she was among the Silken Folk; weavers of glamours, spinners of tales, most dangerous of the Faerie.”

The Midwife

Short meaningful stories—each their own stand-alone tale, and still part of the grander story—show how all beings are connected, from the grandest of kings of the smallest of bees. All of the characters circle back to the beginning, each conneted to each other in smalls ways that arent always realized until later in the story.

Though the book is laregly a collection of shorts, there is a main storyline that shows up every few chapters or so: the tale of The Lacewing King. a cruel, thoughtless, trickster. Honeycomb follows his heros journey and character development, from his mischievous childhood adventures, to his outwitting of villanious foes, and his many disasters in love. His often careless choices will have dire consequences for both his own fate and the fates of those around him.

Some of my favorite chapters included: The Watcher and the Glass—; The Gardener—an instance of giving an inch and taking a mile; The Girl Who Never Smiled—; and The Sparrow—a story tha

I did not want to put this down! It was magical, beautiful, and haunting. Easily my favorite book of the year so far.

“Now you have made me believe again that stories are real, and that dreams can come true.”

Dreams of the Barefoot Princess