Cover Image: What Stalks Among Us

What Stalks Among Us

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I had a really tough time getting through this one. The premise sounded great, but the execution of it was lacking. I was expecting more of a horror story, and although it did have a couple 'creepy' moments it really was a let down in that regard. I found the story way too repetitive with the time looping and there was so little explanation of to what was actually happening that it was almost nonsensical to me. It was also challenging for me to really get into the characters, although the author did a decent job of at least explaining some of Sadie's past and how it still impacts her. The one thing I did like was the ending of this book, it wrapped up nicely and I liked the emotion of the characters as it came to a close.

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Sadie and her best friend Logan decide to skip out on a field trip and just go for a random drive instead. They decide to check out a corn maze they find and very soon realize they're trapped. With Logan's dead body.

I hesitate to say this was fun, due to the topics it discussed, but it pretty much was. Sarah Hollowell's writing is really easy to fly through and I really enjoy it.

Sadie is dealing with breaking up with her abusive online boyfriend and losing her only friends because of him. She's dealing with a lot of self doubt, and self hatred, and anxiety-induced overthinking. I understand why she was like that, but it did make it a bit harder for me to like her.

It would have been interesting to get a few chapters from Helena's perspective to see how she justified her actions to herself.

So far I've really enjoyed both of Sarah Hollowell's books and I look forward to more from her.

CW: blood, death, gun death, minor car accident, abusive relationships, murder, suicide, anxiety, body horror, self harm

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a free review copy.

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What Stalks Among Us by Sarah Hollowell
Sadie and Logan decide to skip a school field trip and go for a drive when they come across a corn maze. So naturally what do they do? They go in the corn maze. Unfortunately once they realize this isn’t your average maze, it’s too late.
I absolutely loved this book. As someone who lives in Iowa, I am familiar with corn and just how truly creepy big fields of it can be. Sadie and Logan get trapped in this maze and have to figure out how to get out before the corn traps them there forever.
My favorite thing about this book was the friendship. I loved that this book centered around Sadie and Logan and the importance of their friendship with each other. I related to Sadie. I could see so much of myself in her as a plus size girly working on coping with her trauma and learning how to lean on her friends for support.
My only complaint about this book is I found some of the plot points a little too convenient. It felt like instead of coming up with a real solution for this maze, the author decided to go with an easy answer. That being said, I absolutely loved every minute of this book.
If you’re planning on going to any corn mazes this Fall, read this first so you’re prepared.
Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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The scary action starts right off the bat in this corn maze horror! Sadie and Logan are newish besties skipping a school trip to go for a drive when they can't resist stepping into a corn maze. They end up stuck in a nightmare loop of dead bodies (some their own!), corn monsters, and a questionable ally. Can they figure out the maze before getting stuck forever?? This book is a great scare and also a great ode to friendship and standing up for yourself.

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Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley

I cannot begin to express how much I needed this book, and how much I wish I could have had this book in my teenage and young adult years. Seeing an explicitly fat character with a brain that works like mine who has gone through the same things I have was beyond cathartic. Not only that but to see Sadie open up to the person who truly cares about her and reach out a hand to someone who needed the same thing, had me in tears (good ones). I adored Sadie and Logan's friendship and the love and respect they had for each other

The maze was a gruesome and painful puzzle of the complicated feelings of grief. Trapping people in memories that contain both bad and good in order to absorb them just made me shudder. Of all the things that happened in the maze, that was the worst. Watching Sadie and Logan die over and over again, mostly because of Helena's desperation, was gutting especially when things were getting worse the more Sadie came back. But watching Sadie fight back, for Logan if not herself, was extremely satisfying. She didn't just lie down and take it.

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What Stalks Among Us throws the reader right the heck into the maze, literally and figuratively. That doesn't always work well for me, but in this case, it very much did! The author does a great job of fleshing out Sadie and Logan, despite us just heading right into the action with them. And the aforementioned action is a corn maze that seems to have no escape- and a lot of death.

Sadie and Logan are skipping school. Not just any school day, but the field trip to the amusement part that has Sadie's anxiety at an all time high. Logan, sensing this and being an awesome friend, suggests they skip. Sadie, a lover of corn mazes from way back, suggests they stop when they stumble across this one. As you can tell by the synopsis, this was a big old mistake, but alas, in they go.

Very quickly, they start to see some very eerie stuff. Namely, their stuff, that should not be in this maze. And I'll tell you no more (don't even read the synopsis if you haven't already, tbh). In fact, all I will tell you is why this book works so well: The characters are very relatable and well developed (extra especially for a horror), the premise itself is bananas, and done oh-so-well, and you legit won't be able to put the book down because you will be so invested in both the maze and the characters. And extra bonus, it includes some really great character growth, too. I will admit, I did probably want a bit more from the ending, but it is still satisfying enough, so this is likely just me being picky.

Bottom Line: An absolutely perfect fall horror, with some fabulous character development thrown in. You won't regret reading this, unless you had a big trip to the corn maze scheduled.

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I really wasn't quite sure what to expect from this title other than a never-ending corn maze with dead bodies, and while I did get that (and it was wonderful) the story was so much more. Hollowell has managed to create a story that tactfully shows the results of emotional abuse, and how hard it is to even accept that it happened, let alone deal with it in any meaningful way. Sadie and Logan were wonderful characters, and I greatly appreciate the fact that there was just about zero romance in the book, because all too often horror stories include unnecessary sex to spice things up and because it seems to be expected of them. Hollowell didn't do that, and I respect her for it. Basically I was really pleased with this book as a whole, and I will certainly be adding it to my home library. I will also be putting in a request for at least one copy of it to start with, and then working on hand selling it so I can order in more. I know Hollowell has another book that's already out, which I am now eager to check out and see if it is as good as this one, but either way I'll certainly be checking out her next novel, because she's shown me she can write a good, scary story with more than just surface themes. There's also a part of me that would love to talk to her to probe into some of her thought process behind the story a little bit more. This is no doubt a favorite read of the year for me, but I do admit I would have perhaps liked a little bit more of an explanation for things, but I can appreciate the fact that sometimes these things just don't get explained, which is why I would like to pick the author's brain as to a few things I'm curious about. Either way, excellent book.

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What Stalks Among Us by Sarah Hollowell follows Sadie and Logan as they find themselves trapped in a corn maze they discover holds the bodies of murder victims—including themselves, but as they turn to retreat, the maze won’t let them leave. And so begins this creepy, clever, time-bending story about being lost and finding your way out of a maze of memories you thought would never leave you be.

I think my favorite part of this book was Sadie’s narration. At first, we play catch up to see how she and Logan come to the maze, which is used really to frame the book, but it also sets us up for the parts of the story later where things start to repeat themselves, and Sadie has to play catch up while we know what she doesn’t remember. But Sadie’s voice is also fun and very relatable, and truly feels like someone I’d encounter in real life, who’s trying to make sense of a crazy corn maze with corn monsters and seeing dead versions of herself everywhere. She has this bravery, which she starts with and grows into, and I love how she faces things head on, even when she’s scared, and helps others do that as well.

I also loved the maze metaphor for memory. It was so creative, and it’s so true that memories can feel like being lost in a maze you can’t find your way out of. It was also especially poignant when Logan talks about how happy memories and places can be tainted by toxicity, and how that happiness can sometimes fool you into thinking bad memories are good. The whole story revolves around abuse and being manipulated, and I think that the maze and the repetition of rooms were such a good allegory for getting lost in that mindset, but also remembering that with the help of friends and people you trust, you can find your way out, no matter how scary it seems at first. The buildup around Helena’s own story and unraveling her mystery really lended well to this, even if Sadie and Logan had to do some of their own healing before they could fully help her with her own grief.

If you’re searching for a suspenseful story and a reason not to enter corn mazes this Halloween season, What Stalks Among Us may be the perfect book for you to get lost in.

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This book was not what I expected it to be. I was expecting something like Children of the Corn or Clown in a Cornfield, but this was really more like... The Endless? In the Tall Grass meets The Endless, like if Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson made a Stephen King movie and threw their time travel cosmic horror vibes in it. But Hollowell is much better at writing kids than King, and just as good at timey-wimeyness as Moorehead and Benson.

I was constantly surprised by this book. The in-depth look at anxiety and abuse and the different ways those can manifest and blend together was handled well by Hollowell, in my opinion. I found myself relating to Sadie quite strongly in particular, with her hang-ups about saying the wrong thing, her weight, her relationships... this book, while it contains more traditional horror, really focuses more on psychological horror (and not just in the panic of being stuck in a time looped corn maze).

I also like that even though the time loops are mentioned in the book summary, it still surprised me in how it was fully introduced. Without giving it away, it's a fun moment that makes the reader second-guess themselves, and while it's something I'm sure has been done before, it's not something I've personally read before so it surprised me!

This is a fun summer/autumn young adult horror read that even adults will enjoy. I especially recommend it if you're into liminal space type horror, or maze or escape room horror. I really enjoyed this one!

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Wow, what a perfect book for Spooky Season! I only read it in two sittings because I had to get up early the next morning and then I dove right back in with my breakfast.

Hollowell has really upped her game here. Her debut novel was good and got better with each page, but this one grabs you from the first page and does not let go, not one word wasted. The friendships, the fears, the maze–everything felt very real.

The SHEEP 😬

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This is a great Young Adult Horror, I mean a weird corn maze with no exit where you not only find the bodies of other people and all of the stuff they left behind but you also find your own... bodies, and that's not even the worst of it.

When Sadie and Logan decide to skip the senior trip and decide to head into the random corn maze they found while traveling a back road, well, they definitely get more than they bargained for. Their phones stop working, the sun doesn't move, and it seems like the corn is only letting them move through once it's good and ready, not to mention the bodies they've found some of which belong to them all killed in violent ways. They are trapped with no way out and only one other person who they aren't sure can be trusted.

I love both Sadie and Logan, their friendship is adorable and heartwarming, and I love how they can always count on each other. I really connected with Sadie in a lot of ways, and reading her really made me feel seen.

The maze was creepy, I loved the mystery of it all, and the suspense of waiting to see what was going to happen next kept me on the edge of my seat until I reached the last page.
And I have to say living in a place with a lot of cornfields, I will be looking at them in a whole new way. This is a book I would definitely buy a physical copy of, and I can't wait to see what Sarah Hollowell will come out with next.

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I liked this book a lot for what it was, a YA horror novel. The main characters, Sadie and Logan, are a great example of a good friendship looks like. They are so supportive, empathetic and they never give up on each other. They both get trapped in this crazy corn maze that is a mixture of something you would see in a horror movie and/or video game. They both make a lot of references to this throughout the story, which can seem repetitive, but serves as a way for them to process their situation and strategize how to get out. There are time loops, restarts, and a wide variety of rooms throughout the corn maze that poor Sadie and Logan have to navigate together with corn monsters, a sheep skeleton, and Helena trying to kill them.

After we were introduced to Helena, I couldn't get the MCR song called "Helena" out of my mind hahaha. I also may have pictured Helena in the story as the one featured in the MCR music video hehe IYKYK. I noticed a lot of parallels between the song and this story in regards to both Helenas.

I loved the representation in this book. Sadie is a plus-sized, neurodivergent FMC and Logan was her amazing, also neurodivergent, best friend! The story is told only from Sadie's POV and I think it would have added to the story if the author had a POV from Logan as well. He was with her the entire time and whenever they would have to restart, they couldn't without each other. "There is no Logan without Sadie. There is no Sadie without Logan."

The ending felt rushed to me and didn't provide answers about the maze in the same depth that the author went into with everything else in the story. That seems to be a common occurence in endings though but I might be in the minority here in thinking so. Overall, I did like this and thought the premise was original and interesting. Thank you to HarperCollins and NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This is a truly fascinating puzzlebox of a book that slams you into the premise from page 1 and doesn't really let up until the last chapter. And the overall themes were way more nuanced and deep than I thought they'd be (which was incredibly silly of me considering Sarah Hollowell's debut novel and its preoccupations). And while I don't think everything came together perfectly, I'll be thinking about elements of this for a long time.

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I received a copy of this from NetGalley in return for an honest review.

I love a good YA horror, especially this time of year when the season is changing. The premise of this book sucked me right in because it is terrifying to be trapped anywhere. I was especially intrigued because this centered on best friends, one boy and one girl. I love friendship books and it is very rare to see opposite gender best friends.

However, this book could not have felt "horrifying". Where the things encountered in the maze supposed to be scary? Yes. Did the characters act scared once? Maybe just once. Even when faced with their own deaths it felt like they just didn't have emotions to match the situation. They literally saw their own dead bodies and it felt very surface level the way they reacted. I love a good visceral horror book that makes me a bit scared but I felt nothing reading this.

It may be because I just had rewatched 'In the Tall Grass', but this also felt like a YA spin on the same exact story. People enter a field and encounter their own dead bodies, with one individual seeming to know and understand the rules of the place. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't watched that movie.

Overall, I would probably recommend it to a younger YA audience, or perhaps a middle grade individual wanting to explore the YA genre.

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I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own.
I haven’t read Sarah Hollowell before, but after reading What Stalks Among Us, I’m definitely interested in reading more from her. I went in knowing very little beyond what is in the blurb, and I recommend that as well for the full experience, beyond perhaps looking at content warnings, as it does deal with some sensitive topics. But I appreciated how these were handled, particularly how it represents the cycle of abuse and trauma.
With the presence of a literal corn maze, I love how it represents the complex mystery that the characters must unravel. Things did not go in the direction I expected when I started the book, and there were many twists and turns, and a few poignant revelations. The narrative was fast-paced, sucking me in and making me savor every bit.
The characters were also pretty great. I was already drawn to the fact that the protagonist, Sadie, is fat and neurodivergent, which is a rarity in thriller and horror. I loved seeing such a nuanced portrayal here, with her being allowed to have flaws and fears, while also being pretty tough as she battles the varied horrors that she and Logan are confronted with. Logan was great in the supporting role for Sadie, providing moral support when she needed it.
This is a wonderfully creepy read, and perfect with Halloween coming up next month. I recommend it to readers who enjoy YA thriller/horror, especially if they’re looking for something with a bit more diversity than the norm.

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Thank you to HarperCollins Children's Books and NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of "What Stalks Among Us" by Sarah Hollowell in exchange for an honest review.

Holy mackerel, I hardly know where to start.

Sadie and Logan are best friends. Their relationship is bone deep, despite being less than a year old. They decide to skip their physics class field trip to the amusement park and drive aimlessly around the countryside. When they see a seemingly-impossible corn maze (it's a fully grown, mature corn maze in May), they pull over and decide to start exploring.

It does not take long to understand that this is a serious mistake. They are immediately lost, unable to retrace their steps back to the beginning and then... then they find the first body. The boy is identical to Logan in every way (except he's still alive and the boy definitely is not). What follow is the wild, unnerving story of their attempts to escape the corn maze.

There is so much to unpack in "What Stalks Among Us.". Like the very best horror, this story is about more than just about it's plot. Yes, it's about two teens trying to escape a corn maze. But it's also about the effects of fatphobia, emotional abuse, toxic relationships (both romantic and platonic), vengeance, and redemption. It doesn't seem like all that should fit squarely within the realm of a haunted corn maze, and yet... It totally does. If the maze can defy the bounds of time and space (which is does, constantly), it can shift enough to include extraordinary emotional reckoning.

The very best part of the story is the bond between Sadie and Logan. As unnerving as the story is, their friendship brings lightness and hope. They support one another. They trust each other. They never let the other give up. The story says "No Sadie without Logan. No Logan without Sadie." No matter what happens, they are a team and I loved them for it.

It was a little slow going at first, but after the first 10%, I tore through it. It was "staying up too late to read more" kinda book. I recommend it to those who enjoy YA horror, corn maze fans, and folks who like their horror with a heavy dose of emotional resolution. However, there are many triggers in this book, so go carefully. In particular, be aware that abusive relationships (NOT between Sadie and Logan, thank goodness) form the nucleus of the tale.

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Thank you NetGalley for providing me with a digital ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review!

Sadie and Logan skip their end-of-year field trip and as they are driving around the backroads of Indiana they find a corn maze. It isn't long before they come across corpses of themselves and realize that they are stuck in a time loop.

I was expecting a typical YA horror, what I got was so much more! The vibe was super creepy and the story was so fast paced and exciting. It is a beautiful story of friendship and the characters are so great (I've never related to a character more than when Logan was worrying about his cat as he is stuck in a murder filled mystery corn maze). I also loved how the author talked about dealing with trauma. I never expected when I started reading this, that it would make me so emotional. There are some definite trigger warnings, but I don't want to give away too much so I will just leave it at that.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for this ARC in exchange for my honest review!

3.5 stars. I wasn’t sure where this story was going to go, but all in all I enjoyed the journey.

Sadie and Logan are best friends joined at the hip. They’ve only been friends for a year, but Sadie can’t see her life without him anymore. After Logan suggest they skip the school field trip and go riding around, they stumble upon a corn maze. Once they enter, they aren’t allowed to leave. Not only can they not leave, but they find bodies in the maze. Bodies of themselves. What does it all mean? What unfolds is a mystery where Sadie and Logan have to figure out the root of the Maze’s origins while also figuring out a way to set free all the unfortunate souls trapped inside.

I’m not a huge fan of time loops for the repetitiveness, but I thought this one was done very well. I liked the focus on body positivity and healing your trauma. Both Sadie and Logan had things they had to work out and Sadie was finally able to open up to Logan about the issues with her ex boyfriend and ex best friends. There was no Sadie without Logan and no Logan without Sadie.

Usually I get annoyed with pop culture references in books, but I thought the ones here were funny and fit in the moment, especially with Sadie’s ADHD. I appreciated the queer rep with them too.

If you like slow burn horror mystery I recommend this one. It’s very funny and touching and I really liked the ending.

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A wonderful read. I enjoyed this very much. This author has a way with words
Highly recommend
10/10

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I got an ARC of this book.

I started recommending this book to people by 30%. At 50% I was posting about it on library pages and spreading. By 80% I was texting everyone my reactions pretty much page by page. By 100% I feel so many feelings.

There are literally no bad things that I can say about this book. So onto the good. The MC is a fat bi girl dealing with lots of emotions. She lost her two closest friends, but the reason why isn’t made fully clear until further into the book. She is dealing with her break-up, but in more ways than are clear at first. This is really a great book when it comes to the complex emotions around abusive partners. When you break up, the feelings don’t just go away. You can miss your abuser, even if you know what they were doing wasn’t ok. You can miss the way they made you feel when things were good. You could miss so many things. It doesn’t make the abuser better, it doesn’t mean there was less abuse or no abuse. I love how this book also tackles that friends can be toxic, not just romantic partners.

The plot! The setting! The villain(s?)! SO MUCH WONDERFUL. I just don’t even know how to talk about the book without giving big twists away and without just gushing the whole time. It was just yes. So much yes. I was worried a bit that the repeating the maze would get tedious or I would lose track of time loops, but it really wasn’t difficult to follow. The characters don’t remember everything either, so missing a detail here or there doesn’t really change how the book progresses. The important things are repeated in ways that don’t drag down the story and kept me caught up. It was really well done and well paced.

One of the best books I have read this year, without a doubt.

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