Cover Image: My Throat an Open Grave

My Throat an Open Grave

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Member Reviews

Throughly enjoyable and a timely commentary. I felt that the cover illustration and title were a bit more horror than what was within the pages, but it didn’t deter me.

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I love eerie and dark tales that weave together folklore and horror. I liked that the story put a strong focus on themes of found family, purity culture, and the struggle for self-discovery,
However, My Throat an Open Grave is a Young Adult novel and definitely has that feel. Overall, I enjoyed the book. Thank you for the copy!

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3.5 stars

I really love the overall message that Bovalino was trying to convey between the pages of this story. However, the execution fell flat for me. Minus the vague Labyrinth vibes (basically just the MC's brother being kidnapped), there wasn't anything magical or horrific going on. If you peeled back a single layer of this story, it would automatically become a YA coming of age story... which is something I would never reach for. The writing is excellent and just what you expect from Bovalino, so even though the story wasn't my favorite, I wasn't unhappy during the experience.

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This is a spooky atmospheric read, this had me hooked from the start with its gothic and folklore vibes. Right from the start the reader gets the send of the scary Lord of the Woods who is feared by everyone in this small town and if you aren't good you will be taken away. When Leah is forced to go to the Lord of the Woods her expectations and fears will be test and nothing is as it seems.

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I think My Throat is an Open Grave was an okay book, but sadly, I just did not enjoy it.
I went into this book with high hopes as it was described as being inspired by Labyrinth.
Labyrinth is one of my favourite movies, so this made me really excited!
I found that there were barely any similarities other than the premise of wishing away a baby, and that disappointed me.

There was also a twist in this book that I guessed really early on and I wasn't a fan of it,
The last thing I want to say is that while the characters were alright, no one stood out, and I was a little disappointed with the romance as I felt there was zero chemistry.
Also, while I liked the love interest, I was kinda hoping for a love interest that would be a little like Jareth, and he sadly wasn't.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a review.

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I got an ARC of this book.

I remember watching The Labyrinth as a kid. It was already old. It was wild. It had puppets, contact juggling, and David Bowie in that outfit (you know what I am talking about). So when I saw a horror version, I was ready.

The thing was, this book was not the same at all. This book can stand on its own. This is my preferred version. There was so much here that was more engaging. There was the purity culture, there was the dead bodies, there were the ghosts, there was the romance. I was here for ALL of it. By the end I was calling it the sexy goblin book and getting super into everything.

It was beautifully written. This is both a good and bad thing. It flowed and it was gorgeous. It was clear that every word was intentional. But there were so many weird throw away parts that it felt off to include them when it felt so intentional. The twist was so obvious. The amount of foreshadowing was excessive for that twist. The twist was great and really fit the horror of the book, but with all the foreshadowing it felt more relieving to not have to read another scene about it instead of being shocking or exciting.

LoW was amazing. He made the story more approachable. It made some of the horror more real, which alone made the idea of making him appear to be around the same age more fun and less of a “let’s have sex with monsters!” feeling. It made him more exciting and made him more dangerous in a way that felt less horrific.

This is not the 80s movie, but its own unique and complex view of purity culture and the pressures on women to conform. It was pretty darn fantastic.

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I absolutely loved Not Good For Maidens by Tori Bovalino, so when I saw the cover of My Throat an Open Grave, I wanted to read it right away. I have to say, I’ve read quite a few books in under 48 hours over the years, but it has been a long time since I’ve read one in under 24 hours, but that was the case with My Throat an Open Grave.

First off, the lore behind the story was so compelling. The main character, Leah, lives in a small, religious town and has heard stories of the Lord of the Woods since childhood. Every several years, a child goes missing, and a woman is ultimately sent after the baby to “pay for her sins.” When Leah’s baby brother is taken by the LoW, her mother sends her after him, turning the whole town against her.

From the start, the myth of the Lord of the Woods was compelling, but what hooked me even more was a sharp sense of empathy and injustice for Leah. She didn’t even want a baby brother, why should she have to go after him?

Similarly, Leah copes with depression and suicidal thoughts throughout the story, which I thought Bovalino did an exceptional job of depicting. I definitely recommend reading this book when you’re in a good headspace because the depressive atmosphere is very immersive, which made the story feel more realistic.

Finally, Leah’s relationship with Tristan added a lot to the story and felt right for the story. I also appreciated the social justice messages tied into the story. As a whole, My Throat an Open Grave is a must read, regardless of whether you’re typically a fan of horror.

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This book had a captivating start with beautiful writing. The FMC Leah lives in the town Winston where people go to live and aren't destined for anything. We see religious aspects in this book and Leah questioning it because of how her life is turning out. She doesn't quite fit in with the other people like the students at her school as she doesn't see eye to eye with the life that they are living. Her parent, her teachers, and the community were supposed to be her guide and steer her in the right direction, but it seems they have given up on Leah and the others. When Leah's baby brother is taken by the Lord of the Woods, it is up to Leah to bring him back.

I found the book to be a little repetitive. There was also a continuous switch between Leah's decision where she's compliant to doing what the Lord of the Woods wants to being defiant. Overall, this book didn't meet my standards that I was expecting from the cover and synopsis. It leaned more towards the younger side of YA, with some of the common tropes you can expect from that. I will say there were lots of important messages the author incorporated into the book with the themes explored.

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haunting and atmospheric, this book grabs you by the throat and pulls you along for one hell of a ride

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I enjoyed this book, and really appreciated the labyrinth vibes it was giving off, along with the main plot and mystery which was compelling. I loved the romance, which is what kept me reading, and the gothic vibes it encapciliated.

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Tori Bovalino is an auto buy author for me. Tori walks the line between horror and the fantastical, and her words have a way of getting underneath your skin.

My Throat an Open Grave is a folk horror tribute to the Labyrinth, where a young girl wishes her brother away to the Lord of the Wood.

I loved the premise and aspects of this book but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy it as much as her other works. It felt a little flat and I can’t quite put my finger on why.

Some aspects that will likely appeal to other readers:
- Cottagegore vibes
- Enemies to lovers.
- Blood magic.
- Sacrifices.
- Found family.

Thank you NetGalley and Page Street Publishing for my eARC!

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Folkloric, full of interesting stories and fates. Beautifully twisty and turny, with a main character who wants to feel loved and a love interest who would do anything to give that. Wonderful story about a girl wanting to get back at a town that wronged her, and a boy who wants to prove he isn’t the person he’s made out to be.

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And here's another one to add to my favorites!

When I originally saw this cove and read that it was likened to Labyrinth, I 𝒊𝒎𝒎𝒆𝒅𝒊𝒂𝒕𝒆𝒍𝒚 knew I needed to read this one! Labyrinth is one of my favorite movies, and while the plotline was very similar, this book was uniquely its own.

I loved Leah as a character. She was imperfect and broken and very related. She had cult-like religion shoved down her throat her whole life and was still strong enough to come out more intact than before. She was strong even though she struggled a lot with feeling unworthy of any love, kindness, or acceptance. She was selfish and selfless and found unlikely friends and a place to call home along her journey.

The LoW was also a great character. Similar to The Goblin King, but with his own reasons and secrets. (no spoilers) But I loved him. 🖤

And Ruth!!! 🫶🏻 She was my favorite. I loved everything about her character!

There were ghosts, found family, a twist I didn't see coming, and so much more. The atmosphere was so good! I could picture myself in the Hollow with all its people, and I wanted to jump in on the mystery solving.

It was imperfectly perfect, and that's what made it so great. Our FMC was not perfect, but she was able to find happiness in her "shortcomings." I think that is all we can hope for in life. To understand and overcome our "mistakes." Find the people who love and accept us for who we are and strive to help us be the best versions of ourselves.

All the stars!

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4.5 rounded up.
This is a very unusual book that covers a lot of common themes in YA. Leah lives in a small town and is under constant pressure, like all the other girls in her town, to be a Good Girl. She is convinced, like many other girls, that she is not good at all. The town has an interesting solution to keep the girls good, and it's this solution that makes the book so good.

There is a monster in the woods across the river that takes people--mainly babies and girls who are Not Good. Rumors swirl around this Lord of the Wood. Maybe he eats them, maybe they are forced to join his cult...maybe he will allow one of the girls to return if only they are sorry enough for living such sinful lives.

Leah's best friend Jess is the BEST best friend a girl could ask for, and her love really shines as Leah tries to make sense of why the LoW stole her baby brother, and how she will be able to get him back.

I really enjoyed Leah's journey through this book, and loved where she ended up. We don't all have a monster living across the river, but this books shows us who the real monsters are--and that they are more prevalent than we think. Bovalino explores the idea of purity culture and what it means to sin with a thoughtfulness that doesn't feel preachy. She is tender with her characters and their struggles, and it makes the reader feel like they should be tender with their own struggles too.

There are descriptions of horror that might be a bit graphic for some, and the romance is a touch spicy, but nothing that a teen couldn't handle. I'd recommend it to fans of wither genre,and to those looking to branch out.

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Quite different to what I normally read but I fell in love with Toris writing in In These Hallowed Halls and really enjoyed watching this story unfold

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I’ll just start off by saying this – if I could give more than 5 stars, I would. I LOVED this book – I didn’t want to read anything else afterwards and that’s not a feeling I usually get after reading a story. I devoured this but at the same time wanted it to last forever. This book is a solid reminder that not all monsters are the ones you thought you knew.

The small town of Winston was like an exaggeration of my own small town and its beliefs. It hit close to home and gave this book a truthful razor-sharp edge. Leah is so outwardly steadfast in her loyalty to a town that repeatedly shuts her out that it seems recovering her brother is her only way towards redemption – in the eyes of her mother and the town itself. The plot twists in this book were unexpected except an inkling I had towards the end of the book.

I’m not sure how much I believe all that—I’m not a science person—but I get that water is a buffer. It has a smothering effect. And down here, it’s like I can think whatever I want, scream and shout and put my brain through the worst and most terrible thoughts, and it doesn’t escape besides a few bubbles to the surface. No one ever heard me, when I was under water: not Mom or Dad or Grammy, not Jess, not even God.

It’s safe. It’s peaceful. It’s like a quiet home for all of the worst parts of me.

Beyond thankful to TBR & Beyond Tours for choosing me to be on this tour for yet another spectacular book. Thank you to TBR & Beyond Tours, Page Street YA, and Tori Bovalino for the gifted egalley and physical copies of my favorite read of January. If you like dark, haunting, feminist fairy tale stories then I can’t recommend reading this book enough. This book will echo within my soul for a long time – all opinions in this review are my own.

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I did not finish reading this book. I read a lot of fantasy, including some YA. There are YA books that definitely have adult crossover appeal, and there are YA books that definitely do not. This book falls into the latter camp. It just felt so juvenile. I'm clearly not the audience for this book. I gave it 2 stars because I think that it will appeal to teenagers, and NetGalley requires a star-rating in order to send feedback.

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I simultaneously could not put it down and was beyond disappointed to be done reading it.

My Top 5 Reasons to Read::

A gripping, terrifying read you will not want to put down!!!!
A place where “even the mundane is a mystery.”
The power of words and song.
The battle between good and evil, but who defines it?

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Thanks to Tori Bovalino and Page Street Publishing for sending me a complimentary copy through Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. This doesn’t affect my thoughts about the book in any way.

Perfect for fans of Darcy Coates, My Throat An Open Grave is a heartbreaking paranormal thriller set in the small town of Winston, Pennsylvania. Growing up, Leah Jones, like every other kid in their religiously conservative town, was taught to fear the Lord of The Wood, an evil entity who believers say takes unholy, corrupt girls. Therefore, she takes on the responsibility of taking care of her younger brother Owen after school to live up to the church’s standards and be the good girl everyone expects her to. But one night, Owen is suddenly taken in his crib after she falls asleep. Carrying the guilt for the loss of her brother, Leah determinedly ventures into the woods in the hopes of bringing him back. However, she soon discovers that her town is hiding something… and it involves the mystery behind all those missing girls.

What I really liked about this book was the inherently human characters. I easily felt anger and sympathy through me while reading it and how this book explicitly tackles religious trauma from the Christian church and their lack of compassion for women’s autonomy and reproductive rights. This was my first Tori Bovalino book, and she is excellent at painting a naturally chilling, gloomy, and agonizing atmosphere with beautiful lore. I thought I was going insane reading this. The twists in this book were truly unexpected and will pull you in deeper as you go further into the book. As I see it, I loved how My Throat An Open Grave tells a story of reclaiming one’s life and autonomy and acknowledging grief.

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Not going to lie, I was enjoying My Throat an Open Grave. I love when a character has to re-examine the rhetoric they've grown up surrounded in. Especially if they have to discover their sense of worth. But when I got to the twist, I screamed and fell in love. Bovalino's recent release is a book about the desires of girls. Of their bodies being turned against themselves. A society, a culture, a community which seeks to enforce rigid standards of 'purity' and 'goodness' for only some. Beginning with this, My Throat an Open Grave packs a punch.

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