Horror Book Review: Shockadelica by Jon O'Bergh

Horror Book Review

Jon O'Bergh
Publication Date: Feb 22, 2022
Publisher: Tor Nightfire
Genres: Horror

Oh, by all the haunted halls and horrific hells, Shockadelica was a ton of fun! It's a ghost story, a murder mystery, a quirky character drama, and a paranormal podcast all in one. Jon O'Bergh blends cultural mythologies, setting and atmosphere, and well-rounded characters in a story that makes us desperate to know more.

Kendall Akande and Jenna Chen are lovers of all things horror-related, hosts of a podcast that has them digging deep into the history of their Victorian-era apartment building. They're both endearing characters with a friendship that comes across as authentic without ever feeling like O'Bergh is overselling it.

Part of what makes the story work so well is the contrast between settings, themes, and images. On the one side you have drag-loving Kendall and his search for the perfect dress, the aging fashion diva upstairs who loves to reminisce, the woman who sells smiling (false) testimonials online, the old lady who talks to her vegetables as she cooks, and more. On the other side you have the reclusive author in the basement, the tattooed shock-rocker, the creepy landlord with ever creepier secrets, the ancient boiler room with its occult graffiti, and the stories of missing tenants, horned demons, and ghosts in the walls. It takes a long while to connect all the pieces, but the story is worth it.

There are so many little aspects of this that I loved, so many individual scenes that made me smile or gave me chills. I could picture the layout of the building and smell the history in the rooms. I felt like I had sat and talked with each of the tenants, like I knew them. I was fully invested in Kendall's quest for the perfect silver dress, and equally engaged by Jenna's passion for their podcast. The whole thing feels very Canadian, and I mean that in the most positive, patriotic way - our TV shows and movies have a feel, an atmosphere, a spirit to them that is captured perfectly. 

For all its spectacle and thrills, Shockadelica puts characters first, selling us on the quirks and connections, and that makes the ghost story memorable. 

Rating: ♀ ♀ ♀ ♀ 

My sincere thanks to the author for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.