Grim Root, by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

23 May 2024

The Book

Grim Root
Pages: 343
Age Group: Adult
Published on 3 Jun 2024
Publisher: Dark Matter INK
Gothic Horror
Available on:


GRIM ROOT is a darkly humorous gothic horror novel pitched as THE BACHELOR meets THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, in which a group of women on a reality TV dating show must compete for the hand of an eligible bachelor by spending a week in a haunted house, but after the bachelor suddenly dies to the shock of everyone on set, the remaining contestants find themselves trapped in a dark and twisted new game only one of them still wants to play.

Embark on a darkly humorous journey of reality TV meets the macabre. On the set of The Groom, a group of women must compete for the heart of Midwestern bachelor Tristan by spending a week in a haunted house. Divorcee Linda, resigned to her role as the show's underdog, finds her resolve cracking when she begins to fall for fellow castmate Charity. Meanwhile, Sabrina, groomed by her witchy mother to deliver their family from poverty by marrying a rich man, sees winning the competition as her predestined path.

But after a shocking demise, the game takes a sinister turn. As the remaining contestants grapple with their desires for love and survival, they uncover dark secrets within and without the house's walls. Trapped in a twisted new competition, they must confront their own demons or face elimination.

My Review

Grim Root is a dark, humorous gothic horror novel, written by Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, and published by Dark Matter INK. A story that takes the premise of The Bachelor but gives it a darker twist to it, bringing our characters to a haunted manor where not only their secrets will be revealed, as the dynamics between them will change.

Linda, Sabrina, Marion and Charity are the last four contestants of a reality TV show, and together with the producers, staff and the groom they are taken to a haunter manor, in order to see who will be the one that will marry him; a premise that soon shows how the contest is organized and how narratives are weaven behind-the-scenes, trying to grow the audience and putting each contestant in one role.

And characters is precisely the aspect that shines in this book. While most of the story is told using the POV of two of the contestants, Linda and Sabrina, all the cast is fully fleshed, complex characters with their own lives and conflicts, and who are being pushed by the direction of the show to participate; but not only that, but we can soon see how between them there are tensions and some bonds are also developed as a result of the stress they live in. Probably Tristan, the masculine contestant, the bachelor in this story, might be the one I felt a bit of charicature, but can be only because of how all is told.

While we have a classic horror setting, the way those elements are introduced are quite original, even if they might be a bit predictable at points; and it's refreshing to see how we have an additional layer of horror that comes from the pressure of the own show. Humour is an integral part of the plot, and together with a romantic subplot, they make it enjoyable to read.

Despite it has some flaws, I totally enjoyed reading Grim Root, as I loved the premised; if you are looking for some humourous horror, it is a great shot. Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam has written a great debut novel, and I can't wait to see what more she has ready.

The Author/s

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam

Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam is the author of the horror novel Grim Root (Dark Matter Ink, forthcoming 2023), the short story collection Where You Linger & Other Stories (Vernacular/Lethe, 2022), and the horror novella Glorious Fiends (Underland/Lethe, 2022). Her short fiction and poetry has appeared in over 90 publications such as Popular ScienceLightspeed, and LeVar Burton Reads, as well as in six languages. By night, she’s a two-time finalist for the Nebula Award. By day, she works as a Narrative Designer writing games for a mobile game. She lives in Texas with her partner and a mysterious number of cats. For a list of publications, visit Fiction & Poetry.