Hey! That’s Scary!

Eek! How “horror”-ible were those stories? Or maybe it should be: How “horror”-ibly wonderful were those stories? Yes, that’s correct my friends. We’ve just discussed horror books again and our group presented a wide variety of titles, written with the aim of frightening the reader. This genre will include supernatural elements, a good way distinguish horror from suspense fiction, and will be set in a reality where the natural world is abnormal or out-of-control. The appeal of a horror book is meant to be terror, fear, disgust… Not one of which I would describe as an appealing emotion, but I have little doubt that they would give you a good shiver up your spine! So what did everyone select this time around? You’re about to find out:

Chris: Come Closer by Sara Gran tells the story of demonic possession. The evil one announces her arrival with a tapping-sound-that-won’t-stop in the loft where Amanda and Edward live. Before long Amanda changes into a liar, a thief, a mind-reader, a sleep-around, a meanie and a killer. Scary stuff!

Carol: Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Midnight Twins is a teen horror book and the first of a trilogy. In this novel, Mallory and Meredith Brynn are identical twins who have always shared dreams and could communicate telepathically. But when a fire nearly destroys them, they begin having different dreams. Mallory starts dreaming of the future while Meredith dreams of past events. Soon they realize that a demented psychopath is out to get them–unless their special gifts can save them. This story was worth the read and would be suitable for teens over the age of twelve, due to some violent content.

Emma: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson was originally published in 1886. Jekyll is a well-respected physician who creates a chemical potion that allows himself to separate his good and evil personalities. The good is represented by Jekyll and the evil is Hyde. The person of Hyde is younger and smaller. He tramples over a small girl and eventually kills a member of Parliament beating him to death with Jekyll’s walking stick. At the beginning Jekyll is able to transform himself back and forth easily between Jekyll and Hyde, but it becomes more difficult as time passes. The persona of Hyde takes over. Jekyll finally locks himself in his laboratory sending his butler all over town searching for the essential ingredient in the potion with no success. Utterson and the butler break into the laboratory to find that Hyde committed suicide.

Janet: ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King was published in 1975, long before Stephanie Meyers introduced us to Edward, Bella and Jacob. At the time of its publication ‘Salem’s Lot would have been terrifying. It is still scary but it has not disturbed my sleep. The main character Ben Mears, a writer, has returned to town to face some of his childhood demons. A stranger, Mr. Barlow, arrives at about the same time and takes up residence in the old Marsten House. This stranger is a very old vampire who is planning on taking over the town by turning the small town residents into his army of vampires. Fortunately there is good to fight the evil. With lives at stake as well as the fate of the town ‘Salem’s Lot is riveting until the very end.

Megan: Gil’s All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez is the story of how a werewolf, a vampire, a ghost, and a waitress band together to defeat the old demon gods that have been summoned by a teenaged girl dabbling in black magic. This book is a campy, quirky, horror spoof. Dysfunctional characters and even more dysfunctional relationships combine in a laugh-out-loud poke at horror. Jam-packed with zombies, demons, ghosts, and plenty of action, this book will be hit with fans of Christopher Moore’s irreverent vampire tales.

Rosemary: Dolores Claiborne by Stephen King was the best selling novel of 1992. More than a few people in Little Tall Island believe Dolores Claiborne murdered her drunken and abusive husband, Joe. Now Vera Donovan, the wealthy and very old woman Dolores has cared for 30 odd years, has died under suspicious circumstances. All the evidence is pointing to Dolores, again. This is a compelling story of a mother protecting what she holds most dear–her children. Redemption and grace are not two words usually associated with the horror genre, but Stephen King has written Dolores Claiborne with real grace and a surprising sense of redemption.

Ann: The Ridge by Michael Koryta is set in a rural area of Kentucky. Creepy things are happening on Blade Ridge. For the longest time a man named Wyatt French has tended a lighthouse there- right in the middle of the woods. Everyone just thought Wyatt was a sort of crazy drunk guy. Then he commits suicide, but before he does he contacts both the local newspaper reporter and the local cop, Kevin Kimball. When Kimball investigates, he finds a list of names, photographs, and maps on the walls at Wyatt’s lighthouse. The names are all people who died (over almost a century) near the Ridge. The Ridge had always been a spooky place, and the question now is what was Wyatt investigating? A delightfully scary ghost story that reminds me of Joe Hill’s Heart-Shaped Box.

Dori: A Winter Haunting by Dan Simmons. After a failed suicide attempt brought on by two botched relationships, Dale Stewart takes a sabbatical, drawn by a recurring nightmare back to his boyhood home in Illinois where he hopes to stay the winter and write a book about his childhood and the murder of his friend, odd but brilliant Duane McBride. Camping out at Duane’s long unoccupied house, even sleeping in Duane’s bedroom, he begins to get cryptic messages on his computer, visits from packs of black dogs and threats from local neo-Nazis. Claustrophobic and suspenseful, this horror novel is well-written with a truly surprising ending.

Steve: Stationary Bike, by Stephen King,is an interesting tale about commercial artist Richard Sifkitz. After a doctor visit reveals his unhealthy levels of cholesterol, he decides to get in shape by riding a stationary bike. As he increases his exercise routine and transforms into a much healthier body, he begins to have odd dreams. He envisions workers who were cleaning the fatty cholesterol from his body, and they are mad because their workload has been decreased due to Richard’s exercising. The story peaks with Richard’s inability to stop exercising, even though he is tormented with these workmen who haunt his dreams. The line begins to blur between reality and fantasy, and the question becomes will Richard be able to have a healthy body as well as a healthy mind?

Stacey: Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury is a book that will give you a few sleepless nights the next time you see a traveling carnival come to town. Two boys, Will and Jim are drawn in by the excitement of all the different rides, the interesting people, and the unusual “tricks” they’ve found, but soon the boys become uncomfortable. There’s something strange about this carnival and the people who work there. In fact, maybe it’s brought something wicked to town and now no one is safe? What can Jim and Will do to fight against the almost irresistible pull of trouble released by this place? What would you do if you found evil lurking behind the curtain at a booth on the midway?

And next time? We’re going to try something completely new -we’re going to be reading First Novels! These will be books written by authors who were published for the first time some time in the last twelve months. Or it could be that they’ve published a book in a genre that’s new to them, like a mystery writer trying narrative nonfiction. Let’s check back in about a month, okay?

— Stacey


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