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Oh, the Twisted Tales of Horror! October 3, 2014

Posted by stacey in Book Discussion, Book List, Genre Book Discussion.
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What a scary thing it would be if we had to fight for survival in a world where the supernatural, or the unnatural, that resembled the landscapes found in the horror category. Of course these books are meant to get a strong reaction from the reader, so I’d say the books we shared at our discussion were pretty darn successful. But of course you can also judge for yourself after you see what people had to say about what they choose to read:

Carol: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon is adult ghost story that opens in 1908 in Vermont. Sara Harrison Shea is racked with grief — her young daughter Gertie has died. Sara cannot bear to live without her, and so she turns to magic taught to her by the tribal woman who helped raise her, in order to bring Gertie back from the dead. Meanwhile, in a present day storyline, 19-year-old Ruthie now lives in Sara’s old farmhouse with her younger sister and their mother. When Alice goes missing, Ruthie searches for clues, and discovers Sara’s long hidden diary along the way. As Ruthie reads the diary, she gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, and realizes that she’s not first person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. What do these missing people have to do with the young girl who supposedly died a century? This creepy ghost story is suspenseful and you’ll want to read it until it’s climactic end. Reader beware: you might need to leave a night-light after you are done with this one.

Emma: Classic horror novel, The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin is the story of Joanna and Walter Eberhart and their two children. The family moves to suburban Stepford, Connecticut from New York City. Joanna soon discovers that the women of Stepford are too perfect, too beautiful, and too submissive. The husbands of Stepford spend a lot of free time at the local men’s association while their wives are content at home cleaning and cooking, ignoring their previous occupations and interests. Joanna is afraid she will become just like them. A fable of male bonding or female bondage.

Steve: Misery, by Stephen King, is a terrifying psychological horror novel with one of the worst villains ever created. Author Paul Sheldon is in a car accident in Colorado and found by retired nurse Annie Wilkes, who happens to be his “number one fan.” She keeps Paul hostage in her home and makes him write a new novel featuring her favorite character, a character from his best-selling Misery series that he had previously killed off. Annie has a long history of violence and mental instability, and her treatment of Paul is terrifying. The book includes some incredibly gory descriptions, not for the faint of heart.

Dori: Chris Bohjalian’s Night Strangers begins with a harrowing plane crash: Pilot Chip Linton loses 39 passengers as he tries to land his failing plane in Lake Champlain. After the accident, he, his wife Emily, and twin girls try to start over in a remote town in New Hampshire. They buy an old Victorian and begin to fix it up, but soon Chip discovers a door in the basement, held shut with 39 bolts and soon after, the ghosts of a little girl and her father killed in the crash begin to visit him. Meanwhile, Emily and the girls meet a local group of herbalists, all named after flowers and plants and oddly obsessed with the twins. As so often happens in these kinds of stories, you want to tell them to run…and fast, but the Lintons stay on and are drawn much too deeply into the horrible secrets of the town. Suspenseful, engaging, and altogether creepy, this Gothic horror is the perfect Halloween read.

Megan: Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen. There is a new librarian at Cyn’s high school and he is hot! He is also a demon who has enthralled her best friend, Annie and is sucking the life essence from the students. Cyn has an unusual immunity to his charms so while she juggles school and the set design for the school’s production of Sweeney Todd, she also now has to save her best friend. This devilishly hilarious book has a little something for everyone-horror, humor, romance, as well as musical theater! And while a soul-sucking demon is not necessarily an improvement, I find this librarian to be a refreshing change of pace from the stereotypical shushing old lady librarian!

Lauren: If at times campy and cliché, Hell House by Richard Matheson is a classic horror story. At the invitation of an eccentric millionaire with terminal cancer, four people go to spend a week alone at the abandoned Belasco House in Maine. “Hell House” is believed to be haunted by the beings who were subjected to the depravity and perverseness of its original owner, Emeric Belasco, who delighted in torturing his guests and driving them towards debauchery. Dr. Barrett (along with his wife Edith) is seeking to explain the house’s strange phenomena from his viewpoint as a physicist. Also invited are two spiritual mediums, Florence Tanner and Benjamin Fischer. Fischer was the only survivor of the last attempt to investigate the house some thirty years prior. As the four set to work on solving the mystery of Hell House, Hell House sets to work on destroying them.

Ann: The Fate of Mercy Alban by Wendy Webb is a modern day haunted house story set on the shores of Lake Superior. When her mother dies, Grace Alban returns home to Alban House after a twenty year absence. Almost from the beginning, Grace and her young daughter Amity encounter strange happenings at the house. In addition, secrets from the past are unearthed that rattle Grace. Are the halls and passageways of the family home haunted due to some long ago family curse? A spine-tingling gothic novel.

Stacey: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith is an unique mix of humor, ethical issues, and super creepy ( horrible!) events. In Ealing, Iowa, Austin is a sixteen-year-old whose best friend Robby and girlfriend Shann all hangout together, during and after school. Fixated on some of the average teen boy stuff: skateboarding, sex, smoking and drinking, Austin finds himself woefully unprepared to fight against the Unstoppable Soldiers, dedicated killers who also happen to be six foot tall praying mantis created from a man-made plague mold, accidentally released. This book almost defies any attempt at an accurate description- it’s so packed with all kinds of crazy details- but any reader who enjoys Libba Bray, Michael Grant, or Lish McBride will devour this book -almost as quickly as an Unstoppable Soldier!

Our next genre will be narrative nonfiction, or real and true stories that are written as if they were fictional. This category is wide open as it can be on any topic from any year, it just needs to be an easy-to-read nonfiction book. Ta-dah! So we’ll see you back here with your narrative nonfiction title in tow, very soon!

— Stacey

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