Spooky books for the season

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With Halloween approaching, there’s nothing like picking up a book that will put you in the mood for the season.

Here’s some from past posts:

  • THE QUICKENING by Rhiannon Ward. Expecting a baby in a matter of weeks, photographer Louisa Drew accepts a commission to photograph a country house and its owner’s odd collections before all go up for auction. Rundown nearly to ruin, the house is shadowed by the deaths of its owners’ three sons. Louisa finds herself hearing what others don’t and experiencing odd and threatening sensations. Is it her pregnancy? Or is it the house?
  • IN A DARK DARK WOOD by Ruth Ware. A bachelorette party weekend being held in an isolated, glass-walled cottage in a dense forest turns deadly in this gothic thriller that will leave you checking your own door locks while you read.
  • MEXICAN GOTHIC by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Set in Mexico in the 1950s, this novel has everything a good gothic novel should: an isolated Victorian mansion blooming with mold, mushrooms and malevolence; an inbred family with aspiration of immortality and undercurrents of steamy seduction swirling around an unwilling young woman.
  • THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James. After the death of her mother, Carly Kirk sets out to find out what happened to the aunt she never knew, Vivian Delaney. She follows her to Fells, NY, and then lives in her footsteps — working as a night manager at the motel and living in her old apartment. St. James tells this story in parallel time lines separated by 35 years, revealing what happened to Vivian and what Carly has to do to make the horror stop.
  • THE HAUNTING OF MADDY CLARE by Simone St. James. This ghost story, set in 1922, has a thoroughly modern ghost (Maddy Clare) who is seeking revenge against the men who abused her and left her for dead. Maddy is an angry, powerful and assertive ghost. Perfect for the #MeToo world.
  • THE STRANGER DIARIES by Elly Griffiths. When two colleagues of Talgarth High School English teacher Clare Cassidy are murdered, she finds threatening clues in her own home and life. Looming over this gothic tale is a short story, “The Stranger,” written by R.M. Holland whose home is one of the buildings on the Talgarth campus.
  • THE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY by Ruth Ware. This is an atmospheric tale of a poor orphaned girl who suddenly discovers she’s the beneficiary of the will of a grandmother she didn’t know she had. She also finds herself in the middle of a fractious, murderous and now resentful family. Plenty of gothic gusto.
  • HARVEST HOME by Thomas Tryon. Artist Ned Constantine and his wife and daughter leave New York City for the postcard perfect village of Cornwall Coombe. But as Ned soon learns, rooted deep in its history is a dark and threatening secret.
  • THE RUIN by Dervia McTiernan. Not technically a Halloween or ghost story, this novel does feature a spooky ruin of a house and two vulnerable children.
  • BURNT OFFERINGS by Robert Marasco. The delightful, although run down, house that the Rolfes find for a summer getaway turns into an inescapable nightmare before Labor Day.
  • REBECCA by Daphne du Maurier. After a whirlwind courtship, a young wife discovers herself completely overshadowed by her husband’s late first wife, Rebecca. Rebecca haunts every aspect of life at Manderly.  But while Maxim DeWinter refuses to discuss Rebecca, the housekeeper Mrs. Danvers is only too eager to keep her memory alive.
  • THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE by Shirley Jackson. When I first read this book, I thought it was Hill House that was haunted.  But the last time I read it, I came to believe that it wasn’t the house that was haunted — the house was BEING haunted by one of its guests.
  • A HAUNTING ON THE HILL by Elizabeth Hand. This is the literary estate-authorized remake of THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. Hand is a master of foreboding atmosphere. In this version, a playwright and the actors in her play move into a vacant mansion in upstate New York to rehearse a play, “The Witching Hour,” in preparation for a New York City showcase. Each person has his or her own baggage — but the house has more.
  • THE ELEMENTALS by Michael McDowell. This is a haunted house story that takes place at the beach — in the summer and in broad daylight. Truly spooky and unlike any ghost story you’ll ever read.
  • A CASE OF DOUBTFUL DEATH by Linda Stratmann.  When Victorian lady detective Frances Doughty is asked to find the missing Henry Palmer by his sister Alice, it seems quite straightforward. But as Frances investigates, she learns that Henry was an orderly at Life House, a waiting mortuary near Kensal Green Cemetery in Kensington. This story will take you straight through the fun house of Victorian fears and superstitions about death.
  • MR. SCARLETTI’S GHOST by Linda Stratmann. Another tale set in Victorian England, this book deals with the Victorian (and post-Victorian) fascination with spiritualism and the supposed ability of mediums to communicate with the dead. Mina Scarletti, the protagonist is focused on discrediting a medium before her mother gets dangerously financially involved.
  • I REMEMBER YOU by Yrsa Sigurdardottir. This is a bone-chilling, never-ending ghost story that involves an abandoned island and a group of people born in the 1940s who went to school together and have all become victims of violent, accidental deaths in the past five years. Hauntingly scary.
  • AFFINITY by Sarah Waters. When suicide survivor Margaret Prior meets Selina Dawes in a dank Victorian prison, the affinity she feels is almost instant. Margaret is a lady volunteer at the prison.  Selina is a con artist who claims to have spiritual powers. This is a tightly woven plot that will keep you holding your breath until the last page.
  • A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES by Deborah Harkness. No Halloween would be complete without witches and vampires. Harkness creates a fascinating other worldly universe over the course of this trilogy.
  • WYLDING HALL by Elizabeth Hand. A folk band about to become famous spends a summer at the stately, rundown country house Wylding Hall. The goal is to recharge their batteries and create new songs for a push to fame. The story of what happened that fateful summer is told in the form of interviews for a documentary about the group’s wildly successful record produced at Wylding Hall just before the group’s lead singer vanishes.
  • The Commissario Ricciardi novels by Maurizio De Giovanni — Commissario Luigi Ricciardi sees the final seconds of the lives of victims of violent deaths. The visions give him hints when he is investigating murders, but they also haunt his waking hours. This series is set in Italy during the 1930s as Mussolini is rising to power. The first book of the series is I WILL HAVE VENGEANCE (2012) followed by BLOOD CURSE (2013), EVERYONE IN THEIR PLACE (2013), THE DAY OF THE DEAD (2014), BY MY HAND (2014), VIPER (2019), THE BOTTOM OF YOUR HEART (2019), GLASS SOULS (2017) AND NAMELESS SERENADE (2018).


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