Hello! We're just squeaking in under the wire here with this Halloween post, but in our defense, it has been a BUSY month. This is me in October.
I am a certified weenie about really scary stuff (I'm so intrigued by Stephen King's It - especially since the movie came out, but I've never read it, and probably never will) but I always get sucked in to mysterious tales of the supernatural. So here are a couple of my faves I've read recently.
The Book of Speculation
by Erika Swyler
A family curse? A traveling circus? Mermaids? You have my attention, ma'am! A book centered around an actual book (love it), starts with Simon, a lonely librarian living in his family's rapidly crumbling cliffside home who receives an antiquarian book from a stranger in the mail - a book that may provide clues to his mother's mysterious death, and how he can save his sister from suffering the same terrible fate. Simon's in a race with time as the dreaded date of July 24th (the day so many women in his family have drowned) looms ever closer, and Enola, his last link to family, becomes ever stranger and ever more drawn to the water's edge. A book about magic, about family, about letting go and holding on, this novel kept me spellbound till the very end. (Sigh...I could not resist the cheesy Halloween ending there. It's years in marketing, people.)
The Library at Mount Char
by Scott Hawkins
I won't lie, this one is DARK. But it's also fantastic. I would describe its tone as a cross between Neil Gaiman and Chuck Palahniuk but as written by a woman. Except that it isn't. But that's a compliment, by which I mean, the female protagonist feels very real. Carolyn is an orphan, who lives in the Library with her fellow orphans, all raised and tutored by Father in the mysteries of the universe. Is their sadistic teacher and guardian God? A god? The god? It seems likely, but now Father is missing, possibly dead, and the Library is unguarded. But Carolyn has a plan - an intricate plan, so surprising and secret, I was truly shocked over and over again as the story unfolds. What does it mean to make a god? And what is the price? I don't want to go into more detail because I don't want to ruin it for you. An engrossing and thrilling read.
I actually enjoy passing out candy on Halloween night; the doorbell ringing makes my dog crazy so my husband and I usually sit on our front porch with a glass of wine and read in between the trick-or-treaters. I encourage you to try this, and to help out, Vim and I have prepared a list of spooky and suspenseful books for you to try this Halloween:
The Good Nurse
by Charles Graeber
I have not read a True Crime book since Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. Ohmygosh, this book, The Good Nurse, gave me chills. It's the true story of a nurse, Charlie Cullen, who randomly killed hundreds of hospital patients, seemingly without reason or motive. And the scariest aspect is how he just traveled from one hospital to the next, sometimes with recommendations, sometimes moved along because the hospital knew something was wrong, but they couldn't pinpoint what or prove it. Charles Graeber has done a tremendous amount of research, and his footnotes are as interesting as the story.
If you like to feel scared, this true tale is truly frightening.
The Woman in Cabin 10
by Ruth Ware
Girl on the Train, meet The Woman in Cabin 10. You'll like each other. Both of you are women with issues of varying degrees, and you've both seen something, and no one will believe you.
This is a mystery, but the suspense is ratcheted up because there is no charming, mustachioed detective coming to the rescue. I was feeling a lot of angst and cringe for the protagonist, Lo Blackstock, who is kind of a hot mess in kind of every way. It's interesting to read a book about someone who arouses in you all kinds of empathy and irritation, which is what makes it a compelling read.
Finally, I've saved the most terrifying book of all for last. It is The Dorito Effect by Mark Schatzker. This is a really scary book, y'all, because it's about the food that we eat. I don't mean the fun, sugar laden treats that I'm passing out on my porch and swiping from Younger's pillow case (he carries a pillow case for Trick-or-Treating - so optimistic). I know that stuff is bad, but it's once a year. This book talks about protein, like chicken. And vegetables. And why does this stuff taste like a lesser version of itself? And how science's answer to this question is to create a flavor in a lab that helps food taste like itself again. I just started reading this book, and I'm pretty scared. I'm hoping for a good ending.
Happy Reading! And Happy Halloween from Bustle & Vim!