Yippee… It’s my favorite time of year… despite it also being one of the busiest. I absolutely love the fall and the cooler weather (and yes it is on the way!) and most of all I love Halloween. It’s the perfect opportunity to cuddle up under a blanket and read ghost stories, watch scary movies and bake yummy fall treats!
So I think we should start with a few haunted house stories to get the ball rolling. In A Haunting: The Horror on Rue Lane, author L.I. Albemont introduces us to Sarah Faust who wants nothing more than to start over after a very public betrayal by her husband. She decides to move back to Charleston, South Carolina, her mother’s home town. After purchasing a lovely 300 year old townhouse called Five Rue Lane, Sarah becomes aware that the house has a history that still seems to be very present. As the author jumps from past to present you learn about the early mystical history of colonial Charleston. There is romance, ghosts, witchcraft, and a dizzying array of mythology combined to make this a great little haunted house story to suit the season.
The Carrow Haunt by Australian author, Darcy Coates, is a bit more gruesome and I can easily see it playing as a movie in my mind as I read it. Remy Allier is the main character and is a very popular ghost tour guide of a notoriously haunted house. After one of her regular tours, Remy is approached by a wealthy businessman and asked to host a two week event there with seven guests. After careful consideration she agrees and so begins a very ill-fated gathering. If you like ghost stories like Rose Red by Stephen King… this story is a good bet. There are seances, storms, doors opening on their own, ghosts everywhere, a serial killer… what more could you want? Coates knows how to prey on all of your fears and the writing is very good with great character development. It seems to be a classic gothic ghost story but the ending is not what you expect. If you love a haunted house this is a dead fit…pun intended!
If we are going to read about haunted houses and ghosts then you might want to learn a bit more about the history of ghosts and I’ve got a great book for you. Have you ever wondered about where the idea for the movie, Ghostbusters, came from? Dan Aykroyd wrote and starred in the hit movie and what he wrote is based on growing up in a family with a history of spiritualism. His father, Peter H. Aykroyd, has just published a book called A History of Ghosts: The True Story. Aykroyd explores the history of ghosts and mediumship, as well as discussing his family’s interest in this topic over the years. He carefully gives a detailed account of those people who lead the spiritualism movement and how it is spread. It is a very entertaining and educational book that I really enjoyed. I think you will be surprised at those who followed this movement.
So if you aren’t really into ghosts but still want a bit of a thrill this month I have a couple more options for you. The Likeness by Tana French follows Detective Cassie Maddox as she is dragged back into Dublin’s murder squad after transferring out due to a previous disturbing case that left her reeling. Suddenly Cassie is thrust back into her old position when a body is found, and the dead woman looks just like her. Not only does the young woman bear an uncanny likeness to Cassie but she is using the Cassie’s old undercover name “Alexandra Madison.” Cassie is convinced to pretend to be the young woman, claiming to have survived the attack. What follows is a very complex undercover operation where Cassie, posing as Lexie, is suddenly living with Lexie’s friends in an old estate and there is a pretty good chance that one of them is a murderer.
If you like psychological thrillers try Christopher Yate’s debut novel, Black Chalk. This is a very twisted story that will leave you guessing. You hear the narrator telling you about how he was one of a group of six playing a game as freshmen enrolled at Pitt College at Oxford. You aren’t quite sure who the narrator is at first. It could be Chad, the American exchange student, or possibly Jolyon who is the golden boy. Chad and Jolyon are drawn to each other and they are the ones who create “the game.” As readers we are never fully informed about the rules or technical aspects of the game but you know enough to see that it isn’t going to end well. It is a high stakes game that quickly turns into something no one intended. The story is divided between Pitt in the 1990s and the present day. The narrator is open early in the first few pages and explains that he is not mentally sound so you are unsure what is real and what is unreal. That inability to trust the narrator leaves the reader on edge from the beginning and creates a tension that lasts throughout the entire book. The story will grip you and the author is masterful in his ability to fool you at every turn. I look forward to reading more from Christopher Yates.
If you are just too busy to turn a page this month I want to share another way to get your story fix. My friend, Jennifer, has introduced me to podcasts and I have been enjoying a few lately to get me in the mood for a haunted Halloween: Haunted Places, Macabre London and Pleasing Terrors are all sure to give you the shivers. Just don’t listen when you are home alone in the evenings!
Have a frightfully wonderful October!