Monday, October 8, 2012

OCTOBER 8: EIGHT GREAT BOOKS

THE SEANCE ~BY JOHN HARWOOD (2008) - Christine has called me and old soul and it is really true when it comes to books. I can't get enough of the classic gothic tale, and this modern novel mimics a Victorian ghost story so well you'll have to check the publication date twice.

The book is told by several different characters in several different time periods but they are all connected, whether they know it or not. What binds them is the massive, dark and infamous Wraxford Hall where time is held still by a terrifying legend.

The characters are crafted beautifully, nothing is unnecessary and the imagery is just drool-worthy. Although Harwood may be exploring old tropes, he upholds the glorious gothic setting and the theme of entrapment that we as horror fans have learned to love. ~MR

INTO THE SHADOWS ~BY TROY TAYLOR -  Originally published in 2002 but refurbished by Fall River Press in 2007, this tome of mysterious American legends and dark historical events is like a treasure trove of interesting tidbits and stories.  It is broken down into five chapters: One: History's Mysteries (in which you get things like Haunted Tunnels, Relics & Altars, The Lost Colony of Roanoke, and The Disappearance of the Anasazi); Chapter Two: Without a Trace (Jimmy Hoffa, Missing in Vermont's Green Mountains, and John Wilkes Booth); Chapter Three: Among the Spirits (Unsolved Mysteries from the Other Side, Houdini & the Other Side); Chapter Four: Bloody Murder (The Whitechapel Killer, The Black Dahlia, The Unsolved Puzzle of Edgar Allan Poe); and Chapter Five: Beyond the Unknown (It's raining cats, dogs & frogs, What Lies Beneath, The Mystery of the Glowing Lights) - it's just a compendium of interesting facts & mysteries. ~CH

GRAVEMINDER ~BY MELISSA MARR (2011)
Marr is well known for her YA (that's Young Adult...keep up, would you?) novels that have sold millions, but here she brings us her first book for grown-ups, and let it be known - Melissa Marr can obviously write anything.  With Graveminder, she creates a world quite similar to our own, but adds a little bit of quirk and a whole lot of creepy.  The heroine, Rebekkah Barrow, has just returned to her hometown of Claysville to bury her beloved grandmother.  Claysville is not your ordinary town though - there are secrets that lie deep within, and rituals that must be performed upon the death of one of its own.  Rebekkah's grandmother Maylene has always taken care of these profoundly important yet mysterious rituals, along with the father of Rebekkah's former love, Byron - who is the town undertaker.  When these two lost loves get round to discussing that not only they are truly meant to be together, but that something isn't quite right about the way Maylene died, they have to do everything they can to prevent hell (or something like it) from breaking loose.
I don't think it's too much to reveal that this is a book about zombies.  Surprised?  I was. I don't generally read a lot of zombie books, but this one rocks.  You know it's going to be good just by the tag-line: "Sleep well, and stay where I put you."  (But let's be clear - that doesn't always work...)~CH

TRUE BLOOD: EATS, DRINKS AND BITES FROM BON TEMPS ~BY GIANNA SOBOL (2012)
When a popular movie or television show tries to capitalize on their popularity by putting out a tie-in of any kind, it only works some of the time.  Most times it just seems like a pathetic attempt to make a few bucks.  That is not the case with this splendid cookbook featuring True Blood characters and their choices for some rockin' good recipes.  It is filled with instructions for such dishes as 'Candied Sweet Jesus Potatoes', 'Wipe Away My Red-Eye Gravy over Ham Steak', and 'Stuck in my Crawfish Critters'. Desserts? Hell yeah, hookah! They've got 'Seeing Red Bundt Cake', 'Confederate Ambrosia', and 'Last Rites Pecan Pie'. And don't forget the bloody beverages! (No seriously, try The Necromancer or the Tequila Moonrise!)  Don't worry, there is no recipe for AIDS burgers - though there is one for 'Cryin' in my Hamburger Deluxe'.  Seriously though, the book has loads of southern favorites, little tidbits written by the 'characters' themselves as a forward to the recipes, and just tons of pics from the last four seasons of the show.  In short, any fan of True Blood and eating should pick this one up. ~CH


THE WICKED ~BY JAMES NEWMAN (2012) - I've already rambled on and on about this novel (here), but think it's worth a second mention.  This day and age, it's so hard to find a decent horror novel.  I mean the kind you used to be able to find back in the eighties - one with a rockin' gruesome cover and the insides are equally as fantastic.
The Wicked tells the story of The Littles, a family who moves to a small town in North Carolina to start a new life and instead end up dealing with a whole lot of awful. Seems a children's home burned to the ground and in doing so, unleashed an unspeakable horror that besieges the Littles and the rest of the residents of the otherwise idyllic Morganville.
With its fair share of gore, sexual perversion, and simply horrific happenings, The Wicked would be the perfect compliment on a stormy night in October while you read by candlelight! Alternatively, stick it on your Kindle and a read it whilst you cook up some supper on a random Tuesday afternoon.  Either way, it comes highly recommended! (And the "beat-up", 80's pulp horror cover is awwwe-some!) ~CH

THE JAWS LOG: EXPANDED EDITION ~BY CARL GOTTLIEB (2012) - As a colossal Jaws fan, when I saw that they had re-released this tell-all, non-fiction book is a fantastic and informative look at the making a mega-hit and the first summer blockbuster we all know and love.  Author Gottlieb had a bit part in the film and a screenwriting credit for it as well.  He documents here an honest account of the year-long adventure that was the making of Jaws.

Any fan of the film will thoroughly enjoy the funny antecdotes, troubles on set, and the camaraderie of all those involved.  The film shoot was not without its issues though - everything you've heard about Bruce the mechanical shark not cooperating is true, and there were difficulties during production that made their lives a living hell.  But the end result - a critically acclaimed block-buster (quite an unusual combination, even today) - was worth all their toils and troubles.  Most of which are written about here. ~CH

THE THIRTEENTH SACRIFICE ~BY DEBBIE VIGUIE (2012)
Salem, Massachusetts is one of my all-time favorite places.  It reeks atmosphere and when I was there I seriously never wanted to leave.  So when I found this novel centered around Salem and (of course) witches, I had to take a peek.  I'm so glad I did.  I flew through this book at top speed, and was elated to discover it was book one of a new 'Witch Hunt' series.  What we have here is Samantha Ryan, a Boston detective who has a secret past rife with ritual sacrifice and dark magick.  She is the last in a line of witches who nearly destroyed not only their own coven, but everyone around them with their evil inclinations.  Sam has been trying to get her past behind her, but when a new series of "witch-related" crimes starts popping up, she is called upon to go deep undercover and try to infiltrate the new coven before they become too powerful and the past repeats itself.  As if that isn't enough, some of her co-workers are becoming suspicious as to her past, and the rift between religion and justice starts to amp-up. Samantha, now a Christian who has left the witchcraft of her youth behind, is forced to participate in some horrific rituals in order to appear "one of them", and if she's not careful, may not make it out alive.  This new series has a strong female lead and interesting characters to even things out - it is a must read and full of the darkness and hysteria that witchcraft usually brings to the table. ~CH


THE DARKEST PART OF THE WOODS ~BY RAMSEY CAMPBELL (2003) - They tell you not to judge a book by its cover but I was instantly drawn to this book by the cover art. The image you see on the front is that of a mysterious entity that lurks in Goodmanswood--a sinister but seductive version of the Green Man.

The novel revolves around the Price family and nearly centrally around eldest sister Heather. Her father has been in the asylum on the outskirts of the wood ever since he came to town to research a fungus that was causing people to hallucinate, and then fell victim to it himself. Now he mumbles of creatures in the woods, repeating the word, "selcouth"... If the whole town is too frightened to even enter the woods, then why does the entire Price family find themselves drawn to it?
I can't say enough about this book, so I'll keep it short, it's elegant, brilliant, and spooky as all get-out. Pick it up! ~MR

3 comments:

Marie said...

"Into the Shadows" sounds right up my alley!!! I also really want to check out "The Thirteenth Sacrifice". I also love Salem and WITCHES!!!

Spooky Vegan said...

I just started reading The Wicked...so far, so good!

I'll have to check a few of these other titles out...thanks for the recs!

Christine Hadden said...

Yep Marie, you'd love either one of those books - esp. The Thirteenth Sacrifice, it is wonderful!

And I hope you enjoy The Wicked, Sarah! I really loved its old-school horror feel. Let me know what you thought when you're done :)