Summary: Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House.
At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Genre: horror Rating: ★★★★★
I have never really been one for ghost stories. I have never believed that houses can be haunted, that they can hold onto the dead like keepsakes. Houses simply do not wear their tenants as a badge of honor, in a locket around their throat. Houses are not horrifying entities; whatever awfulness resides in the house moves with the owners. A house is simply a house. And yet.
The idea of a building holding so much history, anguish, betrayal, and anger seems impossible until you’re introduced to Hill House. The famous opening lines begin by describing the house almost as a living, breathing concept. It is not a standard, normal, or even sane thing. It’s an indescribable entity, something dangerous and horrible, its capabilities completely unknown. And of course, “whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Summary: In horror movies, the final girl is the one who’s left standing when the credits roll. The one who fought back, defeated the killer, and avenged her friends. But after the sirens fade and the audience moves on, what happens to her? Lynnette Tarkington is a real-life final girl who survived a massacre twenty-two years ago, and it has defined every day of her life since. And she’s not alone. For more than a decade she’s been meeting with other final girls in a support group for those who survived the unthinkable. That is until one of the women misses a meeting and Lynnette’s worst fears are realized–someone is determined to take their lives apart again. But the thing about these final girls is that they have each other now, and no matter how bad the odds, how dark the night, how sharp the knife, they will never, ever give up.
Genre: horror, thriller Rating: ★★★★
Grady Hendrix is spreading like wildfire through the horror community, and I fully support it. I was admittedly a little hesitant to read this when it first came out because it sounded exactly the same as Final Girls by Riley Sager, but I actually enjoyed this more, and it’s purely because Hendrix packs all the punches of the horror genre. He isn’t afraid to make bold storylines, insane twists, and include all the gore.
Summary: Elka barely remembers a time before she knew Trapper. She was just seven years old, wandering lost and hungry in the wilderness, when the solitary hunter took her in. In the years since then, he’s taught her how to survive in the desolate land where civilization has been destroyed and men are at the mercy of the elements and each other. But the man Elka thought she knew has been harboring a terrible secret. He’s a killer. A monster. And now that Elka knows the truth, she may be his next victim.
Armed with nothing but her knife and the hard lessons Trapper’s drilled into her, Elka flees into the frozen north in search of her real parents. But judging by the trail of blood dogging her footsteps, she hasn’t left Trapper behind — and he won’t be letting his little girl go without a fight.
Genre: thriller, horror Rating: ★★★
I went into The Wolf Road expecting a cat-and-mouse chase through the wilderness, and in some ways that’s what I got, but I also feel like there was so much more to this story than I ever could have anticipated. Elka discovers Trapper’s true identify extremely early on in the story, so the bulk of the book is about her on the run. However, along the way she meets riveting, charming, and sometimes vicious people, often getting into dangerous situations. She learns so much about herself along the way — not only about her background, but also about the type of person she is versus is not.
Summary: Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”
Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.
Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.
Genre: horror, science fiction Rating: ★★★★
Who knew a book about zombies could be so heartbreaking? I was not expecting this book to simultaneously tug at my heart, make me feel like yelling, and have me cheering for a little girl who maybe sometimes eats people. The Girl with All the Gifts truly has everything, and was a perfect October read.
Summary: Practical, unassuming Jane Shoringfield has decided the most secure path forward is this: a husband, in a marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and occupied with meaningful work. Her first choice, the dashing but reclusive doctor Augustine Lawrence, agrees to her proposal with only one condition: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manor. Yet on their wedding night, an accident strands her at his door in a rainstorm, and she finds him changed. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a terrified, paranoid man—one who cannot tell reality from nightmare, and fears Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, Augustine is himself again, but Jane knows something is deeply wrong at Lindridge Hall, and with the man she has so hastily bound her safety to.
The Death of Jane Lawrence boasts inspiration from stories like Crimson Peak and Rebecca, but the biggest difference between these stories is that Jane Lawrence packs all the punches and isn’t afraid to go beyond what you would expect from a gothic horror novel. Don’t get me wrong, Crimson Peak and Rebecca are equally deserving of their praise, but Jane Lawrence pushes the envelope, diving deeper into a truly haunting world that will leave you questioning what, exactly, you just read.