Read This Next…Scary Books!

‘Tis the season for spooky reading!  What is the scariest book you have ever read? For me?  I had to sleep with the lights on for two weeks after reading Salem’s Lot by Stephen King!  Whether you like truly scary stories like that, or ghost stories, or gothics, or classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, see below for recommendations we dare you to read!

Deanna Recommends:

In the Garden of Spite by Camilla Bruce

“Belle Gunness, the main character of In the Garden of Spite, was a real person – an immigrant, a sister, a wife and mother. She also happened to be a serial killer.  Belle was a Norwegian immigrant, who fled a bad situation in Norway to come live with her sister in Chicago in the late 1800’s. Belle was ambitious and smart and had no problem going after what she wanted, whether it was a husband or a candy shop, a new house or children of her own. But once she had it, the glamour of it faded and she invariably blamed the men in her life for her problems. Which, since she was a serial killer, turned out badly for them. The author does a good job of showing the evolution of Belle’s character and, while she doesn’t make us sympathetic to Belle (she IS a serial killer after all), she does her best to help us understand her.  If you liked Devil in the White City by Erik Larson, which is a true story also set in late 19th century Chicago, or if you like true crime or historical fiction, then give this story a try.  And then if you want to learn about the real Belle Gunness, check out Hell’s Princess by Harold Schechter.  This story of rage and frustration gone awry will make you want to sleep with the lights on!”

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix

“What is a “final girl”?  In horror movies, the final girl is the sole survivor at the end of the movie, vanquishing the monster and outlasting all the other characters.  Lynnette, Dani, Adrienne, Julie, Marilyn and Heather are all real-life final girls. They are part of a therapy group, whose leader, Dr. Carol, is an expert on the trauma they experienced.  But now, someone has murdered Adrienne, Lynnette and Julie are caught in a sniper attack at Lynnette’s apartment, and Heather’s house burns down.  Lynnette has lived her life in fear, barricaded in her apartment, going out only for the support group, her plant Fine (short for Final Plant) her only companion. She knows that someone is out to get them – that the timing of these incidents is not a coincidence – but the killer has found ways to make sure that no one will believe her.  In the end, it will be up to Lynnette to stop living in fear and save her friends.  This was a fun page-turner and will probably make my “best of 2021” list.  The author has embraced the 1980’s horror movie genre and incorporated the tropes into the book – the monster around the corner, the killer that just won’t die, the “why are you going into the barn” sense of frustration, the twists and turns in unmasking the killer.  If you like fast-paced thrillers, if you like the unreliable narrator, if you are just a fan of those cheesy 1980’s slasher movies, then this book is for you!”


Jess Recommends:

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

“The entire plot of Survive the Night, Sager’s fifth horror thriller, takes place over 24-hours and moves rapidly. The year is 1991. Film studies major Charlie Jordan has just lost her best friend to a campus serial killer, who is credited with murdering two other girls already. Charlie has a past filled with tragedy, and this blow, the murder of her beloved best friend, is the final straw that makes her decide she must leave school immediately. In order to get to her home in Ohio from her campus in New Jersey, she makes a desperate decision to take an offer from the “ride board”, where students who drive and students who need a ride connect. She takes an offer from a guy she’s never met before who happens to be driving through her home town and is ready to split the cost of gas and make the six hour car ride. And of course, the soonest they can depart is 9PM at night, meaning the whole ride will happen in the middle of the night. This seems absurd of course, given said serial killer on the loose, that she would take this risk, and the plot for the first half of the book is consumed with the car ride and Charlie’s increasing wariness about the guy she’s driving with. We also learn that Charlie has an unusual condition that cause her to escape reality into a “movie in her mind,” a dangerous condition to have when keeping your wits about you is an absolute must, and this also adds to the suspense as her perceptions can’t totally be trusted. The final twists are a compelling reason to keep reading!”

Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

“I was drawn to this book by its layout. The book looks like an IKEA furniture catalog, complete with faux Scandinavian names. But the book is more than just a gimmick, it’s a pretty clever twist on the old burial ground ghost story. Three employees of ORSK, a cheaper but smarter version of IKEA, must spend the night in the store where they work in order to catch a suspected vandal. Two of these employees are also moonlighting as ghost hunters and aiming to make a name for themselves by staging a catch. What all the characters experience instead is a very real haunting as they discover that the store was actually constructed on the site of a very controversial 19th century prison, the warden of which is back and hungry for new prisoners. Will the employees survive the night and figure out how to send the warden and his torture devices back into the ground for good? It’s well-worth the read to find out”

Happy Reading!