A Natural History of Hell: Stories by Jeffrey FordAuthor Jeffrey Ford explores the underlying darkness of daily life via the 13 stories collected in A Natural History of Hell. Using humor, literary allusions, folklore tropes, and science fiction settings, he satirizes parenting in an account of a teenager's exorcism ("The Blameless"), portrays young children who meet a wise woman ("Mount Chary Galore"), and chillingly depicts an open-carry high school ("Blood Drive"). Fans of Kevin Brockmeier and Ray Bradbury, especially, will enjoy these twisty, creepy, and disturbing thrills.
Pressure by Brian KeeneFollowing a tremendous undersea disturbance of the earth's crust, scientists rush to discover the cause, only to find that it's not just an earthquake. Further investigating the phenomenon, diver Carrie Anderson encounters an enormous predatory creature that would dwarf Jules Verne's giant squid from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Combining a corrupt corporation's enforcers and a growing ecological disaster with the monstrous, malevolent entity, Pressure delivers chilling terror that will captivate fans of Nick Cutter's The Deep.
The Port-Wine Stain by Norman LockIn The Port-Wine Stain, an elderly Edward Fenzil narrates his recollections from 30 years earlier in 1844. The novel focuses on Edgar Allan Poe as one of a group of people who are fascinated by death. The young Fenzil's association with surgeon Thomas Dent Mütter (based on another real-life person) brings him into the occultist society, where he also becomes acquainted with Poe. Blending historical fiction with horror, Lock bleakly depicts obsession and psychological manipulation. If you like this novel's layered tale infused with literary history, try its standalone predecessors in Lock's American Novels series, The Boy in His Winter and American Meteor.
The Prisoner of Hell Gate by Dana I. WolffKaralee Soper, a (fictional) contemporary graduate student in public health, is descended from (the real) Dr. George Soper, who identified and locked up "Typhoid Mary," the asymptomatic cook who spread typhoid to dozens of people. While boating on the East River with some friends, Karalee is drawn to the ruins of Riverside Hospital on North Brother Island, where Mary was isolated for two decades. The group decides to explore, but their light-hearted excursion turns dark when they meet an old woman named Mary who seems to be alive and well. Booklist calls The Prisoner of Hell Gate a "strong, quick, and perfectly upsetting little shocker."
Great Books You Might Have Missed
The Curse of Crow Hollow by Billy CoffeyThe Appalachian village of Crow Hollow is way off the beaten track -- so far off that strangers find it only by accident. Maybe its isolation has something to do with the fearsome events associated with Alvaretta Graves, who some people think is a witch. Or maybe the mysterious symptoms afflicting teenaged girls are just a case of mass hysteria. Either way, author Billy Coffey's exploration of good and evil in The Curse of Crow Hollow will make you want to lock your doors and turn on all your lights. While not all of Coffey's books are scary, for additional chills try his supernatural suspense in The Devil Walks in Mattingly and When Mockingbirds Sing.
Styx by Bavo Dhooge with Josh PachterAward-winning Flemish crime writer Bavo Dhooge busts through genre boundaries with this police procedural featuring a serial killer with an unusually gruesome M.O. and a flawed, over-the-hill cop who's been turned into a zombie. Rafael Styx is working the serial murderer case when the killer shoots him in the chest, but the now-undead detective perseveres. Replete with allusions to well-known surrealists, the history of Belgian imperialism, and hardboiled atmosphere, Styx will captivate both horror fans and lovers of gloomy, noir-style murder mysteries.
When We Were Animals: A Novel by Joshua GaylordIn When We Were Animals, a small Midwestern community boasts a peculiar tradition: for one year starting at puberty, every teenager runs wild during the full moon, wreaking havoc as they go. Narrator Lumen Ann Fowler detests the practice, called "breaching," and promises she'll never do it. Later, as a middle-aged suburban mother, she goes back to her hometown to revisit that time in her life and learns more about herself and her community than she expected. Author Joshua Gaylord (who also publishes as Alden Bell), uses lyrical, slightly old-fashioned language in this coming-of-age novel to build suspense in Lumen's story and relate appalling and violent rampages.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValleShirley Jackson Award-winning author Victor LaValle draws on the supernatural horror of H.P. Lovecraft to create The Ballad of Black Tom. In 1920s New York City, a young African American named Charles Thomas Tester struggles to feed and house himself and his dying father, employing a variety of hustles while treading on the borders of an occult realm. Deftly retelling and expanding on Lovecraft's short story "The Horror at Red Hook," LaValle explores social and racial issues of the 1920s and the present while producing an atmospheric and stylistically complex tale of supernatural horror.
Travelers Rest: A Novel by Keith Lee MorrisOn their way home from collecting their Uncle Robbie from a stint in rehab, a tremendous blizzard overwhelms the Addison family just as they arrive in Good Night, Idaho. Taking refuge in a grandiose but crumbling hotel called Travelers Rest, they get separated. Parents Julia and Tonio wander through the labyrinthine, mesmerizing passageways, ten-year-old Dewey crosses the street to a mysterious diner, and Robbie falls back into addictive behavior. It's up to Julia to save her family from the ghosts of Travelers Rest and the trap of Good Night. Author Keith Lee Morris' writing style envelops the reader like "a curtain of drifting snow identified too late as an avalanche" (Publishers Weekly).
Lost Souls by Seth PatrickIn this sequel to author Seth Patrick's Reviver, Jonah Miller finds himself in the path of an ancient evil. Miller, a reviver, can temporarily wake up people who have recently died. As a forensic reviver, he collected testimony from murder victims while giving loved ones a last chance to say goodbye. In Lost Souls, having left the police department after a conflict over a revival, he stumbles into a serial killer investigation that reveals a gigantic conspiracy driven by the dead themselves. If you enjoyed the previous volume, you can expect to find this one even more satisfying, and you'll be eager to read the planned conclusion of this trilogy. (PS, the movie rights have been optioned.)
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