"My father, whom I trust as surely as yesterday happened and tomorrow might not, was the first to call me a witch."
~ from Bradford Morrow's The Diviner's Tale
The Monstrous by Ellen Datlow, editorMonsters aren't real, right? Oh, but read acclaimed editor Ellen Datlow's anthology and you'll find them -- both within the human psyche and beyond it! The Monstrous collects tales by some of the best horror writers, including Peter Straub, Caitlín Kiernan, Kim Newman, and Adam Nevill. From ancient evil uncovered during the filming of a reality show (Gemma Files' "A Wish from a Bone") to bureaucratic monsters schmoozing around the watering hole (Adam-Troy Castro's "The Totals"), there's a "monster here for everyone's taste" (Library Journal).
Dead Ringers: A Novel by Christopher GoldenTess Devlin sees her ex-husband Nick walking down a Boston street, but the man absolutely denies he's Nick. Several other characters in Dead Ringers also encounter doppelgangers. Where are these impersonators -- some of whom are violent -- coming from, and why? The idea of evil beings taking over humans isn't new (think Jack Finney's The Body Snatchers, for example), but bestselling author Christopher Golden explores disturbing and gruesome variations on the theme in this chilling chronicle of ordinary people invaded by malevolent spirits. Don't stay up late reading this one, especially if you're alone in the house.
Carter & Lovecraft by Jonathan L. HowardWhen P.I. Daniel Carter mysteriously inherits a bookstore in Providence, RI, he overcomes manager Emily Lovecraft's doubts about having a new boss by making her a partner. Dan and Emily (a direct descendant of horror writer H.P. Lovecraft) enjoy working together, but mysterious deaths that somehow involve them start happening. Then they meet a college math student who has discovered a portal to the world where Lovecraft's monsters dwell. Events soon progress from mysterious to terrifying in this "refreshingly original" (Publishers Weekly) mashup of whodunit and tale of inter-dimensional dread.
The Children's Home: A Novel by Charles LambertDisfigured from a terrible childhood incident, wealthy Morgan Fletcher lives alone in his country house, avoiding mirrors and other people except for his housekeeper and the local doctor. Since he's so antisocial, it's surprising that he welcomes two abandoned children into his home. When more children arrive and their behavior becomes increasingly strange, Morgan and the doctor wonder if the kids have a dark purpose. Author Charles Lambert escalates the level of dread as he gradually reveals Morgan's full story in this thought-provoking novel that may remind readers of Shirley Jackson or Sarah Langan.
The Curse of Jacob Tracy: A Novel by Holly MessingerEver since he nearly died in the Battle of Antietam, wagon wrangler Jacob "Trace" Tracy has been able to see and communicate with dead people -- against his will. Based in 1880 St. Louis, he enjoys guiding wagon trains west, along with his pal Boz, because the wide open spaces harbor few ghosts. After he runs a simple errand for a wealthy Englishwoman, though, Trace finds himself using his powers more often and then having to battle terrifying monsters. Fans of Old West horror tales will appreciate author Holly Messinger's immersive settings and gruesome otherworldly battles in The Curse of Jacob Tracy.
If You Like: Joyce Carol Oates' Horror
Let the Old Dreams Die: Stories by John Ajvide LindqvistIn this story collection, author John Ajvide Lindqvist offers readers a scary peek at Oskar and Eli (protagonists of Let the Right One In) after they escape from their small town. Fans will also be thrilled with a tale starring characters from Handling the Undead who seek to free trapped zombies ("Final Processing"), as well as several standalone pieces that include a house-sitter who makes a repellent discovery ("Equinox") and big-city monsters ("A Village in the Sky"). Like Joyce Carol Oates, Ajvide Lindqvist skillfully manipulates psychological effects in his writing, and this compilation proves that he's adept at writing short stories in addition to novels.
Blood Harvest by Sharon BoltonThe Fletchers should have known better than to build their new house in a graveyard, particularly one in the English village of Heptonclough, where the villagers slaughter their livestock in an annual "blood harvest" ritual...and where several young girls have recently gone missing. When ten-year-old Tom Fletcher reports strange sightings and his younger sister narrowly escapes an attempt on her life, the local vicar and psychiatrist investigate. If you enjoy Joyce Carol Oates' supernatural Gothic tales, be sure to pick up Blood Harvest, which The Guardian says "excels at summoning up the claustrophobic atmosphere of rural village life."
Your House is on Fire, Your Children All Gone: A Novel by Stefan KiesbyeWhen four middle-aged men, friends from childhood, gather for a funeral in their hometown of Hemmersmoor in Germany, they are aware that they shouldn't discuss the secrets of their past. Nevertheless, suppressed memories of horrific crimes in the idyllic village begin to emerge in terrifying glimpses of evil narrated by Christian and his friends Alex, Martin, and Linde. Author Stefan Kiesbye's elegant writing and dispassionate tone should please fans of Joyce Carol Oates; Kirkus Reviews calls Your House Is on Fire, Your Children All Gone a "quietly savage meditation on evil."
The Diviner's Tale: A Novel by Bradford MorrowWhen she was seven, dowser Cass Brooks' warning failed to prevent her older brother's death. Ever since, she's avoided using her ability to forecast the future. As an adult, she supplements her income as a part-time teacher with dowsing, but that's the limit of her occult activities -- until she reports a hanged teenager in the woods and the cops find a live runaway instead of a corpse. Meanwhile, her beloved father (also a diviner) is showing symptoms of dementia. As reality becomes increasingly tenuous, The Diviner's Tale explores disturbing connections between Cass' childhood and the present. This evocative literary horror novel comes highly recommended by Joyce Carol Oates herself.
The Tale of Halcyon Crane: A Novel by Wendy WebbImagine copyeditor Hallie James' shock when she receives a letter from her mother, who supposedly died 30 years ago. Soon after this, her mother dies for real, Hallie travels to a remote Great Lakes island to learn more about her, and she finds out that her father's been lying to her since she was six. She also meets hostility from the local residents and ghosts in the Victorian mansion her mother left her. Facing down both mundane and occult opposition, Hallie strives to uncover the truth -- cost what it may. Effectively combining Gothic dread and psychological suspense, The Tale of Halcyon Crane should appeal to Joyce Carol Oates' readers.
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