"I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity."
~ Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849), American author
The Scarlet Gospels by Clive BarkerIn The Scarlet Gospels, two of author Clive Barker's best known characters from earlier books square off in a "perversely glorious" (Booklist) good-vs-evil battle. Pinhead, the evil priest from Hell, kidnaps supernatural detective Harry D'Amour's blind friend Norma Paine, forcing Harry to confront Pinhead in the Underworld. Readers familiar with Barker's early works will be thrilled, and horror fans new to Barker will find interesting, well drawn characters, a touch of humor, and a vivid, satisfying bloodletting to rival Armageddon itself.
Zodiac Station: A Novel by Tom HarperIn this fast-paced thriller, scientific researcher Thomas Anderson survives a blast that destroys the Arctic research station where he's been working and tells his tale to his rescuers aboard a U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker. As details emerge and other survivors add their accounts, the real cause of the disaster becomes more mysterious…and creepy. Zodiac Station blends classic horror, logical puzzles, and fearsome hints of alien life into a gripping plot with an unexpected climax.
The Captive Condition: A Novel by Kevin P. KeatingIn this Gothic tale set in a Midwestern Rust Belt town, ordinary human foibles and failings acquire supernatural menace. Some of the book's malevolent characters are descendants of a satanist who founded the local college decades before. Marital infidelity, live burials, and peculiar hallucinatory drinks figure in the complicated storyline. This is an irresistible, dread-filled yarn for those who thrive on literary and historical allusions (think Edgar Allan Poe and Stephen King in addition to a character named after a Medieval saint). Publishers Weekly calls The Captive Condition a "darkly funny read and a stylistic tour de force."
Written in the Blood: A Novel by Stephen Lloyd JonesAuthor Stephen Lloyd Jones' previous novel, The String Diaries, featured a woman named Hannah Wilde who frantically tried to escape an ancient evil that was intent on destroying her family. In Written in the Blood, Hannah's daughter Leah Wilde continues the effort to save their people, who are shapeshifters called hosszú életek. The intricate plot switches back and forth in time and place and features both rogue and honorable members of the hosszú életek, while detailed descriptions and emotionally engaging characters carry the story to its frightening, violent climax. You needn't have read the previous book to enjoy this sequel.
The Border by Robert McCammonIn author Robert McCammon's terrifying post-apocalyptic thriller, Earth is caught between two warring races of space aliens, called Gorgons and Cyphers. Traveling through this war zone, amnesiac 14-year-old Ethan joins a desperate group of people as they fend off mutated cannibalistic humans. Realizing -- without fully understanding -- that he has powers that could save humanity from the rapacious aliens, Ethan and the small band of surviving humans undertake a perilous journey to fulfill his destiny. The high-octane action, engaging situations, and sympathetic characters make The Border a winning combination of science fiction and horror.
The Woman in White by Wilkie CollinsThe Woman in White, first published in 1860, is an early Gothic horror story, involving a beautiful heiress, a mysterious woman dressed in white who bears secrets about the heiress' husband, and the Victorian-era practice of bundling inconvenient women off to insane asylums. The atmosphere of mystery and menace gradually builds throughout the plot, culminating in a frightening and satisfying conclusion. If you want to read some contemporary novels with similar themes, try Sarah Waters' Fingersmith and Joanne Harris' Sleep, Pale Sister.
The House of the Seven Gables by Nathaniel HawthorneThe House of the Seven Gables features an old New England house where generations of the Pyncheon family have lived. Hepzibah Pyncheon, the current resident, is desperately poor, and readers learn that the Pyncheons have suffered from a curse ever since the building was constructed. The vividly described gloomy atmosphere, intensified by accounts of murder and other crimes, is somewhat lightened by a young character named Phoebe, but anxiety builds to dread as the plot develops. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel first appeared in 1851; for a 21st-century portrayal of the effects of a family curse, read Diane Setterfield's Bellman & Black.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry JamesAt a country estate in Victorian England, an unnamed governess takes up a new position in charge of two young children. After a few quiet summer weeks, ghosts of former servants begin to appear, and though the children clearly recognize them, they refuse to admit that they do. As the spectral visits escalate and the children's behavior changes, the governess and her ally the housekeeper become increasingly frightened -- until two events bring affairs to a crisis. For another chilling Victorian-set novella featuring children in peril, read Susan Hill's 1983 Woman in Black.
The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston LerouxThe Phantom of the Opera, originally published serially in 1909-10, has appeared in numerous adaptations, including Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical and several movie versions. Author Gaston Leroux's novel relates the tale of Christine Daaé, a young singer in the Paris Opera chorus. Christine discovers a man called Erik with an ethereally beautiful voice and accepts his offer to give her voice lessons. A series of horrible events follows, and Erik presents Christine with a terrifying ultimatum. For a clever modern follow-up to Leroux's original story, try Frederick Forsyth's The Phantom of Manhattan.
The Collected Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan PoeAuthor Edgar Allan Poe wrote numerous volumes of short stories and poems that strongly influenced later horror writers. Even his science fiction and detective tales (such as "The Murders in the Rue Morgue") often feature a dark, brooding atmosphere. Some of his best known works appear in this edition, including the terrifying "Pit and the Pendulum" and "Tell-Tale Heart," the gruesome "Cask of Amontillado," and the disturbing poem "The Raven." Try some of Ambrose Bierce's horror stories, collected in The Moonlit Road, for a style similar to Poe's.
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