all hallows read

My to-be-read list for #allhallowsread

I’m celebrating All Hallows Read all month! I’ve been on a real writing kick for the past year or so. Usually, I’ll stop in between books for at least a few weeks, and that’s usually when I do the most reading. Lately, I’ve gone straight from one project to the next, which is probably a good thing when this writing thing is your day job. But my to-be-read pile is growing as a result. Here are some of the scary books I haven’t got to yet.


The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan “Sarah Crowe left Atlanta, and the remnants of a tumultuous relationship, to live alone in an old house in rural Rhode Island. Within its walls she discovers an unfinished manuscript written by the house’s former tenant–a parapsychologist obsessed with the ancient oak growing on a desolate corner of the property. And as the gnarled tree takes root in her imagination, Sarah risks her health and her sanity to unearth a revelation planted centuries ago…” (Bonus points for a lesbian protagonist.)

18498558The Bird Box by Josh Malerman “Most people ignored the outrageous reports on the news. But they became too frequent, they became too real. And soon, they began happening down the street. Then the Internet died. The television and radio went silent. The phones stopped ringing. And we couldn’t look outside anymore. Malorie raises the children the only way she can; indoors. The house is quiet. The doors are locked, the curtains are closed, mattresses are nailed over the windows. They are out there. She might let them in. The children sleep in the bedroom across the hall. Soon she will have to wake them. Soon she will have to blindfold them. Today they must leave the house. Today they will risk everything.”

32460The Darkest Part of the Woods by Ramsey Campbell “For decades the lives of the Price family have been snarled with the fate of the ancient forest of Goodmanswood. There, Dr. Lennox Price discovered an hallucinogenic moss which quickly became the focus of a cult. Though the moss is long gone, the whole forest can now affect the minds of visitors.  After Lennox is killed trying to return to his beloved wood, his widow sees and hears him in the trees-or is it a dark version of the Green Man that caresses her with leafy hands? Lennox’s grandson heeds a call to lie in his lover’s arms in the very heart of the forest-and cannot help but wonder what the fruit of that love will be.  And Heather, Lennox’s daughter, who turned her back on her father’s mysteries and sought sanctuary in the world of facts and history? Goodmanswood summons her as well . . .”

18007535The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon “West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara’s farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea’s diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother’s bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara’s fate, she discovers that she’s not the only person who’s desperately looking for someone that they’ve lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.”

7728889The Diviners by Libba Bray “Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City—and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer. As Evie jumps headlong into a dance with a murderer, other stories unfold in the city that never sleeps. A young man named Memphis is caught between two worlds. A chorus girl named Theta is running from her past. A student named Jericho hides a shocking secret. And unknown to all, something dark and evil has awakened”

18114136Silence for the Dead by Simone St James “In 1919, Kitty Weekes, pretty, resourceful, and on the run, falsifies her background to obtain a nursing position at Portis House, a remote hospital for soldiers left shell-shocked by the horrors of the Great War. Hiding the shame of their mental instability in what was once a magnificent private estate, the patients suffer from nervous attacks and tormenting dreams. But something more is going on at Portis House—its plaster is crumbling, its plumbing makes eerie noises, and strange breaths of cold waft through the empty rooms. It’s known that the former occupants left abruptly, but where did they go? And why do the patients all seem to share the same nightmare, one so horrific that they dare not speak of it? Kitty finds a dangerous ally in Jack Yates, an inmate who may be a war hero, a madman… or maybe both. But even as Kitty and Jack create a secret, intimate alliance to uncover the truth, disturbing revelations suggest the presence of powerful spectral forces. And when a medical catastrophe leaves them even more isolated, they must battle the menace on their own, caught in the heart of a mystery that could destroy them both.”

The Queen of Bedlam for #allhallowsread

I’m celebrating All Hallows Read all month! I was going through a 1700’s kick a while back, and I absolutely fell in olove with McCammon’s writing. I will never forget the scene where the main character finds a body, but the streets of New York are so dark that they can’t see the victim’s face until they get down and look. You forget that when Jack the Ripper was ripping, things like streetlights hadn’t been invented yet and dark streets were pitch black. It runs shivers down my spine to think about it.

I read Queen of Bedlam and Drood at around the same time and it was hands down better. This is the sequel of a book in two parts, “Speaks the Nightbird” was just as good. I love books that includes the smell of the past, which can easily be whitewashed out of the story. You get sucked into McCammon’s story telling and he’s been a major influence on my writing since discovering him. He’s everything I wish Simmons had done.

queen_25_hc_sThe Queen of Bedlam by Robert McCammon: A richly atmospheric, labyrinthine new novel from bestselling author Robert McCammon, whose epic masterwork of colonial witch-hunt terror, Speaks the Nightbird, was hailed by Sandra Brown as “deeply satisfying…told with matchless insight into the human soul.”

Now the hero of that spellbinding novel begins a stunning adventure as a young law clerk in eighteenth-century New York, where a killer wields a bloody and terrifying power over a bustling city carving out its identity.

The unsolved murder of a respected doctor has sent ripples of fear throughout a city teeming with life and noise and commerce. Who snuffed out the good man’s life with a slash of a blade on a midnight street? The local printmaster has labeled the fiend “the Masker,” adding fuel to the volatile mystery … and when the Masker claims a new victim, earnest, hardworking Matthew Corbett is lured into a maze of forensic clues and heart-pounding investigation that will test his natural penchant for detection and inflame his hunger for justice.

In the strangest twist of all, the key to unmasking the Masker may await in an asylum where The Queen of Bedlam reigns … and unlocking her secrets will lead Matthew to not only the answers he seeks but chilling truths he cannot escape.

The Terror for #allhallowsread

I’m celebrating All Hallows Read all month! I absolutely loved this book, but couldn’t possibly recommend it unless the person understood all the problems that come with it. Dan Simmons has an amazing talent to put you there in the moment but desperately needs an editor.

I honestly recommend to read up to where the doctor kills himself and then just stop reading. The captain is murdered, presumed dead, the doctor has been hoarding all the opiates, and he warns that anyone who eats his body is going to be poisoned, the end. But even if you stop there, there’s the whole problematic issue of the fact that it’s textually stated that the only good gay couple are the couple that don’t have sex. The gay couple that do are the ones who turn to cannibalism first, because of course.

But for the first 700 pages (it’s a massive book) this book is a masterpiece of setting and man vs. self, environment and man. They knew at the time that the northwest passage was never going to be a commercial viable route, but they still did it to have done it. It was the last great hurrah of a man whose works have gradually descended into madness. Drood was okay, I guess, but went nowhere and said nothing, Black Hills was an affront and an insult (native american happens to Forrest Gump his way through turn of the 1900 century, from building the Brooklyn bridge to the world’s fair to massive tornado, has a life long goal to do something, does it, realize it’s a dream then gives up on his dream to go die. White man shows up, tells native man that the plague and slaughter of his people were fair considering that native tribes fought and they “killed the megafauna” of the new world, which is debatable to begin with, and the native guy is like cool, sure, that makes sense. That’s, White Guy, for putting things into perspective for me.”. The whole premise is young boy counts coup on Custer during the Last Stand and lives with his ghost the whole rest of his life, but other than writing pornographic letters to his wife, having the Colonel in his head does absolutely nothing plot wise to the plot.

And his latest one isn’t even going to get named. Needless to say, it is the ejaculate of a right-wing chronic masturbatory that uses words instead of semen to smear the page, and believe me, that’s being kind to the idea that national health care can cause the US to collapse.

But enjoy what you can of the Terror now that they found one of the two ships? The last known sighting was of the protagonist and a couple other sailors heading to Great Slave Lake, but what Ross found in the book is as close to historical fact as possible. I loved it enough to buy the next two books of his in hard cover, but returned Black Hills when I finished back to Amazon on principle. I read it in January, but I suggest a nice summer afternoon.

3974The Terror by Dan Simmons “The men on board HMS Terror have every expectation of triumph. As part of the 1845 Franklin Expedition, the first steam-powered vessels ever to search for the legendary Northwest Passage, they are as scientifically supported an enterprise as has ever set forth. As they enter a second summer in the Arctic Circle without a thaw, though, they are stranded in a nightmarish landscape of encroaching ice and darkness. Endlessly cold, with diminishing rations, 126 men fight to survive with poisonous food, a dwindling supply of coal, and ships buckling in the grip of crushing ice. But their real enemy is far more terrifying. There is something out there in the frigid darkness: an unseen predator stalking their ship, a monstrous terror constantly clawing to get in.When the expedition’s leader, Sir John Franklin, meets a terrible death, Captain Francis Crozier takes command and leads his surviving crewmen on a last, desperate attempt to flee south across the ice. With them travels an Inuit woman who cannot speak and who may be the key to survival, or the harbinger of their deaths. But as another winter approaches, as scurvy and starvation grow more terrible, and as the terror on the ice stalks them southward, Crozier and his men begin to fear that there is no escape.”


World War Z for #allhallowsread

I’m celebrating All Hallows Read all month!

It seems stupid to rec a book like this one when the whole planet has already read it, but this was the first horror I read when I knew the survivors had survived and it still stopped my heart in places. It made me a solid believer that I have no desire to be a plucky survivor. Leave me as just one of the stats, please. Of all the stories, I love the otaku living in Japan playing dungeons and dragons with the truth as though it were a game and not life stopping news as it was. When he comes to and realized it’s not a game I think I stopped breathing.

With Ebola having spread to parts of Africa it had never come to before and conspiracy theories today being taken on par with actual facts, I think we are seeing our future broadcast. North Americans may not have the necessary climate to encourage Ebola beyond person to person contact, but anti vaxxers and HIV denialists have just backed slower horses.

book_cover_wwzWorld War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks: The Zombie War came unthinkably close to eradicating humanity. Max Brooks, driven by the urgency of preserving the acid-etched first-hand experiences of the survivors from those apocalyptic years, traveled across the United States of America and throughout the world, from decimated cities that once teemed with upwards of thirty million souls to the most remote and inhospitable areas of the planet. He recorded the testimony of men, women, and sometimes children who came face-to-face with the living, or at least the undead, hell of that dreadful time. “World War Z” is the result. Never before have we had access to a document that so powerfully conveys the depth of fear and horror, and also the ineradicable spirit of resistance, that gripped human society through the plague years.

Ranging from the now infamous village of New Dachang in the United Federation of China, where the epidemiological trail began with the twelve-year-old Patient Zero, to the unnamed northern forests where untold numbers sought a terrible and temporary refuge in the cold, to the United States of Southern Africa, where the Redeker Plan provided hope for humanity at an unspeakable price, to the west-of-the-Rockies redoubt where the North American tide finally started to turn, this invaluable chronicle reflects the full scope and duration of the Zombie War.

Most of all, the book captures with haunting immediacy the human dimension of this epochal event. Facing the often raw and vivid nature of these personal accounts requires a degree of courage on the part of the reader, but the effort is invaluable because, as Mr. Brooks says in his introduction, “By excluding the human factor, aren’t we risking the kind of personal detachment from history that may, heaven forbid, lead us one day to repeat it? And in the end, isn’t the human factor the only true difference between us and the enemy we now refer to as ‘the living dead’?”

Note: Some of the numerical and factual material contained in this edition was previously published under the auspices of the United Nations Postwar Commission. Eyewitness reports from the first truly global war

Heart Shaped Box for #allhallowsread

I’m celebrating All Hallows Read all month! I had actually put stuff here in the original draft. But here it goes again. The reason I love this book so much was that it was really the first ghost story I had read in a long time that said 100% absolutely, there is a crazy ghost trying to kill the main character without leaving it up to the reader’s interpretations.

The first 3/4 of this book was amazing. I loved every paragraph and the ghost really did scare me good. Once he left the safety of the house I was less enthralled with it and the ending was, well, an ending, but for a book that keeps you jumping at creaks from the floor board for at least a month after reading it, I can’t recommend this enough. Especially since I read it and Steven King’s latest one at the same time and this book, hands down, was so much better. The eye thing with the ghost was freaking amazing.

153025Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill: Aging, self-absorbed rock star Judas Coyne has a thing for the macabre — his collection includes sketches from infamous serial killer John Wayne Gacy, a trepanned skull from the 16th century, a used hangman’s noose, Aleister Crowley’s childhood chessboard, etc. — so when his assistant tells him about a ghost for sale on an online auction site, he immediately puts in a bid and purchases it.

The black, heart-shaped box that Coyne receives in the mail not only contains the suit of a dead man but also his vengeance-obsessed spirit. The ghost, it turns out, is the stepfather of a young groupie who committed suicide after the 54-year-old Coyne callously used her up and threw her away. Now, determined to kill Coyne and anyone who aids him, the merciless ghost of Craddock McDermott begins his assault on the rocker’s sanity

Perfect Circle for #allhallowsread

I’m celebrating All Hallows Read all month! I’ve got two books by Sean Stewart that we picked up at the same time, this one and Mockingbird, defined by the blurb as “a novel of voodoo, pregnancy, and Houston.” It’s also good, but this one is creepier. A broken protagonist, complicated family relationships, southern American setting, ghosts and vengeance. What’s not to love?

Stewart PERFECT CIRCLE coverPerfect Circle by Sean Stewart: William “”Dead”” Kennedy has problems. He’s haunted by family, by dead people with unfinished business, and by those perfect pop songs that you can’t get out of your head. He’s a 32-year-old Texan still in love with his ex-wife. He just lost his job at Pet-Co for eating cat food. His air-conditioning is broken, there’s no good music on the radio, and he’s been dreaming about ghost roads. When Will’s cousin (“”My dad married your Aunt Dot’s half-sister””) calls in the middle of the night about a dead girl haunting his garage, it seems like an easy way to make a thousand dollars. But nothing is ever that simple, especially when family is involved. Will’s mother is planning a family reunion of epic proportions. Will’s ex-wife is married to a former Marine. His twelve-year-old daughter Megan thinks Will needs someone to look after him. And recently his dead relatives seem to want something from him.




She Walks These Hills for #allhallowsread

I’m celebrating All Hallows Read all month!

McCrumb writes a bit more in your face it’s a ghost, just deal more than Burke does, but if you love one, you’ll love the other. They are the yin and yang of the same flavor. She walks these hills is a part of her series with a private sleuth, but it’s an excellent springboard into finding her ballad series as well.

She writes ghosts in the blue hills as just something that is. I’m a firm skeptic in the real world, but her language and stories as just amazing. There’s no boo moment in her book, and I would suggest getting any book after St. Dale from the library as the quality of her story telling had fallen some, but I would recommend her middle books with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.

178142She Walks These Hills by Sharyn McCrumb: Fear more chilling than approaching winter blankets the Appalachian community of Dark Hollow, Tennessee. Some believe that the ghost of Katie Wyler, kidnapped by Shawnee two hundred years ago, is once again roaming the hills. Even more frightening, a convicted murderer has escaped prison and is heading home with his woodsman’s cunning, mocking all attempts to keep him from getting to the wife who has divorced him.

Only an old woman’s mystical gift of “the sight” and policewoman Martha Ayers’ determination to prove herself as good as any lawman can put to rest the superstitions of Katie’s wandering spirit following a trail of death. But can they stop a live, flesh-and-blood predator as elusive as the whistling wind before he kills again…?

James Lee Burke for #allhallowsread

I’m celebrating All Hallows Read all month! James Lee Burke is one of my favourite writers. I couldn’t pick between my two favourites, so I’m including them both.

I know magical realism is a big thing now, but James Lee Burke was doing it when it was only a blip on the radar. In his novel Heartwood, the bad guy gets away with murder only to be literally dragged to hell by an early ghostly firetruck. It’s not implied as such, the main character sees the firey tracks disappearing into the side of a mountain known to be a gate to hell. Burke’s main character is often a damaged or wounded character. In The Tin Roof Blowdown, Dave is both an alcoholic and suffers from relapses from the malaria he suffered in Vietnam. Though the fact he’s still fifty-something despite having fought in the Vietnam conflict is just part of his mystery.

In the Tin Roof Blowdown, a character who steals the boat away from a priest trying to save a roofload of people during Hurricane Katrina (is roofload a word? An amount of people the average roof could hold?) and because he steals it before they can be helped. He’s plagued by the ghosts of the people who died. In the book after, Dave is talking to a woman in the hospital while he recovers from getting shot (or beaten? Dude has a lot of hit points) from a woman who has probably been dead since he went into the hospital, but she leaves her ipad. His world just crawls with the real and the unreal, up to an including an entire confederate army he stumbled into the swamp to find.

I love James Lee Burke. He’s the first author I read where I cared about the language he used to build the world without ever crossing over into purple. We all have our authors we try to emulate, James Lee Burke was a heavy influence on me.


tin-roof The Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke: In the waning days of summer, 2005, a storm with greater impact than the bomb that struck Hiroshima peels the face off southern Louisiana.
This is the gruesome reality Iberia Parish Sheriff’s Detective Dave Robicheaux discovers as he is deployed to New Orleans. As James Lee Burke’s new novel, The Tin Roof Blowdown , begins, Hurricane Katrina has left the commercial district and residential neighborhoods awash with looters and predators of every stripe. The power grid of the city has been destroyed, New Orleans reduced to the level of a medieval society. There is no law, no order, no sanctuary for the infirm, the helpless, and the innocent. Bodies float in the streets and lie impaled on the branches of flooded trees. In the midst of an apocalyptical nightmare, Robicheaux must find two serial rapists, a morphine-addicted priest, and a vigilante who may be more dangerous than the criminals looting the city.


Bitterroot by James Lee Burke: Ex-Texas Rangers are suckers for old friends in distress, so when Vietnam vet and recent widower Doc Voss calls lawyer Billy Bob Holland from Montana with an apparently innocent invitation to visit, Billy Bob packs up and “head[s] north with creel and fly rod in the foolish hope that somehow my own ghosts did not cross state lines.”
Doc has managed to alienate everyone in town, including mining interests on the Blackfoot River; a drug-running biker gang; an enclave of white supremacists, led by slimy Carl Hinkel; the local mob connection, in the person of an even slimier Nicki Molinari; and the feds, who don’t want anything interfering with their pursuit of both Hinkel and Molinari. After Doc’s daughter is brutally raped by three of the bikers, and those three are murdered in a particularly nasty fashion, Holland must try to clear his friend of suspicion. As he ferrets through a tangled web of coincidence and connection, Holland risks losing everything and everyone dear to him.

Coraline for #allhallowsread

In 2010, Neil Gaiman started a tradition, All Hallow’s Read. “All Hallow’s Read is a Hallowe’en tradition. It’s simply that in the week of Hallowe’en, or on the night itself, you give someone a scary book.”

Here, you can watch Neil Gaiman explain it himself, with bonus zombies:

I love Halloween. You know how some people have small decorative Christmas villages with working lights and everything? We have a Halloween village. It’s going to get set up today, though the rest of the Halloween decorations usually wait a few weeks until Thanksgiving.

So I’m not going to wait until the week of Halloween to start recommending my favourite scary books. I’ll be posting a book twice a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

It seems fitting to start off with a Neil Gaiman book. Coraline is a book for children, and the older you are, the scarier it seems to get.

coraline cover“Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house . . .”

The door once led to a room, but when the old house was converted into flats the doorway was bricked up. That is, until the day a curious little girl named Coraline sneaks the key from her distracted mother, opens the door . . . and enters an alternate universe, where dogs eat nothing but chocolate, cats can talk, and she is greeted enthusiastically by her Other Parents.

Her Other Mother looks quite a bit like her own mother — except for the long spindly fingers and shiny black button eyes — but it’s her disposition that is most remarkable. Where her real mother always seemed too busy for Coraline, her Other Mother is attentive and affectionate. She cooks delicious meals, showers the little girl with praise, and asks Coraline to stay with her forever.

But Coraline misses her real parents — tiresome as they sometimes are — and insists on returning to the real world. There, she finds her parents trapped in the hallway mirror, victims of her Other Mother’s evil spell. Now she must take a dangerous journey back into the other world . . . or risk never seeing her parents again!

The black button eyes, to this day, freak me out. I have a thing about eye trauma. And it’s one of those stories where you think you understand what’s going on, but the next second, everything is foreign and different again.