Marie’s Reading Her Halloween Leftovers

Oh, the candy is loooong gone, and so’s the Pumpkinhead.  Yet the horror novels remain.  I got too ambitious with my Halloween reads this year, which is why I’m still working through my leftovers a week after Thanksgiving.

Fitting, now that I consider it.  After all, the week after Thanksgiving is the traditional time to finish off leftovers, right?

Below please find the books I’ve been reading, in between putting up the Christmas decorations and doing my bit to help empty the fridge of Thanksgiving goodies.

The Caretaker of Lorne Field by Dave Zeltserman had been on my ever-growing to-read list for a while.  It’s a simple tale very well told.  Jack Durkin is the Caretaker, and it’s his job to weed Lorne Field, all day, every day, as stipulated in the contract drawn up centuries ago between the town and his forefathers.  If he shirks his duty, it will mean the end of the world.  The weeds in Lorne Field aren’t ordinary weeds–they are Akowies, flesh-eating monsters that simply look like weeds.  Of course, the townspeople no longer believe in the Akowies.  Perhaps they’re right not to.  Perhaps Jack is insane.  You’ll be wrong-footed and unsure who to believe right up to the end of this story.   The slow build of uncertainty is very well-done, and the ending is perfect.  Even if you see it coming (which I certainly did not), the last couple of paragraphs are fantastic.

I’m also in the first third of Neverland by Douglas Clegg, a story about a family summer vacation to Georgia’s Gull Island.  Young Beau, our narrator, spends a lot of time with his plainly unhinged cousin, Sumter, and is by turns horrified and fascinated by Sumter’s oddness.  Those who follow my reviews here know by now what I like–I like creepy, weird stuff.  Neverland has creepy weirdness in spades.  There’s magic, superstition, madness, family secrets, and gory imagery that will make you flinch as you exclaim, “Ugh, no!  Did I really just read that??”  I’m really enjoying it so far–I’m fascinated to see how disturbing it gets, and how twisted the story becomes.  Once I’m all the way down this particular rabbit hole, I’ll be sure to report back.

Here’s a fun fact for you: In Victorian England, it was common to tell ghost stories on Christmas EveThe Dead of Winter by Chris Priestley is a perfect choice, if you’d like to rekindle that old tradition.  Just as regular readers know how I enjoy twisted stories, they also know that I have just the teensiest of literary crushes on Chris Priestley.  His latest book did not disappoint.  It’s the story of Michael, a young orphan who is invited to spend Christmas with his new guardian, Sir Stephen, in a remote manor house.  Soon enough odd things begin to happen–knocking sounds, voices, ghostly visions.  It’s all very Wilkie Collins-esque, with a touch of The Fall of the House of Usher about it.  Enjoyable and atmospheric, with a touch of melancholy and dark romance, it’s a wonderful Christmas ghost story.

Now Halloween is officially over, as far as the Readers Corner is concerned.

And my Constant Blog Readers know what that means.

–Marie

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