Halloween Read: “The Cabin at the End of the World” by Paul Tremblay

cabin

Tremblay is an old Horror Month friend.  I especially loved his novel A Head Full of Ghosts.  His latest is a tense, compelling, and intimate story about the end of the world.

Wen and her dads are vacationing at a remote cabin in northern New Hampshire when a group of four strangers arrives.  They carry homemade weapons and insist that Wen and her parents have been prophesied to help them save the world from the coming apocalypse.

Stories about home invasion always  make my skin crawl, and this one is no different.  You’re as tense and frightened and uncertain as the protagonists, which always makes for the best scary stories.  Later on, when you’re finally in the heads of the invaders, it’s even creepier.

For a Halloween read packed with some shocking violence, surprising humor, an eerie open ending, and a compulsively readable style, give this one a try!

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Halloween Read: “Little Heaven” by Nick Cutter

little heaven

Little Heaven is an intense read.  Three bounty hunters are hired to save a boy from a cult called Little Heaven in New Mexico.  It’s obvious something is very badly wrong in Little Heaven–monsters lurk in the woods and children have been disappearing.  Our bounty hunters, Micah, Ebenezer, and Minerva, just want to get the job done, but they find themselves drawn into something dark and otherworldly, threatening everyone’s lives.

The narrative goes back and forth in time from the 1980’s to the 1960’s.  In the present, Micah’s daughter has been lured away from home by a creature.  And in the past, we get the history of Micah, Ebenezer, and Minerva’s first encounter with this same creature, and how they ended up bound together as well as bound to the darkness.  There’s also the story of Little Heaven itself, and the Reverend Amos Flesher, who founded it (and who has his own dark secrets and leanings).

Little Heaven is gory and dripping with dread all the way through.  There’s also a feeling almost like a Western.  The sense of foreboding, and of an otherworldly threat, saturate the story, but the mercenaries are lone-wolf types who just do the jobs they’re hired to do.  The desert setting is gritty, vast, and lonely, well-suited to the bleak mood.

Yet, the ending has a tiny, tiny shred of hope, both for the characters and for humanity.  It’s not happy by any stretch, but there is that hope.  There’s also some black humor throughout which helps to balance the dark imagery.

If you like gory horror with great action, monsters, and an intense mood, give this one a try this Halloween!   There’s also a lot to like if you’re a fan of vintage Stephen King–the tone and themes are pretty similar.

 

Halloween Read: “Children of the Dark” by Jonathan Janz

A group of teens, an escaped serial killer, and an ancient evil in the woods.  An opening line which reads: “The week I saw seventeen people die didn’t begin with blood, monsters, or a sadistic serial killer.  It began with a baseball game.”

children-of-the-dark

 

I regret only that I didn’t read this in time to put it on my Scary Reads list.  The story is about a small town in Indiana called Shadeland, home to Will Burgess.  Will is a seventeen-year-old in a rough situation–fatherless, mother addicted to painkillers, responsible for his little sister Peach.

On top of that, the notorious Moonlight Killer has escaped from prison and made a beeline for Will’s town.  And as if a serial killer lurking weren’t enough, there’s an even more ancient evil lurking in Savage Hollow, the area just beyond Will’s house.  Monsters of all types collide, and it’s up to Will to save everyone he cares about.

The narrative voice is strong, the characters are likable, and the horror is built with atmosphere and building tension as well as some nicely gory scenes.  Part human horror and part monster story, this is a scary novel with plenty of blood and a very high body count.  The open, foreboding ending is great, too.  It’s also got its funny moments to relieve some of the tension.  If you like slasher flicks and monster movies this time of year, give this a try.

Careful out there, fellow Halloweenies.  Don’t let the Wendigos bite.