Halloween Read: “Meddling Kids” by Edgar Cantero

Meddling kids

A crack team of animated teen detectives, The Blyton Summer Detective Club, solved their last case thirteen years ago.  Though they caught the culprit (a guy in a costume with an evil scheme), all four of the kids never forgot that terrifying night they spent in a haunted house.

Now young adults, the members of the detective club are not doing so well: Kerri is a bartender with a drinking problem, Andy (deemed too aggressive for the military) has escaped from prison and is on the run, Nate is in an asylum, and Peter has killed himself.  Andy is the one who decides the team has to get back together and revisit the scene of their last case, and put the true mystery to rest at all costs.  That way, she figures, they’ll all be able to move on with their lives.

And it turns out there’s a lot more than just a guy in a mask waiting for them at the haunted mansion.

It’s inventive, original, and funny, with truly creepy scenes, lots of monsters, a suspenseful climax, tons of action, and a great mystery.  It’s like Lovecraft blended with Scooby Doo!

If you like horror that doesn’t skimp on the comedy, give this a read this Halloween!

 

 

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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: “The Monstrumologist” by Rick Yancey

The-Monstrumologist

Presented as a real document found and edited by Yancey, this is a gory and gruesome tale of monsters with a classic feel.

Will Henry is an assistant to a monstrumologist in 1880’s New England.  A group of anthropophagi is discovered in the cemetery near Will’s town of New Jerusalem.  So Dr. Warthrop leads the investigation into how the monsters came to be there, and how to best exterminate them.  Anthropophagi are headless creatures, with faces in their stomachs and brutal strength.  They eat people.

The New England setting adds a layer of cold, dark atmosphere.  The scenes in the churchyard are especially effective, as is the climax deep below the ground.  Will Henry’s complicated relationship with Dr. Warthrop adds a nice dimension to the tale.

Also: when I said gruesome, I meant it.  It’ll make you squirm it’s so gross.  The writing is vivid and the carnage is gory.  The graveyard.  The basement.  The flies.  The worms.  It’s intense, but so beautifully done, and none of it seems out of place.  It just adds to the Gothic horror.

“Enmity is not a natural phenomenon, Will Henry. Is the antelope the lion’s enemy? Does the moose or elk swear undying animosity for the wolf? We are but one thing to the Anthropophagi: meat. We are prey, not enemies.”

Nothing like a good monster story to remind you that human beings are part of a food chain, too.

If you like The Monstrumologist, there are more in the series!  Find out more here.

 

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.

 

Marie’s Favorite Scary Books, Part IV: Scary Book Massacre

Horror Month 2015 brings us yet another installment of Marie’s Favorite Scary Books!  It’s an official franchise now!  Maybe someday Marie’s Favorite Scary Books, Part IV: Scary Book Massacre will be a name spoken in the same breath as Halloween 4: The Return of Michael MyersFriday the 13th: The Final ChapterAmityville 4: The Evil Escapes, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master, and Bride of Chucky.

One can hope.

Here are my favorite scary reads from the past year!

Marie’s Favorite Scary  Books Part IV: Scary Book Massacre

small shadowsThe House of Small Shadows by Adam Nevill
Antiques valuer Catherine is sent to the Red House to catalog the collection of World War I veteran M.H. Mason, a taxidermist known for his dioramas of preserved rats enacting battle scenes from the Great War. Soon she finds there’s a darkness still lurking in the house, a mysterious secret that Catherine is drawn into and unable to avoid uncovering.  A stifling and dark atmosphere, a pervasive sense of dread, and horrifying images that leap from the page make this a book to read strictly in the daytime.  You can find the blog post about it here.

pleasure and a callingA Pleasure and a Calling by Phil Hogan
A real estate agent keeps the keys to every house he’s ever sold, and makes himself a frequent visitor in the now-occupied homes.  Sometimes when the residents are there, never realizing they have company.  It’s a creepy set-up with an unbalanced narrator, an understated horror offering.

head full of ghostsA Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
When Merry was a little girl, her older sister was possessed by a demon–and her cash-strapped family made a reality-TV show about it.  In the present, Merry is the only surviving member of her family, and she’s agreed to let an author write a book about her.  Tons of references to the horror genre (especially Shirley Jackson!), a wonderful narrator, and truly scary scenes, this is one of the most compelling scary books I read in 2015.

Trigger WarningTrigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
These pieces have been collected under the umbrella of being unsettling (hence the title).  Each tale wrongfoots you in a different sort of way. There’s darkness, there’s humor, there’s deep understanding and wisdom.   His characters feel timeless.  There’s an ease to his style, and he can work in so many mediums and different styles that it’s amazing all this work comes from one imagination.  For a lighter not-so-horrific read this Halloween, give this collection a try.  You can read more here.

night sister

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
Like The Winter People, McMahon’s newest novel has full-on supernatural elements.  It’s a monster story, but also a story about sisters, friendship, and growing up.

the lottery

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson
I’ve recently rekindled my relationship with Shirley Jackson, and it’s been wonderful to enjoy all over again how creepy and menacing and atmospheric some of her pieces are.  This collection is classic and contains some of my favorite dark pieces.

Have a horrific time with these!

–Marie

The Cabin in the Woods

The CPL Readers Corner is devoted to books and reading, but I’ve been known to bend the rules considerably during Horror Month.  I like to take a broader, more all-collection view of scary anyway.  You frighten reach more people that way.

Besides, movies are written.  This particular screenplay won a Bram Stoker Award.  So it counts.  And really, it’s less of a stretch than my post about The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror.

So let’s explore Drew Goddard’s 2012 movie, The Cabin in the Woods.

 

The Cabin in the Woods Continue reading

Marie’s Reading: “Severed” by Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft, art by Attila Futaki

severed03_coverAs readers of this blog know, I’m a big horror fan.  I think the graphic novel is a brilliant medium for horror.  You get everything that prose can do to tell a story combined with everything pictures can do to tell a story.  Together, these elements make a whole which tells a story in a way distinct from its separate parts.  In the case of Severed, the art and storyline work together to build a terrifying world.

In the American Midwest of 1916, there’s a mysterious man who is constantly on the road, and constantly hungry for flesh.  There’s a boy named Jack Garron, out to find his father.  And there’s the moment when their paths cross.

The hardback volume of Severed contains the entire run of this independent comic, and I devoured it in a couple of hours.  Then I went back to savor the storyline and the beautiful art.  The storyline is old-school horror–there’s a monster, he’s out there, and he might be after you.  It’s quite straightforward, but wonderfully emphasized and embellished by the dialogue style and the art of Attila Futaki.

I have to say that it’s Futaki’s work that makes Snyder and Tuft’s already solid story even better.  It’s dark, it’s gritty, it’s realistically rendered and beautifully colored, even in the goriest panels.

If you’re a fan of Stephen King and/or Joe Hill (particularly the latter), I think you would really enjoy Severed.  I noticed many common themes between this story and IT and NOS4A2for instance.  Readers who like Snyder’s style from Batman or American Vampire will find everything they like about his work here.

–Marie