Five Favorite Haunting Reads

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As Halloween draws near and I continue to read some darker titles, I thought it might be fun to share five of my favorite horror/ghost stories. I am always drawn to darker tales of the unknown and fascinated with the possibilities of the paranormal. I enjoy nothing more than a good excuse to dim the lights and curl up with a spooky read. I truly live to torture myself.

devilThe Devil Crept In
By Ania Ahlborn

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Synopsis:

Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are starting to lose hope. They’re well aware that the first forty-eight hours are critical and after that, the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. And despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too; he’s seen the cop shows. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for Jude, his cousin and best friend.

That, and there was that boy, Max Larsen…the one from years ago, found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. For years, the residents of Deer Valley have murmured about these unsolved crimes…and that a killer may still be lurking around their quiet town. Now, fear is reborn—and for Stevie, who is determined to find out what really happened to Jude, the awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.

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The Devil Crept In works its way into your psych as you slowly try to unravel what is happening within Ahlborn’s clever use of narration. The end result is an accumulation of mystery and the unexpected that leaves you shocked and disturbed. 

 

19581Ghost Story
By Peter Straub

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Synopsis:

In life, not every sin goes unpunished.

GHOST STORY

For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past — and get away with murder.

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Quite possibly one of the most haunting tales I have ever experienced, Ghost Story set the bar in the genre and seems to define the supernatural. But there is a lot more happening beneath the surface of this complex, beautifully written story that is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat. Things are not what they seem.

 

11588The Shining
By Stephen King

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Synopsis:

Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family and working on his writing. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote…and more sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.

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The Shining is an annual read for me. An atmospheric story of the possible and seemingly impossible that utterly terrifies me. The elements of isolation, paranormal and a psychotic breakdown come together to deliver a truly psychological and unsettling experience. Room 237 still  haunts my nightmares.

 

womaninblackThe Woman in Black
By Susan Hill

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Synopsis:

Arthur Kipps, a junior solicitor in London, is summoned to Crythin Gifford to attend the funeral of Mrs Alice Drablow, and to sort through her papers before returning to London. It is here that Kipps first sees the woman in black and begins to gain an impression of the mystery surrounding her. From the funeral he travels to Eel Marsh House and sees the woman again; he also hears the terrifying sounds on the marsh.

Despite Kipps’s experiences he resolves to spend the night at the house and fulfil his professional duty. It is this night at Eel Marsh House that contains the greatest horror for Kipps. Kipps later discovers the reasons behind the hauntings at Eel Marsh House. The book ends with the woman in black exacting a final, terrible revenge.

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While not as terrifying as some ghost stories, The Woman in Black still warrants a spot among my favorites. Told with an air of authenticity and almost poetic prose that transports the reader back to the 19th century, brilliant narration offers one of the most chilling tales of revenge I have encountered. Recommend reading with the lights out!

 

lettherightoneinLet The Right One In
By John Ajvide Lindvist

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Synopsis:

It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last—revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day.

But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door—a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night….

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Let The Right One In creeps me out. This is a prime example of vampires written horrifyingly well. A slow burn read that crawled under my skin and remained there long after I completed the last page. It is worth noting the original film does not disappoint (but I still favor the book).

What’s on your October reading List?

Do you enjoy picking up a few ghost stories and darker reads? Have you read any of the above? I would love to know which stories managed to haunt you the most. Leave a few of your favorites in the comments!

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The Infinite Now by Mindy Tarquini ~ Available 10/24/17

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The Infinite Now
By Mindy Tarquini
Publisher: Sparkpress
ISBN13: 9781943006342
Genre: Historical Fiction/Fiction
Pages: 280

Synopsis: In flu-ravaged 1918 Philadelphia, Fiora Vicente, the freshly orphaned and forward-thinking daughter of the local fortune teller, has goals. She has ambitions. But when faced with a future she hasn’t planned, she has second thoughts–and casts her community into a stagnant bubble of time.

Inside the bubble, life among Fiora’s superstitious neighbors continues, but nothing progresses, swamped by a steady stream of unspent seconds. As the pressure builds Fiora realizes she must find the courage to collapse the bubble–or risk trapping her dreams in an unbearable, unyielding, and infinite Now.(less)


(New) Thoughts

This book, this book... Every once in a while I pick up something completely original and truly unexpected. The Infinite Now was and is exactly that. A rare and beautifully welcomed surprise that held my interest and captivated me on all fronts.

In the heart of a small Italian immigrant community in Philadelphia the influenza is sweeping through at an unforgiving rate, leaving many orphans and deaths in its wake. Among them is young Fiora Vicente, the modern thinking, strong-willed daughter of a fortune-teller claimed by the illness. But when she finds uncertainty and fear within her future, her own trepidation places a protective bubble around the city,  guarding against time and what is to come.  But as time refuses to move forward, Fiora soon learns it is not without consequence. The lack of advancement is creating an insurmountable pressure that may have the most dire results. But can she face the unknown and will herself to accept the life that will come without this bubble?

Classifying The Infinite Now as historical fiction might actually be inaccurate. If I am completely honest, I am unsure as to what genre I would label this as. This dynamic story manages to cover a wide ranges of topics all tucked within a magical experience that offers a rich historical background and setting that is ripe with elements of fantasy. The result is something quite spectacular that will manage to appeal to wide range of readers.

Fiora Vincente is energetic, determined and stubborn. Viewed by many of the locals with a scrutinous eye, she has developed a bit of a shell and an attitude. I loved her for it. Her modern ideals play wonderfully with the dated setting, animating her and providing spirit that can only be appreciated. A sundry of supporting characters compliment the story and add incredible depth. I enjoyed each for a variety of reasons. Their growth felt rewarding and viable.

Tarquini establishes a world that seems almost tangible. Each detail is a testament the amount of time and care that has went into crafting this small community. Her approach to life and the influenza epidemic feel accurate and researched, yet she manages to successfully incorporate surreal moments into the fold, delivering something new and refreshing.

Swathed in layers of the unexpected, the seamless narration and multidimensional story delivers an endearing and powerful look at life and the choices we make.  The only downside might be found within the ending, but this will be left to each reader to interpret on a personal level. For myself, I feel I understand what that author was trying to convey, but it would be impossible to explore that further without revealing too much.

Fans of well-developed historical setting and magical realism alike are likely to find something of great worth within The Infinite Now.

*I would like to thank SparkPress and Booksparks for this copy. The above review is my own unbiased opinion.

Untitled designEnjoyed with a hot cup of  Green Jasmine Oolong.

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Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places

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Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places
By Colin Dickey
Narrated by Jon Lindstrom
Publisher: Penguin Audio
ISBN13: 9781524703653
Unabridged: 10 hr and 48 min
Genre: Nonfiction/History (Paranormal)

Synopsis:

Colin Dickey is on the trail of America’s ghosts. Crammed into old houses and hotels, abandoned prisons and empty hospitals, the spirits that linger continue to capture our collective imagination, but why? His own fascination piqued by a house hunt in Los Angeles that revealed derelict foreclosures and “zombie homes,” Dickey embarks on a journey across the continental United States to decode and unpack the American history repressed in our most famous haunted places. Some have established reputations as “the most haunted mansion in America,” or “the most haunted prison”; others, like the haunted Indian burial grounds in West Virginia, evoke memories from the past our collective nation tries to forget.     
       With boundless curiosity, Dickey conjures the dead by focusing on questions of the living–how do we, the living, deal with stories about ghosts, and how do we inhabit and move through spaces that have been deemed, for whatever reason, haunted? Paying attention not only to the true facts behind a ghost story, but also to the ways in which changes to those facts are made–and why those changes are made–Dickey paints a version of American history left out of the textbooks, one of things left undone, crimes left unsolved. Spellbinding, scary, and wickedly insightful, Ghostland discovers the past we’re most afraid to speak of aloud in the bright light of day is the same past that tends to linger in the ghost stories we whisper in the dark.


(New) Thoughts

Ghostland is exactly what it claims to be; an exploration of America’s haunted history and places. Colin Dickey treks across the US examining some more infamous haunts and a few lesser known. As someone who spent their childhood in search of the next big ghost story, this promised to be my cup of tea.

“Surely ghosts will follow wherever there is bad record keeping” 

This is the sort of book that understandably piques the curiosity. Sporting a collection of haunted locations, I will admit I found myself slightly disappointed in the lack of actual fear factor I anticipated. Dickey’s approach is admirable though and warrants consideration. Addressing each haunt and history with a skeptical eye, he delves deep into the stories unearthing the often less than stellar realities.

As someone with a deep appreciation and interest in the supernatural I am aware that skepticism is an important part of the search for answers and the truth. The author undertakes the task of exposing the truth behind the provided stories, debunking them one by one.

Perhaps, that is where the connection failed for myself initially. I craved a dark, unexplained tale of horror. What I received was a brief lesson in history. A look at how times alters even the most legendary of stories and the role that human psych  and even spirituality play in such. We are often guilty of subconsciously bending the truth to fit our own needs as a society. Sometimes we are haunted by tragedy, family disputes and lies.

“But this, too, you could say, is part of the American story, as we have always been people who move on, leaving behind wreckage and fragments in our wake.” 

Dickey’s direct methods and examination offer substantial insight. Jon Lindstrom (who I first encountered in Dark Matter) accompanies this with a fluid and effective narration that offers a seamless encounter. Information is delivered in digestible portions that feel well researched.

Ghostland: An American History in Haunted Places may not have delivered the supernatural stories I sought, but it delivered none the less. Well timed execution assure an experience that offers entertainment and solicits thought. But I struggled with what felt like an air of disbelief and biased opinions on the author’s behalf. I personally believe the most effective investigators will keep an open mind and felt that was not exactly the case here. The author felt that of a pure skeptic, but I still enjoyed my time with the book. I recommend exploring this on your own accord and formulating an opinion. It could be a worthy discussion read.

Untitled design Enjoyed with a glass of iced green tea and a hint of spearmint.

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