Wolf in White Van is a 2014 fiction novel by John Darnielle, American musician and primary member of the band the Mountain Goats. The story follows Sean Phillips, a reclusive game designer whose face has been disfigured ever since suffering a gunshot wound when he was 17. His games are play-by-mail role-playing games, exploring post-apocalyptic futures and fantastical realms. After two players of his game Trace Italian take their play into the real world, with grave consequences, Sean is brought in to account for it, sending him down a path a self-reflection to that fateful day where his own life permanently changed.Read More »
Pet Sematary is a 1983 horror novel by Stephen King. The story follows the Creed family—husband and wife Louis and Rachel, their five-year-old daughter Ellie, two-year-old son Gage, and Ellie’s cat named Church—who have just moved from Chicago to an idyllic country house near the small town of Ludlow, Maine, with Louis starting a new job as a physician at the University of Maine. It takes some adjusting to at first, but the family finds themselves very taken with the property and their new neighbors.
The nearby woods hide an unearthly secret, however, something altogether more strange than the macabre yet innocent “pet sematary” that has been maintained by the children of the town for several decades. Some say the ground in this hidden place has gone sour but nevertheless contains a terrible power that people cannot help being drawn in by. As tragedy strikes the Creed family thanks to the dangerous traffic that plagues their road, Louis struggles with the cold, hard truth that sometimes…dead is better.Read More »
The Dark Lord of Derkholm is a 1998 young adult fantasy novel by author Diana Wynne Jones. Once a year, a magical fantasy land receives guests from another world. These guests, whom visit as Pilgrim Parties under the organization of a ruthless businessman named Mr. Chesney, embark upon this journey to experience a real-life fantasy adventure, complete with dragons, battles between the forces of good and evil, and even a Dark Lord to vanquish at the end of their hard-fought quest. However, after years of suffering the devastating consequences, the people of this fantasy land have had enough. Maybe, if they completely sabotage this year’s tours, nobody will ever want to visit again. To do so, they’ll have to appoint the worst wizard for the job of Dark Lord. Unfortunately for Derk and his family, that’s him.
Sleeping Giants by Sylvain Neuvel is the first novel in the Themis Files series. Seemingly at random, a mysterious object of massive scale is found in a sinkhole in South Dakota after a young girl crashes her bike into it. Rescue crews working to get her out are baffled by the fact that she rests in a giant metal hand. Seventeen years later, the hand’s purpose and origins are still a complete mystery. Some can’t let secrets lie, however, and Dr. Rose Franklin, the girl who first stumbled upon the thing, is now a physicist who leads a top-secret team determined to uncover the truth. The work is challenging, but the object’s hidden power is greater than they could have imagined. As they get closer to unlocking its secrets, it becomes impossible to keep such a thing hidden from the world, which may not be ready for it.Read More »
A Black and Endless Sky is a recently published horror novel by Matthew Lyons. In it, Jonah Talbot’s life has fallen apart. After 12 years of marriage, the love between him and his wife has simply faded away, and the two have finalized their divorce. Jonah is left with no choice but to leave California and move back home to Albuquerque, accompanied on his drive home by his sister Nell. The two of them used to be inseparable but became estranged after he suddenly left town and got married all those years ago. Now, they hope maybe they can start mending their relationship on this road trip home. However, the open road has more in store for them than they can fathom, as a bizarre incident at an abandoned construction site in the Nevada desert results in Nell’s body playing host to an ancient, otherworldly presence.Read More »
The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett is the 22nd novel in the author’s comic fantasy Discworld series and the sixth in the Rincewind sub-series. Following the events of the previous novel, Interesting Times, Rincewind finds himself once again to be a stranger in a strange land, this time in Fourecks (or XXXX), a continent relatively unknown to the rest of the Discworld. It is a desolate and arid place full of surprisingly jovial people and terrifying wildlife. Though at first simply trying to survive as best he can, it would seem destiny once again has a mission for the put-upon, subpar wizard, one that will have him embarking on a odyssey across the landscape, making him a hero among the locals whether he likes it or not.Read More »
We Were Liars is a 2014 young adult mystery thriller novel by E. Lockhart. The story follows Cadence Eastman, a teenage girl who is part of a large, wealthy, and influential family, the Sinclairs. She spends every idyllic summer on Beechwood Island, privately owned by her family and situated near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, upon which her grandfather built homes for himself, all of his daughters, and their families to stay in. She would spend much of these summers with her cousins Johnny and Mirren and Johnny’s best friend Gat, who is invited to come along every year. Together, the four of them are known as the “Liars.” The summer of her fifteen year, Cady had a whirlwind romance with Gat, experiencing a sense of love that dulled the pain of her parents’ divorce.
However, that’s all Cady remembers of that summer. She had an accident, though she doesn’t remember the cause, and now she suffers from crippling migraines. Gat was nowhere to be seen as she recovered in hospital, none of her family wants to talk to her about what happened, and it’s been two years since she last visited the island. Relishing the chance to reconnect with her cousins and her beloved Gat, despite the pain of him disappearing on her, she is determined to find out what happened to her that fateful summer.Read More »
A Gathering of Ghosts by Karen Maitland is a historical fiction novel with dark fantasy elements. Set in the wilds of Dartmoor in the year 1316, the story centres around the isolated Priory of St. Mary, home to the Sisters of the Knights of St. John. At this priory, led by Prioress Johanne, they see to the infirmed who are in need of care, as well as provide shelter for pilgrims and other travelers making their way across the hazardous countryside. Their main attraction is the healing well that sits in a cave beneath their chapel, once associated with a pagan goddess but now dedicated to Saint Mary, which brings them many visitors from near and far.
With the country at large gripped by the Great Famine and tin miners ravaging the moorland for its precious ore nearby, everybody is feeling the strain as desperate times become worse and worse, including heavy rains that seem unending. The arrival of three strangers to Dartmoor—a knight, a blind child, and a woman with a withered arm—only seems to make matters worse, as soon after their arrival the holy well is beset upon by uncanny plagues.Read More »
‘Salem’s Lot is a 1975 horror novel by Stephen King, and it is the prolific author’s second novel. Set in the small fictional town of Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine, the story follows a young author named Benjamin Mears. He has returned to the town, where he spent a number of years growing up, in order to face some old childhood fears and continue working on a new novel inspired by the source of those fears, the foreboding and abandoned old Marsten House, which looms over the town on a hill.
Although his arrival in the Lot is met fairly warmly, a mysterious new pair of residents have arrived at the same time, lodging in that decrepit old mansion that Ben can’t help fixating on. Though at first these changes are simple curiosities, the disappearance of two local boys is a sinister portents of things to come, as the town’s new residents have brought with them a nightmarish blight that threatens to consume the town whole.Read More »
The Grip if It is a 2017 horror novel by Jac Jemc and my first Frighteningly Good Read for 2021. Married couple James and Julie have purchased their first home together in a small town just outside of the city where they met. They have decided to seek a fresh start after James’s gambling problem leaves his personal savings emptied out, putting some strain on their relationship. The transition to their new home is so seamless, however, it’s almost too good to be true.
They purchased the house, which has a forest behind it that leads to a beach, for a great price too. The seemingly innumerable hidden rooms are strange, but they provide a lot of extra storage space. And that constant deep, vibrating noise just at the edge of hearing, not unlike throat singing, is probably just the house settling, or so they tell themselves. They try their best to settle into their new home and lives, but it seems the house has other plans for them.Read More »