Kicking off my Frighteningly Good Reads for 2019 is Doctor Sleep by Stephen King, the 2013 sequel to one of the author’s most famous novels, The Shining. Dan Torrance, now a grown man, is still haunted by his experiences at the Overlook Hotel all those years ago. Some ghosts are harder to escape than others, and the violence and drinking that plagued his father has come back around on him, leaving him to aimlessly wander around the country. He eventually winds up in Frazier, New Hampshire, a small town that inexplicably triggers visions, despite the years of drinking dulling his “shine.”
Dan decides to settle in the town and gets his act together, attending AA meetings and eventually working at a hospice where he uses his psychic gifts to comfort those passing on, gaining the nickname “Doctor Sleep.” One day he is remotely contacted by Abra Stone, a young teen girl with a “shine” far more powerful than his own. She has attracted the attention of the True Knot, a tribe of psychic vampires who feed off of victims with powers like theirs, and needs his help if she is going to survive.Read More »
Coraline is a 2002 horror fantasy novel by Neil Gaiman. Coraline, the titular character, and her parents have moved into a new flat in a big old house that is divided into several apartments. They share the property with some colourful characters; two aged actresses below them and an eccentric old man above them. There is a vacant flat next to theirs that is unoccupied, the passageway in their place bricked up behind a door in their parlour. Listless and left by her busy parents to try and entertain herself in the waning days of summer, Coraline can’t help feeling oddly fixated on this door, even though her mother has already shown her what’s on the other side. Reopening it on her own, she finds a long dark corridor where there ought to bricks. The passage leads her to a world that mirrors her own, full of wondrous delights and populated by another mother and father with buttons for eyes, who soon turn out to be far more malevolent than she first realizes.Read More »
Small Gods by Terry Pratchett is the 13th novel in the comic fantasy Discworld series, and the second standalone novel belonging to a small, loosely connected group of novels that cover specific, lesser-known cultures of the Disc. This novel in question is set a century before the usual present day and focuses on the land of Omnia, a powerful and oppressive theocracy that worships and acknowledges only one god: The Great God Om. The time for the 8th prophet to be revealed is close at hand and Om has manifested himself in physical form on the Disc to seek out his new chosen one. The problem is, he has somehow manifested as a diminutive tortoise and nobody he speaks to can hear him. That is, until an eagle meaning to make a meal of him drops him into the Citadel in Omnia, where he lands in a garden. There he meets Brutha, a novice of the Citadel and the only person in the whole world who can hear him.Read More »
The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is Stuart Turton’s debut novel. Set in an English country manor in the early 20th century, our protagonist awakens in the forest yelling the name Anna but remembering nothing else. He is mysteriously guided back to Blackheath manor, a rundown old estate owned by the Hardcastle family, who are hosting a ball to celebrate the return of their daughter Evelyn from Paris. While struggling to remember who he is, our protagonist soon learns that his mind is inhabiting the body of someone other than himself. He will cycle throughout eight different host bodies, reliving the same day at Blackheath over and over, until he solves the mystery of Evelyn’s murder. Guided by a mysterious figure in a plague doctor outfit, he must contend with two rivals to solve this mystery. The answer is the key to their freedom that only one of them can claim.Read More »
The Midwich Cuckoos by John Wyndham is a 1957 science fiction novel about an alien invasion of a different kind. One morning, the unremarkable village of Midwich in Britain inexplicably cannot be entered. Anybody trying to get in is suddenly knocked unconscious by unknown means. Every living thing within this radius of influence, which encompasses Midwich, is in this state. Military Intelligence, in trying to get a handle on the situation, notice through aerial photos the presence of an otherworldly, silver object at the centre of it all in the village.
A day after this begins, however, it is over. The object is gone, and most of the residents of Midwich awaken unharmed. The event becomes known as the “Dayout,” and begins to recede from memory as nothing more than a bad dream. That is, until all the women of childbearing age in Midwich discover they have somehow become pregnant, and that their ordeal is only just beginning. They eventually give birth to pale, golden-eyed children that appear to be human, but are in fact something else altogether.Read More »
I’ve found trying to succinctly describe Eating the Dinosaur by Chuck Klosterman a little challenging. In some ways it’s easy because it is (a) a book of essays, (b) a work of nonfiction, and (c) concerned with popular culture. This isn’t especially helpful though, since that describes a lot of books. A number of the essays revolve around sports and music, that’s for sure. One is so deeply entrenched in football history, in fact, that he advises some readers to skip it (though this is an outlier).
In a broad way, I suppose, I’d say this book questions facets of the reality in our society and how we come to interpret this reality through very specific examples of celebrity and popular culture. Maybe that’s still too vague, but this book has essays about the concept of time travel, Road movies, why we answer interview questions, and ABBA. Connective threads are bound to look a little tenuous from the outside.Read More »
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate – Discoveries from a Secret World is a nature book by German forester Peter Wohlleben, translated by Jane Billinghurst. This book is the first in a series by the author called The Mysteries of Nature. We all understand that trees are alive, but they’re so different from us that it’s hard not to objectify them, especially with how we use them as a resource. While his observations and experiences working in forestry serve as the foundation of his understanding, in this book Wohlleben brings together a wealth of modern scientific knowledge about trees that uncovers the unseen ways that they live and interact with each other, helping to make them relatable to the human experience and fostering an understanding of how we can help them flourish.Read More »
The Healing Thirst by Aleš Kot (writer), Piotr Kowalski (artist), and Brad Simpson (colourist) is the second graphic novel adapting the world of the video game Bloodborne, a horror action-RPG developed by FromSoftware. This volume tells a story that stands alone from its predecessor, about a healer and scientist named Alfredius and a priest of the Healing Church named Clement who form an unlikely friendship while Yharnam slowly succumbs to plague all around them. The beastly scourge—an illness that turns humans into beasts akin to werewolves—is becoming more and more prominent. Meanwhile, another mysterious sickness known as Ashen Blood is laying waste to the population as well. The two pool their resources together to uncover the source of these ailments in hopes of discovering a cure.Read More »
Published in 2005, On Earth as it is in Hell by Brian Hodge is the third novel based on the Hellboy comic book series and the first not written by Christopher Golden. Unlike the previous two novels, this book is considered to be outside of the accepted canon of stories. It does however work off of established Hellboy continuity up until the point that it was published.
Hellboy, Abe Sapien, and other agents of the BPRD are brought to the Vatican after a fiery attack upon the archives kills a number of people, destroying many priceless texts from history in the process. One survived, however, which Hellboy believes to have been the true target of the attack: The Masada Scroll, purportedly written by Jesus of the Nazarene himself decades after the crucifixion. The culprits? None other than seraphim, having unleashed devasting heavenly fire. But why would agents of Heaven enact such death and destruction? In trying to keep the scroll safe for the Vatican, Hellboy and company come up against heretical fanatics, diabolical deities, and a conspiracy to bring about Hell on Earth.Read More »
Witches Abroad is the 12th novel in Terry Pratchett’s comic fantasy Discworld series, and the third in the “Witches” subset of books. Desiderata Hollow knows that soon she will pass on. She’s a witch. Witches are good at knowing things like this. The problem is, she’s also a fairy godmother to a girl far across the Disc in a land called Genua, whose destiny is being meddled with. She passes her wand onto Magrat Garlick, one of the witches of in the kingdom of Lancre, with express instructions to travel to Genua to help this girl, and to not allow the other witches Granny Weatherwax and Nanny Ogg to help her (knowing full well that those two will do the exact opposite of what is asked of them). Their objective vague and their destination clear, the trio commence their long journey to Genua.Read More »