Sunday, October 20, 2013

Reading on a Theme: Hauntings

I always love a seasonally appropriate book. This year I seem to be reading a lot of creepy tales that would be perfect for Halloween. Are you in the mood for a good old-fashioned haunting?

 Young Ghostbusters:
Anthony Lockwood and his associates hunt ghosts, and they have a lot to prove. I loved everything about Jonathan Stroud's The Screaming Staircase. The characters are fabulous. I can't wait to read more about Lockwood, Lucy, and George. The world that Stroud creates is also spectacular. The writing, the atmosphere, the pacing all come together perfectly. Most of all, this book is scary. I listened to the audio book and, while the narration is just lovely, I cannot condone nighttime listening, unless you want to be totally creeped out. This book is marketed as a middle-grade novel, but it really is scary, so if your middle-grade age kid is easily terrified maybe read it aloud together. In the daytime. With the lights on.

Seeing Dead People:
When her best friend dies in a car accident Miranda begins seeing ghosts. Her parents, history and music professors, take Miranda and her brother Rob along on a business trip to York in hopes that it will help their children recover from the accident, but York is one of the most haunted cities in London. Miranda is seeing ghost everywhere. Some ghosts are even talking to her. Miranda is especially captivated by a brooding and gorgeous ghost in an attic window. I doubly enjoyed this ghostly tale because I have been to York where I even took a ghost tour. This slim novel has lots of history mixed in with the smart characters and mystery. I like how Miranda is a smart teenager who enjoys history, and I loved the descriptions of her parents. These ghosts have a mind of their own in Paula Morris's Dark Souls.

The Historical, Paranormal Mystery:
Delia's Shadow, by Jaime Lee Moyer, is a ghost story where the ghosts, although creepy, aren't really the villains. Delia has had the ability to see ghosts for most of her life, but Shadow is different. Shadow is haunting Delia with a purpose. Gabe is a detective with the San Francisco police. He is hunting a serial killer. The same serial killer his father hunted thirty years prior. Set during the Panama-Pacific Exposition of 1915, Delia's Shadow is a combination of many genres--a historical mystery with paranormal elements. I think it works, although, as with many mysteries, the character development is secondary to plot development.  

The Haunted House:
Kendare Blake's Anna Dressed in Blood is such a creepy ghost story. Scary enough that I sometimes wondered what I was doing reading it in the middle of the night when everyone else was sleeping. Did I want to creep myself out so badly that I didn't want to walk downstairs in the dark? Cas is a ghost killer. He rids the world of the ghosts of those who lives ended in murder. They tend to haunt the living, killing any who stumble upon them in a search for revenge. A creepy premise all right. Cas goes to Canada seeking out Anna Dressed in Blood who kills anyone that crosses the threshold of her childhood home. Anna turns out to be a very difficult ghost to vanquish. She is stronger and very different than the other ghosts Cas has encountered. 

The Classic:
The second Mrs. de Winter returns to her husband's estate after a whirlwind courtship and marriage. There Max de Winter grows more distant, and the memory of the first Mrs de Winter, Rebecca grows ominous. Is Manderley haunted by Rebecca? In college my roommate read Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca aloud to me. Just one of the awesome things we did. Rebecca is haunting, enchanting, full of atmosphere and secrets. It's the perfect Gothic tale. 


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