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Wednesday 5: 5 Chilling Reads for Scorching Days

July 13, 2011

A lot of the beach/summer book roundups I see focus on light, sunny stories, also with beaches. But what I really like to read on a gorgeous, hot day is a creepy book full of shadows and scares. I enjoy the cognitive dissonance of a sunny day and a dark, spooky tale.

Here are 5 books full of delicious shivers and outright terror.
1. Shadow Ballads, by Matt Spencer. This collection of tales has a seriously Lovecraft bent. The kind of stories that will have you checking under your bed (or your deck chair) for very nasty monsters. Matt Spencer shows himself equally at home with a ghoulishly atmospheric 19th century setting and more modern tales of terror. The contemporary scares in “Lambs of Slaughter in Blue and Gold” and “Voice of Reason” particularly gave me delicious shivers. And the quiet Vermont setting for “The Face in The Flame” gave the supernatural events of the tale that much more scary oomph!

Full disclosure- I’ve known Matt Spencer since we were both 16, at a writer’s workshop at UVa. Even then, I knew he had a talent for the chilling tale, and it’s great to see it getting a wider audience.

2. The Dead Path-Stephen M. Irwin I first read The Dead Path around last Halloween, and I can still remember some of the passages that spooked me. Spiders! Nasty, disfigured dead birds. Hallucinatory nightmares! I’ll be under the bed if you need me…

3. The Haunting of Hill House– Shirley Jackson. This book is actually what inspired this particular Wednesday 5 theme. I remember that I read Jackson’s creepy tale of a house turned evil, on a bright, sunny beach, with the waves lapping sweetly at my feet. Dark, spooky shadows on the page, versus lovely sunny benevolent weather kind of blew my mind, in the most delicious possible way.

4. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer– Michelle Hodkin.It’s entirely possible that other readers will be less terrified than I was of the opening scenes of the book. Mara wakes up in a hospital bed, a scene described in excruciating detail, so that I can practically smell the antiseptic and hear the beeping machines. Eeek. I’ll give Michelle Hodkin credit, here, and elsewhere through the book, for her evocatively scary descriptions, of the ordinary as well as the paranormal. And will be posting a full-length review closer to the publication date.

5. The Alienist– Caleb Carr. The excruciatingly scary last few scenes of this book made me wish I’d read it on a sunny beach, instead of alone, at night in my apartment. Mercifully, enough time has passed  since I read this that I cannot remember the specifics, but I remember really, really not wanting to turn the light out that night.

Read more Wednesday 5 Lists Here.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Trapper permalink
    July 14, 2011 3:47 pm

    All of Shirley Jackson’s books/stories are wonderfully creepy, in my opinion.

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