In the novel Scowler by Daniel Kraus, meteorites hit Iowa farm country and all hell breaks loose. Except, that’s not what the book is about. The book is about how Ry Burke comes to terms with the trauma his abusive father inflicted on his family prior to being sent to prison. The entire book takes place in the hours immediately before a meteorite impacts the Burke family farm and also the subsequent day. It’s a pretty intense day, as it involves both a meteorite and facing Ry’s escaped-convict father, Marvin.
This book is so intense. So, so, very intense. Now I know why Beth said, “I really hope you don’t hate me after this.” So intense. So, some content warnings: This book involves some pretty detailed descriptions of violence and abuse. It was so, so brutal. The book spiraled into insanity that was both useful and hellish.
I liked Ry and Jo Beth. I thought their characterizations presented them as full people. The writing would veer into the thoughtful and touching before winding its way back into horror. Sarah, Ry’s younger sister, is also pretty great. Marvin Burke is even presented as a full person. He has moments of humanity that make the violence seem even worse.
This book, man. It was good, but it was also very horrifying.
This is it! My last book of the Pop Culture Homework Assignment! I was so excited when I got it from the library (from a branch I’d never been to, no less!) I texted a picture of it to Beth. And she responded by saying, “I really hope you don’t hate me after this”.
So, I’ve taken to strolling through that section of the library where they put new books and books that they want to highlight and picking something up if it catches my eye. Since I’m already reading a bunch of horror this summer, when I saw this book, I thought, “What the heck? Why not?” It’s got a creepy tentacled skull on the cover and nightmare in the title. Let’s do this thing.
This collection wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. I thought it would be a little more…horrory? I guess I was expecting more gore or at least to be kept up a little at night. But, of my two favorite stories in the collection, one of them wasn’t really horror at all. “Jake and Willy at the End of the World” is a story about Jake and Willy, sitting and waiting for a mob that’s looting through town during the apocalypse to make it to where they are so they can defend it. It was…funny. But, I didn’t think it was suspenseful or scary and it certainly wasn’t gory. And, “Hell Creek” is a zombie story with a twist. I really, really liked “Hell Creek”. It was great. (the twist is apparent in the first two pages, but I still don’t want to spoil it because I really enjoyed discovering it for myself.)
Anyway, some of the other stories that were more of what I was expecting were good and there were a few that were related to other pieces (for example, one was set in a Clive Barker world and had originally been published in an authorized collection. There are notes that made it clear when something was part of a wider universe.) that were fine, even if if I didn’t have the context for them. So, in all, this was a pretty good collection and I’m glad I picked it up.
So, if you are looking for a little scare and you like short stories. Give this a whirl.
This is the first book for my pop culture homework assignment! And it was so good! Okay, but before I start gushing about how much I like the book, let me tell you about it.
The small town (population: 212) Cryer’s Cross is in the grip of a tragedy. Tiffany Quinn, a sophomore in high school, has disappeared. They search for her but do not find her. The school year ends, the season turns and then the following Fall another student also goes missing. The town once again comes together to search for a missing student. What is going on and why was Nico, the second missing student, distant and forgetful in the days leading up to his disappearance? The story is told from the perspective of Kendall Fletcher, high school student and best friend of Nico. To add to the mystery, the school has two new students, Marlena and Jacian Obrian, who have moved to Cryer’s Cross with their parents to help their grandfather with his farm. The cops interrogated Jacian about Tiffany’s death. Is Jacian involved in the missing persons case or is he just a grumpy high schooler who is pissed that he had to move before his senior year to the middle of nowhere? (Also, maybe the townsfolk just a little bit racist?)
Okay, now to gush about this book. I love Kendall. She is amazing. Much of the plot is driven forward by Kendall’s obsessive-compulsive disorder. I liked that she was portrayed as a whole person and just as a disorder. I also liked that this wasn’t a story about OCD. I also loved Jacian and Marlena. They are amazing characters. Beth and I were discussing it, and Jacian is definitely book boyfriend material.
I enjoyed this book and if you like paranormal horror/mystery, you should try it.
With Halloween just a few days away, I thought I would revisit some of the more scarier and spookier books I’ve read. For all the books that I read that have vampires, witches and werewolves in them, not many fall under the horror genre. So some of my picks don’t really fall into the typical Halloween fare but they are scary nonetheless.
Scowler does fall in the horror category as it was super suspenseful and scary. I picked this book up because I knew that Daniel Kraus was working with Guillermo Del Toro on Trollhunters. The fact it takes place in Iowa an added bonus. Ry and his mother and sister are barely scraping by on their farm and Ry is doing everything to distract him from the pain of the physical and emotional abuse of his imprisoned father. Everything starts to fall apart when a meteorite falls and his father returns to the farm. Ry must defeat his father with the help of his imaginary childhood friends, including Scowler. This book is super super creepy. With a scene at the end that still sort of haunts me when I thing about it. It’s not just a great scary read but also delves into the effects of abuse has on it’s victims. The fear of facing is ones abuser maybe as terrifying as taking on a monster but being able to face that fear takes real strength.
I admit that I still have nightmares from this series. Particularly since I live in New York City and ride the subway through many of the same stations that they talk about in this book and I can’t help but wonder if they are vampires down there. You may have seen the show. I haven’t so I don’t know how it compares but I can’t imagine it as scary or creepy as the book because I’m pretty sure most of the book is not cable ready material. New York because the epicenter of a virus that turns people into vampires. Instead of the traditional being bite on the neck by a vampire to be turned, people are turned by little worm like things. Gross. Eph and his team at the CDC investigate several mysterious illnesses only to find themselves in the middle of a epidemic that deals with ancient vampires. As they try to stay alive and figure out what’s going on and how to stay alive and not to mention dealing with family drama. It’s the perfect scary series to read for Halloween. The ending of the series is truly heartbreaking.
Holly Black is one of my favorite authors. She’s never boring. Her books are never the same and truly original. In the The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, whole cities have been quarantined off because of vampires. Vampires have let’s say got out of control and in these Coldtowns vampires and humans leave together. Some humans more willing then others as some had the misfortune of getting stuck inside when the walls went up. Tana’s mother was bitten by a vampire and later died. After a wild party, Tana wakes to find that only she, her ex-boyfriend and a tied up vampire are alive. The vampire virus takes a couple of days before it takes hold and Tana is determined to save herself and her companions by going to one of the Coldtowns away from her family. It’s not your typical vampire story. It was truly refreshing read and Gavriel is a vampire worth crushing on.
Ok, so this is scary or spooky as the others but the make no mistake the story of the Baudelaire siblings is truly terrifying. When their parents tragically die and they are sent to live with Count Olaf. Things get worse from there. A Series of Unfortunate Events is truly an understatement as the unfortunate events are usually the faults of the adults they are put in the care of. Violet, Klaus and Sunny are put in one bad situation after another from the very first book when Count Olaf tries to marry 13 year old to get a hold of their fortune. Is there really anything more horrifying then that? The first couple of books are a little formulaic but once you get to book five things really start to pick up and things get really scary.
What are your favorite Scary or Spooky books to read?