Horror for Wimps

I enjoyed this creepy tale. From Amazon: "This delightful, funny, haunting, scary as heck, fairy-tale novel is about as fine as they come."
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I’m a longtime fan of Jackson’s YA thrillers; this haunted house story is her foray into horror. It’s also at the upper limits of what this wimpy reader can handle—this book gets pretty scary in places! But it worked for me. Described as The Haunting of Hill House meets Get Out, Marigold is looking for a fresh start when her newly blended family moves to Cedarville. This move is supposed to give them a fresh start, but Mari can’t help but get the sense that they’re not wanted in Cedarville—and on top of that, her new home gives her the creeps. This book reminded me of Alyssa Cole's When No One Is Watching. I expect many wimps like me will enjoy this book—but if you have any kind of phobia involving bed bugs or dark basements, you may want to opt for a different title on this list.
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​Entertainment Weekly calls this novel "The Stand meets The Road." When scientists try to find the cure for mortality, their experiment goes awry. The kind of awry where most of society gets wiped out. The drug turns test subjects into vampire-like creatures, all except for one six year old girl. Rich, multilayered, and filled with social commentary.
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I loved this so much I included it in the 2018 Summer Reading Guide. Alice and her mom have spent 17 years on the run, trying to dodge the persistent bad luck mysteriously connected to an unnerving book of stories penned by Alice's estranged grandmother. When Alice's grandmother dies, her mother thinks they're free—until the day Alice comes home from school to discover Ella has been kidnapped, leaving behind a page torn from her grandmother's book and a note: Stay away from the Hazel Wood. But Alice has to save her mom, so she enters what she slowly begins to see is her grandmother's book of stories-come-to-life—and they suddenly look a lot more like horror than fantasy. This seriously twisted and sometimes bloody fairy tale reminds me of The Thirteenth Tale, with a dash of The Matrix.
I heard great things about this book, though the "Gothic horror" label made me a little afraid to dive in, as I stay away from the scary stuff. But I needn't have feared: this novel is deliciously creepy, but not frightening. Moreno-Garcia situates her novel firmly in the tradition of Gothic country house classics like Wuthering Heights and Rebecca, and even references some of these titles in her novel. When Noemí's father appoints her to see to some business on his behalf, the beautiful, intelligent young socialite agrees to do her duty for the family. Her recently married cousin Catalina has sent an odd, urgent letter to the family, pleading for someone to save her—but from what? When Noemí visits her new marital home High Place, a remote and lavish estate built by ill-treated mine workers, she discovers her cousin's predicament is worse than she feared: her husband is a brute, her father-in-law a terror, the staff deeply hostile, and even the house itself seems set against her—and worse, determined to entrap her. No spoilers here, but if you like the sound of a deeply strange and spine-tingling read about a smart heroine who saves herself, this is the book for you. Excellent on audio.
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From the publisher: "Our story begins in 1902, at the Brookhants School for Girls. Flo and Clara, two impressionable students, are obsessed with each other and with a daring young writer named Mary MacLane, the author of a scandalous bestselling memoir. To show their devotion to Mary, the girls establish their own private club and call it the Plain Bad Heroine Society. They meet in secret in a nearby apple orchard, the setting of their wildest happiness and, ultimately, of their macabre deaths. This is where their bodies are later discovered with a copy of Mary’s book splayed beside them, the victims of a swarm of stinging, angry yellow jackets. Over a century later, the now abandoned and crumbling Brookhants is back in the news when wunderkind writer Merritt Emmons publishes a breakout book celebrating the queer, feminist history surrounding the 'haunted and cursed' Gilded Age institution. A story within a story within a story and featuring black-and-white period-inspired illustrations, <em>Plain Bad Heroines</em> is a devilishly haunting, modern masterwork of metafiction."
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From the publisher: "New York Times bestselling author Mira Grant, author of the renowned Newsflesh series, returns with a novel that takes us to a new world of ancient mysteries and mythological dangers come to life. The ocean is home to many myths, but some are deadly. . . Seven years ago the Atargatis set off on a voyage to the Mariana Trench to film a mockumentary bringing to life ancient sea creatures of legend. It was lost at sea with all hands. Some have called it a hoax; others have called it a tragedy. Now a new crew has been assembled. But this time they're not out to entertain. Some seek to validate their life's work. Some seek the greatest hunt of all. Some seek the truth. But for the ambitious young scientist Victoria Stewart this is a voyage to uncover the fate of the sister she lost. Whatever the truth may be, it will only be found below the waves. But the secrets of the deep come with a price."
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Full of twists, turns, and biting social commentary, this highly original (and highly discussable) debut novel will leave you with your jaw on the floor. Editorial assistant Nella Rogers is thrilled when Wagner Books hires another Black woman. Finally, she won’t be the sole Black voice at the publisher, she won’t endure microaggressions alone, and maybe she’ll even make some progress on her stalled-out racial diversity efforts. But new hire Hazel doesn’t turn out to be the ally and friend she expected. Meanwhile, threatening notes begin to appear on Nella’s desk, saying LEAVE WAGNER NOW. The atmosphere grows ever creepier as Nella tries to befriend Hazel, while surreptitiously investigating her past. The ending left me gobsmacked: I was desperate to discuss it with a fellow reader asap.
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From the publisher: "A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong. Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they’ve rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple—it’s their house, and they’ve arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area—with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service—it’s hard to know what to believe. Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple—and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?"
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Shirley Jackson’s stories have a way of sticking with you. (I still have a visceral memory of reading The Lottery in high school!) This creepy tale is no exception. An occult scholar invites guests to Hill House, searching for proof of whether it’s really haunted. Are the ghosts real, or only in their heads? Jackson leaves it to the reader to decide.
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Described by readers as both mystery and horror, this is a suspenseful dual timeline story. In 1982, Viv winds up in Fell, NY, takes a night clerk position at a seedy motel, and becomes curious about the young women who were murdered in the unassuming small town. 35 years later her niece Carly wants to find out what happened to her aunt and takes a night clerk position at the same hotel, where she quickly learns things are not as they seem. The haunted motel is as much a character as Viv and Carly, and the pages practically turned themselves as the mystery unfolded with palpable dread across the two timelines. This propulsive, atmospheric read was just the right about of spooky for me, but as I mentioned to Valencia Taylor in WSIRN episode 255, the cigarette smoke freaked me out.
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