Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week is posted a new Top Ten list idea that all bloggers are welcome to discuss.
It’s been a while since I participated in Top Ten, but I always enjoy reading them and I was in the mood to do some sort of Halloween list!
For this list, I’ve tried to find different kinds of things, from horror tales to gripping thrillers; stories of mystery and the unknown, unsettling and creepy or simply uniquely dark. Titles are linked to Goodreads for more information and I added a link to my review when there is one. In no particular order, let’s go!
1 – House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
If you are looking for a very different & scary experience, House of Leaves might be for you. This 700+ pages novel uses a unique format to tell the story of a creepy, ever changing house. I’m not sure I “got” all of it, but it certainly kept me reading. See my review for a glimpse inside and my confused thoughts!
2 – The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
Told through a diary illustrated through unique formatting (similar, in that, to House of Leaves), The Dead House is the creepy story of a girl and her alter ego. One gets the day, the other the night, creating a slightly unreliable tale that was hard to put down. I read this last fall and thought it was great. (Review is drafted, I’ll try to get it into shape soon!)
3 – Mind of Winter by Laura Kasischke
Though this book takes place at Christmas, it is a perfect read for the dark days of fall. Two characters, mother and daughter, spend the day together as the storm rages out – but the daughter is acting strangely, and the mother can’t exactly pinpoint what’s going on. Slow, creepy and very atmospheric, this small novel is deliciously haunting. I loved it!
4 – The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
If you are into Japanese horror movies and novels, this YA horror novel will probably be right up your alley. Creepy and unsettling with a unique narrative style, this book felt fresh and scary at once. The ambiance was on point! I haven’t read the sequel yet, but at the time I didn’t feel like the book needed one and I really enjoyed it.
5 – Behind Closed Doors by B. A. Paris
Those who prefer thrillers to horror might enjoy this recently published novel. This gripping story about a scared woman and her controlling husband had me anxiously flipping the pages to the very end, and it took me barely more than a day to read it! I recommend it to fans of intense psychological thrillers.
6 – In a Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
In a Dark Dark Wood is a psychological thriller I particularly enjoyed, even though it was slightly predictable. It reminded me of the slasher movies I loved as a teen, without being too gory or stressful to read. Taking place in an isolated & fancy house in the woods, it has the perfect atmosphere for a fall read. See my review!
7 – Bird Box by Josh Malerman
In this slow-moving horror tale, people are afraid to look outside – for whoever does meets an unforgiving fate. And so people live barricaded in their houses, leaving only when necessary and with blindfolds on. This book was scary and wonderfully written, and without a doubt, one of my favorites on this list. More about it here.
8 – The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman
A man returns home for a funeral, and memories of his childhood come back to him, strange, otherworldly, scary. As everything Neil Gaiman, this little book is unique and creates a creepy yet captivating atmosphere. It’s weird and dark yet hopeful, and well written too. I liked it a lot!
9 – Night Film by Marisha Pessl
When the daughter of a well known horror-films director is found dead, a journalist finds himself questioning whether her death truly was a suicide. Dotted with photographs, articles and the like, this 600 pages novel is a captivating mix of thriller and horror. This mystery is perfect for fall and the Halloween season! It was one of my favorites in 2013!
10 – A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
This book reads a bit like a horror book for children, yet its evocative writing and heartbreaking story makes it a great read for all ages. I wrote a short review that says it all, the most important being : “It’s a story about love and loss, and the failures of being human, the complexity of grief and life.” I highly recommend the illustrated version.
What are some of your recommendations for the Halloween season?
About the Book :
9 out of 10 children return dead. Even the survivors are changed. The nation must survive.
Nessa, Megan and Anto are at a training school – to give them some chance to fight back. Their enemy is brutal and unforgiving. But Nessa is determined to come back alive. Determined to prove that her polio-twisted legs won’t get her killed. But her enemies don’t just live in the Grey Land. There are people closer to home who will go to any length to see her, and the nation, fail…
My Thoughts :
Oh, what a weird, creepy little book!
Firstly I have to say, I feel there is a serious case of cover-not-representing-the-story here – even though it’s an eye-catching one. When I first saw The Call at the store, I first thought it was some Hunger Games type of book, or reality show thing? I don’t know. The summary was a very short one (not the one I posted here) and I missed what it really was about until I read some reviews about it. I was suddenly very intrigued, even though I’m usually really not into fairies and the like!
While this book does have some common points with popular dystopian series (a dying world, training schools, fight for survival, etc.), in my opinion it stands much more in the horror camp than in the sci-fi/adventure one. When disappearing, these teenagers are taken to a horrific world where fairies hunt and kill them, and make monsters out of them, stretching them into animal shapes or turning them inside out (among other unpleasant things… yikes!)
I was quite surprised by this book. It felt different. I loved that it took place in an isolated version of Ireland. I loved Nessa as a main character : she is strong in many aspects, yet extremely vulnerable and human at times.
Megan and Aoife are two other ones I strongly appreciated. The book mostly follows Nessa, but there are a few shifts in narration that give us the opportunity to see this depressing world from other points of view, mostly when the kids get Called. It’s a heartbreaking world they all live in, and witnessing most of them die was quite depressing.
There were a few slow moments and confusing ones, I thought. I felt the world could have been explained a bit better in parts, but that would be most of my criticism.
In short, The Call is a frightening, gripping and unique horror tale of evil fairies and feisty teenagers. It was a perfect read for the Halloween season, and I am already looking forward to reading more from the author in the future!
About the Book :
Picture this: a dinner party at their perfect home, the conversation and wine flowing. They appear to be in their element while entertaining. And Grace’s friends are eager to reciprocate with lunch the following week. Grace wants to go, but knows she never will. Her friends call—so why doesn’t Grace ever answer the phone? And how can she cook such elaborate meals but remain so slim?
And why are there bars on one of the bedroom windows?
The perfect marriage? Or the perfect lie?
My Thoughts :
Behind Closed Doors is a fast-paced psychological thriller that could also be tagged as horror, as far as I am concerned! I can’t remember the last time a book made me this anxious. I was so ready to be done with this story, I needed to reach the conclusion a.s.a.p.!
I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by the experience. I had read many reviews mentioning the book being creepy, dark, unsettling, so I had some expectations. And for me, the book was all of that. It’s not gruesome, and it’s not full of twists. If you read the summary, you know what it’s about. But everything is in the way the story unfolds, and the more you know about Jack and Grace’s life and history, the scarier things get. In fact, it reminded me a lot of a Criminal Minds episode, but without the investigating part; so if you are into this show, this book might interest you.
There were a few flaws to the story I thought, mostly with the character of Jack : he is too evil, too perfectly balanced with the two sides of his personality, and honestly, no one is this perfectly charming. I get that he is a psychopath, but I would have appreciated a bit more nuances in his evilness, and to see a few more people question his character. I also needed to see a few more flaws and hesitations to make him and the story a bit more believable.
I loved Esther. You’ll have to read it to find out why, since I want to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but she was a great character with a small, yet important role.
Overall though, this was a successful reading experience. It was scary and gripping, I read it in little more than a day. It made me so nervous! This claustrophobic story isn’t for everyone, but fans of intense psychological thrillers might want to give it a try!
Bolton-Est, Quebec, August 2015