Of course we all know the season for horror books is in the fall, specifically around Halloween. There’s something about the turning of the seasons, the seeming dying of all nature, that makes it seem just right for reading scary books. However, we could also make a good case that reading horror in the dead of winter feels appropriate, too: when the cold and snow and ice force people to stay indoors, making it difficult or impossible to run away from whatever horrors might be afoot, when all the internal workings of older (and newer) houses seem to sound off with unusual and potentially disturbing sounds, when the nights are longer and perfect for filling with dark imaginings. Not to mention that there are some new and creepy books on the shelves at the library for your perusal, and not to mention that, for those of you doing the Read Harder Challenge, one of the categories is to “Read a Horror Book.”
One of the classic plots is that of children leaving this world through a cupboard or secret door or the like to enter another world where they are immediately involved in adventures of one kind or another (think of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe for a famous example). The Children’s Home, by Charles Lambert, turns that plot on its head, focusing not so much on the children as on the person to whom the children appear. The main character, Morgan Fletcher, is the disfigured heir to a fortune, hiding away from all people in his crumbling mansion. One day a couple of children appear, seemingly out of nowhere, at his house. He takes them in, lets them have full access to his house, and then more children start to appear, and more and more. Which is odd enough by itself, but then the children begin to demonstrate uncanny knowledge of Morgan’s background and begin to find some bizarre things in the house itself. They start disappearing into the nooks and dark places of the house, or possibly into the dark places in Morgan’s mind. People have compared this book to the writing of Neil Gaiman (high praise in my mind), Roald Dahl and Shirley Jackson, so if you’re fans of their writing, give this one a try.
A horror book set in the dead of winter might be just the thing to read in January, especially when it turns on a group of people stuck in a building by a blizzard. If that sounds attractive to you, try Traveler’s Rest by Keith Lee Morris. A family is traveling across country, having picked up an uncle from a failed rehab effort, when a blizzard forces them to stop in the small town of Good Night, Idaho (nice name, right?), where they stay in the derelict and not-quite-right hotel called Travelers Rest, a place where the laws of time and space do not necessarily apply. The family is immediately split apart, sinister forces preventing them from reuniting. As the mother, Julia, finds herself being drawn deeper and deeper into the weirdness of the house, she realizes she needs to do something to protect her family quickly, before they all become “souvenirs”, the citizens trapped in Good Night forever, or who disappear altogether.
Get creeped out. Embrace the darkness and enjoy some new horror at the Field (and if you’re in the Reading Challenge, be sure to let us know what horror book you’ve read!).