There are haunted houses and then there are really weird haunted houses. Here at the Field Library, we have two new horror books about different kinds of haunted houses. Those of you who are doing the 2016 Reading Challenge might want to take a look at these, which satisfy the “read a horror book” part of the challenge, and the rest of you might just be in the mood for a good flesh-creeping story.
Tim Powers is known for his prodigious imagination which frequently leads to books that are off the wall and bizarre. His latest is Medusa’s Web, starts off dark and gets stranger as it goes along. When their aunt commits suicide, Scott and Madeline Madden return to Caveat, an eerie and decaying old mansion in the Hollywood Hills where they were brought up. Their cousins, who are still living there, are pretty hostile and don’t want them to stay. Of course there are reasons for this hostility: the cousins have grown addicted to the use of these odd abstract drawings which have the power to flatten time, transporting them to the past and future unpredictably. Scott wants to get out of the “House of Usher in the Hollywood Hills”, but his sister is being drawn into the house and its secrets, its supernatural links between past and present, and if Scott wants to save her and himself, he’s going to have to investigate the world of 1920’s Hollywood as well as the present. In classic Tim Powers fashion, time is fluid and there is much more going on below the surface than anyone notices.
If you’re more interested in a good Gothic read, the book you want to check out is Black Rabbit Hall by Eve Chase. In 1969 a family lived at Black Rabbit Hall in Cornwall, using the house as a refuge from their lives in London. They lived an idyllic life there, time seeming to stretch out forever, until tragedy struck. Forty years later, Lorna, a young bride to be, remembering a childhood visit to the house, decides she wants to hold her wedding in the bed and breakfast that the mansion has turned into. The place is falling apart, dilapidated and damaged, and Lorna’s fiance can’t understand why she is so obsessed with the place and its past. The story is told in two voices, one from 1969 and Lorna’s from 2009, as heartbreaking secrets are revealed and the connections between the two people and the dark memories of Black Rabbit Hall are revealed.