As the spring begins and those wind storms rattle all the parts of your house that came loose during the winter, do you find yourself starting at strange noises? As people start to come outside and socialize again after the winter, do you ever wonder what these strangers got up to when they were all locked away inside from the cold? Are you in the mood for a little chilling, a little fear, to counteract all the new life beginning in the spring? If so, you’ve come to the right place, because we’ve got some new horror books just waiting for you at the Field Library.
Let’s start with one of the oldest tropes of horror fiction: the haunted house. The Stopped Heart, by Julie Myerson, takes that cliche and runs with it straight into the darkest places. Naturally there’s a family moving into a lovely house, in this case a lovely cottage on the edge of a small village, a cottage with a gorgeous garden leading to a picture-perfect apple orchard. The house hasn’t been occupied for a while (always a danger sign in these books), but it’s so beautiful in its old-fashioned way, and the couple who move there are trying to recover from a horrible experience (also often the background of the protagonists in a haunted house story), so they believe the place’s beauty will help them. There’s a past story, too: one hundred fifty years ago a tree fell in the front of the house and landed on a young redheaded man. He should have died, but he didn’t, and the family that lived in the house then took him in, although the oldest daughter starts picking up a sense that he’s somehow evil and dangerous to them. When Mary Coles, one of the new owners of the house in the present, starts seeing and hearing things that aren’t, or shouldn’t be, there, including glimpses of a red haired young man, the questions arise: is she going mad or is there something very wrong with this idyllic house?
If a haunted house isn’t enough of a draw for you, how about a haunted bookstore? Does that spark your interest the way it sparks mine? If so, you’re in for a treat: Catriona McPherson has written Quiet Neighbors, about a young woman trying to escape a dangerous present by hiding out in the town of Lowell, and specifically working in its chaotic and strange bookstore. She even gets an affordable place to live in the town. True, it’s right next door to the graveyard, but at least her neighbors are quiet and — she thinks — unlikely to cause her any problems. There are secrets in the bookstore and the the protagonist’s long dead neighbors have secrets of their own, and the past and present are set to collide in a very dangerous (and scary) way.
And then let’s turn to an author who’s riding on the wave of a terrific book a couple of years ago. M. R. Carey got my attention with The Girl With All the Gifts (and if you haven’t read that yet, go and read it! A suspenseful, moving, disturbing book that I couldn’t put down, it’s well worth your time), and has now come out with another book that’s on my To Be Read list, Fellside. The protagonist of this book, Jess, is a convicted murderer of a child, locked away in prison. She doesn’t remember anything about the night when the death happened, when the building in which she and the child upstairs were living caught on fire and burned down, but she’s beginning to believe she must have been responsible, when she’s visited by the ghost of the dead child. He tells her she didn’t kill him, but he needs her to help him find (and punish) the real murderer. Not an easy task, especially for a “child killer” released into the general population of a notorious prison where the other prisoners don’t particularly like child killers. If Jess is half as good and moving a character as Melanie, in The Girl with All the Gifts, this should be a spectacular read.
Of course, for those of you joining me in the 2016 Reading Challenge, one of the categories is “Read a Horror Novel,” and you could hardly do better than to pick up one of these three new horror books at the Field.