Mount Prospect, you’ve been reading, and we’ve been talking! Every week we have been extending an open invitation for readers to gather and share the books keeping them company in these odd times. We’ve chatted romance, dark fantasy, nonfiction, mysteries, feel-good, horror, and elegant prose. Check out the titles brought by our attendees, and please consider joining us for this week’s conversation: Let’s Talk Books!
As the leaves fall and the air chills, All Hallows’ Eve brings with it a turn toward the sinister and dark. For those looking for a spine-tingling, hair-raising accompaniment to your Halloween weekend, look no further than these recent tales…
Young Jude Brighton has been missing for three days, and while the search for him is in full swing in the small town of Deer Valley, Oregon, the locals are aware that after the first 48 hours the odds usually point to a worst-case scenario. Despite Stevie Clark’s youth, he knows that, too. He knows what each ticking moment may mean for his cousin and best friend. And there was that boy, Max Larsen…found dead after also disappearing under mysterious circumstances. And then there were the animals: pets gone missing out of yards. The awful truth may be too horrifying to imagine.
A collection of four short, chilling novels.”Snapshot” is the disturbing story of a Silicon Valley adolescent who finds himself threatened by a tattooed thug who possesses a Polaroid Instant Camera that erases memories. In “rain” a seemingly ordinary day in Boulder, Colorado erupts with a downpour of nails—splinters of bright crystal that shred the skin of anyone not safely under cover. In “Aloft” s young man takes to the skies to experience his first parachute jump. . . and winds up a castaway on an impossibly solid cloud. In “Loaded,” a mall security guard in a coastal Florida town courageously stops a mass shooting, but under the glare of the spotlights, his story begins to unravel.
Jeremy works at the Video Hut. It’s good enough for Jeremy: it’s a job, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a car wreck. But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return a tape, she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it.” Two days later, a different customer returns a tape and says “There’s another movie on this tape.” Jeremy brings the movies home to take a look. The middle of each movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting and have been shot just outside of town.
In this spectacular father-son collaboration, Stephen King and Owen King tell the highest of high-stakes stories: what might happen if women disappeared from the world of men? In a future so real and near it might be now, something happens when women go to sleep; they become shrouded in a cocoon-like gauze. If they are awakened, if the gauze wrapping their bodies is disturbed or violated, the women become feral and spectacularly violent; and while they sleep they go to another place.
The Dark Net is real. An anonymous and often criminal arena that exists in the secret far reaches of the Web, some use it to manage Bitcoins, pirate movies and music, or traffic in drugs and stolen goods. And now, an ancient darkness is gathering there. This force is threatening to spread virally into the real world unless it can be stopped by members of a ragtag crew, including a twelve-year-old who has been fitted with a high-tech visual prosthetic to combat her blindness; a technophobic journalist; a one-time child evangelist with an arsenal in his basement; and a hacker who believes himself a soldier of the Internet. Set in present-day Portland, this is a cracked-mirror version of the digital nightmare we already live in.
While it might be tough to get this consuming book done in only 11 days, if you have a long commute or are up for the challenge try the latest Joe Hill book, The Fireman. An infection has started to overwhelm the human population and people are starting to burst into flames. The exact cause, while guessed at, is not known for sure. No one appears to be truly safe in this world, including Harper Willowes, who we learn pretty early on is pregnant. Read by Kate Mulgrew, who is known for her role as Red on Orange is the New Black, the audiobook is particularly absorbing.
Nine generations of firstborn Durkin sons have been paid by the town to do nothing but pull weeds from a field. Well, not weeds exactly. According to lore, the life forms being pulled from the ground are not plants but Aukowies, and if they aren’t constantly yanked and burned, they will take over the world.
In The Caretaker of Lorne Field by Dave Zeltserman, Jack Durkin is trying to stave off global extinction and feeling exhausted and alone. Local government would like to kick him off the payroll, his wife whines about him getting a real job, his son doesn’t want to take over the family business, and most everyone thinks he’s delusional. What if he is? What if he’s not?
If you count yourself a fan of the movie Get Out, we have just the book for you! Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff offers a similar mash-up of horror, suspense, and social commentary that results in fantastic entertainment. It begins when the car of Korean War vet Atticus Turner breaks down, and finding help via the the Safe Negro Travel Guide stirs up additional trouble. From there the characters encounter secret societies, sorcerers, tentacled creatures, cursed dolls, and other worlds. As scary as these things are, they aren’t nearly as chilling as the racism of 1950s Jim Crow America, so prepare yourself for what’s to come.
Equally appealing to those who enjoy the thought-provoking, the weird, the page-turning, or the subversive, this is one homage that you’ll have to experience for yourself.