Tag Archives: horror

Don’t Stay Up Late

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fear street

I’m not sure if I’m just too old or if I held these books up on too high of a pedestal but I have to say that I didn’t enjoy this novel nearly as much as I remember enjoying the Fear Street novels. The plot was unstructured and left quite a few holes. It seemed to me like there was so much build up that the final reveal was a let down. It just didn’t quite all mesh together as smoothly as I remember.

The plot centers around Lisa Brooks who has just recently moved to town with her family. Very soon after the move her father dies in a horrible car accident and Lisa is left with a bad concussion that causes her to hallucinate. She starts seeing a therapist to help her get through her father’s death. It’s the therapist that recommends that Lisa should take a job to get her out of the house and recommends the babysitting job on Fear Street.

At first everything is fine. The little boy is adorable and takes an immediate liking to Lisa. However, it’s not long after Lisa takes the job that things begin to happen culminating in some seriously chilling murders.

The explanation for the murders unravels so quickly and is so loose that it left me unimpressed. This was much more like a mash between Goosebumps and Fear Street than a pure Fear Street novel. After reading this I do want to pick up an old novel to see the difference, if there is one. All in all, I’m sad to say this wasn’t one of my favorites. Hopefully the Fear Street books just haven’t hit their old stride yet.

Rating: 3/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of the Pop Reading Challenge. Happy Reading!

 

Flash Read

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stine

Next up in the Pop Reading Challenge is a book you can finish in a day. I decided that I’d do something a bit nostalgic and read R.L. Stine’s latest novel Don’t Stay Up Late, the second novel in the Fear Street reissue.

R.L. Stine and Christopher Pike were staple reads for me when I was a kid. The Fear Street novels in particular were some of my favorites. I loved the back story and the idea that an entire street could be cursed. There were always so many plot lines revolving around the street that included ghosts, vampires, and demons. Fear Street always seemed so much cooler than the regular Goosebumps.

This novel is about a young girl whose family has recently moved and who becomes involved in a tragic accident. To help out her mother she takes a babysitting job. The only problem is the job is on Fear Street.

I can’t wait to see what the reissue novels are like and to relive a bit of childhood.

Stay tuned for the full review of Don’t Stay Up Late. Happy reading!

The Little Stranger

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stranger1

It seems that almost every time I look on Pinterest I see something about The Little Stranger. It’s on almost every list of books that will scare the living daylights out of you. I must say that it was pretty darn scary. Waters created such a suspenseful atmosphere at Hundreds Hall. It’s very reminiscent of Henry James’s Turn of the Screw. We first glimpse Hundreds Hall in it’s hay day, as seen through the eyes of physician Dr. Faraday who’s parents worked at the Hall. Desperate to have a piece of the beauty, Faraday takes a small acorn off the bannister and carries it with him until his parents discover it.

Jumping to the present, we again get a glimpse of life at Hundreds through the now adult eyes of Faraday. Hundreds Hall is no longer the beautiful building it once was. It has fallen into severe disrepair after WWII, with the family lacking funds to sustain the manor house. The paint is peeling and many of the interior rooms have been closed off. Faraday is called to the Hall to treat a young serving girl, Betty. She has recently become employed by the family and insists that there’s a strange presence in the Hall disturbing her. Faraday refuses to believe her and chalks it up to homesickness. Using this visit as a jumping off point, Faraday insinuates himself into the close knit Ayres family lives and begins to treat Roderick Ayres, the son and lord of this manor house, for injuries he sustained during the war.

It takes a bit for the plot line of the story to emerge, spending quite a bit setting up the atmosphere of the tale and introducing the characters, but once the plot begins it’s a roller coaster ride.

The disturbances start with Roderick who begins to feel a presence in the Hall, much like Betty. And insists he has to be there to keep it from hurting his family. In Roderick’s room small circular scorch marks begin to appear until finally his room catches fire. Faraday convinces the family that Roderick is a danger to himself and must be committed. They acquiesce and away Roderick goes.

From there things just begin to crumble. Each family member is forced to face something horrible from their pasts and the consequences are tragic. It makes you wonder whether the ghosts are real or imagined. Do we create our own ghosts from leftover resentments and guilty feelings? Can these manifest themselves into something tangible?

It was these wonderings that make The Little Stranger unsettling. The novel probes the psyche and sometimes what’s there is perhaps left buried.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015.

From the Master of Atmosphere

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bird's nest

Next up in Book Battle 2015 is a novel by a female author. I had so much trouble picking a book for this category that I wanted to write a review for. There’s just so many options out there. I felt a bit overwhelmed by my choices. I even picked up a few books and began reading them but they just did’t feel right for the Book Battle. Finally, I was able to decide on a novel I’m really excited about. I decided to read Shirley Jackson’s The Bird’s Nest. I’ve never actually heard of this one so I can’t wait to read it. Shirley Jackson is a master of things that go bump in the night. She can stir up fear with the smallest change to the atmosphere. We Have Always Lived in the Castle remains one of my all time favorite novels.

The Bird’s Nest, from the back cover, is a novel about a woman’s descent into madness. Before Sybill there was The Bird’s Nest. Elizabeth begins to be tormented by multiple people she does not know and cannot control. Each personality becoming more wild and wicked.

Already from just that description this novel sounds terrifying. I can’t wait to see what’s in store and what psychological scares Shirley Jackson has cooked up. Stay tuned for a full review of The Bird’s Nest. Happy reading!

Ghost Story

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Ghost Story

“What was the worst thing you’ve ever done? I won’t tell you that, but I’ll tell you the worst thing that ever happened to me…the most dreadful thing…”

Perhaps the best first line I’ve ever read from any book. I was immediately entranced by this novel and wanted to find out what this horrible, dreadful thing was. The prologue of the novel thrusts you right into the thick of things and definitely keeps you, as the reader, on your toes. You’re kind of getting the end in the beginning and then need to work backwards from there to figure out how this character got into the desperate situation he currently finds himself in. And that journey is one wild ride.

To break it down, since I don’t want to give anything away, the novel is about a group of older gentlemen who are exceptionally close friends. These gentlemen have a sort of club called The Chowder Society where they get together and tell each other ghost stories from their past, conveniently circumventing the story they are all involved in. When their dreams begin to become unbearable they decide to invite the nephew of a deceased member of the group to help them figure out what is going on. Each man, Sears, Ricky, John, and Lewis, have the same dream where they enter a house and watch the others die. Since the deceased member’s nephew, Don Wanderley, has written a book about paranormal events they think that he is the best person to help them figure out the strange events surrounding their small New York town and explain what is happening in their dreams.

Enter Don, who is currently living and teaching in Berkeley, and has met a mysterious and beautiful girl he immediately falls in love with. Things between the two escalate quickly and just as quickly fall apart. She’s a strange character and Don begins to suspect horrible things about her. Then as suddenly as she blew into his life, this girl, Alma Mobley, disappears without a trace. To only be found engaged to his own brother in New York. Don tries to warn his brother about the girl but his warning isn’t enough. Disaster strikes and his brother David commits suicide. His life in shambles, he decides to go and meet The Chowder Society.

The plot takes on a frenetic pace when Don arrives in Milburn. Whatever supernatural plans that started with The Chowder Society are fully actualized once Don enters the scene. Everything hits the fan and the town turns upside down. The worst possible things that can happen do, and it’s up to Don and The Chowder Society to find a way to repair the damage and save the town from it’s ghostly presence.

I know this all sounds a bit vague but I don’t want to give even a hint away. This is a novel that must be savored, and I don’t want to take that away from anyone who wants to read it.

I will tell you, this novel scared the pants off me. It took a while to build up but once it got there it was worth the wait. I spent many a night looking down the hallway making sure nothing was lurking there. I even thought about plugging in a nightlight. To me, this novel was the ultimate kind of scare. Like the Nightmare on Elm Street series, this novel dealt with entities invading your mind and taking control over your thoughts to show you things that aren’t real. They use your own thoughts, emotions, desires, and regrets to take control over you and make you do what they want of you. These entities muddy up the waters of perception and memory until you’re so confused you don’t know what’s up or down. You lose control of your faculties and are plunged into a facade of your desires before you realize that what you’ve entered is really a nightmare.

Even Stephen King has said that Ghost Story is one of the finest horror novels of the late 20th century. For anyone that loves a good psychological scare, I would highly recommend this book. This novel, however, is a lot more than a horror novel. It’s a psychological look at the human condition and how the mind can be such a powerful force for good and for evil. It shows that perhaps the worst nightmare can be one of our own invention.

Rating: 5/5 Go out and get a copy immediately.

And please stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!

Tales Told Around the Campfire

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Tales Told Around the Campfire

Next up in Book Battle 2015 Ghost Story by Peter Straub. This book was recommended to me by my local used book store owner. He said that Straub is one of the originators of the new horror genre. This book is a bit of a continuation from last time since it’s a book that scares you. I had a had time with this one at first, like the book that will make you cry or laugh, because how do you know if you will be scared if you haven’t read the book before? So I took it out of my hands and asked google for the scariest books and this one came up. Since it was already recommended to me, and I’ve been wanting to read it ever since I bought it, I knew this was the one.

From the book jacket, the plot sounds intriguing. It’s supposed to be a take on Henry James’s Turn of the Screw and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories. In the vein of more psychological Hitchcockian suspense as opposed to the slasher horror genre. I can’t wait to see if it’s true. I loved Turn of the Screw, and the movie with Deborah Kerr which scared the bejeezus out of me. Suspense based scares are my favorite. I don’t particularly like super gory. I like the scares that make you think a little about the future implications and ramifications to the characters and the story universe. Psycho stands out in my mind as a good psychological suspense story, true with a bit of gore. The end scene of the movie with Norman Bates gives me the chills.

As the title suggests, this story is going to be a ghost filled one, whether that’s ghosts from the past coming back to haunt you or real actual ghosts I don’t know. We’ll find out together.

Stay tuned for the review of Ghost Story. Happy reading!

The Winter People

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The Winter People

A small Vermont town surrounded by legends of the undead and plagued by mysterious disappearances for as long as anyone can remember. Only a dead woman’s diary holds the answer to West Hall’s dark past. But will the diary be used for good or to perpetuate more evil. Will a person’s desire overwhelm their common sense?

This is the basis of Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People. The story starts and ends with the words of Sara Harrison Shea. She is the basis for the horror that has befallen West Hall, Vermont. Told in many different perspectives, the story slowly begins the story of the town and what has been plaguing it’s people for centuries. Two people in the present find Sara’s diary explaining the origins of West Hall’s ghosts. First Ruthie finds the diary after she wakes up to discover her other missing from their home. In her search for her mother, she and her sister Fawn discover an ancient diary and wallets from people they have never heard of buried in the floorboards. The second person to discover the diary is Katherine, a woman overcome by grief who moves to West Hall to find out why her husband went to the town the day he died.

The story moves along swiftly, the best parts in my opinion are the bits from Sara Harrison Shea’s diary. The story is very suspenseful and like all good ghost stories did make me look over my shoulder from time to time. Things going bump in the closet have always terrified me since I was a kid and this story awakened those fears a bit. The undead in the closet, shiver.

I did think, however, that at times McMahon had way too many plot lines going at once. She started out simply and it worked. I was intrigued and wanted to know. And then she introduced at least five other plot lines and it lessened the suspense for me. The additional plot lines kind of diluted the ghost story. I understand why she did it after finishing the novel but still feel like I would have liked it more without so many parallel plot lines. It took the focus off the ghost story/horror aspect and made it more like an action movie. The story of Sara Harrison Shea could have well stood on it’s own, even throw in Ruthie and her family. But the rest feel superfluous. It almost felt like McMahon had to scramble to figure out how to tie up all the loose ends in the plot and had to add all of these additional characters and plots in order to do so.

Even with the extra plot lines, the main story is fantastic. It made my skin crawl in places and made my heart beat quicker. I love a good scary story and the main thread in this novel is a great one. Read it yourself and find out how sleepers come back to life and, in some cases, live for eternity.

Rating: 4/5

Stay tuned for the next installment of Book Battle 2015. Happy reading!