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The Romance Garden!

After a wee bit of a late-summer vacation, the Romance Garden has returned, dear readers, and we are delighted to bring you a selection of our staff member’s favorite romances of the month!

Image result for John White Alexander, Repose, 1895
Alathea, 1895 by John White Alexander

Bridget:

Image result for wicked as they come dawsonWicked as They Come by Delilah S. Dawson

In the spirit of the season, and my beloved All Hallows Read, I decided this month to revisit an old favorite of mine.  Dawson’s carnie-punk world of Blud is a limitless fantasyland of dark wonders, and it was a treat to realize that all the things I loved about this book and this series still held true.

When nurse Tish Everett forced open the pesky but lovely locket she found at an estate sale, she had no idea she was answering the call of Criminy Stain, from the far off land of Sang. He’d cast a spell for her, but when she’s transported right to him, she’s not so sure she’s ready to be under the spell of another man. (It didn’t go so well last time with controlling, abusive, domineering Jeff.) If only Criminy wasn’t so deliciously rakish…. Half the inhabitants of Sang are Pinkies—human—and the other half are Bludmen, who in Tish’s world would be called vampires. But they don’t mess with any of the bat/coffin/no sunlight nonsense. They’re rather like you and me, just more fabulous, long living, and mostly indestructible.  But when the evil Mayor of Manchester redoubles his efforts to rid Sang of the Bludmen once and for all, stealing Tish’s locket in hopes of traveling back to her world himself for reinforcements, Criminy and Tish must battle ghosts, sea monsters, wayward submarines, a secret cabal, and thundering Bludmares to get the locket back and allow Tish to return home

I love this book because it is really all about Tish, and her learning where she truly belongs, and what she truly wants.  I love this book because Criminy Stain (which is both a brilliant character name and a sensational curse word) is devoted to getting her what she needs, even if it means losing her for good.  I love the way their relationship develops, and I adore Criminy’s circus.  I’m really looking forward to revisiting the rest of this superb series soon, and finding out the other members of the circus find their happily ever afters!  Just a note–though Tish and Criminy’s story continues after this book, there is a lovely resolution here for those who aren’t a fan of cliff-hangers.  Check with your lovely public services staff to check this book out!

Image result for scrollwork

Kelley:

A Duke by Default by Alyssa Cole

After years of living her life as a self described “hot mess,” Portia Hobbs decides to turn things around, and when she receives a sword making apprenticeship with a master sword maker in Scotland, it’s the perfect opportunity for a fresh start. As part of the apprenticeship, Portia will put together a promotional campaign for the armory which has recently seen declines in sales, but the project hits a major speed bump when her research about the history of the armory building uncovers the fact that unbeknownst to him, her gruff and handsome boss is actually a duke. Suddenly, reluctant duke Tavish McKenzie finds himself a celebrity and Portia goes from sword making apprentice to secretary and PR manager for a duke.

After a rough start that involves sword fighting and bear spray, Tav and Portia come to be each other’s greatest supporters. She helps him come to terms with a title he doesn’t want for the sake of the community he loves, and he helps her see that although she may have been a hot mess at one time, she’s actually brilliant and capable of anything she decides she wants to do.

Cole’s characters are well-developed and relatable, and the book has some nice ties to the previous series title that will make readers want to go back to explore the stories of the supporting characters. Exploring issues of class and racism, Cole adds plenty of substance to Tav and Portia’s story. If “A Duke by Default” is not on your to-read list, make sure to add it now!

Until next month, dear readers, we hope you enjoy!

 

Five Book Friday!

We also wanted to alert you to the fact that the West Branch Library is once again a site for early voting in Massachusetts!

Early voting will begin on October 22nd and continue through
November 2nd, 2018. Prior to the enactment of this new law, the only way a registered voter was allowed to vote prior to Election Day was through absentee voting. Although absentee voting will still be available for registered voters who qualify, only those who will be absent from their city or town on Election Day, or have a disability that prevents them from going to the polls, or have a religious belief
preventing the same, are legally allowed to vote by absentee ballot.
Unlike absentee voting, early voting is for every registered voter. Registered voters do not need an excuse or reason to vote early. Regardless of whether a voter wants to take advantage of early voting, vote absentee or vote on Election Day, the first step is making sure you are registered. To check to see if you are registered to vote, and to find information on how to register to vote, you may visit the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website. To be eligible to vote in the November 6th State Election, you must have registered to vote or made any necessary changes to your voter registration by Wednesday, October 17th, 2018.

Check out this handy fact sheet for early voting times and locations around Peabody!

And now, on to the books!

MelmouthAnyone who savored Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent will no doubt be delighted to hear her second novel has arrived!  For those who haven’t yet encountered this magical world, do yourself a favor and do so!  It has been years since Helen Franklin left England. In Prague, working as a translator, she has found a home of sorts—or, at least, refuge. That changes when her friend Karel discovers a mysterious letter in the library, a strange confession and a curious warning that speaks of Melmoth the Witness, a dark legend found in obscure fairy tales and antique village lore. As such superstition has it, Melmoth travels through the ages, dooming those she persuades to join her to a damnation of timeless, itinerant solitude. To Helen it all seems the stuff of unenlightened fantasy. But, unaware, as she wanders the cobblestone streets Helen is being watched. And then Karel disappears.   What unfolds is a spellbinding, time-hopping, thoroughly haunting tale that is as philosophical as it is chilling, and is sure to keep you in suspense through these ever-lengthening nights!  Publisher’s Weekly gave it a starred review, describing it as “An unforgettable achievement…Perry’s heartbreaking, horrifying monster confronts the characters not just with the uncanny but also with the human: with humanity’s complicity in history’s darkest moments, its capacity for guilt, its power of witness, and its longing for both companionship and redemption.”

Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger: Women are angry, and with every passing day, it seems that rage is more and more justified.  But, as Soraya Chemaly notes throughout this book, contrary to the rhetoric of popular “self-help” and an entire lifetime of being told otherwise, women’s rage is one of the most important resources available, the sharpest tool against both personal and political oppression. Women have been told for so long to bottle up our anger, letting it corrode their bodies and minds in ways they don’t even realize. Yet anger is a vital instrument, a radar for injustice and a catalyst for change. On the flip side, the societal and cultural belittlement of our anger is a cunning way of limiting and controlling our power.  With insight, energy, and wit, Chemaly insists that anger is not what gets in our way, it is our way, sparking a new understanding of one of our core emotions that will give women a liberating sense of why their anger matters and connect them to an entire universe of women no longer interested in making nice at all costs.  The Guardian loved this book, praising it in a beautiful review which read in part “Rage is a battle-cry of a book, drawing on all corner of contemporary life, from media to education and medicine. She takes the reader through a woman’s life, from infancy to adulthood, highlighting the systemic ways female rage is suppressed, diverted or minimalised. And she provides scientific evidence to back up her ideas. If life as a modern woman is maddening, then Rage is a sanity-restorer.”

Shell Game: Sara Paretsky’s acclaimed detective, V.I. Warshawski, is back, and taking on a twisting shocker of a case that is sure to keep fans spellbound.  Legendary sleuth V.I. Warshawski returns to the Windy City to save an old friend’s nephew from a murder arrest. The case involves a stolen artifact that could implicate a shadowy network of international criminals. As V.I. investigates, the detective soon finds herself tangling with the Russian mob, ISIS backers, and a shady network of stock scams and stolen art that stretches from Chicago to the East Indies and the Middle East. This is a case where nothing and no one are what they seem, except for the detective herself, who loses sleep, money, and blood, but remains indomitable in her quest for justice. Booklist gave this series installment a starred review, calling it “An expertly woven tale… Paretsky’s landmark series remains as popular as ever, and the social consciousness behind the stories seems ever more in tune with contemporary events.”

Fryderyk Chopin: A Life and Times: If you’re like me, and had a sensational crush on Chopin, then this is the book for you!  Based on ten years of research and a vast cache of primary sources located in archives in Warsaw, Paris, London, New York, and Washington, D.C., Alan Walker’s monumental work is the most comprehensive biography of the great Polish composer to appear in English in more than a century. Walker’s work is a corrective biography, intended to dispel the many myths and legends that continue to surround Chopin. Throughout this compelling text, Walker presents the intricate dynamics of a dramatic life; of particular focus are Chopin’s childhood and youth in Poland, which are brought into line with the latest scholarly findings, and Chopin’s romantic life with George Sand, with whom he lived for nine years. Comprehensive and engaging, and written in highly readable prose, the biography wears its scholarship lightly: this is a book suited as much for the professional pianist as it is for the casual music lover. Kirkus agreed, giving this book a starred review and calling it “A sensitively discerning examination of a 19th-century superstar . . . a magnificent, elegantly written biography . . . An absorbing biography unlikely to be surpassed anytime soon.”

1,000 Books to Read: A Life-Changing List: This marvelous book takes the stress of dying out of your reading experience by instead presenting the volumes that will help you live a more full, engaged life.  Covering fiction, poetry, science and science fiction, memoir, travel writing, biography, children’s books, history, and more, these selections ranges across cultures and through time to offer an eclectic collection of works that each deserve to come with the recommendation, You have to read this. But it’s not a proscriptive list of the “great works”—rather, it’s a celebration of the glorious mosaic that is our literary heritage.  There are nuts and bolts, too—best editions to read, other books by the author, “if you like this, you’ll like that” recommendations , and an interesting endnote of adaptations where appropriate. Add it all up, and in fact there are more than six thousand titles by nearly four thousand authors mentioned—a life-changing list for a lifetime of reading.  Booklist waxes rhapsodical about this work, giving it a starred review and saying “Every so often, a reference book appears that changes the landscape of its area of focus. In the case of reading and readers’ advisory, this is one such book….lively, witty, insightful prose…It might be wise to invest in several copies of this wonderful meditation on life lived with and enhanced by the written word.”

Until next week, beloved patrons–Happy Reading!

Anna Burns Wins the Man Booker Prize!

We’d like to take a moment to congratulate Northern Irish author Anna Burns, who was awarded the 50th Annual Man Booker Prize on October 16 for her novel Milkman!  Burns becomes the first Northern Irish author to win the award, and the first female winner since 2013, when Eleanor Catton took the award with The Luminaries.

Anna Burns wins 2018 Man Booker Prize for Fiction with her novel ‘Milkman’, at Awards ceremony announcing winner of the UK’s most important literary prize, at The Guildhall, London.
Via https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/16/anna-burns-wins-man-booker-prize-for-incredibly-original-milkman

Burns drew on her memories of living through The Troubles in Northern Ireland to craft a story about middle sister in an unnamed city as she navigates her way through rumor, social pressures and politics in a tight-knit community. Burns shows the dangerous and complex outcome that can happen to a woman coming of age in a city at war.

Kwame Anthony Appiah, 2018 Chair of judges, commented on the book:

None of us has ever read anything like this before. Anna Burns’ utterly distinctive voice challenges conventional thinking and form in surprising and immersive prose. It is a story of brutality, sexual encroachment and resistance threaded with mordant humour. Set in a society divided against itself, Milkman explores the insidious forms oppression can take in everyday life.

Milkman also spoke to the concerns of today, Appiah reflected.  as quoted by The Guardian, he noted, “I think this novel will help people think about #MeToo … It is to be commended for giving us a deep and subtle and morally and intellectually challenging picture of what #MeToo is about.”

In addition to her prize money and public recognition, the Royal Mail is issuing a congratulatory postmark featuring the winner’s name, which will be applied to millions of items of stamped mail nationwide for six days from 17 October. It will read ‘Congratulations to Anna Burns, winner of the 2018 Man Booker Prize’.

We here at the Free For All would like to add our congratulations to Anna Burns.  Milkman will shortly be available in the US, and we cannot wait to get our hands on it!

TEEN TAKEOVER: Scary Stories for Terrified Teens!

Love all things horror? Looking for a good story to scare your pants off? We’ve got our top 5 picked out for you right here!

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich
A chilling mix of the paranormal and a psychological thriller! You will follow the diaries of Carly Johnson and her alter Kaitlyn Johnson as well as re-opened police records, psychiatric reports, and transcripts of video footage to find out what really happened in the Elmbridge High fire. Who was Kaitlyn and why did she only appear at night? Did she really exist or was she a figment of a disturbed mind? What were the illicit rituals taking place at the school? And just what did happen at Elmbridge in the events leading up to ‘the Johnson Incident’?

Diary of a Haunting by M. Verano
Similar to The Dead House this story is told in diary entries, letters, and photographs that the main character Paige left behind. Paige has moved into a particularly spooky house after her parents divorce and starts to notice that strange happenings are going on during the night. Things only get creepier when she learns about the sinister cult that conducted experimental rituals in the house almost a hundred years earlier. The more Paige investigates, and the deeper she digs, the clearer it all becomes: whatever is in the house, whatever is causing all the strange occurrences, has no intention of backing down without a fight.

The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude
Rowan’s Glen is a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks with only three rules: Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night. Ivy Templeton knows that it’s old superstition and that kids at school think them weird, but she doesn’t care, she has her best friend Heather by her side. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
Makani Young thought she’d left her dark past behind her in Hawaii, settling in with her grandmother in landlocked Nebraska. She’s found new friends and has even started to fall for mysterious outsider Ollie Larsson. But her past isn’t far behind. Then, one by one, the students of Osborne Hugh begin to die in a series of gruesome murders, each with increasingly grotesque flair. As the terror grows closer and her feelings for Ollie intensify, Makani is forced to confront her own dark secrets. A new take on the age-old “call is coming from inside the house” trope!

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth. A haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined!

Happy Reading! Hope we scared you!

Announcing the winner of the Alternative Nobel Award!

As we reported here in September, there will be no Nobel Prize for Literature in 2018.  Following a series of cover-ups, discrediting disclosures and allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct, the board was taking a hiatus.  In its place, a New Academy organized to award an Alternative Nobel this year, with input from the public.

Today, we are delighted to announce that Guatemalan author Maryse Condé has been awarded the 2018 Alternative Nobel prize!

‘Very happy and proud’… Maryse Condé.
Via https://www.theguardian.com/books/2018/oct/12/alternative-nobel-literature-prize-maryse-conde-new-academy-prize

The author of some 20 novels, Condé is renown for providing a voice for those who have been silenced by politics, poverty, and history.  The chair of judges Ann Pålsson noted of her contribution to literature, “She describes the ravages of colonialism and the post-colonial chaos in a language which is both precise and overwhelming…The dead live in her stories closely to the living in a … world where gender, race and class are constantly turned over in new constellations.”

As reported by The Guardian, Condé said she was “very happy and proud” to win the award. “But please allow me to share it with my family, my friends and above all the people of Guadeloupe, who will be thrilled and touched seeing me receive this prize,” she said. “We are such a small country, only mentioned when there are hurricanes or earthquakes and things like that. Now we are so happy to be recognised for something else.”

Conde will win about £87,000 raised from crowdfunding and donations, and will receive the prize at a ceremony on 9 December, one day before the Nobel banquet.

It is our honor to congratulate Maryse Condé on her award, and thank her for a lifetime of stories, honest, and compassion.

Five Book Friday!

And a very happy Free-For-All birthday to Italian poet, prose writer, editor, translator, and 1975 Nobel Prize Laureate Eugenio Montale!

From Poets.org:

Eugenio MontaleEugenio Montale was born into a family of businessmen in Genoa on October 12, 1896. During World War I, he served as an infantry officer on the Austrian front. Originally, Montale had trained to be an opera singer, but when his voice teacher died in 1923, he gave up singing and concentrated his efforts on writing. After his first book, Ossi di seppia (Cuttlefish Bones), appeared in 1925, Montale was received by critics as a profoundly original and experimental poet…He was dismissed from his directorship of the Gabinetto Vieusseux research library in 1938 for refusing to join the Fascist party. He withdrew from public life and began translating English writers such as ShakespeareT. S. EliotHerman Melville, and Eugene O’Neill. In 1939, Le occasioni(The Occasions) appeared, his most innovative book, followed by La bufera e altro (The Storm and Other Things, 1956). It was this trio of books that won Montale the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1975…Montale was also a prolific essayist, writer of stories and travel sketches, distinguished music critic, translator, and amateur painter.  He died in Milan in 1981 at the age of 85.

Visit poets.org to read more about Montale and read his stunning work!

And now: on to the books!

Small Country: A new arrival to our shelves, Gaël Faye’s novel is already a prize-winner France, and has been longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.  Set in Burundi in 1992, the book tells the tale of  ten-year-old Gabriel, who lives in the idyllic expatriate neighborhood of Bujumbura with his French father, Rwandan mother and little sister Ana.  These are carefree days of laughter and adventure – sneaking Supermatch cigarettes and gorging on stolen mangoes – as he and his mischievous gang of friends transform their tiny cul-de-sac into their kingdom. But dark clouds are gathering over this small country, and soon their peaceful existence will shatter when Burundi, and neighboring Rwanda, are brutally hit by civil war and genocide.  This is a story that focuses on some of the darkest aspects of recent African and, indeed, global memory, but also the potential for healing that came after it, make Faye’s ability to balance darkness with light is precisely what makes this work so compelling.  The Guardian agrees, calling this work
“Luminous… This is a book that demanded to be written, not only to mark the lives lost in Burundi and Rwanda, but also to show the way in which violence can take hold of a nation. With a light touch, Faye dramatises the terrible nostalgia of having lost
not only a childhood but also a whole world to war.” 

Invisible: The Forgotten Story of the Black Woman Lawyer Who Took Down America’s Most Powerful Mobster: While I inherently resent books that call any aspect of history “forgotten”, there is no denying the significance of the story that Stephen Carter has told in this new book.  Eunice Hunton Carter, Stephen Carter’s grandmother, was raised in a world of stultifying expectations about race and gender, yet by the 1940s, her professional and political successes had made her one of the most famous black women in America.  A graduate of Smith College and the granddaughter of slaves,her triumphs were shadowed by prejudice and tragedy. Greatly complicating her rise was her difficult relationship with her younger brother, Alphaeus, an avowed Communist who―together with his friend Dashiell Hammett―would go to prison during the McCarthy era. Yet she remained unbowed.  And without the strategy she devised, Lucky Luciano, the most powerful Mafia boss in history, would never have been convicted. When special prosecutor Thomas E. Dewey selected twenty lawyers to help him clean up the city’s underworld, she was the only member of his team who was not a white male.  Publisher’s Weekly gave this remarkable history a starred review, describing how “Carter’s enthusiasm for his grandmother’s incredible fortitude despite numerous setbacks is contagious; Eunice Carter’s story is another hidden gem of African-American history.”

A Dream Called Home: A Memoir: When Reyna Grande was nine-years-old, she walked across the US–Mexico border in search of a home, desperate to be reunited with the parents who had left her behind years before for a better life in the City of Angels. What she found instead was an indifferent mother, an abusive, alcoholic father, and a school system that belittled her heritage. With so few resources at her disposal, Reyna finds refuge in words, and it is her love of reading and writing that propels her to rise above until she achieves the impossible and is accepted to the University of California, Santa Cruz.  Although her acceptance is a triumph, the actual experience of American college life is intimidating and unfamiliar for someone like Reyna, who is now once again estranged from her family and support system. Again, she finds solace in words, holding fast to her vision of becoming a writer, only to discover she knows nothing about what it takes to make a career out of a dream.  Reyna Grande’s remarkable memoir The Distance Between Ushas has become required reading in schools across the country, and this moving addition to her story helps us see another side of her, as well as a moving aspect of the immigrant experience overall.  Kirkus Reviews loved this book, calling it “Candid and emotionally complex, Grande’s book celebrates one woman’s tenacity in the face of hardship and heartbreak while offering hope to other immigrants as they “fight to remain” and make their voices heard in a changing America. A heartfelt, inspiring, and relevant memoir.”

The Best of the Best Horror of the Year: A perfect selection for All Hallows Read, this collection features ten year’s worth of essential short horror fiction from some of the most acclaimed names in the genre. For more than three decades, editor and anthologist Ellen Datlow, winner of multiple Hugo, Bram Stoker, and World Fantasy awards, has had her finger on the pulse of the horror genre, introducing readers to writers whose tales can unnerve, frighten, and terrify. This anniversary volume, which collects the best stories from the first ten years of her annual The Best Horror of the Year anthology series, includes fiction from award-winning and critically acclaimed authors Neil Gaiman, Livia Llewellyn, Laird Barron, Gemma Files, Stephen Graham Jones, and many more.  Booklist loved this collection, describing it as “A survey of some of the best horror writing of the last decade. . . . highly recommended for anyone interested in contemporary horror and dark fantasy, as well as anyone looking for a collection of some of the best and most horrifying short fiction currently available.”

The Golden StateIn Lydia Kiesling’s razor-sharp debut novel, we accompany Daphne, a young mother on the edge of a breakdown, as she flees her sensible but strained life in San Francisco for the high desert of Altavista with her toddler, Honey. Bucking under the weight of being a single parent―her Turkish husband is unable to return to the United States because of a “processing error”―Daphne takes refuge in a mobile home left to her by her grandparents in hopes that the quiet will bring clarity.  But clarity proves elusive. Over the next ten days Daphne is anxious, she behaves a little erratically, she drinks too much. She wanders the town looking for anyone and anything to punctuate the long hours alone with the baby. Among others, she meets Cindy, a neighbor who is active in a secessionist movement, and befriends the elderly Alice, who has traveled to Altavista as she approaches the end of her life. When her relationships with these women culminate in a dangerous standoff, Daphne must reconcile her inner narrative with the reality of a deeply divided world. A keenly observed, emotional tale, Kiesilng’s novel was awarded a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly, who noted, “Kiesling’s intimate, culturally perceptive debut portrays a frazzled mother and a fractious America, both verging on meltdown . . . Kiesling depicts parenting in the digital age with humor and brutal honesty and offers insights into language, academics, and even the United Nations. But perhaps best of all is her thought-provoking portrait of a pioneer community in decline as anger and obsession fray bonds between neighbors, family, and fellow citizens.”

 

Until next week, beloved patrons–happy reading!

 

All Hallows Read: Some Spooky Suggestions

Happy All Hallows Read!

It’s that time of year, beloved patrons, as the nights get longer and the winds a little louder, and there seems nothing finer in the world than curling up with a story.  If, like me, your taste runs to the kind of stories that cause the hair on your arms to rise, or that will leave you jumping at shadows, then journey on with us for a few stellar reading suggestions.  And don’t forget to check out our display of All Hallows Read books here at the Main Library!

We Are Where the Nightmares Go and Other StoriesIf you’ve read C. Robert Cargill’s other works, like Dreams and Shadows and Queen of the Dark Things will know that his imagination is limitless, and tends to flourish best in the twilight shadows between fantasy and horror.  These stories work so well because they blend the utterly real, the overwhelmingly banal details of everyday life with a twist of real terror–a voice in the static of a bad connection; a whispered phrase that grows increasingly menacing with each repetition–and then launch off into the fantastic, ensuring that readers will be hooked from the first sentence to the last.  There is plenty of fun here, as well, and fans of Colby Stevens (from Dreams and Shadows) will be thrilled to see he makes a reappearance in these pages, as well. The story from which this book takes its name, “We Are Where the Nightmares Go” is horror at its most insightful, prescient, and shudder-inducing best.

Little Heaven: Hey there, if you’re looking for an opening scene that will haunt your nightmares, then look no further than Nick Cutter’s novel about cults and powers beyond human conception….A trio of mismatched mercenaries—Micah Shughrue, Minerva Atwater, and Ebenzer Elkins–are hired by young Ellen Bellhaven for a deceptively simple task: check in on her nephew, who may have been taken against his will to a remote New Mexico backwoods settlement called Little Heaven, where a clandestine religious cult holds sway.  The task should be an easy one for these professionals.  But nothing around Black Rock is what it seems, and there is something stirring in the woods and the soil and the wind around Little Heaven that breeds madness.  And no matter how willing our trio might be to stand and fight, their combined skills are no match for whatever is coming at them.  Cutter is a writer who revels in giving readers the screaming heebie-jeebies, as fans of this other work can surely attest.  But the atmosphere of this novel is so well-crafted and the characters are so quirky and believable that it’s hard to look away, even if you want to try.

The Grip of It: A brilliant, modern spin on the haunted house trope, Jac Jemc’s slim little novel is packed with chills and shocks.  While touring their prospective suburban home, Julie and James are stopped by a noise. Deep and vibrating, like throat singing. Ancient, husky, and rasping, but underwater. “That’s just the house settling,” the real estate agent assures them with a smile. He is wrong.  Although the couple moved to this idyllic place to escape James’ gambling problem and rebuild their relationship, it would seem their house had different plans.  It seems to be both growing and decaying around them, carving itself into Julie’s skin with each day that passes.  The result is a mind-bending book that will have you second-guessing every stray noise around you, every change in the light, and have you considering the very walls around you differently.  And what more could you ask from a haunted house novel?

Until next time, dear readers, Happy All Hallows Read!