Ghost stories are my secret reading fix—and the time around Halloween always inspires me to freely indulge my fascination with the “other side”. Here are some you might like, too.
The Gates of Evangeline by Hester Young
There are a whole lot of reasons I’m talking about this solid debut novel. It combines some really likeable main characters with an atmospheric bayou setting, a healing romance, and little kids who appear in dreams and act all creepy- I gotta love it. When Charlotte “Charlie” Cates suffers an unthinkable loss, she suddenly sees her life differently. What’s more her troubled dreams are haunted by children who seem to need her help. Desperate to escape both her unbearably shallow workplace and her unbearably empty home, Charlie takes a job writing for Cold Crimes magazine. It lands her in a bucolic Louisiana town, at an antebellum mansion called Evangeline, where a family with a long and troubled history resides. There is certainly much more going on there than meets the eye. Charlie is thrust into the middle of Evangeline’s turmoil, unsure about who is trustworthy. She’s trying to get answers about a cold case that has gone unsolved for 30 years. She’s also surprised to find herself attracted to a man who should be all wrong for her –for a lot of reasons. All the while a little boy who haunts Charlie’s dreams urges her into even more mysterious and dangerous situations.
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author and National Book Award finalist, E. Lockhart. It was fascinating to imagine a family living this lifestyle, and this story has enough twists and turns to keep readers guessing until the satisfyingly shocking end. We Were Liars is a young adult book that has definite crossover appeal for adults – when you are done reading, you will want to talk to somebody else about this one.
The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
McMahon’s many fans will welcome her latest novel, a gripping and suspenseful tale set in rural Vermont (I’m scared already) that probes the bond between sisters and the peril of keeping secrets.
The Tower Motel stands in disrepair, alive only in the memories of Amy, Piper, and Piper’s kid sister, Margot. The three played there as girls until the day that their games uncovered something dark and twisted in the motel’s past, something that ruined their friendship forever. Now adult, Piper and Margot have tried to forget what they found that fateful summer. When they suddenly learn that Amy is being accused of a horrific crime, Margot and Piper are forced to relive the past. As Margot and Piper investigate, a cleverly woven plot unfolds–revealing the story of Sylvie and Rose, two other sisters who lived at the motel during its 1950s heyday. Each believed the other to be something truly monstrous, but only one carries the secret that would haunt the generations to come.
If you like your scary delivered in smaller doses, try a short story collection.
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
This new anthology is a “rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In Adventure Story–a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience A Calendar of Tales are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year–stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale The Case of Death and Honey. And Click-Clack the Rattlebag explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.” Gaiman once again transports us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a gift from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.
Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger et. al.
I am all set to start this one next! Collected and introduced by the bestselling author of The Time Traveler’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry it includes her own illustrations for each piece. This is a unique and haunting anthology of some of the “best ghost stories of all time.” From Edgar Allen Poe to Kelly Link, M.R. James to Neil Gaiman, H. H. Munro to Audrey Niffenegger’s own, “A Secret Life With Cats,” Ghostly strives to reveal the evolution of the ghost story genre. The tales span from the eighteenth century into the modern era, ranging across styles from Gothic Horror to Victorian. The collection showcases the best of the best in the field, including Edith Wharton, P.G. Wodehouse, A.S. Byatt, and Ray Bradbury. There is a particular bent toward stories about haunting–haunted children, animals, houses. Every story is introduced by Niffenegger, with some background and why she chose to include it. Perfect for the classic and contemporary ghost story aficionado, this is a beautifully illustrated and suitably scary read.
You know sometimes we just need to laugh about it. So if you are in the mood for a lighter approach to the dark and scary side, here are two titles that do the trick—and are a real treat!
What a Ghoul Wants by Victoria Laurie
This is number seven (after Ghoul Interrupted) in Laurie’s fun paranormal series. Kidwella Castle in northern Wales is rumoured to be haunted by a deadly ghost, the Grim Widow, who allegedly drowns unsuspecting guests in the castle’s moat. M.J Holliday has the ability to talk to ghosts, so when she and her T.V crew arrive to film their ghost-hunting cable TV show, Ghoul Getters, mysterious things start to occur. Not long after their arrival, two new victims are added to the widow’s grisly roster. Fear ripples through the castle, especially when it is discovered that the victims may have had help into their watery graves from someone alive
Spirited by Mary Behre
Juliana Scott sees ghosts but is less than anxious to share this news. She has a meet-cute with a hot detective, who just happens to be her neighbor, Seth English. Though they are not favorably impressed with each other at first, Seth and Jules soon join forces to clear up the facts behind a murder mix up that lands Jules under police suspicion, with a killer on her trail. She is forced to rely on the skeptical Seth. Library journal calls Spirited, “Lively, funny, and fresh,” a debut novel that is “just the thing for readers who want their mystery thrillers with a ghostly twist and an offbeat sense of humor.”
I thought this ghost-story mystery teetered between lighthearted and downright silly. But it could be just what Romance fans are looking for this time of year.