Halloween Weekend: Spirits and Legends

I am writing this right now with the Harry Potter Gryffindor common room ambient sounds playing . It sounds like the dead of winter before a crackling fire.  The crackling fire especially gets me into the Halloween writing mode.  Not thinking about the dead of winter we are boldly hurtling toward.  Binge reading to finish up the year has been helping me to ignore that.

So it’s Halloween weekend. You might be Halloweened out by this point in the game.  Where I am, the leaves have usually peaked and drifted away and we are looking at the stark outlines of bare branches until April. My holiday countdown friends on Facebook are letting me know that it could be time to move on to thoughts of feasting. In truth, I have long since ordered my organic free range turkey.

But in case you are looking for maybe just one or two before the holiday season comes, I have two more this week:

the good house.jpg

The Good House, Tananarive Due

This one actually counts under my over 500 list for the year.  At nearly 600 pages, this story weaves a saga of a family spirit who, like all evil spirits, wants to wreak havoc for the sake of wreaking havoc.  This one really wants to kill people off.  But, in the tradition of Stephen King, there is a family story here too, a real background of how the spirit was able to break out into our world.  A truly good scary story does not happen in a vacuum.  Scary events leak into lives where there are already growing fissures: addictions, untreated mental health issues, contentious and struggling family relationships.  This book has all of these. It reminds me to continue to keep tabs on my son emotionally when he is older, as the son is where the spirit first finds its way in. He’s just a curious kid, separated from his school friends, who finds his magic practicing grandmother’s things just to see magic, and a spiritual family history that grandma left unexplained. The characters here are real, and saucy.  The mother is a high powered professional, the father a temperamental professional sports manager battling a cocaine addiction, the son an intelligent African American boy who wants to live up to Mom’s expectations as well as fit in with friends and be a kid, too, who is figuring out what being African American will mean to him.  The fissures are relatable:  a mother is not paying as much attention to her son because she is figuring out if she could reconcile with his father, a father who is permissive in the interest of not creating conflict and being the preferred parent.  A bored kid finding Grandma’s voodou spell book.  Your basic recipe for disaster.

My only issue with this book was sometimes it got slow.  It did multiple POVs well, I never got caught in forgetting whose perspective we were in, but there seemed a lot of detail to get the story told, especially near the end.  Some of it could be cut to pick up the pace, especially when they are back at the house and trying to battle an already powerful force.  But, unlike many horror novels (Ahem, Ania Ahlborn) there is resolution here.  The supernatural powers that allowed for the mess also allow it to be resolved, and it is not a simple resolution but the mother demonstrates that she has learned through all these events.  She gets a chance to make things right with what she has learned, and that to me is the most satisfying conclusion to a horror story.  This book would appeal to Stephen King fans, at least the style he has presented in the few of his books I have read: It, Carrie, The Shining.   It reminded me the most of The Shining.

Classics featured in many of the moody book lists I perused this fall.  It usually is more my style to get to them and I feel inept that I did not make it to any Edgar Allan Poe for this, but I did get to revisit

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The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Washington Irving

I did this on audio this time, as when I read it the first time I was on my classics, but not on my audio, kick. This is a quintessential Halloween story, in the late fall in upstate New York, with a love triangle.  I don’t need to review the story here, just that it was a nice dollar audiobook for a little over an hour of listening on a fall drive.  It can be included on a short list of classics that can make on well read in a short period of time.  I need to visit the rest of the stories of scary in the volume.  Maybe I will share this story with my son when he is a little older.  I have all sorts of reading torture lined up for him, torture because he’s an action, on the go, ride bikes and kick balls and run kind of kid, not a sit down and draw and read kind of kid. I was a read and write and draw kid, his father was a sports, jobs,cars and parties kind of guy.

I had many on the ambitious list for my month of scary reads.  The ones that did not make it was really more about not already having them and not having audio to go with them to get read and posted about in a short amount of time, not that they were not good:

Within these Walls, Ania Ahlborn (FINALLY came out on some audio, but really she is a different post as she’s an indie in her own class)

Black Valley, Charlotte Williams

The Grownup, Gillian Flynn

The Fall of the House of Usher, Edgar Allan Poe

The Supernatural Enhancements, Edgar Cantero

Blood and Salt, Kim Liggett

Uncle Silas, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

As usual, I grow ambitious.

Maybe next year. Anything I should make sure to visit if I do another Halloween Reads October?

There is a holiday season, a finish your challenge list deadline, and the proliferation of end of the year and award lists that kill any confidence I may have garnered about conquering my TBR list coming in the next eight weeks.

Are seasonally related posts fun and appealing or overkill? I am planning on getting to some Christmas books in a few weeks. As they tend to be lighter it will be a branch out for me.  No Christmas tree pun intended.

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