Happy Halloween!

So, the night when the veil is at it’s thinnest complete with a full moon is over. I’ll take that over the big storm we had last year that thankfully held off for the festivities.

I selected this image because there is something so eerie and poetic about the deep gold of later fall. I love an atmospheric misty fall morning. It begs to be breathed in.

Who is surprised that my son finally gave up the Jack Skellington costume for a Harry Potter, after Harry Potter audiobooks were a clear head and shoulders pandemic win for us? I haven’t minded the world slowing down a little for the pandemic, either. That was a win for me.

I think I have warned my fair readers that I binged on so much creepy book goodness this summer that even though I’m turning back my clocks and looking ahead to the holiday season, I’m posting on a last bunch of not to be missed Halloween reads today. Because this holiday is good enough to last the whole weekend when I got two demon books and two haunted house books on deck.

The Good Demon, Jimmy Cajoleas

Claire is unmoored and empty inside following her exorcism.  Her demon, called Her, was a support and companionship in a cold world with preoccupied adults.  Claire steals a journal (for a thousand dollars) that she discovers may hold the secret to getting her demon back and embarks on an adventure, complete with the son of the preacher who exorcised her, that uncovers something much bigger in her sleepy Southern town. Totally deliciously Gothic.

I was really looking forward to this book and it didn’t let me down.  I was intrigued by a positive depiction of a demon having a relationship with their person.  The relationship between them makes total sense and it’s completely understandable why she would go on a quest to get her back and I loved how deep the rabbit hole went. I was impressed by how well a male author could write a wayward teenaged girl and her falling in love with a boy totally unlike her.  The supernatural element was awesome, the darkness, the story behind how the demon was paired up with Claire in the first place and…you kinda root for Her, too.  Definitely makes you think about the lines of good and evil.  And I love books that make everything into a gray area.  Yes.  Worth the read.

Mexican Gothic, Silvia Moreno-Garcia

Noemi Taboada, a rich young woman enjoying the high life in 1950’s Mexico is summoned to a creepy old mansion to assist her newlywed cousin, Catalina.  Catalina has made a hasty and mysterious marriage and now seems to be sinking into a psychiatric condition.  Noemi is better suited to parties than she is rescuing cousins and sleuthing, but she discovers something far more nefarious than a psychiatric disorder plaguing the family and the crumbling mansion.  Something that she ends up having to escape to keep her life her own.

This just came out and is highly praised.  It is exactly what a Gothic tale is meant to be:  dark, long family curses, mysterious, dark, and full of slowly unraveling secrets. It easily could have been set in Europe, in my opinion, because it is so much in the tradition of a Gothic horror, right down to it not being too horror-y.  Definitely more Gothic, definitely more slow unfolding legacy and family secrets and having to find out the good bits from the people outside the house than it is about bloody guts and death.  Character driven. Certainly not like the hardcore Joe Hill book from last week.   It is a slow burn with a big weird secret that takes off in the last 50-100 pages.

I like the love interest.  I like that he isn’t a rake and that it’s believable that there is some attraction because the story mentions that she is a little bored of men, bored of the playboys and the rakes in her society scene. I like that she has to slow down the game playing and becomes more genuine with him, rather than flirting and trying to get him going.  I didn’t mind her cousin’s husband being enigmatic and there being some sort of supernatural attraction there because she was being real, and experiencing something real, with the other guy.

I shall take this moment to give myself props for including a new and hot book in this post.

Amityville Horror, Jay Anson

This is a famous one for whomever is interested in American ghost stories:  The Lutz family moves into a home where a brutal murder (Ronald DeFeo having murdered his four siblings and parents in cold blood) was committed and are driven out by dark, unseen forces within a month. 

Now, I love me a demonic haunting, and I seem to read one in every scary reads series I do. Audible recently expanded its catalog to certain members and when this became available on audio I wasted no time. I find the acceleration of weird and scary phenomena fascinating, as long as they are not happening to me.  I like to know the famous American ghost stories, which are always controversial in themselves. I don’t completely understand it though, as it is rarely truly resolved, or resolvable, and it is subtle.  I’m currently reading a different horror book, and I’m finding I prefer the subtlety to the gore.  In this one, we never know the whole story.  Ronald hasn’t come out with a consistent story as to how he ended up killing his family, if the demonic creatures already were there when the house was built, or he or someone had a role in inviting them in.  Hearing voices isn’t enough to explain how it happened. Certainly the Lutz family was just a typical white upper middle class family of the day looking to have a nice life and raise their kids, not dabble in anything so dark and scary.  They were hapless victims. I find myself wondering what happened to the house after the Lutz family left, if the number of other families since have had similar events. I googled it to see the actual home. I wouldn’t move into a house with a past like that or one that didn’t feel right. But I’m glad I finally got to it, to know this iconic story as well as my odd fascination with demonic hauntings.  It is definitely a fall read, even though the events take place during a holiday season, one that was supposed to be joyful for the family. 

I hope this freaky weekend treats everyone well and you can all look forward to no more spooky books for the rest of the year. I don’t think. I am in the middle of my November reads so I need to do that as well as make sure I get another Full Moon meditation in this weekend. Because you have to catch the energy as it avails itself.

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Scary Reads! Haunted Houses

I mean, October starts this week, so it’s totally time.  My husband will allow my son to drag out the Halloween decorations on Tuesday that he has been begging to do, and he wanted to get a pumpkin at the Farmer’s Market instead of homemade baked goods, so, it’s time. The fall loving child I inadvertently grew.

Although it shouldn’t be a surprise that I have a child who loves all things creepy (to a point.  He’s not allowed adult level scary things) when I have been beefing up big time on scary books to present on here for the next few weeks.  When in August the reads begin!

The scary reads series 2019 this year will begin with two posts on haunted house books. There are too many good haunted house books that have had to miss my Scary Reads lineup in the past, and this year I tried to read more of what has been waiting on the TBR, rather than getting too far into the new stuff.   Two of the books in these posts have been waiting altogether too long to be read and discussed on the annual Scary Reads series.

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A Haunted Love Story:  Ghosts of Allen House, Mark Spencer

This is a true ghost story of a family who willingly buy (wrangle from the previous owner) a home that is well known to be haunted.  There is ghostly activity, like doppelganger spirits, but it’s mostly about the story of the family that would lead to such curious imprinting and activity.  The family chooses to open its doors to tourism because the house is so well known in its legend and the previous owner had closed it off to the public. Underneath everything is a tragic story.

I think I love haunted house stories because who doesn’t love a good story?  I can watch hours of ghost hunting television because it’s always about the story.  If you’re someone that’s in it for the story more than the creeps and chills, then this is for you.  I took it right in. If you need a lot of horror and scare, this might not be for you. Maybe it’s the same for ghost shows versus horror films, where people walk around with EVP readers for little whispers rather than like, scary crap shutting you in the cellar and trying to eat you alive or something.  The drama comes from the story, not from the haunting. And the story is only truly figured out at the very end, when the narrator finds a hidden packet of letters.

The weirdest part to me of the whole thing, actually, was the behavior of the woman they bought the house from.  She was strangely over attached to the house and was gamey about letting it go and she lived there alone, albeit filled with Christian religious items, like pictures of Jesus. I wondered how she interacted with or felt about the spirits in her home.  They were legendary and acted up when the new family came in, but what about with her? I was so curious as to her attachment and experiences with the house, but we never get them. So strange.  It’s a good cheap kindle read.

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The Woman in Black, Susan Hill

A Gothic novel about a haunted house, deserted on the moors, a spectre motivated to haunt a town and a home by a tragic life. A lawyer travels out to the house to get papers in order following the house mistress’ death and finds a town unwilling to tell him the truth about the place. He goes about his business the best he can, but not without unraveling the mystery while getting in on some of the action on the curse of the town.

This is so well written in the Gothic tradition that I didn’t know it was only written as recently as 1983. I thought it was old enough to be in the public domain.  So well done. The scary old house isolated by a marsh, a terrible, unpredictable mist, a ghost that doesn’t waste any time making herself known to the newbie. Totes my thing.  Victorian tragedy, insidious haunting activity, a tragic story revealed. It wasn’t all that long, either, so I finished it in about 24 hours. Of the second week vacation of my summer, of course.  Not really in the throes of my job that decided to notch up the crazy this summer. Also worth a read, even though fictionalized, not a true story like the Allen House book.  I hope I remember to look into the movie and try to see the main character not as a wand wielding eleven year old.  I’m sometimes awful at getting to movies/shows based on books.

Next week will be the second haunted houses post for Scary reads. Seasonal creeptasticness.

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