Halloween – Books for Scares!

I really wish that I had more time and could have read a few more scary books. However, I did compile a short list of some hair-raising tales for you. Some of these I did read, and some of them were recommended for this list. Here they are:

This is the first in a series of Young Adult books.  Of course, following in the Halloween theme, this is a horror novel.  I read this one and really liked it.  However, I haven’t read the other books in the series yet.  I’m assuming that they are as thrilling as this one.

Again, this is a book that I’ve read.  Gaiman has a real talent for telling horror stories in a matter-of-fact manner; and keeping you on the edge of your seat while doing it.

This is one of the recommendations that I haven’t read, although after reading the review I will put it on my list.  Again, it’s a demon filled fright-fest which should be wonderful for the holiday.

Here is another book that I have read.  It concerns the year 1918, including all the ghoulishness of the influenza epidemic, the First World War and the greed of regular people.  It’s both a horror novel and a thriller as there is a mystery to be solved.

The is a novel that I haven’t read yet.  It is a re-imagining of The Fall of the House of Usher and as such is full of all the thrills, chills and horrors that the Usher’s lived with.  I’ve paged through this one, and will read it once I get some time.

Happy Haunting!

The Last Midwife by Sandra Dallas – Book Review

First of all, I have to say that I really like Sandra Dallas’ books, and The Last Midwife was no exception. I loved the way the story was told. Dallas keeps us riveted to the main idea; but also keeps us anticipating the rest of the story.  With her ability to immerse readers into the lives and times of her characters, I felt like I was in the novel.

This novel is about Gracy, the only midwife on the Tenmile Range in Colorado. It’s the 1880’s and the only doctor in town expects to be paid for his services, while a midwife takes payment any way she can get it. Gracy is older now, and estimates that she’s delivered thousands of babies since her first delivery at the age of 10. However, she now stands accused of the murder of a baby she didn’t even deliver.

Once accused, Gracy is at the mercy of people who have known her for years, and while some don’t believe the charges, others are all too willing to believe them. This is a novel about the narrow, oftentimes abbreviated lives of poor women in the 1880’s.

I won’t go into too much detail, since I really want you to read the book yourself. I’ll only say that Gracy made decisions over her lifetime that showed her unending ability to love. For me, this novel really made me think, and I’ll continue turning it over in my mind for some time to come. I highly recommend this novel.

The Kill Order by James Dashner – Book Review

This is another Young Adult book, and is the prequel to the series The Maze Runner. I listened to the book on CD and must say that I enjoyed it very much. It was, of course, difficult to listen to; as it involves the world after a series of Solar Flares and the government’s response to dwindling global resources. The novel revolves around Mark, a teenager who luckily was underground in the subway when the solar flares hit. The story follows his and his friend Trina’s escape from the tunnels, and eventually to Appalachia. Once in the mountains, they begin to rebuild their lives along with others who managed to stay alive after the flares.

However, the new world government has a new, radical plan to deal with the fact that the government feels that too many people survived the solar flares. This brings the story to the Cranks, and infectious disease known as “the flare”. There is plenty of action; the characters are well-developed; and you find yourself rooting for the survival of them all. I loved the way the story was told with a series of flashbacks (aka nightmares); and the way that the survivors all watched out for each other. The novel is a well-told tale of survival and a fight against all odds. I highly recommend it.

The Marriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman – Book Review

I must begin with the caveat that I love love love Alice Hoffman. I’ve been reading her books for years, and each one is a gift that I love to unwrap. I am aware that the New York Times review of this book was not enthusiastic, however I really must say that I enjoyed it.

To get right into my review, this book follows the story of the painter Camille Pissaro’s parents’ marriage. Therefore the novel is not about Pissaro, it is instead the story of his parents; their lives and marriage. The main character is Rachel Pomie. She was born and raised on the Island of St. Thomas. Her father was loving and indulgent, in that he allowed her to become educated and to read extensively. While her father treated her well, her mother was increasingly bitter and unloving. Rachel married a much older man in order to save the family business. She became a step mother to three children and quickly had three more with another born after the death of her husband, Isaac.

Woman were not allowed to own property, so the family business reverts to Isaac’s family in Paris. The son Abraham Gabriel Frederic Pizzarro is sent to take over the business. From the time Rachel sees Frederic she loves him, and the feeling is mutual. While they are not allowed to marry since Frederic is her late husband’s aunt’s nephew, they do live together and have children.

This novel is mostly the story of a specific place and time. Rachel Pomie is a girl who fights her entire life against the oppression that surrounds her. I believe that regardless of the damage done to her personally, Rachel did live her life mostly on her own terms. She did indeed suffer through a loveless marriage, but in the end she was able to over-come what social norms dictated to her.
I highly recommend this book. There are many issues including race relations, religious laws and social laws that are discussed in the novel. Once again, well done Hoffman!

The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle – Book Review

This being the month of October, I thought that I would review this book, since it’s full of chills and thrills. As a Gothic novel, it follows that there are mysteries, darkness and evil that stalk the characters. Just to let you know, this is a Young Adult novel, and is also quite short.  However, the length of the book works in it’s favor, as the movement is fast-paced.  The novel follows Tabby Aykroyd, an eleven year old unwanted orphan who luckily finds herself at Ma Hutton’s knitting school. This small happiness doesn’t last long when she is chosen to be a nursemaid at Seldom House on the edge of the moors.

Here Tabby’s luck runs out as she begins her new position as nursemaid to an untamed little boy with no name, who will become Heathcliff (from Wuthering Heights). Seldom House is remote and full of both secrets and darkness. When Tabby questions the odd happenings, she is ignored and left in the dark (both figuratively and literally).

The novel builds both tension and suspense wonderfully, leaving the reader turning pages as fast as possible – who doesn’t want to solve a good mystery? I don’t read creepy Gothic novels very often, so this one was a pleasure. Dunkle really captured the feel of the Bronte novels; she kept me trying to discover the “truth” of the mystery, and kept me interested until the very end. All I can say is, no wonder Heathcliff had “issues”.

One of the creepier aspects of this novel is the note at the end of the book.  Apparently Tabby Aykroyd was a real person and in her older years was a nursemaid who helped to raise the Bronte’s.  She told them stories that were similar to this novel.  Dunkle used these stories as inspiration for this novel.  I find this particularly creepy and fabulous!

I highly recommend this book. I found it to be well-written and fast-paced. It would be a great novel to read for this Halloween month of chills, thrills and mysterious evil.