The Homecoming, by Andrew Pyper (2019)

Horror Fiction

The Homecoming, by Andrew Pyper

Four members of the Quinlan family – surgeon Aaron, his adored teenaged sister Bridget called Bridge, middle child Franny mourning the son she lost because of her addiction to heroin, and mother Eleanor – gather at Belfountain Estate to hear the terms of Ray Quinlan’s will. A largely absent father and husband, he was a secretive man – no one knew of this spectacular estate, not to mention a sizeable fortune which they stand to inherit. But there’s a catch. The four must stay at Belfountain for 30 days, with no technology or outside contact, starting immediately, or all the money goes to a charity.

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Gwendy’s Button Box, by Stephen King and Richard Chizmar (2017)

Gwendy's Button Box, by Stephen King and Richard ChizmarI approach Stephen King with great trepidation. As a teen I devoured Carrie and moved rapidly through his backlist, until Salem’s Lot, which so terrified me I made my younger brother accompany me upstairs at bedtime. No lie. Didn’t touch King again for years! But this one, co-written with his longtime friend Richard Chizmar, looked so intriguing I gave it to my spouse to read. He passed it back, assuring me it was in the vein of King novels I’ve loved like Hearts in Atlantis and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. It’s 1974, and we are back in Castle Rock, a favourite King setting. Gwendy is 12, about to enter middle school in the fall. Determined to shed her detested nickname Goodyear, she spends the summer pounding up Suicide Stairs, ignoring the stranger in a hat reading on a bench. Probably a perv, she figures. Read More »

The River at Night, by Erica Ferencik (2017)

The River at Night, by Erica FerencikLooking for a scary read for a long winter’s evening? Sad from the recent loss of her brother and her marriage, timid Wini sets aside her many misgivings to join her three girlfriends in their annual week-long get-together led by the fearless Pia. This year, Pia has chosen a river rafting trip in the wilds of Maine. Along with emergency room nurse Rachel and teacher Sandra, the four women embark on a 30-mile rafting trip, led by handsome 20-year-old Rory, dreadlocked and muscled, with eyes “the exact green of an asparagus mousse” graphic designer Wini had featured in spring. He’s certainly irresistible to Pia, leading to a noisy hook-up that sets the friends squabbling. Read More »

The Passenger, by F. R. Tallis (2016)

The PassengerHow can anyone resist the idea of a haunted German submarine plying the waters of the Atlantic in the winter of 1941/1942? Sigfried Lorenz is the conflicted and flawed commander of U-330, a Nazi vessel battling the British during World War II. Lorenz is fighting a war he doesn’t believe in, longs for the arms of his Parisian lover, and cares deeply about the morale and safety of his crew. When a triple-encoded message orders U-330 to pick up two prisoners from a vessel off the coast of Iceland, the crew responds with speed, curious about the prisoners’ importance. One is a British submarine commander; the other is a Norwegian scholar, an expert in the Norse runes that fascinate Himmler and other Nazi leaders. Read More »

Took: A Ghost Story, by Mary Downing Hahn (2015)

Ages 10-14
Took: A Ghost StoryThis latest offering from master storyteller Mary Downing Hahn delivers all the chills and shivers young fans of creepy horror stories are looking for. This isn’t for everyone – it may induce nightmares, so if your youngster likes the idea of scary stories better than the reality, read it yourself first. Daniel and his sister Erica are uprooted from their comfortable Connecticut existence when their parents buy a home in West Virgina. It’s a dilapidated fixer-upper, made irresistible to the adults by Old Auntie who is watching the scene unfold. She is a 200-year-old conjure woman who “lives” in the woods and is seeking a new Girl to do her chores, as she does every 50 years. Erica is seven, and just perfect for Old Auntie’s needs. Read More »

Doll Bones, by Holly Black (2013)

Horror (but very mild)
Ages 10-13
Doll BonesThis is the story of three kids who are growing up and aren’t sure they want to. At age 12, Zach, Alice and Poppy know they are getting to old to play out fantasy stories with dolls – Barbies, action figures, and thrift store dolls. But Poppy’s stories are so compelling, and they enjoy the game so much, all are willing to put up with occasional bullying and taunting. Until Zach’s father, recently back in the family home, decides it’s time to end the nonsense. Enraged and hurt, Zach abandons the game without explanation, but Poppy convinces him and Alice to help a restless ghost. Is it another of Poppy’s stories, or is there truly something sinister about the doll Queenie? Read More »

Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith (2014)

Genre: Science Fiction
Appeal: 14-21
Grasshopper JungleRemember how impressed I was by the reliable science behind The Martian? Yeah, that doesn’t happen here. This can only be described as a darkly – nay, blackly – comic end-of-the-world coming-of-age twisted tale about sexual identity. Sixteen-year-old Austin Szerba is in love with both his best friend Robby and his girlfriend Shann. Still a virgin, he is “so confused” about his sexuality and what makes him horny, because pretty much everything does – a touch from Shann, a kiss from Robby, the thought of a threesome, Robby’s mother, the floor of a laundromat … at the same time, the end of the world as we know it has arrived in Eeling, Iowa, in the form of giant bugs. Read More »