Tag Archives: Justin Cronin

Our Favorite Spooky Books

It’s late October, and Halloween (and Pumpkin Bowl!) are right around the corner. Here are some of our favorite creepy, eerie, and downright horrifying books to get you in the mood for the best holiday.

Ms. Barrows Recommends:

house

House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. A story inside a story, but even more complex than that. Basically, a family is living in a house that is larger inside than outside. And there’s other stuff. There’s weird page formats, including footnotes for footnotes (often citing fictional sources) and word layouts that depict events happening in the book. The result? Readers report feelings of claustrophobia, agoraphobia, and overall creepiness.

passage

The Passage, by Justin Cronin. Just do yourself a favor and read this book. Need convincing? Click here.

hill house

The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson. Terror, sheer terror, drives Jackson’s story. Forget monsters, who needs monsters when you have the good ol’ human psyche? Dr. John Montague, in an effort to investigate the supernatural, invites individuals who have been affected by unexplained events to come and visit Hill House. What is Hill House, you ask? Well it is just about the creepiest mansion ever constructed. The only people to take Dr. John Montague up on his offer are Theodora and Eleanor, the story’s protagonist. What follows is an exploration of the gray area between the supernatural, imagination, reality, and delusion. In a tightly written 174 page book Jackson develops a sense of tension and terror with each sentence.

Mr. Gette Recommends:

tlccontent

The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. “There was a hand in the dark, and it held a knife.” How can you go wrong with an opening line like that? Boy’s family is murdered, boy is raised by ghosts, murderer comes back to finish the job. devil

The Devil in the White City, by Erik Larson. Sometimes truth is stranger (and scarier) than fiction. Devil follows two men: the architect who designed the Chicago World’s fair, and the murderer who used the fair to ensnare his victims. Includes creepy murder house!

house

House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. Ok, sometimes fiction is a lot stranger. Even the premise of the book isn’t that simple: a man tells a story about a neighbor who wrote a scholarly paper on a documentary that doesn’t seem to exist. The documentary is about a man who discovers that his house is bigger on the inside than the outside: and it’s not as friendly as the TARDIS. Add in a ton of footnotes, footnotes with their own footnotes, words with their own color schemes, non-vertical writing – just reading this book is an adventure.

-Signing off, James Gette and Jenny Barrows (who are cowering in fear under a book fort)

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Book Review: The Passage

Help! Virals!

The Passage

Author Justin Cronin listened to his daughter, and now life is awesome. Now we have The Passage.

The first installment of a trilogy of the same name is a little difficult to summarize – and by “a little difficult,” I actually mean a Herculean task that suspiciously resembles impossibility.

Attempt #1

Basically, a rare Bolivian jungle virus is discovered and extracted by a Harvard scientist and the US military. Cursory evidence suggests that the virus, if properly harnessed, could be injected into humans and turn them into superheroes who stay young not forever, but for awhile.

Are these things ever properly harnessed?

Exactly.

Injections fail, test subjects escape, infection spreads, mayhem ensues, and the world falls into a post-apocalyptic state. Most people are dead, some are “turned,” and few humans remain. Those  “turned” are dubbed virals, which strongly resemble vampires. Hate sunlight. Drink blood. Mostly kill, but sometimes turn their victims. Super strength and speed. Etc.

Attempt #2

There is no way to summarize the book without making it sound like an installment of a horror trilogy that only appeals to a specific genre reader (see above). The summary provides the framework of a plot that is made great by its characters, particularly Amy – the heart of Cronin’s story. An abandoned girl whose journey spans miles and decades, Amy’s appearance nearly 100 years after the outbreak (Year Zero) infuses members of the First Colony (94 surviving humans) with the hope needed in their journey to survive and reclaim the world.

High-lights: non-linear plot, varying perspectives, biblical undertones, Peter, Alicia, Wolgast, masterful suspense, interjections of letters, emails and official reports, overlapping story lines, calling pants “gaps,” slow revelations, and the virals. Definitely the virals – for so many reasons.

Low-lights: heaviness of the text (solved by reading on a Calarco Kindle), occasional uneven prose (almost forgivable in such an epic tale), Richard (terrible human)…that’s about it.

Takeaways: These vampires do not sparkle or seduce and this text is better described as a dystopian journey rather than a horror story full of blood and guts and stuff.

The Passage is dangerously absorbing and fascinatingly rewarding. Read it so I have a friend to geek out with and someone to accompany me as I read Cronin’s first sequel, The Twelve.

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who will forget to eat, sleep, or bathe as she reads The Twelve…apologies in advance)