Sometimes what you really need is a great book. The Sisters can sympathize. As writers, we are avid readers. On the last Saturday of each month, we will share our book picks for the current season.
Nothing sends me under the covers with a book faster than the first wisps of autumn. The family has settled back into the routine of school. Apples hang in fragrant clusters from my back yard tree. While the front yard overflows with carnage awaiting the arrival of treat-seeking superheroes and glittery princesses. Right now, I’m looking for a story that makes me shiver with dread in broad daylight. Maybe you are too.
Here are our picks for some thrilling and chilling October must-reads. Enjoy the heart palpitations!
If the country’s most notorious serial killer is your dad… will you turn out just like him? That’s the question Jasper Dent constantly asks himself while helping the police investigate a string of homicides in his small town. I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga is more than just a darn good murder mystery, it’s a compelling examination of a hero who doubts his own humanity. Read it and be simultaneously terrified of the evil people are capable of and inspired by the good people who can rise above it.
Dean Koontz has been a favorite author of mine for as long as I can remember and I usually pick one of his books up at this time of year to feed my craving for something scary. I chose Lightning, and hoped to recommend it, but it never really got my pulse racing. Instead, I suggest you seek out the first book in his trilogy about Frankenstein, yes, that Frankenstein. It’s two hundred years later and both Victor Frankenstein and his monster are still alive. Dr. Frankenstein is hell-bent on using modern techniques such as bioengineering, cloning, plastic surgery and computer programming to create a super-race of perfect beings, totally obedient to his will. But his monster, who’s been living a quiet life in an Asian monastery under the shadow of his disfigurement, discovers the evil doctor’s plan and sets out to stop him. This modern take on an old tale shines a light on a reality that is unnerving and, like the original Frankenstein, asks the same questions about social morality. Questions that require thoughtful and serious discussion. So, turn out the lights, fire-up a candle and snuggle in for a thought-provoking, spine-chilling read.
I’ve just discovered Yancey, an author with a growing reputation, and after reading the first book in his Monstrumologist series, I can see why. Set in 1888, a New England town overrun by Anthropophagi, naked, bipedal, killing machines with a fondness for human flesh. We see the town’s infestation thought the eyes of twelve-year-old* William Henry. Will is apprentice to the Monstrumologist, a man of meticulous science who studies monsters. This book manages to repel me with scenes of unspeakable death, while drawing me closer by delving into the complex relationship between Will and his guardian. The graphic deaths of young children I found very hard to read. Yet Yancey has created a rare thing, a literary horror novel, with captivating prose, dark internal and external conflicts, and memorable characters.
*Do not let the youthful protagonist fool you; the complexity of one of the book’s main themes, the question of justifiable murder is not suitable for young readers.
Up Next … What We’re Reading: For Fall and Family on October 26