Every Halloween Read

If the few books I’ve read this year weren’t enough recs, here are the gothic and horror books I’ve read in previous years.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Where it really began, (for me at least). Shelley’s masterpiece was the first book I reviewed here for my gothic series. Read my review here.

Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

Du Maurier used tight, concise language to weave her masterful tale of gothic suspense. Read my review here.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

“I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt. I fear. I think strange things…” The book that launched a thousand copycats (sort of). Read my review here.

We’ll Be the Last Ones to Let You Down by Rachael Hanel

Not so much gothic or suspenseful, Hanel’s memoir is about her fascination with cemeteries that began with her gravedigger father. Read my review here.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

Jackson is known for the creepy atmosphere of her books. This is a definite winner. Read my review here.

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

Creepy and imaginative, McMahon’s The Winter People is the perfect Halloween read. Read my review here.

The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters

A 400 pager, but there isn’t a single unnecessary word here. So good. Read my review here.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Again, Jackson’s reputation proceeds her, and this is a great Halloween read. Read my review here.

 

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What’s your favorite Halloween read?

 

 

A Review of Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People

Halloween 2013 The 1000th Voice Blog

Today kicks off two weeks of reviews of gothic horror, suspense and otherwise creepy reads for my Halloween 2014 series.

The Winter People
By Jennifer McMahon

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m not a fan of horror fiction that tends towards torture porn. Being extremely terrified just isn’t something I enjoy. Instead, I gravitate more towards gothic horror or suspenseful or generally creepy books. Finding these books has been somewhat difficult. That is, until I looked up Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black on my library’s website and found the recommendations section. Jennifer McMahon’s The Winter People was recommended because:

In the best of the gothic tradition, these shivery ghost stories feature creepy locations, dark family secrets, and mysteries that are better left unsolved. Both novels are literary with an oppressive atmosphere and a slowly building sense of dread.

A literary ghost story with a general or slowly building sense of dread is an excellent description of the type of book I’m looking for each Halloween!

Review

In this classic, creepy ghost story, McMahon creates a sense of dread in a realistic New England setting. Using the small, remote town of West Hall, Vermont, McMahon winds a tail that begins in the early 1900s and continues into present day as a young woman digs into her parents’ past and learns of their dark secrets and those of her town.

The Winter People really had the perfect amount of scary parts to fit what I was looking for. An historic farm house serves as the setting for a large portion of the story, from the early 1900s to the present day.

Rating

Writing 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon uses clear, concise language to weave her tale.

Character Development  5 out of 5 stars

As the story progresses, McMahon develops her characters into realistic people with their own unique personalities.

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon moves the plot forward at a comfortable pace, allowing the reader to settle in and enjoy her writing.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

McMahon successfully mixed two story lines together to create one rich story.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read The Winter People? What did you think?

Book Review: Rebecca

Book Review: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier | The 1000th Voice Blog

Rebecca
By Daphne du Maurier

After completing my Weekly Reads post on Monday, I quickly got to work finishing Rebecca. It was over much quicker than expected. It was a bittersweet moment when I realized the last 30 or so pages were the Author’s Note. Of course, I excitedly read the Author’s Note, and, while I appreciated the ending of Rebecca, it was just over a quicker than planned.

Review

As I reflected on the book today, I also started the short We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. It made me think about the length of a story and its depth. I’m not far enough into Castle to know if it’s too short or not deep enough, but I’ve definitely read books that were too short and some that were too long with writing that should have been cut to tell a better story. I don’t believe a single word should be cut from Rebecca. At almost 400 pages, I believe there’s still an economy of words that tells a thoroughly intriguing story. Without the extra bits, the story wouldn’t have the suspense or the creepiness it has.

With all that said, it probably goes without saying that I loved this book. But let me tell you more about my love. I was riveted; I wanted nothing more than to have a few spare minutes to read this book. A 12-hour round trip to my parent’s house this weekend provided plenty of time to read. One aspect of the book that kept my attention was the general iciness that lent a creepy air. I could just picture Mrs. Danvers’ and Mrs. de Winter’s confrontations with a sharp chill between the two.

Quotable

“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” – Page 1

“A new confidence had been born in me when I burnt that page and scattered the fragments. The past would not exist for either of us, we were starting afresh, he and I.” – Page 61

“I had an uneasy feeling we might be asked to spend the approaching Christmas with Beatrice. Perhaps I could have influenza.” – Page 181

“Sometimes I wonder if she comes back here to Manderley and watches you and Mr. de Winter together.” – Page 176

Rating

Writing 5 out of 5 stars

As I said above, there wasn’t a word wasted in creating an icy atmosphere that also really fit the period.

Character Development 5 out of 5 stars

A character that grows, changes or shows his/her faults is a realistic character. du Maurier excellently developed her characters throughout the story.

Plot Structure 5 out of 5 stars

Starting at the end, the main portion of the book is a flashback to a matter of months in the narrator’s life. I always think that using this format is in and of itself interesting. The story also builds to a climax that’s relatively unexpected.

Storytelling 5 out of 5 stars

du Maurier proves herself to be an excellent storyteller with this book. The story itself is intriguing, but it’s also told in a fascinating way.

Total 5 out of 5 stars

Have you read Rebecca? What were your thoughts?

Halloween 2013 The 1000th Voice Blog

Book Chat: 10.1.2013

It’s October! I’m very excited about the many great things this month has to offer: my 5th wedding anniversary, my birthday, Halloween, Practical Magic on TV, the Twin Cities Book Festival and my gothic horror/suspense/general creepy reads!

Halloween Reads at The 1000th Voice BlogI’m not a fan of today’s torture porn horror movies. There’s nothing appealing to me in the terror that is someone being tortured. So that’s why I gravitate towards creepy rather than all-out-terrifying. (And probably why Practical Magic is one of my favorite things about October!)

As you know, I’m already reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. Up next will be Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.

I have some fun Dracula- and literature-related Halloween posts planned. I hope you join me!

Do you enjoy extremely terrifying books or movies? What’s your favorite gothic horror, suspense or just plain creepy read?

Check out my review of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein costume ideas and some scary books to read from last year.

Weekly Reads: 9.29.2013

in which I share my planned reading for the week ahead

Well, well, well. Another week and another the same book! Oh, well. I have been enjoying it, so I might as well enjoy it longer. I don’t think I’ll have to adjust my October horror/suspense/general creepiness reading plans, though.

Dracula by Bram Stoker | Weekly Reads | The 1000th Voice Blog

**Linked up with Book Journey**

What are you reading this week? Something suspenseful or something creepy?

Weekly Reads: 9.22.2013

in which I share my planned reading for the week ahead

Well, this week I took a break from reading Dracula by Bram Stoker because this book came in at the library:

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter | The 1000th Voice Blog Weekly Reads

Beautiful Ruins
By Jess Walter

I’m reading this for a public book club in a couple weeks. With the new season starting for this program, I decided to push myself to join as much as possible. This book sounded pretty good, but it’s even better than that. I can’t wait to hear what others have to say!

As soon as I finish this, I’ll be back to Dracula. Despite my slow reading, I’ll definitely get done by late October when the new show premiers. (I hope it’s better than what reviewers have said.)

**Linked up with Book Journey**

What are you reading this week? Are you a member of a book club? Do you have an interesting theme or concept or a certain book genre?

Weekly Reads | 9.16.2013

in which I share my planned reading for the week ahead

Have I mentioned before that I’m a slow reader? It’s definitely true with classics. The speech and writing patterns take me a bit longer than contemporary fiction to understand. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy it. I absolutely enjoy reading classics and gaining a deeper understanding of the lives and thoughts of the time. That’s especially true with Dracula by Bram Stoker. In our current vampire-obsessed culture, it’s been great going back and reading the early years of vampire literature as we know it in its modern form.

On a more exciting note than the fact that I’m still reading the same book, I hit up my local Friends of the Library book sale this weekend. And I’m pretty sure I scored big.

Friends of the Library Score | The 1000th Voice blog

On top is The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen. Yes, you read that right. After Franzen revealed himself to be more of prick than people thought, I went out and bought his book. But the money went to a good cause (i.e. not Franzen’s pocket).  But I left the best for last here. The Lady and the Tycoona collection of the letters between Rose Wilder Lane and Jasper Crane. I am so excited to start digging through this!

Friends of the Library Score | The 1000th Voice blog

She Stoops to Conquer is a play by Oliver Goldsmith. The real winner here is that amazing cover.

Friends of the Library Score | The 1000th Voice blog

Finally, A Shakespeare Anthology is a nice little collection of pieces from Shakespeare’s many works.

I’m pretty sure I had a good day at the book sale, except that one of these cost $20 (and it wasn’t the Franzen).

What are you reading this week? What’s the best book you’ve ever scored at a garage sale, thrift store, Friends of the Library sale or really any other discount place?

**Linked up with Book Journey**