Horror: What We Bring Back From the Woods

I love the way horror novels are often tied to a specific, vividly rendered place: a scary house, a sinister hospital, a remote stretch of woods. Today I’m drilling down on that last one, with a few horror novels where characters bring something unexpected back from their wilderness adventures. These novels also share a focus on close friendships and the ties that bind.

Echo by Thomas Olde Heuvelt
“Nature is calling—but they shouldn’t have answered” – that’s the publisher’s hook, and wow did it hook me. Nick and Augustin, mountaineers and friends, decided to tackle a remote peak in the Swiss Alps called Le Maudit (meaning cursed, in French), but got the weird feeling they weren’t alone on the slopes. Only Nick came back from the mountain, but he brought something home within him. Sam, Nick’s boyfriend, delves into the history of Le Maudit, even as people begin to die strange, violent deaths at the hospital where Nick is recuperating. Sam’s notes alternate with Nick’s diary entries in this atmospheric, creepy novel. Continue reading “Horror: What We Bring Back From the Woods”

Horror movies to stream this Halloween weekend

Halloween weekend is upon us! If you’re looking to cozy up with a frightful movie marathon, we’ve got you covered with some streaming scaries – all free to access with your library card, no need to even leave home. (Audience note: most of these films are for adult audiences; please use discretion if watching with younger folks.)

Continue reading “Horror movies to stream this Halloween weekend”

Horror Comes Home

Alright, it’s spooky season people! Horror has a long tradition of scary houses and liminal spaces, and this year’s horror novels feature a great slate of haunted properties: from a former plantation in the American South to a condo in Chicago and cabin in Colorado, from an ancestral home in an historic England-like country to an abandoned mansion in Malaysia, to a seemingly quaint town in upstate New York.

This Thing Between Us by Gus Moreno
Mexican American couple Thiago and Vera move into a Chicago condo beset by unexplained occurrences: cold spots; scratching in the walls; an unruly smart speaker. After Vera dies in a freak accident, Thiago moves to a remote cabin in Colorado, where once he realizes he‘s facing something cosmically sinister it’s already too late. Check this out for a dose of Lovecraftian horror, where the malevolent unknowable is knocking on the door of our reality. Continue reading “Horror Comes Home”

A guide to exploring new genres

Each year, groups of librarians from across the country hole up in a room (this year, a virtual room) to discuss and select the best books from the year before. The Notable Books List features literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry; the Listen List is all about outstanding audiobooks; and The Reading List, which I want to tell you about today, highlights outstanding genre fiction in eight genres: Adrenaline (aka thrillers, adventure stories), Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Horror, Mystery, Relationship Fiction, Romance, and Science Fiction.

While each genre has a winner, it also has a four-title shortlist of runners up. Taken together, the five books in each genre represent a range of the types of stories a reader can find in that genre, with the idea that both longtime fans and folks new to the genre can find a title of interest. If you are looking to branch out into new areas of fiction reading, it is a great place to start. Check out the 2021 winners (for books published in 2020) below, with annotations from the ALA Reading List Council, or in our catalog.


The Holdout by Graham Moore
Ten years after Maya Seale convinced her fellow jurors to acquit a man of murder, a true crime documentary reunites the jury amid claims of new Continue reading “A guide to exploring new genres”

Christmas Horror!

Ah, Christmas! A magical time filled with colored lights, falling snow, and visits from old St Nick. Yet colored lights can’t hide the fact that each day it gets darker earlier and stays dark longer. Falling snow is awfully good at making footprints look strangely shaped or just covering them up all together. And isn’t there something creepy about someone dressed in red walking around on rooftops crawling down your chimney at night, when you’re sound asleep? In this column, I’ll be talking about Christmas movies that take a very different view of the holiday, one where ghosts, monsters, and some not-very-nice Santas have their own ideas on how to celebrate the season.

Let’s start by talking about the most adapted Christmas story of all time: Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol. There are dramatic adaptations (the classic 1951 version starring Alistair Sim and the 1984 version starring George C. Scott), musical versions (Scrooge starring Albert Finney), animated versions (A Christmas Carol featuring Jim Carrey), animated musical versions (Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol), and even one featuring The Muppets (The Muppet Christmas Carol starring Michael Caine). Continue reading “Christmas Horror!”