I know, a reading list about scary books in time for Halloween has nothing to do with quantum physics’ spooky action at a distance, but I couldn’t help using it for a post title. Indulge me.
I’m a cruelly picky reader, so putting together a list of recommended reads is always a difficult task for me – especially books with a theme. The following is a selection of novels that fulfilled my threefold hardcore criteria: 1) Couldn’t put it down (or hated pressing pause on the audiobook so I could do necessary self-maintenance like sleeping and showering); 2) Gave me major chills or laughs or both 3) I wanted to be friends with the heroines and heroes of the book.
The Quick There’s all this stupid whingeing scattered over the internets about the “twist” of this book – there’s no twist. It’s a book about vampires. I’m not ruining anything by telling you this. And I insist that it’s one of the best vampire books I’ve read. And you get two poignant love stories, two resourceful, sharpwitted female characters, and some seriously creepy monsters – human and otherwise.
Mayhem – Stephen Crossley’s narration is audiobook listening at its most sublime. He simply is Dr. Bond, and that’s that. A brief digression: Stephen King wrote a fantastic review of the audiobook version of James Ellroy’s novel Blood’s A Rover, telling how he listened to Craig Wasson’s narration while driving and it was soooo damn good it was a privilege to be in a car. That’s how I felt listening to Mayhem – I never wanted to hit the pause button and return to real life. There are plenty of books out there riffing on Jack the Ripper, but this is one of the best – for me, probably due to the supernatural element. A synopsis can’t do justice to the nuances of Mayhem‘s story and cast (yes! there’s a sequel with these wonderful characters). Read it.
London Falling A cop caper with gritty, snarky dark magic on the streets of modern-day London. A quartet of constables gains some magic mojo enabling them to see ghosts and various other nasties, including an ancient witch obsessed with football (you know, soccer) and murder. Somehow it really rocks, and these coppers are great company.
Midnight Riot aka Rivers of London This is another urban fantasy (of the gore and ghosts and angry Old Gods variety, not fluffy unicorns and fairies) that has humor, horror and heart (most still beating) and a delightful protagonist, PC Peter Grant. Apparently there’s some controversy about the American version of the book, which I wish I’d known before reading – grab the UK edition if you can. Heck, grab the UK edition of almost anything, as far as I’m concerned.
Murder as a Fine Art I wasn’t sure about a book that twists history into fiction by using Thomas De Quincey (Confessions of an English Opium Eater) as a revamped fictional hero and would-be Sherlock, but this absolutely worked, and the character of De Quincey’s daugher and protegé Emily is worth the entire read. And say WHAT – the author is David Morrell, who wrote First Blood. Yes, Rambo.
Even more suggestions (some I can endorse, some I haven’t read yet) can be found on my goodreads Gaslight list – including the wonderful Lyndsay Faye, Barbara Hambly’s Benjamin January books, and Stephen Gallagher’s Sebastien Becker series.
I guess I can include spooky watching herein as well, since Hulu finally got Season 4 of Whitechapel, definitely the strangest and most ghosty of the series, and oh my wailing and lamenting that this show was cancelled. You might also enjoy Copper, Ripper Street, and Elementary. Also my guilty pleasure of late: Witches of East End.
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