Archive for October, 2012

Got Gothic?

The genre of “gothic” novels encompasses a wide range of books, from the merely atmospheric to the truly horrifying. But all have a few things in common – an old, usually creepy, house or other building; some sort of long-time “curse”; and people who know more secrets than they are letting on to. Throw in a romance along with the mystery – even if it’s doomed – and you have the groundwork for gothic terror.

So, just in time for Halloween, here are ten good gothic novels to spook yourself with this weekend…


The Distant Hours – Kate Morton

  • A long-lost letter arriving at its destination fifty years after it was sent lures Edie Burchill to crumbling Milderhurst Castle, home of the three elderly Blythe sisters, where Edie’s mother was sent to stay as a teenager during World War II.

The Ghost Writer – John Harwood (also read: The Seance)

  • Plagued with unpleasant memories of his mother’s death, shy Gerard Freeman is obsessed with the manuscript of a century-old ghost story written by his great-grandmother and entrusted to his care.

The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson

  • Anthropologist and ghost hunter Dr. John Montague invites four strangers to stay in haunted Hill House for the summer. One of the guests is 32-year-old Eleanor, for whom three months in a haunted house is preferable to caring for her invalid mother. Soon, Eleanor begins to see and hear things that the other guests cannot. Is it all in her imagination, or is she the only one who can perceive the evil that lurks in Hill House?

The House of Seven Gables – Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • A family’s fortunes are poisoned by its past misdeeds. The sins of the Pyncheon father are visited upon his children over a period of several generations, until such time as one of his descendants unites with a member of the family he has wronged. Love conquers hate, and new blood washes away the original crime.

The Little Stranger – Sarah Waters

  • After being summoned to treat a patient at dilapidated Hundreds Hall, Dr. Faraday finds himself becoming entangled in the lives of the owners, the Ayres family, and the supernatural presences in the house.

Property of a Lady – Sarah Rayne

  • Michael Flint is asked to be the caretaker of Charect House, a haunted place with past secrets that could endanger present occupants.

Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier

  • A classic novel of romantic suspense finds the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter entering the home of her mysterious and enigmatic new husband and learning the story of the house’s first mistress, to whom the sinister housekeeper is unnaturally devoted.

The Thirteenth Tale – Diane Setterfield

  • When her health begins failing, the mysterious author Vida Winter decides to let Margaret Lea, a biographer, write the truth about her life, but Margaret needs to verify the facts since Vida has a history of telling outlandish tales.

Turn of the Screw – Henry James

  • The story unfolds with the arrival of a new governess at a remote country estate, who has been hired by the uncle of two young orphans to take complete charge of the children’s lives and upbringing. Her first peaceful weeks are disturbed by the apparition of the ghosts of two evil servants who once served in the house.

The Woman in Black – Susan Hill

  • Arthur Kipps, a young solicitor, travels to the north of England to settle the estate of Alice Drablow, but unexpectedly encounters a series of sinster events.


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The Way Back Machine – Best Sellers 1973

Remember 1973? There are probably a few of us who would rather not – I mean, look at the fashion (non)sense people had in those days. Shag carpeting, appliances in not-so-natural colors, and of course, bell bottom pants. It’s a good thing I can claim to be a baby during that unfortunate period of style.

But, 1973 can also be remembered for being the year in which:

  • Elvis performs in the first worldwide concert telecast. His “Aloha from Hawaii” special was seen by millions of people in 40 countries (January).
  • The World Trade Center officially opens (April).
  • Bruce Lee dies while working on Enter the Dragon (July).

Relive the glory days (this time without the rust colored macrame plant holders) with one of the following books, from the New York Times Best Sellers list from the week of October 21, 1973.



1. The Hollow Hills – Mary Stewart

2. Breakfast of Champions – Kurt Vonnegut

3. The Billion Dollar Sure Thing – Paul Emil Erdman

4. World Without End – Jimmy Breslin

5. The Honorary Consul – Graham Greene

6. Once is Not Enough – Jacqueline Susann

7. The Salamander – Morris L. West

8. Harvest Home – Thomas Tryon

9. Curse of the Kings – Victoria Holt

10. Facing the Lions – Tom Wicker



1. The Joy of Sex – Alex Comfort

2. How to Be Your Own Best Friend – Mildred Newman and Bernard Berkowitz with Jean Owen

3. The Making of the President – Theodore H. White

4. The Onion Field – Joseph Wambaugh

5. In One Era and Out the Other – Sam Levenson

6. Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution – Dr. Robert Atkins

7. Pentimento – Lilian Hellman

8. Sybil – Flora Rheta Schreiber

9. Cosell – Howard Cosell

10. Weight Watchers Program Cook Book – Jean Nidetch


M is for Midnight

Greetings all you ghouls and goblins! The October winds have arrived and we all know what happens at “the witching hour”. At least, what probably happened before we had all-night convenience stores, electric lights, and the Internet. Our modern day technologies may render midnight less intriguing, but at this time of year, we can always turn to a good book to help us remember when it had the power to frighten us. Of course, there are tons of movies out there that prove to us that terror can strike at any time of day – but midnight is just a bit more fun.

Check out one of these books with “midnight” in the title:



Before Midnight: A Nero Wolfe Novel – Rex Stout

  • When Louis Dahlmann, the mastermind behind a huge advertising competition, is found dead, Nero Wolfe is hired to determine the winning answer and find the victim’s killers.

Call After Midnight – Tess Gerritsen

  • Newlywed Sarah Fontaine must join forces with special agent Nick O’Hara to find her husband Geoffrey, who is presumed dead, and as they journey to Europe to discover the truth, they become the pawns in a deadly game of espionage.

Kiss of Midnight – Lara Adrian

  • Drawn to the enigmatic stranger she sees across the room in a crowded dance club, Gabrielle Maxwell is drawn into the dark and dangerous world of hunter vampires, one in which a blood war is on the edge of ignition, when she falls for Lucan Thorne, a vampire Breed warrior sworn to protect other vampires and humans from the threat of the Rogues.

Midnight: A Gangster Love Story – Sister Soulja

  • Sent to America with his mother when his father’s powerful empire is attacked, underworld lieutenant Midnight draws on his African intelligence and Muslim mindset to protect those he loves and reclaim his wealth and way of life.

Midnight Angels – Lorenzo Carcaterra

  • Visiting Florence to study art history and finish her thesis on the lost works of Michelangelo, American student Kate Westcott befriends Italian student Marco, with whom she discovers three missing sculptures only to be violently targeted by a master art thief.

Midnight Before Christmas – William Bernhardt

  • Attorney Megan McGee confronts an unexpectedly dangerous holiday when she takes on the case of Bonnie Thomas, whose estranged husband, Carl, a former cop with a violent temper and a drinking problem, threatens to kill their young son, Tommy, rather than give him up.

Midnight’s Children – Salman Rushdie

  • The story of Saleem Sinal, born precisely at midnight, August 15, 1947, the moment India became independent. Saleem’s life parallels the history of his nation.

Midnight Mass – F. Paul Wilson

  • With the fall of the Soviet Union, the dark forces of the vampires are engulfing the world, as a small group of determined humans embark on a plan of resistance that includes the destruction of the vampire king of New York.

Midnight Voices – John Saul

  • Cheryl Evans is a recently widowed mother of two. Things seem to have fallen into place when she meets Anthony Fleming and they are quickly married. She and her two children move into Fleming’s luxury apartment on Central Park West despite her son’s misgivings about the building and the people who dwell there. The building is home to a monstrously evil secret.

The Second Midnight – Andrew Taylor

  • The fates of two families–the English Kendalls and the German Scholls–are intertwined in the devastating whirlwind of World War II.



Down Around Midnight: A Memoir of Crash and Survival – Robert Sabbag

  • The author shares his story of surviving a 1979 plane crash in the woods on Cape Cod, and reconnects with other survivors in an attempt to come to terms with the emotional ramifications of the incident.

From Midnight to Dawn: The Last Tracks of the Underground Railroad – Jacqueline Tobin

  • Describes the and controversies of the time of the Underground Railroad, including the furor over Uncle Tom’s Cabin, congressional confrontations in Washington, and fierce disputes among black settlers in Canada.

Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland – Patricia L. Bryan

  • A detailed account of a crime that has haunted one Iowa town for more than a century describes the 1900 ax murder of John Hossack, a cruel and unstable man; the arrest, trial, and conviction of his wife, Margaret; her account of an intruder who broke into the house and killed her husband; and her eventual release on appeal.

Midnight Dreary: The Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe – John Evangelist Walsh

  • Examines the last days of the author’s life and his mysterious death in Baltimore.

Midnight in Peking: How the Murder of a Young Englishwoman Haunted the Last Days of Old China – Paul French

  • Chronicles the efforts of two detectives–one British and one Chinese–as they raced to find an Englishwoman’s killer in 1937 before the Japanese invasion of Peking.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story – John Berendt

  • In charming, beautiful, and wealthy old-South Savannah, Georgia, the local bad boy is shot dead inside of the opulent mansion of a gay antiques dealer, and a gripping trial follows.

Midnight on the Line: The Secret Life of the U.S.-Mexico Border – Tim Gaynor

  • Examines the dangerous activities which take place along the United States-Mexico border region, presenting interviews with Mexican migrants, Border Patrol police, the Shadow Wolves Native American trackers, civilian Minutemen, and FBI agents investigating corruption.

Moanin’ at Midnight: The Life and Times of Howlin’ Wolf – James Segrest

  • A biography of one of R&B’s most enduring legends, his mysterious early years, surprising and entertaining stories about his decades at the top, and never-before-seen photographs. (Summary from the TFPL catalog.)

One Minute to Midnight: Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the Brink of Nuclear War – Michael Dobbs

  • A study of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis chronicles the standoff between the U.S. and the Soviet Union over the placement of missiles in Cuba, analyzing the events and personalities involved to reveal how close the world came to all-out nuclear war.

Universe at Midnight: Observations Illuminating the Cosmos – Ken Croswell

  • Puts discoveries old and new into fresh perspective, explaining what the big bang, the Hubble constant, quintessence, and the cosmological constant really mean. (Summary from the TFPL catalog.)


Annotations are courtesy of NoveList Plus (except where noted).