Sunday, October 18, 2009

A Spooky Sunday Salon... "Books with Buzz" that will have you sleep with the lights on!

What is the Sunday Salon? Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake...

October is the month for things that go bump in the night... when we walk quickly late at night wary of the shadows that seem to follow us as we hurry along our way... October is the month of Halloween...

Halloween had its beginnings in an ancient, pre-Christian Celtic festival of the dead. The festival observed at this time was called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween). It was the biggest and most significant holiday of the Celtic year. The Celts believed that at the time of Samhain, more so than any other time of the year, the ghosts of the dead were able to mingle with the living, because at Samhain the souls of those who had died during the year traveled into the otherworld. People gathered to sacrifice animals, fruits, and vegetables. They also lit bonfires in honor of the dead, to aid them on their journey, and to keep them away from the living. On that day all manner of beings were abroad: ghosts, fairies, and demons--all part of the dark and dread. Samhain became the Halloween we are all familiar with when Christian missionaries attempted to change the religious practices of the Celtic people. Now when children go out trick or treating, they dress up not as the ghosts and fairies that were originally thought to roam the night, but as pirates and princesses... maybe a zombie here and there too.

What a perfect time of year to open up a good scary book... something I use to really enjoy as a teenager! There are a few new notable books published just for the occassion...

Dracula TheUn-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt... is a bone-chilling sequel based on Bram Stoker's own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Written with the blessing and cooperation of Stoker family members, Dracula The Un-Dead begins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula "crumbled into dust." Van Helsing's protégé, Dr. Jack Seward, is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school for the London stage, only to stumble upon the troubled production of "Dracula," directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself. The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents' terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he experiences evil in a way he had never imagined. One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula a quarter-century ago is being hunted down. Could it be that Dracula somehow survived their attack and is seeking revenge? Or is their another force at work whose relentless purpose is to destroy anything and anyone associated with Dracula? Interestingly co-author Ian Holt was a Dracula fan since his childhood, doing extensive research, lecturing on and writing scholarly papers on the historic Prince Dracula. When he decided he wanted to write this book, he "wanted a Stoker involved" and approached Dacre Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, who wrote the original Dracula. Even though this was Dacre's first novel, he did take part in writing the novel, not just a figurehead to sell the book. Just published this past week, it is now available at your bookstore and is Kindle Ready!

House of Reckoning by John Saul... For more than three decades John Saul has haunted and readers'imaginations with his chilling tales of psychological suspense and supernatural horror. His instinct for striking the deepest chords of fear in the hearts and minds of readers is unerring. In House of Reckoning after the untimely death of her mother while she is still in her early teens, Sarah Crane is forced to grow up quickly-in order to help tend her family's Vermont farm and look after her grieving father, who's drowning his sorrow in alcohol. But their quiet life together is shattered when her father is jailed for killing another man in a barroom brawl, and injuring Sarah in a drunken car crash. Left in the cold care of a loveless foster family and alienated at school, Sarah finds a kindred spirit in classmate Nick Dunnigan, a former mental patient still plagued by voices and visions. And in eccentric art instructor Bettina Phillips, she finds a mentor eager to nurture her talent for painting. But within the walls of Bettina's ancestral home, the mansion called Shutters, Sarah finds something altogether different and disturbing. Monstrous images from the house's dark history seem to flow unbidden from her paintbrush-images echoed by Nick's chilling hallucinations. Trapped for ages in the shadowy rooms of Shutters, the violence and fury of long-dead generations has finally found a gateway from the grave into the world of the living. And Sarah and Nick have found a power they never had: to take control, and take revenge. This book was also just released this past week and it is also Kindle Ready!

Now a couple oldies, but goodies... books that will have you keep the lights long into the night...

Salem's Lot by Stephen King... Salem's Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in 'salem's Lot was a summer of homecoming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned to 'salem's Lot hoping to cast out his own devils and found instead a new, unspeakable horror. A stranger had also come to the Lot, a stranger with a secret as old as evil, a secret that would wreak irreparable harm on those he touched and in turn on those they loved. All would be changed forever: Susan, whose love for Ben could not protect her; Father Callahan, the bad priest who put his eroded faith to one last test; and Mark, a young boy who sees his fantasy world become reality and ironically proves the best equipped to handle the relentless nightmare of 'Salem's Lot. A novel, almost hypnotic in its unyielding suspense, which builds to a climax of classic terror... A classic vampire novel... And Kindle Ready!

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson... The classic supernatural thriller by an author who helped define the genre. First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson's The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own. I have yet to read the book, but I love both of the movies based on this book! And look forward to reading the book to see if I'm just as scared! Unfortunately, this book is not available for either the Kindle or Sony eReader! (yet!?)

Some other books that come to mind that I read many years ago are The Shining by Stephen King and The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (which I read on the beach one summer and was scared!)... What's the scariest book you ever read? What authors do you enjoy in this genre? Share some of your favorites and we'll keep the lights on for you..

Happy reading... Suzanne

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