Lydia Millet’s sublime new novel follows a group of twelve eerily mature children on a forced vacation with their families at a sprawling lakeside mansion. Contemptuous of their parents, who pass their days in a stupor of liquor, drugs, and sex, the children feel neglected and suffocated at the same time. When a destructive storm descends on the summer estate, the group’s ringleaders—including Eve, who narrates the story—decide to run away, leading the younger ones on a dangerous foray into the apocalyptic chaos outside. A Children’s Bible is a prophetic, heartbreaking story of generational divide in an unraveling world.
Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed. It’s still a Fall Fandom channel round these parts, so today we’re going to talk books that are eerie but not put-that-wretched-book-in-the-freezer scary. I’m at best a novice horror reader and I know a lot of you out there in this same camp. I like to be freaked out, but I don’t wanna pass out, you know? Never fear! Not-totally-terrifying books for fall reading are here.
To the club!!
Nibbles and Sips
I’m a sucker for fall-themed beverages of all stripes—it’s kind of an obsession. Since we’re back to cooler temps this week in Portland, I’ve been guzzling down the apple cider I got from my farm excursion a few weeks ago, adding a few ingredients to spruce it up. For an easy mulled cider, add a sliced orange, 2-3 cinnamon sticks, a tablespoon of cloves, and another of allspice to a gallon of apple cider and let it all simmer for a couple of hours. Add bourbon or rum to make it extra saucy, and toss in some star anise if that black licorice flavor is your jam.
I Wanna Freak Out, Not Pass Out
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
I recommended this book back in the spring, but I’ve got to bring it back now because it’s such a perfect eerie-but-not-outright-terrifying read. It’s a post-apocalyptic novel where a small northern Anishinaabe community goes dark. Winter is coming, panic is setting in, and everyone is buying up all the food and supplies on the reservation as sickness and death run rampant. Is it any wonder this hit a little close to home when I read it back in March?! This slow burn of a book is so atmospheric, so eerie, and has such a strong sense of place. It’s chilling an unsettling on multiple levels, but still absolutely doable even for weenies like me.
When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole
I know I’ve said this before and it’s probably annoying, but it really is best if you go in knowing as little about this book as possible. Just trust that you’re in good hands, prepare for side-eye, and go forth! It’ll terrify you for reasons that I can’t tell you without entering spoiler territory, but if I can handle it, you can. And if you do need a palate cleanser when you’re done, good news: Alyssa Cole has a whole catalog of happily ever afters if you find that you need your faith in the universe restored.
The Poison Thread by Laura Purcell
It’s just a fact of life that any list of eerie reads from me is going to include something gothic. Since I’ve recommended Mexican Gothic quite a bit lately (read it, read it now!), I’m hitting you with this Victorian thriller instead. Wealthy and beautiful Dorothea Truelove is obsessed with phrenology and goes to Oakgate Prison to research her theories on skull shape and crime. She meets Ruth at the prison, a teenage seamstress who claims to possess a supernatural ability to kill from afar using only a needle and thread. Doth Ruth speak truth? Is she unwell? Is she a stone cold killer trying to make a patsy of her sewing kit? This book gave me Sarah Waters Affinity vibes, but with the haunted feeling turned up just a smidge.
Need more eerie reads? Here’s the post that inspired this week’s club topic.
Basketball player Stephen Curry is launching a book club called Underrated.
“Back in 1999, the 15 or so women who called themselves Sisters With Books, or SWB for short, were all strangers to me. Except for Angela.” I love good book club origin story!
Thanks for hanging with me today! Shoot me an email at email@example.com with your burning book club questions or find me on Twitter and the gram @buenosdiazsd. Sign up for the Audiobooks newsletter and catch me once a month on the All the Books podcast.
Stay bad & bookish, my friends.