Hey there horror fans, I’m Jessica Avery and I’ll be delivering your weekly brief of all that’s ghastly and grim in the world of Horror. Whether you’re looking for a backlist book that will give you the willies, a terrifying new release, or the latest in horror community news, you’ll find it here in The Fright Stuff.
Families are…complicated. Even people who have a good relationship with their family know that no one cuts deeper, or has an easier time getting under your skin. At least with family you know which of the closets have skeletons (usually) but it doesn’t change the fact that those skeletons are always there, even when everyone is pretending they’re not. Secrets. Lies. Horrors in the basement. Memories too painful to revisit that roam the hallways of childhood homes like so many ghosts.
It’s no wonder that the family and the home are such a rich source of material for the horror genre, and why our fascination with them persists. This week’s picks are all about the horrors of home, generational secrets, and the kind of fear that only family can inflict.
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Haunted Library Cross Stitch Pattern by LolaCrowCrossStitch
Knowing that fall is near always makes me eager to pick up a needle and thread and create. There’s just something perfectly cozy about curling up on a cool, rainy day, with a cup of tea steaming on the side table, and stitching something. So for my fellow dual class bookworm-stitchers, this week’s bookish goods pick is for you. After all, is your home library really complete without a hand-stitched haunted library to hang on the wall?
Mister Magic by Kiersten White
It’s Mister Magic week! I’m so excited for this book. There’s nothing better than a creepy “cult classic” children’s program that, while it lives on in the memories of its generations of devoted fans, mysteriously vanished without a trace after being shut down by a tragic accident. No recordings of Mister Magic survive, nor do any clues as to who created it or why. The remaining members of its cast remember, though, and they hold tightly to the happiness they felt when all five were part of Mister Magic’s Circle of Friends. When they belonged. Thirty years after the accident, the five are reunited at a remote compound in the desert and it’s like they were never apart. But there’s a lot about that tragic day they don’t remember, and secrets about Mister Magic that they may have chosen to forget.
The Dark Place by Britney S. Lewis
Your life can turn upside down in the blink of an eye on a bad day. Hylee Williams has had two very bad days: the day her brother went missing, and the day she disappeared from our reality. Hylee suddenly finds herself back on the night her brother went missing, but something is different. Wrong. All twisted up. But before Hylee can figure out why, and what it means about her brother’s disappearance, she’s dumped back into our reality. But it won’t be the last time she finds herself unceremoniously deposited in that strange other world. With the help of an oddly familiar new friend, Hylee begins to investigate her new abilities and the truth (or lack thereof) about reality in hopes of finding a way to rescue her brother, before the darkness in that otherworld, and this one, can consume her entirely.
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My Dear Henry by Kalynn Bayron
The damage that family can do when they don’t love you the way they should, just the way you are, is at the heart of this gorgeous retelling of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When Gabriel Utterson was sent to London by his father to study medicine he fell head over heels in love with fellow medical student Henry Jekyll. But it’s hard to hide a love that burns that brightly, and before long rumors and whispers begin to follow Henry and Gabriel, forcing them to separate. When Gabriel returns to London after a long summer away, it becomes instantly clear that something is wrong with Henry, and Gabriel is certain that it has to do the with the strange young man, Hyde, who has been seen coming and going from the Jekyll household. If Gabriel cannot discover the truth about what has happened to Henry, he may be at risk of losing the boy he loves forever.
Just Like Home by Sarah Gailey
This book, y’all. The slow, unfolding realization of the horrifying truth at the heart of Vera’s childhood. The eerie almost-haunting rooted in the things she doesn’t want to remember. Just so good. Vera returns to her childhood home — the home that her father built — at the behest of her dying mother. But any hopes Vera might have had of loving, tearful reconciliations are dashed soon after she arrives. Her mother is as caustic and distant as ever, and her serial killer father’s ghost lurks around every corner. Possibly literally. Add to that the artist with avaristic intent, and a lascivious interest in Vera’s bloody past, who is currently squatting in the converted garden shed in the backyard, and is it any wonder that all Vera’s darkest memories are coming home to roost?
Black Sheep by Rachel Harrison (September 19)
Speaking of books that fall into the category of “Read This. Just Do It.” When Black Sheep comes out in September, I need you all to run not walk to the bookstore. Okay? Promise. Because this book is the crown jewel of “your family can fuck you up like no other.” I mean after all, that’s why Vesper left her tiny religious community when she was 18. She didn’t believe so she didn’t belong, and having chosen to leave, she couldn’t go back if she wanted to. Until, that is, a wedding invitation arrives and with it an offer: come home. Unable to resist the pull of family after so many years alone, Vesper gets on a train. But back home things aren’t quite like she remembers, and secrets new and old are bubbling to the surface. When one particularly terrifying truth comes to light, Vera will have to reconsider everything she thought she knew about her childhood, her family’s faith, and the people who were supposed to love her.