We’ve been doing #WickedGoodReads Month every October for 4 years now, so here’s some of our favorite books from the archives with wicked people & creatures, dangerous places & things. for your Fall reading pleasure.
The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson
This book was first published in 1959 – so it’s the real OG of psychological terror. It’s a very haunting, atmospheric novel about 4 people who are staying at the notoriously “unfriendly” Hill House. Reading this was like watching a tragic accident unfolding before your very eyes. [Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository]
The Diviners, Libba Bray
This book is about a series of murders taking place by the re-incarnation of a shaman type dude, aka Naughty John. I loved that Bray had such a diverse group of characters – black, white, rich, poor, blind, gay, happy-go-lucky, serious, playful – really a rich ensemble. And Libba Bray sure knows how to keep up the suspense and the air of mystery. I was literally on the edge of my seat plenty of times. Plus that fucking house is CREEPY! Naughty John used to live there many years ago, and now he’s found his way back to life. This house in NOT a place you want to find yourself in – at any time!
Evie O’Neill has been exiled from her boring old hometown and shipped off to the bustling streets of New York City, and she is pos-i-tute-ly ecstatic. It’s 1926, and New York is filled with speakeasies, Ziegfeld girls, and rakish pickpockets. The only catch is that she has to live with her uncle Will and his unhealthy obsession with the occult. Evie worries he’ll discover her darkest secret: a supernatural power that has only brought her trouble so far. But when the police find a murdered girl branded with a cryptic symbol and Will is called to the scene, Evie realizes her gift could help catch a serial killer.
Slade House, David Mitchell
Note to self – don’t go in any house that’s on a creepy dead end street that has a history of disappearances.
Down the road from a working-class British pub, along the brick wall of a narrow alley, if the conditions are exactly right, you’ll find the entrance to Slade House. A stranger will greet you by name and invite you inside. At first, you won’t want to leave. Later, you’ll find that you can’t. Every nine years, the house’s residents—an odd brother and sister—extend a unique invitation to someone who’s different or lonely: a precocious teenager, a recently divorced policeman, a shy college student. But what really goes on inside Slade House? For those who find out, it’s already too late. [Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository]
The Shining, Stephen King
The Overlook Hotel in Colorado (US) is a bad bad place. I’m all for isolation, but being cut off from the rest of civilization for months at a time is quite the recipe for disaster … this book might be why I don’t like Winter! King published this book back in 1980 – so it’s basically a classic now – like the OG creepy read. Save this for when you’re home alone … and read it in the dark. It’s extra … fun … if you’re in a home that makes “night noises.” [Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository]
Doctor Sleep (The Shining #2), Stephen King
On highways across America, a tribe of people called The True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless – mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, The True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the “steam” that children with the “shining” produce when they are slowly tortured to death.
King knows how to build up a story, and make you fall in love with his characters. There was a twist I didn’t see coming with Abra’s grandma – well played King! Doctor Sleep was all about growth to me. We saw Danny grow from when he was a kid in The Shining, to being a flawed adult here in this book, then to getting used to his abilities and finding a way to use them to help people in a discreet way. And what I probably loved the most about Danny’s journey, is that he’s no longer alone. He has a community, and people he can call on if/ when he needs help.
And of course, there are the villains, The True Knot. This group of vampire like baddies that feed off the shining got exactly what they deserved – and in a spectacularly, fitting fashion. So – yeah – go read this! This book has some twists to it, and it’s definitely good reading. [Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository]
Rotters, Daniel Kraus
Rotters is one dark, dark book! Everything about Joey and his father is incredibly depressing. They live in a run down, dilapidated cabin, where Joey sleeps in a bed roll on the floor. His father is known as “The Garbageman” around town, despite not really being a garbage man. In fact, Joey’s dad is actually a grave robber. The bodies he and other grave robbers dig up are described in sickening detail. The appearance of the grave robbers is depicted as if they are just walking rotting flesh – lifeless, hopeless, joyless human beings. You see where this is going – this book is DEPRESSING AF … and good AF. Listen to the audiobook because Kirby Heyborn as the grave-robber-going-mad named Baby – might just give you nightmares! [Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository]
The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes
In Depression-era Chicago, Harper Curtis finds a key to a house that opens on to other times. But it comes at a cost. He has to kill the shining girls: bright young women, burning with potential. He stalks them through their lives across different eras until, in 1989, one of his victims, Kirby Mazrachi, survives and starts hunting him back.
Harper is a truly evil villain. He sees girls that have something special about them – he calls it “The Shining” – and he kills them when they’ve grown up. But this story is not as straightforward as it seems, and there are a lot of twists and crazy turns that happen. It’s a detailed web of a story, a bit gruesome at times, but well worth the read. [Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository]
Zombie, Joyce Carol Oates
Meet Quentin P., an unbelievably terrifying sexual psychopath and killer. “The author deftly puts you inside the mind of a serial killer–succeeding not in writing about madness, but in writing with the logic of madness.”
Quentin P is probably one of the most unforgettable characters – ever! He is undeniably crazy, and there is nothing redeeming about him. To be inside his mind, as the author takes us through his thought process, is so unnerving that I almost wish I could unread this book. And that’s what makes this story so bloody good. Damn you JCO, for being such a good writer. [Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository]
Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn
This is the story of what happens when one person dominates / owns a town and the people in it. I had a little bit of dislike for almost all the characters in Sharp Objects … which kind of makes it a good book because it gave me all the feels and took me for quite a ride trying to figure out who killed the little girls in Camille Preaker’s hometown. And in true Flynn style, I ended up not quite where I expected to be.
WICKED above her hipbone, GIRL across her heart
Words are like a road map to reporter Camille Preaker’s troubled past. Fresh from a brief stay at a psych hospital, Camille’s first assignment from the second-rate daily paper where she works brings her reluctantly back to her hometown to cover the murders of two preteen girls.
Zone One, Colson Whitehead
The rules for surviving the zombie-pocalypse in Zone One …
- Rule #1 Shit happens – don’t waste time trying to figure out why.
- Rule #2 Adapt or die – don’t waste time trying to figure out the how. Just do.
- Rule #3 If you find yourself getting comfortable after you adapt, refer to Rule #1 – because the shit’s about to hit the fan AGAIN!
This book is dark and not even really about the zombies, but more about surviving once the World as you know it has been taken away from you. Do you try to rebuild & live like the “old days” or do you adapt and change – even to a World that’s not to your liking?
Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams working in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the zombie outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world.
Feed (The Newsflesh Trilogy), Mira Grant
Consider this a recommendation for all 3 books in The Newsflesh trilogy! You’ll be educated on what it’s like to live in a post-zombie-apocalypse World … and ironically (considering the time), it’s about a presidential campaign + zombies + bloggers. Years after zombies have become rampant – life goes on, but naturally, with lots of changes. Feed is not exactly a traditional zombie novel – meaning, don’t expect the focus to be on zombies chomping down on everyone. Instead, the book is much more character driven – the author is phenomenal with the details – getting us to visualize them with amazing clarity.
The year was 2014. We had cured cancer. We had beaten the common cold. But in doing so we created something new, something terrible that no one could stop. The infection spread, virus blocks taking over bodies and minds with one, unstoppable command: FEED. Now, twenty years after the Rising, bloggers Georgia and Shaun Mason are on the trail of the biggest story of their lives – the dark conspiracy behind the infected. The truth will get out, even if it kills them.
The Passage, Justin Cronin
Seriously, this brick of a book is depressing as hell, but well written, detailed (so many details), and is probably one of my favorite vampire novels. People either love it or hate it, but one thing is for sure – the audiobook version of this is truly the way to go. The narrators (Scott Brick, Adenrele Ojo and Abby Craden) are incredible and bring the characters to life. The pacing is spot on – and since this is a huge 700+ page book, terrible pacing would have killed it! Listening to it as an audiobook totally freaked me out at times. As before, I suggest you turn off the lights and just sit with this one in order to get the full creepy effect.
First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear–of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.
The Strain, Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan
Y’all know what happened to the passengers on THAT flight? They had a vampire traveling with them and he killed them ALL. No thank you! The suspense started building right away with this book, and although at times it felt a bit “movie-esque with stock characters” I was more than happy to remain engrossed and engaged with this horror/ thriller.
A Boeing 777 arrives at JFK and is on its way across the tarmac, when it suddenly stops dead. All window shades are pulled down. All lights are out. All communication channels have gone quiet. Crews on the ground are lost for answers, but an alert goes out to the CDC. Dr. Ephraim “Eph” Goodweather, head of their Canary project, a rapid-response team that investigates biological threats, gets the call and boards the plane. What he finds makes his blood run cold.
Let The Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist
It is autumn 1981 when the inconceivable comes to Blackeberg, a suburb in Sweden. The body of a teenage boy is found, emptied of blood, the murder rumored to be part of a ritual killing. Twelve-year-old Oskar is personally hoping that revenge has come at long last – revenge for the bullying he endures at school, day after day. But the murder is not the most important thing on his mind. A new girl has moved in next door – a girl who has never seen a Rubik’s Cube before, but who can solve it at once. There is something wrong with her, though, something odd. And she only comes out at night.
This is one weird vampire book – definitely more like a psychological thriller. I thought it took a little while to get going, but once it did, it blew my mind! It has some gross parts, some disturbing parts, and of course, the weird/ creepy bits … really creepy. I really love how the vampire aspect of the book doesn’t exist in a vacuum so to speak – it’s about many characters, and has quite a few underlying threads running through it – bullying, friendships, despair & drunkenness. The author took his time with the story – thankfully not rushing the ending, and he wrapped up all the various story lines & loose ends masterfully. [Barnes & Noble | Amazon | Book Depository]
NOS4A2, Joe Hill
Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.” One day, they meet and nothing is ever the same again, for both of them.
Charlie Manx is quite the character, and he tried to make everything I love about Christmas into something sick and twisted ** ughh ** But was it Charlie, or the damn car that was responsible? So much happens in this book, and I loved reading every word of it.
Several of the #WickedGoodReads above have been adapted into movies or tv shows. Have you read any of the books above, or watched the adaptations?