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Horror

Croak by Gina Damico

Croak by Gina Damico

Croak was the selection for the YA2 book club's horror month in October. It tells the story of a girl with unexplained bursts of violent behavior who is sent to live with her uncle for the summer. It turns out he is a Grim Reaper and she is the newest apprentice in the strange town of Croak which bridges this life with the afterlife. Lex has a hard time leaving her parents and twin sister behind but once she is in Croak she quickly makes friends and fits in like never before. She finds she is good at guiding people towards their deaths and even finds a love interest. Things get complicated when some mysterious deaths pop up that point to a reaper gone rogue and Lex becomes determined to stop the killer. Things get darkly serious at the end of the book which felt a bit contrived to me after what was mostly a fun and humorous teen story. I'm not sure if I'll pick up the sequel or not but I really enjoyed the characters and the magical world in the early parts of this book.

Number of Pages: 
311

Bird Box by Josh Malerman

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Bird Box by Josh Malerman

A deadly something has made its way across the planet. No one knows for sure what it is, only that if you see it, it drives you mad and fatally violent. Humankind devolves into small, cloistered communities, locked indoors or else moving about the world blindfolded. Bird Box follows the story of Malorie, a young woman who becomes pregnant as the terror begins, finds a welcoming house in which to seek refuge, and the eventual situation of traveling 20 miles downriver, blindfolded, with two children in tow to the possibility of safety. Told in alternating chapters of past and present, Bird Box slowly reveals the horrifying sequence of events that led Malorie to chance the ultimate risk of taking off her blindfold.

I kept hearing such accolades for this book, but from all the descriptions, it seemed like I just wouldn't be able to handle it. I finally gave in though, and it scared me in every way I thought possible. It is terrifying and strangely delightful to experience the unknown horror that plagues this novel through every sense except sight. What's fantastic about it, too, is that while it is creepy from the outset, it doesn't seem terribly threatening...it builds in such a way that the terror seeps into your reading experience until you're both hooked and afraid to continue. And of course you do. I listened to this mostly on a road trip (through Hoopla), and there were a couple times where I actually missed my exits because I was so wrapped up in the story! If you're ready for a good scare, I highly recommend this title.

Number of Pages: 
262

After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

After the People Lights Have Gone Off by Stephen Graham Jones

I was so taken with Mongrels that I had to delve right away into Stephen Graham Jones' back catalog. After the People Lights Have Gone Off did not disappoint. This is a collection of 15 short stories tapping into quite a variety of horror themes, from vaguely creepy to outright bloody, the paranormal to the regular ol' messed up humans. And while horror is the thread stringing all the stories together, there are still glimpses of quieter moments of contemplation here and there. My particular favorites were "The Spindly Man," which challenges the characters and reader to face the dark places we wish to avoid; "The Dead Are Not," a look behind the mysteries of life, death, and grief; and "After the People Lights Have Gone Off," the deliciously spooky title story of a haunted house. I think this is a great read for the tried-and-true horror fans out there as well as the horror newbies (like me)--there's a little something for everyone. You'll have to request this through Interlibrary Loan--if you need help, just ask us!

Number of Pages: 
310

And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

And The Trees Crept In by Dawn Kurtagich

When Silla is fourteen years old and Nori is four, life with their abusive father in London gets so bad that they have no choice but to escape to live with their Aunt Catherine. She lives in a large manor alone in the woods, and though their mother hinted that she might be crazy, life there seems perfect and safe. Silla worries that everything is not quite right when Cath tells a few scary stories about the woods, and life only gets worse when Cath retreats to the attic and refuses to come back down. Silla does her best to take care of the young, carefree Nori, but when they begin to run out of food and are still afraid to pass through the woods, this home too feels more like a prison.

By the time a young man comes through the trees, it has been years. Nori is growing up, Silla is struggling to find food in the dead earth and Cath is pacing, always pacing in the attic. Silla doesn't trust anyone -- not the world inside the manor or the trees outside. All the digging in the garden brings up is roots, and each time the trees seem a little closer, until Silla is sure they're watching. Are these things really happening? Is she going mad like her aunt? Is any of the manor safe anymore?

Number of Pages: 
341

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones

The boy was born into a family of werewolves, but here he is, smack dab in the middle of puberty, and nothing has happened. But he's sure his shift is coming anyday now. In the meantime, he has to piece apart fact from fiction in family lore to understand how he came to be while also keeping up with the transient lifestyle of his Aunt Libby and Uncle Darren...when you're a werewolf, staying put in one place too long will lead the village mob to your doorstep.

Mongrels is a funny and tragic look into the lives and habits of modern-day werewolves. To be sure, there's a lot of gore and the family is functionally dysfunctional, but you come to learn so much about Libby, Darren, and their nephew that before long, they have become some of the most endearing characters you'll read...certainly in any horror novel. By the end, you may just look at the world in a slightly different way. This is my first time reading Stephen Graham Jones, and it certainly won't be the last.

Number of Pages: 
300

Croak by Gina Damico

Croak by Gina Damico

Lex's violent outbursts have become too frequent for her parents (and classmates and school) to ignore, so in hopes of staightening her out, they send her to Croak to work on a farm with her Uncle Mort. Or so they think. The lovely upstate New York hamlet is actually a haven for Grim Reapers, and it turns out Lex has got innate Reaper talent to spare. Her newfound powers (and the ethics they require) will be put to the test, though, when mysterious and unwarranted deaths begin to multiply...

Croak is a perfect read to get you in the Halloween spirit. It's creepy, funny, imaginative, and fast-paced, full of mystery and quirky characters. This is the selection for our October YA² Book Club meeting--there's still time to read, and we'd love to see you there!

Number of Pages: 
311

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Shadowshaper introduces us to Sierra, a teenager in Brooklyn from a Puerto Rican family that turns out to be a bit magical. Sierra is looking forward to a fun summer with her friends but then some of her painted murals start weeping and a zombie pursues her at a party. She is quickly submerged in the world of shadowshaping which uses art forms to give shape to wandering spirits. Something has gone wrong in the spiritual world and Sierra and her group of friends are in a race to figure it out before all the shadowshapers are murdered. I loved Sierra, her friends, the setting, and cultural aspects of this book. I felt like the magic and fantasy elements were not quite as developed as I'd like but it seems that there may be further books to explore the supernatural world Older has created.

Number of Pages: 
297

The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke

The Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke

Grunhilda is at the end of her rope--nobody appreciates the hard work of being a frightening witch these days. She finds her last resort in taking a position as a lunch lady at Salem Elementary School. At least there she can work within the low expectations of cafeteria food to concoct some truly disgusting meals. When a failing student named Madison discovers Grunhilda's secret, she makes a deal with the lunch witch to keep her secret in exchange for a spell that will save her grades. But of course, nothing ever goes as planned when bargaining with witches...

I enjoyed this book so much! It has a wonderful balance between creepiness and humor...lots and lots of gross-out humor. The pages are stained and grubby (I love the smashed tomatoes between the pages!), and Lucke uses a moldering palette to convey the murkiness of an old witch's tale. This is perfect for kids who love fantasy and horror, with wild imaginations about hidden identities. Added bonus: it's the first of a series!

Number of Pages: 
173

Attack of the Vampire Weenies by David Lubar

Attack of the Vampire Weenies by David Lubar

David Lubar continues his Weenies series, each collections of short stories, with Attack of the Vampire Weenies. In these 33 cautionary tales, terrible children meet awful ends that will get you ready for Halloween. From a class field trip to a museum gone awry in "Warm Rain" to the Titanium Tempest roller coaster with one small catch in "The Ride of a Lifetime," readers will be guessing the whole way through over the twists and turns each story makes. These very short, creepy tales are sure to delight the Goosebumps crowd.

And don't forget--we'll be discussing this tomorrow (Wednesday, October 27) for our Kids' Book Club!

Number of Pages: 
219

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Zach, Poppy, and Alice have played an elaborate game ever since they were children using every doll and action figure in their arsenal and ruled over by the Great Queen, an ancient doll locked in a cabinet. One day, Zach's father decides Zach is too old to be playing such games and pressures him to stop. And that's when Poppy starts having dreams that the a ghost of a young girl is trapped inside the Great Queen and will only rest when she is returned to her rightful grave. What starts as a ghost story but quickly becomes a tale of friendship and growing up, Doll Bones is equal parts creepy and action-packed and offers an earnest, surprisingly beautiful look at what it means to grow apart from childhood freinds. Doll Bones recieved Newbery Honor for 2014. Recommended for ages 9 and up.

Also available as a CD audiobook and on OverDrive as a downloadable audiobook.

Number of Pages: 
244