ON THE SHELF: Get in the spooky spirit with new horror titles

Published 4:00 am Sunday, October 23, 2022

This column was submitted by Evangeline Cessna, Local History Librarian at the Warren County-Vicksburg Public Library.

This week’s column features some of our latest horror titles from our Adult Fiction Collection.

James Han Mattson explores capitalism, hate politics, social horror and our obsession with fear in the novel, “Reprieve.” On April 27, 1997, four contestants make it to the final round of the Quigley House, a full-contact escape room in Lincoln, Neb. It is famous for its freakishness, booby traps and garishly costumed actors. If they can endure all the horrors of the last room without shouting the safe word, “reprieve,” they’ll win a cash prize. Only one other group in the house’s history has accomplished this feat, but before this latest group gets the chance to finish, someone breaks into the room and kills one of the contestants. As these characters’ journeys are explored, we find their stories overlap and lies and misunderstandings are fueled by obsession and prejudice which lead to the horrific murder.

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“The Death of Jane Lawrence” is a haunting novel by Caitlin Starling. Jane Shoringfield is practical, and unassuming and has calculated her best path to move forward with a good life: a husband and marriage of convenience, who will allow her to remain independent and partake in meaningful work. Doctor Augustine Lawrence is both handsome and reclusive and he is willing to agree to Jane’s proposal with one stipulation: that she must never visit Lindridge Hall, his crumbling family manner on the outskirts of town. Yet, on their wedding night, an accident strands her on his doorstep in the pouring rain, and she finds him to be very different. Gone is the bold, courageous surgeon, and in his place is a scared, paranoid man — one who cannot tell reality from nightmares. He fears that Jane is an apparition, come to haunt him. By morning, the old Augustine is once again himself, but Jane knows that something is seriously wrong at Lindridge Hall.

Camilla Sten pens her latest, “The Lost Village.” Alice Lindstedt is a documentary filmmaker who is obsessed with the vanishing of residents of the old mining town dubbed, “The Lost Village.” In 1959, her grandmother’s entire family disappeared in the mysterious tragedy, and ever since, unanswered questions surrounding the only survivors — a woman stoned to death in the town center and an abandoned newborn — have plagued Alice. She gathered a small crew of friends in the remote village to make a film about what really happened. Not long after they’ve set up camp, mysterious things begin to happen. Equipment is destroyed. People go missing. As things escalate, doubt gives way to fear and the survivors’ minds begin to crack. Alice is absolutely sure of one thing: They are not alone.

Horror master Junji Ito thrills with his latest, “Sensor.” A woman walks alone at the foot of Mount Sengoku when a man appears and says he’s been waiting for her and invites her to a nearby village. The village is covered in hairlike volcanic glass fibers, and it shines bright gold. At night, the villagers perform a custom of gazing up at the starry sky when countless unidentified flying objects come raining down on them. This sets the stage for the horror to come.

We also have two of the latest from the American horror master, Stephen King. First is “Gwendy’s Final Task” which is the third book in the “Gwendy’s Button Box” trilogy. When Gwendy Peterson was 12, a mysterious stranger named Richard Farris gave her a strange box for safekeeping. It offered treats and vintage coins, but with each push of a button, there was death and destruction. Years later, the button box reentered Gwendy’s life. As a successful novelist and a rising political star, she is once again forced to deal with the temptation of the box. Now, evil forces seek to possess the box and Gwendy must protect it at all costs.

The second King title is “Fairy Tale.” Charlie Reade is a 17-year-old boy who inherits the keys to a parallel world where good and evil are at war, and the stakes could not be higher for that world and for ours. Charlie seems like your typical high school kid, he’s great at baseball and football and a decent student, but he has a heavy burden. His mom was killed in a hit-and-run accident when he was seven. The grief drove his father into alcoholism and Charlie had to learn to take care of himself and his dad. When Charlie is 17, he meets a dog named Radar and her elderly master, Howard Bowditch. Howard is a recluse in a big house at the top of a big hill with a locked shed in the backyard. Sometimes strange sounds come from the shed. When Charlie starts doing odd jobs for Howard, he loses his heart to Radar. Then, when the elderly man dies, he leaves Charlie a cassette tape telling a story that no one would believe: the shed in the backyard is a portal to another world.