ON THE SHELF: Teen-tober titles to thrill and chill

Published 8:00 am Sunday, October 30, 2022

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

This week we continue our celebration of Teen-tober with this selection of horror novels from our Young Adult collection.

Shaun David Hutchinson delivers a chilling tale with his latest book, “Howl.” Virgil Knox was attacked by a monster. Unfortunately, no one in the town of Merritt believes him even though he stumbled into the busy town square bleeding, battered and bruised for everyone to see. They tell him that he had been drinking and was hanging out where he wasn’t supposed to. He must have encountered a bear, or a badger or a gator — not a monster. Virgil, however, is positive it was a monster, but he is the new kid in town and still an outsider. That is hard enough, but now he is also the kid who’s afraid of monsters, so he attempts to keep a low profile. The only problem is that Virgil knows the monster is still out there and if he isn’t careful, it will come back to finish him off, or worse — that he’ll become a monster himself.

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Lauren Blackwood reimagines the tale of Jane Eyre in her book “Within These Wicked Walls.” Andromeda is a debtera or an exorcist hired to cleanse households of the Evil Eye. She would be working, but her mentor threw her out before she could earn her license. Now, she can only hope for a rich, well-connected Patron to offer her steady work and vouch for her abilities. Enter a wealthy young man named Magnus Rochester who reaches out and offers Andromeda a job which she accepts without question. It doesn’t matter that he’s rude and demanding and eccentric, or that the contract comes with a number of bizarre rules. It also doesn’t matter that nearly a dozen debtera had quit before her because she must earn a living. She quickly realizes that this is unlike any other job. There are terrifying manifestations at every turn, and Magnus is hiding far more than she has been trained to handle. If she stays, the most likely outcome will be her death.

“Burn Our Bodies Down” is by Rory Power. Since Margot’s birth, it has just been her and her mother. They have struggled together, but that’s no longer enough for Margot. She wants a family of her own and she wants to know about her past. When she discovers a photograph that points her to a town called Phalene, she decides to go. When she gets there, though, it’s not exactly what she expected. As soon as they see her face, everyone in town knows who she belongs to — she’s a Nielsen. When a mysterious girl who looks just like Margot is pulled from a fire, Margot realizes that her mother left Phalene for a reason. What she doesn’t know is if it was to hide her past or to protect Margot from what is still there. She is sure that there is poison in her family tree and that her roots are so deep in the town that she may never be able to escape.

Kendare Blake takes readers back to the summer of 1958 in her latest “All These Bodies.” A horrific killer in the Midwest is leaving behind a trail of bodies completely drained of blood. Michael Jenson, an aspiring reporter, and his father, the sheriff of their small town, never imagined that his gruesome killer would come to their backyard. When the Carlson family is found murdered in their home, that all changes. Marie Catherine Hale is a petite 15-year-old who is found at the crime scene covered in blood. Naturally, that makes her the sole suspect in custody. Michael wasn’t part of the investigation, but he is drawn in when Marie decides that he is the only one she will confess to. As Marie recounts her story, Michael finds himself asking: What really happened the night that the Carlsons were killed? And just how did one girl wind up in the middle of all the bodies?

“Clown in a Cornfield” is the latest by Adam Cesare. Quinn Maybrook finds herself caught in a battle between old and new, tradition and progress. Quinn and her dad have moved to the tiny, boring town of Kettle Springs to start fresh. What they don’t know is that ever since the corn syrup factory closed down, the town has split in two. On the one hand are the adults who want to make Kettle Springs great again, and on the other hand, are the kids who just want to have fun, make prank videos and get the heck out of town as soon as possible. This dichotomy between the young and the old is set to destroy the town. Then Frendo, the factory’s mascot — a creepy clown in a pork-pie hat — decides to cull the rotten crop of kids who live in Kettle Springs and goes on a killing spree.

Caitlin Kittredge delivers a teen gothic mystery novel with her novel “Dreaming Darkly.” On the cold, creepy island of Darkhaven, a young woman is suffering from unexplained blackouts, grappling with secrets from her dead mother’s past and a history of murders that have been committed by her family. Ivy Bloodgood’s mother is dead, but she isn’t exactly sad about it. Myra Bloodgood was a manipulative person who never seemed to tell the truth — about where she came from, who Ivy’s father was, or why they were living their lives on the run. Ivy has been sent to the family estate off the coast of New England and she is forced to come to terms with her mother’s past and long-held family secrets. When Ivy wakes from one of her nightmares covered in someone else’s blood, she fears that whatever demons her mother battled have come to possess her own mind. She is scared she can no longer trust what she sees, so she seeks the help of a boy who thinks her blackout spells are connected to the dark history of the island itself.