Top 10: Books that go Bump in the Night

Happy Hallowe’en! We’re celebrating with ten spooky things found in books that we’ll be reading with every light on in the house.


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10. A mystery where the ghouls are the good guysEvan Munday’s fourth instalment of his Dead Kid Detective Agency series, Connect the Scotts (ECW Press), again finds teen sleuth October Schwartz and her ghost pals faced with mysteries galore in their small town of Sticksville, Ontario. Not only are they investigating the death of long-dead Tabetha Scott – who may be connected to the Underground Railroad – October’s (alive) friends are framed for a robbery!
9. A deadly virus contracted through speakingBoth a celebrated horror novel and a movie, Tony Burgess’ Pontypool (Playwrights Canada Press) is also a play; one that theatre reviewers say “plays like the twisted terror found in the pulp classic EC comics, with a slight hint of WKRP and a gnarly squib.” In the town of Pontypool, a virus begins to spread through speech that makes its sufferers go on cannabalistic – and wordless – rampages.8. A classic ghost story for ChristmasIf Hallowe’en is just your gateway holiday for the December holiday season, you might try Edith Wharton’s Afterward (Biblioasis). One of many ghost stories traditionally told at Christmastime, Afterward follows a nouveau riche couple who find out that their ancient English manor may be a little bit haunted when they spot a mysterious stranger out on the grounds.7. A parasitic Sanskrit VampireIn Phillip Ernest’s debut novel The Vetala (Linda Leith Publishing), professor Nada Marjanovic is hard at work translating an obscure text on the vetala, a vampire-esque parasite that inhabits the bodies of its victims – and killed her lover years before. When the vetala again rears its head, finishing the translation – and its possible conclusion that hints at how to excise the creature – becomes absolutely crucial.
6. The Wiindigo’s perspectiveNathan Adler puts a twist on the horror genre in Wrist (Kegedonce Press), where main character Church and his family begin to show signs of being Wiindigo – Indigenous monsters – 100 years after dinosaur hunters in the area were driven mad by the same affliction. As oil prospectors – who may also be vampires – move into the area, Church needs to ward them off and protect his family’s secrets.5. A Canadian, armless gothicA finalist for the 2002 Amazon First Novel Award, Madeline Sonik’s Arms (Nightwood Editions) follows a young woman who loses her arms after her house can’t take any more of her parents’ emotional volatility, and explodes. In this fairy tale that takes as much from Wicca as it does magical realist tradition, she goes on a quest for new arms, provoking her healing through journey, not destination.4. More secrets than a small town can takeAfter the explosive events in Edge of Wild, author D.K. Stone’s ex-pat hero Rich Evans is back in The Dark Divide (Stonehouse Publishing), and immediately on the defense. He’s blamed for the arson of the Waterton hotel he previously managed, and only one person in town believes in his innocence. Can the town connect the font of creepy happenings to the real culprit before it’s too late?
3. Life in the mazeCompared to the puzzles and labyrinths of The Legend of Zelda by our Bingemas elves last year, Steven Peters’ debut novel 59 Glass Bridges is a twisting, mysterious adventure for the unnamed narrator and the by-turns helpful and obfuscating being Willow. The pair hurtle through the hallways of an office building that shift from forests, to rivers, to the narrator’s own memories.2. Monsters in our mothersBrenda Clews’ novel Fugue in Green (Quattro Books) follows Steig, a 16-year-old girl, and her brother, who are terrorized by their abusive mother. This gothic fairy tale grounded in a horrific reality watches Steig as she seeks the counsel of the spirits of old relatives surrounding her, ones that tell her and her brother to flee their desperate circumstances towards happiness and, eventually, deep love.1. Scholarly sinkholesWe’ll never not recommend Dr. Edith Vane and the Hares of Crawley Hall by Suzette Mayr (Coach House Books) in a horror list. Tracing the catastrophic events in a prairie University’s humanities building – from vast sinkholes, to maggots falling from the ceiling, to wild hares everywhere – to a manifestation of the sordid state of academic affairs within, you’ll be rooting for English Professor Vane’s success – or at least, escape – to the very last page.
* * *If you’re staying in tonight to hand out candy, why not add one of these to your roster? And why not check out our CanLit Monster Card Game featuring some of these books, too?