‘For the sake of your sanity, pray it isn’t true!’ (‘Legend of Hell House’ film poster tagline) Working from home may have its benefits – no commute, ‘walking to work’ in the local park, actual tea and lunch breaks away from the desk, heating and ventilation to order.
If you like it dark...fiction reviews for the brave
If you like odd, dark fiction – and I mean really dark – here are some titles you may have overlooked. The best horror stories share at least five elements in common: They explore 'malevolent' or 'wicked' characters, deeds or phenomena. They arouse feelings of fear, shock or disgust as well as the sense of the uncanny – things are not what they seem. There is a heightened sense of the unknown and/or mysterious..Blood Standard by Laird BarronFar better known for his Lovecraftian-style horror stories (see The Night Ocean by LaFarge, below), this is a shamelessly hardboiled thriller with a traditional plot (mob enforcer flees to rural New York to escape his violent past), but a great lead character and some compelling writing makes this more than worth your time. Lee Child or John Sandford fans will probably find a lot to like here. Best of all, if you enjoy this one it’s just the first in a series.The Devil Of Nanking by Mo Hayder (also published as Tokyo)Hayder may be best known for her grim and gothic police procedurals featuring troubled detective Jack Caffrey, but this is one of her stand-alone novels and probably her best – and darkest. Combining a mysterious quest through 1990s Japan with the historically-accurate horrors of the 1937 Nanking massacre, it’s absolutely not for the squeamish. You have been warned. Also available on Borrowbox at the time of writing are her novels Pig Island and Birdman (the first in the Jack Caffrey series).Broken Heart by Tim WeaverThe absolute master of missing-persons mysteries, CWA award nominee Weaver’s recurring character David Raker starts off investigating an impossible disappearance on the Somerset coast. Nothing new for dedicated Weaver fans, but his usual ingenious plotting takes an unexpected turn into the dark history of 1950s Hollywood, with a cult film director so well-drawn you’d be forgiven for looking up his movies on IMDB. Read all 10 in order to get the most from the intermittent story arc, but this is one that can be read out of sequence.Universal Harvester by John DarnielleThis may test your tolerance of oddness, but it’s well worth following Darnielle down his disorientating rabbit-hole to see where it goes. Customers of a video store in 1990s rural Iowa report troubling scenes spliced into their films, and the store owner’s amateur investigation leads... well, not where you might expect. Creepy as hell and excellently written (but if you like clear, tidy resolutions then this may not be the book for you...)The Calling by Inger Ash WolfeA quiet Canadian town is visited by a ghoulishly inventive serial killer; heading for retirement, Police Detective Hazel Micallef is dragged in his wake. The incredibly gothic plot is leavened by a real-as-hell central character with real-as-hell problems. If you think there’s not enough gore in Ann Cleeves’ Vera Stanhope novels then this could be right up your street. A film version made in 2014 starring Susan Sarandon is also worth a look. First in a compelling series.The Darkest Room by Johan TheorinThis is the second in a loosely-connected series of books set on the Swedish island of Oland. (Some characters recur but the books can be read in any order.) Theorin writes Scandinavian noir with a large helping of supernatural creepiness, the latter often based on local folklore. Filled with unease rather than sensation, this is the story of a family from urban Stockholm whose escape-to-the-countryside idyll turns into something much darker. A bit of a slow burn but well worth sticking with.The Night Ocean by Paul La FargeBeginning with Charlie Willett’s obsession with (real-life) controversial horror writer H.P.Lovecraft, and Charlie’s subsequent mysterious disappearance, this is a Russian doll of a book, one story giving way to another and another, combining a wife’s search for truth with speculative fictional biography, literary hoaxes, Mexican history, fandom and way too much more stuff to list. Not just for Lovecraft fans (and if you’re not, the footnotes are a real help), it’s a compelling, meticulous and tricksy literary labyrinth. Complex and mysterious, but highly rewarding.Disturbia by Christopher FowlerBetter known nowadays for his series of novels featuring Peculiar (with a capital ‘P’) English investigators Bryant and May, Fowler began his career as a horror writer. This is more of a dark thriller than straight up horror and features a desperate race around London to solve the riddles in a class-based and increasingly deadly game. Fowler has a passion for – and encyclopaedic knowledge of – the geography and architecture of London, and this turns a standard thriller into something far more interesting. (On the subject of Fowler it’s well worth tracking down his excellent non-fiction work The Book Of Forgotten Authors – essential reading for those who like their books obscure or who have just run out of interesting things to read!)Cabal by Clive BarkerMaybe you last read this over thirty years ago (!); maybe you’ve seen Cronenberg’s Nightbreed; maybe you’ve never even heard of Clive Barker. This tale of a secret underworld of horrific monsters – who may not be as monstrous as the humans who persecute them – is a tightly-written thriller / horror story and more accessible than some of his much longer, more complex works. Barker is known for his disturbing ability to describe the almost unimaginable in stomach-churning detail, but the love story wound though the plot makes this both more tender and less gory than you may remember / expect.Access eBooks/eAudiobooks on your phone, tablet or reader. Once you have installed the app, search for Dublin in the ‘Library’ field provided and then sign in using your library membership card number and PIN. Watch our how to video on Borrowbox. Members of other library authorities will need to log in using a different link.Submitted by Jennifer in Finglas Library.
Today is Hallowe'en, and for many that means a time to scare and be scared! So below we have some scary reads to suggest to you that hopefully will not mean sleepless nights!Hallowe'en is sometimes thought of an American feast, with its trick-or-treating, pumpkins, fancy dress parties and scary movies, but long before this – indeed, as far back as Celtic times - our ancestors celebrated Samhain, the beginning of the dark time of the year. In that regard, our Ghost Town Image Gallery showcases the Irish, and specifically Dublin, traditions of past times, with more than a nod to the celebrated Gothic writers and the haunted places of the city. It introduces viewers to such supernatural characters as the evil Dolocher and the murderess Darkey Kelly and also to gentler spirits such as that of Archbishop Marsh.As our blog writer Pop Zeus says in his October 2011 post The Season of the Witch, Hallowe'en seems to be as good as time as any to seek out the Gothic material in your local library. One library that has a particularly good Gothic section is Marino Library, and with good reason: Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, was born on 8 November 1847 just up the road from the library at 15 Marino Crescent on the northside of Dublin! You might also be interested to know that the Leslie Shepard Bram Stoker Collection is housed in the Dublin City Library & Archive in Pearse Street. This valuable donation of books by and about Bram Stoker, gathered over a lifetime of interest by the late Leslie Shepard, is a treasure-trove for researchers and enthusiasts.Pop has some Halloween-appropriate reading suggestions for you in his post, so do check it out. To that we might suggest some other scary reads, some for our younger readers but some for the less faint-hearted amongst you adults.For our younger readers there is 'Blood Captain' by Justin Somper, a tale of pirates and vampirates. Then there is 'Cirque du Freak' the first book of The Saga of Darren Shan series about a boy who has become involved in the world of vampires by the ever popular Irish author, Darren Shan. 'Switched' by Sienna Mercer is the first in the My Sister the Vampire series and should have a particular appeal to girls. In this story new friends Olivia and Ivy discover a huge secret about themselves. If looking for a DVD for the younger members of the family, 'The Little Vampire' based on the novels by Angela Sommer-Bodenburg might just be the thing.For our teen readers there is 'Blood Promise' by Richelle Mead, the fourth book in the bestselling Vampire Academy series. A film based on the first book in the series, Vampire Academy, is due out in February 2014. 'Eclipse' by Stephenie Meyer tells the tale of Bella who must choose between her friendship with Jacob, a werewolf, and her relationship with Edward, a vampire.Our adult readers might like to try 'Interview with the Vampire' a debut gothic horror and vampire novel by American author Anne Rice. Some of you may be familiar with the film version released in 1994 starring Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise. 'The Lady is a Vamp' (#17 in the Argeneau series!) by Lynsay Sands is the story of a mortal man on a mission and the Vamp who is his only hope. 'Let the Right One In' by Sweden's John Ajvide Lindqvist is the story of a 12-year old boy in Stockholm who befriends a girl, only to discover that she is a 200-year old vampire frozen in childhood and condemned to live on a diet of fresh blood. This book was made into a very successful film in 2008.There are some great scary book suggestions in the UK Telegraph today for adult readers, some classics, some modern, and as luck has it we have them in our online catalogue! Have a read of the Telegraph article first and then check out the catalogue links below.The Woman in Black by Susan Hill.The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski.The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.The Fall of the House of Usher by Edgar Allan Poe.The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton.The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft.Song of Kali by Dan Simmons.Ghost Stories of an Antiquary by M.R. James. Pet Sematary by Stephen King.Dracula by Bram Stoker.Ghost Story by Peter Straub.The Secret of Crickley Hall by James Herbert.Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill.Seven Gothic Tales by Isak Dinesen.Sleep well!
Although the Dublin: One City, One Book choice for April this year is James Joyce's 'Dubliners', it is timely to remember that the choice for April 2009 was 'Dracula' by Dublin-born writer Bram Stoker; timely because April 20th this year marks the 100th anniversary of Stoker's death (20th April, 1912).About Bram StokerBram Stoker was born in Dublin's Marino Crescent on November 8th, 1847. After an early life plagued by illness, he went on to graduate from Trinity in 1868 with a Masters Degree in mathematics. His early work life was as a civil servant in Dublin Castle, while he was at the same time a freelance journalist and theatre critic.Stoker first met the actor Henry Irving in 1878, soon after his marriage to Florence Balcombe (who had spurned Oscar Wilde in his favour), and he left Dublin to become Irving’s theatrical agent and business manager in London. He afterwards became manager of Irving’s Lyceum Theatre, a position he held until Irving's death in 1905.Continuing the tradition of gothic fiction already established in Dublin by writers such as Charles Maturin and Sheridan le Fanu, Stoker's most famous novel, 'Dracula', was published in 1897. Bram Stoker produced several other writings with a supernatural theme, but none to rival 'Dracula' and its enduring popularity. Dracula - the BookI read 'Dracula' back in April 2009 when it was the Dublin: One City, One Book choice, and I found it a book I did not want to put down. And I did not find it at all hard to read; to the contrary, I found the diary style a refreshing change from the norm, and the language, while obviously reflecting the period in which it was written, to be beautiful, poetic and descriptive. It gets a definite thumbs up from me.Also available to borrow is an audio (CD) version, plus a number of film (DVD) versions; an old favourite being the 1931 version starring Bela Lugosi.The Bram Stoker CollectionDublin City Public Libraries houses the Leslie Shepard Bram Stoker Collection, and this valuable donation of books by and about Bram Stoker, gathered over a lifetime of interest by the late Leslie Shepard, is a treasure-trove for researchers and enthusiasts. The collection comprises in excess of 230 books and pamphlets relating to Bram Stoker and his creation, Dracula. The collection can be found at Marino Library and at the Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street.