If you’re fascinated with the strange and creepy underpinnings of life you can’t do better than Shirley Jackson. Her short story “The Lottery” is a classic, and her novels, including We Have Always Lived in the Castle and The Haunting of Hill House, look at the horror that is often hiding in the banality of the everyday. But if you’ve read all of her work and are looking for something in the same vein, try these books.
Get In Trouble by Kelly Link
Hurricanes, astronauts, evil twins, bootleggers, Ouija boards, iguanas, The Wizard of Oz, superheroes, the Pyramids . . . These are just some of the talismans of an imagination as capacious and as full of wonder as that of any writer today. But as fantastical as these stories can be, they are always grounded by sly humor and an innate generosity of feeling for the frailty—and the hidden strengths—of human beings. In Get in Trouble, this one-of-a-kind talent expands the boundaries of what short fiction can do.
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The Secret History by Donna Tartt
Richard Papen had never been to New England before his nineteenth year. Then he arrived at Hampeden College and quickly became seduced by the sweet, dark rhythms of campus life — in particular by an elite group of five students, Greek scholars, worldly, self-assured, and at first glance, highly unapproachable.
Yet as Richard was accepted and drawn into their inner circle, he learned a terrifying secret that bound them to one another … a secret about an incident in the woods in the dead of night where an ancient rite was brought to brutal life and lead to a gruesome death. And that was just the beginning…
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Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
“Cooger and Dark’s Pandemonium Shadow Show” comes to Greentown, Illinois, one week before Halloween. Two boys, Jim Nightshade and Will Halloway, soon discover the evil of this carnival, which promises to make your every wish and dream come true. But with those wishes and dreams comes a price that must be paid. Behind the mirrors and the mazes is the nightmare of a lifetime.
Few American novels written in the twentieth century have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury’s unparalleled literary classic Something Wicked This Way Comes. For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin.
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Hauntings edited by Ellen Datlow
This fiendish anthology, complied by the horror genre’s most acclaimed editor, drags you into the twisted minds of modern literary masters at their fiendish best. Visionary storytellers fill this collection of tales lyrical and strange, monstrous and exhilarating, horrific and transformative. At once familiar and shocking, these riveting stories will haunt you long after you put down your book and turn out the light.
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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman
Richard Mayhew is a young man with a good heart and an ordinary life, which is changed forever when he stops to help a girl he finds bleeding on a London sidewalk. His small act of kindness propels him into a world he never dreamed existed. There are people who fall through the cracks, and Richard has become one of them. And he must learn to survive in this city of shadows and darkness, monsters and saints, murderers and angels, if he is ever to return to the London that he knew.
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Goodnight Stranger by Micah Bay Gault
Lydia and Lucas Moore are in their late twenties when a stranger enters their small world on Wolf Island. Lydia, the responsible sister, has cared for her pathologically shy brother, Lucas, ever since their mom’s death a decade before. They live together, comfortable yet confined, in their family house by the sea, shadowed by events from their childhood.
When Lydia sees the stranger step off the ferry, she feels an immediate connection to him. Lucas is convinced the man, Cole Anthony, is the reincarnation of their baby brother, who died when they were young. Cole knows their mannerisms, their home, the topography of the island-what else could that mean? Though Lydia is doubtful, she can’t deny she is drawn to his magnetism, his energy, and his warmth.
To discover the truth about Cole, Lydia must finally face her anxiety about leaving the island and summon the strength to challenge Cole’s grip on her family’s past and her brother. A deliciously alluring read, Goodnight Stranger is a story of choices and regrets, courage and loneliness, and the ways we hold on to those we love.
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Curious Toys by Elizabeth Hand
In the sweltering summer of 1915, Pin, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a carnival fortune-teller, dresses as a boy and joins a teenage gang that roams the famous Riverview amusement park, looking for trouble.
Unbeknownst to the well-heeled city-dwellers and visitors who come to enjoy the attractions, the park is also host to a ruthless killer who uses the shadows of the dark carnival attractions to conduct his crimes. When Pin sees a man enter the Hell Gate ride with a young girl, and emerge alone, she knows that something horrific has occurred.
The crime will lead her to the iconic outsider artist Henry Darger, a brilliant but seemingly mad man. Together, the two navigate the seedy underbelly of a changing city to uncover a murderer few even know to look for.
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Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life by Ruth Franklin
In this “remarkable act of reclamation” (Neil Gaiman), Ruth Franklin envisions Jackson as “belonging to the great tradition of Hawthorne, Poe and James” (New York Times Book Review) and demonstrates how her unique contribution to the canon “so uncannily channeled women’s nightmares and contradictions that it is ‘nothing less than the secret history of American women of her era’ ” (Washington Post). Franklin investigates the “interplay between the life, the work, and the times with real skill and insight, making this fine book a real contribution not only to biography, but to mid-20th-century women’s history” (Chicago Tribune). Franklin’s invigorating portrait stands as the definitive biography of a generational avatar and an American literary genius.
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