It’s once again time for the Readers Imbibing Peril challenge over at Stainless Steel Droppings. Officially, it began on the first of the month, but better late than never, eh? Since I’m ambitious, I’ll be participating in Peril the First again, which requires reading four books that fit a broad definition of scary. Unlike last year, however, I have no idea what I might read for this year’s challenge. (Anyone with a similar problem will find any number of suitable titles, either on my RIP IV list, or under horror and suspense categories here.
I guess I ought to go rummage about in my books to find something appropriate. I have a Norton Book of Ghost Stories I still haven’t read, and I have been long desirous of reading The Monk. I’ve also been considering revisiting Dracula, which I read once back in seventh grade, and never again.
Any ideas or recommendations?
RIP V Reading List
Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories My Mother Never Told Me
originally published 1963
Dell, 1st printing, 1965
Genre: Horror, suspense, thriller
Synopsis & Review: A collection of thirteen (oooOOOOooooo!) stories featuring all manner of thrills, suspense, and horror. Included are masters of the genres such as Shirley Jackson (“The Summer People”) and Richard Matheson (“The Children of Noah”), as well as comparative unknowns, and even a creepy effort by F. Scott Fitzgerald (“A Short Trip Home”).
I loved watching Alfred Hitchcock Presents reruns on Nick at Nite back in intermediate and early high school. Inspired by my enormous enjoyment of Alfred Hitchcock Presents: Stories That Scared Even Me, I purchased two more AHP volumes on the cheap. This one was by far my favorite of the two. In it, you’ll find couple of cannibal stories (perhaps more than necessary) and a very odd and disturbing change up of “The Most Dangerous Game” (“An Invitation to the Hunt”). There’s also “The Hostage” by Don Stanford, which I immediately recognized from Suicide Kings. As with any collections, there are a few gems and a few duds. Read the rest of this entry »
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman
Originally published 1992
Avon Books, 1st printing, 1994
Genre: horror, alternate history
Synopsis & Review: It is 1888, and the events of Bram Stoker’s Dracula did not fall out the way with which we are familiar. Rather, Dracula killed Jonathan Harker, turned Mina, and fled into the night past the Doctors Van Helsing and Seward. He continued a rise to power, reaching the apex when he wooed and won Queen Victoria, turning her into a vampire as well and ruling as Prince Consort of the British Empire. Vampires are now common, and London in particular struggles with the burgeoning new upper class. Political cronyism and corruption mirrors the turning of men and women into vampires. In the stews of the city, warm drabs sell their blood to vampires as they once sold their bodies, and those who turn take blood in exchange for their bodily wares. And there is a different kind of killer on the loose, one who targets these vampire prostitutes, ripping their bodies apart with a silver scalpel.
The protagonists are Geneviève Dieudonné, a French vampire older than Dracula himself, and Charles Beauregard, a gentleman of the Diogenes Club. The pair work with the London police force to track down the killer, but there are others searching, as well as those using the killer’s work for their own ends. Political and social struggles threaten to jeopardize the efforts of Dieudonné and Beauregard, who come to realize that their investigation may save or destroy the Queen herself. click here for more on Anno Dracula
The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs
Originally published 1983
Bantam Skylark, 10th printing, 1986
Genre: gothic, horror, children’s
Synopsis & Review: Johnny Dixon loves ghost stories and listening to radio mystery programs and reading Egyptology books, and the three seem to combine when he finds unearths a small Egyptian figuring and a scroll reading “Whoever removes these things from the church does so at his own peril… Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord . Remigius Baart.” in a church basement. Soon after he removes the figurine, however, Johnny begins suffering nightmares and small gray spiders infest the house. He meets a mysterious man who offers him a ring, and from there on, Johnny becomes more and more tightly enmeshed in a tangled web that seems to extend beyond the grave. Unable to confess his problems to his grandparents or his friend Dr Childermass, Johnny worries less about being bullied and more about whether he’ll live another week. click here for more on The Curse of the Blue Figurine
The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring by John Bellairs
Illustrated by Richard Egielski
Originally published 1976
Dell Yearling, 11th printing, 1977
Genre: gothic, horror, children’s
Synopsis & Review: To cheer up Rose Rita Pottinger when Lewis Barnavelt goes off to Boy Scout summer camp, Mrs Zimmerman takes her along on an errand to tidy up her recently deceased Cousin Olney’s estate. On his deathbed, Olney wrote Mrs Zimmerman of a magic ring he’d found, but when she and Rose Rita arrive at his house, it has been broken into, and a ring very obviously taken. They continue on their exploration of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but soon a resentful figure from Mrs Zimmerman’s past makes itself known. Shadows walk, death spells are cast, and Mrs Zimmerman disappears in the night, leaving Rose Rita to find her and the ring before it’s too late. want to read more about The Letter, the Witch, and the Ring?
Synopsis & Review: Following the untimely death of his parents, Lewis Barnavelt goes to live with his heretofore unknown Uncle Jonathan in New Zebedee, Michigan. Uncle Jonathan is a very minor sort of warlock, and lives in a Victorian mansion filled with stained glass windows, fireplaces, mysterious nooks and crannies, and all manner of odd antiques. Unfortunately, the house is also filled with clocks, in order to drown out the ominous ticking of a clock hidden within the very walls of the house. When Lewis raises the very evil dead in an effort to impress his friend Tarby, he, Uncle Jonathan, and their witch neighbor Mrs Zimmerman must rally together with all their knowledge or the arcane and ridiculous in order to prevent Doomsday. click here for more about The House with a Clock in Its Walls