A young woman is hired to be a governess for two beautiful children living in a Gothic home in the English countryside. Their uncle, who is also theirA young woman is hired to be a governess for two beautiful children living in a Gothic home in the English countryside. Their uncle, who is also their guardian, is back in London and does not want to be contacted about their care. The fearful governess narrates her story about the presence of ghosts in the mansion. She thinks they might be the recently deceased former governess and valet who have come back as demons to possess the children.
Henry James has written a ghost story with layer upon layer of ambiguity. Is the governess protecting her young charges from demons, or is she delusional and losing her sanity? Are the children being drawn away by the ghosts, or are they normal kids wanting a taste of freedom? Although it started slowly, the story builds to a strong ending. James was a clever writer in setting up such an ambiguous situation in the novella. Each reader will probably have their own interpretation of reality....more
Zoe and Jake were the first ones on the slopes at a ski resort in the French Pyrenees when they heard a deep rumble. As they headed toward the trees,Zoe and Jake were the first ones on the slopes at a ski resort in the French Pyrenees when they heard a deep rumble. As they headed toward the trees, an avalanche buried them in the snow. Fortunately they were able to dig themselves out and get down the mountain to their hotel, but found a strange silent world awaited them. They were unable to communicate to the outside world, and they only had each other. Time was playing mysterious tricks on them.
This is a fantasy novel that has frightening moments of horror, musings on memory, death, and existence, and emotional times of deep love. The book has wonderful atmospheric descriptions of the snow, the mist, and the cold. I read The Silent Land in one evening because the book was impossible to put down....more
Writer Sarah Crowe came north to Rhode Island to try to forget an upsetting relationship that had a tragic end. Hoping that a change of location willWriter Sarah Crowe came north to Rhode Island to try to forget an upsetting relationship that had a tragic end. Hoping that a change of location will cure her writer's block, she rents an old house with a huge red oak tree several hundred years old sitting at the edge of the property. In the dank basement Sarah finds an unfinished manuscript written by a professor who had been investigating the horrific local legends about the great tree. He added to the historical lore when he hung himself from its branches.
"The Red Tree" has been written by Sarah as a journal. The huge oak tree is an evil presence with evidence of sacrifice on the stone altar at its base. There is a disturbing atmosphere in the book which has elements of psychological terror and dark fantasy. Sarah's mind seems to become more and more unhinged, partly because she is haunted by memories of her suicidal lover Amanda. One wonders if the artist renting the attic of the house is real or a figment of her imagination. Sarah also has lapses in time due to seizures. The journal records her version of reality woven together with mysterious dreams. References to other literary works are blended into the story with quotes from Thoreau, Lovecraft, Poe, and other authors. As Sarah spirals further into darkness she feels like Alice going through the rabbit hole. Her psychological pain and delusions are taking over her mind. What is truth and what is insanity?
You'll never want to go into a dark basement again after reading this! Recommended to fans of horror and dark fantasy....more
"Give Me Your Heart" is a collection of ten dark short stories about people looking for love and acceptance. They are often downtrodden people who are"Give Me Your Heart" is a collection of ten dark short stories about people looking for love and acceptance. They are often downtrodden people who are emotionally on the edge, or teenagers who have found themselves over their heads in dangerous situations. The title story is about an older man who promised a woman student that he would love her forever--and the rejected woman is stalking him and planning her revenge years later. "Strip Poker" involves an adolescent girl getting caught up in a card game with some older male teens in an isolated cottage--and trying to outsmart them. "Vena Cava" tells the story of a soldier returning from Iraq with PTSD and terrible injuries to his head which prevent him from emotionally connecting to the civilian world.
The stories were so intense that I found I only wanted to read a couple in one sitting. A few stories had endings that went a bit overboard. But the rest were frighteningly plausible, much like the activities of real deranged people we read about in our newspapers. Joyce Carol Oates is a good storyteller, building up tension higher and higher, then ending in a twist or horrific event....more
The Woman in Black: A Ghost Story is a classic Gothic horror story set in the early 1900s. As a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps was sent to Crythin GiffThe Woman in Black: A Ghost Story is a classic Gothic horror story set in the early 1900s. As a young solicitor, Arthur Kipps was sent to Crythin Gifford, a small fictional town on England's marshy, northeast coast. He has to settle the estate of a woman who lived in the isolated Eel Marsh House. The secluded old home is accessible only during low tide, and visible only when the fog breaks. The story builds psychologically into terror using atmospheric descriptions, isolation, a bog with areas of quicksand, and an angry paranormal presence set on revenge.
A few words of advice: Don't read this book right before you're planning to sleep, or the Woman in Black might haunt your dreams....more
Each of these four novellas features an insecure woman, and a manipulative man who has an inner creepy side to him. "So Near...Any Time...Always" showEach of these four novellas features an insecure woman, and a manipulative man who has an inner creepy side to him. "So Near...Any Time...Always" shows a shy teenage girl who meets a man in his twenties. At first she is flattered by his attention, but then he is always lurking in the shadows with his camera...and worse. In "The Execution," a male college student plots to kill his father, and his overprotective mother acts to shield her son from the law. "The Flatbed" involves a woman who had a "little secret" that she had been sexually abused as a child. When she gets revenge, she has a new secret. My favorite was the title story, "Evil Eye," about a timid fourth wife who finds that her husband is not the charismatic man she married when he shows his domineering, angry side. After she finds out some terrible information from his first wife, her mind runs wild. The reader wonders what is truth and what is imagination.
All four of these novellas have a Gothic feel to them, horror stories with a twist. Some of the characters are mentally ill. The truly scary thing about these well-written stories is that they seem so realistic--newspaper stories feature the same types of abusers and manipulators who mistreat the fragile people who love them....more
"Night Film" is a mystery that goes off into a dark world of horror. Stanislas Cordova is a director (resembling Stanley Kubrick, Roman Polanski, and"Night Film" is a mystery that goes off into a dark world of horror. Stanislas Cordova is a director (resembling Stanley Kubrick, Roman Polanski, and Alfred Hitchcock) whose films have gone underground because they are too disturbing and might cause copycat events. He filmed on a secluded estate where there was hardly a line between acting and reality.
When Cordova's daughter, Ashley, is found dead at the bottom of an elevator shaft in New York City, journalist Scott McGrath investigates her death. Two younger people join McGrath in his search for the truth. He interviews sources who tell him about black magic, witchcraft, and curses associated with Ashley's life and the Cordova estate. McGrath's humorous remarks throw some lightness into the dark story. While many answers about Ashley are revealed, the mysterious Cordova still holds some secrets at the end of the book. We wonder what is truth, and what is part of the filmmaker's staged world.
The book contains pages of police reports, newspaper articles, and webpages that add to the contemporary feel of the book. Readers with smartphones or tablets can also download an app for an extra experience. Although it is a chunky 602 pages, the book was entertaining and kept my interest. ...more
The Metamorphosis is an absurbist story about Gregor Samsa, a man who finds he has been transformed into a giant beetle during the night. No reason isThe Metamorphosis is an absurbist story about Gregor Samsa, a man who finds he has been transformed into a giant beetle during the night. No reason is given for Gregor's metamorphosis, and he acts calm about the situation. Gregor is such a good dependable traveling saleman that he only seems upset that he is going to be late for work. His supervisor from work is unsympathetic, and the business is portrayed as uncaring toward its employees. His family seems to worry more about the loss of income than for Gregor's welfare. As the story progresses, Gregor's emotions stay very human while his behavior becomes more and more like an insect. Gregor is so emotionally conflicted that he loses his appetite for food.
Gregor's family is undergoing a metamorphosis as much as he is. Although his sister tries to take care of him in the beginning, his family reaches the point where he is too much of a burden and they no longer value him. They are stressed, embarrassed, and financially struggling. Kafka seems to be pointing out how family dynamics change, and how society isolates people with physical and mental problems. The family members change from being very dependent on Gregor to becoming more self-sufficient. Their metamorphosis is complete at the end as they look to the future.
I really enjoyed this novella because it contained so much about human emotions as well as business, society, and family dynamics which often can be difficult and unhappy. Life is sometimes unfair as it throws terrible challenges at good people. This would be interesting to read in a classroom setting to hear other people's ideas about the book. The cute "Google Doodle" on July 3, 2013 showed a big upright beetle or cockroach coming through the door with a traveling salesman's suitcase in honor of Kafka's 130th birthday. That gave me the extra push to finally get around to reading this classic....more
Chip Linton was piloting a commercial plane in Vermont when both his engines failed, forcing him to make an emergency landing on Lake Champlain. MonthChip Linton was piloting a commercial plane in Vermont when both his engines failed, forcing him to make an emergency landing on Lake Champlain. Months later, his wife and twin daughters move with Chip to an islolated, old, Victorian house in New Hampshire, hoping a new locale will help Chip recover from the post traumatic stress of the disastrous landing.
The small town has many herbalists that seem very interested in the family, especially the twin girls. They bring the family desserts filled with unknown herbs. Are they friendly neighbors or are they witches? Chip seems to be acting stranger and scarier every day.
The book starts out a little slowly. Then the psychological thriller picks up pace in the second half, and ties up the story threads in an ending that was a bit unexpected....more