Book Reviews: Haunting Tales

Halloween/Samhain is a perfect opportunity to drag out the horror tales, the scary clowns, blood and demons. There must be hundreds of great Halloween reads out there.

These two are specially-suited for a nice, chilly Halloween read with a cup of cider, a fire, a warm–living–body and a blanket. Both are specifically spooky, which is not unusual. Both are elegant, populated with rich characters, and chilling. True elegance seems to be rare in Halloween fiction.

Anne Bishop’s Tangled Webs
328 pages

The War of the Blood has been fought, Witch has healed, and the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan has made it clear to his Queens that he will not tolerate threats against his wife. All should be at peace, yes?

Not all threats died with Dorothea and Hekata. An un-jeweled landen has just discovered a secret. But his secret, what he believes should put him on a level with the SaDiablo family and the Warlord Prince of Dhemlan, is about to get him laughed out of society. A mystery writer, he is being upstaged by another writer, a woman of all things, a white-jeweled witch!

Jarvis has had enough. And then Jaenelle Angeline, Witch, Dreams Made Flesh, decides to build a spooky house to teach the landen what the Blood are…and are not. It’s meant to be a lesson to Blood and landen alike, a reminder of what they bring to each other. It plays on misunderstandings, superstitions and folktales. It’s a harmless bit of fun, so long as you don’t kick the kindred.

But there’s another spooky house on the block. Jarvis hires Black Widows, witches who weave illusion and poison into webs of lethal beauty. He brings in demon children, Eyrien Warlords, and illusions that do bite. And then he sends invitations to the SaDiablo family.

With Surreal and her escort Ranier stuck inside the spooky house with seven landen children, it’s up to Lucivar, Jaenelle and Lucivar to get them out.

But first, Surreal and Rainier have to figure out how to stay alive in a house that takes every advantage the Blood have and turns it against them…and how to turn the tables on a bitter man who doesn’t plan on anyone getting out alive.

Tangled Webs can be read alone, although it’s better to read it after the Dark Jewels trilogy. It’s a spooky, creative adventure with a very real amount of danger to beloved characters. The ending is satisfying, and the action is fast-paced.

For Halloween? Bishop has witches, demons, haunted houses, skeleton mice, grapes that turn into eyeballs, spiders and just about every other Halloween treat you can imagine. It spooked me for sure…especially because one of the huge Palmetto bugs got into my room while I was reading!

Ray Bradbury’s Something Wicked This Way Comes
215 pages

But one strange wild dark long year, Halloween came early.

Two boys, a Midwestern town, a carnival that is more than it appears to be. Will and Jim are just boys, boys with a town to explore and lives to live. Standing on that weird boundary between child and adult, they spend a lot of time thinking about dreams, responsibility and the philosophy that seems to come with twilight.

The train comes at midnight, chuffing softly into the town. No one plays the towering calliope while the whistle wails with a thousand lost souls. In the morning, it is all lemon yellow, and grass green, and candy apple red; but when night comes, the carnival shows its true colors. All the delights of a boy’s heart are there, and they may cost him his soul, his family, his freedom.

Can Will and Jim undo what they’ve done in time to defeat the grand schemers? Will they survive?

This was my first Bradbury book, and it was easy to see why his books are such classics. Deep characterization, brilliant settings and strong voice make this book hard hard hard to put down! It’s genuinely chilling in a much deeper way than most Halloween-based fiction. And it will certainly stick with you.

There you have it. I’ve found two books, but what have I missed? What elegant, chilling tales of Samhain are out there, and who wrote them?

(No, I’m not making any money off of these reviews. I bought the damn books. And this disclaimer is annoying the hell out of me. Does the government really feel the need to watch-dog blogs now?)

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One Response to “Book Reviews: Haunting Tales”

  1. I concur on “Tangled Webs” (haven’t read the other one yet).

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