Engaging Methuen Readers

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Believe me

Halloween just passed, but for those of you who aren’t ready to cede their horror reading for cozy holiday books, Anna has some more chilling tales for you…

Tired of the same witches, zombies, and werewolves? Dude, you and me both. Remember when Halloween was about Odin chasing you to Hell with his pack of demon dogs? Or, or, or, wait – what about when Halloween was about malicious water fiends waiting hungrily to drown you in your own toilet? Or what about when Halloween was about a long-limbed Internet horror that inspires children to kill each other?

At some point in history, sometimes quite recently, each of these terrors were considered real by some human living on Earth. They were taken 100% seriously and people were legitimately afraid of them and driven to weird extremes because of them.

The horror isn’t that the king of the gods is angry, or hungry, or insane, or whatever. Slenderman is just a bunch of doctored pixels. What’s scary is that people believe in him.

Belief can’t be stopped or killed. Belief will come for you until it wins. It will wait in the darkness at night and deprive you of sleep until your blurry eyes see what it wants you to, until your exhausted heart hammers itself out of your chest, until the rabbit in your mind runs in panic until it collapses, chest heaving in a rapid tempo of gasps for the last remaining air in the world.

Let’s see how scary belief can be.

The Road to Jonestown by Jeff Guin

Jim Jones was a charismatic man. His followers thought he’d been touched by God, so jeffguinn-theroadtojonestownmuch so that they abandoned their lives and followed him to another continent to establish a new world. But what do you do when your prophet goes insane…and orders everyone to die?

This true story, a new take on the horrifying tragedy of the Jonestown mass suicide, will keep you reading well into the night. As Guin delves through FBI files in search of the truth, he plumbs the depths of Jim Jones’s madness, eventually retracing the steps of the man himself to visit the place where the massacre actually happened.

The Lottery and Other Stories by Shirley Jackson

834421Sometimes people do things because they’ve always done them. Some people cut the end off the turkey because great-grandma taught them to do that, never mind the fact that great-grandma’s pan, long melted to scrap, was simply an inch too short to accommodate the whole bird.

Other people stone each other to death. Nobody even remembers why they do that.

Still chilling years after its publication, this masterwork of psychological horror stands with Jackson’s repertoire of quietly heart-stopping psychological horror stories collected in this gripping volume.

It by Stephen King

There is a clown in the sewer. He lives on your fear of him. It doesn’t matter if you find 41acskyedwl-_sy445_ql70_that implausible. He’ll show you. He’ll convince you beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s real. And he’ll do it by eating your friends first…

There’s no way to defeat the fiend of Derry, Maine except by mastering your own fear first. Yet fear is what it knows, what it’s good at…and what it demands. A group of children face It and barely survive…only to confront the true horror as adults.

Bird Box by Josh Malerman


bird_box_2014_book_coverSeeing isn’t always believing. Sometimes, if your belief is strong enough, you know not to even look. But then, there’s also the possibility that you’re wrong. That’s what Malorie must face – or not face – when she must evacuate her children away from a monster that causes rational people to go violently insane with a single glance. As she guides their rowboat – blindfolded – Malorie knows that she’s being followed, knows she’s being watched…but is knowledge alone enough to save her family?


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Review: Stephen King’s Finders Keepers

There are fans, and then there are true fans. Finders Keepers deals with the second category: kind of fan who will re-read their favorite book seven times a year, who care more about fictional characters than they do about the real people in their lives, and who break into their favorite author’s house to execute them and steal their horde of unpublished work. That is how Morris Bellamy winds up with the unpublished work of the reclusive writer John Rothstein and over $20,000 in cash. Having killed the author and his accomplices, Morris literally buries his ill-gotten gains, intending to read them once news of the crime has receded from the headlines. But when he lands in jail on a separate charge, Morris must wait decades for his chance. Meanwhile, the Saubers family moves into Morris’ old house, and their teenaged son makes a discovery that will change all of their lives. Soon, he, too, is a John Rothstein fan, and just in time. Morris Bellamy is leaving jail and eager to discuss the details of his buried treasure…starting with where Peter has hidden it.

I’m already a heavy Stephen King reader, but Finders Keepers isn’t necessarily what I would have expected from the nominal “Master of Horror.” Mostly, this was because there wasn’t any significant supernatural presence. However, King’s trademark character development and constant themes of individual struggle, even struggle against addiction or an addict, were absolutely present. Pace-wise, it was also much tighter than some of my favorites, which meant that it didn’t eat up two weeks of my time but still managed to feel like a full, complete story. (After Revival, this was both refreshing and a relief. Whether or not he has another Stand in him, there’s life in the old boy yet.) Finders Keepers also incorporates a number of characters from Mr. Mercedes, King’s earlier crime fiction book, and even wraps the storylines together. King excels at world building and I thoroughly enjoyed how he has structured up his new series. (Whether this book ties into all his others, Dark Tower-style, is as yet unknown. However, King hints at the possibilities, which are exciting.) Anyone who enjoyed Mr. Mercedes will definitely want to continue with this latest addition to the King canon.