Spooky Stories with Alisa
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays and each year I try to work in some spooky stories to my reading list. Here are some I’ve read this year that I thought were really good.
The Damned by Andrew Pyper
Blurb: Danny Orchard wrote a bestselling memoir about his near-death experience in a fire that claimed the life of his twin sister, Ashleigh, but despite the resulting fame and fortune he’s never been able to enjoy his second chance at life. Ash won’t let him.
In life, Danny’s charming and magnetic twin had been a budding psychopath who privately terrorized her family—and death hasn’t changed her wicked ways. Ash has haunted Danny for twenty years and now, just when he’s met the love of his life and has a chance at real happiness, she wants more than ever to punish him for being alive—so she sets her sights on Danny’s new wife and stepson.
Danny knows what Ash really wants is him, and he’s prepared to sacrifice himself in order to save the ones he loves. The question is: will he make it back this time?
This author has a great storytelling style. I listened to this on audio and found myself getting increasingly more creeped out as the story went on. By the 40% mark I had decided I couldn’t listen to it at night time. Here is a short passage of the MC when he wakes up and thinks he hears something in his house (You know you’ve all done this):
“It held me where I stood beside the bed. Trying to listen to whatever else may have been beyond the door breathing along with me. Waiting. Nothing I could hear but there was something. The thing you imagine when you get up in the middle of the night wakened by what might have been a footfall downstairs but you don’t search for because you’d rather talk yourself into believing it’s not there. Except it IS there. You can feel it in the stillness. A too quiet creature that can hold it’s breath longer than you.”
The Day the Dead Came to Show and Tell by Mira Grant
Blurb: Outside the classroom walls the Rising was spreading, but inside was a carefully protected sanctuary against the growing threat.
Or so the teachers and students thought.
On what will be the last day in the teaching career of Elaine Oldenburg, she must fight to survive and protect her students when the zombie outbreak shatters the safety of her school.
This is a chilling story set in the Newsflesh world but can be read as a stand alone. This story follows first grade teacher Elaine on the worst day of her life. The day that she has to try to save a classroom of children in the middle of an outbreak. The real horror here is not the zombies as much as the horrible choices people sometimes have to make in the face of crisis. The terror Elaine feels when she realizes the door locks aren’t working and the safety features aren’t working properly jumps off of the page at you. I was listening to this at work and the story felt so real and made my eyes tear up so badly I had to take a short break when I got to the end.
“She looked around the classroom, taking in the terrified faces and tear-filled eyes, and knew that she had a choice to make. She could try to calm them, she could try to keep them under control…or she could run. Her return to the classroom had been automatic, training and habit cutting through the thin veil of panic and forcing her back to the one place she knew she could be safe. The halls had still been empty when she ran along them, and zombies weren’t good with doorknobs; even if her dimly sensed presence led the inhabitants of the office to break down the door, it would take them time. She could still run. She could step back out of the classroom, and she could run.
Emily was hiccupping now, her terror transitioning into misery. Mikey and Jenna were both crying, her silently, he in great whooping gasps that echoed through the otherwise silent classroom like a heart-beat. Half of them were still manacled to their chairs, sitting ducks for whatever might come through that door.
Elaine Oldenburg could have run. But in the end, she was a teacher before she was a survivor, and so all she did was step away from the door, fix a smile on her face, and say, “We’re going to have an adventure. Won’t that be fun?”
A Frost of Cares by Amy Rae Durreson
Blurb: Military historian Luke Alcott leaps at the chance to live in the seventeenth-century country mansion of Eelmoor Hall, home of the Royal Military School of Medicine, after being offered a job cataloging the school’s archives. Luke believes he chose the perfect place to start a new life and put his broken past behind him. But soon after settling into the old house, he hears strange noises—like footsteps—and he begins to suffer from terrible nightmares.
The only person Luke can turn to for help is the taciturn caretaker, Jay, a veteran of the Afghanistan war who carries an old battle wound. Together they try to understand Eelmoor Hall’s history and decipher what could be causing the haunting. As the weather grows colder and snow dusts the countryside, a child goes missing. Luke needs to deal with his own demons and learn to trust in love again if he hopes to face down the angry spirit and find the missing girl.
This was one of my favorite books this year. Luke is narrating the story to us and at one point he tells us “This isn’t a ghost story. This is a love story.” He’s right, there is a really touching love story going on but he’s not being entirely truthful. The fact that I held my kindle tightly and burrowed against the dog while I read this indicated it was also very much a ghost story. This is one you may not want to read at night (as I did).
“I woke some time later to the comforting sense of someone asleep on the bed behind me, arm loose across my waist and breathing steady in my ear. For a moment I thought it was Danny, and then I woke up enough to know better.
“Jay?’ I tried to ask, but only the faintest sound came out. Yet again I was frozen in my sleep, and I realized suddenly that I could feel wood against my knuckles even though my hands were tucked under the covers. I made a louder noise, hoping to rouse him. “Luke?” he said sleepily from the far side of the room.
Behind me, the breathing continued softly, stirring the hairs on the back of my neck.
I tried to scream, and as I did, the fear rose up over me as if I was being buried in ice from the toes up. My fingers curled up, my pulse quickened, sweat prickled on my shoulders, my back, my brow. It gripped me so hard I felt like I was convulsing, but I wasn’t. I was still trapped in stillness, and my scream came out as a thin whistle.”
The first two books are available in audio and I loved both of the narrators. The last one is unfortunately only available in ebook/print. (If it ever comes out on audio I’ll be one of the first people to buy it.) Here’s hoping that you find something that catches your eye in our lists of spooky reads and Happy Halloween to all of those who celebrate.
Alisa runs the audio review column, Alisa Listens, at Binge on Books. She loves getting stuff done while she reads which makes audio perfect for her!
You can connect with Alisa on Twitter: @bookgirl0702
Please follow and like us: