October Fright: The Grueseome Recap

AKernelOctober

It’s finally Halloween! For those who celebrate, Happy Halloween! I hope you have some frightening, fun, and safe plans for today. I’m sad to report that October Fright is officially coming to an end *queue disappointed awws* Tomorrow my blog will go back to normal which actually makes me a little sad. I’m actually going to miss the spiders. So in celebration of this creeptastic day, I’m making a little recap of this month’s Halloween-themed posts.

It doesn’t have to be October for you to enjoy a creepy read, so if you’re looking for some good horror recommendations check out October Fright: Favorite Horror Recommendations. High on my list is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

If you’re a fan of horror movies or T.V. shows, but aren’t sure what to read as a result, my post October Fright: If You Like…Then Try ought to help out. 28 Days Later is paired with This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers, both thrilling adventures that will have you trying to survive a world full of the undead.

Villains can be the kind of characters that you just love to hate. They can also be the kind of characters that make you want to hide under a blanket and hope to could disappear. In October Fright: Beware! Here be Villains, I highlight some of my favorite bad guys (and gals) in literature. Among them is the serial killer Billy Dent in I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga.

Do you like scary movies? Why, yes, I love scary movies! In October Fright: Horror Flicks That Will Make You Scream, I share some of my favorites, the ones I like to watch when Halloween rolls around.

October Fright would not be complete without a true ghost story. In my post October Fright: Local Urban Legends, I tell two tales I grew up with, one which had me headed to an abandoned insane asylum!

And finally, if you enjoy scary stories all year round, be sure to check out my post October Fright: Thirteen Frightfully Fun Future Releases to see some horror and paranormal books that are schedule to be released in 2016. List includes the intriguing The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman which is being released in January.

Happy Halloween

October Fright: Thirteen Frightfully Fun Future Releases

AKernelOctober

I can’t believe the month is almost over! I’ve had a lot of fun picking up creepy reads this month and there are still a few I haven’t gotten to yet; hopefully, I’ll be able to pick them up soon. October isn’t the only month when you can read a horror novel and in this post I’ll be listing future releases that have caught my eye. Please note that a couple of these don’t have official covers just yet and there are also a few that don’t have official release dates either. So if the creepy tales you read in October aren’t enough, be sure to add these to your TBR. Covers linked to Goodreads.

1. The Children’s Home by Charles Lambert

Release Date: January 5, 2016

For fans of Shirley Jackson, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl, and Edward Gorey, a beguiling and disarming debut novel from an award-winning British author about a mysterious group of children who appear to a disfigured recluse and his country doctor,and the startling revelations their behavior evokes.

In a sprawling estate, willfully secluded, lives Morgan Fletcher, the disfigured heir to a fortune of mysterious origins. Morgan spends his days in quiet study, avoiding his reflection in mirrors and the lake at the end of his garden. One day, two children, Moira and David, appear. Morgan takes them in, giving them free reign of the mansion he shares with his housekeeper Engel. Then more children begin to show up.

Dr. Crane, the town physician and Morgan’s lone tether to the outside world, is as taken with the children as Morgan, and begins to spend more time in Morgan’s library. But the children behave strangely. They show a prescient understanding of Morgan’s past, and their bizarre discoveries in the mansion attics grow increasingly disturbing. Every day the children seem to disappear into the hidden rooms of the estate, and perhaps, into the hidden corners of Morgan’s mind.

2. The Dark Days Club by Alison Goodman

Release Date: January 26, 2016

London, April 1812. On the eve of eighteen-year-old Lady Helen Wrexhall’s presentation to the queen, one of her family’s housemaids disappears-and Helen is drawn into the shadows of Regency London. There, she meets Lord Carlston, one of the few who can stop the perpetrators: a cabal of demons infiltrating every level of society. Dare she ask for his help, when his reputation is almost as black as his lingering eyes? And will her intelligence and headstrong curiosity wind up leading them into a death trap?

3. Shallow Graves by Kali Wallace

Release Date: January 26, 2016

For fans of Holly Black and Nova Ren Suma, a gripping, hauntingly atmospheric novel about murder, revenge, and a world where monsters—human and otherwise—lurk at the fringes.

When seventeen-year-old Breezy Lin wakes up in a shallow grave one year after her death, she doesn’t remember who killed her or why. All she knows is that she’s somehow conscious—and not only that, she’s able to sense who around her is hiding a murderous past. In life, Breezy was always drawn to the elegance of the universe and the mystery of the stars. Now she must set out to find answers and discover what is to become of her in the gritty, dangerous world to which she now belongs—where killers hide in plain sight and a sinister cult is hunting for strange creatures like her. What she finds is at once empowering, redemptive, and dangerous.

4. After the Woods by Kim Savage

Release Date: February 23, 2016

An emotionally-charged debut novel about the deadly lies hidden beneath a destructive friendship.

One year ago, two best friends, Liv and Julia, were attacked in the woods by a paroled predator. In an attempt to save Liv, Julia was left behind while Liv escaped. After spending three days in the woods trying to escape her abductor, Julia was rescued. She only remembers what happened in the woods in terrifying flashbacks. Now, on the eve of the anniversary of the attack, a body is found in the woods. This discovery rips open fresh wounds between the two girls as the truth about Liv’s role in the kidnapping is revealed.

5. The Steep and Thorny Way by Cat Winters

Release Date: March 8, 2016

A thrilling reimagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, The Steep and Thorny Way tells the story of a murder most foul and the mighty power of love and acceptance in a state gone terribly rotten.

1920s Oregon is not a welcoming place for Hanalee Denney, the daughter of a white woman and an African-American man. She has almost no rights by law, and the Ku Klux Klan breeds fear and hatred in even Hanalee’s oldest friendships. Plus, her father, Hank Denney, died a year ago, hit by a drunk-driving teenager. Now her father’s killer is out of jail and back in town, and he claims that Hanalee’s father wasn’t killed by the accident at all but, instead, was poisoned by the doctor who looked after him—who happens to be Hanalee’s new stepfather.

The only way for Hanalee to get the answers she needs is to ask Hank himself, a “haint” wandering the roads at night.

6. Relic by Gretchen McNeil

Release Date: March 8, 2016

For Annie Kramer, the summer before college is bittersweet—both a last hurrah of freedom and the last days she’ll spend with her boyfriend, Jack, before they head off to different colleges. So she and her friends plan one final adventure: a houseboating trip on Shasta Lake, complete with booze, romance . . . and an off-limits exploration of the notorious Bull Valley Mine.

The legends of mysterious lights and missing persons on Shasta Lake have been a staple of sleepovers and campouts since Annie was a kid. Full of decrepit bridges that lead to nowhere, railroad tunnels that disappear into the mountains, and terrifying stories of unexplained deaths and bodies that were never recovered, Bull Valley Mine is notorious and frightening—perfect for an epic conclusion to their high school lives.

The trip is fun and light—at first. But when a deranged stranger stumbles upon their campsite, spouting terrifying warnings and pleas for help, it’s clear that everyone is in danger. And when their exploration of the mine goes horribly wrong, Annie and her friends quickly discover that the menace of Bull Valley Mine doesn’t stay at Shasta Lake—it follows them home.

As one by one her friends fall victim to this mysterious and violent force, Annie must do whatever it takes to discover the ancient secrets of the mine and save her friends . . . if she’s not already too late.

7. A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachmann

Release Date: March 15, 2016

Five gifted teenagers are selected out of hundreds of other candidates to fly to France and help with the excavation of a vast, underground palace buried a hundred feet below the suburbs of Paris. Built in the 1780’s to hide an aristocratic family and a mad duke during the French Revolution, the palace was sealed after the aristocrats fled there. No one has set foot in it for over two centuries.

Now, in the present day, the teenagers enter with cutting-edge technology, state-of-the-art security, scientists and chaperones. And then a brutal accident occurs. No way out. Caught in the dark.

They will have to fight to survive. But are they really alone in the depths?

8. The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

Release Date: April 19, 2016

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the face of her demons–and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie haven’t talked about what they saw that summer night since it happened. After the trial Callie drifted and Tessa moved and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa’s had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette–to Wyatt Stokes sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the only other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer–and this time, it won’t be as easy to run away.

9. The May Queen Murders by Sarah Jude

Release Date: May 3, 2016

Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.

Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them.

10. Fear the Drowning Deep by Sarah Glenn Marsh

Release Date: September 2016

Witch’s apprentice Bridey Corkill has hated the ocean ever since she watched her granddad dive in and drown with a smile on his face. So when a dead girl rolls in with the tide in the summer of 1913, sixteen-year-old Bridey suspects that whatever compelled her granddad to leap into the sea has made its return to the Isle of Man.

Soon, villagers are vanishing in the night, but no one shares Bridey’s suspicions about the sea. No one but the island’s witch, who isn’t as frightening as she first appears, and the handsome dark-haired lad Bridey rescues from a grim and watery fate. The cause of the deep gashes in Fynn’s stomach and his lost memories are, like the recent disappearances, a mystery well-guarded by the sea. In exchange for saving his life, Fynn teaches Bridey to master her fear of the water — stealing her heart in the process.

Now, Bridey must work with the Isle’s eccentric witch and the boy she isn’t sure she can trust — because if she can’t uncover the truth about the ancient evil in the water, everyone she loves will walk into the sea, never to return.

11. Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Release Date: October 2016

Bruja magic runs in her blood, but a curse to get rid of it may cost Alex more than her power…

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in her family. But she’s hated magic ever since it made her father disappear into thin air. So while most girls celebrate their Sweet 16s, Alex prepares for Death Day – the most important day in a bruja’s life, and her only opportunity to rid herself of magic.

But the curse she performs during the ceremony backfires and her family vanishes, forcing Alex to absorb all the magic of her family line. Left alone, Alex seeks help from Nova, a brujo who covets power for himself. To get her family back they must travel to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

12. Black Birds of the Gallows by Meg Kassel

Release Date: 2016

A debut novel about a teenage girl who discovers the new boy next door is a harbinger of death, and who must find a way to survive in a town destined for destruction.

A simple but forgotten truth: Where harbingers of death appear, the morgues will soon be full. Harbingers settle in places where tragedy is about to strike, then feed on the energy of the dying. Then, they leave. Off to the next doomed place. No one wants a family of harbingers of death as neighbors, but that’s exactly what seventeen-year-old Angie Dovage gets when Reece Fernandez moves in next door.

Angie knows the mysterious boy is more than he appears, but can’t imagine that his presence heralds a tragedy that will devastate her small community. But her fears run deeper than Reece’s inevitable departure, because where harbingers of death go, grotesque, ruined creatures called Beekeepers follow. And where Beekeepers go, fear and chaos and death follows.

Angie wants to protect everyone she cares about, but stopping the Beekeepers involves a choice that will claim her life or Reece’s soul. She will learn the price of both.

13. How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather

Release Date: 2016

Pitched as The Ghost and Mrs. Muir meets The Craft, it follows Samantha Mather, who has moved to Salem with her stepmother 300 years after her family hanged witches there, to find she is ostracized by the witch descendants at school, as she unravels the lost secrets of the hangings and her family.

Are any of these books on your TBR? Do you have any future horror/paranormal books you’re looking forward to? Let me hear your thoughts in the comments!

October Fright: Local Urban Legends

AKernelOctober

Every town has one. The abandoned house that everyone hurries by, the cemetery everyone avoids, a local forest everyone’s afraid to go into. For this month’s October Fright I want to share with you the two local legends I grew up with. One that was invented by a peer of mine and another that goes back generations in the town I grew up in. I’ve changed the names of people and will not be disclosing locations because, you know, reasons.

The House on the Hill

When I was a kid, I went to an elementary school that bordered a hill. Comprised mostly of dry brush with a few large bushes that resembled overenthusiastic Chia Pets, the hill wasn’t much to look at, but at the top of this slope sat an old house. Closest to this hill was the field we did P.E. on, and flanking this field, running from one end to the other, was a line of trees.  At the end of this column was the smallest tree of the lot. It was a sad little thing when you considered the other trees, but as it provided a certain amount of privacy from the watchful eyes of adults that you couldn’t get anywhere else on campus, it was the most coveted. It also gave you a perfect view of the house on the hill. This tree, along with all the others, was unofficially owned by the 6th graders, the oldest kids at the school who were much too big to play on the playground. When my friends and I were in 5th grade, we envied these older students, wishing we could hang out with them. When we finally entered 6th grade, we claimed these trees as our own. There were seven of us in all. We’d been in 5th grade together, we had slept at each other’s houses, and shared secrets.

And sometimes there was Jenny.

None of us knew her very well. She was the kind of kid who drifted from one group of friends to another, forever trying to find her place. She was a little odd, with straight-as-a-board brown hair and too-eager eyes. I’d never had a class with her but I knew her vaguely, in the way all kids at a small school know one another. Perhaps it was for the attention or maybe (though unnerving as it may be) she was telling the truth, but she used to tell us that her grandmother was a witch. Jenny didn’t talk much about her home life, but it was understood amongst us that she lived with her grandmother. Jenny claimed that her grandmother was a practicing witch and a good one, who had taken her granddaughter under her wing now that she was old enough. When Jenny wasn’t around, the seven of us would discuss whether or not we should believe her. None of us had met her grandmother or seen Jenny perform any kind of spell, and none of us was eager to ask to go visit her house. The next time Jenny brought it up, we voiced our skepticism. To prove us wrong, Jenny showed us the vial she kept on a string around her neck. Filled with a unknown liquid, she told us this was one of the potions her grandmother and her had made together. Perhaps it was because we were young or we secretly wished to be a part of something bigger, but some of us began to believe her.

One day while we were sitting at this last tree, huddled under the little shade it provided, Jenny glanced at the house on the hill. We weren’t allowed near the fence that led to the property. Our tree was the closest we could get without getting into trouble. The house might have been white once, but now it just looked run down. There was a garden in front, but none of us knew enough about gardening to discern just what was growing there. Jenny kept her gaze on the house and asked if we’d ever seen anyone come out of it while we were at school. None of us had. Jenny turned her gaze back to us and in a serious tone told us that the people who lived there were evil, that they practiced a bad kind of magic and that we should never get too close to the property.

As time passed, Jenny stopped hanging out with us. I don’t remember seeing her much afterwards, so it’s possible she just moved away. For the most part, we laughed off her story. After all, witches didn’t exist and if they did, why would they build a school right next to a house owned by one? Still, when we sat at that last tree we’d always keep one eye on the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of whomever lived there.

Darkness and Lunacy

It wasn’t until I was an older kid that I came across this local legend. On the outskirts of the city I grew up in there’s a small forest in the middle of nowhere. Rumor had it that in the midst of this forest there was an old abandoned building. This building used to be an asylum, but it had been abandoned years ago and it, along with the surrounding area, was home to quite a few ghost sightings. If you drove through the forest, you’d see strange things scratch into the trees and sometimes you could spot an apparition through the dense foliage.

One night when my brothers, cousin, a couple of friends, and I were exchanging ghost stories, this insane asylum came up. We had all heard the whispers, some of us even knew people who had swallowed their fear and took the drive through the forest. None of us actually knew anyone who had jumped the fence that surrounded the asylum’s grounds. Fear, which can sometimes manifest itself as adrenaline, can make you do stupid things and one of us suggested we go for a drive. Everyone reluctantly agreed. We jumped into my older brother’s car. He drove, with his best friend in the passenger seat and the rest of us squeezed into the back. My younger brother, who grew up with me scaring him at every opportunity, refused to sit near either door and his best friend, who was just as scared, also refused. So my cousin and I sat on either side of them pressed against the backseat doors, a couple of young girls protecting little boys. We never let them hear the end of it.

It was late and dark and no matter how brave we seemed on the outside, the fact that we were heading to a former asylum in the middle of nowhere was freaking us out. The further we went, the more afraid we became. We drove through several dirt roads, squinting into the darkness, actually hoping we’d find the right place because none of us wanted to get lost anywhere near the place. When we finally reached the dirt road that ran through the forest, we slowed down.

The road was small, the trees dense. The headlights lit the trees and as we passed by we saw that indeed there was writing carved into the trunks. There was a quiet challenge for anyone to get out of the car and take a closer look. No one spoke up. The air inside the car was hot with our quick breaths, but we refused to roll the windows down. We drove in silence, slowly inching forward, not knowing what to expect and afraid to find out.

We never reached the fence that led to the abandoned asylum. I don’t remember who first suggested we abandon the endeavor, but at some point the dread rattling our insides became too much. My brother pressed on the gas and we sped out of the forest a lot faster than we had entered.

This local legend goes back at least a couple of generations. My parents, who grew up in the same city I did, have their own stories to tell about the place. About white apparitions and dolls hanging from nooses and being chased from the property by a man with a shotgun. I no longer live in this same city, so I’m not sure if the legend still lives on today, but I do know that if you asked me to take the same trip I did when I was younger, I’d call you crazy and leave it at that.

I’d love to hear about your own local urban legends and if you were ever brave (or stupid) enough to investigate them. Share your stories in the comments below!

October Fright: Bewitching Reads

AKernelOctober

I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite Halloween “monsters” are witches. I think I spent most Halloweens as a child dressed up as a witch. I remember one year I did the full green face make-up…it was very messy. From Hocus Pocus to Charmed to The Craft (a movie I probably shouldn’t have watched when I was a kid), witches have always been so fascinating to me. So put on your witch hat (I literally have one), here are some of my favorite books featuring witches. Covers linked to Goodreads.

1. Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

First and foremost, I must mention HP. Hermione Granger, Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Nymphadora Tonks, and Minerva McGonagall, the HP series is filled with amazing witches who kick butt with their magic, bravery, intelligence, and goodness. Though I’ll admit, some of the evil witches in the series are a whole lot of fun too.

“Professor McGonagall moved faster than Harry could have believed: Her wand slashed through the air…”

2. Salt & Storm by Kendall Kulper

This book, this book! I love this book, it deserves so much more praise than it’s gotten. Avery Roe comes from a long line of witches and all her life she’s wanted nothing more than to take over for her grandmother, but her mother, who has forsaken the same calling, will do everything in her power to keep Avery from magic.

“For the first time in my life I thought I might not become a witch. I might not ever have the chance. Because I could read dreams and I knew what it meant to dream I was a whale, to dream of men trapping me, hunting me, piercing me with harpoons and leaving me to drown in my own blood.”

3. Chime by Franny Billingsley

This book is at the top of my underrated list. Briony promised her stepmother long ago that she would take care of her sister and never speak of the strange gift she has. In a time where witches are hanged for existing, Briony must hide her own witchiness or be condemned.

“I felt rather than saw the witches circling, then rising, now above the trees, out of sight. But their shrills and shrieks of amusement blew to us on that unnatural wind.”

4. Texas Gothic by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Amy Goodnight comes from a very talented family full of witches and psychics alike. And no matter how much she’d rather not be a part of the crazy world of ghosts and spells, they always find a way to disrupt her life.

“This was why I’d been reluctant to come to the farm. It was part of the figurative bubble where my family lived, where magic was reasonable and tangible. It messed with my thinking and blurred the lines I’d carefully drawn between my private, family world and my determined public normalcy.”

5. The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab

This was my first Victoria Schwab book and is highly underrated in my opinion. Missing children, the appearance of a stranger, and the legend of the Near Witch makes this a great read.

“Long, long ago, the Near Witch lived in a small house on the farthest edge of the village, and she used to sing the hills to sleep…She was very old and very young, depending on which way she turned her head, for no one knows the age of witches.”

6. Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas

Though Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series focuses more on Fae, it does feature quite an abundance of witches. Though featured in only the last two books in the series, Manon Blackbeak has quickly become one of my favorite characters. The Thirteen, a team of elite witches, are vicious, powerful, and so much fun to read about. Let’s hope Maas decides to write a witch-oriented series next.

Manon didn’t bother wiping away the blood slipping down her chin as she gave the remaining farmer a head sart intot he field of towering winter grass, so high that it was well over their heads.

She counted to ten, because she wanted to hunt, and had been that way since she tore through her mother’s womb and came roaring and bloody into this world.”

Other witchy reads I haven’t read, but plan to:

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What are some of your favorite witchy reads? I’m always on the lookout for books featuring witches, so I’d appreciate any of your recommendations!