With our favorite month of the year nearly half over, and the last two weeks of “the season” in full swing, we here at Goth Chick News have been living on a diet of adult beverages, caffeine and Pez. From making the rounds to Chicagoland’s best haunted attractions, to hosting our biennial Halloween bash for 200 (this year’s theme was Freak Show), there has been very little time to sleep as we work to cram in every last drop of fun before November 1st.
So, normally I would bring you these three new releases one at a time. But as it’s 3 a.m. here in the Midwest and I’ve had quite a lot of espresso, you’re getting them all in one go.
The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Bérubé was released in August and is the Canadian author’s first book. Technically it is considered YA, but as I didn’t know that going in, I honestly wouldn’t have guessed. Though I wouldn’t exactly bill it the way the publisher did, as “Black Swan meets Paranormal Activity,” The Dark Beneath the Ice is a terrific, creepy story that poses many questions, one of which is: can an inner demon summon the supernatural?
[Click the images for monster-sized versions.]
Something is wrong with Marianne.
It’s not just that her parents have finally split up. Or that life hasn’t been the same since she quit dancing. Or even that her mother has checked herself into the hospital.
She’s losing time. Doing things she would never do. And objects around her seem to break whenever she comes close. Something is after her. And the only one who seems to believe her is the daughter of a local psychic.
But their first attempt at an exorcism calls down the full force of the thing’s rage. It demands Marianne give back what she stole. Whatever is haunting her, it wants everything she has ― everything it’s convinced she stole. Marianne must uncover the truth that lies beneath it all before the nightmare can take what it thinks it’s owed, leaving Marianne trapped in the darkness of the other side.
The next one is at least partially to blame for my lack of sleep. The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White has been my Audible obsession for nearly eleven hours. Though she has written several series novels, this is my first experience with White’s storytelling and I am completely hooked. The tale of Frankenstein and his monster has always been one of my favorites and this entirely new take on it, going into the childhoods of Victor and Elizabeth, creates a fascinating and disturbing backstory to the horror that will eventually catch up with them both.
Elizabeth Lavenza hasn’t had a proper meal in weeks. Her thin arms are covered with bruises from her “caregiver,” and she is on the verge of being thrown into the streets… until she is brought to the home of Victor Frankenstein, an unsmiling, solitary boy who has everything — except a friend.
Victor is her escape from misery. Elizabeth does everything she can to make herself indispensable — and it works. She is taken in by the Frankenstein family and rewarded with a warm bed, delicious food, and dresses of the finest silk. Soon she and Victor are inseparable.
But her new life comes at a price. As the years pass, Elizabeth’s survival depends on managing Victor’s dangerous temper and entertaining his every whim, no matter how depraved. Behind her blue eyes and sweet smile lies the calculating heart of a girl determined to stay alive no matter the cost… as the world she knows is consumed by darkness.
The last one is probably my favorite by just a bit, which is surprising. Dracul is written by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker, and that first name probably sounds familiar. Dacre is the nephew, a couple of times removed, of the author of Dracula, Bram Stoker. I told you about Dacre back in 2009 when he penned is first novel, Dracula the Undead, at which time I suggested he stick to coaching Canadian high school sports, which is what he had been doing up to that point. The book was such a disappointment to a Dracula superfan such as myself, that not only was I certain Uncle Bram was spinning in his own grave like a rotisserie ham, but I was very hesitant to even try out Dracul.
However, either due to significant maturity as an author over the last nine years, or because Barker is a highly talented wingman, Dracul was an absolute pleasure. It is supposedly based on the notes left behind by Uncle Bram and though we know Bram Stoker did indeed leave quite a lot of notes regarding his famous vampire, these weren’t them. Instead we get a very creative take on the events leading up to the novel and an absolute feast for Stoker fans. Way to live up to the family name Dacre, which has probably finally made it possible for you to stop coaching high school hockey.
It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…
A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen — a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen — and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.
So, there you have it; three wonderful ways to round out the Halloween season and cushion your psyche for the onslaught of family-time to come. Following a few hours of sleep, Black Gate photog Chris Z and I are off to provide our haunted-attractions-professional opinion of what the Travel Channel billed as one of the best haunts in America, Stateville Haunted Prison.
Have you read any of these books and if so, what did you think? Post a comment or drop a line to firstname.lastname@example.org.