The Devil Made Me Do It: Horror in November

November - particularly this November - is the perfect month to delve into horror. As a genre, horror is supposed to dredge up fear, dread, and the particular type of suspense that makes you want to avoid what you know is coming even while you rush straight into it. It may seem odd to purposefully chase those emotions, but horror can be very cathartic. Horror is a very diverse field, and the evil we face might be supernatural, preternatural, or entirely human and banal. While the plot lines focus most often on death, destruction, or the demonic, the stories often explore more pressing societal fears and turmoil. A book about zombies, then, might be an author's commentary on globalization and the stifling of individuality or censorship and forced conformity - or it might be just a great story about brain-eating undead folk.

 November's Main Read is brought to you by the master of horror himself, the King of Hell (although he's sort of throneless at the moment), Crowley. Check it out:

The Library at Mount Char
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/898029292


Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. The guacamole, she remembered, is really good. Her stomach rumbled. Oak leaves, reddish-orange and delightfully crunchy, crackled underfoot as she walked. Her breath puffed white in the predawn air. The obsidian knife she had used to murder Detective Miner lay nestled in the small of her back, sharp and secret.
She was smiling. 

In Scott Hawkins' The Library at Mount Char, Carolyn and her brothers and sisters have a problem - Father has gone missing and they cannot go home. This would be upsetting for anyone, of course, but when your Father may or may not be God, and when your family will probably end up battling each other for control of the library (and, therefore, the universe), and you also have to worry about sentient icebergs or tentacle-plague carriers, it becomes a larger issue. Not to mention one literally blood-soaked brother's penchant for rape, torture, and murder.

The author keeps you on your toes, never quite sure what's going on or who the monster really is. The story explores what it takes to be a god, what it means to be human, and if one can become the first without losing the second. Riddled with graphic descriptions of violence, several smatterings of gore, and a wide range of inhuman beasties, the book nevertheless remains primarily psychological in its horror.

Highly recommended for urban fantasy readers who want to break into horror - or for horror readers who'd like a splash of urban fantasy to spice things up.

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Crowley also offers up this month's Quick Read, and reminds you all that Christmas is coming. If you're looking for something tasteful for the King of Hell, you should definitely keep these pieces in mind:

Horrorstör
http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/696099173

It was dawn, and the zombies were stumbling through the parking lot, streaming toward the massive beige box at the far end. Later they'd be resurrected by megadoses of Starbucks, but for now they were the barely living dead. Their causes of death differed: hangovers, nightmares, strung out from epic online gaming sessions, circadian rhythms broken by late-night TV, children who couldn't stop crying, neighbors partying till 4 a.m., broken hearts, unpaid bills, roads not taken, sick dogs, deployed daughters, ailing parents, midnight ice cream binges.
But every morning, five days a week (seven during the holidays), they dragged themselves here, to the one thing in their lives that never changed, the one thing they could count on come rain, or shine, or dead pets, or divorce: work. 
Horrorstör, by Grady Hendrix, is set in Cleveland's local Orsk, a furniture superstore which bears a striking resemblance to Ikea. If that wasn't horrifying enough, strange things keep happening - apparent acts of vandalism that the store manager, Basil, wants to investigate by staying overnight and trying to catch the culprit, with the assistance of employees Amy and Ruth Anne. Fellow employees Trinity and Matt have also decided to spend the night, in order to record paranormal activity - but everyone gets a much closer look into the afterlife than they'd intended. Not everyone will make it back.

An excellent ghost story with a splattering of gore, it's a great read for anyone who is just looking for some creepiness (and who maybe enjoys some snarky commentary on retail). Illustrated with some of Orsk's more popular offerings (as well as a couple...unconventional...furniture choices - and those are the ones Crowley's very interested in owning), it's a fun read with room for a sequel, but no real demand for it.

If you're not too scared to ask, and if you have any questions about the genre or need more horror reading recommendations, let me know, and I'll check with Crowley when he's not having a snarky disagreement with Rowena.

Happy reading, and we'll see you next month with the year's last recommendations from the Readers Advisory Committee!

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