As we move into October, my Halloween Bingo reading takes a sharp turn towards cold, creepy, horror. I have a modern British horror novel set in a cold, haunted farm in Yorkshire at Christmas; a 1980 classic Southen Gothic horror about the haunting of a small town in Florida, and a 2010 story about a Lousianna Police Detective who summons demons.
‘Mistletoe’ by Alison Littlewood (2019)
Alison Littlewood is an English horror writer with half a dozen books to her name. She specialises in guilt and obsession meeting the supernatural or the fat, often against the background of Victorian England.
‘Mistletoe’, her latest novel, is a contemporary ghost story set in her native Yorkshire. I used to live there, many years ago. When it snows, the hills and moors are transformed into something new and beautiful, so what could be better than spending Christmas in your newly-purchased farmhouse, surrounded by all that cold beauty? Well, it might be better if you weren’t grieving for your husband and young son, if the house wasn’t almost derelict, if you weren’t spending your first Christmas as a widow alone so that you can escape the perfect Christmases your friends will be having and if the previous occupants of the farm weren’t haunting it and you.
I’m hoping ‘Mistletoe’ will deliver a spine-chilling Christmas ghost story.
‘Cold Moon Over Babylon‘ by Michael McDowell (1980)
Michael McDowell was an American horror writer who grew up in Alabama and whose novels are pretty much the definition of ‘Southern Gothic’. Valancourt Books, who have brought his novels back into print, have a great quote from McDowell about his work:
‘Someone once asked me what I thought horror fiction did. What its purpose was . . . I replied that when I wrote horror fiction, I tried to take the improbable, the unimaginable, and the impossible, and make it seem not only possible–but inevitable.‘
He certainly achieved that in ‘The Elementals’ which I read two years ago, still remember vividly and which was filled with inexorable dread.
‘Cold Moon Over Babylon’ is a story of violent supernatural revenge wrought on a small town in Florida after a young girl is murdered.
I’m expecting something dark and dreadful.
The book was made into the movie ‘Cold Moon’ in 2016. I’m going to watch it after I’ve read the book.
‘Blood Of The Demon’ by Diana Rowland (2010)
Diana Rowland is another writer from the American South. She specialises in Zombies and Demons and has redefined both.
Angel Crawford, the heroine of Diana Rowland’s six-book ‘White Trash Zombie’ series, isn’t just my favourite zombie of all time, she’s one of my favourite fictional characters.
This week, I’m reading the second book in Diana Rowland’s series about Kara Gillian, a Police Detective in Beaulac, Louisiana who has a talent for summoning demons. The novels are a mix of police procedural and a magic system involving summoning demons, beings from a parallel plain of existence, spiced a little bit of sexual frisson. The ninth book in the series is due for publication shortly.
I read the first book. ‘Mark of the Demon’ back in 2014 and, although I enjoyed it, it didn’t light me up the way the Angel Crawford books did. But, I found myself continuing to think about the book and so I ordered ‘Blood of the Demon’ which I’m now finally getting around to reading.
I’m hoping for a good police procedural mystery with some good world-building and as little romance as I can get away with.