Hello all! This week’s Top 5 Wednesday topic is: Favorite Creepy Settings! I’m going to give you guys 5 spooky books where the author does a fabulous job of using the creepy setting to enhance the story.
The Screaming Staircase (Jonathan Stroud)
For more than fifty years, the country has been affected by a horrifying epidemic of ghosts. A number of Psychic Investigations Agencies have sprung up to destroy the dangerous apparitions. Lucy Carlyle, a talented young agent, arrives in London hoping for a notable career. Instead she finds herself joining the smallest, most ramshackle agency in the city, run by the charismatic Anthony Lockwood. When one of their cases goes horribly wrong, Lockwood & Co. have one last chance of redemption. Unfortunately this involves spending the night in one of the most haunted houses in England, and trying to escape alive. — This one surprised me. It’s listed as a middle grade book, so I wasn’t expecting it to freak me out as much as it did. There’s actual danger, a good story, and a haunted house so scary that even Stephen King would approve. I literally slept with my lights on after I finished it. Great book!
The End Games (T. Michael Martin)
Seventeen-year-old Michael and his five-year-old brother, Patrick, have been battling monsters in The Game for weeks. In the rural mountains of West Virginia, armed with only their rifle and their love for each other, the brothers follow Instructions from the mysterious Game Master. They spend their days searching for survivors, their nights fighting endless hordes of “Bellows”—creatures that roam the dark, roaring for flesh. And at this Game, Michael and Patrick are very good. But The Game is changing. The Bellows are evolving. The Game Master is leading Michael and Patrick to other survivors—survivors who don’t play by the rules. And the brothers will never be the same. — I know some people find solace in the woods, but I can’t help it, the woods have always scared the bajeezes out of me. So reading a zombie novel set in the woods was probably not the best of ideas. 😉 Being from WV myself, though, I had to give this one a try. Pitch dark forests, old mines, burned out ghost towns, and my own capitol overrun by zombies & crazies alike…what a great horror novel!
Wayward Pines series (Blake Crouch)
From the first book: Secret service agent Ethan Burke arrives in Wayward Pines, Idaho, with a clear mission: locate and recover two federal agents who went missing in the bucolic town one month earlier. But within minutes of his arrival, Ethan is involved in a violent accident. He comes to in a hospital, with no ID, no cell phone, and no briefcase. The medical staff seems friendly enough, but something feels…off. As the days pass, Ethan’s investigation into the disappearance of his colleagues turns up more questions than answers. Why can’t he get any phone calls through to his wife and son in the outside world? Why doesn’t anyone believe he is who he says he is? And what is the purpose of the electrified fences surrounding the town? Are they meant to keep the residents in? Or something else out? Each step closer to the truth takes Ethan further from the world he thought he knew, from the man he thought he was, until he must face a horrifying fact—he may never get out of Wayward Pines alive. — Ever meet someone who seemed a little TOO friendly? That’s basically how this series starts out, with a town that’s a little too Stepford Wives to be believable. The whole setting is just offputting, which really enhances the suspense. If you like the Twilight Zone and don’t mind a bit of gore, this series is for you!
The Mist (Stephen King)
It’s a hot, lazy day, perfect for a cookout, until you see those strange dark clouds. Suddenly a violent storm sweeps across the lake and ends as abruptly and unexpectedly as it had begun. Then comes the mist…creeping slowly, inexorably into town, where it settles and waits, trapping you in the supermarket with dozens of others, cut off from your families and the world. The mist is alive, seething with unearthly sounds and movements. What unleashed this terror? Was it the Arrowhead Project—the top secret government operation that everyone has noticed but no one quite understands? And what happens when the provisions have run out and you’re forced to make your escape, edging blindly through the dim light? — Stephen King is BRILLIANT at taking completely normal surroundings and turning them into the scariest places on earth. In this case, the local supermarket turns first into a refuge from the monsters outside and then into a madhouse containing it’s OWN monsters. I actually read this in the original novella format (and liked the ending WAY better than the movie) so I’d recommend starting there.
House of Dark Shadows (Robert Liparulo)
When the Kings move from L.A. to a secluded small town, fifteen-year-old Xander is beyond disappointed. He and his friends loved to create amateur films . . . but the tiny town of Pinedale is the last place a movie buff and future filmmaker wants to land. But he, David, and Toria are captivated by the many rooms in the old Victorian fixer-upper they moved into–as well as the heavy woods surrounding the house. They soon discover there’s something odd about the house. Sounds come from the wrong directions. Prints of giant, bare feet appear in the dust. And when David tries to hide in the linen closet, he winds up in locker 119 at his new school. Then the really weird stuff kicks in: they find a hidden hallway with portals leading off to far-off places–in long-ago times. Xander is starting to wonder if this kind of travel is a teen’s dream come true . . . or his worst nightmare. — This one also surprised me. I came into it not expecting very much and ended up ADORING it. Basically the setting is this old, creepy house where each room is a portal to another time. It’s REALLY COOL. And actually dangerous, which doesn’t seem to happen often in children’s books. I definitely recommend this one for kids who don’t scare too easily.
How about you guys? What book settings completely freaked you out?