Horror II (9/28/21)

WHEN: September 28, 2021; 9:45am to 12Noon

WHERE: This is a Virtual Zoom meeting sponsored by the Lucius Beebe Memorial Library.

Contact: Leane Ellis; rapotential@gmail.com  

Members will receive an email invitation via our Google Group, anyone else interested in attending please contact Leane at the above email address.

We are spending the 2021 summer studying Horror II.                     

I am thrilled that Verónica Rodríguez and Brigid Black will be co-leading our discussion in September with me. They will be providing a short overview of historical influences and appeal of this rich genre before we discuss our benchmarks. I thank them for their valuable contributions to the lists and the discussion to come.

Assignment:  Everyone reads BOTH of the benchmarks: Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s Mexican Gothic (2020) AND Grady Hendrix’s Horrorstör (2014). 

Please also read a Choice title in this category either from the suggested lists below on our blog, or one that you choose yourself; and then post a review on our blog under Submit Choice Titles.

Horror Averse? Check out the list below for Gentler Horror titles. Still wigged out? Please join us anyway to lurk and learn from the discussion. Instead of reading the assigned or Choice books, try to Speed Read a Gentler title and/or read a few reviews of the title or author for the Appeal. Need to talk about it? Email Leane (rapotential@gmail.com)

For appeal, please focus especially on tone, frame, and character.

Horror Choice Titles also includes a list of older Classic Horror Authors. Horror Choice Titles

Horror Suggestions for Non-Horror Readers:  A Gentler Approach


See previous NE Genre discussion:  Horror (11/23/10) Benchmark discussed: Joe Hill’s Heart Shaped Box (2007). Notes on Horror Benchmark and Choice titles.

ARRT: GENRE STUDY: Speculative Fiction (2016-2017) (05/13/21)

Bram Stoker Awards: Horror Writers Association (HWA) website with yearly awards lists.

Horror Readers’ Advisory: How to Help Your Scariest Patrons: Slides for RAILS (Reaching Across Illinois Library System) presentation by Becky Spratford (RA for All) April 6, 2020. (5/13/21)

RA FOR ALL: HORROR—Becky Spratford’s All things Horror Blog includes links to Summer Scares (Sponsored by the Horror Writers Association (HWA), in partnership with United for Libraries, Book Riot, and Booklist) including lists & programing guide for 2021.

TOR’s Nightfire: Tor’s monthly list of new releases and other book title news.

Print/PDF Bibliography  (Available on Google Group) 

Latham, Bethany. “Getting Up to Speed in Gothic Fiction.” NoveList. (2021) (5/05/21)

Sabat, Yaika. “Getting Up to Speed in Horror. NoveList. (2020) (5/05/21) Online version contains link to Novelist’s and LibraryReads’ webinar: “Crash Course in Horror” (9/24/19)

Spratford, Becky Siegel. The Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror. 2nd edition. ALA. 2012. p. ix-x; 1-37, 49-54, 127-137.

—–. 3rd edition. ALA. 2021. Due this summer (9780838948767). If Leane has access to this edition, she will share any changes with the group over the summer.

Wyatt, Neal & Joyce G. Saricks. “Horror.” The RA Guide to Genre Fiction. 2019. 3rd ed., ALA, p.191, 237-257.


Name: Leane
Title: The Hunger (2018)
Author: Alma Katsu
Appeal Factors: CH/FRAME/TONE
Summary/Thoughts: This is a reimagining of what happened to the Donner Party and Katsu uses real historical detail as a basis for her imagination to take off. The cultural and religious issues are used well to set-up the Horror elements using attitudes and beliefs that were real at the time to compel the CHs and their actions. Atmospheric historical detail and Tone connected to weather details especially winter (brutal and harsh). The zombie monsters hungering for blood set in a real historical context lends verisimilitude to the horror aspect (Think Walking Dead.).  Appeal strengths: CHs–especially the “bad” ones, Tone=I only read in daylight, very eerie, creepy, scary, and Setting: realistic and forbidding, captures that time in the settling of the West after the Civil War extremely well. The ending is classic Horror: The monsters survive and lurk in the shadows. Red Flags: Bloody violence & cannibalism. Lesser themes–racism, lbgtqia, incest, physical abuse/rape, misogyny. Readalikes: Anyone who likes a good zombie thrill ride but also anyone who enjoys Historical settings re-imagined especially the Western. I think fans of Dan Simmons and Christopher Golden, as well as Katsu’s The Deep (Titanic).

Name: Beth Safford
Title: The Drowning Kind (2021)
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Appeal Factors: intricate plot, compelling writing, atmospheric, creepy, haunting, suspenseful
Summary/Thoughts: The main character of this modern-day ghost story is Jax, a clinical social worker with a schizophrenic older sister named Lexi. When Lexi drowns, Jax returns to the family home for the funeral and to discover what dark secret in their family history Lexi was investigating. There is also a back story about their great-grandmother and her desperate wish for a baby. Because of this, she makes a bargain with the spring water at their home, which is famous for its power. However, for every wish that is granted, something equal is taken away, with tragic results. For readers who enjoy supernatural mysteries and Gothic fiction.

Name: Alexandra
Title: Near The Bone (2021)
Author: Christina Henry
Appeal Factors: Pace, Frame
Summary/Thoughts: Near the Bone tells the story of Maddie, a young woman living in the wilderness on a secluded mountainside with her abusive husband William. William controls everything in Maddie’s life: where she can go, how much she’s allowed to eat, what she reads. Maddie seems to accept this treatment as her due, until one day when her routine is interrupted by a new presence on the mountainside.

The story accelerates when it becomes clear that an unnatural and violent creature is stalking William and Maddie. While William becomes obsessed with exterminating the creature, Maddie experiences a series of flashbacks revealing a traumatic past and how she came to be William’s wife. Henry builds tension and suspense jumping back and forth through time, gradually revealing that Maddie may have just as much to fear from the known entities in her life as she does from the unknown creature hunting her and William.

Though Maddie’s flashbacks slow the pace, Henry’s rich descriptions of the desolate mountainside heighten the reader’s fear of what is lurking just beyond the characters’ view and the suspense never falters. Some of the peripheral characters are slightly underdeveloped and their reactions to the events are not quite believable, but overall, Henry offers a quick, exciting fright in the wilderness.

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement: RART-NE encourages all library staff to use leisure reading as a way to connect with the community, with a particular focus on reaching the underserved and promoting “own voices” authors. Throughout our discussions we will explore ways in which library staff can provide services, collections, and programming that puts EDI concerns at the forefront. Examples include but are not limited to, delivering the same information in different formats, advice on how to diversify your displays, and ways to include more staff voices in basic RA service [more voices leads to more equitable, diverse, and inclusive offerings]. Library staff attending RART-NE must be interested in allowing all staff [not just professional and/or public service staff] to participate in serving all populations, not just the ones most represented by staff or as identified in a local census.

Cancellation Policy: This policy is in effect while we follow Covid-19 protocols and also for the future event that a meeting is scheduled at the physical location of a library.  There is no plan to cancel a meeting.  During Covid-19 we will be meeting virtually using the Zoom platform sponsored by a member library.  When the group is able to meet in person at the physical location of a library; and if the town/city of the location of the meeting cancels public schools, and/or there is a parking ban–the meeting will be changed to a Virtual meeting using Zoom, even if the library in question remains open. Leane will broadcast the change from physical  to Virtual meeting due to inclement weather or other reason by 7:00am or before from the Google group, and post it on this website. January meetings will be Virtual Zoom meetings until further notice beginning 1/25/22. Edited 5/23/21