Category Archives: Horror

Ronald Malfi. Cradle Lake. Aurora, IL: Medallion Press, 2013.

Cradle LakeBuzzards won’t stop lurking around Alan Hammerstun’s property. Once Alan spotted the first few, more and more of the creatures started appearing, perching on his rooftop like hunched “gargoyles” and stalking around his lawn. The buzzards aren’t Alan’s only concern. Since he and his wife, Heather, moved in, strange vines have covered the house. Vines that bleed dark purple ooze and grow back right after Alan cuts them down. Despite the tension bubbling between them, Alan and Heather have quite a bit of patience to continue living in such a nightmarish space.

The Hammerstun couple and their golden retriever, Jerry Lee, only recently moved into the house, located in the mountains of fictional Groom County, North Carolina. Alan was surprised to hear that his Uncle Phillip left the house to him. They had little meaningful contact and Alan hadn’t visited the property since he was a kid. He and Heather lived in New York City. Alan was a native and a college professor in his early thirties. Heather, entering her mid-thirties, relocated to NYC after growing up in the Midwest and worked in an art gallery.

As of late, Heather and Alan had been trying to start a family with little success. Heather’s first miscarriage occurred early in the pregnancy. The experience was unsettling, but the Hammerstuns still felt hopeful. But Heather’s second miscarriage came slightly later in the pregnancy and was a much more traumatic experience. After their ordeal and subsequent attempts to conceive, Heather fell into a deep depression. She quit her job and her vacant, dangerous behavior began to worry Alan. So when the news of his unexpected inheritance reached him, Alan decided a change of scenery might help Heather heal and restore their relationship.

Soon after the move, Alan visits the lake on his property. He learns of its mysterious healing powers, but is cautioned by a friendly neighbor that sometimes the lake doesn’t always work its magical powers for everyone. Alan pursues information about the lake and the strange symbols carved on the stones lining the path to the lake. He finds a gruesome back-story and a warning from George YoungCalfRibs, a Cherokee with a prophetic gift. YoungCalfRibs advises Alan to leave his new home – but to burn it to the ground before he departs.  Meanwhile, Alan and Heather are growing further apart. Heather’s depression shows no improvement and Alan’s stomach ulcer, borne of stress, worsens. The allure of the lake starts to override Alan’s better judgment. Its miracles are easier to see than the possible strings attached.

Readers who don’t normally add much horror to their to-read lists shouldn’t pass by Cradle Lake. Novelist Ronald Malfi’s story is well-written and filled with strong, creepy visuals. The aforementioned buzzards and vines, in addition to Alan’s increasingly intense nightmares, are tangible and chilling. Alan’s growing paranoia and sense of being followed builds up slowly. The simmering tension already present between the Hammerstuns escalates after their move. Malfi does a nice job of prolonging those feelings until they boil over at the very conclusion.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Horror, Malfi, Ronald, Mountains, Novels Set in Fictional Places

Glen Hirshberg. Motherless Child. Northborough, MA: Earthling Publications, 2012.

Friends and recent mothers, Natalie and Sophie are enjoying a night out in Charlotte, drinking, listening to music, and meeting men. Natalie and Sophie seem like a typical pairing of opposites: where Natalie is coolly observant, Sophie is fun and free-spirited. At a bar, they meet a bizarre performer called the Whistler. The Whistler is fixated on Natalie. He first saw her, secretly, the night before working a shift at a Waffle House. After that brief encounter, the Whistler decided that Natalie is his “Destiny,” that she is bound to be his companion for eternity. So later that night, he turns both women into vampires. The next morning Natalie and Sophie awake in Natalie’s car, disoriented and not fully certain of the last night’s events. However, their ripped clothing and dried blood give them a good idea that things are not totally right.

Soon, Natalie and Sophie begin their inevitable transformation. Natalie recognizes the threat of the Whistler and his current companion, Mother. She asks her mother, Jess, to take her and Sophie’s children and to disappear. Natalie plans to go into hiding with Sophie. Sophie, though, is not keen on the idea of being separated from her child and she fights Natalie most of the way. But in short order Jess and the children and Natalie and Sophie flee their trailer park, Honeycomb Corner, heading in opposite directions with the Whistler and Mother at their heels. The Whistler is bent first on finding Natalie, and then, on finding the children to threaten Natalie into submission. Mother, meanwhile, is just bent on destruction.

Natalie and Sophie try to suppress the new hunger they feel growing inside of them that compels them to complete their transition. As they head further South, toward the alligator-filled swamps of Florida, both women long to reunite with their babies and return to their homes, ignoring their intuition that neither of them can go back to normal. Paths cross and characters collide in a thrilling final show down.

Motherless Child was published in limited release by Earthling Publications to celebrate Halloween. But the novel isn’t your standard vampire story. Hirshberg’s tale is an unusual amalgamation of one part buddy road-trip, one part action-fueled chase, and one part supernatural horror. In fact, the word “vampire” is hardly, if ever, uttered between the pages. Hirshberg taps into a few traditions, yet for the most part these are vampires quite unlike the broodier stock of recent pop culture. They use Twitter and they don’t have fangs–but they do delight in violence. These are vampires of a much more wicked constitution — one that would pale lovers of Twilight and related vampire romance.

Check out this title in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Hirshberg, Glen, Horror, Mecklenburg, Piedmont, Suspense/Thriller

Travis Thrasher. Hurt. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2013.

hurtIn this fourth and final installment in the Solitary Tales, author Travis Thrasher takes us back once more to the fictional town of Solitary, North Carolina.

Chris Buckley has tried everything when it comes to the evil in Solitary. He’s mocked it, pretended it doesn’t exist, given in for a time, even run away. Nothing has stopped his demon-possessed great-grandfather, Walter Kinner, from giving up his satanic control on the town. Worst of all, Chris is somehow the centerpiece of his upcoming final showdown with the powers of good. Tired, terrified, but most of all determined never to give in to the Devil, Chris takes the only course of action left– fighting back. It’s hard enough being a teenaged boy without having to fight the powers of darkness, but with his belief in the powers of God growing stronger every day, Chris has hope where before he had none.

Unfortunately, his very real demons know exactly how to keep him on their side– by threatening the ones he loves. His mother has been missing for some time, held by Walter’s henchmen. They’re also threatening his latest girlfriend, the sweet and guileless Kelsey. Since his other two girlfriends, Jocelyn and Lily, have both ended up as bloody sacrifices, Chris was reluctant to start dating again. But there’s just something about Kelsey that makes him think everything will be okay. But there is a long fight ahead, and no telling who will emerge triumphant. Will faith, hope, and love keep back the darkness?

Check out this final chapter in the Solitary Tales in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2013, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Thrasher, Travis

Cindy Ponds Newell. Don’t Say Her Name. Charleston, SC: CreateSpace, 2012.

Gardenia Hall is a stately plantation set snugly in the center of North Carolina. In the 1860s, it is home to the aristocratic Delmoore family, whose youngest daughter Olivia is waiting patiently for her fiance William to come home from the war. The dashing William returns just long enough to marry tender Olivia and leave her pregnant, but by the time he makes his way back again, she and the baby have both died in childbirth. Olivia’s death begins what many see as a curse on Gardenia Hall, or as it comes to be called, the Delmoore House: if someone dies there, or dies violently, his or her spirit is forever linked to the property.

Luckily, the spirits trapped in Gardenia Hall are mostly benevolent. Until one frightful night in 1927, when Penelope, a truly evil woman, is lured to her death by a spirit trying to prevent Penelope from committing infanticide. Now Penelope’s wicked soul is also trapped in the Delmoore House, and every time someone speaks her name out loud, she gains power and control over the physical world around her. The families who move in quickly move out, at least those who are lucky enough to survive the encounter. But Penelope knows that more families will come, lured by the large house and grand property, and she has a diabolic plan to suck the energy from the strong husbands while killing the wives the same way she died, and finally be free to wreak havoc in the world at large. Will anyone be able to stop her, and end the curse of Gardenia Hall?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Horror, Newell, Cindy Ponds, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Piedmont

Brenda Tetreault. The Witcher Legacy. Baltimore: PublishAmerica, 2009.

After a childhood spent moving all over the country with her restless mother, Melissa Witcher inherits her family’s ancestral home in Bounty Cove, North Carolina.  In Bounty Cove, she finds many things she yearns for: a chance for a relationship with the father she never knew and an immediate attraction to the handsome Michael Kemper, a local contractor who has been taking care of the abandoned Witcher house. But not everything is perfect.

Michael has just recently broken off his engagement to the two-timing Jessica, and he doesn’t want to rush into a serious relationship. Both he and Melissa are frustrated by taking things so slowly, but Michael insists. His last relationship ended so poorly because it was based on physical attraction and not true love, and something about Melissa is so special that he can’t afford to ruin what they might have. But while Melissa and Michael work on their budding romance, evil is afoot. The Witcher family has a dark history of murder, madness, and abuse, and restless spirits still linger around the venerable homestead. In addition to winning over the reluctant Michael, Melissa is determined to exhume her family’s ghosts, but this might prove more difficult (and dangerous) than she thinks. Strange phenomena have always been a part of the house: sometimes malevolent, sometimes beneficial. Will Melissa and Michael survive long enough to build a new future for the Witcher name?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2000-2009, 2009, Coast, Horror, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Romance/Relationship, Tetreault, Brenda

Travis Thrasher. Temptation. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2012.

Junior year is over for Chris Buckley in the small town of Solitary, North Carolina, but school isn’t out. Forced to attend summer classes at Harrington High in order to graduate, Chris can think of about a million things a normal teenager would rather be doing than listening to Mr. Taggert drone on about literature and algebra. But Chris isn’t a normal teenager, not after the past year in Solitary. There are much darker, scarier things abroad in this seemingly sleepy mountain town than algebra.

This third installment in The Solitary Tales finds our teenage hero worn down. After the murders, satanic rituals, and strange phenomena he has witnessed over the course of just twelve months, all Chris wants is for it to stop. His friends have moved away or died, his mother is an alcoholic mess, and he has no one to stand with against the darkness. The enigmatic Pastor Jeremiah Marsh assures him that he has an answer to Chris’s pain– all Chris has to do is give up and give in. Pastor Marsh and his friends need Chris Buckley: they need him to fall in line, to stop fighting, and to stop falling in love with the wrong sort of girls. But what they need most of all is for Chris to trust them that he has powers he doesn’t fully understand– powers related directly to the founding of Solitary, and to what makes it such a hotbed of demonic activity. It’s very tempting: Chris is only sixteen, and what kind of sixteen-year-old takes on the Devil? But as Chris learns more and more about his true identity and his family’s history with Solitary, his horror grows, and it becomes more difficult for him to accept Pastor Marsh’s proposal. Chris craves the relief of a normal life, but is it worth his soul?

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2012, Children & Young Adults, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Thrasher, Travis

Gregory Funaro. The Impaler. New York: Pinnacle Books, 2011.

FBI Special Agent Sam Markham barely has a day to adjust to his new home in Quantico, Virginia before his boss comes calling. Another body has been found in Raleigh, North Carolina: bound, gagged and horribly impaled, just like the first two. Even though Sam is still recovering from an exhausting case in Tampa as well as dealing with the impending execution of his wife’s murderer, he doesn’t hesitate. He goes to Raleigh to hunt down the killer the press is calling the Impaler. But finding the killer is easier said than done– the Impaler has his own strange codes, symbols, and portents that lead Agent Markham and the rest of the FBI on a twisted journey through Babylonian mythology, the Iraq War, and medieval Romania.

Edmund Lambert works by day as an assistant in the theater at local Harriot College, but by night, he is the General. Meticulous in his plans, the General is laying the way for the Prince to return to Earth…but in order to do that, the General must kill. Within the ancestral Lambert family farmhouse, he reeducates his victims, and topping their headless corpses with the taxidermied head of a lion, uses them as a sacred door through which to communicate with his Prince. The hour of the Prince’s coming is getting closer, andLambert must ensure that all is in perfect readiness.

As the body count increases almost daily, Agent Markham employs all of his skills to find this monster before it’s too late. But will his work be enough? A grisly psychological thriller, this prequel to The Sculptor leaves the reader pondering the thin line between cop and killer.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Funaro, Gregory, Horror, Piedmont, Wake

Stacey Cochran. The Loneliest. Raleigh, NC: Stacey Cochran Books, 2011.

Jason Roberts is a small-time author who has just tragically lost his wife to cancer. Following a struggle with depression and thoughts of suicide, he sells their home in Arizona and hits the road. His travels take him all the way to Little Switzerland, deep in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Jason eventually finds a small cabin to rent, and attempts to settle in and write his next novel. But something isn’t right– his landlord, a taciturn man named Cyrus, gives him the creeps, and while hiking in the woods, Jason  discovers a concrete slab that just may be covering the entrance to Hell itself. Worst of all, his wife may be trapped there, and Jason is the only one who can rescue her. But is it all a delusion?

As the tormented author writes his novel, he discovers that his fiction seems to be accurately predicting reality. Is art imitating life, or is it the other way round? Hounded by a curious local news reporter and the voices in his own head, Jason might be losing his mind…or seeing clearly for the first time. Is Cyrus really who he says he is? Is his wife truly dead? Do ghosts exist?  Described by Cochran as “part psychological thriller, part paranormal romance,” The Loneliest is a mind-bending exploration into the nature of how we construct reality.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Cochran, Stacey, Horror, McDowell, Mitchell, Mountains, Suspense/Thriller

Travis Thrasher. Gravestone. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2011.

Chris Buckley still isn’t sure whether or not he survived the ritual murder of his true love. He’s walking and breathing, but something inside feels dead. Unfortunately, life goes on as usual (or unusual) in the strange and sinister town of Solitary, North Carolina. In this sequel to Solitary and the second book in the Solitary Tales, Chris finds himself swept along in the daily grind with the rest of the kids at Harrington High– taking classes, eating lunch, and getting picked on by the school bully. His mother still struggles with alcoholism and depression following her divorce, but she manages to bring in a steady income and even finds Chris a part-time job. On the outside, Chris looks and acts like any other teenager.

However, unlike his compatriots, Chris’s goals have nothing to do with going to college or getting good grades. He has one thing on his mind: exposing Solitary’s evil, embodied by Pastor Jeremiah Marsh, to the world. The problem with this is that the Devil in Solitary is strong and watches Chris unceasingly. Bad things have happened in the past to those who have tried to root it out, and if Chris keeps pushing, he might be next. Thankfully, Chris isn’t alone in his fight, but he isn’t sure who to trust: Iris, the strange old lady who runs the inn where he works? Jared, his long-lost cousin? Poe, who used to be Jocelyn’s best friend? Sheriff Wells, who once told Chris to come to him with anything? As before, no one is forthcoming, and Chris must make his way blindly forward, hoping that this time, his decisions won’t result in his own or anyone else’s death. But evil is strong, and that hope may be in vain.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010-2019, 2011, Children & Young Adults, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Religious/Inspirational, Thrasher, Travis

Travis Thrasher. Solitary. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2010.

Chris Buckley is dealing with a lot for a 16-year-old: first his parents divorced, and now Chris and his mother have moved from Chicago to the small town of her girlhood in the rural North Carolina mountains. Solitary, North Carolina is as different from Chicago as night from day– here Chris and his mother live in a three-room cabin without internet access or television, and the center of town is small enough to fit into one city block. Chris is miserable at the town high school, where he manages to get on the wrong side of the school bully and his posse, can’t find his classes, and everyone stares at him constantly. But Solitary has one thing Chicago doesn’t: Jocelyn Evans.

Jocelyn is the most beautiful girl in Solitary, the most beautiful girl Chris has ever seen. Although she first ignores him and then treats him with disdainful politeness, he can’t help but keep trying to befriend her. Little by little, her icy exterior thaws, and he starts to see the real Jocelyn, who is kind, spirited–and fears for her life. Chris doesn’t understand what she’s so afraid of, but the rest of the school seems to know. Only no one’s talking, and when Chris tries to solve the mystery on his own, things get ugly quickly.

There are cryptic, anonymous notes warning him to stay away from Jocelyn, strange dogs haunting the woods behind his house, and the stares of his new classmates now seem more sinister than curious. There’s something strange about the church everyone attends, as well, especially Jeremiah  Marsh, the charismatic pastor. Everyone in town seems to take the time to tell Chris that he and his mom don’t belong here, they’re outsiders, and they had better keep their heads down if they know what’s good for them. But no one tells Chris Buckley what to do, and he refuses to give up his precious relationship with Jocelyn, even if it means his destruction. Which it surely will, because the Devil is alive and well in Solitary.

Check this title’s availability in the UNC-Chapel Hill Library catalog.

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Filed under 2010, 2010-2019, Children & Young Adults, Henderson, Horror, Mountains, Novels in Series, Novels Set in Fictional Places, Thrasher, Travis