Indie Spotlight: October 2021
This month’s thematic roundup of BookLife titles focuses on stories of horror, crime, and the supernatural.
Folk HorrorThe Five Turns of the Wheel
About the book: In this blend of folk horror and dark fantasy, two women decide it is time to put a stop to the horrors committed in the name of the Mother. Stalking the landscape of rural England are the sons of Hweol, Lord of Umbra. Creatures with a taste for blood and death, for centuries they have led the Dance—five nights of ritual proclaimed to be a celebration of Mother Nature. Liza and Megan, mother and daughter, fight back to protect the unborn and to weaken the power of Hweol. But will it be enough to destroy it forever?
Author statement: “I was raised in a remote rural pub, and the rural landscapes and folk have remained with me. I wanted to write in a world I knew but bring in something original, my own mythology and traditions, which in turn developed into an examination of how tradition can be used to manipulate and destroy. One aspect in particular in this book, the loss of a child through miscarriage, is my own very real experience, and still haunts me.”
When the Watcher Shakes
Timothy G. Huguenin
About the book: John has given up his ordinary life to find wisdom traveling the country and enjoy the freedom of living as a nomad. But when he stumbles across a mysterious town tucked away in the Appalachian Mountains, walled off from modern society, he discovers a group of people who could use some freedom of their own. Are they a harmless religious sect, or is there something malignant beneath the surface?
Author statement: “When the Watcher Shakes was my first novel, originally published in 2016. The current edition was slightly revised and released in 2019 with fantastic new cover art by Ben Baldwin.”
Middle GradePleasant Grove
About the book: Twelve-year-old Agnes Goodwin lives in Pleasant Grove, a quiet small town with one peculiar feature: it’s enclosed by a glass dome. No one can leave. No one can enter. No one can survive beyond the dome. Until the day Agnes discovers a strange boy from the outside with a monstrous secret.
Author statement: “As I set out to write a novel dedicated to my grade-school daughters, I reflected on the stories that most impacted me, particularly as an adolescent: Steven Spielberg’s Amblin films, the worlds conjured up by Rod Serling and Stephen King... stories that still resonate, as a parent who remembers the magic, wonder, and terror of being 12 years old.”
I Escaped the Salem Witch Trials
Juliet Fry and Scott Peters
About the book: Orphan girl Hannah True battles strange happenings, suspicion, and angry villagers when her town believes it’s under attack by witches in this gripping retelling of the Salem Witch Trials for today’s young readers.
Author statement: “When I was 12, I heard the scary, tragic story of the 1692 Salem witch trials. How could girls turn against other villagers, call them witches, and condemn them to death? I read the trial’s original court records, trying to understand. Years later, that research came to fruition when I teamed up with Scott Peters to write a book to which kids could relate. Injustice and persecution often begin at home, in the schoolyard, in our communities. The name Salem means peace, yet fear and ignorance changed it into hell on Earth. A chilling, cautionary tale for Halloween.”
Murder MysteriesThe Encanto (LA Fog #1)
About the book: An ancient Mayan artifact, smuggled into Los Angeles, unexpectedly alters three lives in bizarre ways. Gray, an aspiring artist struggling to provide for his family; Claire, his insomniac wife; and Ashley York, a wealthy socialite striving to make it as a real actress, find their paths crashing together, their dreams and their very identities threatened. Meanwhile, Saul Parker, a detective and hobbyist magician who is self-conscious about his weight, strives to solve a strange case. Only Wayob, a mysterious chameleon-like killer, has a grasp on the dangerous power that has consumed his life and now infiltrates the others.
Author statement: “I hope that everyone will find something to relate to in The Encanto, especially people ready for a big change in their life. Maybe they’ll even pause to consider whether the choices they’re making, will take them where they want to go.”
The Girl from Dark Dakota
About the book: In Williston, N.Dak., nearly a year has passed since Annabel Heller’s murder on Halloween. Now the lives of four strangers will be forever changed as Annabel’s ghost cries out for justice. But with only five days before the next Halloween, time is running out for all four to uncover the secrets of the small town and the lurking evil that threatens everyone in it.
Author statement: “Years ago, as an auditor, I was working late and alone in an old hospital in North Dakota. A storm was raging outside. As the night got later, I began to hear strange sounds around me. Then it felt like something unseen was in the room with me. My nerves were shaken. Later I learned the work room had once been an emergency surgery room and that, tragically, many people had died there over the years. Had I felt a spirit? This event inspired my ghost story.”
A Whisper Came
About the book: When a woman’s body is found floating near the town of Chatham off Cape Cod, a young reporter stumbles onto a mystery that goes back centuries. Cape Cod has been the site of thousands of shipwrecks leaving the sandy shore littered with debris, legends, and ghost stories. Stacie’s editors encourage her to dig into Chatham’s quirky residents and write about the mysteries surrounding the old Monomoy Point Lighthouse. On a lark, she makes a nighttime visit to the lighthouse with a young charter boat captain and stumbles tragically into a dark mystery that forces her to question her sanity and the truth buried in a legend.
Author statement: “The story is based upon a visit to the Monomoy Point Lighthouse I attended. The tour guide mentioned as a joke that some of the researchers there thought the keeper’s house was haunted. Research of the area showed a long history of legends and ghost stories associated with a desolate seashore, and it was not hard to imagine a modern-day interaction between a legend and an intrepid reporter.”
ParanormalBlood Ad Infinitum
About the book: Blood Ad Infinitum is the third book in a dark urban fantasy series mixing horror, history, and blood-soaked romance featuring a snarky librarian heroine in an adventure like no other. The passionate origin story of the am’r and a desperate fight throughout the centuries takes readers through England, the Middle East, and Russia and from the Neolithic era to the modern day. The newest and least powerful must decide who will lead them all—but will she pay the ultimate price for it?
Author statement: “This novel was always where the story arc of the protagonist, Noosh, was headed. As a first-time author of a series, it was amazing for me to watch the story take shape around it and to have fans who don’t know what’s coming up, and interact with them and be like, ‘Oh, you’re going to love what comes next!’ I love being a writer, but working on this third book made me fall even more in love with it all.”
Redeemer of Shadows (Tribes of the Vampire)
Michelle M. Pillow
About the book: Destiny brings them together, while powerful and dark vampiric forces conspire to tear them apart. Vampire Servaes, the Marquis de Normant, never asked for his dark gift. He has survived immortality with restrained anger against a master who stole life from him. Not to mention the foolish young ones who abuse their supernatural powers. Eternity seemed endless... until Hathor. Hathor Vinceti has never felt as if she belonged in the world around her, yet she never imagines more could be waiting for her. After moving to London to help an aunt, she uncovers a thriving underworld where bored vampires congregate to feed on “deserving” humans, each trying to outdo the others as they forge their monstrous reputations. What could be worse than immortal beings with nothing to do and forever to do it?
Author statement: “The idea of immortality and being superhuman often appeals to fiction readers, especially when confronted with our own mortality and weaknesses.”
About the book: Haunt, Ryan Meyer’s first collection of poetry, explores life through a horror lens, aiming to unnerve as it traverses themes of life, love, loss, fear, and more.
Author statement: “Haunt started as an independent study project I started when I was in college. It is rooted in real, human fears, but dipped in the supernatural. I was excited to tackle a genre not so common in poetry, something inspired by some of my favorite classic horror films, as well as music that contains horror themes.”