Archive for the ‘Psychological Suspense’ Category

The Haunting of Hill House

October 31, 2012

Author: Shirley Jackson

Title: The Haunting of Hill House

Genre: Horror, Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: 1959

Number of Pages: 182

Geographical Setting: Hillshire, Undisclosed probably Eastern United States location

Time Period: Late 1950s

Plot Summary: When Eleanor receives a letter from a doctor inviting her to stay in a beautiful country mansion for the summer, she jumps at her chance to finally get away from her mundane life. Yet even as she approaches the house she can tell that something is off kilter. After meeting her companions for the stay at Hill House, Dr. Montague tells his fateful crew the haunting past of the mansion and its inhabitants. The longer they stay, the more terrifying their time becomes, until finally things spiral out of control. This is easily one of the most terrifying books I have ever read, and a sense of impending doom permeates from the first page.  If you want to be haunted, this is the book for you.

Subject Headings: Haunted Houses, Ghosts, Interpersonal Relationships, Occult, Poltergeists, Paranormal Phenomenon, Loners, Single Women,

Appeal: Atmospheric, Chilling, Moody, Creepy, Menacing, Macabre, Suspenseful, Builds in intensity, Haunting, Menacing, Psychological, Dark, Dangerous, Elegant Writing Style,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Chilling, Atmospheric, Haunting

Similar fiction authors and works:

Hill, Susan. The Woman in Black

Sitting around the fire on Christmas Eve, a family begins to tell ghost stories. As they take turns, one family member recalls a true event of terrifying trauma experienced in his twenties of a visit to an English countryside estate and the horrifying events that passed there. A gothic and creepy tale written in beautiful prose, this story is sure to chill your bones.

James, Henry. The Turn of the Screw

When a new governess is hired to take care of two children on an old country estate, life seems peaceful. However, this peace is short lived as evil spirits of passed on servants begin to torment the new governess. This story has a similar atmospheric and creepy tone, and pushes the question of sanity as the haunting become increasingly terrifying.

Reardon, Joyce. The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer: My Life at Rose Red

Written as a journal kept by a young wife, this novel tells the story of Ellen Rimbauer’s life in the haunted mansion Rose Red. The longer she stays living in the house, the more horrible events come to pass, and all are recorded in the diary that is so dear to her. Another creepy and atmospheric read about a terrifying house, this is sure to be a great read!

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

Boylan, Jennifer Finney. I’m Looking For You: Growing Up Haunted

An autobiographical story of Boylan’s life growing up in a haunted house, this story tells of several instances where ghosts and apparitions made an appearance in the Pennsylvania house she grew up in. While this is a ghost story, it also examines interpersonal relationships and the life of someone who feels to be more of an outsider.

Rule, Leslie. Ghosts in the Mirror: real cases of spirit encounters

This collection of true ghost stories is sure to haunt you! This collection of more than a dozen true ghost stories has been painstakingly researched and collected over many years. The variety of encounters, from haunted houses to ghostly travelers, is sure to chill anyone looking for some true to life paranormal tales.

Williams, Dorah L. Haunted: the incredible true story of a Canadian Family’s experience living in a haunted house

The title pretty much sums up what this book is about: a Canadian family who inhabits a haunted house. The story is chilling and the fact that it is supposedly true makes it all the more terrifying.

Await Your Reply

October 17, 2012

Author:  Dan Chaon

Title:  Await Your Reply

Genre:  Psychological Suspense

Publication Date:  2009

Number of Pages:  320

Geographical Setting:  Various locations throughout the U.S. (including Ohio, Michigan, Nebraska) and abroad (Canada and Ivory Coast)

Time Period:  2000’s

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary:

Three seemingly disparate narratives, divided into three sections, comprise this book.

-Miles Cheshire searches for his missing, mentally unstable twin brother, Hayden- a search that has consumed him for the past ten years.

-After discovering that he was adopted, Ryan Schuyler drops out of college at nineteen to join his real father, Jay, who involves Ryan in his fraud and identity theft schemes.

-Lucy Lattimore is an orphan who runs away with George Orson, her former high school history teacher, looking for a new life.

Rotating between each of the characters, the stories are connected via themes of loss and identity, and perhaps much more.  A compelling read that addresses ideas of self and reinvention, Await Your Reply builds in intensity as readers discover the interconnectedness of the characters’ lives and the dangerous consequences of journeys ill-chosen.

Subject Headings:  Identity theft, Secret identity, Twins, Missing persons, Runaways, Adoption, Family relationships, Teacher-student relationships, Embezzling, Cybercrime, Second chances, Truth.

Appeal:  Compelling, Character-driven, Intricately plotted, Multiple storylines, Disturbing, Bleak, Complicated, Suspenseful, Unrelenting, Family dynamics, Twin brothers, Secrets, Reinventing yourself, Search for truth, Quest for identity, Criminal activity (identity theft/cybercrime).

Three appeal terms that best describe this book:  Compelling, Character-driven, Intricately plotted.

Similar Authors and Works:

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Stealing Your Life:  The Ultimate Identity Theft Prevention Plan  by Frank W. Abagnale

From counterfeiting expert and author of Catch Me If You Can, comes a book about identity theft that discusses both the methods used by criminals and the steps people can take to prevent and/or deal with becoming victims themselves.  Await Your Reply involves characters that are perpetrators of identity theft.  Readers searching for more information about identity theft may find the many case histories and suggestions included in this book to be useful.

2.  Kingpin:  How One Hacker Took Over the Billion-Dollar Cybercrime Underground  by Kevin Poulsen

Kingpin follows the rise and fall of Max Butler, a criminal hacker who stole access to over a million credit card accounts, exposing readers to hacking culture and the cybercriminal underworld along the way.  Readers who found the secretive and dangerous aspects of the crimes committed by the characters in Await Your Reply intriguing could find this title to be a compelling read.

3.  Identical Strangers: A Memoir of Twins Separated and Reunited  by Elyse Schein and Paula Bernstein

Two sisters, separated as infants by an adoption agency, reunite later in life.  In this book, they share the journey of their relationship from strangers to sisters.  Await Your Reply includes twin brothers as prominent characters.  Readers interested in learning more about twins and their relationship with one another may find this book to be a good match- it includes both information about twin studies and statistics as well as the emotion connection that the sisters form.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1.  The Talented Mr. Ripley  by Patricia Highsmith

Tom Ripley travels to Italy to convince a former classmate, the wealthy Dickie Greanleaf, to return home to his family.  Plans go awry when their friendship cools; Tom kills Dickie and assumes his identity.  Await Your Reply and The Talented Mr. Ripley are both character-driven psychological suspense stories that involve stolen identities, written in a spare and compelling style.

2.  Case Histories  by Kate Atkinson

Private detective Jackson Brodie investigates three past crimes, all involving dead and/or missing girls.  Although a mystery, Case Histories is similar to Await Your Reply for being character-driven, disturbing and suspenseful.  Both stories also contain multiple storylines that involve family relationships and missing persons.

3.  The Cloud of Unknowing  by Thomas H. Cook

Diana Sears doesn’t believe police reports that find the drowning of her son to be an accident.  In Diana’s obsessive search for answers, details about old crimes resurface and questions arise as to whether several murders may have been committed.  Both Await Your Reply and The Cloud of Unknowing are character-driven, disturbing, psychological suspense stories that are compelling to read.  Both stories also involve family relationships and Schizophrenia.

Name:  Nicole

Gone Girl

October 17, 2012

Author: Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 415

Geographical Setting: North Carthage, Missouri and New York City

Time Period: 2005-2012

Plot Summary: On the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne is faced with a nightmare when he learns that his quick-witted, beautiful wife, Amy, has vanished. While investigating Amy’s disappearance from the small town of North Carthage, police and media begin to unravel unflattering secrets of the Dunne marriage that soon put Nick in an incriminating position. Desperate to clear his own name and find his missing wife, Nick sets out on a psychological scavenger hunt in which he discovers dark and shocking secrets about the seemingly perfect Amy. Nick’s narration of the investigation is alternated with entries from Amy’s diary, adding layers to the mystery and leaving readers guessing which characters are trustworthy in this disturbing tale.  Flynn writes a well crafted, suspense story that is both thought provoking and dark. Gone Girl makes for an engrossing read with a disturbing, yet fascinating, conclusion.

Subject Headings: Husbands – Fiction, Married people – Fiction, Wives – Crimes against – Fiction, Mystery Fiction, Conflict in Marriage, Deception, Husband and Wife, Married People, Missing Women, Murder Suspects, Secrets

Appeal: Engrossing, Fast-Paced, Chilling, Foreboding, Psychological, Suspenseful, Detailed Characters, Multiple Points of View, Flashbacks, Layered, Thought-Provoking, Descriptive, Well-Crafted

Three Appeal Terms: Engrossing, Chilling, Suspenseful

Three Fiction Read-Alikes:

The Breaker by Minette Walters
Walters’ psychological suspense story begins with a disorientated three-year-old wandering the streets of Poole, England. Hours later, her mother’s body is found washed up on the beach. Police investigators reveal unsettling evidence that incriminates the woman’s husband as well as a young actor. Gone Girl fans who are looking for another compelling whodunit read might enjoy this disturbing mystery.

Die For You by Lisa Unger

When Isabel Raines’ husband mysteriously disappears she is determined to track him down despite his pleas for her to forget their life together. During her investigation, Isabel discovers her husband had stolen an identity and has been legally dead for a long period of time, among other shocking secrets. Readers who are looking for works told in multiple perspectives with a narrator revealing dark secrets about her spouse might enjoy this book.

In the Woods by Tana French

Detective Rob Ryan is called to investigate the murder of a twelve-year-old girl in a wooded area right outside of Dublin- a creepy coincidence as he witnessed the disappearance of two childhood friends in the same woods twenty years prior to this case. Readers who are looking for another dark, character-driven suspense story involving criminal investigation might also enjoy this title.

Three Nonfiction Read-Alikes:

The Cases that Haunt Us: from Jack the Ripper to JonBenet Ramsey, the FBI’s legendary mindhunter sheds light on the mysteries that won’t go away by John E. Douglas

Through Nick’s narration of the investigation, readers are given detailed descriptions of a missing person case as police and FBI piece together clues in hopes of solving the puzzle and finding Amy. Readers who were intrigued by the crime scene/mystery aspect of Gone Girl might also enjoy The Cases that Haunt Us. Written by a former FBI agent, Douglas explores eight well-known unsolved mysteries and speculates the criminal and motive of each case.

The Gardner Heist: a true story of the world’s largest unsolved art theft by Ulrich Boser

Flynn writes with such detail while describing the investigation and discovery of evidence that Gone Girl sometimes reads like a true crime piece. The Gardner Heist should be considered for readers who liked the suspense of solving a crime but perhaps are not interested in missing person cases. The Gardner Heist details the true story of a 1990 museum robbery in which 12 highly valuable pieces of the collection (worth over $500 million collectively) were stolen. Boser writes of his own informal investigation, including interviews with art thieves and mobsters, taking readers through his collection of clues as he attempts to offer insight on this mysterious cold case.

The Restless Sleep: Inside New York City’s Cold Case Squad by Stacy Horn

Another strong title for those who enjoy reading about crime investigation; however, The Restless Sleep may also be of interest to fans who enjoyed the New York City setting found in Gone Girl. After interviewing NYC detectives, Horn writes a true crime piece that describes four unsolved murders, some of which have remained cold cases for over fifty years. Horn provides readers with an in depth view of each case and describes the dedication of the NYPD detectives who are determined to solve the mysteries and seek justice.

Name: Elizabeth Hopkins

In the Woods

October 17, 2012

Author: Tana French

Title: In the Woods

Genre: Psychological  Suspense

Publication Date: 2007

Number of Pages: 429

Geographical Setting: Dublin, Ireland and Knocknaree, Ireland

Time Period: Modern times; 2007, also flashbacks to mid-1980s

Plot Summary: On a beautiful summer day in 1984, three young children mysteriously disappear into the woods near their home. While initially unalarmed, their parents eventually head out to search for the three kids. One is found, clutching a tree, covered in blood and unable to speak. The other two are never found. In modern times, detective Rob Ryan and his partner Cassie Maddox are assigned to a terrible case of a young girl who is murdered and left on an ancient ceremonial stone in the same area where the two youngsters disappeared back in 1984. As the two detectives work tirelessly to uncover the young girl’s killer, detective Ryan must grapple with his own demons and try to make sense of a murder that seems unsolvable, and an old, haunting case that seems more and more to be connected. Will the two detectives be able to solve the case, and the old case, before they go cold?

Subject Headings: Murder victims, child murder, detectives, cold cases, criminal investigations, murder investigations, crimes against children, police, Dublin, Ireland, detective and mystery stories

Appeal: Character driven, Disturbing, Compelling, Lyrical, Moody, Detailed, Investigative, Builds in intensity, Suspenseful, Creepy, Series (Characters), Engrossing, Flashbacks,

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Investigative, Creepy, Moody

Similar fiction authors and works:

Abbott, Megan E. The End of Everything

 

Evie and Lizzie are neighbors and best friends; they spend all of their time together and could never imagine being apart or keeping a secret. When Evie suddenly disappears, Lizzie is bombarded with questions about her best friend and her whereabouts. As she searches for the truth, Lizzie comes across a series of secrets that make her question how well she really knew her best friend.

Roy, Lori. Bent Road

When Arthur Scott moves his family back to his small hometown in Kansas, his wife and children struggle to adjust to their new life. To make matters worse, a young girl disappears in the town, drudging up old memories of Arthur’s sister, who also mysteriously disappeared never to be found. This richly detailed, creepy novel will delight readers who enjoyed the tone and atmosphere, as well as the suspense aspects, of In The Woods.

Eriksson, Kjell. The Princess of Burundi

When a jogger stumbles onto the body of a local small town crook, the homicide detective team works to uncover the multiple angles of who might have killed him. Though eventually discovered, this psychological mystery is a compelling and gritty read.

Similar nonfiction authors and works:

Cohen, Lisa R. After Etan: the missing child case that held America captive

While often when children go missing, they are eventually found, this is the true tale of a young boy who disappeared 30 years ago and is still missing. Filled with disturbing details, this will be an enjoyable read for anyone who liked the aspect of a cold case of missing children and the gritty details surrounding that.

Kottler, Jeffrey A. Lust for Blood

This book examines the ongoing fascination with crime, murder, and violence in the world. Filled with interviews of both consumers of the morbid, and those who perpetrate these crimes, this book is an interesting look into the public’s twisted fascination with the macabre.

Stern, Jessica. Denial: A Memoir of Terror

This story discusses the trauma of post traumatic stress as a result of sexual abuse and other forms of physical and mental abuse. Written from the viewpoint of a scientist and former abuse victim, this haunting investigation will entice readers who were interested in the sexual abuse and psychological trauma angles of In the Woods.

Thirteen Reasons Why

October 3, 2012

Author: Jay Asher

Title: Thirteen Reasons Why

Genre: YA; Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: January 2008

Number of Pages: 288 pages

Geographical Setting: Most likely a small town in the USA

Time Period: Present Day

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Clay Jenkins comes home from school one day to a box full of tapes. As he listens to them he hears the voice of Hannah Barker, the girl who took her life a few weeks back. On the tapes are thirteen people who played a role in Hannah’s decision to take her life and she wants them to know why. Each person on Hannah’s list will receive these tapes and have to listen to her story and their role in it. Clay is distraught and can’t believe he is on these tapes, he shouldn’t be on them, he liked Hannah and even had a crush on her. Throughout the book Clay walks the streets of his town to places Hannah mentions on the tapes and listens to the events that lead up to her suicide. Suspensefully written and full of emotions and detailed characters, this book gives you a look at high school life for teenagers, the struggles they face and the real life decisions some teens make.

Subject Headings: Suicide Victims, Rape, Emotions in teenagers, guilt, suicide, interpersonal relations, tapes, high schools, schools, teenage boys

Appeal: Suicide, Relationships, Dual Narratives, High School, Suspense, Realistic Fiction, Drama, Character Driven, Emotional, Present Day, Fast-Paced, Small Towns

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: Suicide, Suspense, High School

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1.Dear bully: Seventy authors tell their stories (Sep 2011)

For anyone interested in hearing more stories about bulling and how it affects others. These authors of teen and young adult literature share their own stories about bullying from all sides of the issue.

2. Secrets girls keep: What girls hide (& why) and how to break the stress of silence (Nov 2009) by Carrie Silver-Stock

Thirteen Reasons Why centered around Hannah Bakers’ decision to take her own life and the stresses faced by teenage girls. In this book, teenage girls can find answers to questions about daily life as a teen. Topics covered in this book include; drug use, Internet, making friends, boyfriends, school and grades, depression and more.

3. Teen Suicide (Aug 2011) By Lorena Huddle

The main subject of Thirteen Reasons Why was teenage suicide. In this book we get an overview of the causes, risks, prevention, intervention and how to cope with a suicide.

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1. Looking for Alaska (Mar 2005) by John Green

Like Thirteen Reasons Why, this book tell of a young boy who falls for a girl whose death will leave unanswered questions. Throughout the book, one main character searches for answers dealing with life and death.

2. Why we broke up (Dec 2011) By Daniel Handler

For anyone looking for answers as to why something happened, check out Why we broke up. Why we broke up tells the story of a 16 year old girl who writes a letter to her ex-boyfriend explaining why they broke up. Along with the letter she includes a box of items that will help tell the story and why the relationship ended. In Thirteen Reasons Why, Hannah gives tapes to the people who played a part in her decision to take her life. She tells her story and reasons why through the tapes.

3. Hate List (Sep 2009) By Jennifer Brown

After the school shooting by her boyfriend, Valerie realizes that the people targeted during the shooting were on the Hate list. A list she helped create with her boyfriend. Now she is struggling with the last year of high school and her relationships with those around her as she tries to deal with feelings of guilt and her role in the shooting. Like Thirteen Reasons Why, there was a list and the people on this list played a role in the decision to take a life.

Name: Madison Gailus

Gone Girl

August 8, 2012

Author: Gillian Flynn

Title: Gone Girl

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: 2012

Number of Pages: 415

Geographical Setting: North Carthage, Missouri and the Missouri Ozarks

Time Period: Present Day

Series:  No

Plot Summary: BrilliantAmy and handsome Nick are anything but the ideal couple they appear to be. After losing their jobs and moving from New York City to North Carthage, Missouri to care for Nick’s ailing parents, Nick and Amy find nothing rewarding in this rural and provincial burg. On their fifth anniversary, Amy vanishes . . . or does she? Resentment and jealously shatters their world and explodes into a game where people’s lives are the chess pieces. Alternating voices, told in first person, reflect Nick and Amy’s particular points of view. The story moves at a brisk pace, conveying a dark and disturbing tone. There are so many twists and turns in Nick and Amy’s version of events that the reader doesn’t know whom to believe.  The unpredictable accounts recorded by these unreliable narrators produce a feeling of unease adding to the suspense.  This is a riveting and spine tingling story from beginning to end.

Subject Headings: Murder suspects – Fiction, Missing women – Fiction, Conflict in marriage – Fiction, Husband and wife – Fiction, Married people – Fiction, Crimes against women – Fiction, Deception – Fiction, Secrets – Fiction

Appeal: builds in intensity, deliberate, engrossing, creepy, disturbing, suspenseful, emotionally-charged, menacing, paranoid, detailed, multiple points of view, intricately plotted, character driven, episodic, layered, strong language, rural, contemporary, journals, clever, pretentious

3 terms that best describe this book: builds in intensity, character driven, suspenseful

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Howatch, Susan. The High Flyer; Carter Graham, a successful lawyer, is married to Kim Betz, also a lawyer, who fits into her plans perfectly. Carter feels that everything is just perfect for her when Sophie, Kim’s first wife, reveals some disturbing secrets about Kim making Carter realize that she doesn’t know her husband at all. Full of suspense, this is a character-driven story where Howatch weaves together stories involving the occult, blackmail and murder. This is a suspenseful and compelling read.

Walters, Minette. The Breaker; The mysterious death of a young woman found on a beach and a seemingly drugged and wandering child lead the police of Dorset into a tangled web of lies, trying to discover who brutally killed Kate Hill-Sumner, yet let her young daughter go free. Suspense builds in intensity and deliberately in this intricately plotted and character-driven nail biter.

Watson, S.J. Before I Go to Sleep; This fast-paced yet chilling story tells of a woman who has an impaired memory and can’t make sense of the divergent tales told to her by the man she thinks is her husband and the journal she has kept, but can’t remember. The story is filled with psychological suspense, crammed with twists and turns leading to an unpredictable outcome.

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Covington, Dennis. Cleaving: The Story of a Marriage; Presented using alternate voices, the couple recounts the struggles they encountered in their twenty year marriage and their search for spiritual redemption. This book provides a constructive counterpoint to the chilling game playing of Amy and Nick.

Flook, Maria. Invisible Eden: A Story of Love and Murder on Cape Cod; This edgy true-crime story imparts the unsolved murder of fashion writer Christa Worthington in her Cape Cod home in 2002. According to one attorney, “The more the police investigate her life, the uglier she gets.” People and secrets are revealed in a deliberate yet nonjudgmental way, presenting clear characterizations of the individuals involved. This is a chilling tale of suspense.

Gottman, John Mordechai. Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage: America’s Love Lab Experts Share Their Strategies for Strengthening Your Relationship; This primer offers ten principles to help couples examine their relationship. The author conveys thoughtful and practical advice for couples to use in a variety of situations, before those problems escalate.

Name: Patty Daniel

Room

August 8, 2012

  Author:  Emma Donoghue

Title: Room

Genre:  Psychological Suspense, Bestseller

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  321

Geographical Setting:  Not specified- probably North America

Time Period:  Present

Series (If applicable):

Plot Summary:  Five-year-old Jack has lived in Room his entire life.  His Ma was abducted at age 19 and forced to live in a one-room shed for seven years.  She has done the best she could raising a small child, making sure he has been fed and healthy and keeping their captor from coming near Jack.  But, as Jack gets older she knows they must get out and away from “Old Nick”.  Escape is dangerous and the outside world will be scary but Jack and Ma are ready for a new life and a second chance.

Subject Headings: Boys-Fiction, Mother and Child- Fiction, Kidnapping-Fiction, Psycopaths- Fiction, Escapes- Fiction

Appeal:  compelling, engrossing, detailed characterization, intriguing, realistic characters, well- drawn characters, complex, issue oriented, thought-provoking, bittersweet, foreboding, candid, unusual style

3 terms that best describe this book:  compelling, well-drawn characters, thought-provoking

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Anatomy of a Kidnapping- Steven L Berk
In March 2005, Dr. Steven Berk was kidnapped in Amarillo, Texas, by a dangerous and enigmatic criminal who entered his home, armed with a shotgun, through an open garage door. Dr. Berk’s experiences and training as a physician, enabled him to keep his family safe, establish rapport with his kidnapper, and bring his captor to justice.  This nonfiction book would interest readers who want to hear a true story of abduction from an adult point of view.

A Stolen Life by Jaycee Dugard
When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old; she was abducted from a school bus stop in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was missing for more than eighteen years, held captive by Phillip Craig and Nancy Garrido, and gave birth to two daughters during her imprisonment. On August 26, 2009, Garrido showed up for a meeting with his parole officer; he brought Jaycee, her daughters, and his wife Nancy with him. Their unusual behavior raised suspicions and an investigation revealed the tent behind the Garridos’ home where Jaycee had been living for nearly two decades.  A Stolen Life was written by Jaycee herself and covers the period from the time of her abduction in 1991, up until the present. This book is a very similar, true-life story of Jack’s Ma in Room.

Breaking Night:  A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard by Liz Murray
Liz Murray was born to loving but drug-addicted parents in the Bronx. At age fifteen, Liz found herself on the streets when her family finally unraveled. She learned to scrape by, foraging for food and riding subways all night to have a warm place to sleep. When Liz’s mother died of AIDS, she decided to take control of her own destiny and go back to high school, often completing her assignments in the hallways and subway stations where she slept. Liz squeezed four years of high school into two, while homeless; won a “New York Times” scholarship; and made it into the Ivy League.  This is a compelling story about a woman breaking free from extreme adversity that readers of Room will thoroughly enjoy.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey
Che is an eight-year-old boy being raised by his grandmother in New York in the 1960’s.  His parents are radical student activists and Che has been yearning for them since he was very small, but his grandmother has kept him in relative isolation.  One day someone comes to take him back to his real parents and Che enters a wild journey that leads him to Queensland, Australia.  This book deals with the same themes of isolation and kidnapping that Room does.

The Crocodile Bird by Ruth Rendell
A mother and a daughter live quietly in the rustic gatehouse of Shrove House, an isolated British estate. Their life seems perfectly ordinary except that daughter Liza has been kept isolated from the outside world for all of her sixteen years. And that she has seen her beautiful mother commit murder. Now, as the police come searching for a missing man, Liza’s sheltered, strange world begins to fall apart. Room and The Crocodile Bird are both haunting psychological suspense stories in which a child who grew up in isolation now faces the unexpected real world.

Trance by Christopher Sorrentino
When a newspaper heiress is kidnapped by the Symbionese Liberation Army, she ends up surprising everyone by taking a new name and staying with her captors.  This story is loosely based on the Patty Hearst case and chronicles the next 16 months of Tania’s life in hiding with them.  Like Room, this book deals with the psychological effects of living in isolation and captivity.

Name:  Becky Ozinga

The End of Everything

July 31, 2012

Author:  Megan Abbott

Title:  The End of Everything

Genre: Psychological Suspense/Mystery

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  246

Geographical Setting:  Midwest suburb

Time Period:  1980’s

Plot Summary:  Thirteen-year-old Lizzie’s best friend, Evie, disappears and Lizzie was the one to see her last.  Slowly Lizzie starts remembering key clues, like the suspicious car that turns out to belong to a local business man who is also missing.  It seems that Evie was kidnapped; but as Lizzie remembers more and more, it seems that maybe Evie has run away…Evie’s sister, Dusty, seems to be hiding something too.  Meanwhile, Lizzie spends more and more time with Evie’s dad, whom she has a crush on.

Subject Headings:  Teenage girls-fiction; Best friends-fiction; Missing persons-fiction.

Appeal:  Evocative, deliberate pace, character-driven, suspenseful, compelling, atmospheric, insightful, introspective, person point of view, atmospheric, creepy.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Evocative, moody, and suspenseful.

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Preventing Sibling Rivalry: Six Strategies for Building a Jealousy-free home by Sybil Hart

A child psychologist has tips for parents of how to help siblings interact positively.

Memory, History, Forgetting by Paul Ricouer

The philosophy and history of personal memory and recollection.  Ricouer examines the reciprocal relationship between remembering and forgetting, showing how it affects the perception of historical experience.  Refers to Aristotle, Descartes, Kant and other philosophers.

Finding Runaways and Missing Adults by Robert L. Snow

Published in 2012, this discusses the runaway problem in America. Snow reveals to readers the process the police use when trying to locate missing people, and information that readers can then use to locate their own missing loved ones. Uses real stories and first hand accounts,

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Book of Lies by Mary Horlock

A girl murders her best friend-turned-enemy on the English Island of Guernsey.  Her situation parallels her uncle, who has WWII secrets.  The story jumps back and forth from the present to the Nazi occupation.

Close Your Eyes by Amanda Eyre Ward

Lauren and her brother were children when their mother was murdered and their father was convicted of murdering her.  Now in her adulthood, Lauren’s brother, who always said their dad was innocent, vanishes.

Creep by Jennifer Hillier

Dr. Sheila Tao is a recovering sex addict, but after the death of her father she suffered a relapse and had a torrid affair with her teaching assistant/ student Ethan Wolfe, but decides to break it off because she is getting married.  but Ethan doesn’t handle the breakup well, and threatens to share a sex video of the couple together, which can ruin her career and her engagement.

Name:  Sonia Reppe

Room

April 18, 2012

Author: Emma Donoghue

Title: Room

Genre: Psychological Suspense

Publication Date: September 2010

Number of Pages: 321

Geographical Setting: Presumably Canada

Time Period: Present

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Five-year-old narrator Jack has spent his entire life in a garden shed turned prison with his Ma. His narrations reveal to the reader that his mother has been held captive by a sociopath known only as Old Nick by Jack. Additionally, Ma made the decision to spare Jack the heartbreak of truly understanding their situation by telling him the Room is essentially the universe and that everything he sees on their television is fiction. The haunting, disturbing novel is irresistible from the start, spurred along by the fast-pace of a child’s narration and the incredible sense of psychological suspense Donoghue creates. About half the book takes place in the Room, until Jack and Ma finally make a daring escape. Rather than ending the story there, Donoghue explores their painful and shocking reintroduction to the outside world. This character-centered novel explores the harrowing but ultimately hopeful experience of Jack and his mother.

Subject Headings: Antisocial personality disorders, Kidnapping, Boys, Mother and child, Women kidnap victims, Compulsive behavior in men

Appeal: fast-paced, suspenseful, engaging, harrowing, disturbing, unsettling, uncomfortable, character-centered, realistic, haunting, refreshing, resolved ending

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: disturbing, compelling, suspenseful

Secrets in the cellar, by John Glatt

Donoghue was inspired to write Room after learning the terrible story of a 73-year-old man found guilty of assaulting and imprisoning his daughter for 24 years, fathering several children with her over the period of time she was trapped in a secret bunker he designed. Harrowing and deeply disturbing, Glatt’s book is the true story of the Fritzl case.

A stolen life: a memoir, by Jaycee Dugard

Readers who are interested in true stories of kidnapping and captivity that also contain an ultimately hopeful tone might like Dugard’s disturbing memoir of being kidnapped at age 11. The gritty, candid story is about Dugard’s imprisonment by a sex offender and her eventually escape after being forced to give birth to two of his children.

Tears of rage: from grieving father to crusader for justice : the untold story of the Adam Walsh case, by John Walsh.

Readers may be interested in learning about the legal side of a tragic ordeal after reading the Room. Walsh’s painful account of the cold legal system that could have done more to save his son will resonate with readers.

Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The irresistible Henry House, by Lisa Grunwald

Readers who are eager to learn how Jack continues to develop may enjoy Grunwald’s historical fiction about a man raised as a practice baby for home economics courses. Henry House feels betrayed by lies about his origins, yet remains emotionally stunted by his unusual upbringing. The book is compelling and thought-provoking.

Me & Emma, by Elizabeth Flock

Another disturbing tale of abuse and family drama, Flock’s book features an eight-year-old protagonist who details her family’s abuse at the hands of her alcoholic stepfather. More methodically paced, the book is more of a thriller with a startling, violent ending that might appeal to readers who enjoyed Room but felt the book glossed over gritty details of Jack’s captivity and subsequent adjustment to the outside world.

Still Missing, by Chevy Stevens

Readers who are interested in learning more about Ma’s ordeal may enjoy Still Missing, a novel exploring the trauma experienced by a woman who is kidnapped and abused at the hands of a sociopathic captor. The book is more gritty and reflective then Room, but also examines the reintroduction of a kidnapping victim into society.

A Dark Matter

October 26, 2011

Author: Peter Straub

Title:  A Dark Matter

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: February 9, 2010

Number of Pages:  Audio Edition (I-Pod) 12 parts; 14 hours 33 minutes

Narrator: Robertson Dean

Geographical Setting: Madison, WI and Chicago, IL

Time Period:  1966 and present day

Series (If applicable): A companion work called The Skylark told from the point of view of Spenser Mallon.

Plot Summary: Four High School students fall under the spell of a charismatic wandering guru, Spenser Mallon, and join him in performing a spiritual ritual in the agronomy meadow of the University of Wisconsin.  During this ceremony something supernatural happens, the participants see things and feel things that are indescribable.  The ritual also leaves one kid dead.  That was in 1966.   Several decades later, Lee Harwell is searching for answers as to what happened that fateful day in the meadow.  He was not involved in the ritual, but his three friends were, along with the woman who would become his wife, Lee Traux (The Eel).  Lee Harwell attempts to track down his old friends, Don Olsen (Dilly), Howard Bly (Hootie) and Jason Boatman (Boats), and in doing so each recounts their experience in the meadow, offering many different versions of the same event.  All involved in the ill-fated event were greatly affected in some way or another.  A Dark Matter is a creepy, psychologically suspenseful story that will leave the reader wondering what really happened in the meadow until the last page.

Subject Headings: The sixties; occult ceremonies; supernatural rites, teenagers, good vs. evil; psychic trauma; Bram Stoker Award Winners

Appeal: character-centered, intricately plotted, relaxed pace, bleak, creepy, psychological, supernatural, complex storyline, literary prose, multiple points of view, detailed, foreboding

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: character-centered, psychological, foreboding

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     Helter Skelter: the True Story of the Manson Murders by Vincent Bugliosi – Bugliosi was the prosecuting attorney in the Charles Manson murder trial.  His position as an insider has allowed him to give a unique perspective on one of the most notorious killers in American history. Charles Manson was a charismatic “cult” leader.  He lured both men and women into this “family” and he had a baffling hold on his followers.  In 1969 Manson and 4 of his followers carried out several murders of seemingly random victims.  It continues to be one of the most famous crimes and trials in American History.  Chosen as a non-fiction read-alike for A Dark Matter because the charismatic wandering guru Spencer Mallon is similar to Mason, luring young people in with his ideas and personality.

2)     The Tibetan Book of the Dead by Padma Sambhava and translated by Robert Thurman – Said to have been written in the 8th century A.D. by Padma Sambhava who is also said to have been the first person to bring Buddhism to Tibet.  The book is a guide for the dead to guide them through the stages the will encounter between death and their rebirth.  Basically the soul needs guidance once it leaves the physical body and this book is a guide.  It contains prayers and ways the living can assist the dead.  In A Dark Matter the Tibetan Book of the Dead is mentioned on several occasions by the guru Spencer Mallon, so perhaps readers of the novel would enjoy this non-fiction work to learn more.

3)     The New Encyclopedia of the Occult by John Michael Greer – John Michael Greer is an “occult practitioner” who consulted scholarly text in order to write a well researched, informative encyclopedia of occult traditions, lore, etc.  Included are 1500 entries listed in alphabetical order and include spiritual movements, magic, alchemy, and astrology.  Chosen as a read-alike for A Dark Matter because the ceremony the teenagers and guru perform in the meadow is an occult ceremony and readers of the novel may appreciate learning more about the occult and all of its aspects.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

1)     I’ll Take You There by Joyce Carol Oates – A nameless white girl at a fictional college falls for an African-American grad student in this character-centered work set in the 1960’s.  There is, of course, the racial tension one would expect from an inter-racial relationship at the time.  Along with the social backlash, the girl is also haunted by the fact that someone she once thought was dead is actually alive.  Similar to A Dark Matter in that it is set in the 1960’s and involves college students.  (creepy, psychological suspense, character-centered)

2)     The Revelation by Bentley Little – This creepy story in a small town in Arizona, where events seemingly signal a looming apocalypse.  The church is desecrated, animals are being sacrificed and people are disappearing.  A new Episcopal Priest comes to town and enlists the help of three others as he believes only the four of them can save the town from the evil.  Similar to A Dark Matter this novel has supernatural elements and an underlying theme of good versus evil. (creepy, menacing, supernatural)

3)     Hearts in Atlantis by Stephen King – A collection of five short stories that are linked to each other and revolve around events that occurred in the 1960’s.  The Vietnam War is at the forefront of the creepy tales that include some supernatural elements, which makes this story similar to A Dark Matter.  Other similarities include a 1960’s setting and having interweaving stories told by several individuals. (creepy, suspenseful, character-centered)

Name: Michelle Worthington