Posts Tagged ‘claustrophobic’

In the presence of mine enemies

March 28, 2012

Author: Harry Turtledove

Title: In the Presence of Mine Enemies

Genre: Science Fiction (Alternative Histories)

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 454p.

Geographical Setting: Berlin*

Time Period: Present-day (-ish)*

*In the Presence of My Enemies is a work of fictional alternate history wherein Germany has won the 2nd and 3rd World Wars (the 3rd resulting in the nuclear destruction of all significant American cities, and a new capital in Omaha, in case you were wondering about the home team) and has exterminated (to their satisfaction, at least—think slave labor) the world’s population of Slavs, Jews, Blacks, and a plethora of other racial, ethnic, and nationalist groups.  They are cozy with the Japanese Empire.

Series (If applicable): Not yet.

Plot Summary:  A small community of Jews, loosely allied by family and friendship, struggle to raise families, work, continue the Jewish faith, and survive clandestinely in “present day” Berlin as good “Germans” alongside their unknowing, yet legitimately Aryan, German friends and colleagues.  Adding to their many daily trials, the Reich has been hurled into a new and uncertain direction toward “reform” that leaves the Empire, and especially Berlin, in a heightened state of political and national unrest, boldness, and uncertainty, by the appointment of a progressive new Fuhrer and the political emergence of an enigmatic Party rabble-rouser (think Gorbachev and Yeltsin!).

Subject Headings: Nazi Party (Germany), Jews—German, World War 2, 21st century, Jewish families, Middle class families, Secrets, Secret identity, Identity (Psychology), Political upheaval, Political demonstration, Secret police, Police state, Fascism, Adolf Hitler, Revenge, Genetics, Germany—Politics and government, Genocide, Adultery.

Appeal: plot-driven, dark, surreal, steady, bleak, candid, claustrophobic, foreboding, melancholy, menacing atmosphere, paranoid, suspenseful, detailed, authentic, imaginative, intense, tense/anxious, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, political, urban, concise, straightforward, ominous.

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: plot-driven, dark, thought-provoking.

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

While the suggestion of reading this book might seem as appealing to a reader as stabbing themselves in the eye with a fork, it does merit consideration as Turtledove’s Nazi Empire is wholly dependent on it as both their Constitution and their Bible.  While the plot line of radical reformists calling for adherence to the more democratic-minded first edition of Mein Kampf in order to extend freedoms, liberties, and self-determination to the citizens and conquered nations of the Reich is clever and ironic, the real shivers happen as it becomes clear that Hitler has achieved God-like infallibility and reverence in Turtledove’s nightmare world.

What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany by Eric A. Johnson

Can genocide become an everyday facet of society? Apparently so, the author would argue.  Over 3,000 Germans of the era (Jews and non-Jews, victims and perpetrators) took part in the research for this book.  The conclusion: the average German lived not in fear of the Gestapo or anything else for most of Hitler’s reign, but existed rather comfortably and prosperous.  The estimated 1/3 of Germany that knew of what was happening in the concentration camps, chose to ignore what was going on in their backyards, as well as those citizens that knew of the extermination through rumor.  By the time of Turtledove’s Reich, the extermination of millions (billions?) of people around the globe is viewed simply as historical fact and a privilege of the victors.  This book is a well-deserved kidney punch to German ambiguity and nostalgia when it comes to the pre-War years, as well as to those who think a movement like the Nazis could never threaten the globe again.

Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany by Marion A. Kaplan

This book attempts to answer the age-old question of why the Jews didn’t leave Nazi Germany en masse.  The author uses interviews, diaries, letters, and other first person accounts to portray a Jewish population as confused as they were frightened as the Nazis slowly stole freedom and property until they were trapped in a hostile country, completely deprived and isolated.  This book puts the machinations of genocide into motion with enough momentum to be a fully realized institution for the Jewish families in “Presence”, who know fully well any disclosure of their true identities would result in immediate execution.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

Legendary and iconic sci-fi author Dick gives his version of a world in which the Germans and Japanese won the 2nd World War.  Almost a companion piece to In the Presence of Mine Enemies in depicting the goings-on on the other side of the globe, Dick portrays a 1960’s United States that is German-Japanese occupied and has reinstated slavery.  What few Jews who survived live hidden under the cloak of assumed identities.  Sound familiar?

1945: A Novel by Robert Conroy

This is another WW2 based alternate history.  The twist here is that instead of surrendering after the dropping of the atomic bombs, military extremists assume control of the nation, vowing never to surrender.  The ensuing U.S. invasion of the home island unleashes death and carnage in apocalyptic proportion.  This is all the more disturbing given the fact that in reality the Emperor being deposed in a coup by hardline generals vowing to fight to the last man, woman, and child was a very real possibility, narrowly escaped.

Into the Storm: Destroyermen, Book One by Taylor Anderson.

Again, WW2 is the stepping off point for this first book in an on-going series.  In the heat of battle the bloodies and battered destroyer USS Walker seeks escape from faster, deadlier Japanese boats by heading directly into a massive, otherworldly looking squall.  As the storm subsides, the Captain and colorful crew notice that while geographically things look familiar, everything else in the parallel Earth they find themselves trapped in is very, very different.  In no time at all, Walker is tossed into the middle of a genocidal (and carnivorous) war begun by the Grik (human sized vicious, but mindless, lizards) against the Lemurians (human sized noble and peace-loving lemurs).  As this New Earth is technologically somewhere in the 18th century, the allegiance, modern armament, and know-how of Walker and its crew may prove decisive to the fate of this world.

Name: Bill S.

Into Thin Air

March 28, 2012

Author:  Jon Krakauer

Title: Into Thin Air:  A Personal Account of the Mount Everest Disaster

Genre: Nonfiction

Publication Date: 1997

Number of Pages: 332

Geographical Setting: Mount Everest (The border between China and Nepal)

Time Period:  1996

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: The story begins when journalist Jon Krakauer is asked by Outside magazine to report on the booming popularity of high-altitude climbing.  At the time, mountaineering had become a fad.  People wanted to pay to climb Everest, but they lacked one essential thing: the skills required to survive the climb.  Many ill-prepared men and women accompanied Krakauer on his ascent, and as a result the expedition ended up being the most deadly in Everest’s history.  This is the story of exactly what went wrong.

In this reflective and haunting book, Krakauer provides a first person account of the disaster.  In addition to great detail about the actual climb, he provides plenty of background information about previous Everest expeditions, as well as the history of the indigenous men, Sherpas, who assist Westerners in their climb.  As informative as it is thrilling, this book is sure to have readers on the edge of their seat.

Subject Headings: Adventure; Expeditions; Extreme Sports; Krakauer, Jon; Mount Everest Expedition 1996; Mountaineering; Mountaineering Accidents; Mountaineers

Appeal: Haunting, Suspenseful, Informative, Reflective, Detailed, Historical Details, Journalistic, Thoughtful, Plot-Driven, Chilling, Claustrophobic, Atmospheric, Well Developed

3 Appeal Terms That Best Describe This Book: Suspenseful, Chilling, Informative

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works:

Between a Rock and a Hard Place (by Aron Ralston): This is the shocking memoir of an adventurer who’s hike through the Utah canyons took a turn for the worse when a boulder fell and trapped him, by the arm, in the middle of a canyon.  The book will appeal to readers intrigued by an adventure gone totally wrong.

Climbing Self Rescue:  Improvising Solutions for Serious Situations (by Mike Clelland): This resource helps readers learn self rescue procedures that are effective for rock, snow, and ice climbers alike.  Including 40 different rescue scenarios, this book helps climbers learn how to get themselves out of a jam using typical climbing gear and common sense.  This book will appeal to readers interested in the rock climbing aspect of Into Thin Air.

Touching My Father’s Soul:  A Sherpa’s Journey to the Top of Everest (by Jamling Tenzing Norgay):  The author, a local man who makes a living assisting tourists in their climb up Everest, describes his experiences.  In addition to providing stories of his time on Everest, he also narrates the story of his father, the first Sherpa to reach the peak of Everest.  He provides background information about the society of the Sherpa, and the Tibetan Buddhists who assist Western climbers in their ascent.  This book will appeal to readers who were intrigued by the local culture surrounding Mount Everest.

3 Relevant Fiction Works:

A Change in Altitude (by Anita Shreve): This reflective and psychological work involves a woman coming to terms with a tragic accident that takes place while on a climbing expedition.  Readers who enjoyed Into Thin Air but wish for a fictionalized account of a climbing accident may enjoy this book.

Life of Pi (by Yann Martle): This haunting and suspenseful novel is about a zookeeper’s son who is en route to America when his ship sinks.  He finds himself on a lifeboat with various animals, completely lost at sea and struggling to survive.  Readers who enjoyed the fight-for-survival aspect of Into Thin Air may enjoy this bestselling work.

The Ascent (by Jeff Long):  In this novel, ten men and two women attempt to ascend the most dangerous side of Mount Everest.  Readers who are interested in a fictitious account of an attempt at Everest’s peak will likely enjoy this work.

Name: Katie Midgley

Black Ice

October 5, 2011

Author: Anne Stuart

Title: Black Ice

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Publication Date: 2005

Number of Pages: 384

Geographical Setting: France, in and aroundParis; AppalachianNorth Carolina

Time Period: Contemporary

Series (If applicable): Ice Series, #1

Plot Summary:  When American in Paris Chloe Underwood takes a translating job at a French chateau for the weekend as a favor to her flighty roommate, she thinks she’ll be spending her time with a group of high-powered grocery importers. But when she discovers that the group of grocers is, in fact, arms dealers, she finds herself on the run for her life with the sexy and dangerous Bastien Toussaint as her protector. . .or is he her kidnapper?

Bastien Toussaint suspects the naïve young American of being an operative, but he can’t figure out who she’s working for. As an operative for the shady anti-terrorism group The Committee, he’s tired of killing, tired of hiding, and tired of living. Something about Chloe gets under his skin, and when he realizes that she is an innocent who has stumbled into danger, he betrays everything he thought he knew to keep her safe.

Subject Headings: arms dealers, France, Paris, suspense, romance, covert operations

 Appeal: violent, graphic, steamy, romantic, breakneck, sexually explicit, claustrophobic, dangerous, simple language, fast-paced, suspenseful, plot twists

3 appeal terms that best describe this book: dangerous, violent, sexy

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes, and the Man Who Makes War Possible  by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun

This biography of Viktor Bout, a Russian arms dealer, delves into the international arms trade and the shady character who controls much of its operations. Just as Black Ice explores the line between justifiable violence and that which readers cannot forgive, this book explores the man behind a trade that some praise and many condemn.

We’ll Always have Paris: Sex and Love in the City of Light by John Baxter

Part memoir, part travelogue, part gossip sheet, this collection of essays by an Australian expatriate delves into the seedier side of the city, detailing cafes and brothels, bondage shows and museums. For readers who love both the romance and squalor ofParis.

The Social Agent: A True Intrigue of Sex, Spies, and Heartbreak behind the Iron Curtain by Charles Laurence

This chronicle of secret agents in 1950sPraguefocuses on the seductive double agent Jiri Mucha, whose famous friends and social magnetism placed him at the center of a world of danger and intrigue.

 3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Undertow by Cherry Adair

In this first book in a series about three treasure-hunting brothers, Zane Cutter hires childhood friend Teal to serve as a mechanic and diver on his latest mission. As their feelings for each other heat up, so does danger from every source, including bad guys, Federal agents, and even a hurricane. Like Black Ice, this features an exotic setting, lots of danger, and a steamy romance.

Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

When Janie Bright and her friends make a list of the qualities they’d like to see in their Mr. Perfect, they don’t expect it to end up going public—or to end up in danger from a crazed stranger. But is the undercover cop—or is he really a bad guy?—next door is both sexy enough to keep Janie busy and bad enough to keep her safe? This book features a dangerous situation, a shady is-he-good-or-is-he-bad hero, and a lot of steam.

Show no Mercy by Cindy Gerard

This first book in Cindy Gerard’s Black Ops series features a damaged reporter, a shadowy billionaire, and the damaged hero who is a member of an elite Black Ops force.  With a high body count, bombings, kidnappings, and plenty of suspense to balance the romance, this book shares the high violence and sexuality level of Black Ice.

Name: Shelley

The Other Boleyn Girl

July 25, 2011

Author: Philippa Gregory

Title: The Other Boleyn Girl

Genre: Historical Fiction

Pub. Date: 2002

Number of Pages: 664

Geographical Setting: England

Time Period: 16th century

Plot Summary: Two sisters become rivals in this story of love, lust and betrayal. Mary Boleyn wins the affections of King Henry VIII but her sister Anne is intent on becoming Queen and maneuvers herself into the role causing her Mary to be tossed aside. When Anne has difficulty giving the king a male heir, things begin to fall apart. This fast paced romantic story will have you eager to learn more of the love, sex, ambition, and intrigue that drives these two women.

Subject Headings: Boleyn, Mary, 1508-1543 Fiction.
Henry VIII, King of England, 1491-1547 Fiction.
Great Britain History 1509-1547 Fiction.

Appeal: fast-paced, dramatic, emotionally-charged, romantic, racy, historical details, colorful, vivid, claustrophobic, intrigue, melodramatic, dangerous

Three terms that best describe this book: fast-paced, historical details, emotionally-charged

Three Relevant Fiction Works and Authors
The Reluctant Queen by Jean Plaidy – Lady Ann Neville is set to marry the future king but is in love with his brother.

The Innocent by Posie Graeme-Evans – Born a peasant, Anne beauty and knowledge of healing herbs lead her to happiness and a king.

To Dance with Kings by Rosalind Laker – The story of several generations of two families set at Versailles.

Three Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors
Scandalous Women : The Lives and Loves of History’s Most Notorious Women by Elizabeth Kerri Mahon – The stories of thirty five famous and infamous woman are told.

Six Wives: The Queens of Henry VIII by David Starkey – Information on the six different wives of Henry VIII.

The Tudor Housewife by Alison Sim – A look at marriage, childbirth, the upbringing of children, washing and cleaning, food and drink, the housewife as doctor, women and business, and women and religion for a 16th century woman.

The Shining by Stephen King

April 13, 2011 Stephen King

Title: The Shining

Genre: Horror, Gothic

Publication Date: 1977

Number of Pages/CDs: 447 pages / 14 CDs (16 hours – Read by Campbell Scott)

Geographical Setting: Colorado, Rocky Mountains

Time Period: Present-day 1970s

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Jack Torrence accepts a position as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel set high in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.  Wendy and Danny, his wife and son accompany him on the months long job.  The family sees the opportunity to reconnect and rebuild their troubled past as a family, and Jack hopes to use the time to overcome his struggle with alcohol and anger and focus his energy on his play writing.  While Danny has premonitions that spending the long winter in this hotel is his worst nightmare, what he does not know is that his visions are only a small snippet of the true terrorizing force that has wreaked havoc at the hotel.  As they become ever more isolated by the harsh winter conditions, Jack’s mental condition deteriorates and he begins hallucinating.  Wendy and Danny become more and more scared and paranoid that nothing is what it seems at the hotel, and even Jack is no longer trustworthy.  In the last third of the book, the story unfolds quickly and leaves you on the edge of your seat.  Campbell Scott reads this books with an intensity that embodies the terror of the Overlook Hotel.

Subject Headings: boy psychics, alcoholics, caretakers, family relationships, haunted hotels, resorts, supernatural, telepathy, violence in men, winter, Colorado, Rocky Mountains, murder.

Appeal: character-driven, fast-paced, atmospheric, creepy, menacing, suspenseful, compelling, detailed, builds in intensity, ominous, claustrophobic, unsettling, well-drawn, flawed, violent, strong language, detailed setting, isolated, descriptive, scary.

3 Terms that best describe this book: menacing, isolated, descriptive

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

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

The Dark Sacrament:  True Stories of Modern-Day Demon Possession and Exorcism by David M. Kiely – haunted houses, true case stories of demon possession, exorcism, detailed historical analyses, good and evil, demons.

The ESP Enigma:  the Scientific Case for Psychic Phenomena by Diane Hennacy Powell – science writing, attempts to scientifically explain psychic abilities, extrasensory perception, paranormal phenomena, psychic ability, psychokinesis, accessible.

Spook:  Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach – science writing, accessible, engaging, witty, funny, life after death, paranormal phenomena, soul, using science to understand the paranormal.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

The Passage by Justin Cronin – horror story, character-driven, suspenseful, menacing, bleak, compelling, good and evil, survival, violence.

The Ruins by Scott Smith – horror story, suspenseful, atmospheric, creepy, menacing, violent, compelling, isolation, brothers, survival.

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James – horror and gothic fiction, character-driven, atmospheric, creepy, moody, classic horror story, isolated location, supernatural, good and evil.

Name: Jeannine Kropski


May 26, 2010

Author: Karin Slaughter

Title: Undone

Genre: Suspense

Publication Date: 2009

Number of Pages: 436

Geographical Setting: Atlanta, Georgia and neighboring rural Georgia

Time Period: Current

Series: Georgia Series, Volume 1

Plot Summary: The book follows multiple characters as their lives intersect due to a car accident involving a woman named Anna. Anna was accidentally run over by an elderly couple, leading emergency room doctor, Sara Linton, to discover that she had recently been starved and tortured. Detectives for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Will Trent and Faith Mitchell, are assigned Anna’s case when it is quickly discovered that other women are missing under similar circumstances. As Anna remains unconscious and unable to provide any details of her kidnapper or capture, the detectives struggle to save three other missing women while wrestling with their own personal problems. Detective Trent quickly discovers the hidden, underground torture chamber where Anna was kept, but not the other victims. Sara, the widow of a police officer, must work through her past to assist Agents Trent and Mitchell to catch Anna’s captor.

Subject Headings: Women physicians; Accidents; Violence against women; Kidnapping; Torture; Hospitals- Emergency service; Atlanta, Georgia; Suspense stories; Psychological fiction

Appeal: engrossing, relentless, chilling, claustrophobic, multiple points of view, strong secondary characters, multiple plot lines, tragic, contemporary, details of Atlanta and rural Georgia, descriptive, and vivid

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: relentless, multiple plot lines, and tragic

Similar Authors and Works:


  • My Life Among the Serial Killers: Inside the Minds of the World’s Most Notorious Murderers by Helen Morrison and Harold Goldberg: Chilling stories from a forensic psychiatrist who has worked with the FBI; engrossing and descriptive
  • Something for the Pain: One Doctor’s Account of Life and Death in the ER by Paul Austin: Focuses on the psychological impact of working as a doctor in the ER; vivid descriptions; urgent situations
  • Hope’s Boy by Andrew Bridge: Isolation due to a dysfunctional family; chilling tone; tragic frame; vivid descriptions


  • 206 Bones by Kathy Reichs: Relentless pace with multiple plot lines; part of a mystery/ suspense series; multiple characters trying to solve a murder; dark mood and descriptive style
  • Disturbing the Dead by Sandra Parshall: Part of a romantic suspense series; contains complex story lines; story contains a pair of detectives with personal problems working together; a fast-paced and chilling read
  • Alone by Lisa Gardner: A suspense story with a character who was kidnapped as a child; a fast-paced page-turner; the first book in a detective series; psychological twists

Name: Rebecca Dorsey

House of Leaves

March 31, 2010

Author:  Mark Z. Danielewski

Title: House of Leaves

Genre: Horror

Publication Date: 2000

Number of Pages: 709

Geographical Setting: Los Angeles/Virginia countryside

Time Period:  Modern day

Series: N/A

Plot Summary:  Late one night, Johnny Truant gets a call from his friend, Lude.  Lude invites Johnny to explore his recently deceased neighbor Zampano’s apartment.  While looking through his things, Johnny finds a trunk filled with notes and manuscript regarding a documentary called The Navidson Record. The film is about a family who has recently moved into a home in the Virginia countryside.  They begin to notice strange changes in the house such as the interior measurements exceeding the exterior measurements and a hallway that should lead into their backyard but doesn’t.  As Johnny begins to piece together Zampano’s notes, he is plagued by nightmares and panic attacks and begins to lose his grip on reality.

Subject Headings:  Horror stories, psychological suspense stories, transformations- personal, paranormal phenomena, documentary films, supernatural

Appeal:  compelling, engrossing, detailed, intriguing, complex, layered, chilling, dangerous, dark, investigative, multiple plot lines, psychological, claustrophobic, unknowing, unreliable narrator

3 terms that best describe this book:  Complex, haunting, mysterious

Similar Works/Authors:


The Black Hope Horror: the True Story of a Haunting by Ben Williams – When the Williams family moves into a house in a quiet Texas suburb, they are terrified to learn that their home was built on an old graveyard.  They begin to encounter strange occurrences, infestations of insects, and even death.

The Amityville Horror Conspiracy by Stephen Kaplan- Kaplan investigates the bizarre happenings at the Amityville house where a family fled for their lives after experiencing terrifying events.  Were these events real or is it all part of a hoax?

The Dark Sacrament: True Stories of Modern Day Demon Possession and Exorcism by David M. Kiely and Christina McKenna- The authors present ten true stories involving exorcism, haunted houses, and demon possession.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

House of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottam – Nick Mason must team up with a disturbed man in order to rescue his sister from a haunted house.  The two soon learn that the house has a dark and chilling past.

An American Haunting by Scott A. Johnson – Gabriel Rosewood decides to move his family into an old house in Texas.  When peculiar things begin to happen, he worries that their lives are in danger.

Turn of the Screw by Henry James- When a governess is hired to care for two orphans, she is soon haunted by the ghosts of evil servants who once inhabited the house.

Name:  Shannon Duffy

The Turn of the Screw

November 4, 2009

Author:  Henry James

Title:  The Turn of the Screw

Genre:  Horror

Publication Date:  1898

Number of Pages:  87

Geographical Setting:  Essex

Time Period:  Contemporary

Series (if applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  This story is told by an unknown narrator, which only adds to the eeriness of the tale.  It tells the story of a governess who has undertaken the task of caring for a young boy and girl (as their parents have passed away) on a large estate while their uncle is away.  The boy, Miles, has been expelled from school for reasons that are never disclosed to the reader.  That lack of certainty is carried out throughout the tale and it is that aspect that makes this such a chilling read.  The housekeeper, Mrs. Grose, tells the governess all she needs to know about caring for the children.  She does not, however, make her aware of Miss Jessel and her lover, Peter Quint, whom the governess sees around the grounds.  The governess begins to suspect that they are ghosts, and she learns that they died under suspicious circumstances.  She also suspects that the children are aware of the ghosts as well, though they refuse to admit it.

Subject Headings:  Essex; London; Ghosts; Orphans; Secrets

Appeal:  Complex, unknowing, densely written, stately, closely observed, family-centered, linear, detailed setting, rural, chilling, claustrophobic, dark, foreboding, psychological, austere, stark

3 terms that best describe this book:  Unknowing, Muted, Dark

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

“Henry James:  A Life” by Leon Edel.  A biography depicting the life of the writer is always a great supplement to analyzing a work.

“Essex:  The Buildings of England” by James Bettley.  This modernized guide will teach all about the gothic architecture of the setting of James’ novel.

“Our Haunted Life:  True Life Ghost Encounters” by Jeff Belanger.  Whether or not the reader believes in ghosts and the afterlife, tales of haunting are always unsettling.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:

“The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson.  Another tale full of subtle, psychological twists, the ghosts and foreboding estate are similar to “Turn of the Screw”.

“Wuthering Heights” by Emily Bronte.  This dark tale of passionate forbidden love with tragedy in the ending is like that of the love between Miss Jessel and Peter Quint.

“Grave’s End” by Elaine Mercado.  This tale of haunting makes the stretch of what might happen if a ghost or spirit took to violent actions.

Name:  Melissa

Le Horla

October 21, 2009
 Le Horla et autres nouvelles fantastiques , de Guy de MAUPASSANT

Author: Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant

Title: Le Horla (The Horla)

Genre: Bestseller/Horror

Publication Date: 1887

Number of Pages: 56

Geographical Setting: Tiny town near Rouen on the Seine

Time Period: Late 19th century.

Series: No

Plot Summary: Le Horla was written in the age of Louis pasture’s new microscopic world, Charcot’s lectures on hysteria, the birth of hypnotism, and the discovery of canals on mars. The scientific advances of the late 19th century brought about an obsession with other worlds, parallel worlds, and the possibility of non human creatures. Our reclusive author is writing his journal entries during this uncertain time. After moving back to his childhood home nestled on the out skirts of a small French village his life takes a turn for the worse. The man first begins to feel an air of dizziness, uneasiness, something thick in the air, then moments of unexplainable confusion, panic and paranoia…the feeling that someone or something is watching. He believes that he is being haunted by an otherworldly beast who has to ability to control his thoughts. He sees shadows. Nightmares plague our author and wake him in the middle of the night, and later nightmares come during the day. Doors open and close by themselves, the milk and bread are consumed in the middle of the night. The man feels claws going down his back and rough fur covered hands strangling his neck, however the creature is never seen, does he exist?, or if it is all just a product of fear, paranoia, or mental insanity. Within a few journal entries our author goes from a wealthy, educated aristocrat, to a mumbling, drooling shell of a person. How can our author rid himself of the beast? What if the beast is is his head?

Appeal: Terrifying, fast paced, epistolary, menacing, interior, delirious, introspective, inconclusive, suspenseful, unsettling, small town, paranoia, claustrophobic, fantastical, skeptical, loss of control, vulnerable, destruction, nightmare, suicidal, doubt,

Subject Headings: Literary Fiction, 19th century, Horror, Short Story

3 Terms Describing the Book: Dark, paranoid, insanity.

Three Relevant Fiction Books & Why:

Diary of a Madman by Nikolai Gogol

(A similar epistolary style story of civil servant, and his decent into insanity)

The Call of Cthulhu by H.P. Lovecraft

(Inspired by Le Horla, written in a documentary style, tells an account of an extra terrestrial creature that wreaks havoc on three generations.)

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

(A similar tale of a haunting, however like Le Horla it is unclear whether they are actually real ghosts or figments of the imagination.)

Three Relevant Non Fiction Books & Why:

100 Questions & Answers About Schizophrenia by Lynn E DeLisi

(In Le Horla the reader never knows if the creature exists in real life or just in the authors head, some literary critics have mentioned that there are tell tale signs of schizophrenia present in the book, check out DeLisi’s book to find out what those signs are)

Syphilis by Brian Shmaefsky

(Many believe that Guy de Maupassant was suffering from syphilis induced mental insanity when Le Horla was written, readers might be interested in exploring the link between the STD and mental instability)

Hauntings by Peter Hepplewhite

(Perhaps the Horla was real?, this book tells the tale of other real life accounts of hauntings across the U.S.)

Name: Laura Bartnik