Posts Tagged ‘foreshadowing’

The Graveyard Book

August 10, 2011

Author: Gaiman, Neil

Title:  The Graveyard Book

Genre: Fantasy, Suspense

Publication Date: 2008

Number of Pages: 336

Geographical Setting: A graveyard in England

Time Period: Current times

Series:  N/A

Format:  Audio

Plot Summary:  “There was a hand in the darkness and it held a knife.”  So begins the extraordinary story of a boy, a toddler really, who was made an orphan on that fateful night.  The knife held by the man Jack takes the lives of the boy’s father, mother and sister and would also have taken the boy’s had he not tumbled out of his crib and escaped into the darkness.  He wanders into an abandoned graveyard where the forgotten souls residing there agree to take him in as one of their own.  He is named Nobody Owens, (“Bod”) for protection, and in honor of his of his adoptive parents, Mr. and Mrs. Owens, a ghostly but genial couple.  The mysterious Silas, who is neither dead nor alive, is his guardian,  bringing  him food and ensuring  that he is educated in the ways of the dead and the living.  The book follows Bod’s life in the graveyard with each chapter set in a different year.  Throughout this time however, there is still the man Jack, searching for Bod so that he may finish his work.  When Bod turns fifteen, he is ready to leave the graveyard and resume a life of his own among the living, but first he must confront the evil that has been stalking him for so long.  Bod’s final showdown with the man Jack provides a dramatic and satisfying conclusion to this unusual story.  This is a fast-paced book with magical and creepy moments.   Gaiman’s storytelling skills are brilliantly inventive, particularly in relating Bod’s adventures with the visiting ghouls and his rescue by the talented Miss Lupescu.   However, what makes this book a standout, is that along with the witty plot, odd characters and unusual setting, the author also creates the poignant story of an orphan boy  learning the skills needed to survive in the world.   The audio version of The Graveyard Book, read by Neil Gaiman himself, completely sets the tone, beginning with a beautifully performed rendition of “The Danse Macabre” on banjo.  This music selection immediately alerts the listener that this will be a sinister, perhaps quirky book, but not necessarily scary.   Gaiman is the perfect reader, using different accents for different characters and able to mimic precisely the indescribable call of a night-gaunt.   His understated reading of the text, in particular the opening chapter with its gruesome murders , is reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock at his best.

Subject Headings:  Cemeteries, Ghosts, Supernatural, Werewolves, Vampires, Assassins, Orphan Boys

Appeal:  attention grabbing, witty, enthralling, scary, suspenseful, sinister, creepy, wild, well crafted, bittersweet, smart, wry, original, imaginative, clever, poignant, foreshadowing, quirky

3 Terms That Best Describe This Book: original, suspenseful, bittersweet

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:

Stories in Stone: The Complete Guide to Cemetery Symbolism by Douglas Keister, engraved symbols used on tombstones  tell a very detailed story about  the person buried there; The Other Side:  A Teen’s Guide to Ghost Hunting and the Paranormal by Marley Gibson, an informative look at  the technical aspects of ghost hunting as a hobby; Encyclopedia Horrifica:  The Terrifying Truth About Vampires, Ghosts,Monsters and More by Joshua Gee, geared to young adults, this is a paranormal reference book  described as “hilariously horrifying.”

3 Revelant Fiction Works and Authors:

  Odd Thomas by Dean Koontz, about a boy who can see ghosts, is certainly more of an adult book, but it shares the same darkly humorous tone.  The graphic novel version, In Odd We Trust might be less intense.   Christopher Moore, A Dirty Job,   another adult book about a new father who can see ghosts is described as “dizzyingly inventive and hypnotically engaging”,  similar to The Graveyard Book.  Skellig by David Almond, is a young adult novel that tells the story of a strange creature living in a shed behind a young man’s house and has the same eerie, magical feel.

Name:  Chris M.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter

August 1, 2011

Author:  Franklin, Tom

TitleCrooked Letter, Crooked Letter

Genre:  Mystery, Psychological Suspense, Thriller

Publication Date:  2010

Number of Pages:  288

Geographical Setting:  Rural Mississippi

Time Period:  Present Day

Series:  N/A

Plot Summary: In the late 1970s in Chabot, MS, two boys come together for a short yet pivotal time in their lives to share a boyhood friendship that neither can acknowledge.  Larry is white, odd and bookish, the son of lower middle class parents.  Silas is black and poor, the son of a single mom moved from Chicago, to a cabin on land owned by Larry’s father.   For one summer, they roam the woods together, and Larry teaches Silas about hunting and fishing.  Larry finally has the friend his mother has prayed for.  When school starts, the lines of segregation are drawn and the boys lead separate lives.  Larry becomes ostracized as the class nerd, while Silas, who excels at baseball, becomes the high school star.  One night Larry takes a popular local girl on a date and she disappears without a trace.  Although never formally accused, Larry, with his peculiar ways is presumed guilty.  Twenty-five years pass.  “Scary Larry” leads a solitary existence shunned by the local townspeople, and Silas, who went off to school, has returned to Chabot as the local police constable.  Their paths cross again when another girl goes missing and all eyes turn to Larry as the obvious suspect.  It is up to Silas to investigate Larry’s involvement,  and in the process, he is forced to remember boyhood secrets he has tried so hard to forget.   Crooked Letter Crooked Letter is a beautifully written, poignant story told in flashbacks.  Although there is a mystery element in the plot, the book is really a heart wrenching character study of Larry and Silas, and how actions and circumstances in their past have had devastating effects on their lives. It is the story of friendship, loneliness, racism, good and evil, and having the courage to make things right no matter what the cost.   The author, Tom Franklin, is a master at setting the mood in this book, which reeks of southern Gothic, wasted lives, small town tragedies and decaying secrets.  He moves the story along at a languid, southern pace, but introduces intriguing plot elements and characters that make it hard to put the book down.  The language is wonderfully authentic, and the southern dialogue perfectly fits the story.  Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, with its powerful theme of forgiveness and redemption, is a book that will resonate with the reader long after the story has ended.

Subject Headings:  Mississippi, segregation, murder mystery, psychological fiction, police investigations, rural South, Nero migration, racial issues, southern fiction

Appeal:  Foreshadowing, flashbacks, poignant, heart breaking, touching, atmospheric, emotional, slow paced, rich character development, complex plot, suspenseful, compelling, thought provoking, engaging, hopeful.

3 terms that best describe this book:  Atmospheric, poignant, thought provoking

Similar Authors and Works

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors:  Melton A. McLaurin, Separate Pasts: Growing Up White in the Segregated South, authors account of his boyhood in the 1950s set in rural South; Ann Moody, Coming of Age in Mississippi, autobiography of author’s struggle to overcome racism in rural South during the 1950s and 1960s;  James C. Cobb, The Most Southern Place on Earth:  The Mississippi Delta and the Roots of Regional Identity, a historic and economic account of life on the Mississippi Delta.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors:  Pat Conroy, The Prince of Tides, a southern family coming to grips with secrets from their past; Dennis Lehane, Mystic River , psychological suspense also dealing with a murder and someone falsely accused; Stuart Woods, Chiefs, a murder mystery set in the rural South.

Name:  Chris Murray

The Chili Queen

July 25, 2011


The Resort

April 1, 2009

Author: Bentley Little
Title: The Resort
Genre: Horror
Publication Date: 2004
Number of pages: 390
Geographical Setting: Rural Arizona
Time period: Contemporary
Series: n/a

Plot summary: When Lowell Thurman and his family book a week-long stay at the luxury Arizona resort, The Reata, all of them are looking forward to a leisurely, relaxing vacation. At first, everything seems perfect – a helpful staff, a beautiful suite, scores of fun activities, and, of course, the idyllic desert backdrop. Appearances are deceiving, however, and a bizarre incident on their first night sets the stage for ever more frightening and disturbing events as The Reata seemingly begins to take on a life of its own. The Reata’s guests know something is wrong, but are powerless against the mental stranglehold the resort holds over them. When Lowell’s children discover the mysterious ruins of another resort bearing the same name in the desert, they know that, somehow, this is an integral part of the puzzle. As the week wears on and they are subjected to a host of strange employees, gruesome deaths, and violent games, the Thurmans know that the dangerous climax cannot be far away. As The Reata plunges deeper into chaos, its up to the Thurmans to uncover the resort’s ugly secret in order to save themselves and their fellow guests, even if it means making the ultimate sacrifice.

Subject headings: Horror stories; Resorts; Family relationships; Arizona; Ghosts; Supernatural

Appeal: disturbing, suspenseful, paranormal, foreshadowing, rural, dark, graphic, sinister, multiple points of view, violent, altered reality, foreboding, contemporary, sexual, fast paced, intense, mysterious, atmospheric

Similar works (fiction): The Shining – Stephen King (isolated hotel setting, plot centers around a family, paranormal)
Psycho – Robert Bloch (fast paced, motel setting, murder)
Under-ground – Craig Spector (haunted/evil setting, graphic, battle of good and evil)

Similar works (non-fiction): Sleeping With Ghosts: A Ghost Hunter’s Guide to Arizona’s Haunted Hotels and Inns – Debe Branning (paranormal, Arizona setting, haunting)
Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places – Brad Steiger (stories of real life hauntings)
Encyclopedia of the Undead: A Field Guide to the Creatures that Cannot Rest in Peace – Bob Curran (ghosts, demons, supernatural occurrences)

Name: Suzanne

The Time Traveler’s Wife

January 12, 2009

Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Author: Niffenegger, Audrey

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 518

Genre: Literary Fiction

Geographical Setting: Chicago and Michigan

Time Period: 1970s-2053

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Henry De Tamble is a librarian at the Newberry Library; he also has a condition known as “Chrono Displacement Disorder.” It seems Henry cannot stay in the present; he is constantly and unexpectedly being pulled into another time—dropped completely naked in a parking garage, a field, a city street (he never knows why, when, or where). When the book opens, Henry is meeting his future wife, Clare, for the first time, well at least the first time for him age wise. Actually, an older Henry has been visiting Clare since she was 6 years old. What follows is a moving love story. It is the tale of Henry and Clare’s life together, with all of the normal ups and downs of any relationship, plus the added stress of Henrys time travel. The novel alternates between Henry and Clare’s points of view, with clear demarcations at the beginning of each chapter as to the year (which is essential because of the time travel and Henry’s tendency to be two different ages at the “same” time) and who is speaking. Niffenegger’s highly original novel is engaging, interesting, richly layered, and extremely moving; it is a testament to the power of true love.

Subject Headings: Married People; Domestic Fiction; Fantasy Fiction; Time Travel; Librarians; Women Artists; Fate and Fatalism; Love; Chicago, Illinois; Newberry Library, Chicago; Love Stories; Eccentrics and Eccentricities.

Appeal: character centered, domestic, layered, shifting points of view, bounces around in time, extremely thought provoking, leisurely paced, plot builds deliberately, lots of foreshadowing, realistic despite the fantasy elements, bittersweet, descriptions of Chicago neighborhoods and institutions, conversational, intimate, candid, closed ending.

3 Terms for Book: time-travel, original, moving love story

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): Dickinson, Charles—A Shortcut in Time(IL setting, time travel, its effect on personal relationships); Gabaldon, Diana—The Outlander Series (Time Travel, romance); Greer, Andrew Sean—The Confessions of Max Tivoli (A love story in which the man ages backwards); Winston, Lolly—Good Grief (A young woman dealing with the death of her husband. Henry’s condition forces Clare to live without him for long periods of time without knowing if he’d ever return)

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction): Gott, J. Richard—Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time(time travel, popular science); Grossman, James—The Encyclopedia of Chicago (use it to look up all of the places mentioned throughout the novel); Larson, Erik- Devil in the White City (Chicago history, fantastic but true elements)

Name: Becky