Ghosts, werewolves, and vampires are scary. Spiders, worms, and bugs can elicit screams. A growl, a footstep, a rustle of leaves when you are alone in the dark can send shivers down your spine. Clowns terrify some people; flying petrifies others. And some stories leave you with nightmares.
We're pretty sure everyone is afraid of something, probably several somethings. And we're equally sure that everyone occasionally enjoys an occasional episode of stark, staring, vicarious terror.
If you don't believe us, please explain the popularity of movies like Psycho, The Exorcist, or The Silence of the Lambs. How about books like The Haunting of Hill House and Dracula, Pet Sematary, and I Am Legend? All have--still are-- extremely popular.
We've avoided publishing true horror books of the bloody sort because, while our editors do enjoy the occasional scary story, they don't like the nightmares they cause. But we have offered our readers an assortment of shivers-down-the-spine stories Since this month ends with Halloween, what better time to remind you of them.
Naturally some of them have been ghost stories. Like Knowing, by Jael Gates, in which Natalie hires Simon to get rid of the spirits in the ancient, dilapidated house she's got to sell if she wants to keep her job. If only Simon weren't so sexy and if only the spirits didn't have such a good reason for lingering. And there's Marilyn Levinson's Giving Up the Ghost, something schoolteacher Gabbie would dearly love to do, if only she didn't feel she owed it to him to help find his killer. Last year Claire's daughter went Trick-or-Treating with a Captain Hook moustache and an eyepatch. This year, in Ghosts, by Mary Patterson Thornburg, Rowan has a surprise for her mother, and is herself surprised--and terrified.
Wild talents can be scary to those who encounter them unexpectedly. Leah is a psychic, but when she insists that David' nephew was abducted, he accuses her of being one of the kidnappers. Jana Richards' Seeing Things is both a journey of self-discovery--for both Leah and David--and a passionate love story. What's "normal"? Ally's never had it, which is why she'd desperate to give her baby half- sister a normal childhood. Her quest leads her into a complicated mystery, the development of a latent talent, and ultimately into love. Don't miss Operation Normal, by Linda Palmer. Quinn Riley, in Socrates' Child by Ann Simko, is the quintessential test-tube baby. His genome was supposed to make him the perfect killing machine, but his best friend and a young woman believe he can be more than that--a good man.
The world is filled with unexplainable events, strange forces. A good thing, because if everything could be explained, how boring life would be. Anne Manning explores life after death in The Heart Remembers, in which Lara Reynolds discovers that when she underwent a heart transplant, she got more than a new heart. Sally grew up in Whiterock, so she takes the town's peculiarities for granted. Gus sees Whiterock as just one more place to pass through, until he discovers that something won't let him leave. Is an Improbable Solution (by Judith B. Glad) the reason? Adam Larsen figures the warning that he "Beware The White Horse" is the product of a drug-induced mind, until he finds himself being stalked by a mysterious man in gray. In this seventh book of his series Kenneth L. Levinson creates a complex tangle that challenges even Larsen's investigative skills.
We can pretend that ghosts, wild talents, and strange forces are products of our imagination, but evil, pure evil is very real. Nothing is quite as satisfying as to share the lives of those who wreak vengeance for evil done. Gloria Oliver's Charity and Sacrifice introduces Elizabeth, a betrayed wife who only wanted love and a child. After she loses both, she turns to the worst part of London to find someone who will help her exact retribution. Teresa Macklin is familiar with the Death Smell, the stench that clings to homicide victims. J.D. Webb shows what can happen when a homicide detective becomes the target of a serial killer. Not all poisons are as obvious as strychnine and arsenic. In God Rest Ye, Mary, Jaye Watson follows Emaline Banister as she seeks answers to a mysterious death at the office holiday party.
Next month we'll be treated to the seventh installment of Linda Palmer's Psy Squad series. Strange and Stranger follows Maddie as she helps her dead grandparents hide from ghost hunters who are investigating the -haunted- family inn. One of the ghost hunters is not, however, exactly what he seems to be. Even better, he's gorgeous, sexy, and completely irresistible. Available now for preorder at most ebooksellers.
So why do we associate Halloween with scary stuff? After following a whole bunch of trails, we're still not absolutely certain. But it was really interesting reading about early Celtic rituals, slightly later Christian festivals, and mummers bands in England. Fascinating reading.