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The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson 

Some of you have said you’re tired of teen horror that focuses a bit too much on romance. You want something creepier, but you’re not sure if you have the time to read the nearly 1,000 page Stephen Kings.

I have a book for you.

The Haunting of Hill House is creepy in the best sense. Jackson is known as a master of horror and plot twists. If you’ve read her short story “The Lottery,” you’ll have an idea of what she can do with the unexpected, the shock factor.

Here, four young adults are selected by Dr. Montague, an occult scholar who wants his research taken seriously, to spend a few weeks in Hill House. The house is reported to be haunted, and no one who has rented it has ever stayed more than a few days. Nonetheless, they always give rational reasons for leaving, as if they think people will find them crazy if they admit to the haunting.

Of the four young people, Eleanor, grabs the attention of the reader immediately. She had to care for her ailing, unappreciative mother until her mother died. She is bound to her sister and her sister’s family and must share a car with them. Eleanor, who has been selected to stay at Hill House because she had a documented event with poltergeists in her childhood, feels that the trip will be a chance to break free of the patronizing behavior of her sister and her sister’s husband. When they refuse to allow her to take the car, Eleanor takes it early in the morning before anyone else has awoken. The reader wants her to escape, and cheers her through her trip toward the house.

Once she arrives, she befriends the others. It looks like she is finally going to get what she desires from life. But Hill House isn’t haunted in the traditional sense of having ghosts. It is a personality of its own—and it wants Eleanor. Though all the others see the evidence of this, they pull away from Eleanor, accusing her of creating some of the frightening and bizarre episodes.

And for someone as fragile as Eleanor, dealing with the house alone is more than a challenge.

The Haunting of Hill House is pretty short—a few hundred pages—and Jackson doesn’t waste your time with extraneous detail. What starts as a very ordinary trip and an opportunity to find friends ends in spine chilling creeps.

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We’ve got some new books for October reading, and they look great! If the title is hyperlinked, click on it for my review.

iDrakula by Bekka Black

An updated version of Dracula told through a series of text messages, instant messages, e-mails, and Web browser images. Eighteen-year-old Jonathan Harker comes down with a rare blood disorder after meeting mysterious Count in Romania. His girlfriend Mina and pre-med student Abraham Van Helsing investigate the source of the disease, learning that the Count is a vampire. (quick read)

Drain You by M. Beth Bloom

Even after Quinn Lacey learns that the coast of Southern California is crawling with vampires, she still tries to keep her job at the video store, convince her parents that she is eating well, and rescue her best friend from a fate worse than death.

Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother’s footsteps and become a bounty hunter.

I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder

“Ava can’t see or touch him, unless she’s dreaming. She can’t hear his voice, except for the faint whispers in her mind. Most would think she’s crazy, but she knows he’s here. Jackson. The boy Ava thought she’d spend the rest of her life with. He’s back from the dead, as proof that love truly knows no bounds. (A novel in verse–short, easy, good for students working on reading and language skills as well as anyone who wants a book about love and letting go.)

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd

Thirteen-year-old Conor awakens one night to find a monster outside his bedroom window, but not the one from the recurring nightmare that began when his mother became ill–an ancient, wild creature that wants him to face truth and loss. (a quick read, truly wonderful)

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

A classic by a master of horror, this novel was recently reisssued. Jackson is the author of the short story “The Lottery.” OK–here are the publisher’s notes on the novel:

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers-and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

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