The Pick & Choose October Reading List
A thriller author's favorite time of year. Choose your fighter...or horror title.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year - for a thriller author. October is always raining with quirky books that publishing houses seem release parallel to chilly weather, cloudy days, and pumpkin-plastered everything. There’s plenty of great spooks around the corner and I, for one, cannot wait. Here’s a few scary titles to fill your month with. The suggestions are scattered between my TBR and my favorites lists - categorized by your very-own October personality. And don’t worry, there’s no Edgar Allen Poe.
For the person who needs the essence of the novel to match their all-weather Doc Martens:
"Gory and horrifying.... You can't put it down." --Chicago Tribune
October was made for Stephen King (what better time to reread his debut?)
Romanticized feminine rage + Unpredictable family drama
Telekinesis and periods…but it somehow works?
If you dress/have dressed as Carrie for Halloween…please read the book
Short and sweet, the perfect spooky season read
Carrie White may be picked on by her classmates, but she has a gift. She can move things with her mind. Doors lock. Candles fall. This is her power and her problem. Then, an act of kindness, as spontaneous as the vicious taunts of her classmates, offers Carrie a chance to be a normal...until an unexpected cruelty turns her gift into a weapon of horror and destruction that no one will ever forget.
Trigger-Warning: Graphic horror, bloody scenes, detailed talk about violent abuse
Linked: Carrie by Stephen King
For the person who can only be thrilled if every detail in the narrative is factually-sound and analyzed thoroughly:
"If Michael Crichton had written a superhero novel, it would look a lot like Upgrade."--The New York Times Book Review
Detailed thriller about biohacking and gene editing
Science, science, and more science + a little family drama
Interesting start, slower rising action, fast-paced middle and end
Engineering language heavy, lots of analytics to keep track of
"At first, Logan Ramsay isn't sure if anything's different. He just feels a little . . . sharper. Better able to concentrate. Better at multitasking. Reading a bit faster, memorizing better, needing less sleep. But before long, he can't deny it: Something's happening to his brain. To his body. He's starting to see the world, and those around him--even those he loves most--in whole new ways. The truth is, Logan's genome has been hacked. And there's a reason he's been targeted for this upgrade. A reason that goes back decades to the darkest part of his past, and a horrific family legacy. Worse still, what's happening to him is just the first step in a much larger plan, one that will inflict the same changes on humanity at large--at a terrifying cost. Because of his new abilities, Logan's the one person in the world capable of stopping what's been set in motion. But to have a chance at winning this war, he'll have to become something other than himself. Maybe even something other than human. And even as he's fighting, he can't help wondering: what if humanity's only hope for a future really does lie in engineering our own evolution?"
Linked: UPGRADE by Blake Crouch
For the deeply-weird human who likes tinctures, 1950’s socialites, and a good ol’ classic haunting:
BONUS: Read the book before it becomes the show.
"It's Lovecraft meets the Brontës in Latin America, and after a slow-burn start Mexican Gothic gets seriously weird."--The Guardian
This one is up-next on my October TBR, so my knowledge is limited to the professional and personal hearsay. And here’s what they say….
An inspired mash-up of Jane Eyre, Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho, Dracula, Rebecca and that 1958 classic sci-fi movie, The Blob
Gothic and politically-inflicted horror that makes you want to read with plenty of lights on (Or night vision goggles if you’re feeling brave)
Fast paced from beginning to end. Drama and horror go hand in hand to keep the plot moving.
After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She's not sure what she will find--her cousin's husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region. Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She's a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she's also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin's new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi's dreams with visions of blood and doom. Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family's youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family's past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family's once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness.
Trigger-Warning: S&A allusions, violent scenes
Linked: Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
For the person who can’t seem to keep their sarcasm under control while making you rewatch Fargo for the hundredth time:
“Sister Holiday is simply a joy of a narrator--and definitely my kind of character: flawed, dark, buoyant, and often laugh-out-loud funny. I feel like she and Camille Preaker from Sharp Objects should go on a road trip together. This novel is so much more than a mystery (which is my favorite kind of mystery), it's an exploration of faith, love, and the worthy struggle to be a better human. I just loved it." --Gillian Flynn
*This book will release on October 21st 2022.*
This book isn’t out yet, but I’ve got some ideas on what to expect since it is Gillian Flynn’s (author of Gone Girl) publisher debut…
Expecting to be a very unsolvable-til-the-end type of mystery that’s plot is tightly bound by a thousand hard-to-spot red herrings
Characters are going to be extremely out of the norm, to the point of niche that the characters in Flynn’s The Grownup were. Very quirky, almost unheard of.
Dark but funny, witty, with sharp-edges that might cut conservative readers
When Saint Sebastian's School becomes the target of a shocking arson spree, the Sisters of the Sublime Blood and their surrounding community are thrust into chaos. Unsatisfied with the officials' response, sardonic and headstrong Sister Holiday becomes determined to unveil the mysterious attacker herself and return her home and sanctuary to its former peace. Her investigation leads down a twisty path of suspicion and secrets in the sticky, oppressive New Orleans heat, turning her against colleagues, students, and even fellow Sisters along the way. Sister Holiday is more faithful than most, but she's no saint. To piece together the clues of this high-stakes mystery, she must first reckon with the sins of her checkered past-and neither task will be easy.
Linked: Scorched Grace by Margaret Douathy
For the person who has had enough after sitting by too many screaming children on airplanes:
"You might want to cover your eyes." --Entertainment Weekly
This one is after Mexican Gothic on my October TBR, so my knowledge is limited to the professional and personal hearsay. And here’s what they say….
We Need to Talk About Kevin meets Gone Girl meets The Omen
Moral questions around a devilish seven year old. Nothing can be that wrong with your sweet little daughter. Right? (Don’t answer that one, mom.)
A book that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand, based on the selection and juxtaposition of protagonists.
MEET HANNA: Seven-year-old Hanna is a sweet-but-silent angel in the eyes of her adoring father Alex. He's the only person who understands her. But her mother Suzette stands in her way, and she'll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good. MEET SUZETTE: Suzette loves her daughter, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. She's also becoming increasingly frightened by Hanna's little games, while her husband Alex remains blind to the failing family dynamics. Soon, Suzette starts to fear that maybe their supposedly innocent baby girl may have a truly sinister agenda. A battle of wills between mother and daughter reveals the frailty and falsehood of familial bonds in award-winning playwright and filmmaker Zoje Stage's tense novel of psychological suspense, Baby Teeth.
Linked: Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
For the fun golden-retriever friend who is seemingly normal until you get a closer look:
“Ghosts of the past have also inspired one of the most rollicking, addictive novels I’ve read in years: The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix, a tale of housewives battling vampires that is sweetly painful, like hard candy that breaks a tooth.”--Danielle Trussoni for The New York Times Book Review
A wild and fun ride. A 1990’s book club of housewives over 40 killing vampires with critical acclaim that makes you laugh and shudder at the same time.
Lighthearted horror with a little (or lot) of drama - a good place to start if you’re not yet familiar with the genre (which can often be overbearing even for me)
Good balance of wit and gruesome vampire slaying - an art some would say.
Oversterotypes old feminism and the old south for the sake of humor and discomfort - which can be an annoyance to some readers
Patricia Campbell's life has never felt smaller. Her husband is a workaholic, her teenage kids have their own lives, her senile mother-in-law needs constant care, and she's always a step behind on her endless to-do list. The only thing keeping her sane is her book club, a close-knit group of Charleston women united by their love of true crime. At these meetings they're as likely to talk about the Manson family as they are about their own families. One evening after book club, Patricia is viciously attacked by an elderly neighbor, bringing the neighbor's handsome nephew, James Harris, into her life. James is well traveled and well read, and he makes Patricia feel things she hasn't felt in years. But when children on the other side of town go missing, their deaths written off by local police, Patricia has reason to believe James Harris is more of a Bundy than a Brad Pitt. The real problem? James is a monster of a different kind--and Patricia has already invited him in. Little by little, James will insinuate himself into Patricia's life and try to take everything she took for granted--including the book club--but she won't surrender without a fight in this blood-soaked tale of neighborly kindness gone wrong.
Trigger warning: S&A allusions, violent scenes
Linked: The Southern Book Club’s Guide To Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
Thanks for checking out my spooky October reading list. You’re welcome to share it if you’d like. In the meantime, I’m sending wishes of warmth, reading weather, and lot's of accompanying pumpkin aromas your way. I’ll be releasing some new pieces this month and can’t wait for you to read them. See you soon!