All kinds of spooky tales – “Sisterland,” “This House is Haunted,” “Doctor Sleep”

November 26, 2013 at 9:39 pm Leave a comment

Apparently the fall has resulted in a quite a list of spooky reads.  I was not really amazed by any of them but two of three were fun in their own way.

1. “Sisterland” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Published in 2013) –  I really liked Sittenfeld’s “Prep” so I was excited to read this book. I quickly learned that not all of Sittenfeld’s writing is created equal. This book took a fairly interesting concept and made it, amazingly, boring.   Kate is a thirty-something stay at home mom living the picturesque suburban American life in St. Louis.  Kate has spent her life trying to hide that she and her twin sister, Violet, both have “the sight” and can sometimes read the future. Kate’s appearance of a normal life quickly changes when, after a small earthquake, Violet is interviewed by the local news. She predicts that another more dangerous earthquake will be hitting the city on October 16th. And book then becomes a countdown to October 16th – will the earthquake happen? And if so, how bad will it be? But the book also jumps back to Kate’s childhood and her dating history.  The writing gets confusing and I had a lot of trouble following the flow or lack thereof.  But my main gripe was that Kate was just boring and predictably flawed. The ending crisis is exactly what you expect from almost the first page and that is just…well…lazy writing.  Twins with mysterious foresight is in and of itself intriguing. The fact that Sittenfeld is able to make it dull is impressive in its own rite. And just unfortunate.

2. “This House is Haunted” by John Boyne (Published in 2013) – This book got creamed in the New York Times.  But I enjoyed it.  Set in Victorian England, Eliza finds herself lost and aimless after the death of her father.  She is young but not beautiful and certainly not rich.  On a whim and in a haze of grief, she decides to take post as a governess in a country home, Gaudlin Hall.  When she arrives by train she is greeted at the door of the large home by the two children themselves.  No one else is present in the home and Eliza quickly learns that she follows a long line of governesses (none lasted very long).  Of course, it is a given that the house is haunted but the book is fun and as Eliza finds out why the house is haunted it is a nice mix of “Jane Eyre” and “Turn of the Screw.”  Not written as well but still a good time for cold night reading.

3.  “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (Published in 2013)– One of my favorite reading memories is as a thirteen year old reading “The Shining” in the middle of the night and then being too scared to sleep.  I think this is almost everyone’s experience with this book.  I saw the movie a few years later and it was scary but nothing close to the book.  When I read that King had written a sequel following Danny as an adult I knew I would be one of the many suckers who had to read it.  Danny, like his father, has struggled with alcoholism.  It quiets the shining but is quickly ruining his life. He wonders aimless until he ends up in a small town in New Hampshire  working as a nurse’s aid at the local hospice center.  Dan’s ability to shine helps him assist the dying in their transition into the next world.  Since Dan’s first day in the town he has felt that he is where he is meant to be.  He begins receiving telepathic messages from a young girl, Abra.   Because of her abilities Abra’s life is in danger and Dan finds himself in the role of mentor for Abra.  Everything ties up very nicely in this book but it was not really scary.  There are vampire like people, eerie moments, etc. but there were really no moments that kept me up in the middle of the night.  But it was still worth the read and I enjoyed it for what it was.

6a00d8341cbf9a53ef016760842b30970bI am reading “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tart now so I think I am off the spooky theme.  Though I guess I don’t know how it ends so we will see.  Most importantly, Happy Thanksgiving fellow readers.  Enjoy the people you love and I hope you find time for yourself and a good book.


Entry filed under: November 2013 reads. Tags: , , , , , .

The stories we tell on trains – “Trains and Lovers” by Alexander McCall Smith Beauty wedded to meaning – “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt

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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.


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