I’ve narrowed my book pool for the R.I.P. Challenge down to the following books:
Dracula by Bram Stoker: the classic vampire novel.
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova: this would be a worthy follow-up for Dracula as its premise is that Dracula is *gasp* still alive.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman: I’ve wanted to read this book for a long time, and this challenge gives me a good excuse. A creepy, huge house, a little girl who feels ignored, and an alternate universe inside your house. Sounds great! I absolutely love Neil Gaiman, so it’s a shame I’ve not read it.
20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill: the bookseller at Barnes and Noble said this was a great book, and Steve enjoyed it, too. I love Joe Hill’s blog and tweets, but I’ve not read any of his creative writing yet. This is a collection of short ghosty stories.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke: I started this one some time ago, and I was enjoying it. This one is a dark horse contender for the challenge because it’s extremely long, and I would like to actually finish the challenge this time.
Grendel by John Gardner: the Beowulf story told from the viewpoint of the monster. This one has been on my to-read list for years.
Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott: I grabbed this one on impulse at Barnes and Noble a while back. The cover certainly looks creepy. Ghostwalk is a literary triller about Isaac Newton’s alchemical experiments and a string of murders. It’s only got three stars at Amazon, and I find the reviewers there are often generous. That kind of thing makes me nervous. Still will eventually give it a go since I own it.
A Dead Man in Deptford by Anthony Burgess: this one might be a long shot in terms of qualification (though Carl is very accepting as long as we think it fits the challenge). It’s about Christopher Marlowe’s espionage and murder.
I’m not sure which of the aforementioned books will ultimately make the challenge, but I am fairly set on Dracula and Coraline.
If you are participating in the challenge, I recommend the following books, all of which I’ve read. I don’t like to do re-reads for challenges, but I thoroughly enjoyed all of these books:
- The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe: What if some of the witches in Salem really were guilty? This novel explores this question, along with creepy houses and strange goings on in modern-day Massachusetts. I couldn’t put it down, and my husband’s reading it now. Plus Katherine Howe is super nice, tweets regularly at @katherinebhowe, and even created a Facebook site for her main character, Connie Goodwin.
- The Dante Club by Matthew Pearl: A string of murders based on punishments in Dante’s Inferno terrorizes 1860’s Boston as poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and his circle are working on a translation of Dante’s work. The problem is, a translation isn’t currently accessible to Bostonians, so who could conduct murders that so accurately mimic Dante’s punishments? Could one of the circle be the killer?
- The Ghost Writer by John Harwood: If you liked The Turn of the Screw (which would also be an excellent choice for this challenge), you’ll enjoy this creepy story of Gerard Freeman and his pen friend Alice Jessell, a creepy old ancestral house, and ghost stories written by a grandmother Gerard never knew.
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield: A love letter to the Brontës and a great read. This book centers around reclusive writer Vida Winter, who wants protagonist Margaret Lea to interview her. Margaret learns that truth is stranger than fiction and much creepier.
- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: This book examines what might happen when it takes a graveyard to raise a child. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and creepy murderers, oh my!
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins: One of the original gaslight books, I think. Who do you trust? What exactly is happening in that creepy house? And who is the Woman in White? What does she know?
- Twilight by Stephenie Meyer: If you haven’t read this new take on the vampire legend, now is a good time. Don’t expect sparkling prose. If you’re a girl of the 1980’s, the high school experience will look very familiar.
- The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry: Set in Salem, this novel draws on the witchy setting. Towner Whitney returns to Massachusetts when her beloved aunt dies, but she is haunted by ghosts from her past and messages she can read in the lace.