As we get closer to the swan song of summer 2013, there are a lot of reasons to look ahead to the coming fall season. As I write this it’s near the end of a sweltering Southern August afternoon, and I’m in a house where the A/C has decided to take a couple of days off. That in itself is incentive enough to look forward to cooler days, but obviously you don’t come to FEARnet to read about my temporary woes; you come here because we know what scares you. Here are a few books on the horizon that I have a feeling are going to do just that.
Hell Gate by Elizabeth Massie (September 2013, Darkfuse)
We’ve had one good carnival novel already this year in Stephen King’s Joyland, but that one was more of a coming-of-age type story, whereas Massie looks to be heading straight for the dark and violent heart of the carnival circuit with Hell Gate.
Set in 1909 at a Coney Island that’s a little wilder, a little more brazenly dangerous than the more modern incarnations proved to be, Massie’s novel centers around a psychic and a serial killer. Unleashing Massie’s great grasp of mood and atmosphere in such a setting makes it an instant must-read in my book.
The Bones of You by Gary McMahon (October 2013, Earthling)
It’s become an October tradition that each year, in that most magic of months, Earthling Publications releases a new book in their Halloween series. These are books that speak straight to the heart of anyone enamored with crisp fall nights, flickering candlelight in a carved-out pumpkin skull, and that one evening where the realms of the living and the dead overlap.
This year Earthling is releasing The Bones of You by Gary McMahon, a book they describe as a “modern ghost story.” It’s about a man named Adam whose life is on the rocks. Divorced, he takes up residence in a small rental property next to an abandoned house – a house where a woman named Katherine Moffat once did terrible things to people. As it tends to go in books like this, there are echoes of those events in the air, and restless spirits are swarming around Adam and his daughter. It may sound like a familiar premise, but it’s got all of the elements that, if properly put together, can make for quite a chilling read. I can’t wait to find out if it fulfills its promise.
Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III (Bi-monthly beginning October 2013, DC Comics)
His novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane already guaranteed that 2013 would go down as a great year to be a Neil Gaiman fan. The fact that he’ll also be returning to what is arguably his most beloved creation, Sandman comics, takes the year to near-ridiculous levels of awesomeness. This is something the Gaiman faithful have been clamoring to have for years, but the author held back his return until he had the right story to tell.
It appears that the “right story” is about the events that led up to his very first Sandman comic, in which the Dream King was exhausted, weakened and captured. What had he been through? All we were told was that he’d been somewhere far, far away. Now we’ll get the rest of the story.
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (September 2013, Scribner)
I know – how obvious can I be? But come on, if I wrote this column without mentioning this book, it would all be a lie. It’s not just a new King book, it’s a return to the characters from The Shining, one of his most revered works. I won’t go into details here (the plot is all over the Internet at this point), and I won’t go into the things I’m looking forward to. Instead, I’ll touch on what scares me about this book – the possibility that it will fail.
The Shining is a big mountain to scale, and it casts a huge shadow over Doctor Sleep. I doubt King would put it out there – or would have even been able to finish the book – if it wasn’t a story he was deeply invested in while writing it. King rarely lets me down, but the questions are nagging – can he give us a Danny Torrance that feels like a logical extension of the boy he introduced us to all those years ago? Can he recapture the depth, the richness, and the absolute terror of the original? We’ll find out soon enough.