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Monday, November 26, 2018

SPOTLIGHT POST- Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning

Cryptofauna by Patrick Canning
https://www.patrickcanningbooks.com/Goodreads80k words.
Released February 2018 by Pennyhart Publishing.
Could be his job as a janitor at an insane asylum, could be the meaninglessness of existence, could be the unwanted cilantro on his tacos. Whatever the reason, Jim has elected to commit suicide. But before he can do the deed, a mysterious resident at work equips him with a dog and a bag of ash, and throws him into a secret game known as Cryptofauna. Cryptofauna is played by Operators, persons of special abilities who battle one another to influence important events around the world. To become an Operator, Jim must survive being stranded in the Pacific Ocean, pass a bizarre examination by leprous French monks, and pluck the existential splinter from his troubled soul. If there’s time, he must also stop a rival player from ending all life on the planet. Underwater Norwegian lairs, obsession with a decent pair of socks, and shapeshifting animals obsessed with AM radio all make up the strange world of Cryptofauna, which might help Jim discover a reason to live, assuming he doesn’t die in the process.
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St. Militrude’s

Jim grabbed a can of root beer for his suicide. He wasn’t particularly big on sassafras or
licorice, but drink choices were limited. The tap water at St. Militrude’s Home for the Insane and
Elderly was notorious for its eggy flavor. Mellow Yellow was tasty, but the potassium citrate
was known to have undesirable drug interactions. Coke was the obvious front runner, except one
of the residents had recently thrown every last can of it off the roof in protest of an earlier bed

The conciliatory can of root beer jostled with the rest of the supplies on Jim’s janitorial cart
as he pushed it down St. Mili’s labyrinth of hallways, mercifully quiet during the small hours. A
jacket was the next item on the grisly scavenger hunt, because nobody wanted to die cold.
Perhaps surprising to some, a bleak occupation in a bleak setting wasn’t the catalyst behind
Jim’s decision to end his life. He wasn’t bitter or depressed; he wasn’t heartbroken or mad at the
government. Jim had simply made the classic mistake of thinking about it all too much. He’d
always been of the suspicion that if one gave it too much thought, it being the why of it all, those
thoughts would inevitably lead to suicide, or at least an absence of reasons not to do it. He’d
gone in search of meaning and come up short, and this was pro-level stuff he was contemplating.
The defeated janitor would’ve done well to stick to simpler, less fatal issues like why the bee
makes honey or why yellow traffic lights were curiously but definitely getting shorter.
Jim trudged into the depths of the coatroom, battling a standoffish daddy long legs for
nearly a minute before emerging with his white winter parka. He laid the poofy-bag-ofmarshmallows
jacket atop the root beer, and pushed his cart to the last stop: the pharmacy.
Because of his plentiful experience with cleaning up other people’s messes and an affinity
for his boss, Nurse Gail, Jim had elected to go by pill overdose. It was clean, quiet, and showed
respect for the party that was to discover the body.

With an extensive roster of patients in desperate need of daily medication, St. Mili’s
pharmacy was a Mecca of dozens of drugs that, when taken in excess, resulted in reliable death.
Jim unlocked the mother of all medicine cabinets, perused its dizzying supply of amber bottles,
and plucked the relatively obscure and verbally intimidating dikatharide olanzapine.
Conventionally used to combat the dreaded tag team of paranoia and psychosis, the drug didn’t
cause nausea (again, he really wanted this to be an easy clean up) and with its high levels of
liver-busting haloperidol, a successful overdose was all but guaranteed.

Jim parked the supply cart in front of his bedroom door, sandwiched between the king-ofambient-noise
boiler room and a storage closet that no one used because a) the door was
jammed, and b) it smelled like a wet dog chewing black licorice.

Inside his bedroom at last, Jim locked the door and set the lamp on dim, considering. He sat
cross-legged in the center bouquet of his flower-patterned rug, donned his marshmallow jacket,
and opened his forced compromise can of root beer. The angry sound of freed carbonation joined
a faint rendition of “O Canada” from a dementia-plagued geriatric on the floor above.
Making what he assumed would be his last choice, Jim decided to put liquid in before pills
as opposed to the other way around (a traditionally benign but of course hotly-debated topic
among the unpredictably opinionated residents of St. Mili’s). He sipped some root beer, and
lifted the pills to their manufacturer-unapproved destiny.

It was at this moment, in a statistically improbable stroke of luck, that the knob of Jim’s
locked door quivered.

* * *
While the name might suggest to some that St. Militrude’s Home for the Insane and Elderly
catered to geriatrics who’d long ago abandoned reason and reality (and indeed these people were
among the residents), the unique institution was actually two formerly separate entities that had
since merged: Silver Years Retirement Home and The South Idaho Mental Health Center.
Hastily built by the state in response to an eight person killing spree by a disgruntled bank
teller armed with a windsock full of pennies, The South Idaho Mental Health Center had initially
enjoyed a healthy annual budget from the state. Unfortunately, even a tragedy as gruesome as the
one perpetrated by “The Lincoln Head Lunatic” (Teton Valley Press, 23 April, 1972) had a shelf
life in the taxpayer consciousness. After several years without another “Spare Change Killing
Spree” (Boise Examiner, 23 April, 1972), the public’s interest in the project waned and with it
waned the funds. The very week the Health Center was to be shuttered, Silver Years Retirement
Home burned down just six miles away, killing thirty-five of its stasis-prone residents after a hot
plate short circuited during a safety demonstration by the local fire chief. Devil-smirking irony
melted alongside cardigan into flesh.

Where some see only tragedy, others are able to see opportunity.
Moneymen abhor a vacuum, and they have deadlines to meet. So as sure as the bee makes
honey and yellow traffic lights were curiously but definitely getting shorter, the interests of
business found one another and decided a potential symbiotic relationship existed between the
two parties in crisis. Thus, capitalistically willed into existence: St. Militrude’s.
The name St. Militrude’s (no canonical record exists for any saint named Militrude, nor any
record of the name Militrude, regardless of piety) was deemed applicable to both sides, and so
the marriage was born with the impressive combined body count of forty-three.
* * *

Jim spat out the pills in surprise as he choked on the root beer, forcing the caustic brown
liquid into his sinuses. No one had ever bothered him in his room before. Ever.
Through watery eyes he again saw the doorknob strain. This time the unseen party kept a
steady pressure on the knob until the cheap mechanism gave way. The tumbler lock rocketed
straight past Jim’s right ear and exploded the lamp on his nightstand, plunging the room into

The lockless door swung open, revealing an armoire-sized man clad in a seafoam green robe
and white athletic socks, knee high. He had a formidable presence even at a clearly advanced
age, flirting with seven feet in height. He was thick—not fat, but thick—like a generous slab of
lean beef. The robust hair atop his head was a tangled forest of gray and white, descending to the
bottom of his taut and scarred face in a magnificent beard, giving him the unmistakable look of
the Ancient Greek head honcho, Zeus.

“Oz,” Jim coughed through the root beer still fizzing in his nose.
Ozymandias was a mysterious resident of St. Mili’s that went exclusively by Oz because, as
he put it: “Anyone foolish enough to think I have time for a five syllable name isn’t worth
talking to.”

For as long as he’d been at St. Mili’s, Oz had only eaten one meal a day and always the
exact same thing: a raw 32 oz. tenderloin followed by a bowl of black cherries (he’d chew and
swallow the pits) all chased with a gallon of raw whole milk (“Keep Louis Pasteur and his
goddamned microwave away from my dairy.”). Wildly popular with the other residents, Oz
somehow managed to get a smile out of even the most splenetic of subjects, and halved the
number of attempted arsons by the end of his first week. The man had no filter, and it seemed all
of his feelings were pushed to opposite ends of the spectrum, not unlike a drunkard. When things
were great, he made sure everyone knew it. When they weren’t, it was best to keep your

Unlike the general population at St. Mili’s, Oz was actually kind to Jim, even if the two
weren’t overly close. Lately, Jim had caught Oz gazing at him with great intensity. It wasn’t a
creepy, trenchcoat perv vs. high school girl type leer—more like a bug scientist with a Mason
jar: careful inspection belying a growing admiration.

“Hello, Jim!” Oz boomed, his icy blue eyes ever alight with the intensity of either extreme
compassion or extreme malice.

“Oz,” Jim repeated stupidly, getting to his feet.

Oz rushed into the room without invitation and knifed his hands under Jim’s armpits, easily
tossing the janitor to his feet. “All those years of toil without recognition, labor without purpose,
and effort without aim are about to come together. The culmination of the pinnacle! All those
times you probably thought about killing yourself— but didn’t— are about to pay off!”

“Oz, can this wait—“

“It absolutely cannot wait. We’re late. The bastard’s found his Operator and we’re late.
Follow me downstairs, please.” Despite the facade of a request, Oz pushed Jim out of the room
with no explanation of who the bastard in question was, or what he was getting an operation for.
The door closed on root beer and pills spilled across the rug like the unclaimed pot of a
broke pharmacist’s poker game. Shock at the improbability of Oz's timing rendered Jim
speechless and unable to formulate an effective argument against cooperating. The pair traversed
the grounds undisturbed, the residents all retired to or locked inside their respective bedrooms.
Jim knew every crummy inch of St. Mili’s. Every creaky step, every scrambled television
channel, every crack in the wall where patients liked to hide their pornography (mostly crude
drawings done by the residents themselves with hair-raising anatomical inaccuracies). He knew
all the smells of burnt coffee, of aged and decaying skin, of re-reheated meatloaf, of rubbing
alcohol, musk cologne, and expired prune juice. He knew all the sounds of night terror screams,
unmotivated laughter, racial slurs (both time-tested and newly-invented), threats (both
annoyingly-vague and alarmingly-specific), and the singing voice of the old Québécois man on
the third floor who tragically knew only the first two words of his favorite song: the Canadian
national anthem.

After a few more minutes of winding staircases and long hallways that described an
unsolvable maze, Jim spoke up. “Oz . . . I don’t have time for this right now.” Not even the
suicidal like to have their time wasted.

“You have a better offer?” Oz asked, and mimed blowing his brains out since suicide by
overdose didn’t translate well to pantomime. “Okay, kinda rude, but just follow me and shut your
mouth, that’s a lad.”

They descended a stairwell Jim had never been down before. But that was impossible.
He knew St. Mili’s top to bottom, northsouth to eastwest.

Impossible, and yet, here they were.
“Here we are,” Oz said as the stairs ended at a door the same faded green as his robe. He
pulled a tarnished brass key from his pocket and solved his lock problem more traditionally than
before. “No need to stand on ceremony!” Oz grabbed the front of Jim’s jacket and, with
seemingly no effort, tossed him inside.

Fluorescent lights ignited on the ceiling in a pathetic attempt at unanimity, tracing detail into
a massive, black-barked mulberry tree that towered above Jim, who was supine on a dewy floor
of lush grass. Born from innumerable husky roots, the great tree stood the height of the room,
branches sprawling across the ceiling in a pattern almost identical to the roots below. Among the
tree’s leaves were the elongated black-red berries of its namesake, as well as an impressive range
of deadly weapons: an indigenously hard to pinpoint peacock-feathered spear, a plaid Uzi, a
fraying cargo net filled with a dozen Claymore mines (embossed with “FRONT TOWARD
ENEMY OR OTHERWISE ANNOYING”), and many more deadly tools of every age, from
dulled arrowheads to a poorly sealed container of yellowcake uranium. Also dangling among the
weapons were objects whose function was less clear: a cracked, brass monocular with a glued-on
lens cap, a lumpy, marble sack embroidered with a winking smiley face, a bejeweled spider
pendant confusingly adorned with a snake tongue and scorpion tail, a pair of winged sneakers
hanging from tied shoelaces (like one might find on telephone wires in the troublemaker parts of
town), and finally, a nice hat.

“You may pick one Asset,” Oz said.
“Huh?” Jim said, brimming with specificity and insight.

“You’re starting your training. Goddamn, that makes it sound awful. That’s what it is, I
suppose, but really it’s all a great adventure. I had fun with it . . . most of the time.”
Questions. So many questions. “Oz, I—”

“Hold on, my boy. There’s no point in the two of us standing in this dank basement, me
trying to convince you what is about to happen is about to happen and you not believing me until
it does. If it’s all the same to you, I’d just as soon have occurrences justify themselves, and we
can discuss the finer points afterward. It’s all part of the game.”
“What game?”

“Cryptofauna.” A compassionate/malicious twinkle came and left Oz’s eyes before Jim
could correctly categorize it. “Now, an Asset. If you please,” Oz nodded toward the stuff-laden

Jim’s brain finally caught up to the events surrounding it. By most accounts he should’ve
been a stiff by now, or at least in the throes of a muted and anti-climactic death. Instead, he’d
followed a man affectionately known as Cherry-Eater down a staircase that shouldn’t have
existed, into a subterranean arboretum housing a fruit tree decorated with the ornaments of a
warlord’s Christmas tree. The slot machine of emotion in Jim’s chest finally settled on . . .

Even if this bizarre room didn’t compensate for the emptiness of existence, it was novel, and
novelty had great power, if only for a brief time. Jim reasoned he could always kill himself
tomorrow and cautiously approached the tree, carefully evaluating the items wi
Jim stretched to unhook the bag from its branch then reached inside and pulled out not
marbles, but a handful of granulated dust. The alien powder slipped weightlessly through the
cracks in his grasp. He turned to Oz for an explanation.

“You could do worse. Tie it around your wrist,” Oz said. “Now, one last thing before you
begin. You must call into the hollow.”

“The what?”

“The hollow, my boy.” Oz pointed a thick finger at the tree’s trunk.

Just below a booby-trapped microscope and a dignity-shaped bong yawned a gaping hole
among the massive tangle of roots.

“It’s unwise, some might say completely witless, to journey alone,” Oz said. “If you’re
lucky, it’ll have fur. That’s good for heat when you’re stranded in the Andes or, y’know,

Jim stared at Oz, his expression blank.

“A Companion!” Oz shouted. “You need a Companion to join you. Now call into the hollow
before I slap you across the room.”

Sensing Oz would likely be true to his word, Jim stuck his head inside the hollow. He heard
nothing but a dull echo, as if the chamber inside were larger than the tree trunk and the basement
it was in. Much larger.

“Hello?” His voice cracked mortifyingly.

“Come on god damnit!” Oz roared. “Give the beast a chance!”

A pitter patter of rapidly moving paws echoed before a dog burst from the hollow and
knocked Jim off his feet.

“Well now,” Oz said, “—a fine pairing indeed!”

The dog was a mutt about the size of a dingo, but definitely not a dingo. Tire-fire-smoke
black fur ran from tail to nose. The animal was so dark it might have been mistaken for a
silhouette were it not for a pair of red-iris eyes, friendly despite their demonic color. One ear
stood erect, the other flopped forward in involuntary penance, bobbing in sync with the animal’s
nimble stride.

“Name him,” Oz said.

“Mars,” Jim replied easily.

“Would you look at that . . .” The giant surveyed the new duo with parental approval, his
left eye threatening a tear before he managed to compose himself.
Mars eagerly sniffed every nook in the tree’s roots, narrowly avoiding a tail sting from the
mechanized snake-spider-scorpion pendant.

“Call him here,” Oz said.

“Mars.” The dog ran straight to Jim and sat, sniffing at the ash pouch.

“There now, everything’s in order. Not much to go on initially, but that’s kind of the point.”
Oz reached up and picked two mulberries from the tree. “One for you and one for the mutt.”
“Oz. What’s going on?” Jim demanded as frustration finally wrestled wonder into

“The point is not to be told. The point is to experience. So stop asking. The humble
mulberry helps one travel without nausea.”

“I thought that was ginger.”

“To hell with ginger! Ginger is for amateurs!”

Jim wasn’t sure why he did it. When one is at death’s door, eating berries from a nearstranger
isn’t necessarily commonplace—but it’s also not unreasonable. He ate the berry and
offered the other to Mars, who gobbled it up with the blind trust of a dog.

“How did you know to come to my room tonight? I mean you . . . knew something, right?”
Jim mumbled, the berry’s sour juice strangling his taste buds.

“There will be time to talk of that later. Just know that where you’re going now, I won’t be
present to stay your hand. So don’t . . . I can’t loosen the noose again.” Without warning, Oz
rolled up Jim’s left pant leg and gave a disapproving sigh. “We don’t have time to get you a
proper pair of socks. I suppose those will do for now. What are they? Cotton blend? Whatever.
There’s a conveyance under the sheet in the corner. Go to it.”

Jim held a stern look on Oz. This was insane. Even for your-crazy-is-our-normal St.
Militrude’s, this was insane.

The janitor could defer the sprouting fractal of questions in his brain, but the longer he put it
off, the worse it would ultimately be, like the time he’d put off cleaning a departed resident’s
room for a month, only to find she had a habit of hiding fruitcak
e behind the radiator. His tongue
recalled the taste memory without being asked and he gagged.
Oz sensed a potential mental revolt in the young man before him. “It’s my last ask of you.
We’ve come too far for you to shit the bed now, to screw the pooch—“

Jim held up a warning hand. He’d come across both referenced incidents on the job that
very year, and just as with the fuzzy fruitcake memory, he preferred repression.
“Last ask,” Oz repeated, raising his hand like a Boy Scout.

Jim turned to the supposed conveyance. On the far side of the room a green sheet (seafoam,
of course) tented a pointed object the height of any self-respecting coat rack.

“What is it?” Jim asked as he approached. Mars proved immediate utility by yanking down
the goofy-looking roll in Jim’s pant leg and then the green sheet, revealing a reflective, black
obelisk. Fluorescent light shimmered clumsily across the glassy surface, giving the statue a soft
mint glow. At the bottom of the statue three abaci had been set to 48.87, −123.39, and 2,000.00.
“Oz? What is it?” Jim repeated.

“Well it’s obsidian, isn’t it?” Oz said from somewhere behind.

As humans are wont to do, Jim reached a hand out to touch. Mars mimed his Companion’s
movement with a black paw.

“I’ll be thinking of you, my boy,” Oz said. “Care for your socks. And remember, only the
painter will get you back. It’s on you to discover why I’ve made the connection.” Oz's voice
resonated in Jim’s head. But it was no longer near; the words echoed from impossibly far away
then drowned in a quicksand of absolute silence.

All around was darkness—inside the heart of a scuba diving sinner exploring a pool of
crude oil at midnight.

The feeling of being spread in every direction came to Jim, as if two panes of glass were
determined to pancake his body into the second dimension. Then, simply and completely, he felt
himself invert. The blackness began to recede. Sound returned but was nothing more than the
deafening rush of wind joined occasionally by the howls of a confused dog.

The gentle pull of gravity picked a direction and Jim fell. Fast. A cloud whipped past,
stinging his face with cold mist that cozied up with the root beer still lingering in his nose.
A borderless expanse of blue ocean far below raced to meet man and dog. An object bobbed
on the desert of water. Jim only had time to ID it as “Hey, a guy in a lifebo—” before he
slammed into the water, and blue faded to black

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Haunted October- Top 13 Tuesday- Halloween Freebie- My all time favorite creepy reads

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme where we showcase ten books fitting a certain theme. This week is Halloween Freebie. As Halloween is my favorite time of year this is a fun one for me. This year I doing my top 13
all-time favorite creepy reads!

Can any soul survive?
Regarded as the Mount Everest of haunted houses, Belasco House has witnessed scenes of almost unimaginable horror and depravity. Two previous expeditions to investigate its secrets met with disaster, the participants destroyed by murder, suicide or insanity. Now a new investigation has been mounted - four strangers, each with his or her own reason for daring the unknown torments and temptations of the mansion...

She has spent her life-fightingfate, and she thought she was succeeding. Until she woke up in a coffin.

Ushers die young. Ushers are cursed. Ushers can never leave their house, a house that haunts and is haunted, a house that almost seems to have a mind of its own. Madeline’s life—revealed through short bursts of memory—has hinged around her desperate plan to escape, to save herself and her brother. Her only chance lies in destroying the house.

In the end, can Madeline keep her own sanity and bring the house down? The Fall is a literary psychological thriller, reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s classic The Fall of the House of Usher.

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.

On December 18, 1975, a young family of five moved into their new home, complete with finished basement, swimming pool, and boathouse. Twenty-eight days later, they fled in terror, leaving most of their belongings behind.

The fantastic story of their experiences was widely publicized on network television, newspapers, and national magazines. But the Lutz family never disclosed the full details to the media. Now, their own carefully-reconstructed memories—and independent interviews with local clergy and police—reveal their entire harrowing story.

George and Kathleen Lutz were aware that the house had been the scene of a mass murder—Ronnie DeFeo, 23, was convicted of shooting his parents, brothers, and sisters. But it seemed an ideal home for them and their three children, and the price was right. On the day they moved in, a priest invited to bless the house was told by an unseen voice to "Get out!" At his rectory, he began to suffer a series of inexplicable afflictions. Meanwhile, alone in their new home, the Lutz family were embarking on the most terrifying experience of their lives. It began when their five-year-old daughter boasted of her new playmate, someone—or something—named "Jodie.

Near an isolated mansion lies a beautiful garden.

In this garden grow luscious flowers, shady trees…and a collection of precious “butterflies”—young women who have been kidnapped and intricately tattooed to resemble their namesakes. Overseeing it all is the Gardener, a brutal, twisted man obsessed with capturing and preserving his lovely specimens.

When the garden is discovered, a survivor is brought in for questioning. FBI agents Victor Hanoverian and Brandon Eddison are tasked with piecing together one of the most stomach-churning cases of their careers. But the girl, known only as Maya, proves to be a puzzle herself.

As her story twists and turns, slowly shedding light on life in the Butterfly Garden, Maya reveals old grudges, new saviors, and horrific tales of a man who’d go to any length to hold beauty captive. But the more she shares, the more the agents have to wonder what she’s still hiding...

This spooky addition to Alvin Schwartz's popular books on American folklore is filled with tales of eerie horror and dark revenge that will make you jump with fright.

There is a story here for everyone—skeletons with torn and tangled flesh who roam the earth; a ghost who takes revenge on her murderer; and a haunted house where every night a bloody head falls down the chimney.

Stephen Gammell's splendidly creepy drawings perfectly capture the mood of more than two dozen scary stories—and even scary songs—all just right for reading alone or for telling aloud in the dark.

When sixteen-year-old Amanda Verner’s family decides to move from their small mountain cabin to the vast prairie, she hopes it is her chance for a fresh start. She can leave behind the memory of the past winter; of her sickly ma giving birth to a baby sister who cries endlessly; of the terrifying visions she saw as her sanity began to slip, the victim of cabin fever; and most of all, the memories of the boy she has been secretly meeting with as a distraction from her pain. The boy whose baby she now carries.

When the Verners arrive at their new home, a large cabin abandoned by its previous owners, they discover the inside covered in blood. And as the days pass, it is obvious to Amanda that something isn’t right on the prairie. She’s heard stories of lands being tainted by evil, of men losing their minds and killing their families, and there is something strange about the doctor and his son who live in the woods on the edge of the prairie. But with the guilt and shame of her sins weighing on her, Amanda can’t be sure if the true evil lies in the land, or deep within her soul

The secluded old house on the edge of town, shrouded by ancient oaks and Spanish moss, seemed like the perfect place for Honor Nightingale to make a fresh start, to find the peace she had never known. But then the voices came, voices from somewhere beyond the edge of reason, whispering of unspeakable horrors.One man, and one man alone, believed her nightmare was real--her enigmatic neighbor, Ian McLaren. Strange and compelling, he had clearly seen far too much of the dark side, and it had marked him forever. And yet she found herself hungering for him, even as the voices--and her fragile heart--whispered to her to flee his touch

John Taylor is not a private detective per se, but he has a knack for finding lost things. That's why he's been hired to descend into the Nightside, an otherworldly realm in the center of London where fantasy and reality share renting space and the sun never shines.

The Carnacki Institute exists to "Do Something" about Ghosts - and agents JC Chance, Melody Chambers, and Happy Jack Palmer will either lay them to rest, send them packing, or kick their nasty ectoplasmic arses with extreme prejudice.

Their current assignment: investigate a major haunting deep underground at London's Oxford Circus Tube Station. Difficult - and dangerous - enough without the added interference of a pair of agents from the infamous Crowley Project whose mission is much simpler: eliminate Change, Chambers, and Palmer, whatever the consequences...

Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp.

1867. Eliza Caine arrives in Norfolk to take up her position as governess at Gaudlin Hall on a dark and chilling night. As she makes her way across the station platform, a pair of invisible hands push her from behind into the path of an approaching train. She is only saved by the vigilance of a passing doctor.

When she finally arrives, shaken, at the hall she is greeted by the two children in her care, Isabella and Eustace. There are no parents, no adults at all, and no one to represent her mysterious employer. The children offer no explanation. Later that night in her room, a second terrifying experience further reinforces the sense that something is very wrong.

From the moment she rises the following morning, her every step seems dogged by a malign presence which lives within Gaudlin’s walls. Eliza realises that if she and the children are to survive its violent attentions, she must first uncover the hall’s long-buried secrets and confront the demons of its past

Monday, October 29, 2018

Haunted October- Recommended Reads!

Here we are- the last week of #halloweenreadingmonth
That doesn't mean the creepy reading needs to stop!
Here are 6 recommendations to see the Halloween season out and stir your blood as we head into the winter holidays!
Did I miss your favorite scary book? Leave it in the comments!

The Haunted Looking Glass is the late Edward Gorey's selection of his favorite tales of ghosts, ghouls, and grisly goings-on. It includes stories by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, M. R. James, W. W. Jacobs, and L. P. Hartley, among other masters of the fine art of making the flesh creep, all accompanied by Gorey's inimitable illustrations.

Iris and her father are the last of the Villarca line. For generations, the Villarcas have been haunted by "her." Her origins are a mystery, but her purpose is clear: when a Villarca marries, when they love, when they have a child—she comes, and death follows.

Confined in their lonely mansion on Dartmoor, Iris makes her father a promise—to remain alone all her life. But when she's fifteen, Iris breaks that promise. She dares to fall in love, and the consequences of her choice are immediate and heartbreaking.

“He said murder-suicide.”

When Rosaline Lysgaard hears those words over the phone she doesn’t realize that she is about to inherit much more than her father’s estate and money. For the first time since she was 13 she must return home to Skummel Manor, with the hope of figuring out what really happened to her father.

Together with her, emotionally disturbed, twin brother Wren, she discovers a dark and disturbing family history. However, something besides secrets lurks in the corners of her childhood home; something sinister that wants what only Rosaline and Wren have to give; their Lysgaard blood line.

Rosaline must dig through her family’s long and sordid past to stop a centuries old curse from taking more lives. She must also sort through and deal with her own past; was the man in the shadows real, or a figment of her childhood imagination? Rosaline knows she doesn’t have a lot of time before the insanity that lingers in her DNA causes her and Wren to follow in their father’s footsteps.

A classic Victorian vampire novella, which influenced Bram Stoker's later treatment of the vampire mythos in Dracula.

Lucy Acosta's mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They're inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she's ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother's voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin's sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations

Two decades have passed since an inferno swept through Elmbridge High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear. The main suspect: Kaitlyn, "the girl of nowhere."

Kaitlyn's diary, discovered in the ruins of Elmbridge High, reveals the thoughts of a disturbed mind. Its charred pages tell a sinister version of events that took place that tragic night, and the girl of nowhere is caught in the center of it all. But many claim Kaitlyn doesn't exist, and in a way, she doesn't - because she is the alter ego of Carly Johnson.

Carly gets the day. Kaitlyn has the night. It's during the night that a mystery surrounding the Dead House unravels and a dark, twisted magic ruins the lives of each student that dares touch it.

Haunted October- Nightingale by Amy Lukavics

At seventeen, June Hardie is everything a young woman in 1951 shouldn’t be—independent, rebellious, a dreamer. June longs to travel, to attend college and to write the dark science fiction stories that consume her waking hours. But her parents only care about making June a better young woman. Her mother grooms her to be a perfect little homemaker while her father pushes her to marry his business partner’s domineering son. When June resists, her whole world is shattered—suburbia isn’t the only prison for different women…
June’s parents commit her to Burrow Place Asylum, aka the Institution. With its sickening conditions, terrifying staff and brutal “medical treatments,” the Institution preys on June’s darkest secrets and deepest fears. And she’s not alone. The Institution terrorizes June’s fragile roommate, Eleanor, and the other women locked away within its crumbling walls. Those who dare speak up disappear…or worse. Trapped between a gruesome reality and increasingly sinister hallucinations, June isn’t sure where her nightmares end and real life begins. But she does know one thing: in order to survive, she must destroy the Institution before it finally claims them all

This wasn't my favorite Amy Lukavics novel, but it was still really good. I enjoy how every one of her books is so different from the others.

It doesn't take long for you to figure out the "twist" in this novel if you stop telling yourself, "no way, it can't be xxxxxxx" because it is, it for sure is.

This isn't a ghost story or a monster story. This isn't devils, zombies or a haunted house. This is science fiction horror- there is body horror and this book has gore. It won't be for everyone and if it hadn't been written so well or by this particular author it wouldn't be for me.

The MC June is almost unlikeable and her parents are the worst. The girls she meets at the asylum are interesting and unique, but I wish the author had us spend a little more time with them,

Nurse Joya is truly terrifying and June's "fiancee" Robert is a specific kind of creeper.

There was a surprising LGBTQ+ element to this I really liked.

Trigger warnings for:  physical and mental abuse, gore and body horror.

A great read to add for this time of year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Haunted October- Top Ten Locations that were the REAL Villain

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/ where every week we showcase our top ten (fill in the blank). This week was Villains. I have chosen my top ten favorite books where the scariest part, the biggest bad guy- was the location or house. 

A creepy cabin residing in also creepy plains

Beldame House

A booby-trapped old French Palace

Hill House

Literally the title

The House on Ash Tree Lane

Kemper House

The Oregon Trail

Rose Red

The historical Usher home

And one extra:

The Nightside

Friday, October 19, 2018

Haunted October- Recommended Reads!

One week closer to the day! 
Can't get into the Halloween mood?
Here are this week's Recommended Reads!
Have a recommend? Leave it in the comments!

This tale of a young married couple who are harboring a dark secret is packed with dread and terror, as they and their daughter move into a brand new apartment building built next to a graveyard. As strange and terrifying occurrences begin to pile up, people in the building begin to move out one by one, until the young family is left alone with someone... or something... lurking in the basement. The psychological horror builds moment after moment, scene after scene, culminating with a conclusion that will make you think twice before ever going into a basement again

Can any soul survive?
Regarded as the Mount Everest of haunted houses, Belasco House has witnessed scenes of almost unimaginable horror and depravity. Two previous expeditions to investigate its secrets met with disaster, the participants destroyed by murder, suicide or insanity. Now a new investigation has been mounted - four strangers, each with his or her own reason for daring the unknown torments and temptations of the mansion.

In a vast, mysterious house on the cliffs near Dover, the Silver family is reeling from the hole punched into its heart. Lily is gone and her twins, Miranda and Eliot, and her husband, the gentle Luc, mourn her absence with unspoken intensity. All is not well with the house, either, which creaks and grumbles and malignly confuses visitors in its mazy rooms, forcing winter apples in the garden when the branches should be bare. Generations of women inhabit its walls. And Miranda, with her new appetite for chalk and her keen sense for spirits, is more attuned to them than she is to her brother and father. She is leaving them slowly -

Slipping away from them -

And when one dark night she vanishes entirely, the survivors are left to tell her story.

"Miri I conjure you "

This is a spine-tingling tale that has Gothic roots but an utterly modern sensibility. Told by a quartet of crystalline voices, it is electrifying in its expression of myth and memory, loss and magic, fear and love.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Haunted October- The Ravenous by Amy Lukavics

From the outside, the Cane family looks like they have it all. A successful military father, a loving mother and five beautiful teenage daughters. But on the inside, life isn't quite so idyllic: the Cane sisters can barely stand each other, their father is always away, and their neglectful mother struggles with addiction and depression.

When their youngest and most beloved sister, Rose, dies in a tragic accident, Mona Cane and her sisters are devastated. And when she is brought back from the dead, they are relieved. But soon they discover that Rose must eat human flesh to survive, and when their mother abandons them, the sisters will find out just how far they'll go to keep their family together.

I have gobbled up all of Amy Lukavics novels. I wish she wrote more and faster, but then again, if she did, would I love them as much? I got this the day it came out and put off reading it for two days because I knew I would finish it in 24 hours.

This book stayed with me for days after I finished it. It was creepy , gross, funny, a family drama, a new spin on a zombie book and a YA all rolled in one. There was no romance which is always great. It was a little scary a lot distributing and dealt with addiction and abuse within a family unit.

The main character was hard to like and hard to sympathize with, which I really enjoyed. The descriptions of making their baby sister food with human meat in it also made me hungry and sick at the same time.

I do think that the synopsis didn't need to tell us that Rose becomes a zombie- that could have been a surprise. But it didn't matter. I still fully enjoyed the novel.

I gasped, laughed, cringed and sat with my mouth open for a few seconds. It was the perfect start to the Halloween reading season.

Haunted October- Top Ten Haunted Libraries/Bookstores I want to Visit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by http://www.thatartsyreadergirl.com/top-ten-tuesday/
Where every week we showcase a top ten (insert here)
This week is top ten bookstores or libraries you've always wanted to visit.
This week, with the theme of the month; I've chosen haunted libraries and bookstores.

Willard Library

"The Grey Lady ghost was first reported to have been seen in Willard Library in the late 1930s by a custodian. Since that time, those looking—and not looking—for the apparition have reported unexplained events and sights."


 Julia Ideson Building


Parmly Billings Library

"Parmly Billings Library was founded in 1901, opening as "The Parmly Billings Memorial Library," in memory of town founder Frederick Billings' 25-year-old son, Parmly, who suddenly died while in Billings, Montana, looking after his father's businesses. The original library was located at 2822 Montana Ave., in the beautiful stone building that is now the home of The Western Heritage Center."


Monmouth University Library

"Designed by the same team behind the New York Public Library, this beaux-arts-style library lives on campus at Monmouth University. What used to be a summer home for Murry and his wife, Leonie, is now a studious haunt complete with a ghostly lady in white who waits until the clock strikes midnight to make her way down the staircase."

Morelia Public Library, Michoacán, Mexico

"Library staff say that a “nun in blue” has haunted the 16th-century premises for many years. Director Rigoberto Cornejo said in Monterrey’s El Norte newspaper, “When I leave the building, I feel the sensation of someone following me. In fact, I can even hear the footsteps.”"

Longleat House, Red Library, Wiltshire

"Longleat in Wiltshire is probably better known for its wildlife park than it is its ghosts - but the house does have some history. The house was built in 1567 by Sir John Thynne on the site of a former Augustinian Priory and named after the artificial stream "leat" that was built to feed a watermill. The house is still in the hands on the Thynne family - namely Alexander George Thynne - 7th Marquis of Bath."

Haslam's Book Store

"At least as old as the 1920s, the building that houses the bookstore (est. 1933) is said to have literary poltergeists in residence. Books have flown off the shelves, mostly those in the metaphysical section or those by author Jack Kerouac, who often visited the store during his lifetime. Cold spots have been detected as well. Some maintain that one of the ghosts in residence is Kerouac himself, who died in 1969."

Moravian Book Shop

"Founded in 1745, the Moravian Book Shop is the oldest continuously operating bookstore in the country and home to the Moravian College student bookstore. For 273 years, book lovers near and far have looked to the Moravian Book Shop for its curated selection of books and iconic Moravian- and Bethlehem-themed gifts."


Rivendell Books

"Rivendell Books’ website states that it is a “bibliophile’s paradise”. Perhaps this ghost got confused after death, thinking he’d already made it to heaven. There are worse places to spend an eternity than a bookstore."

Haunted Bookshop in Melbourne

This one isn't actually a "Haunted" bookstore. But it does ghost tours
"The creepy Haunted Bookshop in Melbourne is loaded with the occult and obscure. Books include such eclectic topics as Magic, Aleister Crowley, Witchcraft, Satanism, Anton LaVey, Divination, Tarot, Ghosts, Vampires & Aliens."