Happy Halloweek, BookHivers! If you’re anything like me, and you love this spooky holiday, you know how lovely it can be to indulge in a particularly chilling tale around this time of year. Gone Girl was all the rage last year, but if you’re looking for another haunting title, then this is the blog post for you.
Of course, there are always the classics: a Poe story or two, or Dracula or Frankenstein. (If you haven’t read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, your life will only be improved by it!) But if you’re looking for something a little more contemporary, I would a million times recommend Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s The Shadow of the Wind (original text in Spanish, La Sombra del Viento, translated into English by Lucia Graves). This book is without a doubt in my top five favorites. I would even venture to say that it changed my life!
The Shadow of the Wind is set in Barcelona right after the Spanish Civil War. It follows the protagonist Daniel Siempre and his life’s connection to a fictional novel of the same title by the author Carax. Daniel finds himself followed by a figure that looks exactly like Carax’s devil; an image that’s sure to keep you up at night. Not only is this novel thrilling and chilling, full of love, adventure, passion and suspense, but the writing is also devastatingly beautiful. I only wish I knew enough Spanish to read it in its original tongue! And don’t just take it from me; Doug Goldring, who recommended the book, says “Shadow took up a place in my mind different from anything id ever read. It felt mythical and otherworldly while remaining deeply personal. I imagined the whole world in black and white and gray, in deep Browns and blues. It was very moving and very haunting.”
Going back to Gone Girl, my dear friend and roommate Delia Kemph just finished Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places, which is immediately next on my list thanks to her. She couldn’t put it down (and who doesn’t want to read a captivating novel like that), so I asked her to tell me (and you!) what she experienced reading it.
Delia: I recently finished reading Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (author of the wildly successful novel Gone Girl, and screenwriter of its cinematic adaptation). Having initially swiped the book from my roommate’s bookcase [that’s me!] for something to casually read on the train, I wasn’t expecting to be so totally riveted, but Flynn has a unique way of capturing unassuming readers and sweeping them up into frighteningly fascinating worlds. I was hooked from the moment I read the first sentence.
Dark Places has all the elements of a compelling mystery—unrelentingly brutal murders, multiple suspects, seedy strip clubs, etc. But what most captivated me about this book was Flynn’s brilliant use of character perspective-switching and time period-switching from chapter to chapter. By employing this device, Flynn provides her readers the opportunity to follow certain characters on the day leading up to the murders (25 years prior to the plot unfolding in the present day) while simultaneously following the protagonist’s journey to uncover the truth about that fateful long-ago night. By the time I was about 50 pages from the end of Dark Places, I found myself speculating on its outcome fervently and loudly, no matter what environment I happened to be in—that’s how invested I was. I also missed my subway stop on two different occasions because my nose was buried so deeply in the book. 10/10 would recommend. Happy Halloween.
Delia Kemph is an actor and director who recently graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She believes in the power of comedy, mashed potatoes, and correct grammar.
Thankfully this book is already on my shelf for me to snag as soon as I’m finished writing this, and for the rest of you, grab it grab it grab it!
If you’ve read either of these, other Flynn thrillers, or any other Halloweentime novels that we must must must read, comment below! Or even better, perhaps you’re writing one of your own. Be sure to let us know- our beta readers are hungry for some tricks and treats.
Your prompt this week is, appropriately: “Dark, darker, and darkest still.”
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Tallie Gabriel is an actor, writer, and BookHive social media maven. She’s a member of InViolet Theatre and works with BEDLAM Theatre in NYC.
She currently lives in Astoria and at the Strand Bookstore.