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Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Spooky Settings

 

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Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. This week’s topic is: Favorite Spooky Settings! So while I would never want to actually visit these locations, they exist in my mind for they were richly created, atmospheric and very sinister at times.

 

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Stephen King became too wordy for me a long time ago, so I now stick to his short stories for I feel he writes them very well.  Some authors write a whole book and you still don’t have a fully fleshed out character, so I have always felt short story writers who can pull you in quickly are the best authors. These four stories have very dark undertones to them, and will stay in your mind afterwards, for they are based enough in the real world to make you squirm.

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This gives me an excuse to yet again bring up one of my favorite graphic novels, Locke & Key! The story takes place on the east coast in the fictional town of Lovecraft, Massachusetts. The Locke family estate, Keyhouse and it’s grounds, are eerie and atmospheric with a cave and well house being significant to the story.

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The picturesque setting the of the seemingly sweet fairy tale Beautiful Darkness veers off course quickly into a macabre, unsettling and gruesome allegory about society.  Wait until you see where these creatures originated!

Through the Woods

Through the Woods is a short story collection that incorporates ominous woods into all the stories to great effect. The sinister wolf is lurking behind every tree, for even if you make it through the woods safely several times, all he has to do is wait for that one time he does catch you!

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Impressive collection of horror/fantasy/paranormal short stories that were all inspired by old movies or books. The inspiration of each story is listed at the end of each story, but the fun is in guessing before you know for sure. The settings for each story are perfectly unsettling and unique.

 

-Nancy

 

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Wytches

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Snyder, Scott & Jock. Wytches. 2015.

The Rooks Family moves to Litchfield, NH, a remote town in which they hope to escape the trauma that their daughter Sailor has experienced recently. They live in a secluded home, in which the father Charlie can work on his best selling children’s books, while the mother who is in a wheelchair works as a nurse at a nearby hospital. We find out early that Sailor had been terrorized by a bully at their previous town, and while out in the woods, the girl threatening Sailor was grabbed and dragged into a tree by monstrous hands. As the story sounds unbelievable, some people assume Sailor killed her.

Mysterious people appear and strange situations begin to occur to the family. Sailor ends up in the woods by her new house after a stressful situation at school, and is dragged into the Wytches lair, along with her uncle. When her parents report her missing, a search party looks for her, but the Sheriff doesn’t seem especially concerned. A strange vigilante that had previously hurt the father, helps Charlie obtains clues and weaponry that will help him rescue his daughter from the underground den. While his rescue attempt is successful, all hell breaks loose at home and in the town now that the secret is out. The Wytches come to the surface and secret allegiances are revealed. An epic fight ensues and sacrifices are made, and the story is set up to continue as this will be a series.

The artwork is unique, but I don’t especially mean that in a good way. The layout and illustrations were fine, but the paint splatters that were overlaid on all of the pictures became quite distracting. While this overprint technique was supposed to convey a mind-bending surrealness to the story, it failed. Paint blotches do not equal scariness.

While an intriguing premise this book fell flat for me. The characters were annoying, and there were several contrived scenes.  How people become pledged to the coven seemed indiscriminate, and while I hope the Wytches are vanquished, I won’t be sticking around for the final showdown.

-Nancy

 

Beautiful Darkness

Macabre.
Unsettling.
Gruesome.
I loved it.

This seemingly sweet graphic novel starts out with a lovely young woman having tea with a prince, and it is going splendidly well, that is until great globs of red stuff starts falling on them. As everyone runs for safety, the view shifts away for a long shot, and you see little creatures pouring out of the orifices of a dead girl. What?!

Aurora takes charge and finds food and shelter for all the little doll like creatures, and tries to befriend the woodland animals. They all work together and it seems like utopia (well, except for the decomposing human girl in the woods) for awhile. But all that shines is not gold. Soon the veneer of politeness starts to wear off, and what at first seemed like a fantasy story slips towards horror.

Another doll Zelie emerges as a leader, with many catering to her every cruel whim. Zelie’s manipulations lead to many of the tiny beings turning on one another to stay in her favor and some accepting their deaths willingly. Even Aurora falls prey to her for a bit, turning against her friend the mouse, when in actuality she is upset on how she fell for Zelie’s deceit.

Only a few besides Aurora survive outside Zelie’s influence- Jane, who is independent and moves away, and an unstable doll who hides in the skull of the girl eating maggots and slipping into insanity. Aurora eventually follows Jane to a mysterious woodcutter’s cottage, whom you will wonder about- what is his connection to the dead girl? When Zelie and her dwindling entourage arrive at the cottage, Aurora then makes a radical decision.

Allegories abound in this book- make of it what you will. Of this I am certain, you will leaf through it several times, reading even deeper meaning into the story each time you look carefully at the watercolor panels. Enjoy….

-Nancy

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Through the Woods

This collection of spooky short stories was outstanding! All five stories were gorgeously rendered, atmospheric and sinister in different ways.

Our Neighbor’s House– Each reader will come to their own conclusion as to what happened to the three sisters and who was at the door.

A Lady’s Hands Are Cold– The ghost’s song was beautifully haunting, I actually sang it aloud.

His Face All Red– Only the younger brother knows what really happened in the woods, and no one would believe him if he told the truth. Love the open ended conclusion, for you don’t why or who replaced the older brother. This was my favorite story and the artwork reminded me of Nimona, illustrated by Noelle Stevenson.

My Friend Janna– Another case of a switch, with the mysterious red pulse hovering above each girl in turn.

The Nesting Place– This story was the most obvious of the eerie stories, with the sister finding out the truth about her brother’s fiancé, but not being able to truly stop it.

Conclusion- Nice little twist of the knife in frightening you in the future. Morale of the story is to never let down your guard…

-Nancy

 

Carroll, Emily. Through The Woods. 2014.

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