Tag Archives: Horror

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (5 Star Review by Ananya B. ’23)

The Picture of Dorian GrayThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a philosophical novel featuring main characters Basil Hallward, Lord Henry Wotton, and of course, Dorian Gray. Basil Hallward is an artist who paints a portrait of Dorian Gray, and Lord Henry is a friend of his who has extremely questionable morals and ideals, unlike those that Dorian has been exposed to before. I loved this book, mostly because of the characters themselves.

First, we have Dorian Gray, who starts off the novel as a young, naive, child-like character, but he undergoes many changes and a great deal of character development throughout the novel, mainly under the influence of Lord Henry. I honestly cannot tell if I loved or hated Lord Henry, who brings up numerous witty and intelligent insights and ways of thinking. He corrupts Dorian with his deplorable deeds and persuasive words.

Next, there is Basil, who is the foil to Lord Henry, serving as the angel to his devil. The relationships between the characters, their interactions, and how they influence each other was engrossing, although I would have liked to have seen more of Basil and Dorian.

My one main criticism of the book is that Wilde sometimes goes on long tangents describing furniture, tapestries, and other such things. However, Wilde explores the themes of depravity, corruption, and hedonism in an enthralling and captivating way, forcing the mind to think about different philosophies and their effect on a person such as Dorian. —Review by Ananya B. ‘23

View all my reviews

The Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher (Review by Hita T. ’23)

The Twisted OnesThe Twisted Ones by T. Kingfisher
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Melissa, known to close family and friends as Mouse, only had one job: clean her late grandmother’s house in North Carolina. Her grandmother was unfortunately a hoarder, but she could clean it up. No problem at all. However, in the process, she discovers her late step-father’s journal, which is filled with seemingly nonsensical rants. Mouse is quick to disregard the rambling, chalking it up to his deteriorating health, but when strange happenings start to occur, it becomes increasingly clear that perhaps his journal held more than just the ramblings of an old man. Driven to figure out what’s going on and spooked by an unplanned night stroll (courtesy of her dog Bongo), Mouse begins to uncover secrets in the woods, and the deeper she digs into it, the more terrifying it becomes…
Kingfisher does a brilliant job of spinning a modern take on the folklore of The White People, as it is horrifying yet entertaining at the same time. The narrative is filled with realistic humor and conversations and during the more action packed scenes, the reaction seems to be just right; there is no exaggeration of fear nor is there apathy towards the events. Even though I’m not the most avid horror reader, I absolutely loved this book and would definitely recommend it. —Review by Hita T. ’23

View all my reviews

Devolution by Max Brooks (review by Mrs. Vaughan)

Devolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch MassacreDevolution: A Firsthand Account of the Rainier Sasquatch Massacre by Max Brooks
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A small group of Seattleites populate a new community on the slopes of Mt. Rainier, enjoying both the beauty of their natural surroundings and excellent electronic connectivity. Necessities are delivered regularly by helicopter, which can also ferry them to first class medical attention if needed. Perfect, right? Not so much when Mt. Rainier erupts unleashing disaster and cutting off these pilgrims from their supply chain. Worse yet – the shrinking natural environment has precipitated a conflict between them, and folklore become real: a small but hungry band of Bigfoot.
Fans of Max Brooks’ World War Z may be a bit disappointed in his long-awaited effort – another fictionalized oral history of Armageddon, just a different setting. Still, this sophomore attempt is, like his first, cleverly written. Here the oral histories take backseat to the found journal of resident Kate Holland, creating a more consistent through line than Z. Brooks has done his legwork (again) and weaves in much historic, folkloric, and scientific research about the Yeti, the Sasquatch and less familiar versions of the oversized primate. Characterization is varied, dialogue rings true and the suspense is palpable. True, this is not World War Z, but Brooks’ fans and horror fans won’t want to miss it! — Mrs. Vaughan

View all my reviews

We Have Always Lived Here by Shirley Jackson (review by Andrew R. ’17)

We Have Always Lived in the CastleWe Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

There’s a malicious presence in the Blackwood estate, the imposing structure on the outskirts of town inhabited by the only surviving members of a reclusive aristocratic family. It might be wheelchair-bound Uncle Julian, who constantly relives the day most of his family dropped dead of arsenic poisoning. It might be Constance, who hasn’t left the estate in six years and is fanatically devoted to the rules of etiquette. It might even be Merricat, the younger sister, who surrounds the estate with wards and totems to keep the rest of the world at bay. Jackson is best-known today for “The Lottery,” her horrifying story of small-town insularity gone wrong, but of all her notoriously creepy works this one deserves the most attention. Its suspense works in two directions: the reader discovers unsettling details about the past even as the narrative creeps toward a chilling climax, leaving the present moment doubly uncertain and doubly tense. The question of who sprinkled arsenic in the sugar bowl is pretty easily answered, but don’t be fooled—that apparent mystery is just a diversionary tactic to let more frightening revelations approach unnoticed. Even if horror isn’t your genre of choice, as Halloween approaches, Shirley Jackson’s novels are worth a try. – Andrew R. ’17

View all my reviews

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Haunting of Hill House The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

No one who’s read Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” is likely to forget it anytime soon: even sixty-five years after its explosive debut, the narrative of sinister small-town ritualism retains an impressive staying power that makes it as jarring to modern readers as it was to its original audiences. Shirley Jackson draws on the same arsenal of subtly suspenseful plot devices in her 1959 novel The Haunting of Hill House, in which the scarred and unstable Eleanor Vance joins a research party to live in a crumbling Victorian mansion for the summer. Part Edgar Allen Poe and part Henry James, this psychological ghost story isn’t quite a horror novel, at least not in the Stephen King sense; its terror, as in “The Lottery,” is so understated that the full force of the book’s scariest scenes isn’t likely to manifest itself until days after you’ve read them. (From what I’ve heard, Jackson’s last novel, We Have Always Lived in the Castle, ramps up this creepiness to an even more intense and chilling pitch.) For a haunted-house story, this novel is very strong, and rates only one notch below “The Lottery” in its quality and spine-tingling effect.

View all my reviews

The October Country by Ray Bradbury (review by Lauren L. ’17)

The October CountryThe October Country by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The October Country is a collection of short stories in which Bradbury explores the consequences of reality as we know it brushing against a supernatural world. Each story is different – some characters respond with fear, some a determined naiveté and courage. Through them, he explores the flaws and habits of humanity in general as well as of commonplace qualities of the average person. Not every story is as enjoyable as it might be, and in some ways, the stories are too predictable, not in the unimaginative zombie apocalypse or haunted house sort of way, but in that it’s fairly obvious where the plot is going. Nevertheless, they are worth the read. Anyone who enjoys both the supernatural and horror (even if it’s not all that scary) would enjoy The October Country. – Lauren L. ’17

View all my reviews

Night Film by Marisha Pessl (review by Mrs. Vaughan, Harker librarian)

Night FilmNight Film by Marisha Pessl
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Down on his luck journalist Scott McGrath teams up with perky coat-check girl Nora and spoiled, strung-out and fiercely handsome Hopper to investigate the mysterious death of the brilliant Ashley Cordova, daughter of reclusive horror film director Stanislas Cordova. Wending their way through the tangle of her father’s cultish fans, dysfunctional family history and their own personal baggage, the quirky trio stumbles upon circumstances that suggest abduction, black magic and murder. Pessl’s willingness to weave in trendy New York settings and fictional connections to the truly famous adds an immediacy to her story. So too, do the inclusion of pages featuring screen shots of websites, police reports and a myriad of other pretend, but authentic looking documents. For all that, the mystery is less satisfying than Pessl’s previous title, Special Topics in Calamity Physics which was brilliantly paced and highly believable. Unfortunately, the mystery of Miss Cordova fails to build and reads like one trip to sexy NYC destination to the next. Night Film will appeal to folks who want to feel like they are a part of the in crowd of Manhattan society – so much that this reader wonders if the positive reviews are a result of Pessl’s successful stroking of her critics’ egos. Still, patient readers who enjoy a creepy tale that doesn’t get especially bloody and isn’t big on intriguing twists or satisfying endings will enjoy Night Film. Let’s hope Pessl is back on her game next time around. – Mrs. Vaughan, Harker librarian

View all my reviews