I can't be the only one who organizes my TBR list by vibes and seasons. We do it with candles, and books are no different. This month, I challenged myself to finish a handful of books that are creepy, spooky, and evoke those fall vibes we're all after. You need to get your hands on these, so read on!
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White
Elizabeth is a young girl in an orphanage, starving and beaten, when she is adopted by the Frankenstein family. She'll be well-cared for and has a shot at happiness and a successful life. But it comes with one condition. They have a young son about the same age, quiet and odd, and his name is Victor. Elizabeth's new life depends upon her ability to calm Victor through his moods, his rage, and to satiate his every whim. Despite the situation, Elizabeth and Victor become inseparable. But as they grow up, Elizabeth finds her world growing darker.
This is not a complete retelling of the classic. I like to think of it more as "Frankenstein"-adjacent. You do not have to have read the enormity of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" to enjoy and understand this book (although I recommend it at some point - because it's fantastic).
The Witch Finder's Sister by Beth Underdown
In the mood for witchy feminist historical fiction? (Honestly, when isn't a good time for this?)
This book is based on IRL witch hunter, Matthew Hopkins. It's 1645, and his recently-widowed sister, Alice, moves home to be closer to him. And when she arrives, there are rumors. Whispers. Her brother has began hunting down witches near their small Essex town, and she struggles to reconcile this.
The book begins at the end. With the names. And with Alice, locked in a room and contemplating all the moves she took that led her there. She picks up a piece of paper and a pen, and begins to write it all down. This is that story.
The Loney by Andrew Michael Hurley
Stephen King liked this book. If his opinion is of the utmost importance, then happy reading. But if that's not enough to convince you (as it wasn't for myself), then I'll explain further.
Smith was a young boy when his family took him to an Easter pilgrimage to the Loney, which is a desolate village along the English coastline. They were searching for a miracle to heal Smith's brother's disability. Things went wrong, and the events that followed have haunted Smith his entire life. As an adult, he hears a body has washed up near the Loney, and he finds himself determined to unearth all the dark secrets of the people who reside there.
Think "The Haunting of Hill House" meets "The Woman In Black." It's got English moors and mist and foggy fields, childhood ghosts made adult nightmares, and that prickly feeling of something watching you from the darkest corner of the room.
Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks
It's mid-October, and fall feels are in full swing. Everywhere I look right now, orange, leafy, pumpkin-y aesthetics are taking over. It's become the natural order of things. This graphic novel is all of those warm, fuzzy feelings we get from apple cider on a foggy day at the pumpkin patch, carving with friends, PSLs, apple picking, reading by the fire, and watching "Hocus Pocus."
Deja and Josiah are best friends, and every year they work through the fall season at the local pumpkin patch. And they love it. Everything about it - the corn maze, the cider and donuts, the crisp air, dungarees and flannels, kettle corn, pumpkins lining the fields - it's their place. You know those rituals you develop with your best friend? Well, Deja and Josiah have rituals, too. And it's also their final day to enjoy it.
Pumpkinheads is about two best friends' last day together in their favorite place in the entire world. They have lots of goodbyes to say, and a lot to do before it's over. Oh, and there's also a little secret between them and not a lot of time to admit to it. It's funny and cute and was just so relaxing to read.
The plot works so seamlessly with the illustrations and colors to make this a fun time. It likely won't take long to finish it since it is a graphic novel, but definitely take the time to really enjoy the artwork! Nostalgic autumnal feels are on the way with this one.