The books you'll want to read.
M. Verano’s DIARY OF A HAUNTING is a creepy little haunted house/possession tale told by a teenage girl via a series of blog posts. The mechanics of Verano’s haunting are quite clever, and while the book takes a while to get its scare on, the back half contains a heaping helping of nightmare fodder. Verano uses the electronic journal format to good effect, as you’re never quite sure whether the narrator is reliable, and the editor’s notes that bookend the blog give the whole thing a found-footage feel. I don’t think Verano earned her (his?) ending, but DIARY OF A HAUNTING is nevertheless an entertaining summer read.
GATHERING DEEP by Lisa Maxwell is the follow-up to SWEET UNREST, a book I did not read. That said, I was still able to pick up fairly quickly on what was happening and enjoy this installment. In SWEET UNREST it is discovered that Chloe’s mother is really Thisbe, a dark practitioner of Voodoo, and Chloe is under Thisbe’s spell. Thisbe then proceeds to try and kill several of Chloe’s friends, which obviously does not go over well with Chloe. In the second book, GATHERING DEEP, Chloe and her friend Lucy, along with their mentor Mama Legba and her nephew, try to uncover Thisbe’s secret past and prepare themselves for her return. In the meantime Chloe’s boyfriend Piers goes missing, and all signs point to Thisbe as the culprit. This book was a fun read—a straightforward adventure through the world of New Orleans Voodoo practitioners and otherworldly magic. The setting was atmospheric, and the flashbacks to Thisbe’s time as a slave were very well done.
Lori Rader-Day’s LITTLE PRETTY THINGS is the story of Juliet Townsend, a former high-school track star turned cut-rate-motel maid. Juliet’s life is turned upside-down when her estranged friend and teammate, Maddy Bell, blows back into town only to get herself murdered at Juliet’s place of employment. The mystery at the heart of LITTLE PRETTY THINGS is a decently twisty small-town whodunit with a slightly left-of-center heroine-slash-amateur sleuth (not many kleptomaniac protagonists on the shelves these days). Rader-Day both effectively conveys and cleverly capitalizes on the sense of dread that often descends when the past comes to call; not everybody remembers high school fondly, and even fewer are willing (and able) to let bygones be bygones. What really sets the book apart, though, is how perfectly she captures the singularly strange and complicated experience that is mourning the death of a former friend.