Bookending Autumn: Grimoire Notes

This tag prompt comes courtesy of Lauren over at Northern Plunder as part of the Bookending Autumn Event! 


Sunday 6th October

Grimoire Notes

List 5 books you’d recommend this horror season + a mini review as to why

Into the drowning deep by Mira Grant 

This book ticked so many boxes for me. It was creepy and well-paced and had LGBT+ characters and autistic representation and mermaids that eat people. I mean, really, what more could a girl ask for? Crafted in a kind of multi-textual manner for which I am an absolute sucker including discussions of a documentary that I DESPERATELY WANTED TO WATCH, Into The Drowning Deep was realistic enough with its deep-rooted scientific discussions as to be deeply disturbing. Seriously, reading this on a boat would be an EXPERIENCE. 

And I cannot reiterate enough: Killer. Mermaids. 

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix 

You might notice a theme in my list here, apparently I have a thing for possession horror. I only noticed while reviewing the final list, that THREE of my five recs are demon related and I have no shame. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is a fantastic book that deals with teenage friendship, sexual assault culture, the worries and fears of teenage girls as they go through puberty, and what it might be like if your best friend was one day possessed by a demon. It also has hands down the best cover ever, the thing is a masterpiece. 

The Shining by Stephen King 

The ideal book to read as the weather gets colder and you fancy more metaphorical chills, this is another book that ticks the list of ‘Charlotte’s favourite horror themes’:

  • Haunted house
  • Sort of possession 
  • Slowly losing one’s mind
  • Ghosts
  • Isolation 
  • Breakdown of relationships
  • ‘This will be good for us’ followed by it definitely NOT being good for anyone involved. 

The atmosphere in this book was incredible, and it was fantastic to read the book that inspired one of the most iconic horror movies of all time. The Overlook hotel is horrifying and winding and stands entirely alone atop a snowy mountain, what could possibly go wrong? It’s super good, and you should definitely read it. 

Come Closer by Sara Gran 

Oh look another possession narrative what a surprise I am so very original. 

Seriously though this one stands out for its premise alone: this one is from the point of view of the person being possessed. It is unclear throughout whether Amanda, the novel’s protagonist, is suffering a mental collapse as a result of her unhappiness in life or if the demonic friend that has haunted her dreams since childhood is actually real and taking over her body and life. The idea of losing control in such a way is terrifying, and we see as everything she holds dear is destroyed and her attempts to help herself come, perhaps, too little too late. It’s a short book perfect for long autumn nights, though be aware if you read it in your house you will inevitably notice tapping in the walls. 

Don’t worry, it’s just the pipes. 


The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty 

This story is fantastic. I’ve seen the movie, read the book, seen it on stage and watched the TV show inspired by all of the above and I loved every version. The oldest title on this list, published in 1973, it has aged tremendously well and continues to be genuinely frightening to this day.  There’s just something about the violence, distress and sexualisation of most possession narratives being forced upon a young girl that is profoundly disturbing. I 100% recommend it if you’re hunting down a good horror read, even if you’ve already seen the movie! 

Surprise everyone! Extra content!

I have included some recommendations from the one, the only, LAUREN! That’s right, my fiancee is being featured on the blog and you lucky bastards get to read it! Lauren is a huge horror fan, so I wanted to get her input and ask for a few book suggestions that I haven’t reviewed or read, to broaden all of our horror horizons.

With the exception of Come Closer which we both love, and which Lauren has also included as part of her top 5!

A brief disclaimer: Lauren reads everything I write, but has confessed she has no idea how to write or phrase a review. So I just wrote down everything she said in the hopes that it would create decent content, please enjoy. 

Come Closer by Sara Gran 

It made me feel uncomfortable. You’re not just going to put my notes are you? You’re just going to type it in a better way? (Here she looks over my shoulder). You’re a dick.

I know it’s on your list as well, but I also really enjoyed it!

  • The story was really creepy overall, it gave me goosebumps with the way the character saw her own actions. 
  • The main character has such a normal life that it feels like it could happen to anyone. 
  • She wasn’t even fully aware it was happening for most of the book. 
  • It was really interesting to read the perspective of the person who is possessed. 
  • I think what made me really scared was the lack of control she had. Because we all experience anger at other people, but the idea that you could black out and lose control completely is scary. 
  • I liked how especially in the early stages it could be possession or it could be mental illness and the link between how the two of them look and feel. It seems that throughout history with famous possession cases and the knowledge we have nowadays we realise that this could have been mental illness instead of demons. 
  • While I don’t necessarily believe in possession I went through a period where being possessed or having those around me being possessed was my BIGGEST fear. This book brought that feeling back somewhat, which showed how powerful it was. 

We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

This book sums up why I don’t want children. (Most of the reasons). 

  • Interesting because of the lack of power the mother had in her own home, with her own child. 
  • (Here something fell over upstairs and we collectively died)
  • Not a traditional horror book, more psychological which shows how far reaching the horror genre can be.
  • No spoilers, but all I’ll say is it’s very relevant to things that happen today and the way the world is now. 
  • It is written in a way that I could put myself in her shoes.
  • It sounds like a nightmare to live like that, with this thing you created being this evil.
  • Just a side note as well, the film is really good. 
  • It has Tilda Swinton and Ezra Miller, nothing more needs to be said. 
  • It’s very ‘The Omen’ and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ esque.
  • These things were happening with this kid, and it was obvious things weren’t right, but people just refused to acknowledge it, which adds to the lack of power because the Mother isn’t sure if she’s just imagining how bad things are. 

Unto Leviathan/Ship Of Fools by Richard Paul Russo

Just a note, I haven’t finished it yet. I’m half way through.

(Lauren was in fact reading it on her phone during the interval of a concert so I’d say it’s pretty good) 

I love a good sci-fi, I love a good horror book, it’s just really good. Don’t put really good, I need a better adjective. 

  • Mass Effect meets Alien, two of my favourite things
  • (Briefly leaves to get a cookie)
  • I think part of it that is really interesting is that on this massive expedition to find a new world, one of the people in power is the Bishop, and the church. 
  • Wait no I wasn’t done. Add more to that bullet point please. I can’t work under these conditions! Do you not know who I am?!
  • Pt 2: Which isn’t something you often see, especially in a sci-fi novel – the acknowledgement of God or a higher power as possible. 
  • It’s really eerie, and you can tell something is going to go horribly wrong, and it’s also a very slow-burn story which I’m enjoying. 
  • I hope the end is good. 

The Long Walk by Stephen King as Richard Bachman

It’s quite unlike other Stephen King books that I’ve read. I know he did write it under a pseudonym, I’m not sure if these two things are related. 

  • The plot is really simple but effective. 
  • It’s quite clever how he can take something like walking for a long time and make it scary. 
  • I really liked that it was never explained why this competition takes place, or how it came about. I know some people might hate that, 
  • I enjoyed how you got to see the descent into madness, and how the different characters react to the situation. 
  • (Alexa went off here, we’re still not sure why but it scared the crap out of us)

The Island Of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells

It’s a classic! And I do confess I read it because of Orphan Black. 

  • Not everyone might find it scary or read it as a horror book, it can be more sci-fi. But I read it as something that I found quite disturbing so that’s why it’s on my list.
  • It kind of shows the darker side of what humans are capable of. 
  • I think something about the idea of people being evil and the idea of experimentation on animals and people really makes me feel on edge. 
  • A part that made it even creepier, or scarier, was that people doing these sorts of experiments has been a part of actual history. It could still happen now, it probably is. Maybe not to this extent, but still. 
  • It was quite a short book, but a lot happens in it so it’s good for a quick read. I lose concentration sometimes, like a fish. So I appreciated this. 

I asked: Is there anything else you would like to say to the readers of Sapphistication?

Lauren thought about this for a few seconds, then said “I hope they enjoy the books I recommended, and don’t think they’re crap.”

Pure poetry. 

I love her so much. 

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