The days are getting colder and the nights, longer. What better time to read a few scary tales set during the winter! For supernatural horror fans, here are a few books guaranteed to give you the shivers and keep you up at night—you’ve been warned!
“When dark creeps in and eats the light,/ Bury your fears on Sorry Night./ For in the winter’s blackest hours,/ Comes the feasting of the Vours,/ No one can see it, the life they stole,/ Your body’s here but not your soul…” With arguably the scariest beginning ever written, The Devouring by Simon Holt centers around the mysterious Vours: spirits that prey upon a person’s deepest fears and which can take possession of a body on Winter Solstice. Reggie discovers their existence through an old journal she finds at the bookstore and though intrigued, she dismisses the claims as the ranting of an unhinged mind. Little does Reggie know that soon, she will be battling the Vour that stole her brother’s body and to recover his soul, she will literally have to fight her brother’s worst fears. Unfortunately, her young brother Henry is fearful of many things and the nightmarish landscape Reggie has to endure to bring him back is pretty gruesome. Since the Vours are exploiting the primal fears that many people have (spiders, clowns, fear of drowning), readers may recognize some of their own as Reggie valiantly slays her way through each terrifying phobia. The first of a trilogy, The Devouring can be read as a stand-alone, though it does conclude with a twist. Fans eager to follow Reggie’s path to more horror, more gore, more Vours! will want to pick up book two, Soulstice and book three, Fearscape.
J. P. Hightman, the author of Spirit, is also a screenwriter and maybe that’s why this book feels like a horror movie placed in an historic New England setting. Tess and Tobias Goodraven are a young, wealthy married couple from a privileged background whose hobby is laying ghosts to rest. While most travelers are journeying to attend a winter carnival, the Goodravens are on the train to reach the spirit of an accused Salem witch. When the train is derailed, they’re thrown into mortal danger and the body count starts rising. Real horror fans will find the storyline traipses the “path of doom” that many characters in scary movies follow: they leave the scene, they walk through the woods. . . at night. . .in the snow. . .and the fog, people get separated, and *sigh* someone always has to walk into an empty, creepy building–in this case an old church, which is never a safe santuary! However, the malevolent witch ghost does manage to dispatch her victims in graphic and gory ways. Readers looking for a quick atmospheric read with lots of blood and supernatural violence, enjoy! Also recommended for those who like to mock characters’ poor decision-making skills. At least the author saves a big punch for the end.
A biting cold Canadian winter is the backdrop for Bonechiller by Graham McNamee. Told in the first person voice of Danny, a late night encounter with a supernatural beast would have him questioning his sanity, were it not for the mark on his arm and the slow chill creeping through his body. Then the same thing happens to his friend. As Danny delves into this mystery he discovers that teens have been disappearing during the coldest winters for generations and no one has dared suggest it could be anything more sinister than running away. Without the support of authorities, Danny and his friends must find and battle this creature themselves. A tight thriller with some parallels to Stephen King’s It and Rick Yancey’s The Curse of the Wendigo, Bonechiller offers less gore, but more than makes up for it in psychological intensity and frightening action sequences. Recommended for readers who enjoy vividly described settings, rich characterizations, foreboding suspense and explosive endings—literally.