Need something creepy to read? I’VE GOT YOU COVERED.

This month the Fantastic Strangelings Book Club is reading Lute by Jennifer Thorne and it is just the haunting, atmospheric folk horror weirdness you need for October.

It’s about love, duty and community and it’s a bit like Wicker Man mixed with Midsommar and Final Destination.

Want more details?  

On the idyllic island of Lute, every seventh summer, seven people die. No more, no less.

Lute and its inhabitants are blessed, year after year, with good weather, good health, and good fortune. They live a happy, superior life, untouched by the war that rages all around them. So it’s only fair that every seven years, on the day of the tithe, the island’s gift is honored.

Nina Treadway is new to The Day. A Florida girl by birth, she became a Lady through her marriage to Lord Treadway, whose family has long protected the island. Nina’s heard about The Day, of course. Heard about the horrific tragedies, the lives lost, but she doesn’t believe in it. It’s all superstitious nonsense. Stories told to keep newcomers at bay and youngsters in line.

Then The Day begins. And it’s a day of nightmares, of grief, of reckoning. But it is also a day of community. Of survival and strength. Of love, at its most pure and untamed. When The Day ends, Nina―and Lute―will never be the same.

It’s officially Spooky Season so this small piece of folk horror satisfied my craving for strange and fascinating, while touching on so many aspects of responsibility, fate, sacrifice, duty and love.  It has a Shirley Jackson-esque sort of slow burn quality that I really enjoyed.  And I need you to read it as soon as it gets into your mailboxes because I have feelings and need to discuss them.

Need more than one book to get you through the month?  I HAVE YOU.

October has some amazing new releases, especially if you’re looking for something to fit the season. A few of my favorites are:

The Night Ship by Jess Kidd – This epic historical novel illuminates the lives of a girl shipwrecked on an island off Western Australia and, three hundred years later, a boy finding a home with his grandfather on the very same island.  This one is dark as hell and based on a true story I’m shocked I’d never heard of before.  If you have the stomach for it I highly recommend it.

I’m Wearing Tunics Now by Wendi Aarons – A memoir about second acts, self-acceptance, and celebrating what happens when a woman gets older, wiser, and a lot more excited by sales at Eileen Fisher.

Ejaculate Responsibly by Gabrielle Blair – a provocative reframing of the abortion issue in post-Roe America that directs the focus on men’s lack of accountability in preventing unwanted pregnancies.  People are going to be talking about this one, for good reason.

All That is Wicked by Kate Winkler Dawson- The fascinating true story of a serial murderer who was called “too intelligent to be killed”–and the array of 19th century investigators who were convinced his brain held the key to understanding the criminal mind.  If you listen to Kate’s podcast you may think you know this story but there is so much more in this book.

Malice House by Megan Shepherd – A gothic sort of haunted house mystery about the power of stories.

The Dark Between the Trees by Fiona Barnett – A forlorn forest fabled to have a witch’s curse and a mythical evil creature known as the Corrigal roaming about it.  A bit like Blair Witch Project mixed with The Others.

The Hollow Kind by Andy Davidson –  A tale of the Redfern family’s battle with a cosmic horror in Empire, Georgia through two different timelines. A novel about legacy and the horrors that hide in the dark corners of family history.

Bad Vibes Only by Nora McInernyFunny and relatable. So good.

I’m opening up the Fantastic Strangelings Facebook Discussion page for last month’s book, The Fortunes of Jaded Women by Carolyn Huynh but in case you don’t do facebook I’ll put my thoughts in the comments.

And I’m always looking for more creepy so if you have some suggestions for good horror books, let me know.

Until next month, happy reading and don’t forget to support your local indie bookshop!

25 thoughts on “Need something creepy to read? I’VE GOT YOU COVERED.

Read comments below or add one.


    Oh my God, I loved this book.

    It really reminded me of Still Life, in that I loved the characters and the prose and so many of the witty and clever sentences that were so gorgeously sprinkled throughout.

    All of these characters were frustrating, hysterical, loveable, heartbreaking. I mean, just the scene of the sisters throwing fruit at each other in the café in Little Saigon and getting kicked out while one screams, “I AM NOT A PIMP”…I literally laughed out loud. I could absolutely see this in my head like I was watching a movie. In fact, I want it to be a movie immediately. Someone call JOHN CHO.

    I loved how the author explored the Asian diaspora, war, trauma, complicated family relationships, stereotypes, sex, love, grief, commitment, the sacrifice of motherhood…I mean, there was so much. But one of my favorite parts was how each of the women seemed to learn vulnerability in spite of the walls they’d built up in their lives.

    Also, I’m an idiot because it was only when I read it the second time and noticed the theme of each of the women touching their jade jewelry during important moments and it was only then that I recognized the double entendre of “jaded women” from the title. Hi, I’m dumb.

    Watching Thuy self-sabotage with Daniel was painful but I loved her and Andy proposing to each other at the end. And I loved that the author didn’t make it easy for Thuy to win Daniel back.

    I loved the practical magic woven through, with psychics and witches (and psychics that were witches) and the apothecaries and curses that weren’t curses. And I loved how in the end we realized that the curse never really was a curse, but that the child being born really was the child that was wanted, just that Vietnamese women weren’t allowed to say that Vietnamese women were wanted. I love the idea of realizing their worth in their children and also in themselves.

    I also loved the mutual hatred of Daniel and Mark bringing the whole family together.

    The only issue I had was that there were so many characters that I loved but also THERE WERE SO MANY CHARACTERS. I normally don’t love books that have more than a few main characters because I get confused so easily but it speaks to how great the book was that I was able to keep them all separated in my mind since they were so unique.

    I did have a question though…what was in the vial?? Love? Healing? Forgiveness? Hope? The ability to let down walls and fall in love with the person they should be with?

    What did you think?

  2. Oh my gosh! I need to take a leave of absence so I can read every one of those books! Every October, my sisters and I read lesser known Poe stories together. There are some great ones.

  3. I would highly recommend J. D. Horn’s Witching Savannah series. It is really creepy good, and some really scary scenes.

  4. Okay I’m going to need to know when Lute comes out in paperback so I can buy it. I am going to need to read that one. House, two kids, three cats, two cars…. can’t buy all the glorious hardcover books that I want!!

  5. Thank you for this list! Also, Xa, thank you for your recommendations. Lute can be on the shelf next to Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery.” Back in the early 1960s, I read a short story called “The Wait” with a similar theme of an event–tried to find it online to post here but no luck.

  6. I am reading Haunted by Chuck Palahniuk and it is a twisted and very unique book for the spooky season!

  7. Sounds similar to Harvest Home by Tom Tryon or the Lottery by Shirley Jackson. Both of which I read as a teenager. I’ll have to check out Lute!

  8. Seconding the recs for T. Kingfisher’s work: The Twisted Ones (there’s a jump scare, in a book!), The Hollow Places, and What Moves the Dead. Excellent creepy stories with smart protagonists who nope out when they’re supposed to (but get pulled back in), and the pets live.

  9. So after listening to Book Eaters and loving it I couldn’t wait for the next recommendation. Lute sounded so right up my ally that I made my husband rush out with me to the bookstore at 8:30 at night to pick up a copy as my anxiety could not let
    us wait till a reasonable hour.

  10. Little Eve – Catriona Ward (originally out in 2018 in UK) also Sundial
    The Pallbearers Club – Paul Tremblay
    The Ninth House – Leigh Bardugo
    The Children on the Hill – Jennifer McMahon

  11. If you can find it and want to be creeped out ancient school, find a copy of Arthur Machen’s The Great God Pan.

  12. “The Whole Town’s Sleeping” by Ray Bradbury. That last sentence, “Behind her in the living room, someone cleared his throat.” Ooh, shivers.

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