Author Shirley Jackson knew where the bodies were buried in the American psyche. Writing down her subtle suburban horrors during a period best known for Leave It to Beaver, she could put herself in the place of the outsider. The new neighbor who could not comprehend the quiet cruelty and amusement at her expense as she tries to interact in a straightforward fashion with her surroundings. Or, an intense young girl, estranged and tormented, who lives in a grand, crumbling house on the outskirts of town with her lovely sister and who may very well have killed off members of her family as they sat down to a meal.
The haunted newlyweds in Rebecca. The vile and violent act of nature unleashed in The Birds. Deadly family secrets at the Jamaica Inn. British novelist Daphne Du Maurier was the queen of romantic suspense. She knew perfectly well how to portray a broken person who felt helpless in a desperate situation—someone who might have had a happy life were it not for the encroachment of nightmarish scenarios created by the wicked. Every so often, a movie director will rediscover her work and bring a tale of inner torment to the screen. In July 2017, Du Maurier’s My Cousin Rachel will enter theaters once more.
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A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
After the suspicious death of her mother in 1895, sixteen-year-old Gemma returns to England, after many years in India, to attend a finishing school where she becomes aware of her magical powers and ability to see into the spirit world. (catalog summary)
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Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
In a small South Carolina town, where it seems little has changed since the Civil War, sixteen-year-old Ethan is powerfully drawn to Lena, a new classmate with whom he shares a psychic connection and whose family hides a dark secret that may be revealed on her sixteenth birthday. (catalog summary)
Abi Tamper leads a very restricted life as a maid in the Greaves household. It’s the 1850s, so there’s lots for a hired girl to do around a mansion in London, and next to none of it is enjoyable.
Orphans Molly and her younger brother Kip are looking for work away from their home in famine-stricken Ireland. They find it at the Windsor estate, an isolated, sprawling house in England that is a lot more than it seems.
As they work and live with the Windsors, Molly and Kip begin to discover that the atmosphere of the old, crumbling mansion is slowly taking the life force of the once-cheerful family of four.
Francis Orme is the last of a long line of oldest boys named Francis Orme. He wasn’t born Francis Orme, but that’s who he is now. Francis lives with his mother and father in their ancestral home, which has been chopped up into 24 gimcrack flats, The Observatory Mansions. Francis always wears white gloves, works as a “living statue,” and collects items for his Museum of Significant Objects.
What teenage girl has not sighed over the plight of Jane Eyre and the love story in Wuthering Heights? The novels contain “the collective imagination” poured into them by millions of teenage girls. In The Madwoman Upstairs, narrator Samantha Whipple is the last Brontë heir. She is related to three of the most famous women writers, Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, but she has a contentious relationship with them. Gothic and imaginative, The Madwoman Upstairs is a tribute to the Brontës.
In The House of Small Shadows, protagonist Catherine has had a bleak past. After losing her job at a top TV network in London thanks to corporate insecurity, she decides to move on with her life and experience the tedious job of antiquing and auctioning. She welcomes a new challenge assigned by her elderly boss: cataloging and maintaining a massive doll collection owned by the niece of infamous taxidermist M.H. Mason. Catherine finds it thrilling to also examine the strange and sentimental display of stuffed animals, posed and costumed in bloody scenes from the Great War.
She had no idea when she accepted the curator position at the Nauk—an innovative Cape Cod gallery dedicated to emerging artists—that a dead woman would thwart her at every turn.