3 on a theme: living houses

I am often reading between 3 and 5 books at the same time, and occasionally there’s a theme that might not be remarkable in one book… but when I see it in three books, I take notice.

It’s a common trope, the haunted house.  But not so common when the house becomes its own character…


All read between October 2016 – May 2017

And the Trees Crept In reminded me a lot of House of Leaves, and both books could be on this list.  Even more so than House of Leaves, And the Trees Crept In treated the house like a character.  It also treated the trees like their own character, so it felt everything around the main character was creeping in on her in some threatening way, and feels very much alive.

The Woman in the Wall is about a young girl who feels invisible and disappears into the walls of her house.  She builds intricate tunnels so that she can move about unnoticed, walls off rooms for herself and spirits away food and sewing supplies to make clothing for her family.  The whole novel had a sense of magical realism, and it was clear that members of her family had forgotten about her and thought of the house as being alive.

The final book on this list was the one that got me remembering just how many other stories I had read about houses that felt alive.  In this case, the house in The House IS alive, brought to life by a misplaced spell, and it has raised a child up to be a boy… and it isn’t very happy when a girl comes along and tries to steal him away.

Have you read a book that fits this theme?  Tell me about it in the comments!


31 Days of Halloween, Days 14-15: Miss Peregrine & Sanctum

It’s been a busy couple of days!  Last night I went to see Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, which isn’t exactly a horror movie but it has some very creepy elements.  I loved all of the books – unfortunately, I can’t say the same for the movie.

If you have read the books, the first 75% of the movie is pretty much what you would expect.  The first book in the series ends with the children in a boat on the ocean, setting out to rescue Miss Peregrine.  And here (or perhaps, a little before this point) is where the movie jumps the rails and forges its own path leading to a modern-day skeleton war.  That’s right, I said skeleton war.  The tone of the first part of this movie fit the book so well: creepy, but not without humor.  The ending was a big ol’ campy mess.

Today I went to the Boston Book Festival, and at the YA Horror panel, the authors (Margot Harrison, Dawn Kurtagich, and Kim Savage) had a few horror movie suggestions.  Most of them I’d already seen.  The one I hadn’t rated on Netflix was Sanctum, a thriller about cave diving (Margot’s book, The Killer in Me, apparently involves a creepy cave).  About halfway through, I realized I had seen Sanctum before.  But it was a good thriller about how people react when things go wrong.  Being trapped underwater is a huge fear of mine, so this – more than the cave thing – made this scary.  Also that one woman who get her hair caught and her scalp starts ripping off…

Since Sanctum is the clear winner for closest to being a horror movie, I will based my recommendations on that (and suggest you read the Peculiar Children books instead of seeing the movie!).

  • Descent (2005) – This was another of the movies recommended by the YA horror panel.  It’s more about the caving experience, and I certainly do not ever want to go caving after seeing it.  I also liked that all of the cavers were female, it’s fairly unusual in a horror movie.
  • Open Water (2004) – Part of my water fears involve not being able to see clear to the bottom (hence why I prefer swimming in pools).  Something touches my leg underwater and I can’t see, I’m outta there!  So the idea of diving in open water, in the middle of the ocean, would freak me right out.  Add to that missing the boat back and finding you and your spouse stranded in shark-infested waters, and maybe you will join me.  I also wrote about this one in my series Based on a True Story if you’re interested in seeing how realistic it is.
  • Sphere (1998) – Okay, so also jellyfish freak me out?  This movie has a great cast and it is psychologically very creepy, in addition to all the horrifying ways you can die at the bottom of the ocean.