As the sun starts setting sooner and the weather gets cooler, picture yourself curled up with a good book on a rainy fall day. It sounds like a great time, right? And if you’re looking for some atmospheric books to read during this time of year, look no further.
Our Hideous Progeny by C.E. McGill
In their debut novel, C.E. McGill does the impossible: something new with the concept of Frankenstein. The story takes place in 1853 England, centering around amateur paleologist Mary Saville and her fellow scientist husband, Henry. Mary and Henry struggle with finances and legitimacy in their field. Soon as Mary discovers that she is a descendant of Victor Frankenstein and through his diary, realizes what her ancestor had accomplished. Desperate to be taken seriously, Mary and Henry embark on his ancestorial home to combine their two obsessions: Frankenstein and paleontology.
The story is compelling, mimicking the plot and pace of the original work. McGill really explores the limitations placed on scientific women in the 19th Century. Mary grapples with how hard it is to be a genius and a woman at the same time while her changing feelings for Henry and his sister complicate matters even further. For those looking for a more gothic work, this is definitely one you should check out.
Vampires of El Norte by Isabel Cañas
In 1840s Mexico, standing at the Texas-Mexico Border, Nena thinks of the conflicts her family is facing from American settlers and of something more sinister: vampires. There’s been a rash of attacks at the ranch, leaving men without blood. Nena grapples with her own past brushes with the creatures, as war with America looms closer to her family’s ranch.
Then, while working as a healer in the war, Nena runs into Néstor, her childhood sweetheart. They relearn each other, crossing the distance that grew between them after Nena’s attack. Their love story and the heartbreaking story of the fight for independence are interrupted by the apt allegory of blood-sucking creatures haunting Nena’s home. This new release is captivating, gothic, and fitting for lovers of historical fiction. If you like this, you should also check out Cañas’ other work, The Hacienda, another historical fiction, gothic work exploring the changing landscape of Mexico in the aftermath of the Mexican War for Independence.
In the Company of Witches by Auralee Wallace
Life at her aunt’s B&B is exactly what Brynn needs to recover from the past year. After all, the Warren women have a long history of using their witchy powers to improve life in Evenfall, albeit discreetly. But the sleepy sanctuary is disturbed when Constance Graves, the town’s most notorious critic dies during her stay. When the town’s accusing finger seems to be pointing towards Brynn’s aunt Nora, she resolves to get back in touch with her powers of talking to the dead to solve the case, powers she has neglected since tragedy the year before.
This cozy, sweet book is perfect for readers who love Practical Magic and the Hallmark channel.
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry
In Danvers, Massachusetts, a girl’s hockey team turns to witchcraft to keep a winning streak that they hope will lead them to becoming champions. Past and present are intertwined as Danvers in 1692 was better known as Salem Village, where the infamous trials took place. Written with tongue-in-cheek humor, the story primarily follows, Abby Putnam, who is ironically descended from Ann Putnam, the original accuser in the trials. The girls of the team challenged the culture of femineity and gender as they proved to be just as cunning and ambitious as their ancestors.
As serious as it sounds, this book is laugh-out-loud funny. Their “spellbook” is a notebook that has Emilio Estevez on the cover. The team of 11 girls slowly transforms into their people while the team transforms into a coven.
This book is perfect for lovers of The Craft and teen girl comedy.
My Roommate is a Vampire by Jenna Levine
In modern Chicago, Cassie Greenberg runs into a strange problem: she’s pretty sure her new roommate is a vampire. Limited by funds, Cassie is originally overjoyed to find an apartment in a good neighborhood. But she can’t help but wonder what the catch is. As it turns out, her roommate, Frederick J. Fitzwilliam is very strange and talks like it’s still the 1800s. But he’s still possibly the best guy she’s met in a long time, even if he has blood bags in their fridge and an interesting proposition for her.
This book is campy, cute, and great for those looking for a fun contemporary romance.
The Only Survivors by Megan Miranda
Ten years after the worst day of their lives, a group of what used to be nine survivors meets for their annual gathering at a house by the Outer Banks. Hovering over this year’s meeting is the previous loss of a survivor and the mysterious disappearance of another. Though the story is primarily narrated by Cassidy, the other survivors interrupt to tell their versions of what happened the day their school vans crashed into a ravine while on a volunteer trip. The dynamics of high school feel inescapable as the survivors feel tied to each other, no matter how little they used to know each other. Because they share a secret, the truth of how they survived. The setting at the Outer Banks is atmospheric and Cassidy’s paranoia slowly sinks into your brain while you read and every new character seems suspicious, as if they could be the blackmailer who contacted the survivors.
An atmospheric mystery thriller, fans of Yellowjackets and unreliable narrators will enjoy this work where everyone seems to be telling their story but Cassidy.
Final Girls by Riley Sager
For fans of slasher movies, explore the aftermath of those attacks. Quincy, Lisa, and Sam are all reluctant members of the worst club ever: The Final Girls Club. All three of them are survivors of a horror movie massacres: Quincy, the sole survivor of a killer vacation at Pine Cottage with friends; Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college slasher; and Sam, who won against the Sack Man while working at the Nightlight Inn. The girls have never met and the book begins with Quincy who worked hard to put her trauma, which she can barely remember, behind her. Then Lisa dies, presumably by her own hands. Quincy’s life is turned upside down by the appearance of Sam, who pushes Quincy to remember what happened at Pine Cottage and why Sam cares.
Amidst the gore and violence, the book grapples with the media’s fascination with killers and survivors and how they keep hurting. Set up with parallel stories, the past and present, this book is a nail-biter and perfect for fans of Scream and the genre of final girls in slasher movies.
Our Wives Under the Sea by Julia Armfield
In her debut work, Armstrong plays on the fear of the unknown, particularly in regard to deep sea exploration. The story begins with Miri informing the reader that her wife Leah had been lost at sea with her submarine exploration team for six months. Presumed dead, Miri initially considers it a miracle when Leah and her team are recovered after half a year on the ocean floor. But she soon realized what she got back wasn’t Leah. Her wife now takes hour-long baths, experiences chronic fatigue, bleeds from her gums, and her skin has taken on a perpetually wet sheen like an oyster. This is not the same Leah who originally descended under the water. With a Lovecraftian feel, the story slowly and cautiously follows Miri as she wonders if she truly got her wife back or if the person she is working so hard to avoid isn’t a person at all.
In Leah’s point of view, the story is limited to her experience at the sub as she and her team slowly realize that they won’t be emerging from their marine exploration. Trapped in a metal container under millions of tons of water, they worry about losing air, sustenance, and their minds as it begins to sound like down far below where life should live, something is trying to enter the submarine.
This queer love and horror story is perfect for fans of science fiction and This is How You Lose the Time War.