Podcast: Spooky Books To Give You Chills

[00:00:00] Laura: Welcome to the Clermont County Public Library’s Booklovers Podcast. I’m your host, Laura. And today I’m joined by Jordan and Shayna.

So Jordan, since you’re our resident horror fan, do you want to go first?

Book cover for The Mary Shelley Club
The Mary Shelley Club by
Goldy Moldavsky

The Mary Shelley Club

[00:00:23] Jordan: The one I’ll be talking about first is called The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky. And I was really drawn to this book because the description talked about horror films and horror film fans. So I really connected with that personally.

Summary for The Mary Shelley Club

I have the synopsis right here. New girl, Rachel Chavez is eager to make a fresh start at Manchester. But I was one of the few scholarship kids, Rachel struggles to fit in. And when she gets caught up in a prank gone awry, she ends up with more enemies than friends to her surprise.

However, the prank attracts the attention of the Mary Shelley Club, a secret club of students with one objective, come up with the scariest prank. Orchestrate real fear. But as the pranks escalate, the competition turns cutthroat and takes on a life of its own.

When the tables are turned and someone targets the club itself, Rachel must track down the real-life monster in their midst, even if it means finally confronting the dark secrets from her past.

Jordan’s thoughts about The Mary Shelley Club

So I had the day off yesterday and I’ve just finished this book yesterday and it takes a lot to really get me super engaged in a scary story and really feel what the author wants me to feel. And this one really did it. It was very, very well-written, constructed very, very well. The characters were very lifelike, which I always appreciate.

And Mary Shelley is one of my idols. I want to be her when I grow up So the title attracted me right away. And then just the characters in the club like, oh, I love these things. And I have no one else to talk about with them. And that’s me. I love it so much. And it usually just freaks everyone out.

[00:02:20] Laura: who doesn’t love a good secret society, especially if it involves scary, secret societies? Because that never goes wrong.

[00:02:26] Jordan: Yeah, it was a really fun read.

Most of it takes place around Halloween. So this is definitely a great Halloween read.

[00:02:33] Laura: Good pick. All right, Shayna, are you ready to dive in? Get your spooky book on?

The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer

The Perfect Daughter

[00:02:37] Shayna: I am. So this one, The Perfect Daughter by DJ Palmer, it’s spooky to me, it’s more of like a psychological thriller mystery and what really drew me into it is because it has a character who has.

Multiple personality disorder. So it’s really good.

Summary for The Perfect Daughter

Here’s the summary: Grace never dreamt she’d visit her teenage daughter, Penny, in the locked ward of a decaying state psychiatric hospital, charged with the murder of a stranger. There was not much question of her daughter’s guilt. Police had her fingerprints on the murder weapon and the victim’s blood on her body and clothes, but they didn’t have a motive.

None of this was conceivable. The day Penny came into Grace’s life, it seemed like a miracle. Penny was found abandoned with a mysterious past, and it felt like fate brought Penny to her and her husband.

But as Penny grew, her actions grew more disturbing, and different personalities emerged. Arthur and Grace took Penny to different psychiatrists.

Many of them believed that she was just putting on a show to help manage her trauma. But Grace didn’t agree. The personas were too real, too consistent. It had to be a severe multiple personality disorder. Penny’s doctor, a determined psychiatrist, discovers a new personality insight of penny and young girl named Abigail.

Is this the nameless girl who was abandoned in the park years ago? Her doctor thinks Abigail is the key to Penney’s past and to the murder, but as they dig deeper, they uncover dark and shocking secrets.

[00:04:10] Laura: That sounds good and twisty.

Shayna’s thoughts about The Perfect Daughter

[00:04:12] Shayna: It was very good in twisty and I mean, it just had all the good components of a good thrilling book.

So you’ve got brutal murder. A mental hospital theme, unreliable character is it was very good at making you question your own reality, which to me is scary. Just as you go through the story with the characters and a lot of the story takes place in the psychiatric hospital. Which is an intense setting for a story, I think, and this particular hospital houses, mentally ill people who are dangerous to themselves and to others.

So Penny, one of the characters, is caught at a murder scene and it looks as if she killed the person. I mean, there’s no question about it. She did it, but she has, three or four different personas that they know of. And so when they find her, she’s saying, my name is Emily.

 They’re like, who’s Emily, your license says your name is Penny, you know, so, and the mom knows, she’s like, oh gosh. And Emily Is the one that is like the most aggressive, the most disturbed persona, So it was really good. It definitely spooked me out.

[00:05:25] Jordan: I love a good scary. Those are really, really effective

House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland


House of Hollow

[00:05:31] Laura: All right, Jordan, I know you have to have another one and share it with us.

[00:05:34] Jordan: So the next one I have is called House of Hollow by Krystal Sutherland. It’s also a fairly new book.


Summary of House of Hollow

So the synopsis – Iris has spent most of her teenage years trying to avoid the weirdness that sticks to her like tar. But when her eldest sister, Gray, goes missing under suspicious circumstances, she learned just how weird her life could get. Horned men shadowing her and a corpse that falls out the ceiling. And ugly impossible memories start to twist their way to the forefront of her mind.

As Iris retraces Gray’s last known steps and follows the increasingly bizarre trail of breadcrumbs she left behind. It becomes apparent that the only way to save her sister is to decipher the mystery of what happened to them as children. The closer Iris gets to the truth. The closer she comes to understanding that the answer is dark and dangerous, and that Gray has been keeping a terrible secret from her for years

[00:06:35] Laura: More terrible secrets.

So many twists

[00:06:40] Jordan: And this is another thing about this book, I did not know what was going on. I thought I was figuring it out. Every chapter I was like, oh, okay. I see what’s happening here. And then something else would be thrown in like, oh, never mind. So I had no idea what was really happening.

It’s one of those books. You cannot put it down. It’s one o’clock in the morning, you have to keep reading..

[00:07:04] Shayna: Your eyes are heavy. You’re like, no, I can do it. I need to keep going.

[00:07:10] Jordan: It was so good. And even at the end, like, I think it’s all resolved. They’re still more, there’s still more until the very last page of, so it was just really, really dynamic.

And in addition to that, like the writing. So beautifully done and precise. There’s a lot of nature elements like we’ve seen in other horror novels recently. Like Mexican Gothic incorporating nature and the more grotesque sides of nature and to horror, and also in addition to the beautiful sides of nature.

And it was kind of grotesque at times. So just to be aware of that. It was a very intense body horror thrown in there.

Not for the faint of heart

[00:07:56] Laura: Shayna, I think she’s trying to say that this book might not be for us.

[00:07:59] Shayna: Well, when she said a corpse falls through the sisters’ feeling, I was like, oh no!

[00:08:10] Jordan: It was way more intense than I expected. For the stuff that I read that, doesn’t bother me that much, but it was just unexpected. Another thing that I loved in addition to the writing and the construction, I loved the character. So much, they were so lifelike, everyone had a very distinct personality, which is really important to me when I’m reading a book.

I don’t want flat characters. I don’t want characters that all have the same voice. And just the way that these characters were presented as like, oh yeah, I know this person. I get this person. How they’re going to react to this situation. And then one of my notes I have about this book is that it is the definition of a page turner.

It’s one of those books that if you have to stop at some point or you get interrupted, it’s so frustrating. You just want to keep going.

This book just checked all the boxes for me. It was so engaging. It was so beautifully written. The horror elements were there. The family drama, mystery was all there.It was five stars. Five out of five. It was, a great book!

[00:09:17] Laura: Sounds good.

[00:09:17] Shayna: I love when a book is so good that you can’t stop and then even when you do finish it, you’re a little mad at yourself because why did I speed through this book? You know, you want it to last forever.

And I love books like that.

Survive the Night by Riley Sager

Survive the Night

[00:09:30] Laura: Shayna, got another for us?


[00:09:32] Shayna: I do. So this one I really enjoyed.. It’s Survive the Night by Riley Sager. I listened to the audio book on this one but we do have copies in the system of the book. So the audio though, I highly recommend because the narrator does a really good job of bringing you into the main character whose name is Charlie, and just putting yourself in her shoes and what she experiences in the book.

And it’s a really interesting book because it takes place in just a mere 24 hours. So it’s definitely a page turner, a very fast paced story. I really enjoyed it.

Summary of Survive the Night

Here’s the summary. It’s November, 1991. George HW Bush is in the White House. Nirvana’s in the tape deck. And college student, Charlie Jordan, is in a car with a man who might be a serial killer.

Charlie meets Josh at the campus ride board, where they were both looking to share the long drive home to Ohio.

Both of them have good reasons for wanting to get away. For Charlie, it’s guilt and grief over the recent murder of her best friend and roommate. She was a third victim of the man known as the Campus Killer. Charlie cannot bear to stay in her half empty dorm room without Maddy another day. So she is heading home.

Josh is heading home to help care for his sick father who recently had a stroke. Or so he says. After Charlie gets into the car with Josh and they head out onto the interstate, she begins to doubt his story. There was something suspicious about Josh and Charlie begins to suspect that he is in fact, the campus killer.

The night takes a sudden turn of events and Charlie has to do everything she can to survive the night.

Thoughts about Survive the Night

[00:11:14] Laura: That sounds intense.

[00:11:15] Jordan: Yeah, I also read this recently. I love Sager fantastic. I also read this recently and this was another one where I was up reading way too late and that it left off of this giant cliffhanger. So upset that I have to go to bed. It’s definitely like Shana said, the very short timeline that we have in the story is, like a ticking clock the whole time, and everything has to fit in that time frame, and everything’s just counting down.

The end it’s a fun one. That was another one I thought I had it figured out.

[00:11:52] Shayna: And then yeah, it, the author did a fantastic job in just keeping it so suspenseful, I mean the whole time, like you said, you’re kind of on the edge of your seat and you’re in the car with Charlie and Josh and it’s at nighttime.

So you got a picture it’s 1991. So there are no cell phones, to contact somebody, you know? Charlie depends on a payphone, when they stop at a diner or a gas station. And of course the first payphone they get to when she first starts having issues with Josh doesn’t work, the patient’s out of order.

So then she’s just kind of like, Well, I could ask the gas station worker if they have a phone inside, but it’s not, you know, it’s not like today where it’s like, oh, I have my phone or someone has a phone in their pocket, you know? And so that was eerie and it’s November. So it’s cold, it’s snowing, it’s dark.

And she’s. Weirdo and trapped in his car. And there’s just so many weird things that he does. But the fun thing about this book is that Charlie, they don’t really say exactly what she has. She calls a movies, so she sees movies. In her mind. So what she’ll do is let’s say she’s sitting there and she’ll envision like a whole scene between her and someone else or between two people.

Then she’ll like snap to back to reality. And that, that never happened. So it’s almost like she has. delusions or hallucinations. But they don’t really say what she has and she’s a movie major to like a film major. So she’s really into movies. because of her knowledge in that she picks up on things with Josh like this isn’t right.

His story isn’t adding up, he lying to me, but then she second guesses herself. Cause she. Did I just imagine that, like, was that a movie in my head or, you know, is he really just a normal person? So she just keeps getting back in the car with him and you’re sitting there like, oh, don’t do it.

Unreliable narrator

And then things take a turn. You think, you know, what’s happening, you don’t and things just take a turn and it gets wild. And then the very last chapter. It’s interesting. I don’t want to give it away. So definitely a good book. It was definitely unexpected in a very good way

[00:14:19] Laura: I love when I can’t figure it out.

[00:14:28] Shayna: Yeah. There’s actually a part where she does get to a payphone and she calls her boyfriend who’s back on campus and they set up like a code. He tells her if you need help, we’ll have a code word. And so their code is things took a detour.

And so she sends that to him on the phone and it was kind of ironic because like the whole book. Things are taking a detour the whole time I’m reading this. I have no idea who is telling the truth. What is real? What’s not real. So it was good.

[00:14:59] Jordan: Yes. Soon as Charlie started talking about

her movies and when she gets detached from reality, just to cope with the trauma that she’s still experiencing, I was like, yay. Unreliable narrator,

[00:15:12] Shayna: She is, she’s definitely an unreliable narrator and character. Cause it looks only told from her point of view. I mean, there’s a couple of chapters from Josh’s point of view, but they’re very brief, like a few paragraphs maybe.

So, it’s a good one.

Other Sager books

[00:15:27] Laura: I’ve read some of his other books, but I’m definitely going to have to put this one on my list because it sounds really.

[00:15:31] Jordan: Yeah, I think this is Riley Sager’s, fifth or sixth novel, and I’ve read all of them and I really enjoy his writing and he takes very classic, horror tropes, like the cabin in the woods, the haunted house, the final girl, but he makes it his own thing and really takes it places you’ve never know.

What about to take it? So I’m a big Riley Sager fan.

[00:15:57] Laura: Does it lock every door?

[00:15:59] Jordan: Yes. I love that one.

[00:16:03] Shayna: This is my first by him. So I’ll have to, you know, it’s not my typical John Rob, I’m trying to branch out. I’ll definitely have to check out another book by him. Cause I really liked how he made it Erie.

And he made it disturbing, but not in a super gruesome way, I guess, or something that makes me definitely, I don’t want to read this. I’m uncomfortable, you know, just very like chilling. There’s a part where, the police know it’s the the same person committing these murders is that he’ll take a tooth from the victim.

Charlie and Joshua and the car and they’re on the highway and it’s nighttime and, you know, road trip and they start to play 20 questions. So she has to guess what Josh is thinking of. And she asked very basic questions, you know, and this is the way he answers it’s creepy.

Then his item that he was thinking of is a human tooth. Charlie just kind of sits there and she like shivers and. What of all things. And then he immediately is like, oh, I’m so sorry. Isn’t that the campus killers, trademark. I’m so sorry. I know you’re still grieving from your friend and I’m thinking who would go there then, you know, so very disturbing.

[00:17:19] Jordan: Yeah, that part got me figure it out as I was reading. And then I got to that and that was like, wow, scary.

[00:17:29] Shayna: I was like, oh, no creepy, creepy, creepy.

The Death of Jane Lawrence by
Caitlin Starling

The Death of Jane Lawrence

[00:17:34] Laura: I have a readalike if you read and enjoyed Mexican Gothic called The Death of Jane Lawrence and it’s got a very similar Gothic vibe, although it’s more historical.

[00:17:52] Jordan: That’s been on my reading list for a while,

[00:17:55] Laura: I can see you absolutely loving it. Shayna, I’m not sure it’s going to be your cup of tea. There’s a lot of body of horror in it.

[00:18:02] Shayna: Oh!

[00:18:02] Laura: And I’ll just say that the grossness of what Silvia Moreno-Garcia did with mushrooms, The Death of Jane Lawrence does with eggs.

[00:18:56] Laura: This seems like you’re kind of a thing, Jordan.

[00:19:02] Jordan: Yeah. It’s been on my wall on my reading list for a while and I keep watching for it to see if it’s going to pop up.

In conclusion

[00:19:09] Laura: Well thank you both for some awesome, spooky, creepy book suggestions.

Thank you to our listeners. Remember to subscribe to the Booklovers Podcast so that you don’t miss an episode. And if you’re so inclined, please hit the like button.

You can find all of the books that we talked about today in our catalog or in our digital collection via the Libby, Hoopla, or Freading apps.

Happy reading!

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