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HOOKED ON BOOKS: Let these books give you creepy-crawlies

A little spookiness pairs nicely with the lengthening autumn nights.

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Composite by Park Rapids Enterprise staff
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Halloween has gone by, but the nights are still getting longer and the days gloomier. What better time is there to keep a light burning into the wee hours?

While that light’s on, shine it on these books, each with a peculiar creepiness that pairs nicely with a deep, dark autumn night.

‘Dead City’ by James Ponti

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Simon and Schuster, 2012

Molly Bigelow sees dead people walking around. It turns out New York City has an undead subculture, and Molly is destined to join a secret organization dedicated to protecting it.

Some of the deadies are baddies, though, and that’s where Molly’s fencing and martial arts skills come in. Joined by a team of students from her elite science school, she is soon on the trail of something weird going on in the underground community of Dead City. Catching it could prove deadly.

It’s the first book of a surprisingly dark trilogy for young adults.

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‘Cirque du Freak’ by Darren Shan

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Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2008

For young readers who find the “Twilight” series too touchy-feely, this story reinvents the vampire legend from a young boy’s point of view. Main character Darren’s visit to a traveling creep show leads him to fake his death and become an apprentice to a vampire.

It has all the makings of a good case of the creeps: spiders, snakes and a glimpse of the powers of vampire spit. It also has touching moments, like a boy’s sacrifice to save his friend and the heartbreak of saying goodbye to family.

Also titled, or subtitled, “A Living Nightmare,” this book leads off a 12-book series broken into four trilogies. The installments don’t hold up well as separate books; you’ll want to take them in threes.

‘The Book of Lost Things’ by Michael Connolly

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Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2011

In an adult novel with YA appeal, a young man named David finds his way into a realm filled with not-so-happily-ever-after myths, legends and fairy tales.

It starts when he hears books whispering, then his dead mother’s voice calling him. Finally, a figure of the world of imagination steps out into reality.

This Crooked Man is so villainous, so pleased by others’ suffering, you’ll be chilled. Despite his faults, David overcomes terrifying enemies, grows into a true hero and gradually earns the reader’s sympathy.

There’s a book of the same name by Cynthia Voigt – also a good read, but less scary.

‘The House of the Scorpion’ by Nancy Farmer

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Simon and Schuster, 2013

Matt lives in a grim but possible future world where the U.S. and Mexico have solved the problems of illegal immigration and drugs – by creating a lawless middle country called Opium, where drug lords grow hashish, opium and cocaine for the world market. Anyone who crosses the border is captured, turned into an “eejit” (zombie-slave) and worked to death in the poppy fields.

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Of course, there are other people living there besides “farmers” and eejits. Mercenaries, mostly. And people like Matt: clones of the ultra-rich, being grown for replacement organs.

How Matt discovers his reason for existing and how he escapes make for harrowing reading. His struggle for freedom is full of love and heartbreak, terror and courage.

‘Shades of Grey’ by Jasper Fforde

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Penguin, 2009

Also titled “The Road to High Saffron,” this book introduces a future world where the human eye has changed so that nobody can see in the dark. People are divided into clans based on what (if any) primary colors they can see. The hierarchy of color perception is the basis for a strict social order governing all aspects of life.

Basically, it’s a totalitarian nightmare. But there’s more to fear than the powers that be. There are giant, man-eating animals; a disease called the Mildew that can wipe out whole communities; a method of erasing history that makes some things dangerous to know; and even stranger horrors in store for Eddie Russett as he goes on a journey so dangerous, it’s practically a deathtrap.

This book is highly imaginative, original and intelligent, and its horror strikes right to the gut.

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Related Topics: BOOKS
Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at rfish@parkrapidsenterprise.com or 218-252-3053.
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