Yesterday Allison, Nicola and I recommended read-alikes for A Court of Thorns and Roses fans as part of our new “What Next? Wednesday” series. Since I love recommending similar books, this post compares recent and upcoming favorites.
If, like me, you loved the eerie beauty of Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap and Nova Ren Suma’s The Walls Around Us, I recommend you read Moira Fowley-Doyle’s The Accident Season when it comes out in mid-August. I consider all three books literary horror because their magical realism and eloquent, imaginative prose amplify the horror narratives and play to our most primal fears.
In case you need a reminder, Bone Gap is about a teenage boy, Finn, who was the only witness to the disappearance of his brother’s girlfriend, Roza. While the people of Bone Gap stop looking for her because they think she fled, Finn believes she was kidnapped and he must find her, but he can’t recall what her abductor looks like. (Roza’s narrative reveals that, in fact, a scary man–who’s both magical and realistic–has taken her.)
Also told in alternate voices, The Walls Around Us is a creepy supernatural novel about Juvie inmate Amber and Violet, a competitive dancer haunted by her best friend Orianna’s imprisonment and death in that same detention center. Amber is a ghost who keeps reliving a prison break, while Violet is tormented by memories of the murders that took place three years earlier, leading to Orianna’s arrest.
Like Bone Gap‘s small midwestern town “full of…gaps to trip you up, gaps to slide through so you can disappear forever,”The Accident Season’s small Irish river town, with an enchanting run-down haunted house (an ideal venue for a Halloween party), is a perfect setting for a horror story. Seventeen-year-old Cara’s family is cursed. Every October (the accident season), Cara, her mother, her sister Alice, and her step-brother Sam find that no matter how many precautions they take, “[b]ones break, skin tears, bruises bloom,” and sometimes family members (her father and uncle!) die.
Bone Gap and The Accident Season do not have similar plots, but both books’ characters grapple with confusing romance, dark memories and secrets, violence, and uncertainty about what is real versus imagined. And, like The Walls Around Us, The Accident Season is a ghost story. Haunted by a missing classmate only she remembers (who keeps showing up in her family photos), Cara realizes the accident season is much more than a family curse.
These novels aren’t classic-horror scary, but their lyrical prose and original, creepy narratives will haunt you for a long time to come.
Alyssa Raymond is a regular contributor at Coven Book Club and its YA sister site Spellbinding Books. She thanks Edelweiss, the publisher, and the Boulder Book Store for providing her with digital review copies of these titles for review purposes, and her opinions are her own. Please follow Spellbinding Books onTwitter and Tumblr.