Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ghost stories

As I believe I mentioned in my previous post, one of my tasks for this semester is to write a paper. The paper is intended as a review and reflection on a certain type of book or elements in books. For example, people have examined banned books, beginnings, gender roles, etc. I am writing my paper on plot elements (or maybe plot structure, something along those lines) in ghost stories.

There have been a number of American ghost stories which have come out in the past year to great reviews, but living in the UK, these are difficult for me to get a hold of. So my brief has been slightly older ghost stories, a mixture of traditional and non-traditional, for middle grade or young adult readers. I was going to read a few for adults (Audrey Niffenegger's HER FEARFUL SYMMETRY and Sarah Waters' THE LITTLE STRANGER), but so many children's stories have been suggested, I've had to rule adults out.

I've actually been overwhelmed by the number of suggestions I've received. I started this project thinking there aren't many good ghost stories out there. I still stand by that assumption. But "not many" in the fiction world, of course, can easily translate into 30 as opposed to 300. I've also learned there seems to be a second wave of ghost stories coming out. They were quite popular when I was growing up, in the 80s, and suddenly there has been a resurgence in the market. A good thing for me as a reader. As a writer? Who knows, I try not to think about those types of things.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints (and word limits for my paper!) I can only read 5-6 books. But I thought it would be fun to share with you all of my suggestions, and see if you have any to add (I would love to know of any goodies I'm missing!).

Here's the list. I'll put a star next to ones I've already read and a double star next to ones which are currently sitting in my house waiting for me:

Mary Downing Hahn; WAIT TILL HELEN COMES*
Mary Downing Hahn; THE OLD WILLIS PLACE
Mary Downing Hahn; WITCH CATCHER


Robert Westall; THE SCARECROWS*
Robert Westall; THE WATCH HOUSE*

Sonya Hartnett; SURRENDER*


Betty Ren Wright; THE DOLLHOUSE MURDERS

Peggy Parish; a number of titles... also the author of the Amelia Bedelia books!

Hayden Thorne; BANSHEE

Steve Berman; VINTAGE: A GHOST STORY


Beth Gutcheon; MORE THAN YOU KNOW


Antonia Barber; THE GHOST

Vivian Vande Velde; THERE'S A DEAD PERSON FOLLOWING MY SISTER AROUND

Julia Jarman; GHOST WRITER*


Peter Beagle; TAMSIN**

Kathryn Reiss; SWEET MISS HONEYWELL'S REVENGE
Kathryn Reiss; DREADFUL SORRY**

Richie Tankersley Cusick; WALK OF THE SPIRITS
Richie Tankersley Cusick; UNSEEN**
(though this may actually be about zombies...)

Katie Alender; BAD GIRLS DON'T DIE (looks amazing, though unfortunately too American and recent, I can't get my hands on a copy)

Cliff McNish; BREATHE*

Tim Bowler; BLOODCHILD

Margaret Mahy; a number of titles...

Geraldine McCaughrean; A WHITE DARKNESS

Ann Pilling; BLACK HARVEST
Ann Pilling; THE PIT


AM Jenkins; BEATING HEART: A GHOST STORY

Even typing this list is depressing--so many lovely books!

But that being said--any suggestions? What are your favorites? Any books on this list you've read?

UPDATE:
Please read the comments of this blog post for some additional suggestions. My friends at Verla Kay's Blueboards have also added a few more suggestions:

Meg Cabot's MEDIATOR series
(can I just say how happy I am for an excuse to read ANOTHER Meg Cabot book? Unfortunately, my lovely husband is becoming concerned my obsession with Meg Cabot is a tad unhealthy).

Lucy M Boston; THE CHILDREN OF GREEN KNOWE


Patricia Clapp; JANE-EMILY

And I've had several people remind me of perhaps the best novel-length ghost story ever (yeah, I think I'm happy with that claim): A CHRISTMAS CAROL. How could I neglect to mention one of my favorites?

UPDATE II:

More fun suggestions!

Amanda Marrone; DEVOURED


Elizabeth Bunce; A CURSE AS DARK AS GOLD


Joan G Robinson; WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE

6 comments:

  1. Interesting list! One of my favorite ghost stories is A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb - I'm not sure you'd be able to find it in the UK (though I believe it's available through Google books). It's a unique story and the writing is lovely.

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  2. Oh, you are so right to add A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT. I think it was mentioned to me before, too, but somehow never ended up on the "master list" (which is just a scrawl on a page of my writing notebook =) ). Thanks!

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  3. This is great! I want to read so many of the books on this list.

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  4. Thanks, Nova! Me too! =)
    Hopefully early in the new year I can do sort of an update on where I am with the list and recommend a few. Started Tamsin on my long bus ride today and was absolutely riveted.

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  5. Anne -
    I'm late to this post, but it's great! Thanks for compiling all the books here.

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  6. Thanks for stopping by, Meg! My notebook page which was housing all these recommendations was getting to be a mess, so happy to be able to compile them here and share them with others.

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