Friday, December 4, 2009

The best ghost stories out there?

About a month ago, I asked for suggestions for good ghost stories. For my MA in Writing for Young People, I'm working on an essay about plotting ghost stories. I was overrun with suggestions (but in a good way!).

My reading and writing this past month has been extremely fruitful, and I feel I've learned a lot about what it takes to tell a good ghost story. In the coming weeks I'm hoping to post more of my thoughts on this genre. But I wanted to start by sharing my two favorite finds from my reading (both authors whom I had never heard of!):

DREADFUL SORRY by Kathryn Reiss

"Ever since she can remember, seventeen-year-old Molly has been plagued by the same terrifying nightmare and an almost overwhelming fear of water. After almost drowning at a pool party, she flees to the safety of her father’s house for the summer. But Molly’s problems only intensify as she stumbles onto a series of strange connections linking herself to a girl who lived in that Cliffside house nearly a century before. Then the eerie coincidences start to form a dangerous pattern, and Molly finds herself haunted by visions that feel more like memories--memories of a time before she was even born!" (summary from Reiss' website)

Reiss breaks many of the traditional ghost story rules, yet I never stopped turning pages. When I reached the end, I sat on the couch and held the book for several minutes, desperately wishing there was a sequel, or perhaps even a trilogy. This is my first time reading Reiss; I must seek out some of her other books.

BOG CHILD by Siobhan Dowd

"Digging for peat in the mountain with his Uncle Tally, Fergus finds the body of a child, and it looks as if she’s been murdered. As Fergus tries to make sense of the mad world around him – his brother on hunger-strike in prison, his growing feelings for Cora, his parents arguing over the Troubles, and him in it up to the neck, blackmailed into smuggling mysterious packages across the border – a little voice comes to him in his dreams, and the mystery of the bog child unfurls." (summary taken from Dowd's website)

Technically I'm not sure I'd classify BOG CHILD as a ghost story. It's not scary (at least, not in a supernatural way) and Fergus is not literally haunted. However, he is consumed by dreams of a long dead child. And besides, it's really really good, so it had plenty to teach me.

I hope you'll give both books (and authors) a read. Do let me know if you enjoy them as much as I did.

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