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Treat Yo’ Shelf: Books We’re Reading This October

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If you’re anything like us, then your BTR (Books To Read) stack is probably reaching dangerous heights. We’re nothing if not wicked enablers, so here’s what the staff of Dear Darkling has their bookmarks in this month. Here’s hoping you find your new favorite page-turner.

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina

By Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Robert Hack

Image via Amazon

“On the eve of her sixteenth birthday, the young sorceress Sabrina Spellman finds herself at a crossroads, having to choose between an unearthly destiny and her mortal boyfriend, Harvey. But a foe from her family’s past has arrived in Greendale, Madame Satan, and she has her own deadly agenda.” (Amazon)

Who else is eagerly awaiting the new Sabrina the Teenage Witch series that’s set to hit Netflix later this month? If you can’t wait, or, conversely, if you want to get even more excited, check out the source comic for the new (much darker) version! As a bonus, if you’re a Prime user, as of publication, the Kindle version is free! Amazon//$16.19+

Last Days

By Adam Neville

Image via Amazon

“When guerrilla documentary maker, Kyle Freeman, is asked to shoot a film on the notorious cult known as the Temple of the Last Days, it appears his prayers have been answered. The cult became a worldwide phenomenon in 1975 when there was a massacre including the death of its infamous leader, Sister Katherine. Kyle’s brief is to explore the paranormal myths surrounding an organization that became a testament to paranoia, murderous rage, and occult rituals. The shoot’s locations take him to the cult’s first temple in London, an abandoned farm in France, and a derelict copper mine in the Arizonan desert where The Temple of the Last Days met its bloody end. But when he interviews those involved in the case, those who haven’t broken silence in decades, a series of uncanny events plague the shoots. Troubling out-of-body experiences, nocturnal visitations, the sudden demise of their interviewees and the discovery of ghastly artifacts in their room make Kyle question what exactly it is the cult managed to awaken – and what is its interest in him?” (Amazon)

Speaking of Netflix, Last Days is another offering from Adam Neville, author of The Ritual. This story, about a cash-strapped filmmaker trying to uncover the truth about a cult at the behest of a squirrelly benefactor, is eerie and atmospheric and will keep you turning the pages. Amazon//$17.81+

The Illustrated Herbiary: Guidance and Rituals from 36 Bewitching Botanicals

By Maia Toll

Image via Amazon

“Rosemary is for remembrance; sage is for wisdom. The symbolism of plants — whether in the ancient Greek doctrine of signatures or the Victorian secret language of flowers — has fascinated us for centuries. Contemporary herbalist Maia Toll adds her distinctive spin to this tradition with profiles of the mysterious personalities of 36 herbs, fruits, and flowers. Combining a passion for plants with imagery reminiscent of tarot, enticing text offers reflections and rituals to tap into each plant’s power for healing, self-reflection, and everyday guidance. Smaller versions of the illustrations are featured on 36 cards to help guide your thoughts and meditations.” (Amazon)

Not only does this book provide a new spin on herbal mythology, it also features lush, vibrant illustrations that provide a feast for the eyes. If you seek a new path for meditation and reflection alongside beautiful artwork, this is definitely a book that needs to be on your list. Amazon//$15.96+

A Taste for Monsters

By Matthew J. Kirby

Image via Amazon

“It’s London 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the people of the city. Evelyn, a young woman disfigured by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory with nowhere to go, does not know what to make of her new position as a maid to the Elephant Man in London Hospital. Evelyn wanted to be locked away from the world, like he is, shut away from the filth and dangers of the streets. But in Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, she finds a gentle kindred, who does not recoil from her, and who understands her pain.When the murders begin, however, Joseph and Evelyn are haunted nightly by the ghosts of the Ripper’s dead, setting Evelyn on a path to facing her fears and uncovering humanity’s worst nightmares, in which the real monsters are men.” (Amazon)

This one comes with a glowing recommendation from our Editor-in-Chief, Alex Moehagen, who declares it “SO GOOD” (caps-lock) and says that, “The narrative was fascinating, the characters were well-fleshed-out and endearing, and I learned some history I didn’t know without noticing it was happening.” Sign us up. Amazon//$9.99+

Victorians Undone: Tales of the Flesh in the Age of Decorum

By Kathryn Hughes

Image via Amazon

“In Victorians Undone, renowned British historian Kathryn Hughes follows five iconic figures of the nineteenth century as they encounter the world not through their imaginations or intellects but through their bodies. Or rather, through their body parts. Using the vivid language of admiring glances, cruel sniggers, and implacably turned backs, Hughes crafts a narrative of cinematic quality by combining a series of truly eye-opening and deeply intelligent accounts of life in Victorian England.” (Amazon)

“Victorians” and “flesh” aren’t two things one would typically lump together, but this book does just that. Using body parts as a springboard, this book offers up several very colorful stories that focus on the lives of famous Victorians from an unconventional angle. Amazon//$21.39+

Picnic at Hanging Rock

By Joan Lindsey

Image via Amazon

“It was a cloudless summer day in the year 1900. Everyone at Appleyard College for Young Ladies agreed it was just right for a picnic at Hanging Rock. After lunch, a group of three girls climbed into the blaze of the afternoon sun, pressing on through the scrub into the shadows of the secluded volcanic outcropping. Farther, higher, until at last they disappeared. They never returned. . .” (Amazon)

The horror with this eerie Australian Gothic is subtle and creeping, but looms large as soon as the titular picnic goes awry and the girls go missing, leaving the rest of the community to try to wrap their heads around what has happened. Not only was it an acclaimed film in the 70s and recently remade as a series on Prime, it was also a major influence on the cult classic show Twin PeaksAmazon//$10.87+

Murder by Candlelight: The Gruesome Crimes Behind Our Romance with the Macabre

By Michael Knox Beran

Image via Amazon

“In the early nineteenth century, a series of murders took place in and around London which shocked the whole of England. The appalling nature of the crimes―a brutal slaying in the gambling netherworld, the slaughter of two entire households, and the first of the modern lust-murders―was magnified not only by the lurid atmosphere of an age in which candlelight gave way to gaslight, but also by the efforts of some of the keenest minds of the period to uncover the gruesomest details of the killings.
These slayings all took place against the backdrop of a London in which the splendor of the fashionable world was haunted by the squalor of the slums. Sir Walter Scott, Lord Byron, Thomas De Quincey, Thomas Carlyle, and Percy Bysshe Shelley and others were fascinated by the blood and deviltry of these crimes.

In their contemplations of the most notorious murders of their time, they discerned in the act of killing itself a depth of hideousness that we have lost sight of, now living in an age in which murder has been reduced to a problem of social science and skillful detective work. Interweaving these cultural vignettes alongside criminal history, acclaimed author Michael Beran paints a vivid picture of a time when homicide was thought of as the intrusion of the diabolic into ordinary life.” (Amazon)

One part true-crime and one part anthropological study, this book is explores several sensational, gruesome murders that happened during the 19th century and their influence on literature at the time, especially in terms of the Gothic crowd. This is definitely an interesting read for true crime fans who are curious to see where the genre got its start. Amazon//$11.52+

Five Points: The 19th Century New York City Neighborhood that Invented Tap Dance, Stole Elections, and Became the World’s Most Notorious Slum

By Tyler Anbinder

Image via Amazon

“All but forgotten today, the Five Points neighborhood in Lower Manhattan was once renowned the world over. From Jacob Riis to Abraham Lincoln, Davy Crockett to Charles Dickens, Five Points both horrified and inspired everyone who saw it. While it comprised only a handful of streets, many of America’s most impoverished African Americans and Irish, Jewish, German, and Italian immigrants sweated out their existence there. Located in today’s Chinatown, Five Points witnessed more riots, scams, prostitution, and drunkenness than any other neighborhood in America. But at the same time it was a font of creative energy, crammed full of cheap theaters, dance halls, and boxing matches. It was also the home of meeting halls for the political clubs and the machine politicians who would come to dominate not just the city but an entire era in American politics.” (Amazon)

What if: Whitechapel but American? This book draws upon historical records to paint a picture of Five Points, the infamous, chaotic and colorful neighborhood in 19th century New York City. Amazon//$18.54

The Silent Companions

By Laura Purcell

Image via Amazon

“When Elsie married handsome young heir Rupert Bainbridge, she believed she was destined for a life of luxury. But pregnant and widowed just weeks after their wedding, with her new servants resentful and the local villagers actively hostile, Elsie has only her late husband’s awkward cousin for company. Or so she thinks. Inside her new home lies a locked door, beyond which is a painted wooden figure—a silent companion—that bears a striking resemblance to Elsie herself. The residents of the estate are terrified of the figure, but Elsie tries to shrug this off as simple superstition—that is, until she notices the figure’s eyes following her.” (Amazon)

With a desolate house, a Victorian setting, and creepy wooden cut-outs, this Gothic story has it all! If you’re a fan of “horrid novels” in the vein of Henry James or Ann Radcliffe, this recent offering is a must-read. Amazon//$10.87+

The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal, and Hysteria in 1692 Salem

By Stacy Schiff


Image via Amazon

“The panic began early in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s niece began to writhe and roar. It spread quickly, confounding the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, husbands accused wives, parents and children one another. It ended less than a year later, but not before nineteen men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death.

Speaking loudly and emphatically, adolescent girls stood at the center of the crisis. Along with suffrage and Prohibition, the Salem witch trials represent one of the few moments when women played the central role in American history. Drawing masterfully on the archives, Stacy Schiff introduces us to the strains on a Puritan adolescent’s life and to the authorities whose delicate agendas were at risk. She illuminates the demands of a rigorous faith, the vulnerability of settlements adrift from the mother country, perched-at a politically tumultuous time-on the edge of what a visitor termed a ‘remote, rocky, barren, bushy, wild-woody wilderness.’” (Amazon)

This fascinating look at the Salem Witch Trials draws upon historical records to shed some new light on this very dark year in American history, with special focus on the women at the center of it all. In terms of historical context, it also makes for an excellent companion piece to The VVitch (2015). Amazon//$11.55+

Featured image via lichtschrijver

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About The Author

E. caught the first ten seconds of a Dracula movie on TV while in first grade and immediately became obsessed. She's a huge fan of Gothic lit, outrageous horror movies, strange cats, and DIY projects involving black glitter. She has a degree in Medieval Studies and a background in costume. She is learning how to Instagram.

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