Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park

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The Others (2001)

others coverBertha, Edmund, and Lydia are the newest and only servants in Grace Stewart’s regal country home. Grace is a harsh employer, demanding strict adherence to her house rules. But Grace has good reason to be a taskmistress: her two children, Anne and Nicholas, have a unique illness that requires them to be in constant darkness. Exposure to sunlight causes them physical pain.

Grace is currently in dire straits. World War II not only took her husband, but her wealth as well. Her home, once filled with people and decoration, is now mostly barren, save the essentials. With this tense, stark atmosphere, it is a small wonder that her children are acting out and claiming to see invisible people. However, as the days draw on, Grace wonders if what the children see could be real.

Some might rate this as a mediocre film, but it strongly appeals to all of my sensibilities. It features a scared, sad mother in a large beautiful house, which is not only my favorite plot line but also a recurring theme in Spanish horror movies. The Others has few effective jump scares, opting instead to focus on the growing hysteria and loneliness of the characters, which in turn builds empathy and heightens the anxiety. If you are in the mood for an eerie movie with a Gothic flair, you should definitely check out The Others.

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Others.

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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

frankenstein shelleyI don’t normally give into hype when I see a movie trailer (looking at you, The Force Awakens), but when I saw the trailer for Victor Frankenstein starring Daniel Radcliffe, my interest was piqued. The trailer also conjured fond memories of me reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by flashlight and shivering at the description of the monster.

Although scifi master Brian Aldiss has unequivocally stated that Frankenstein is the first science fiction novel, it’s a bit hard to convince modern audiences of that fact.  Frankenstein is much more overtly gothic and romantic than scifi, but upon closer inspection, the scifi elements are definitely there. I’m interested to see how this newest movie version lives up to the scifi element, especially since it’s being billed as scifi horror.

No matter how many movie versions are made, the original novel is highly recommended. It’s not very long and an easy, suspenseful read. Pick this up for a school project or summer reading and your teacher will be very impressed. And for all of you for whom school is but a memory, Frankenstein is a great book to have in your reading repertoire.

As a work in the United States public domain, Frankenstein is available as a free ebook from Project Gutenberg.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Frankenstein.

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The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux

phantom of the opera coverIt is rumored that in the vast dark spaces of the Paris Opera House lurks a demonic presence: the Opera Ghost. The new owners of the house, MM. Moncharmin and Richard, write this off as the superstitions of theatre folk, and will do everything in their power to ignore the demanding letters left by the “Ghost”. For others, however the Ghost is all too real. One such soul is the comely Christine Daae, whose recent rise to stardom in the opera house can only be described as other-worldly. At one of Christine’s performances she catches the eye, and heart, of her childhood friend, Viscount Raoul de Chagny.

As Raoul begins a clandestine affair with Christine, and the new managers begin a battle with the opera ghost, the sinister forces at work in the Paris Opera House begin to reveal themselves to the world!

This novel was written 1900s, but despite the ‘age gap’, it still remains an exciting adventure. There is action, horror and romance that will appeal to readers of today.

As a work in the United States Public Domain, The Phantom of the Opera novel by Gaston Leroux is available as a free ebook download from Project Gutenberg.

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Phantom of the Opera.

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

we have always lived in the castle coverWe Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of a family struck down by poison. The Blackwood family has always been wealthy and goes out of its way to exclude itself from the goings on of those less well-off. But six years before the start of the novel, most of the family was murdered, and now the remaining members—Mary Katherine, Constance, and Uncle Julian—have become even more reclusive. Mary Katherine, who goes by Merricat, is the only one to venture into the village twice a week to collect food and library books. The villagers treat Merricat horribly, subjecting her to ridicule and open hostility. Here we get the first glimpse into Merricat’s dark mind. When Cousin Charles stops by unexpectedly, the real story of the poisoning and the Blackwood reputation comes out.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a short book with a slow creep. As you get further engrossed in the novel, the creep settles in and nests in your brain. I finished this book right before I started an evening shift at work and it stuck with me; I felt all my interactions were shadowed with Merricat’s thoughts.  This is not your typical scary story, and I recommend it to those who enjoy a good gothic novel.

Check the PPLC Catalog for We Have Always Lived in the Castle.