I can come to your library, book club meeting, or conference to talk about how to help your readers find their next good read. Click here for more information including RA for All's EDI Statement.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

What I'm Reading Halloween Edition: The Unseen, Castaways, and Locke and Key

Happy Halloween! To help readers new to horror, I have prepared this report on 3 different horror books I have read in the last few months. One is bloodless but will totally freak you out, one is a solid example of the best of today's paperback horror, and one is a horror graphic novel. These books combined with my Horror 2009 reports represent a snap shot of what readers can expect from the horror genre right now. I hope you had a fun and safe Halloween.

Perennial Bram Stoker winner Alexandra Sokoloff's newest supernatural thriller is called, The Unseen. This book may be "bloodless," but the foreboding, dark, and oppressive atmosphere begins with the first sentence as the protagonist is reliving a horrific premonition. Sokoloff, a master of creating an unsettling atmosphere in all of her books, is at her finest here. She begins dark and uneasy, and although the mood fluctuates throughout the novel, we, the reader, never feel settled.

Sokoloff is very popular at the Berwyn Public Library and when I met Sokoloff at the Sisters in Crime booth at ALA annual she was kind enough to have her agent send me a copy of The Unseen.

Here's the realistically spooky plot: In the 1960s, researchers and students from the Duke University Parapsychology Lab went to study poltergeists in a haunted house. No one returned unscathed. Today, Professor Laurel MacDonald and three others return to the haunted home in the hopes of getting some answers, but are they prepared for what they will find? Are you?

Because the Parapsychology Lab was actually a real part of Duke University, this novel is even freakier. Once they get to the house, I dare you to stop reading. Like all great horror novels, the conflict is resolved, but the ghosts are not even close to being vanquished. Sokoloff's monsters are never seen, but the havoc their wreck is felt by all.

Readalikes: Another new horror book with a similar plot is The House of Lost Souls by F. G. Cottam. I would also suggest The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe, The Red Tree by Caitlin Kiernan, anything by Sarah Langan, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and these nonfiction books that mention Duke's Parapsychology Lab and zener cards. Sokoloff has a nice bibliography, as well as a list of what is true and what is fiction, at the end of the novel.

Now for something a little bloodier, Brian Keene's Castaways. Here is the plot... A television crew and contestants in a Survivor-esque reality show are literally caught in a fight for their lives-- the island they have been left on is populated by an indigenous tribe of bloodthirsty monsters! Castaways is a grisly page-turner.

The reality TV slant in this novel is genius! The contestants are on an uninhabited island and a cyclone is approaching. All but three crew members are evacuated and the contestants are left alone to ride out the storm. That is when the horrors begin. This is a bloody book, but Keene's ability to add humor and his well enough described band of characters makes this novel a good choice for a wide audience. As a warning I should say there are a few brutal rape scenes, but they are necessary to the plot. And even though many, many people die and are torn limb from limb (literally), our main characters make it out alive and live happily ever after. Although, I dare you not to be rooting for the monsters to get a certain Welsh contestant.

Readalikes: Keene is one of the best and most reliable paperback horror writers today. Castaways was written as a tribute to Richard Laymon, so he is a great place to begin readalike suggestions. Although a bit darker, The Ruins by Scott Smith is also very similar to Castaways. Novels by Gary Braunbeck, Robert Dunbar, and Jonathan Maberry's Pine Deep Trilogy are also good suggestions here.

Finally, as I mentioned here, I read the second graphic novel in Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's Locke and Key series, Head Games. Head Games continues the trails of the Locke family as they are stalked by an evil spirit who wants access to the magic keys hidden in their ancestral home. In the first installment, which I wrote about here, the key opened a door which "killed" he who used the key, allowing him or her to float as a ghost above everyone, unseen. After a time, the ghost would return to reanimate his or her body.

As cool as that sounds, the main key discovered in this installment is better; it literally opens your head. The Locke children open each other's heads, cram in homework and remove horrible memories. However, their unknown supernatural stalker is getting closer; in fact, he is in the form of what they think is their best friend. Terrible things continue to happen to the Locke family, and I can't stop turning the pages.

Rodriguez's drawings are both beautiful and unsettling, sometimes at the same time. Joe Hill has written another compelling story and we are even treated to a bit of foreshadowing as to what keys may be found next. This is a clever, original, and unsettling graphic novel. There is blood, violence, and heartbreaking murders here; but the story is compelling and the Locke kids themselves will keep even a more timid reader turning the pages.

Because this is a graphic novel, more squeamish readers should proceed with caution. Reading a horror novel is one thing, looking at the story in an illustrated form is quite another.

Readalikes: The graphic novels of Hill's father's Dark Tower books make for a good suggestion here. Also anything by Neil Gaiman from Sandman to The Graveyard Book (and everything in between) would work for fans of the Lock and Key Series. Also try Alan Moore and Frank Miller in graphic novels, and Bentley Little, Robert McCammon, or Peter Straub in novels.

Remember to check our all of my posts labeled horror to find more hair raising reads.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Lovecraft 101

io9, my favorite source for all things Science Fiction has been focusing on horror this week, for obvious reasons. Yesterday they had this great post about Lovecraft.

Their main point is that people have heard of Lovecraft and know he is important, but don't know what they should read. This article points you in the right direction. You can even read some of his stories online for free at Project Gutenberg.

If you have never read Lovecraft, I encourage you to do so. These stories are the inspiration behind so much of what is popular in horror today. Most modern horror writers list Lovecraft as a major inspiration.

So get in the Halloween spirit and read some Lovecraft. Just keep the lights on.

Student Annotations: Genres of the Intellect

Another Wednesday night class has been completed and so, another Thursday morning post to showcase the students' hard work.

This week they tackled Literary Fiction, Mystery, Science Fiction and Psychological Suspense. What do all these genres have in common, they are all novels that look at puzzles or provocative questions.

Click on over to the Word Press Blog to see what they had to say about the books they read for this week.

Don't forget, each student annotation contains 6 readalikes: 3 fiction and 3 nonfiction. Also, try to use our "tag cloud" to match books by appeal for yourself.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Top Ten Halloween Books

Lit Lists has a few different lists of Halloween books posted here.

These are not just horror novels. So if you want to read something for Halloween, but don't want to be too scared. Check out these suggestions.

Horror 2009: One Link Access

To read all of my Horror 2009 reports, please click here.

Later this week I will have a 3 book What I'm Reading Halloween edition.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Horror 2009: Part 4

In today's Horror 2009 report I want to share my favorite horror resources with you. These are were I go to learn more about horror fiction.

Print Reference Sources:

Hooked on Horror III: Guide to Reading Interests in Horror Fiction by Anthony Fonseca and June Michelle Pulliam

The Horror Readers’ Advisory: The Librarian’s Guide to Vampires, Killer Tomatoes, and Haunted Houses by Becky Siegel Spratford and Tammy Hennigh Clausen

Read On…Horror Fiction by June Michelle Pulliam and Anthony Fonseca

The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling (annual publication)

Titles by Horror writers on appreciating the genre:

Danse Macabre by Stephen King

Horror Isn't a 4-Letter Word by Matthew Warner

On Writing Horror: A Handbook by the Horror Writers Association, revised edition edited by the Mort Castle and the Horror Writers Association

Writers Workshop of Horror edited by Michael Knost

Horror Web Resources:

The Horror Writer’s Association and their Blog, Dark Whispers

Buried.com: "Everything that is horror."

Gothic.Net: "...a friendly community site designed to provide a supportive venue for Gothic culture and horror literature and the creative and artistic people interested in them."

The Horror Fiction Review

Horror World: a horror community where authors and readers can connect

Monster Librarian

Horror Mall The self proclaimed #1 independent, horror literature shop on the web. Includes detailed books, author, and magazine sections.


Horror Awards:

The Bram Stoker Awards

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Horror 2009: Part 3

Let's get right to it. You want some more great horror suggestions, right? Here are more titles I think are worth a read. All were published in 2009, all links go to Amazon, and all annotations are modified from the product descriptions on Amazon. I have added some of my own comments in red. Click through to read more about these novels and story collections, and don't forget to also look here where I have original annotations and readalikes for 10 more 2009 titles. For all of my Horror year-in-review posts, click here.

Cursed by Jeremy Shipp
You are: 1) Nick 2) cursed 3) afraid all the time That's because: a) someone or b) something is after you with a vengeance. Even with the help of other cursed people, you don't stand a chance because you're all, you know, cursed. That means you and everyone you know will: 1) suffer 2) die 3) amuse your tormentor That is, unless you figure out how to manipulate the person behind this and turn their power against them. Check your list a second time because they're probably on it. The only thing left to do is scratch them off. (realistically creepy)
The Shore by Robert Dunbar
In this sequel to the popular The Pines, as a winter storm grips the coastal town of Edgeharbor, a series of horrible murders terrorizes the residents. A young policewoman and a mysterious stranger are all that stand between the tiny town and an ancient evil. (Great small town horror)
His Father's Son by Bentley Little
Steve Nye's quiet life takes an unexpected turn when he receives a call from his mother. His father attacked her and has been committed to an asylum. The doctor says he's suffering from dementia. But Steve's father seems so calm, clear-eyed, and lucid when he whispers, "I killed her". Is it simply symptom of his father's delusion and madness? If only Steve were so lucky... (good new title by the man Stephen King has called, "the horror poet laureate.")
Flesh by Richard Laymon
No one in town has ever seen anything like it; a slimy, mobile tube of glistening yellow flesh with dull, staring eyes and an obscene, probing mouth. But the real horror is not what it looks like, or what it does when it invades your flesh - but what it makes you do to others. (Richard Laymon may be dead himself, but new scares keep being released upon us; bloody.)
Far, Dark Fields by Gary Braunbeck
Veteran horrormeister Braunbeck breaks literary rules by the handful in his latest dark fantasy yarn, which makes reference to 2007's Mr. Hands and 2008's Coffin County without exactly being a sequel. When a high school student goes on an inexplicable shooting spree, it stirs a host of memories for unassuming suburban English teacher Geoff Conover. Returning to Cedar Hill, Ohio, the town he left as an infant after surviving another mass killing, Geoff comes to realize that his personal mysteries are inextricably bound to his birthplace. (Great for fans and new readers alike.)
Children of Chaos by Greg Gifune
In a torrential downpour, Phil, Jamie and Martin-three teenage boys-encounter a strange and enigmatic man covered in horrible scars who will change their lives, their destinies and the very fate of their souls forever. When their encounter mistakenly leads to murder, they realize this eerie stranger may not have been a man at all, but something much more... Thirty years later the boys-now men-lead tormented lives filled with horrifying memories of the scarred man and what they did all those years ago in the rain. There will be only one chance for redemption, one chance for salvation, and one chance to stop the rise of an antichrist's bloody quest for demonic power. (For the demonic horror fans.)
Audrey's Door by Sarah Langan
Built on the Upper West Side, the elegant Breviary claims a regal history. But despite 14B's astonishingly low rental price, the recent tragedy within its walls has frightened away all potential tenants . . . except for Audrey Lucas. No stranger to tragedy at thirty-two—a survivor of a fatherless childhood and a mother's hopeless dementia— Audrey is obsessively determined to make her own way in a city that often strangles the weak. But is it something otherworldly or Audrey's own increasing instability that's to blame for the dark visions that haunt her . . . and for the voice that demands that she build a door? A door it would be true madness to open . . . (A reliable writer of dark fiction; great creepy atmosphere.)
Benjamin's Parasite by Jeff Strand
At any given moment, the human body contains millions of parasites. This is the story of just one. A really, really nasty one. Benjamin Wilson was having a lousy month even before the stomach pains began. Now everything is changing. His body is being affected in some very unpleasant ways. The biggest change is that he has a bunch of evil and/or psychotic people trying to hunt him down to acquire the parasite. His only hope is Julie, a gorgeous bounty hunter who may or may not have Benjamin's best interests in mind, and who may or may not be competent enough to help him anyway. Jeff Strand delivers his most outrageous adventure yet-an over-the-top mix of gruesome body horror and a wacky road trip comedy.(For the Humorous Horror fan)
The Glister by John Burnside
Since George Lister’s chemical plant closed down, Innertown has been a shadow of its former self. In the woods that once teemed with life, strange sickly plants grow. Homes that were once happy are threatened by a mysterious illness. Here, a young boy named Leonard and his friends exist in a state of confusion and despair, as every year or so a boy from their school vanishes after venturing into the poisoned woods. Without conclusive evidence of foul play, the authorities consider the boys to be runaways. The town policeman suspects otherwise but, paralyzed with fear, he does nothing. And so it is up to the children who remain to take action. (The Glister was picked by Amazon.com as one of the best of the month for March 2009.)
The House of Lost Souls by F.G. Cottham

Just weeks after four students cross the threshold of the derelict Fischer House, one of them has committed suicide and the other three are descending into madness. Nick Mason’s sister is one of them. To save her, Nick must join ranks with Paul Seaton—the only person to have visited the house and survive. But Paul is a troubled man, haunted by otherworldly visions that even now threaten his sanity. Desperate, Nick forces Paul to go back into the past, to the secret journal of beautiful photographer Pandora Gibson-Hoare and a debauched gathering in the 1920s, and to the dark legacy of Klaus Fischer—master of the unspeakable crime and demonic proceedings that have haunted the mansion for decades. (Mentioned here by me as a readalike for The Unseen; also good for Shirley Jackson fans.)

Quarantined by Joe McKinney
The citizens of San Antonio, Texas are threatened with extermination by a terrifying outbreak of the flu. Quarantined by the military to contain the virus, the city is in a desperate struggle to survive. Inside the quarantine walls, Detective Lily Harris is working burial statistics duty at the Scar, San Antonio's mass graveyard, when she finds a murder victim hidden amongst the plague dead. But Lily's investigation into the young woman's death soon takes a frightening turn as yet another strain of the deadly flu virus surfaces, and now Lily finds herself caught up in a conspiracy orchestrated by a corrupt local government intent on hiding the news from the world and fighting a population threatening to boil over into revolt. (For the Swine Flu obsessed reader; timely)

Short Story Collections: Horror is alive and thriving in the short story form. For many readers, it is considered the best format for the genre. See for yourself.
Unhappy Endings by Brian Keene
Two-time Stoker-winner Keene includes 19 stories, many of which were previously only available in limited edition collections or numbered editions of his novels, in his gleefully gory fourth collection. These stories range from a violent, post-apocalyptic novella to quiet, supernatural human-dramas. (A good collection of one author's works.)
Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror edited by Ryan Thomas
Move over King Kong, there are new monsters in town! Giant beetles, towering crustaceans, gargantuan felines and massive underwater beasts, to name just a few. Think you've got what it takes to survive their attacks? Then open this baby up, and join today's hottest authors as they show us the true power of Mother Nature's creatures. With enough fangs, pincers and blood to keep you up all night, we promise you won't look at creepy crawlies the same way again. (For fans of B-movies and mutant animal horror.)
Midnight Walk edited by Lisa Morton
This collection presents 14 tales of terror and suspense by 14 different authors. This is a great collection on its own, with a stories for just about every horror fan. More important to note, this is the first release from Darkhouse Publishing, "a collective of writers, editors, and booksellers dedicated to publishing quality horror and speculative dark fiction." Look to this collection to find the next big horror writers. (annotation by me)
Dark Delicacies III: Haunted edited by Del Howison and Jeff Gelb
A stellar cast of horror writers comprise this third entry in the Dark Delicacies anthology series. These twenty-one short works will examine and lay bare all the ways in which we are haunted—both literally and figuratively. With a new novella from David Morrell and a short story Chuck Palahniuk is writing as a teaching class on his blog, interest in this anthology will prove that the third time is no trick and all treat! (This collection contains works by more well-known horror writers.)

Horror 2009: Part 4 will appear on Monday, when I will be featuring my favorite horror resources.

And later in the week look for my What I'm Reading report on The Unseen, Castaways, and Locke and Key: Head Games.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Horror 2009: Part 2

In Part 3 I will highlight some more books that I think are worth your time, but for Part 2 I wanted to start talking about horror publishers specifically.

There are many specialty, small presses who are dedicated to putting out as many horror publications as they can. As the editors over at Horror Fiction Review noted in a recent editorial:
The horror genre is one of the few genres that even HAS its own small press. Many mass market horror authors were discovered there. I believe the small press is (and actually has been for quite some time) the FUTURE of horror fiction.
I agree and I want to highlight these brave horror publishers. Use the links to go directly to their homepages. Many are running Halloween specials too, so think about making a purchase. Also, these are books libraries don't always buy. So if you do go and buy some, after you read and enjoy them, pass them on to your local library. Even a horror friendly library like mine, can only buy a certain number of these wonderfully scary books.

The largest mass-market publisher of horror novels is Leisure Books, a division of Dorchester Publishing. This month they are featuring new releases by Edward Lee, John Everson, Bryan Smith, and Sarah Pinborough. All four authors, and for that matter, all of the Leisure Books novels are worth a look.

Now, I will take the other small horror presses in alphabetical order. Click through to see what they have to offer. Each of them has worked hard for this, their busiest season. Also, please note that many of these presses only sell through Horror Mall.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Horror 2009: Part 1

Due to my reputation as a horror maven, I get many requests to compile lists of the best horror books. Although I pass on some through this site throughout the course of the year, I try to post an annual list which coincides with my work for the October display at the BPL.

This year, I am taking this list rather seriously since I am also in the research stages of working on the second edition of my horror book for the American Library Association. I also have the added benefit of now being a member of the Horror Writers Association.

This has been a year dominated by non-horror vampire books like the Twilight series and the Sookie Stackhouse series, and a few very high profile horror titles such as The Strain by director Guillermo del Toro and the Jane Austen horror remakes Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters, just to name a few.

The popularity of these titles with a general audience has been exciting, but there are also many horror titles that deserve more press. This time of year is when people pay the most attention, so here is the first of three posts in the coming days that will highlight some great horror reads, publishers, and resources.

As part of my regular promotion of our displays at the BPL, I posted my Horror display annotations here.

The books I included had a few requirements. I could only list 10, they had to have come out in 2009, and we had to own them at BPL. I also wanted to focus on some of the non-bestselling authors who are popular at Berwyn. Again the list can be found here, but here are the books I included:
Please note, this year, I included at least 1 readalike for each book. Use the link to take a look at what I have to say about each title to see if you would enjoy them.

Now on to some of the big name releases right now. Of course, everyone is excited for the new Stephen King, Under the Dome, which is coming out on November 10. Under the Dome follows the residents in a small town in Maine after an unexplained force field blocks them off from the rest of the world. This book is getting a lot of press both because it is part of these current book price wars and because it is Stephen King! Seriously though, this one man has captured the imagination of our entire country. People who do not read horror, love his books. No matter in which genre you try to place his works, Stephen King is one of our national treasures. Don't believe me, click here or here.

Besides giving us some wonderful books to read, the next best thing Stephen King has given the world is his son, Joe Hill. Hill has only written a few books, but each has won him critical praise, awards, and millions of fans. He has been working on a horror graphic novel series called Locke and Key with the artist Gabriel Rodriguez. I read the first one, Welcome to Lovecraft and wrote about it here. The next installment, Head Games, came out a few weeks ago and is even more creepy and unsettling than the first. Although I will write in detail about this book on this blog in a few days, I wanted to leave you with this quote from the introduction by Warren Ellis, "...these comics are really remarkably good, among the best written comics I have seen in the last two years..."

I also wanted to remind you that the first official sequel to Dracula has just been published. Co-authored by a Stoker relative, Dracula The Un-Dead is based on Bram Stoker's handwritten notes and follows Jonathan and Mina's son. The reviews are so-so, but it is worth mentioning.

In the next Horror 2009 post I will write about some other lesser known 2009 titles that are worth your time and highlight the key horror publishers. Part three will focus on horror resources. I will also have a special 3 book What I'm Reading post highlighting three recent horror releases.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Book Pricing Wars

If you like to read I am sure you are aware of the current price war between Amazon, Walmart, and Target. They are pricing new bestsellers as low as $9 for hardcovers.

I felt the need to comment here to remind you that you can get those same books for FREE at your local public library. But you can't wait you say. At BPL we make sure that there are no more than 3 people waiting for each book at a time. That means we have 10 copies of The Lost Symbol right now. People are keeping it for about 10 days each. So, the average waiting time for this bestseller is less than a month.

While you wait, I have literally thousands of titles on the shelf that you can read and enjoy...again, for free.

So to recap...$9 or Free...you decide. We will be waiting for you at your local public library.

BPL Book Discussion: The Stolen Child

This week our group met to discuss The Stolen Child by Keith Donohue. This debut novel was a huge hit when it came out it 2006. The Stolen Child was inspired by this Yeats poem that tempts a child from home, and has been described as mystical, a dark fairy tale, a bedtime story for adults, and a classic tale of leaving childhood and searching for your identity.

I have used this novel on many displays. Here is a modified version of the annotations I have used in the past:

At age 7, Henry Day is kidnapped by a pack of hobgoblins who replace him with one of their own. The chapters alternate between the experiences of human Henry and hobgoblin Henry. Neither Henry feels content in his life, and both are losing a grip on their true pasts. Their concurrent struggle to find where they came from lead the two Henrys to finally meet decades later. Although the ending of this magical novel is open, both Henrys do come to terms with who they have been, who they are, and who they will be.

The Stolen Child is a great choice for adults who want to try something with a touch of fantasy, but is still grounded in reality. It is especially appealing to readers who like Neil Gaiman, Audrey Niffennegger, and Gregory Maguire, but don't read much other fantasy. Trust me there are a lot of these people, and for them, we have a Fantasy for Beginners list which I created posted on the BPL website. I am always searching for new fantasy titles for non-fantasy readers.

Now on to our discussion. This was the first blatant fantasy book we tried as a group. I was a bit worried because as a group, these women prefer realistic stories. As we began, it was clear they were a bit uncomfortable with the fantasy elements. One of the participants put it best when she said, "Once I suspended reality, it was okay." Another said, although each Henry's story was not based in reality, they each felt "real" for that character. In other words, Donohue created a convincing place in which hobgoblins and people could realistically be living side-by-side.

No matter the opinion of the group on the fantasy aspects, they all agreed that the writing was amazing and his imagination "awed" one group member. Specifically, people liked how he intertwined with double, alternating stories without blatantly having each scene told from the two Henrys perspectives. Their stories overlapped at times, but there were many connections and references to objects, events or characters that the reader had to piece together. We all enjoyed discovering where things overlapped.

We discussed the 2 huge themes of "doubles" and "memory" in The Stolen Child at length. People also liked that each of the 12 faeries had their own personality, and even though their names seemed out of "Star Wars," as one participant put it, they were easy to distinguish and "get to know."

One of our lines of discussion centered on why the changelings world was falling apart. We talked about the encroachment of the suburbs on the forest, but then moved to talking about their destruction as a symbol of human "advancement." We modern Americans do not believe in magic as much anymore. We are too rational to have time for the superstitions of our parents and the old world. We then discussed the popularity of Halloween in America (It is now the 2nd most popular holiday in America behind Christmas), and thought that maybe it is so popular because it is our only chance to explore magic and superstition today.

We also talked about whether or not The Stolen Child is the "fairy tale for adults," that the publisher markets it to be, and if so, what is its moral. We decided there were 2 morals. First, to try to look at the world with a child's point of view from time to time. Second, remember to add a touch of fantasy into your adult life.

Of course I had to ask, who is the "stolen child" of the title; since3 it is singular, I forced people to only pick one child. Some said, Aniday (the faerie Henry) since he is literally stolen and is forced to stay a child. Some said, Gustav/Henry because his childhood was stolen and he got to relive it as an adult. But overall we decided the answer was us, the adult readers. We are each the "stolen child" because our childhood is gone; it cannot be relived and we may have lost its lessons.

That being said, this is not a depressing book, in fact, the two main characters meet towards the end and feel that they have forgiven each other. They have also each "written" their story as a confession to the woman they love, and that is another sign that they have come to terms with their lives and can move forward.

Appeal: mystical fiction, debut novel, dark fairy tale, doubles/twins, doppelgangers, changelings (hobgoblins), myths and legends, 2 points of view, history and details of the growth of the suburbs in the mid-20th century, details about music both classical and popular, families, domestic fiction, identity issues, magical realism, thought provoking, coming of age, blurring of good and evil, alienation, identity, genealogy, bedtime stories for adults, lost/missing children, wild children, impostors, secret identity, coping and loss, belonging, parallel universe, literary fantasy, open ending.

The Stolen Child has so many appeals to match that I have a huge list of fiction readalikes. I am going to list them as I instruct my students to do readalikes; I will list the book and give a few key terms as to why I feel the books match. See the appeal terms above also.

All books by Gregory Maguire (dark fairy tales, retelling of familiar stories)
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson (doppelgangers, magical realism, gritty)
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (debut novel, lost children, magical realism, coping and loss parallel universe, multiple narrators)
Drood by Dan Simmons (doppelgangers, magical realism)
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (magical realism, lost child, parallel universe)
American Gods by Neil Gaiman (folklore and legend, bedtime stories for adults, parallel universe)
Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (lost children, magical realism, coming of age)
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (twins, fairy tale for adults, literary, secret identity)
Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger (twins, magical realism, literary fantasy, supernatural)
The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling ("wild child," coming of age without human family)
The Confessions of Max Tivioli by Andrew Sean Greer (coming of age, identity, magical realism)
You Remind Me of Me by Dan Chaon (three people's stories, memory, mythical)
The Wild Things by David Eggers (lost children, mystical fiction, coming of age)
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (magical realism, forever a child, fairy tale)
The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly (child narrator, parallel world, dark fairy tale)
Post-Birthday World by Lionel Shriver (2 stories told side-by-side, magical realism)

For nonfiction, the most obvious choices are books about missing children, books about changelings, faeries, or hobgoblins, and books about myths and legends.

You can see why this book makes for a great discussion. There are so many other books it reminded the participants of. Even though reading fantasy was new and different for them, there were many familiar links we could make together.