The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James
“For the odd girls, the nerdy girls, and the murderinos. This one is yours.”
― Simone St. James, The Sun Down Motel
We all know sketchy small-town motels like The Sun Down. It’s not the kind of place you want to be after dark unless you’re a person passing through or a person with a secret, but this is a spot you will enjoy reading about. The Sun Down Motel is a horror/crime novel written from two different perspectives on two different timelines, but the motel is the connective tissue between the two stories and certainly is a character of its own.
Viv Delaney 1982
On her way to New York City, Viv takes the night clerk position at The Sun Down Motel in Fell, NY, but things aren’t quite right. Women in the area are turning up missing and murdered and Viv is hearing and seeing things at the hotel that can’t be real. As Viv delves deep into the mystery of the murdered women in the area, she mysteriously goes missing herself.
Carly Kirk 2017
Carly’s Aunt Viv went missing back in 1982 and it seems to her that no one cared. A true crime aficionado, Carly takes it upon herself to move to Fell, NY and find out what happened to her aunt. When she arrives, strange twists of fate allow her to move into the apartment her aunt had and even pick up the night clerk positon at the place her aunt used to work- The Sun Down Motel. The motel isn’t all it seems though. Was her aunt murdered or was something darker and paranormal at play?
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Rice weaves a truly realistic post-apocalyptic tale in Moon of the Crusted Snow. It leaves plenty to the imagination, but I thoroughly enjoyed Rice’s straightforward writing style, use of the Anishinaabe language, and it’s a fairly quick read- which can be a bonus if you’re absorbed in a story. If you don’t enjoy ambiguous books though, this one may not be for you.
A quick summary: A small Anishinaabe community in northern Canada notices their power is out, this is inconvenient, but not unusual. What is unusual is that the power does not come back, and winter is closing in. It’s not just their community- the electricity is gone. There’s no power, no phones, nothing. We follow Evan Whitesky, a young man with a young family to protect. The tribe knows of their old ways, but can they go back to them well enough to survive the winter on the supplies they have? When a mysterious stranger shows up from the south, and bad things begin to happen, can the community stay unified long enough to survive?
The Return by Rachel Harrison
“You can’t erase your past when there are pieces of it scattered inside other people.” Rachel Harrison, The Return
Julie is missing and all her friends believe she’s probably dead. Well, everyone except Elise. Elise just knows Julie is still out there. It turns out that Elise is right. Julie turns up two years after she goes missing from a secluded park. After Julie resurfaces, the friends decide to meet up at a remote inn. Apparently, Julie doesn’t remember anything that happened to her. When Elise is reunited with Julie, she knows something isn’t quite right with her friend. She looks terrible, smells terrible, her skin is dull, she’s emaciated, and seems off. Who- or what- is this new Julie?
This one really had me hooked the entire time. There’s a looming sense of dread that you just can’t shake and you just long to know more. It may walk you in circles a little bit, but it’s worth sticking with and has a great climax. The whole time you’ll be asking “What’s wrong with Julie?” and though you may or may not be surprised, you’ll be thoroughly creeped along the way to discovering the mystery.
I love a good mystery, true crime story, ghost story, or horror novel. All the books in this review reflect that. I thoroughly enjoyed each of these and would recommend them to anyone with tastes similar to my own. My favorite part of the horror genre is constantly wondering what’s going to happen next and the satisfaction of trying to put together what’s going on in a novel. I hope you pick one of these up, you can find them on READS or Audible. I enjoy trying to find the allegory in the creepy and disturbing that you usually find in a good horror story. I enjoy seeing an author hold society up to a carnival fun-house mirror- that’s what horror is to me. But beyond that, I just love a good scary story for the sake of a scary story as well.
By Amy Shropshire, Reference Department
There’s nothing like a good ghost story to send a tingle down the spine and a shock to the heart. For generations, people have been sitting around campfires telling tales of creeping creatures from the beyond, here to steal away innocent souls. One such creature is la Llorona, the weeping woman. The tales of her vary widely, histories blurring with the passage of time.
Her name was once Maria, they say. The stories that paint her the most innocent say that she danced and cavorted about town with her children left alone at home. They drowned in the river, from neglect or murder no one could say. Other tales say that she fell in love with a conquistador and had her children with him. After he spurned her to marry another woman she drowned her children in the river. The tales agree that she realized the wrong she’d done far too late and grieved the loss of her children until she wasted away or drowned herself in the river to follow her children to their graves. She was turned away from heaven, forced to wander the Earth endlessly searching for her dead children and mourning their loss.
La Llorona is a boogeyman used to frighten children into behaving, a creature of myth and morbid imagination. She wanders the waterways at night, drawn to the damp and dark places where she and her children died. When her cries sound farthest away is when she is close enough to touch. With her wailing the only warning, her hands will snatch a child found alone at night and drag them to a watery grave. She also visits children who argue with their parents, trying to lure them out and into her clutches. A gaunt young woman, once beautiful but now shriveled and with sunken eyes, she wears either pure white or mourning black, depending on which tales you believe. She drags truant children away, drowning them in puddles and rivers alike.
This awful specter of Mexican legend has haunted the dreams of children since her story was quite different, when she resembled a vengeful Aztec goddess. She has inspired folk songs, plays, and countless movies, mostly in Mexico where the legends originate. In addition to frightening children, her story is used as a moral object lesson about responsible motherhood. Historians and anthropologists theorize that the figure of la Llorona descended from Aztec stories and slowly evolved, taking on more modern elements as the folktales change with the times. In modern times, she has been a long time movie monster on par with Count Dracula or Frankenstein’s monster.
La Llorona’s first film was in 1933, where she took on the mantle of vengeful spirit, murdering the wives and firstborn of a cursed family descended from the conquistadors. She continued the theme in 1960, terrorizing a family and attempting to murder an infant. Both films are simply called La Llorona. Multitudes of movies and plays capitalize on the legend of the weeping woman. She has made appearances in TV shows and even comic books. The newest film starring the specter is The Curse of La Llorona, which just came out in theaters.
Teachers are beginning to use folktales and legends such as la Llorona to encourage literacy development in increasingly multicultural classrooms. Story books about la Llorona are increasingly available in English and Spanish. Students are attracted to the familiar tales and encouraged to learn reading skills from these books. Despite the terrifying nature of la Llorona, children are drawn to her morbid tales. There’s no denying the appeal of a good ghost story and la Llorona is a spine chilling ghost.
Translation from video:
You were leaving the Temple one day, Llorona
When in passing I saw you
You wear a beautiful huipil*
That I though you were the Virgin Mary herself.
Ay my crying woman, Llorona
Llorona of blue sky
Even if it cost my life, llorona
I won’t stop loving you
They say I don’t feel pain, Llorona
Because they don’t see me mourn
There are dead ones who make no sound, Lllorona
And your sorrow is much greater
Ay my llorona, llorona
Llorona carry me to the river
Cover with your shawl, llorona
Because I’m dying of cold
*huipil- a blouse with embroidery and lace. Read the rest of this entry