With Halloween upon us, not to mention the wake of Superstorm Sandy, it’s time to bust out some monster stories to distract, delight, and straight-up scare us. While there’s always Stephen King or classics like “Frankenstein” or “Dracula,” here are a few alternative reads to get your monster mash on.
‘Queen of Kings’
By Maria Dahvana Headley
What if, just what if, Cleopatra made a deal with a goddess to save Marc Antony’s life? In exchange for her beloved’s soul, Cleopatra becomes a shapeshifting vampire with superhuman strength. Headley’s book introduces us to monsters and ancient gods as Cleopatra brings the bloodbath across Egypt and Rome while trying to save her husband and children. This reimagination of history’s most famous queen is a nonstop vengeance tour through the ancient world.
By Justin Cronin
The end of the world was only the beginning. Author Justin Cronin was just getting warmed up when he imagined a man-made apocalypse led by 12 prisoners-turned-vampire zombies in The Passage. He continues the story as those few who have not been infected struggle to fight against a horrifying enemy and extinction. Starting in present day and spanning 100 years into the future, the thick novel will keep you engrossed for a long, long time.
‘The Mummy or Ramses the Damned’
By Anne Rice
You can always rely on Anne Rice to bring the magical and monstrous. While you may have been introduced to Lestat or a Mayfair witch or two, you may not have met Ramses yet. Set in Edwardian England, Ramses the Great lives, but there’s just one problem. He drank an elixir that now dooms him to wander the earth, his hungers forever unsatisfied. While he longs for Cleopatra (who, unlike Headley’s Queen of Kings, was all too mortal), he makes do pursuing a comely aristocrat. Really, what’s not to like?
By Elizabeth Kostova
A scholar disappears from his office, with only an ancient book and brittle letters—all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor”—left behind as a clue. This leads his daughter on a search for him and the truth that takes her to Istanbul, Budapest, and beyond, uncovering the truth about Dracula in the process. If you like a good literary mystery, this has it all: travel, romance, a decades-old academic quest, and a seriously creepy-good payoff.
‘The Angel’s Game’
By Carlos Ruiz Zafón
Zafón weaves the same spell over readers that he cast in “The Shadow of the Wind.” In the tower of a perfectly gothic mansion in Barcelona, David Martin weaves penny dreadful novels about the seamy side of the city. When he’s approached by a dark figure to write a particular book, his writing, like his mind, becomes mad, fevered, and perhaps lost. David sees the dark figure everywhere. Is he a wealthy patron, a murderer, or the devil himself? Zafón
explores the mania of the writer’s process, while spinning his own spine-tingling yarn.
Jennifer Worick is the author of more than 25 books (including the just-published Things I Want to Punch in the Face) and a publishing consultant; she can be found at jenniferworick.com.
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