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Agents-of-Dreamland

Cliff ’s pick, from our Naturita branch: “Agents of Dreamland” by Caitlin R. Kiernan.

Effective horror fiction often uses implication and the dread of the unseen to build an overpowering mood and Caitlin Kiernan is a master of this. The story concerns agents of nameless organizations struggling to deal with events surrounding a cult near the Salton Sea. The events depicted on the page are relatively minor, but provide intriguing glimpses of a larger and terrifying universe. This is a book that conveys both the large,
overpowering realities and the small, squalid realities of the end of the world, using hints and innuendo.

The-Phantom-Tollbooth

Nancy’s pick: “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” by Grady Hendrix.

Fun fact: if I do not consume some sort of schlocky B-movie adjacent media I instantly pass away. That’s a lie, but it is one of the sources of great joy in my life. “My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is the type of schlocky 80s teen horror comedy that we deserve in this era of horror taking things too seriously. It has friendship, Phil Collins, body building exorcists, what more could you ask for? The cover for the paperback edition absolutely SLAPS as well.

John’s pick: “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez promises the certainty of a fated event, but unfolds as a story of deception.

While the names of the perpetrators and their motive are no secret, bit by bit the narrator reveals that many more are tacitly complicit in the murder. By the time of the inevitable climax, there is blood on the hands of an entire town. But as the death is fated, so too is the perpetuation of the lies that enabled it, and the collective repression of guilt.

Molly’s pick: “Too Bright to See,” Kyle Lu-koff ’s middle grade ghost story about 11-year-old Bug’s transgender awakening at the precipice of middle school. More haunting than scary, the supernatural elements highlight Bug’s visceral discomfort in body, appearance and self-perception, even impacting
friendships. Lukoff ’s authentic depiction of deep-seated discomfort, entangled with grief, strongly resonated with me, sometimes bringing me to tears, because he captures a familiar, elusive feeling that I’ve rarely encountered in books. Although intended for 8-to-12-year-olds, I think “Too Bright to See” will interest older readers as well.