New England spookiness!
September 9, 2012 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Apropos of this thread (and this comment in particular), I would like book recommendations on New England-specific creepiness.

Fiction and non-fiction are welcome. To narrow it down: I have read almost all of King, HP Lovecraft, and Nathanial Hawthorne. I’ve also read this interesting book that looks at the Salem Witch Trials in the context of King William’s War.

So, with those constraints, help me find more reading material!
posted by orrnyereg to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: John Connolly's Charlie Parker novels are set in Maine and are pretty creepy. Parker is an ex-cop private detective and his life is populated with possible ghosts and other creepy, half-supernatural creatures. It's not overt fantasy, more just like hints of weirdness here and there, and the characters and stories are really well written.
posted by something something at 6:34 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: You've read Shirley Jackson, yes?
posted by rtha at 6:43 PM on September 9, 2012 [3 favorites]

Best answer: John Irving is great for this, especially The World According to Garp and the Cider House Rules.
posted by lunasol at 7:19 PM on September 9, 2012

Should add that John Irving is more about New England-style interpersonal weirdness than "things that go bump in the night" weirdness.
posted by lunasol at 7:19 PM on September 9, 2012

Best answer: My wife just finished reading this book, about Dogtown up in Gloucester. I haven't read it yet but she really enjoyed it.

If you've never been to Dogtown, it's a pretty neat place, though somewhat creepy.
posted by bondcliff at 8:48 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: And specifically on Shirley Jackson: The Haunting of Hill House (pretty much the granddaddy of 'em all, in terms of haunted-house stories) and We Have Always Lived in the Castle (pure New England Gothic, extraordinarily creepy but also weirdly satisfying).
posted by ostro at 9:09 PM on September 9, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Escaping Salem is non-fiction about another witch trial/panic in the Massachusetts Bay Colony the same year as Salem. It's a pretty brief history. Not really creepy.

The Last Days of Dogtown isn't really horror-suspensy, but it's a novel about the abandoned settlement bondcliff mentioned. I remember finding one scene particularly horror-y, though.

I found The Night Strangers, about a normalish family that moves to New Hampshire after a deadly plane crash, creepy as fuck. I have a very low tolerance for horror in my media, though.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 11:50 PM on September 9, 2012

Best answer: i thought The Lace Reader was a pretty good read.
posted by quiteliterally at 2:18 AM on September 10, 2012

Best answer: Weird New England (sorry, having trouble linking from my phone, but it's easy enough to find on Amazon) is a fun collection of strange/creepy places and folklore around the region.

Seconding Elizabeth East's book about Dogtown.
posted by usonian at 4:47 AM on September 10, 2012

Best answer: Try Strange Maine:

Maine is well known as a land of fresh air and clean water, as the home of L.L. Bean and as one of the most popular camping and outdoor recreation destinations in the country. But what lies behind this idyllic facade? Freaks. Weirdos. Unmapped roads. Whispering rocks. Deadening fog. Ghost pirates. Lonely islands. THINGS in the woods. This is the great state of Maine, home of Stephen King, land of the Great Northern Woods and all the mystery that lies within their dark footprint. What better setting than this for tales of strange creatures, murderers, madmen and eccentric hermits? From the “Headless Halloween of 1940” to Colonel Buck’s curse, from Bigfoot sightings to the “witch’s grave” in a Portland cemetery, writer and illustrator Michelle Souliere brings to life these strange-but-true tales from the Pine Tree State.
posted by mikepop at 5:50 AM on September 10, 2012

Best answer: I enjoyed The Red Tree. Lovecraftian and House of Leaves-ish, set in Rhode Island.
posted by aparrish at 7:57 AM on September 10, 2012

Response by poster: This is hot stuff you guys, thanks! Moar, please!

I had a brain wave of checking JSTOR for book reviews with keywords "new england", mystery, and horror. If I come across anything good I will post it here, for the edification of Metafilter and posterity.
posted by orrnyereg at 5:16 PM on September 10, 2012

Best answer: The Secret History. Amazingly creepy and extremely well-written.
posted by Shebear at 7:16 PM on September 10, 2012

Best answer: Non-fictionwise you might also be interested in reading about the Quabbin Reservoir, which was created in the 1930s by disincorporating four Massachusetts towns (residents were forced to leave by eminent domain) and flooding the Swift River valley. The watershed (most of which is open to the public for recreation) has become a sort of accidental wildlife preserve and is a beautiful place, but it's also full of cellarholes and roads that disappear into the water. You can't walk around there, especially the site of Dana Village without a deep sense of melancholy. It's haunting to imagine being forcefully uprooted from your quiet life so people in Boston can have more water.
posted by usonian at 11:31 AM on September 11, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The Little Girl who Lives Down the Lane. It opens in a New England village one Hallowe'en. Local boy-magician must decide who is scarier: local adult creeps, or the eerie transatlantic prodigy celebrating her 13th birthday alone?

The Dead Zone also opens on a New England Hallowe'en, and develops over a subsequent election season into self-sacrificing uncanniness, instead of antiheroic horror like most Stephen King.
posted by feral_goldfish at 10:17 AM on September 13, 2012

I was just browsing my favorites history and realized I hadn't given an obligatory shout out to Anchorhead, a very atmospheric Lovecraftian piece of interactive fiction set in New England by Michael Gentry. (Link goes to a site where you can play in-browser, but I'm not sure if it supports saving and continuing; you might want to download the story file and a dedicated Z-Machine for your computer or device.)
posted by usonian at 9:42 AM on December 3, 2012

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