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Four Frightening Reads for your Fall Book Club

October is here, so its officially spooky season! Here are four frightening pieces of fiction that are sure to delight lolitas that are perfect for fall. They feature moody atmosphere, fantastic fashion, and perfectly splendid prose. As usual, I’ve linked to Bookshop.org so you can support local bookstores with your online purchase, but check out brick and mortar stores near by to support them directly.

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Will and Jim are both about to turn 14 and enjoying the last of their childhood in a chilly week in October when a carnival comes into town. The boys sneak out at night to watch the construction begin.The carnival’s owner, Mr. Dark, seems nice, but he also seems to know exactly what your heart desires. The attractions at the carnival are perfectly entertaining, but at night, there’s something sinister going on. The boys are determined to find out what’s actually going on, even if it costs them dearly.

This book is spooky, but mostly it just evokes the feeling of fall perfectly. From the stormy night that the novel begins on to the atmosphere of the carnival, this book just makes me want to curl up on a chilly night with a mug of cider and devour it. The book is works hard to capture the fleeting nature of childhood in a way that resonates with me long after I’ve left my teenage years behind.

Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

If you’re looking for a modern Gothic novel complete with a moldering castle, mysterious old family, and an ailing tuberculosis patient, look no further! Mexican Gothic is one of my favorite gothic novels and probably one of my favorite books of the year. Noemí is a modern socialite, rubbing shoulders with all of the most eligible bachelors in 1950s Mexico. She’s not quite ready to get married and is much more interested in advancing her education. When her family receives a troubling letter from Noemi’s cousin, Catalina, she travels to a remote mountain town to make sure that her cousin’s new husband isn’t planning something nefarious. The longer Noemi spends with her cousin and her new family, the more concerned she becomes. 

Beyond just the normal gothic trappings, Mexican Gothic also weaves a story about the horror of eugenics and colonialism set in a thoroughly modern Mexico. Mexican Gothic is definitely not for the faint of heart (including sexual violence), so maybe don’t read right before bed. Lolita readers will definitely delight in Noemi’s wardrobe and choices (complete witht he obligatory sheer nightgown she’s wearing when she finds herself sleepwalking through the estate). The story moves quickly and I couldn’t put this book down once I started. 

The Gilda Stories by Jewelle Gomez

I deeply considered adding Carmilla, the perineal lesbian vampire novel that predates Dracula by 30 years (which is still definitely worth a read if you want more vampires in your reading list). In effort to cut down on the number of old white dudes on this list, I branched out a little and read The Gilda Stories. This short story collection follows a Black woman who (spoilers?) escapes slavery, joins a brothel, and becomes a vampire. Her story stretches from the mid 1800s to the near future. Her travels take her all over the United States and brings a variety of colorful characters into her life. 

Gilda’s story has plenty of violence (including sexual violence), but mostly the stories focus on building a community of supportive and loving individuals. Its truly unlike any other vampire story I’ve ever read. Definitely of interest to the lolita reader: Gilda gets to go on a fabulous shopping spree in Yerba Buena (San Francisco) with a narcissistic young vampire with more money than sense. Its fantastic!

The Comics of Em Carroll

Look no further than your internet browser for these spooky tales. Em Carroll has been making comics for a long time and her stories make excellent use of a computer screen. Carroll’s illustrations feel primitive and frantic in a way that makes it feel like you’re reading a diary or a hastily scribbled note. Her colors are sparse and deliberate. I love “His Face All Red” and “The Prince and the Sea”, but all of her works are worth a look!

What’s on your list this fall?

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