Typh's Picks: Sinister Stories

Each month, Typhani Russo from the Altoona Area Public Library shares her top 10 book picks that center around a specific theme. This month’s theme is “Sinister Stories.”

Book information and summaries cited from Goodreads.com.

All books listed are available at the Altoona Area Public Library



Book: Took, by Mary Downing Hahn


Thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson doesn't believe Brody Mason's crazy stories about the ghost witch who lives up on Brewster's Hill with Bloody Bones, her man-eating razorback hog. He figures Brody's probably just trying to scare him since he's the new kid… a "stuck-up snot" from Connecticut. But Daniel's seven-year-old sister Erica has become more and more withdrawn, talking to her lookalike doll. When she disappears into the woods one day, he knows something is terribly wrong. Did the witch strike? Has Erica been "took"? 


Book: The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls, by Claire Legrand


Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster, lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)  But then Lawrence goes missing. And he is not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girls is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out different. Or they don't come out at all.  If anyone can sort this out, it's Victoria, even if it means getting a little messy.  



Book: The Crossroads, by Chris Grabenstein


Zack, his dad, and new stepmother have just moved back to his father's hometown, not knowing that their new house has a dark history. Fifty years ago, a crazed killer caused an accident at the nearby crossroads that took 40 innocent lives. He died when his car hit a tree in a fiery crash, and his malevolent spirit has inhabited the tree ever since. During a huge storm, lightning hits the tree, releasing the spirit, who decides his evil spree isn't over and Zack is directly in his sights. 



Book: Evil Librarian, by Michelle Knudsen


When Cynthia Rothschild's best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He's really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn't quite right. Maybe it's the creepy look in the librarian's eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she's around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact, a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body!  


Book: A Taste for Monsters, by Matthew J. Kirby


It's London 1888, and Jack the Ripper is terrorizing the people of the city. Evelyn, a young woman disfigured by her dangerous work in a matchstick factory, who has nowhere to go, does not know what to make of her new position as a maid to the Elephant Man in the London Hospital. Evelyn wants to be locked away from the world, like he is, shut in from the filth and dangers of the streets. But in Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, she finds a gentle kindred who does not recoil from her and who understands her pain. When the murders begin, however, Joseph and Evelyn are haunted nightly by the ghosts of the Ripper's dead, setting Evelyn on a path to facing her fears and uncovering humanity's worst nightmares.


Book: Stalking Jack the Ripper, by Kerri Maniscalco


Seventeen year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord's daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.  Against her stern father's wishes and society's expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle's laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.




Book: Dracula vs. Hitler, by Patrick Sheane Duncan


Ravaged by the Nazi Secret Service during World War II, Romanian resistance forces turn to one of their leaders, Professor Van Helsing for any way out. To fight these monstrous forces, Van Helsing raises a legendary monster from centuries of slumber... Prince Dracula himself. Once he was the ruler of Transylvania. Prince Vlad Dracula, is, above all else, a patriot. He proves more than willing to once again drive out his country's invaders. Upshot: No one minds if he drinks all the German blood he desires. In Berlin, when Hitler hears about the many defeats his forces are suffering at the hands of an apparent true vampire, he is seduced by the possibility of becoming immortal. Thus two forces are set upon a collision course, the ultimate confrontation: Superpower against superpower.


Book: The Fifth Petal, by Brunonia Barry     


When a teenage boy dies suspiciously on Halloween night, Salem's chief of police, John Rafferty wonders if there is a connection between his death and Salem's most notorious cold case, a triple homicide dubbed "The Goddess Murders," in which three young women, all descended from accused Salem witches, were slashed on Halloween night in 1989. He finds unexpected help in Callie Cahill, the daughter of one of the victims newly returned to town. Neither believes that the main suspect, Rose Whelan, respected local historian, is guilty of murder or witchcraft.  But exonerating Rose might mean crossing paths with a dangerous force. Were the women victims of an all-too-human vengeance, or was the devil raised in Salem that night? And if they cannot discover what truly happened, will evil rise again? 


Book: The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, by Katherine Howe


A spellbinding, beautifully written novel that moves between contemporary times and one of the most fascinating and disturbing periods in American history--the Salem witch trials. Harvard graduate student Connie Goodwin needs to spend her summer doing research for her doctoral dissertation. But when her mother asks her to handle the sale of Connie's grandmother's abandoned home near Salem, she can't refuse. As she is drawn deeper into the mysteries of the family house, Connie discovers an ancient key within a seventeenth-century Bible. The key contains a yellowing fragment of parchment with a name written upon it: Deliverance Dane. This discovery launches Connie on a quest--to find out who this woman was and to unearth a rare artifact of singular power: a physick book, its pages a secret repository for lost knowledge. As the pieces of Deliverance's harrowing story begin to fall into place, Connie is haunted by visions of the long-ago witch trials, and she begins to fear that she is more tied to Salem's dark past then she could have ever imagined. 


Book: The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, by Sarah Miller


Lizzie Borden took an axe, gave her mother forty whacks. When she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one.  In linear narrative, Miller takes readers along as she investigates a brutal crime: the August 4, 1892, murders of wealthy and prominent Andrew and Abby Borden. The accused? Mild-mannered and highly respected Lizzie Borden, daughter of Andrew and stepdaughter of Abby. Most of what is known about Lizzie's arrest and subsequent trial (and acquittal) comes from sensationalized newspaper reports.  As Miller sorts fact from fiction, and as a legal battle gets under way, a portrait of a woman and a town emerges.


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