Fall Preview: Dark and Gothic Fiction for Chilly Autumn Nights by the Fireplace

Who else loves to read for hours on long, chilly, frosty autumn evenings? Here's a list of intriguing dark books that have come out recently or are arriving on shelves soon.


Sip, by Brian Allen Carr.

"A lyrical, apocalyptic debut novel about addiction, friendship, and the struggle for survival at the height of an epidemic. It started with a single child and quickly spread: you could get high by drinking your own shadow. At night, artificial lights were destroyed so that addicts could sip shadow in the pure glow of the moon. Gangs of shadow addicts chased down children on playgrounds, rounded up old ladies from retirement homes. Cities were destroyed and governments fell. And if your shadow was sipped entirely, you became one of them, had to drink the shadows of others or go mad. One hundred and fifty years later, what’s left of the world is divided between the highly regimented life of those inside dome cities who are protected from natural light (and natural shadows), and those forced to the dangerous, hardscrabble life in the wilds outside. In rural Texas, Mira, her shadow-addicted =friend Murk, and an ex-domer named Bale search for a possible mythological cure to the shadow sickness—but they must do so, it is said, before the return of Halley’s Comet, which is only days away."

I am obsessed with post-apocalyptic and dystopian books (but prefer those written for adults, not teenagers/YA) so this is definitely hitting my bookshelf this fall. I like the unique take and creativity here - sipping shadows? Cool! I'm a bit nervous, however, at hearing several reviews referring to this also as a Western. Not my thing, but maybe those elements won't be too prominent or annoying.


Sip, at Goodreads

Sip Review, at Kirkus Reviews

Sip Review, at Publishers Weekly

Sip Review, at This Is Horror

Sip and the Literal Future of the Acid Western (Tor.com)

The Weird Interview: Brian Allen Carr (Entropy Mag)

A Secret History of Witches

The Secret History of Witches, by Louisa Morgan.

"A sweeping historical saga that traces five generations of fiercely powerful mothers and daughters - witches whose magical inheritance is both a dangerous threat and an extraordinary gift. Brittany, 1821. After Grand-mere Ursule gives her life to save her family, their magic seems to die with her. Even so, the Orchires fight to keep the old ways alive, practicing half-remembered spells and arcane rites in hopes of a revival. And when their youngest daughter comes of age, magic flows anew. The lineage continues, though new generations struggle not only to master their power, but also to keep it hidden. But when World War II looms on the horizon, magic is needed more urgently than ever - not for simple potions or visions, but to change the entire course of history."

I probably am drawn to this book by the masterfully executed cover art, and I suspect I'm hoping this is the next Practical Magic but of course it can't and won't be. Still, I'm really intrigued, and looking forward to reading this. Not sure if I'm up to mentally keeping track of five generations of witches or jumps around in the timeline, though!

I've read another book by this author (writing under a different name), The Glass Harmonica and really was enchanted by it.


A Secret History of Witches Review (Books, Bones & Buffy)

A Secret History of Witches Review (Fantasy Literature)

A Secret History of Witches Review (Girls in Capes)

A Secret History of Witches, at Goodreads

A Secret History of Witches Review (Historical Novel Society)

A Secret History of Witches Review (Kirkus Reviews)

A Secret History of Witches Fiction Book Review (Publishers Weekly)


Hashish, by Oscar Schmitz.

"First published in German in 1902, Hashish is a collection of decadent, interwoven tales of Satanism, eroticism, sadism, cannibalism, necrophilia and death."

I have to admit, this book may be too intense and weird for me! It comes out on November 21. Now, if you can read German, you can dive into the Project Gutenberg etext right now!

The Wolf Trial

The Wolf Trial, by Neil Mackay.

"Inspired by an extraordinary true case—the first-ever documented account of a serial killer in world history. In the second half of the 16th century, Paulus Melchior, lawyer, academic and enlightened rationalist, travels with his young assistant, Willy Lessinger, to the isolated German town of Bideburg where local landowner, Peter Stumpf, is accused of brutally murdering dozens of people. A society still trapped in a medieval mindset, the townsfolk clamor for the killer to be tried as a werewolf. If their demands are met his blameless wife and children will also be executed in the most barbaric way imaginable as agents of Satan and creatures contaminated by wolf blood. Paulus and Willy must fight superstition, the cruelty of those who fear what they don’t understand, and a zealous church determined to retain its grip on the souls of Bideburg, in this compelling, utterly unforgettable, shocking tour de force."

I don't normally read serial killer books (other than Silence of the Lambs type stuff) but this one, with its werewolf elements definitely caught my interest. It might make a nice creepy read for a chilly autumn evening spent by the fireplace with wine and puppy dogs!


The Wolf Trial Review (Cuckoo Writers)

The Wolf Trial, at Goodreads

The Wolf Trial Review (Publishers Weekly)

The Wolf Trial Review (Rain and a Book)

The Wolf Trial Review (The Scotsman)

The Visitors

The Visitors, by Catherine Burns.

"With the smart suspense of Emma Donoghue’s Room and the atmospheric claustrophobia of Grey Gardens, Catherine Burns’s debut novel explores the complex truths we are able to keep hidden from ourselves and the twisted realities that can lurk beneath even the most serene of surfaces. Marion Zetland lives with her domineering older brother John in a crumbling mansion on the edge of a northern seaside resort. A timid spinster in her fifties who still sleeps with teddy bears, Marion does her best to live by John’s rules, even if it means turning a blind eye to the noises she hears coming from behind the cellar door...and turning a blind eye to the women’s laundry in the hamper that isn’t hers. For years, she’s buried the signs of John’s devastating secret into the deep recesses of her mind—until the day John is crippled by a heart attack, and Marion becomes the only one whose shoulders are fit to bear his secret. Forced to go down to the cellar and face what her brother has kept hidden, Marion discovers more about herself than she ever thought possible. As the truth is slowly unraveled, we finally begin to understand: maybe John isn’t the only one with a dark side...."

I'm always up for a suspenseful book about women hidden in basements (but I hope they get rescued!) I'm wondering if the yellow wallpaper on the book's beautiful cover is a nod to Charlotte Perkins Gilman? Let's look through some reviews of this book:


The Visitors, at Goodreads

Interview With Catherine Burns (The Quillery)

The Visitors Review (Kirkus Reviews)

The Visitors Review (Publishers Weekly)

The Visitors Review (Quiet Fury Books)

Enjoy your autumn reading!