Here are a few slightly spooky novels I took to Good Day Alabama on WBRC Fox 6 this month. Also, there’s a link to a book-related way to do some real good.
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This actually is a book for young adults, and interestingly, it’s one I recommended recently for a prison inmate through the Books to Prisons ministry at Canterbury United Methodist Church. He asked for a mystery. That educational outreach program is a great way to do something good. This book is good, too, and well worth recommending although it is not a new book. A 16-year-old boy from Florida, following the plea from his dying grandfather, goes to a remote island off the coast of Wales to find an abandoned orphanage—a place where his grandfather, already displaced once by Nazis, once lived. The boy, Jacob, grew up hearing his grandfather’s fantastical stories and looking at old photos of strange children doing amazingly odd things: levitating, creating fire out of nothing, lifting huge boulders, being invisible. Jacob begins to believe that the children might be more than strange—they might be dangerous and put on the island for a reason. Also, they might still be alive. If you like this one, there are six more books behind it.
Here’s how the Books to Prisons ministry works: Go here and get connected to those in charge. Then you simply find a spare hour or two, go the ministry’s library at the church, choose a letter from an inmate and then pick out two to three books for that person, depending upon which genres they like. You write a short letter back, perhaps explaining your choices for them, and remind them of when they can request more books. Instructions are there for you. The folks who run Books to Prisons will mail everything. They send out more than 100 books each month to incarcerated individuals in Texas and Alabama. They accept donations of books, too.
Girl in Ice
by Erica Ferencik
This brand-new book, named to 2022 best lists by several publications, is thrilling in a super smart way. Set in Greenland, a world-renowned linguist with some emotional issues goes to a remote science station near the Arctic Circle to try to connect with a young girl the staff found in the snow and ice. Val specializes in dead Nordic languages, but she can’t understand a word from the strange girl. Then the science station chief, Wyatt, tells her the girl was thawed from ancient ice. This place and Wyatt are significant to Val in a terrible way. Her twin brother worked as a fellow researcher here until his suicide after he ventured unprotected into 50-below-zero weather. As Val struggles to connect with the girl, she’s dealing with her grief and trying to figure out exactly what’s going on in this cold, desolate place. The girl is only one reason she’s here; she doesn’t believe her brother killed himself and is determined to find out what really happened. But then the girl gets sick, she starts dying, in fact, and Val realizes Wyatt’s research might hold the clue to saving her. But should she trust it or him?
Into the Water by Paula Hawkins
This is a page-turning novel by the bestselling author of Girl on a Train. I’m listening to this one, and the various actors’ voices really make it come alive. It’s set in a small English village with a river running through it. It seems idyllic, but the river has a terrible history. A single mother named Nel recently killed herself there, and a few months before, so did a young girl. They are connected by one person—Nel’s daughter, Lena, who was best friends with the girl. But these are not the first women to die here; the drowning pool was historically a place where villagers tested witches, and Nel had been researching it for a book. Now Lena is orphaned, and her aunt, Jules, comes to take care of her. But Lena’s mother and Jules have been estranged for decades. And Jules left the town for a reason. This is a twisty, suspenseful story of mothers and daughters and sisters and the unspeakable things that can happen in a quiet, little town.
I link to Amazon to show you exactly what book I’m talking about, but I love to shop locally at Church Street Coffee and Books, The Alabama Booksmith, Little Professor Book Center, and I often visit my local library.