Autumn is upon us, and it’s time for some freaky and spooky reading. I started early with two mysterious books ideal for the spooky season. They share an unexpected pairing element, but I’ll let you find out for yourself. No spoilers here!
The House Across the Lake by Riley Sager
Casey Fletcher spent childhood summers at the lakeside house her family owned. It was a chance to escape her actress mother’s fame and hang out in nature. Now, many decades later, Casey is an actress herself (although more B-level). Her current notoriety is less about her work and more about her self-destructive drinking habit. As a recent widow, she’s reeling from various changes, and the lake house is a safe escape.
Across the lake is a much grander house from her own, owned by a tech executive and his supermodel wife. Casey cannot help but use her late husband’s binoculars to watch through the wall of windows facing the lake. And what she finds will surprise you as much as it does her.
Sager combines biting commentary on fame’s dark side with plenty of mystery in this freaky book. Casey is a mosaic of flaws—from drinking to obsessing to parental issues. And that just made me like her more. But, oh my goodness, several twists in this story will drop your jaw in a heartbeat. Enjoy the wild ride!
My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix
In this 2016 book from Hendrix, Abby is a socially awkward Charleston kid until Gretchen picks her as a best friend during fifth grade. By the time the two reach high school, they’re inseparable. That is until one regrettable night, after which Gretchen is considerably changed. Abby will do anything to help her friend and mend their relationship. Anything.
Told in a high schooler’s voice, this book alternates between slightly juvenile and genuinely spooky. Abby is both admirable and annoying, always aiming for Gretchen’s approval. Since the latter is one of the rich kids at their parochial school, this isn’t surprising for scholarship kid Abby. But sometimes, her voice and tone grated on me, as teenage voices often do. Still, Abby is a ballsy kid who fights hard for her friend’s future.
I enjoyed this book’s light-hearted romp into horror. It’s a perfect choice for the season!
Netflix launches an adaptation of this book in late September. It promises to combine spooky, freaky moments with plenty of pop culture nostalgia. Watch this together with your best friend. You’ll shriek, laugh, and be glad you don’t have Abby and Gretchen’s problems.