Bedtime Stories: April 2022
- April 14, 2022
What do book lovers have queued up on their nightstands and ready to read before lights-out? We asked one of them, and here’s what she said.
The Pallbearers Club by Paul Tremblay. It’s always a gamble recommending horror novels to the general public. “I don’t read horror,” is what I hear most frequently when I tell people what I write, and I’m always tempted to argue back, “You probably have, you just don’t realize it.”
People tend to think of horror as gory and bloody, and equate horror stories with splatterpunk, but that’s doing the genre a grave disservice. Horror has been having a moment for the past couple years: Bookstores are bringing back horror sections and filling them with more than Stephen King and Dean Koontz. Publishers are launching new horror imprints. It’s become a big tent, with more psychological suspense and speculative fiction being shelved alongside traditional horror.
Paul Tremblay is a case in point. His work tends to ask big, existential questions in unexpected ways, and The Pallbearers Club is no exception. While appearing simple on the surface (and eminently readable), it’s really so complex that it ends up being hard to explain. On one level, it’s about a strange friendship that develops between two people — an awkward teenager growing up in a small Massachusetts town, and a cool stranger who happens to take pictures of corpses. But as the story develops, you begin to ask yourself what’s really going on here? Is it a memoir disguised as a novel or is it something else? Is it a new kind of vampire story? Is it supernatural at all? It’s a damned amazing piece of storytelling and should be on your radar when it comes out in July.
Sundial by Catriona Ward. If the author’s name is familiar, it’s probably because she wrote one of the breakout books of 2021, The Last House on Needless Street. Ward has now brought her flat-out amazing voice and storytelling ability to Sundial, the story of the most messed-up family ever. Is it psychological suspense or horror? It doesn’t matter: It’s a thriller of the highest caliber. Ward is a wizard with unreliable narrators and implausible plots. She makes the impossible seem real, and her narrative sleight of hand is so good that you’ll never even consider that it’s a trick, let alone figure out how she does it.
Spies, Lies, and Algorithms: The History and Future of American Intelligence by Amy Zegart. Here’s the thing: I have two distinctly different lives, which makes me a bit schizophrenic in the eyes of most readers. In addition to writing horror, I also write espionage thrillers, the latter thanks to a long career in the intelligence business. For the last decade, I’ve been a technology futurist, looking at how emerging technologies will impact the spy business, and so Zegart’s book is right up my alley. Zegart — a senior fellow at Stanford and contributor to the Atlantic [and] a couple earlier books on intelligence — looks at intelligence in the digital age as technology levels the playing field and disrupts how the old guard (both at home and away) will get the job done. I’m looking forward to digging into this one.
Alma Katsu is the award-winning author of seven novels. Her latest is The Fervor, a reimagining of the Japanese internment that Booklist called “a stunning triumph” (starred) and Library Journal called “a must read for all, not just genre fans” (starred). Red Widow, her first espionage novel, is a nominee for the Thriller Writers Award for best novel, was a New York Times Editors Choice, and is in pre-production for a TV series.