Wrong Next Door: A Selected Reading List of Elves, Beasts, Spirits and Other Dubious Neighbors
The Hand I Fan With
Ansa, Tina McElroy
Everyone turns to Lena McPherson when they need help, but who does she have to turn to? No one, until a spell to “call her up a man” produces Herman. He’s loving, strong, dependable and everything she could want—except for the fact that he’s a ghost. He’s not the first she’s seen, but this ‘dead man” helps her to really enjoy life for the first time.
Lives of the Monster Dogs
It is 2008 and the “monster dogs” have arrived in New York City following their escape from slavery in Rankstadt, Germany. Their speech and dress are both elegant and archaic and their long previous isolation is as great a cause of their continuing discomfort as are their more obvious differences. Their story is presented by Ludwig, their historian, in the diaries and papers edited by one of the few humans close to them.
Years ago, when Violet revealed herself as a vampire, Dora was more than happy to help Duncan cut her up and scatter her all over London. You would think this would discourage the lady, but no such luck. Years later, the refreshingly bitchy Dora sees unmistakable evidence that Violet (now Rose Murasaki) is back. Will she get Duncan this time? Will her associates succeed in their plan to spread vampirism and take over London?
The Land of Dreams
It’s the time of the 12-year Solstice and this tiny coastal California town is getting a little strange. Giant spectacles wash up on the shore (later to be used for nefarious purposes), the ghost in the orphanage attic is more talkative than usual, and the evil carnival has appeared once more. Strange crossings are possible only now, and Jack and Skeezix must decide whether to drink the elixir and take their chances in the mysterious land beyond.
The Master and Margarita
The Devil and a few associates have come to Moscow and their rude practical jokes are going to knock a lot of holes in Socialist Realism. He has a soft spot for the genuinely creative and for lovers, but only contempt for hypocrites, timeservers and cheats. Excerpts from the life (and the novel) of the Master intertwine with the chaos engendered by the uproarious magic of the visitors in this different twist to the Faust legend, with the Devil as the good guy. This novel was banned by for decades by the Soviet system that it mocked.
Messi@h: A Novel
Combine a smart-mouthed girl detective from New Orleans, a Sarajevan orphan with unusual spiritual qualities, a empire-building televangelist and various angels and cyber-personages, mix well and pour out over the time between December 1999 and Mardi Gras 2000 and you’ve got a wild time. Andrea and Felicity may two halves of a single soul, Rev. Mullin may be up to no good and Angel Zack is on assignment and undercover. Just hang on and enjoy the ride.
Jack the Giant Killer
Jackie cut off her hair, got drunk and ended up in a park sitting in a tree next to a gnome watching demon bikers and hiding from a giant. Well, these things happen. Seems as though the local Seelie (Elven) Court is in need of help and a “Jack” is lucky. She’ll need some luck herself, with giants and boggles on her tail.
The Dyke and the Dybbuk
Kokos the demon was on a routine possession job when one of those miracle rabbis trapped her in a tree. When a lightning blast frees her, it’s 200 years later and hell is undergoing downsizing, no one’s interested in specialization any longer. Somehow she wangles a final try at completing her contract and ends up in the body of Rainbow Rosenbloom, London cabby and lesbian. What makes it really interesting is Rainbow’s infatuation with a woman who is none other than a descendent of the rabbi, Kokos’s old enemy.
Richard Mayhew was just trying to help a damsel in distress. He wasn’t expecting to have his apartment invaded or his identity erased as a result. Somehow, he has been drawn into the battle that is taking place in a darkside London that holds angels, demons and other strange creatures just a doorway away from the tourist haunts. It is the home of a travelling Night Market and the terrifying Night’s Bridge, a place where losing can be fatal—but perhaps not permanently.
He’s just your average private eye in a trench coat—if your average private eye is a velociraptor. Seems like the dinosaurs didn’t die, they are hiding among us in disguise. Now at a low point after his partner’s death and with a bad basil hangover, our hero is investigating a murder at the Evolution Club, a popular dino nightspot. Rumor is that the victim may have been messing around with (horrors!) a human.
Dark Cities Underground
Ruth Berry just wanted to interview Jeremy Jones about his mother’s famous children’s fantasies. She wasn’t expecting to be drawn into a conflict in the NetherLands, where creatures out of Egyptian and other myths exist and where subways fulfill arcane purposes. When her daughter is kidnapped she has no choice but to fight as best she can, even as she risks being drawn into a myth herself.
The Lunatic Café
In this book of the series Marcus, the leader of a local werewolf pack employs Anita Blake, to track down some missing furry members. Unfortunately, Marcus and her equally furry boyfriend Richard are less than cordial. To add to the difficulty, master vampire and occasional boyfriend Jean-Claude is jealous. As if that were not enough, a bounty hunter she knows would dearly like to bag Richard and Jean-Claude. This will take some fancy foot (paw?) work.
The people of the village of Kamensic, N.Y. (est.1689) go their own way and always have, even more so now that it has become a theatrical enclave. However, theatrical eccentricity alone can’t explain the curious funeral customs, the unusually high youth suicide rate and the grotesque clay masks that are hung at each door every October. This Halloween, in the labyrinthine halls of the Boolerium very old acquaintances meet and an ancient ritual will be reenacted—or perhaps not.
Barbara’s life is a mess. In the middle of a thunderstorm, she drunkenly cries out an offer to do anything in return for help. She awakes blond and shapely, her career takes off like a rocket, and a handsome tycoon is very interested in her. Someone has taken her up on her offer, but the payment coming due is unacceptable. Can she get out of this and still find happiness? There might even be a representative of the rival firm somewhere nearby.
Publish and Perish: Three Tales of Tenure & Terror
These stories share both an academic context and a sardonic dark humor. In the first, an unfaithful husband loses more than a good job offer despite his drastic efforts (sorry cat lovers) to stop the family pet from revealing his misdeeds. In the second, an egotistical academic “showboat’ does more in-depth research on a quaint local custom than he had intended. The final story revisits M.R. James’s “Casting The Runes” as a female doctoral student turns the tables on a very nasty professor using necromancy to steal her research.
Jarvin Mandrake has washed up at the Norwich Cathedral while he tries to pull himself together. The highly suspicious disappearance of one homeless woman and the wild stories of another begin to convince him that his dark visions of evil doings may be more than hallucinations. This story was inspired by the author’s experience with a ghost upon whom he based his main character.
Dagger Magic: A Novel of the Adept
Adam Sinclair, doctor and aristocrat, uses his psychic talents to assist the police (unofficially) when crimes hint of a supernatural element. A walking corpse is the first bad sign, followed by ominous thefts. Someone has been working black magic and it is up to Adam and his fellow “huntsmen” to stop the evildoers before things get any worse.
Poor Rosemary, she thought the worst thing about her neighbors was that they were so boring and so nosy. She hates to be impolite and they’re so generous, always giving her little things. For some reason, her husband Guy seems to like them, he spends hours over at their apartment. Things are looking up though, he’s gotten that great acting job (too bad about the other guy going blind) and she’s finally pregnant—isn’t that great?
I Am Legend
Robert Neville is the last man on earth, alone in his humanity in a world of vampires. Each day (and night) is a struggle to protect himself and to reduce the population of undead, trying one method after another. In his determination to destroy, he himself becomes a monster, a bogeyman to the bogeymen.
Through his own body Billy Creekmore can, as did his mother before him, provide a passage for restless spirits to find their way to the next world and peace. Some call them blessed by God but there are those who damn them as witches, deserving only of death. While Billy is learning to accept his “gift” another young boy, Wayne Falconer, has begun to do miracles. What will happen when these young men meet at last?
When Ellen was 14, her cousin ran afoul of a Malignant One who ran a temp agency down the hall. The problem is, you just never know if that sexy redhead is a demon or if that bag lady is an angel. This particular redhead was a demon who did not take well to the ending of the relationship. Paul, Ellen and the entire family were in danger and the Spiritual Development Agency seemed curiously powerless to protect them. Not even hotshot investigator Alison Birkett could save Paul, but her exposure of demonic influence in the government was a national scandal.
The story takes place in a 1995 Los Angeles in which ghosts, ghost hunters and those addicted to absorbing ghosts are a fact of life. Koot Parganas returns home to find both of his parents murdered and barely escapes the murderer himself. Just before he leaves he accidentally inhales the ghost of Thomas Edison, which is so powerful that it draws ghost junkies like a magnet. If he’s lucky, he’ll find some friends before his enemies find him.
Catherine and Theresa Flynn were obsessed with saints but they were still very surprised when the Virgin Mary appeared in their backyard and gave them a letter. When the letter, which supports birth control, is hijacked by their domineering father and the parish priest, Mary has no choice but to return for a longer stay and do the job herself.
Tagging the Moon: Fairy Tales from L.A.
Somtow combines dark fantasy with urban grit to retell traditional tales and create some new ones. As for magic, well what better place for illusions could there be than Hollywood? From the child prostitute eating marijuana gingerbread to the man in love with the sleeping girl in the cryonics lab to the Antichrist in a beach house, each storyteller speaks to you directly, compelling your attention.
Spencer, William B.
Jack Lowry is back in detox, enduring group therapy – he hates sharing feelings, his or anyone else’s—and sustained only by his fascination with Kerry, a female fellow resident. He is used to the eccentricities of AA and other recovery theories, but The Clear are downright weird. They claim that alcoholism is a form of damnation, suffered because alcoholics are the progeny of an ancient tribe that worshipped Tsathoggua. To save themselves, alcoholics must give themselves over to Shub-Niggurath. Bill Wilson, meet H.P. Lovecraft. When the Clear kidnaps Kerry, Jack and his fellows get active in a struggle that culminates at the Whole Addiction Expo.
The Chowder Society is just four old men telling ghost stories, haunted by an accidental death they caused when they were young. In truth however, the woman they thought they killed was a malignant female spirit who had suffered no more than a brief setback, but she doesn’t like losing. Time after time she has returned in a new seductive form, determined to destroy them and many other townspeople as well. When the snow closes off Milburn from the world, she closes in for the kill.
Wilson, F. Paul
Repairman Jack fixes things. He won’t repair your VCR or rewire your transmission; he deals with those delicate and unusual situations in which the police are useless. Right now, he has been hired to find a man’s wife, who disappeared just before unveiling a conspiracy theory to end all theories. As the situation becomes steadily more convoluted and dangerous, it is compounded by his suspicion that the demon rakoshi with whom he has tangled before have not forgotten him.
A Night in the Lonesome October
At the appointed time the same cast of characters—Jack and his dog, Jill and her cat, the Doctor, The Count, etc—gather in a new location to collect the tokens they will need for the night of confrontation. On that night, the Openers will confront the Closers, the result of their battle determining whether or not the Elder Gods will be released into this world. Alliances shift, enemies are eliminated and the Great Detective is on the trail of all, utilizing his well-known talent for disguise.
Compiled by Deb Warner, October 2000
Last Update: January 5, 2009