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Let’s Get Dark and Twisted, Part 1

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Do you like spooky stories, folklore, and history? Then you NEED to check out Lore!

So what is Lore? It’s an award-winning, critically acclaimed podcast containing non-fiction (meaning real) scary stories, often told through the lens of folklore, written and narrated by Aaron Mahnke. Listeners have compared the experience to listening to campfire tales. If podcasts aren’t your thing, never fear. Lore is being adapted into a TV show, streaming on Amazon starting on October 13, and a book series, the first of which was released on October 10.

If you’ve been reading my blog posts for very long, you know that I absolutely adore dark, creepy stories, quirky nonfiction and history, and true crime—and there is a little bit of all of this in Lore. It’s one of my new obsessions, and I can’t wait to binge the TV show.

So grab some s’mores and check out Lore, and if you want more, explore some of these book titles that pair well with the selected episodes.

Episode 10: Steam & Gas [listen]

In 1903, Freelan Oscar Stanley and his wife Flora moved to Estes Park, Colorado, hoping the dry mountain air would help with his tuberculosis. In 1909, they opened the Stanley Hotel there. Many guests have experienced strange things in the hotel, often seeing Mr. and Mrs. Stanley long after their deaths. In 1974, Stephen King stayed there and had a nightmare involving his three-year-old son running terrified through the hotel. Upon waking, he outlined his novel The Shining that very night.

The Shining book cover

The Shining by Stephen King

Jack Torrance, his wife Wendy, and their young son Danny move to The Overlook Hotel to be the winter caretakers there. Soon, they are snowed in, all by themselves, cut off from every other living person, except by radio. The dead, however, are there in the hotel with them, and soon they start to take over Jack’s mind. This is honestly my favorite Stephen King book, and I’ve read a lot of them. One can’t help but wonder whether the influence of the Stanley Hotel had something to do with it.

Hotel Ruby book cover

Hotel Ruby by Suzanne Young

If you combined The Shining and “Hotel California” into a YA book, it would be this book. After the death of Audrey’s mother, her father just can’t seem to deal with Audrey and her brother, and on the way to drop them off at their grandmother’s house, the family stops for a night in the Hotel Ruby. The luxurious, historical hotel seems populated by strange guests and ghostly happenings. With well-developed characters and a creepy tone, this book will have you humming, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave…”


 

Episode 11: Black Stockings [listen]

I can’t get enough of faerie lore, so I was enthralled by this tale of a man who, in 1895 in Ireland, became convinced that his wife was a faerie changeling. The lore holds that if you burn a changeling (among other horrors), you can cast it out and force the faeries to bring back the original. You can guess what happened to the man’s unlucky wife.

The Replacement book cover

The Replacement by Brenna Yovanoff

Sixteen-year-old Mackie lives in the town of Gentry, which owes its unusual prosperity to an agreement with the folk under the hill, who, in exchange, take one human baby from the town every seven years. Mackie was the changeling that was left in the place of such a human baby. Usually, changelings fail to thrive and die early. Mackie has survived into his teens, but he is allergic to iron, he can’t step on consecrated ground—a difficulty for the son of a minister—and he seems to be dying. He’s terrified that his neighbors will turn on him, and he tries to go unnoticed, but when the baby sister of one of his classmates is stolen, Mackie feels he must try to rescue the girl. This book will appeal to lovers of horror and dark fantasy.

Tithe book cover

Tithe by Holly Black

Kaye’s life is unconventional; she spends her time following her wannabe rock star mother from gig to gig. After she and her mother move back in with her grandmother, Kaye reconnects with her childhood friends, who just so happen to be faeries, and she discovers that she is actually a pixie changeling. She is soon drawn into a conflict between the faerie courts and falls for a gorgeous faerie knight. This story has all the traditional elements of a fairytale, but with a rock-and-roll twist.


 

Episode 50: Mary, Mary [listen]

The nineteenth century saw an odd fad: Spiritualism. Séances were all the rage, and mediums gained nationwide fame. In one unusual case in Watseka, Illinois, a fourteen-year-old girl named Lurancy Vennum, who suffered from epilepsy, claimed to be possessed by the spirit of a deceased neighbor, Mary Roff, who had also been epileptic. Vennum even moved in with the Roffs for a period of time, and the Roffs were completely convinced it was their daughter.

Spook: science tackles the afterlife book cover

Spook: science tackles the afterlife by Mary Roach

Roach’s nonfiction books combine science with hilarity, and in this one, she investigates life after death. Roach leaves no spiritual stone unturned, telling the stories of a surgeon who weighed patients at the moment of death to see if he could discover how much the departing soul weighed, mediums who extruded “ectoplasm” from the most unusual places, ghost hunters trying to record the voices of the doomed Donner Party, and her own firsthand accounts of going to medium school and undergoing experiments to make her see ghosts. Roach’s books are incredibly entertaining, but sometimes a bit gross, so be warned.

The Witch of Lime Street: seance, seduction, and Houdini in the spirit world book cover

The Witch of Lime Street: séance, seduction, and Houdini in the spirit world by David Jaher

Did you know that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, once went head-to-head with magician Harry Houdini over Spiritualism? In the 1920s, after the horrors of World War I and the Spanish influenza epidemic of the decade before, Spiritualism made a revival. It was so popular that Scientific American offered a cash prize to any medium who could prove her legitimacy via scientific testing. Margery Crandon, championed by Conan Doyle, convinced four of the five judges, but not Houdini. This book is a fascinating look at an extremely weird period in history.


 

Episode 57: Quarantine [listen]

In 1632, during a quarantine related to an outbreak of typhus, strange things started happening at a convent in Loudun, France. The Ursuline nuns claimed that they were being possessed by demons, and eventually, a priest named Father Urbain Grandier was accused of summoning the evil spirits. But was Urbain really in league with the devil, or was it all part of a political plot to get rid of him?

My Best Friends Exorcism book cover

My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

It’s 1988, the era of big hair and heavy metal, and Abby is a high school student who begins to suspect that her best friend is possessed. She has a hard time getting anyone to take her concerns seriously, until Brother Lemon, a member of a Christian weight lifting team/motivational speaking group, the Lemon Brothers Faith and Fitness Show, finally agrees to help her. The actual exorcism scene is described as “spectacularly grotesque and profane,” so be aware of that.

Demon Camp: a soldier’s exorcism book cover

Demon Camp: a soldier’s exorcism by Jennifer Percy

We often talk of people battling their own demons, but we usually mean it metaphorically. In Portal, Georgia, however, a self-taught pastor claims that he can exorcise the demons of soldiers suffering from PTSD. This nonfiction book tells the story of Caleb, a veteran haunted by the violence he experienced and the death of a friend. The author, reporting on Caleb and the camp, becomes increasingly embroiled in their world, eventually undergoing her own exorcism.

Watch for part two coming next week.

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