Book Club Nominees

6 Books to Bring Home to Mom

By @DarkHorseRodeo, curator of HOWLS book club nominees for May’s “Mommie Dearest” category

Happy Mother’s Day! A day where we honor the women that brought us into this world.  That raised us and helped mold us into fine upstanding citizens.  A woman whose embrace is a world of safety and comfort.  But what happens when we pull away from those loving arms and look into the face of a monster?  Instead of a warm smile telling us “everything will be alright”, we see the teeth ready to tear us apart. In these stories, everything we knew about mothers and motherhood will be turned on its end.  There is no love here, only nightmares.   

Cover of Carrie by Stephen King; shows a wide-eyed woman with blood running down her face

Carrie by Stephen King

The story of misunderstood high school girl Carrie White, her extraordinary telekinetic powers, and her violent rampage of revenge, remains one of the most barrier-breaking and shocking novels of all time.


My first memory of Carrie is from the 1976 movie of the same name.  An absolute horror classic with one of the most overbearing mothers in the genre.  Though the movie is iconic, I have a feeling the story takes on another life in a way that can only be told by Stephen King. 

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Cover of Psycho; shows an assailant with a knife behind a shower curtain

Psycho by Robert Bloch

It was a dark and stormy night when Mary Crane glimpsed the unlit neon sign announcing the vacancy at the Bates motel. Exhausted, lost, and at the end of her rope, she was eager for a hot shower and a bed for the night. Her room was musty but clean and the plumbing worked. Norman Bates, the manager, seemed nice, if a little odd.


Another horror classic that I was first introduced to via film.  I was actually surprised to learn that this was a novel.  The movie is regarded as one of the top horror films of all time, and I think it’d be interesting to go back to the source material to see how the two differ.  Maybe it’ll add a new layer of appreciation for the adaptation.  

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Cover of Sealed; shows the silhouette of a pregnant woman with the scene of an isolated small house inside the silhouette

Sealed by Naomi Booth

Heavily pregnant Alice and her partner Pete are done with the city. Above all, Alice is haunted by the rumours of the skin sealing epidemic starting to infect the urban population. Surely their new remote mountain house will offer safety, a place to forget the nightmares and start their little family. But the mountains and their people hold a different kind of danger.With their relationship under intolerable pressure, violence erupts and Alice is faced with the unthinkable as she fights to protect her unborn child.


This is the only story on my list that I am completely unfamiliar with, but has been on my radar for some time.  It has a lot of elements I love.  Remote cabin in the woods, crazy woods people and a skin sealing epidemic.  A.Skin.Sealing.Epidemic.  Personally, one of the novels I’m most excited to delve into.  

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Cover of Rosemary's Baby; shows a cityscape with a baby buggy/pram floating in the air above the city

Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

Rosemary and Guy Woodhouse, an ordinary young couple, settle into a New York City apartment, unaware that the elderly neighbors and their bizarre group of friends have taken a disturbing interest in them. But by the time Rosemary discovers the horrifying truth, it may be far too late!


I absolutely loved this novel.  I was gripped by it from the very get-go.  First, it has haunted house elements that take place in a unique location, an expensive manhattan apartment.   Second, the story is told from Rosemary’s perspective.  We have to unravel this mystery with her.  Every ring of a bell, or slamming of a door is filled with terror and tension.  

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Cover of Coraline; shows a cartoon young girl holding a candle in the dark

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

In Coraline’s family’s new flat are twenty-one windows and fourteen doors. Thirteen of the doors open and close.

The fourteenth is locked, and on the other side is only a brick wall, until the day Coraline unlocks the door to find a passage to another flat in another house just like her own.

Only it’s different.

At first, things seem marvelous in the other flat. The food is better. The toy box is filled with wind-up angels that flutter around the bedroom, books whose pictures writhe and crawl and shimmer, little dinosaur skulls that chatter their teeth. But there’s another mother, and another father, and they want Coraline to stay with them and be their little girl. They want to change her and never let her go.


Another book I was introduced to first by the film.  What I really enjoy about this title is that it’s from the perspective of the young daughter.  When we are young, we often look to the adults in our life to keep us safe and help us figure things out.  But what if we are thrown into a situation where we have to rescue the adults?  Also, I’m pretty on board with anything written by Neil Gaiman.  

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Cover of The Elementals; shows the silhouette of a house; the house is on a beach and the sun is in the sky

The Elementals by Michael McDowell

On a split of land cut off by the Gulf, three Victorian summer houses stand against the encroaching sand. Two of the houses at Beldame are still used. The third house, filling with sand, is empty…except for the vicious horror which is shaping nightmares from the nothingness that hangs in the dank, fetid air.

The McCrays and Savages, two fine Mobile families allied by marriage, have been coming to Beldame for years. This summer, with a terrible funeral behind them and a messy divorce coming up, even Luker McCray and little India down from New York are looking forward to being alone at Beldame.

But they won’t be alone. For something there, something they don’t like to think about, is thinking about them…and about all the ways to make them die.


I read this novel about a year or so ago.  I fell in love with the scenery.  Takes us to an area of the deep south that isn’t inhabited by trees and crazy yokels.  Instead it takes us to the Gulf Shore, where we look out over the water.  What other story can leave you out in the open and still make everything feel claustrophobic? 

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And the Winner is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read The Elementals by Michael McDowell. Join HOWL Society on May 3, 2021 to begin discussion!

@DarkHorseRodeo is an avid horror fan from NYC whose cat has a soft spot for Kung Fu Panda.

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