Book Club Nominees

6 Terrifying Creature Features

by Matthew || mattata, curator of HOWLS Book Club nominees for February’s “Primeval Presences” category

Creatures that have long stalked the dark woods, spirits that roam the halls of many a manor, and entities that have existed since time immemorial. Get ready to cower, to run, to predict your downfall, as here we have a list of six different titles as a sort of mini creature feature!

Cover of We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. Cover shows an image of a naked man crouched down, looking over his shoulder toward the viewer.  We can only see part of his leg, his back, and the upper portion of his face.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s seminal novel of the scientist whose creation becomes a monster. (Goodreads)

A classic monster tale that I have somehow managed to go almost 30 years without reading. I have had this on my “To-Read” list for years, but for some reason another book always seems to take its place in the reading order, so adding it to this list to see if we can give me some real motivation to dive in! 😉

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of Crota by Owl Goingback. Cover shows an arrowhead on the tip of an arrow against a black background. The arrowhead appears red hot and has little sparks of electricity extending from it.

Crota by Owl Goingback

When the police of Hobbs County, Missouri find a mutilated man’s body on the side of the road, they figure a bear attacked him, except that bears aren’t indigenous to their area. The local Indian tribe offers another explanation: Crota, a great beast of legend, has reawakened. (Goodreads)

This seemed like a title that offered a unique indigenous literature perspective, that has also won the Bram Stoker Award and the acclaim of many readers. Any title that features a monster or beast of some kind usually manages to grab my attention, and this one was no different. Can Crota be sated, or has Hobbs County met its match?

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Spirit by Thomas Page. Cover shows a small house in a snowy landscape with wind and snow blowing nearly sideways. In the wind in the sky above the house appears a skull like face with fangs; we see just the eye holes, nose hole, and teeth.

The Spirit by Thomas Page

It has many names: Bigfoot. . .Yeti. . .Sasquatch. But whatever it is, it’s out there in the woods and leaving a trail of blood and severed heads behind it. (Goodreads)

Like many here, I found and fell in love with Hendrix’s Paperbacks from Hell. As much as monsters as subject matter, pulpy covers and art have also long sold me on wanting to read a book. The Spirit was the first of the classic and new Valancourt printing covers that really caught my attention and immediately made me want to dive into the pages within. 

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Nest by Gregory A Douglas. Cover shows a cockroach on top of a pile of either dirt or trash. In the background are evergreen trees and a low hanging moon.

The Nest by Gregory A. Douglas

It was just an ordinary garbage dump on peaceful Cape Cod. No one ever imagined that conditions were perfect for multiple breeding, that it was a warm womb, fetid, moist and with food so plentiful that everything crawling, creeping and slithering could gorge to satiation. Then the change in poison control was made and the huge mutants began to leave their nest – in search of human flesh… (Goodreads)

Another out of Paperbacks from Hell, this one just sounds like a fun little romp and not a serious piece of literature at all, but I’m interested in reading it and finding out! There’s quite a few folks who really seem to like it!

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of Swan Song by Robert R McCammon. Cover shows a sunset scene; we are looking across a barren landscape at the setting sun. There appears to be a path carved into the landscape. There is a devilish face suspended inside of the setting sun.

Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon

An ancient evil roams the desolate landscape of an America ravaged by nuclear war. In a wasteland born of rage, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, the last survivors on earth have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil that will decide the fate of humanity…. (Goodreads)

Wasteland America. Marauding armies. Monstrous creatures. Need I say more?

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

Cover of The Amulet by Michael McDowell. Cover shows an amulet on a golden chain. The chain wraps around the bodies of several people.

The Amulet by Michael McDowell

When a rifle range accident leaves Dean Howell disfigured and in a vegetative state, his wife Sarah finds her dreary life in Pine Cone, Alabama made even worse. After long and tedious days on the assembly line, she returns home to care for her corpse-like husband while enduring her loathsome and hateful mother-in-law, Jo. Jo blames the entire town for her son’s mishap, and when she gives a strange piece of jewelry to the man she believes most responsible, a series of gruesome deaths is set in motion. (Goodreads)

This one has it all for me and is the one I think  I’m most excited to read on this list. I only recently learned about this one, also out of PfH, but it was the one that interested me the most. Gothic, fantastical, centered around some form of cursed or magical object, who wouldn’t want to read that tale!?

Bookshop* | Goodreads | Amazon

And The Winner Is…

Out of these six books, HOWLers voted to read The Amulet by Michael McDowell. Join HOWL Society on Monday, January 31, 2022 to begin discussion!

*The HOWLS affiliate storefront pays a 10% commission to HOWL Society and gives a matching 10% to independent bookstores

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