31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die by Deb Atwood
As readers of Deb Atwood’s blog Pen In Her Hand know, Atwood is passionate about ghost fiction. Since 2011, Atwood has read, re-read, and written about ghost literature. 31 Ghost Novels to Read Before You Die presents a selection of the best of these posts.
Among the books discussed are old favorites (The Turn of the Screw by Henry James, The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson) as well as some indie gems few people will know about (The 20’s Girl, the Ghost, and All That Jazz by June Kearns). There are ghost novels for every reader, in genres ranging from historical to literary to romance.
Deb Atwood holds an MFA and lives in California with her husband and rescue dog Nala. Her time-slip novel Moonlight Dancer was selected as a front page Featured Review by Book Ideas. Deb’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies. Her interests include ghost fiction, Korean culture, quilting, and, of course, reading.
Q&A With the Author:
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever done?
Like most people, I have suffered the loss of family members and other loved ones, but none of those losses required a decision on my part. The hardest decision I ever made was to euthanize my dog Emma. Emma had been with the family since she was eight weeks old. She had her flaws–she didn’t particularly like most men, and she could be unfriendly with other dogs. Some dogs she liked, some she didn’t. But she and I shared a sort of parent-child bond. If Emma was hungry or misbehaving, it was always my eye she sought first.
When she was ten, she had an attack of vertigo and nausea that landed her in the hospital for several days. She recovered, but the vertigo never left and was followed in the next couple of years by deafness, cloudy vision, incontinence, and finally, an inability to walk. I carried her, all 50 pounds. Had she been in intractable pain, the decision to euthanize would have been far easier. Emma did not feel pain. She just had no enjoyment of life. I knew the time was nearing, but I didn’t know how to make the decision. Unfortunately, dogs can’t talk. I had to balance her maximum chance at life with the quality of that life. It felt like an awesome responsibility, but then I rescue spiders.
At last I accepted that it was time, and we took Emma to a caring clinic where she experienced a peaceful death.
It was three years before I took on another dog. Now we have Nala, a rather naughty rescue Chow/German Shepherd. I continue to feel the bond of human to canine. The novel I’ve published, along with all the others in various stages of writing, features a dog. I’m currently writing a young adult book that contains a service dog.
What do you fear most?
I fear earthquakes. Ha! The irony of it, you think…I live in California. True, but that’s where my family, friends, and business are located. Recently, my book group read Falling to Earth by Kate Southwood, a heart-wrenching novel about the worst tornado in US history, so I suppose if I lived in the Midwest, I’d fear tornadoes. One way I find tornadoes less scary than earthquakes, though, is that with tornadoes, you often have some warning. Earthquakes can attack you in your sleep. That’s the thing I try not to think about when I go to bed at night.
I had great fun dipping into The 20’s Girl, the Ghost, and All That Jazz by June Kearns. I loved reading about the main character Gerry draped in her Aunt Leonie 20’s designer fashions from Patou to Vionnet, embellished with guipure lace and tiny seed pearls, especially since the creations are ostentatious in Texas and outdated in England. Gerry often observes herself in social situations overdressed but outdated and with no alternative since she cannot afford to buy a stitch. Nor would she if she could, for she never feels closer to her aunt than when she is wearing her clothes.
This novel will interest people looking for a clean, no-sex romance and would make a fitting mother-daughter book club selection. The Girl, the Ghost, and All That Jazz is not a chilling novel that will send you scurrying to check the deadbolts. Instead, you’ll find yourself warmed by non-traditional family ties and the sparks that fly when romance, along with a high-spirited ghost, is in the air.