distraction no.99

Nova Ren Suma | On Writing & Writing Distractions

Not an Author Newsletter… something else.

Guest Post: A Book That Scares Michael Northrop

(Design & illustration by Robert Roxby)

By Michael Northrop, author of TRAPPED

Looking for a good, creepy read? Say ’ello to my Little Friend Stranger! Well, not mine exactly: Sarah Waters wrote The Little Stranger; I’m just the fool it scared silly. It is the tale of a threadbare country doctor, a crumbling English manor house, and the eccentric family within. Yes, there is a ghostly, malevolent presence but just as haunting are the more familiar themes of class, need, loneliness, and isolation.

In fact, while the book is a brilliantly effective, page-turning thriller, it’s not immediately clear if it’s of the paranormal or psychological variety. (If there’s such a thing as paralogical—or psychonormal?—this book is it.) Whatever the case, The Little Stranger turned a hot stretch last summer into a bone-chilling trip to the misty English moors, and the ending left me both thrilled and shaken. If you decide to make the same journey, know that you will encounter many strange things along the way. There will be fumbling foxtrots, ominous flashbacks, construction in the day and destruction in the night, electric shocks, grisly bites, and, oh yes, there will be blood.

Michael Northrop is the author of two YA novels: Gentlemen (2009), an ALA Best Book for Young Adults, and Trapped (2011), an Indie Next List selection. As a child, he had a cemetery just beyond his backyard. As an adult, he has skeletons in his closet.

Visit Michael at michaelnorthrop.net.

Follow @mdnorthrop on Twitter.

Comment on this guest blog and you’ll gain an extra entry for the big Halloween giveaway on October 31, containing prize packs of signed books plus books and ARCs donated by my publisher Penguin Teen!  

You can keep track of all the “What Scares You?” guest blogs with this tag.

19 responses to “Guest Post: A Book That Scares Michael Northrop”

  1. You know what’s scary? How short my post is compared to the other ones! I feel like the kid with his presentation written on a crumbled Post-It note trying to follow a bunch of classmates who made dioramas of volcanos and coliseums. Or haunted houses, I guess. Don’t hold it against the book, though. The Little Stranger is seriously excellent!

    • I liked your post and I am excited to know of a scary Waters novel! AFFINITY put me through my emotional paces. I now have another candidate for my post-Thanksgiving-feast read!

    • I’m halfway through it now, and loving it. LOVING it. It’s so English and atmospheric, and it’s still hard to tell what’s real or unreal, imagined or too unimaginable to believe. And this is my first Sarah Waters book, so I have to read her other stuff now.

      Thank you for not spoiling anything! I was almost afraid to read your post. 😉

  2. A short post is always a good post! I had to dash over here from Twitter when I saw a shout-out for The Little Stranger. I loved this book — not quite as much as FINGERSMITH — but it’s such pure gothic goodness. Reminded me of Shirley Jackson and Daphne Du Maurier. Waters sure knows how to spin a good yarn. (Also, I’ve never quite looked at my black lab the same way.)

  3. Thanks, y’all! It’s such a strange thing to recommend a scary book, isn’t it? One the one hand, you know it’s a great read. On the other (skeletal) hand, you know you’re probably inflicting some anxious moments/sleepless nights!

  4. This is another book I’ve never heard of that sounds really good. Anything set on the English moors is going to grab my attention. Perfect setting for a spooky story!

  5. I am such a Sarah Waters fan. FINGERSMITH was brilliant, and AFFINITY touched so many chords for me. I had high expectations for THE LITTLE STRANGER, and I felt like it lived up to them, but not in the way I expected. The story was so effective at building suspense and instilling that sense of dread that makes Gothic fiction work so well. It stayed with me a long time, and I bet it will be even better the second time I read it!

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