“Begone, foul demon!” Frantically, I waved my library card at the hideous creature that blocked my path.
The fiend wasn’t buying it. “I scoff at your literary hall pass, librarian,” he hissed, briefly baring a mouthful of razor-sharp fangs.
The smell of sulfur grew stronger as Boredom approached me. The CLP staff had defeated this particular demon many, many times before, but he always came back…especially during the dog days of summer. I knew I shouldn’t have come up to eleventh stack all by myself!
It was too late for regret now, though: with my back to the wall and a Big Bad blocking the staircase, I was going to have to give the demon a taste of his own medicine. I took a deep breath, recited the Litany Against Fear, and tackled Boredom with a sample from the library’s vast arsenal of horrific goodness.
The Book: The Bone Key, Sarah Monette.
Pick this up if you like: Lovecraft homages, socially inept protagonists, subtle eroticism, mysteries, short stories, tales set in New England, or excellent imitations of 19th-century prose styles.
The Book: The Mad Cook of Pymatuning, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt.
Pick this up if you like: Summer camp sagas, novels with local color, coming of age stories, psychological terror, a touch of teenage romance.
The Book: Waking Brigid, Francis Clark.
Pick this up if you like: Tales of the Civil War and Reconstruction eras, unflappable heroines with special powers, stories told partially in flashback, interfaith cooperation in the service of defeating some pretty greusome demons.
The Book: Fledgling, Octavia Butler.
Pick this up if you like: ethical vampires, genetic engineering, African American fiction, interspecies smackdowns, strong-willed female protagonists, or social commentary on racism and xenophobia.
Boredom, visibly shaken but undeterred, staggered toward me, determined to have his way in spite of my efforts. As I closed my eyes and prayed for a swift end, there was a sudden shriek, and then…silence.
I opened my eyes. Boredom was nowhere to be found. Instead, much to my surprise, a small, stuffed kitten lay at my feet. Charmed, I stooped to examine its cuddly white fur and cute hair bow, then scooped it up with a smile.
“Well aren’t YOU just the sweetest little thing?,” I cooed. “Let’s take you downstairs and put you on my desk.” Cheered by the triumph of adorable over evil, I skipped back down to the Reference department, never suspecting that I had not been rescued, but had merely traded one horrifying creature for another.
Will our heroine survive the plush peril? Perhaps we’ll find out in our next episode of Shelf Examination! In the meantime, if you’re craving even more horror, check out our booklists, or stop by the next meeting of our horror book discussion group.