Sinister Stories from Childhood

When I was a kid, I loved creepy stories: the grimmer of the Brothers Grimm fairy-tales, books of ghosts and hauntings and anything that had a mystery with history. I spent a fair amount of time on visits to Grandma's big, old house back east trying to live in those stories: running up the (long gone) servants' back staircase, scouting around the gigantic attic and searching for secret doors and hidden passages ala Nancy Drew. It would have been so cool to visit the places where some of my favorite stories originated, but my grandmother's house, fascinating though it was, was not one of them. The characters in two novels for adults I read recently were luckier.  

In Carol Goodman's Arcadia Falls, Meg Rosenthal has just snagged a teaching job at Arcadia School, an art institute for high-schoolers in upstate New York.  The school was founded in the first half of the twentieth century by several women who wrote and illustrated a haunting tale entitled "The Changeling Girl", one that Meg read to her child and one whose origins she is now researching. Being the good gothic novel that it is, secrets abound, a death occurs, the past impinges upon the present, and there is, of course, a romantic element.

The Distant Hours, Kate Morton's latest, takes place during WWII and in 1992. Driving back from a business trip, Edith comes across Milderhurst Castle, the place where the author of her favorite childhood story, "The True History of the Mud Man", lived and, coincidentally, the place where Edith's mother was evacuated to during WWII.  Now it's occupied by the author's three spinster daughters, all well beyond seventy years of age. Edith is dying to find out more about the family and her mother's stay there, but Mum isn't talking and something's being hushed up. Secrets, death, romance yada yada yada and 500 plus pages later, we know the whole story including the true "True History of the Mud Man." So pull your chair close to the fire, get your goth on, and read some slightly sinister stories the are definitely for adults during these cold and rainy March nights.