Book Club



The Haunting of Hill House

The Haunting of Hill House will scare the pants off you. It scares me. It scares Neil Gaiman. It scares Stephen King.

Need I continue?

It’s a super creepy haunted house story and I want to warn you, but I also don’t want to ruin the fun. Just remember, it’s not real.


Keep the lights on, just in case.

The Haunting of Hill House was published in 1959 and is a staple of the supernatural horror genre. What makes this novel so special (apart from its ability to incite terror) is that it was written by a woman. Shirley Jackson’s contribution to the cannon is often overlooked even though her works are considered classics now.

Until very recently, relatively few women wrote in this genre. There are notable exceptions of course.

Anne Radcliffe wrote The Mysteries of Udolpho in 1794, a mere thirty years after Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto, and more than 100 years before Dracula.

In contemporary literature there’s Anne Rice with her impressive body of work. (Lestat still gives me shivers).

For the most part though, when it comes to the horror genre, women have been victims to the monster-du-jour. Thankfully, that’s beginning to change. More women are turning to horror stories, as well as thrillers, to explore the things that scare them. And that’s good news for the storytelling business.

The Haunting of Hill House was made into a Netflix series last year. I admit, I haven’t seen it yet so I don’t know how faithful it is to Jackson’s novel. I’ve included the trailer below if you want to check it out.

Happy Haunting!

Available in print, digital and audio versions. Visit your local library or click here to buy the ebook. If your library doesn’t carry this book, ask them to order it.

Audiobook Review

The audiobook is ok, but just ok. If you don’t want to be too creeped out, listening to the audiobook will make the story less scary. Still, don’t use headphones, and don’t listen if you’re walking on a quiet path in the woods. You also might want to abstain if you’re home alone at night. 

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Valerie Francis


A friend of mine recently recently recommended Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner. It’s a great book (lots of “content” though so you’ll definitely want earphones if you’re listening to the audio). Brodesser-Akner used to work for GQ, so it’s like reading a really long GQ article. Her authorial

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Valerie Francis

The Hunting Party

I don’t know about you, but I could use a literary escape these days, and for me, that means mysteries! If you like Agatha Christie, you’ll like The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley. Alfred Hitchcock said that mysteries are intellectual puzzles, and I agree. (I’m not likely to disagree with

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Valerie Francis

The Night Circus

This month I’m recommending a book that was recommended to me by my friend and colleague, Leslie Watts. Leslie is also my editor. (Yes, even editors have editors!) Like the novel I’m currently writing, The Night Circus is a non-linear narrative that has multiple, interweaving storylines. So, Leslie suggested we

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