Some spooky fall book recommendations from The City & The City
Following their Oct. 24 Halloween literature event, The City & The City spotlights some classic and contemporary horror novels
The City & The City, a new and used bookstore located on Ottawa St., hosted a Halloween-themed reading and costume party at the Casbah on Oct. 24. According to Janet Hoy, one of the owners of The City & The City, the event featured a costume contest, DJing by the 45 Selector and horror readings from three Ontario-based writers.
Andrew F. Sullivan is a Hamilton-based author whose most recent novel, The Handyman Method, was published in August 2023 and co-written with fellow Canadian author Craig Davidson (pen name Nick Cutter). The Handyman Method is a domestic horror novel that depicts a young family moving into a new community and receiving mysterious, ominous suggestions for solving household problems.
The Handyman Method is the second novel that Sullivan has published in 2023, following The Marigold, which was released in April of this year. Another novel with a strong horror element, The Marigold depicts a near-future dystopian version of Toronto. Hoy praised the novel for its creepy tone and its ability to depict the decay of a city.
Hoy also said that Tuesday’s event at the Casbah was initially Sullivan’s idea.
“He was saying, let’s do something for Halloween, because [The Handyman Method] came out just about a month ago. So, we’ve worked with Liz Worth in the past, and he knows Tony Burgess, so he compiled the writers because they’ve written horror novels. And that’s how it came together,” explained Hoy.
Tony Burgess, another one of the writers featured on Tuesday, published his first novel, Pontypool Changes Everything, in 1998. Pontypool Changes Everything is an apocalyptic horror novel that puts a subversive twist on zombie fiction. Burgess also wrote the screenplay for the 2008 film Pontypool, which was adapted from his novel and directed by Bruce McDonald. Burgess has since written numerous other horror novels and screenplays.
Liz Worth, the final author featured at Tuesday’s event, is a novelist, poet and Tarot reader. She published her most recent novel The Mouth is a Coven in October 2022, just in time for last Halloween. Liz Worth is a Hamilton-based writer, and her novel features vampires and other gothic elements.
Beyond the novels featured at Tuesday’s event, Hoy offered even more spooky and autumn-appropriate book recommendations, both classic and contemporary.
Regarding classics, Hoy highlighted House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski, published in 2000, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson, published in 1962. House of Leaves is an intricately crafted and formally subversive horror novel that centres around a terrifying house. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a gothic mystery focusing on a dark family secret.
“You can never go wrong with Shirley Jackson! We Have Always Lived in the Castle is one of my favourite books ever,” said Hoy.
Regarding contemporary novels, Hoy explained that women writers and Indigenous writers have been exploring the genre of horror in interesting ways. Hoy specifically recommended Waubgeshig Rice’s Moon of the Crusted Snow and Moon of the Turning Leaves, Tananarive Due’s The Reformatory and Mariana Enriquez’s Dangers of Smoking in Bed.
For students interested in discovering literary fiction and Ontario-based writers beyond the horror genre, The City & The City regularly hosts readings and other literary events. Coming up on Dec. 7, they plan to host four writers published by Book*hug Press for an in-store reading. For regular updates on literary events hosted by The City & The City, students can follow their Instagram.