Good to Know

Ghosts, Domestic Horror, and the Colour Red

reasons 2 read adults

There is a lot of great Canadian fiction coming to the Caledon Public Library this season. This list spotlights women authors and stitches a few books together with some common themes including domestic horror, mother-daughter relationships, ghosts, the immigrant experience, and stories that feature multiple perspectives. There are even three books that feature the colour red.

One popular sub-genre of horror is domestic horror which explores fears within familial relationships. For more information see this guide to the sub-genre. And Then She Fell by Alicia Elliot is about a Mohawk woman living in a suburb of Toronto writing a retelling of the Haudenosaunee creation story when she starts hearing voices and must deal with increasingly hostile neighbours. She is haunted by the recent death of her mother as she tries to connect with her newborn daughter. Mother-daughter relationships also plays a prominent role in An Ordinary Violence by Adriana Chartrand which follows a women decoding messages from her dead mother and reckoning with her violent and traumatic past. Another character who is faced with deciphering messages from ghosts is John from held by Anne Michaels who starts a photography business while dealing with his injuries sustained during World War I when he begins seeing ghosts in his photos.

Telling a story from multiple perspectives is particularly popular among several authors. Nothing in Truth Can Harm Us by Colleen René is a story about eighteen-year-old Eva moving from Nova Scotia to Montréal to live with her Aunt while her mother is in prison. Uncontrolled Flight by Frances Peck follows the death of firefighting pilot in British Columbia from the perspective of the pilot’s widow, his student, and the accident investigator. Enough by Kimia Eslah follows the story of three women of colour navigating work and life in Toronto City Hall. Gin, Turpentine, Pennyroyal, Rue by Christine Higdon is a historical fiction novel following four sisters living in Vancouver struggling to get by after World War I and the recent pandemic.

Several stories also feature immigrant stories. The Syrian Ladies Benevolent Society by Christine Estima explores the Arab immigrant experience across three centuries of people relocating to Canada. Yara by Tamara Faith Berger follows a teenage girl from Brazil navigating relationships while relocating to Israel, Toronto, and California.

Another theme that is a bit more obscure but interesting is the few books which feature the colour red. Jawbone by Meghan Greeley follows a woman trying to win a trip to mars though a video submission contest. Her mouth is wired shut and she is also fixated on the colour red. Rouge by Mona Awad is a surrealist horror fairytale about a character who is “drawn to the culty spa her mother belonged to by a mysterious woman in red that shows up to [her mother’s] funeral”. The Red One by Safia Fazlul is about a woman living in a suburb of Toronto dealing with the pain of an abusive past with “shopping sprees, fake friends and a secret drug addiction”.

Whether the connections are meaningful is up for debate but hopefully this list has given a cross section of recent releases and forthcoming books to get excited about.

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