Salt & Fog

The Art of Veronica Casson


Spooky Stories

NightstandVeronica CassonComment

Can you believe Halloween is in one day? I know, it’s crazy. To get you in the mood here is a quick list of some of our most favorite spooky books.

Ghosts in the House! 

by Kazuno Kohara


For this once I am going to start with the picture book, as this one needs a little more love. And look how cute it   is this?  


They are all done in two color linocut illustrations. 


To me the little witch girl and kitty are reminisncent of Kiki and Gigi. And that is always a good thing.

purchase Ghosts in the House!

Let the Right One in

by John Ajvide Lindqvist


You have probably seen the excellent Swedish  movie (if not add it to your Halloween viewing you owe it to yourself). The book it is based on is just as excellent and different enough to keep you surprised.

Buy Let the Right One In

The Ocean at the End of the Lane

By Neil Gaiman


This is my favorite Gaiman since the Sandman series. Ocean at the End of the Lane is a creepy twisted fairy tale that does a wonderful job of bringing to life childhood fears and anxieties personified as monsters.

Buy The Ocean at the End of the Lane


The Little Stranger

By SarahWater 


Since falling hard for her first book Tipping the Velvet, I have read everything Waters has done. I will continue to do so. This, her most divisive book (possibly because of pace, possibly because a lack of a Lesbian relationship) , is a meticulously plotted haunted house story which takes a very long time to build. The atmosphere throughout is so rich I was happy to spend my time in it.

Buy The Little Stranger.

Jane Eyre

Charlotte Bronte


The original Gothic Romance.

It's Jane Eyre - so, you know.


Buy Jane Eyre


Scary Stories

By Alvin Schwartz

scary stoeis


I have such fond memories of these. Just seeing the illustrations recalls evenings of scaring myself silly by reading these over and over again and not being able to put them down. They totally hold up as an adult too! Maybe it is nostalgia, sure but they are very solid books. If you can, find the older ones that have not been toned down.


Buy Scary Stories.

The Dark Horse Book of Witchcraft

by Mike MignolaGary GianniTony MillionaireJill Thompso, & Scott Morse


Dark Horse comics gathers  an impressive collection of talent for their "Book of" series (others include Book of Monsters, Book of Hauntings & Book of the Dead). They are all great. Let's say this one is my favorite - though I cannot really decide between them.

Some pages from various artists within:


The Secret Place

By Tana French



The most recent volume in Tana French's creepy and addicitve Dublin Murder Squad series. This one centers on a posh girls boarding school where a note "I know who killed him" was posted on the communal bulletin board, know as The Secret Place. 

If you have not ready any of French's book. You can start here, but why not start on the first In the Woods.

Buy The Secret Place.

The Spooky Old Tree

By Stan and Jan Berenstain  


Arguably the best Berenstain Bear book. It;s Luke's favorite Halloween Book (and maybe Julie's too).

Do you dare go into the Spooky Old Tree? Of course you do!


Amphigorey Also

By Edward Gorey


You just cannot have a list of creepy books without having an Edward Gorey book. It just wouldn't be proper. 

The one on our shelf is Amphigorey Also, but go ahead and take your pick. They are all the awesomeness.


Buy Edward Gorey books.

Happy Halloween everyone!!! Be safe and have a blast!



Go Set a Watchman

NightstandVeronica CassonComment
“Prejudice, a dirty word, and faith, a clean one, have something in common: they both begin where reason ends.” 
― Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman

The Book

On the nightstand this week is the much lamented new title by America's (previously?) favorite author, Harper Lee. When Go Set A Watchmen was announced I immediately put a copy on hold at my local book store. I knew whatever the book was going to be, there was no way a forgotten unpublished manuscript was going to stand up next To Kill A Mockingbird. It just wasn't. I really wanted to read it before the bad press came in to get a completely ubiased view of the book. Which was impossible. The bad press was out before I even had my copy in hand. Oh, well.

Being a bibliophile I had to read and mention this book on Salt & Fog. It has been touted as the publishing event of the year after all. In theme with this Oceanside blog I am going to talk about what I liked about the book.

“the time your friends need you is when they’re wrong, Jean Louise. They don’t need you when they’re right—” 
― Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman

What I liked

What really worked to my advantage in being able to enjoy the book was having had learned that Go Set A Watchman was the first draft of To Kill A Mockingbird. According to this Vanity Fair article, Harper Lee's publisher/editor liked the flashback scenes in the original story which depicted the protagonist as a child and asked her to rewrite the book with that as the focus focus.
So, in essence Go Set a Watchman is merely the first draft of a much better book. Going in to the novel I  viewed it as a writing exercise. How did this, became that? It is pretty interesting.

Additionally, I really enjoyed the first third of the book. It follows grown up Jean Louise "Scout" Finch leaving New York City to visit her childhood home of Maycomb, Alabama. Being a city girl myself who was brought up in the suburbs, but still visits them every few years, made this part of the story feel very familiar and fun. Lee nailed the mixed sense of charm, nostalgia, and backwardness I feel whenever I visit my family.

Not surprisingly, all of the flashbacks, which are the basis for Mockingbird, were spot on and great. It was sure nice to have some more fun with Jem, Dill and Scout as they darted around the backyards of Maycomb county.

Those are the bits that stood out to me. I do agree with others in that when the major conflicts enter the story, involving racial prejudices, Go Set a Watchmen begins get muddled and loses focus.

“A man can condemn his enemies, but it’s wiser to know them.” 
― Harper LeeGo Set a Watchman

Who I would recommend this to

As I said previously, Go Set a Watchman is best viewed as an interest piece on writing. On its own it does not stand up to To Kill A Mockingbird. So unless you are fascinated with the art of writing you might want to skip it.