The Next Chapter

David Demchuk recommends 3 great horror books

The Next Chapter columnist reviews The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons, The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay and We Shall Be Monsters by Derek Newman-Stille.
David Demchuk is an author and CBC staffer. (CBC/Sinsia Jolic)

David Demchuk (who works at CBC as a communications officer) made the 2017 Scotiabank Giller Prize longlist and won a Sunburst Award in 2018 for his debut novel The Bone Mother.

The 2017 book is a collection of horror fairy tales from a group of Eastern European mythical creatures who are sharing their stories before possibly being destroyed by war.

Demchuk is also a The Next Chapter columnist and a huge fan of horror fiction. He dropped by to review three of his favourite books.

The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons

Anne Rivers Siddons was a novelist who wrote stories set in the southern United States. (Gallery Books, Jack Alterman)

"This book is a neglected classic, in some ways a forgotten one. The author, Anne Rivers Siddons, died recently and was well-known for her work in the New South literary movement. She was writing about Southern families and Southern women in particular who were grappling with their ancestral legacy.

"This 1978 book has elements of Southern Gothic but it is a modern contemporary story about a suburban couple who live next to a vacant lot. One day, all of that is disrupted when a young architect shows up and builds a beautiful new house next door.

This book is a neglected classic, in some ways a forgotten one.- David Demchuk

"The first family moves in — and tragedy soon erupts inside the house. The next family arrives and there's still more tragedy. There's this feeling that this tragedy is going to start spreading within the neighbourhood and affect everyone. 

"It's a fun haunted house story that ponders things like ghosts and the nature of evil." 

The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay

Paul Tremblay is a Boston-based writer of crime and horror fiction. (HarperCollins, Allan Amato)

"Paul Tremblay is an author who has not yet broken out into the mainstream. I think that this is the book that's going to do it for him. It's about a gay couple and their adopted daughter, who are in a cabin on summer vacation when four intruders appear on their doorstep with a prophecy that one of the three in the family must voluntarily sacrifice themselves in order to prevent an impending apocalypse.

It's a very tense novel.- David Demchuk

"There is a supernatural horror aspect to this book. It's a very tense novel and unsurprisingly it's been optioned for film."

We Shall Be Monsters, edited by Derek Newman-Stille

We Shall Be Monsters is an anthology of horror fiction edited by Derek Newman-Stille. (Renaissance)

"This book is an anthology that was created for the 200th celebration of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The editor, Derek Newman-Stille, pulled together a collection of stories that riff off of the tropes within Frankenstein. The stories look at our anxieties around the body — including body dysmorphia and the medicalization of the body around gender and sexuality — and how that affects our self-perception, personalities and identities in order to make our way in the world.

The book also deals with issues around race, colonialism and the ownership of the body.- David Demchuk

"The book also deals with issues around race, colonialism and the ownership of the body.

"I should note that this is actually a Canadian anthology. Half of the stories in the book are Canadian and among the strongest stories in the book. I was particularly taken with it."

David Demchuk's comments have been edited for length and clarity.