Malice House by Megan Shepherd
"One step away from our world lies another: a land of violent fantasies, of sharp-toothed delights. . . ."
Of all the things aspiring artist Haven Marbury expected to find while clearing out her late father's remote seaside house, Bedtime Stories for Monsters was not on the list. This secret handwritten manuscript is disturbingly different from his Pulitzer-winning works: its interweaving short stories crawl with horrific monsters and enigmatic humans that exist somewhere between this world and the next. The stories unsettle but also entice Haven, practically compelling her to illustrate them while she stays in the house that her father warned her was haunted. Clearly just dementia whispering in his ear . . . right?
Reeling from a failed marriage, Haven hopes an illustrated Bedtime Stories can be the lucrative posthumous father-daughter collaboration she desperately needs to jump-start her art career. However, everyone in the nearby vacation town wants a piece of the manuscript: her father's obsessive literary salon members, the Ink Drinkers; her mysterious yet charming neighbor, who has a tendency toward three a.m. bonfires; a young barista with a literary forgery business; and of course, whoever keeps trying to break into her house. But when a monstrous creature appears under Haven's bed right as grisly deaths are reported in the nearby woods, she must race to uncover dark, otherworldly family secrets—completely rewriting everything she ever knew about herself in the process.
The Plot and the Pendulum by Jenn McKinlay
Library director Lindsey Norris is happy to learn the Briar Creek Public Library is the beneficiary of the Dorchester family’s vast book collection. However, when Lindsey and the library staff arrive at the old Victorian estate to gather the books, things take a sinister turn. One of the bookcases reveals a secret passage, leading to a room where a skeleton is found, clutching an old copy of The Collected Works of Edgar Allan Poe.
Lindsey does a quick check of missing persons, using the distinctive 80s era clothing worn by the deceased to determine a time frame, and discovers that Briar Creek has an unsolved missing person’s case from 1989. A runaway bride went missing just weeks after her wedding. No suspects were ever arrested and the cold case remains unsolved. Lindsey and the crafternoon crew decide that justice is overdue and set about solving the old murder mystery, using some novel ideas to crack the case.
Sign Here by Claudia Lux
Peyote Trip has a pretty good gig in the deals department on the fifth floor of Hell. Sure, none of the pens work, the coffee machine has been out of order for a century, and the only drink on offer is Jägermeister, but Pey has a plan—and all he needs is one last member of the Harrison family to sell their soul.
When the Harrisons retreat to the family lake house for the summer, with their daughter Mickey’s precocious new friend, Ruth, in tow, the opportunity Pey has waited a millennium for might finally be in his grasp. And with the help of his charismatic coworker Calamity, he sets a plan in motion.
But things aren’t always as they seem, on Earth or in Hell. And as old secrets and new dangers scrape away at the Harrisons’ shiny surface, revealing the darkness beneath, everyone must face the consequences of their choices.
A Christmas Candy Killing by Christina Romeril
Identical twin sisters Alex and Hannah are the owners of Murder and Mayhem, a mystery bookshop that sells their famous poison-themed Killer Chocolates. But now, there’s a real killer in their midst. Shortly before Christmas, their septuagenarian neighbor, Jane, confides to Alex that a murderer from a true-crime show has taken up residence in the village. Unfortunately, she’s also shared her suspicions with town gossip Netta. The next morning, Alex shows up at Jane’s house to watch the show, but instead discovers Jane's body, with a box of Killer Chocolates nearby.
The sheriff quickly zeroes in on two suspects: Alex, a beneficiary in Jane’s will, and Zack, a handyman who was seen leaving the crime scene. But Alex maintains her innocence and sets out to draft a list of other potential suspects—townsfolk who’d recently been seen arguing with Jane.
When Alex gets hold of Jane’s journal, she begins to understand the truth. But a bearer of ill tidings is arriving early this year—and Alex just might not make it to Christmas.
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