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Sweatpants & Books | 5 Books to Scare You

By Heather Dyer

A list of spine-tingling thrillers guaranteed to chill your bones in this summer heat.

Hunger by Jeremiah Knight If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if the world’s food shortages could finally be solved through genetically modifying crops, you actually might not like the outcome. A small group of humans race to rescue the planet from being overtaken by an ever-growing food supply and the animals of all sizes who have become monsters because of it.

“Desperate to solve a global food shortage, ExoGen scientist Dr. Ella Masse oversees the creation and release of RC-714, a gene that unlocks millions of years of adaptation and evolution, allowing crops to use long dormant junk DNA to rapidly adapt to any environment. The world’s food supply grows aggressively, occupying every inch of earth, no matter how inhospitable. World hunger is averted. Humanity flourishes. RC-714 is digested, absorbed and passed on.

The Change affects small, fast breeding mammals first. They multiply with the same aggressive speed as the ExoGen plants, but a new, insatiable hunger drives them to violence. War between species breaks out. And then RC-714 reaches humanity, along with every other large creature on the planet. Civilization implodes, as every living thing that consumed the ExoGen crops begins to adapt to a world full of predators, accessing genes dating back to the beginning of life itself.

Peter Crane and his son Jakob survive the Change, living in their family farmhouse and eating non-ExoGen food from a biodome, one of many provided by Ella Masse, who discovered the ramifications of her breakthrough too late. The pair ekes out a living in a world full of monsters, surviving until Ella shows up on their doorstep with her daughter, pursued by desperate predators and men alike.

As the farmhouse falls under attack, Crane learns that the end of humanity, of life on Earth, can still be averted: if Ella Masse and her daughter survive, and if they make it to the other side of the country without being captured…or consumed.

Jeremiah Knight merges the science of Michael Crichton with the horror of Stephen King in this fresh take on the post-apocalypse, creating a true worst-case scenario for GMO crops that will have people reading labels before eating their next pepper, tomato or kernel of corn.” – Amazon

The Fireman by Joe Hill This is a book about a world-wide pandemic that causes people to spontaneously combust. Holy shit! How terrifying is that?

“From the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of NOS4A2 and Heart-Shaped Box comes a chilling novel about a worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes and a band of improbable heroes who battle to save it, led by one powerful and enigmatic man known as the Fireman.

The fireman is coming. Stay cool.

No one knows exactly when it began or where it originated. A terrifying new plague is spreading like wildfire across the country, striking cities one by one: Boston, Detroit, Seattle. The doctors call it Draco Incendia Trychophyton. To everyone else it’s Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that marks its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks across their bodies—before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

Harper Grayson, a compassionate, dedicated nurse as pragmatic as Mary Poppins, treated hundreds of infected patients before her hospital burned to the ground. Now she’s discovered the telltale gold-flecked marks on her skin. When the outbreak first began, she and her husband, Jakob, had made a pact: they would take matters into their own hands if they became infected. To Jakob’s dismay, Harper wants to live—at least until the fetus she is carrying comes to term. At the hospital, she witnessed infected mothers give birth to healthy babies and believes hers will be fine too. . . if she can live long enough to deliver the child.

Convinced that his do-gooding wife has made him sick, Jakob becomes unhinged, and eventually abandons her as their placid New England community collapses in terror. The chaos gives rise to ruthless Cremation Squads—armed, self-appointed posses roaming the streets and woods to exterminate those who they believe carry the spore. But Harper isn’t as alone as she fears: a mysterious and compelling stranger she briefly met at the hospital, a man in a dirty yellow fire fighter’s jacket, carrying a hooked iron bar, straddles the abyss between insanity and death. Known as The Fireman, he strolls the ruins of New Hampshire, a madman afflicted with Dragonscale who has learned to control the fire within himself, using it as a shield to protect the hunted . . . and as a weapon to avenge the wronged.

In the desperate season to come, as the world burns out of control, Harper must learn the Fireman’s secrets before her life—and that of her unborn child—goes up in smoke.” – Amazon

The Troop by Nick Cutter I have heard rave reviews about this story of a Scoutmaster and his Boy Scout troop who are visited by a creepy, mysterious man, but honestly, I have kids in Scouting, so I’m too chicken to read it. Stephen King said, “This book scared the hell out of me,” and I think that’s all we need to know.

“Once every year, Scoutmaster Tim Riggs leads a troop of boys into the Canadian wilderness for a weekend camping trip—a tradition as comforting and reliable as a good ghost story around a roaring bonfire. The boys are a tight-knit crew. There’s Kent, one of the most popular kids in school; Ephraim and Max, also well liked and easygoing; then there’s Newt the nerd and Shelley the odd duck. For the most part, they all get along and are happy to be there—which makes Scoutmaster Tim’s job a little easier. But for some reason, he can’t shake the feeling that something strange is in the air this year. Something waiting in the darkness. Something wicked…

It comes to them in the night. An unexpected intruder, stumbling upon their campsite like a wild animal. He is shockingly thin, disturbingly pale, and voraciously hungry—a man in unspeakable torment who exposes Tim and the boys to something far more frightening than any ghost story. Within his body is a bioengineered nightmare, a horror that spreads faster than fear. One by one, the boys will do things no person could ever imagine.

And so it begins. An agonizing weekend in the wilderness. A harrowing struggle for survival. No possible escape from the elements, the infected…or one another.

Part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later—and all-consuming—this tightly written, edge-of-your-seat thriller takes you deep into the heart of darkness, where fear feeds on sanity…and terror hungers for more.” – Amazon

Bird Box by Josh Malerman In this post-apocalyptic world, people are living indoors with windows boarded up because the sight of something outside is so terrible that it turns people into violent murderers. Think about that for a minute.

“Written with the narrative tension of The Road and the exquisite terror of classic Stephen King, Bird Box is a propulsive, edge-of-your-seat horror thriller, set in an apocalyptic near-future world—a masterpiece of suspense from the brilliantly imaginative Josh Malerman.

Something is out there . . .

Something terrifying that must not be seen. One glimpse and a person is driven to deadly violence. No one knows what it is or where it came from.

Five years after it began, a handful of scattered survivors remain, including Malorie and her two young children. Living in an abandoned house near the river, she has dreamed of fleeing to a place where they might be safe. Now, that the boy and girl are four, it is time to go. But the journey ahead will be terrifying: twenty miles downriver in a rowboat—blindfolded—with nothing to rely on but her wits and the children’s trained ears. One wrong choice and they will die. And something is following them. But is it man, animal, or monster?

Engulfed in darkness, surrounded by sounds both familiar and frightening, Malorie embarks on a harrowing odyssey—a trip that takes her into an unseen world and back into the past, to the companions who once saved her. Under the guidance of the stalwart Tom, a motely group of strangers banded together against the unseen terror, creating order from the chaos. But when supplies ran low, they were forced to venture outside—and confront the ultimate question: in a world gone mad, who can really be trusted?

Interweaving past and present, Josh Malerman’s breathtaking debut is a horrific and gripping snapshot of a world unraveled that will have you racing to the final page.” – Amazon

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King How do you not have Stephen King on a horror list? This follow-up to The Shining will undoubtedly scare the living daylights out of you, and that’s how it should be.

“Master storyteller Stephen King’s terrifying sequel to The Shining—an instant #1 New York Times bestseller that is “[a] vivid frightscape” (The New York Times).

On highways across America, a tribe of people called the True Knot travel in search of sustenance. They look harmless—mostly old, lots of polyester, and married to their RVs. But as Dan Torrance knows, and spunky twelve-year-old Abra Stone learns, the True Knot are quasi-immortal, living off the steam that children with the shining produce when they are slowly tortured to death.

Haunted by the inhabitants of the Overlook Hotel, where he spent one horrific childhood year, Dan has been drifting for decades, desperate to shed his father’s legacy of despair, alcoholism, and violence. Finally, he settles in a New Hampshire town, an AA community that sustains him, and a job at a nursing home where his remnant shining power provides the crucial final comfort to the dying. Aided by a prescient cat, he becomes “Doctor Sleep.”

Then Dan meets the evanescent Abra Stone, and it is her spectacular gift, the brightest shining ever seen, that reignites Dan’s own demons and summons him to a battle for Abra’s soul and survival. This is an epic war between good and evil, glorious story that will thrill the millions of devoted readers ofThe Shining and satisfy anyone new to this icon in the Stephen King canon.” – Amazon

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