What We’re Reading in June

Our book editor reviews “Mothered” and “This Appearing House”

Mothered Jun23Mothered
Zoje Stage
Thomas & Mercer, $24.95

StokerCon, the Horror Writers Association’s annual convention celebrating all things spooky, descends upon Pittsburgh this month. Begun in 2016, the convention brings together writers, artists, filmmakers, and fans for three days of scare-filled fun.

Pittsburgh is not only hosting the con, but it will also be well-represented among the attendees.

Squirrel Hill novelist Zoje Stage is the bestselling author of the shiver-inducing “Baby Teeth” and “Wonderland.” Her latest is “Mothered,” an incredibly claustrophobic tale of a mother and her adult daughter sharing a small house in Greenfield during a pandemic.

Grace has just lost her job and is struggling to keep up with the payments on her newly purchased house. Her recently widowed mother, Jackie, offers to move back to Pittsburgh to help with the finances. “This will be good for us — it’s been a long time, and we’re both adults now,” Jackie chirps early on. Grace isn’t so sure.

“Mothered” is a dark study of a mother-daughter relationship. Stuck inside together, weathering a pandemic that makes all human interaction risky, Grace and Jackie succumb to paranoia and suspicion. Old wounds are reopened and devastating truths are revealed. Stage expertly paces each little revelation that leads Grace into a nightmare world where nothing in her life will ever be the same again.

Appearing Jun23This Appearing House
Ally Malinenko
Katherine Tegen Books, $16.99

University of Pittsburgh alumna Ally Malinenko earned a Bram Stoker Award nomination for “This Appearing House,” her second middle-grade horror novel.

It’s been five years since Jac’s cancer diagnosis. She’s navigating a new town and seventh grade, when one day a house appears out of thin air at the end of the old cul-de-sac.

Malinenko’s take on the haunted house story is a truly scary and deeply emotional reading experience, even for an adult. As Jac reflects, “The stories were always the same. Kid got sick; everyone felt bad; kid taught everyone to love in a deeper, more meaningful way; kid died; everyone remembered kid as a hero.” “This Appearing House” turns all of that on its head.

Both Stage and Malinenko will be signing books at StokerCon, which takes place June 15-18 at the Sheraton Station Square.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment, Things To Do