The days are getting shorter. There is a crisp chill in the air. And, the leaves have begun their enthralling journey, a journey that ultimately rejoins them with the Earth from which they came. I love Fall! Not only is this season the most poetic, it also has given rise to the almighty pumpkin spice latte…. ha-ha…I jest. But in all truthfulness, I enjoy almost everything Fall brings. One glaring exception is the dedication to the macabre. I am not one for the spooky, creepy, and unsettling haunts of the season. Although, it does feel like we all go through that phase where we actively seek out the spine-chilling, mine occurred in late adolescents and resulted in many nights with the lights on throughout the house. I soon realized that scary books, movies, and general realities were not for me. I do want to take a short moment to acknowledge the brave souls that still seek out the thrill of that next frightening book or movie. I do not understand but I do tip my hat at your bravery. With this peek into my preference you will be surprised to learn that I am reading and recommending a spooky tale. Ahh, this tipsy-topsy world really has us on our toes.
I am currently reading “A Room Away from the Wolves” by Nova Ren Suma. The tale feels like a classic ghost story. An imposing brownstone on an unassuming New York City block has a secret that is more shrouded for our narrator than any other character we meet along the way. Catherine’s House, now a boarding house for young women, was once the home of Catherine de Barra who loved to collect things and ultimately vanished under peculiar circumstances. This home and its inhabitants welcome our protagonist, Sabina (Bina) into a warm and all-be-it tight embrace. Bina’s mother spent one summer in the clutches of Catherine’s house and left suddenly. Throughout Bina’s life, she has grown on romantic stories her mother shared of her time in New York and at Catherine’s house. Therefore, when life sours for Bina she retreats to the security dreamed possible at Catherine’s house. But that safety is called into question almost immediately. And this is where I kind of felt I should just leave the book in the freezer and be on my way (nod to my FRIENDS fans out there). Bina’s encounters at the house are unsettling at first and down right creepy as the story unfolds.
This is a story of family, a story of history, and most importantly, this is a story about memory. The memories we ourselves choose to forget or change to make the reality we seek more stable. Bina is a challenging narrator as she is actively running for the tale the reader and everyone around her seeks. The story ends not fully answering the questions it poses but most good stories make us think.