1. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    Books about visiting an odd town/town with a secret

    Discussion in 'Book Discussion' started by stubeard, Nov 27, 2014.

    Hello all,

    Does anyone have any recommendations for a book about moving to a strange town/a place with a secret:
    - preferably historical fiction
    - something realistic rather than something fantastic
    - and something that is not about a detective sent to solve the mystery, but just an innocent who gets caught up in it all.

    Perhaps something like Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier?

    Any recommendations would be very much appreciated.
     
  2. chicagoliz
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    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm sure there are many others, but for me the only one that comes to mind is Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. (Although it's not fiction.)
     
  3. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    There is Sacrifice by S.J. Bolton. I bought it in ASDA once on the best seller's list. It wasn't actually complete shit too, I remember the writer showed some serious potential as a novelist.
     
  4. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Only one I can think of off the top of my head is An Abundance of Katherines. It is contemporary YA, not historical fiction, but it is indeed realistic rather than fantastic, and the protagonist is a non-detective who innocently gets caught up in it all.

    The main focus, though, is not on the weirdness or the secret of the town itself; the focus is on the character development that happens in that town.
     
  5. Lancie
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    The Concubines Children by Denise Chong (an autobiography but written as a novel, very good) and involves a family moving to Canada from China.
    Series of books by C J Sansom set in the Tudor England around the dissolution of the monasteries.
    The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson (Pendle Witch Trials)
    The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell (Turn of the century India and Edinburgh, involves a mental institution)
     
  6. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    See TVTropes' page on quirky towns.
     
  7. Poet of Gore
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    Poet of Gore Member

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    not sure if you will agree or not, but am putting it here as it is a great book
    The Haunting of Hill House by shirley jackson
     
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  8. Poziga
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    Poziga Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with @Poet of Gore . The Haunting is a good book, but if you don't mind a bit of supernatural. :)
     
  9. Poet of Gore
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    Poet of Gore Member

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    unless it is happening only in Eleanor's head???
     
  10. BayView
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    Speaks the Nightbird, by Robert McCammon?

    I don't know that I'd recommend it, really, b/c I didn't enjoy it too much, but it definitely fits your criteria - Set in the Carolinas, 1699 - the hero travels to a town that is being tricked into thinking it has a witch problem, and has to uncover the truth to keep a woman accused of witchcraft from burning.
     
  11. kfmiller
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    kfmiller Active Member

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    Someone in another thread reminded me what the book was called:

    The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society fits this pretty well.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Shadow over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft. I don't know why I didn't think of it before.
     
  13. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    Which gets into fantasy, since no witches were burned in the English colonies in North America. They were commonly hung as civil miscreants. http://departments.kings.edu/womens_history/witch/werror.html
     
  14. Hwaigon
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    Hwaigon Contributing Member Reviewer

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    Book three of 1Q84 depicts the main protagonist reading a book about a "cat town", a strange, deserted town inhabited by cats that put in appearance with dusk. Though it's a fantastic account - and possibly an allusion to a Czech proverb (cat town being a place of disarray) - it might help.
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2015
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  15. Raider
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    Raider Member

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    The first thing that came to mind was The Woman In Black - Susan Hill. I think it ticks most of your boxes. Set in the small market town of Crythin Gifford where the locals are reluctant to speak to Arthur Kipps about Eel Marsh House, this makes for an interesting gothic read where an innocent gets caught up in a mystery. There are fantastical elements in terms of the supernatural side, but this is also very much a commentary on his psychological state during his time in the town and Eel Marsh House i.e. the mystery and his own history adding to his paranoia.
     
  16. jannert
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    10.maggie.jpg Woo. People who come to Scotland should visit Dunning, a wee town in Perthshire, and ask locals about Maggie Wall's stone. Outside the town stands a memorial to a Maggie Wall who was burned as a witch on that spot in 1657. The stone has been there for yonks, centuries actually. The inscription is painted on the stone, and the paint gets mysteriously renewed from time to time. But nobody 'knows' who does it, and nobody knows who built the memorial in the first place.

    Ask about Maggie Wall while you're in town, and you just get looks, and then people look away. And furthermore, there is no official record of anybody named Maggie Wall ever being burned as a witch. But this is a very strange town, and it's more than just the stone. You know how you get a weird feeling in certain places? I certainly felt very strange there. Dunning has the most forbidding-looking old Catholic church I've ever seen anywhere, that dates from way before The Reformation. I think if I was ever going to set a weird story someplace, I would use that village as a template.

    Of course this might just be a ploy to create tourism, but if it is, it's remarkably low-key. You have to hunt around to find reference to it. And considering how Scotland promotes its supernatural witchy history to the world, this in itself is strange.
     
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  17. outsider
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    outsider Contributing Member Contributor

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    Strange wee (British) towns always remind me of this sketch:
     
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  18. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    That all sounds like an MR James story, I love it. :)
     
  19. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I just stumbled upon this by accident, actually. It wasn't till I got back home and looked it up that I found out about the story. I had assumed, till then, that what I saw (the stone) commemorated a real event. But when I got to the town and tried to talk to a couple of people in shops, etc, there was a sense of reluctance. I thought it was weird, but put it down to people just being not terribly forthcoming. They were pleasant, but body-swerved my questions with statements like 'yes, a lot of people remark on that stone, but I don't know anything about it.' !!!

    Kind of like @outsider's post above, although not so demonstratibly weird. Just ...kind of a blank wall, really. And that church made me shudder. Altogether a strange experience, but maybe it was just me.
     
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015
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