Last week, Eliza posted a shout-out to creepy debut novel The Poison Tree, citing its surprising, disturbing twists as a major plus. Over the weekend I read something sinister myself—John Fowles' The Collector.
As a person who read Flowers in the Attic (and its many sequels) and much of Stephen King's oeuvre in elementary school, I consider my creep threshold to be rather high, but something about The Collector really got under my skin. If you haven't read it, the book—Fowles' first published novel—is an abduction story that seems classic now but was actually one of the early takes on the topic when it was published in 1963.
The basic story: Frederick Clegg sets his sights on a beautiful young art student, Miranda Grey. He captures her and hides her in the cellar of a country house, with only a vague idea of where he'll go from there. The story is told in three parts, going from the point of view of Clegg to Miranda's captivity journal and returning to Clegg for the chilling final section.
Clegg's narration is unsettling for the way he presents horrible deeds in a matter-of-fact, seemingly logical manner, rationalizing his dream world and twisted desires. In a pitch-perfect counterpoint, Miranda's journal explores the psychological effects of being kept prisoner, and her gradual realization of how much she wants to live, with heart-rending thoroughness—though if you're like me, you'll have to put the book down for a while to think happy thoughts after completing the first section. Fans of Room who wanted more on the grimmer aspects of being held captive, The Collector is your book. Just make sure you have something cheery to do afterward.