Here's some timely news as we approach Halloween: Mary Downing Hahn's spooky 1980s classic, Wait Till Helen Comes, is heading to the big screen. The story of two fractious stepsisters, Molly and Heather, who move to an isolated old home where one of them is befriended by a ghost is deliciously creepy, and contains real emotional heart. Eight-year-old me must have read this book a dozen times—each time, I was scared by but also sorry for Helen, whose loneliness allows her to connect to the similarly isolated and unhappy Heather. Wait Till Helen Comes is a true classic—it's been in print since it was first published in 1986—and Hahn is still writing today.
The sisters will be played by real-life sisters Isabelle (Mama) and Sophie (The Book Thief) Nelisse, and Maria Bello has been cast as the mother/stepmother.
In spite of the fact that it's directed by Jennifer Love Hewitt, I'm still hoping this adaptation turns out better than the one for another of my childhood favorites, Betty Ren Wright's The Dollhouse Murders (aka Secrets in the Attic). Now if someone will just make a movie of Christopher Pike's Remember Me, Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Cupid series or some of Richard Peck's Blossom Culp novels, I can relive my childhood ghost story addiction in full . . .
What's your favorite ghost story?
Author Kimberly McCreight had a hit on her hands with her suspenseful 2013 debut, Reconstructing Amelia, the story of a grieving mother trying to figure out what made her teenaged daughter leap from the roof of her exclusive private school.
McCreight's second novel, Where They Found Her, which Harper will publish on April 14, also starts with the discovery of a body. But this time, instead of a teenager, it's an unidentified infant. Freelance journalist Molly, a new local resident, is hired to cover the story, but her search for answers uncovers some dangerous small-town secrets.
The publisher describes the book as "another harrowing, gripping novel that marries psychological suspense with an emotionally powerful story about a community struggling with the consequences of a devastating discovery."
Sounds like an intriguing follow-up to an Edgar- and Anthony-award nominee to us! And that's not all: McCreight also has a YA trilogy in the works, set for a 2016 release, so fans have a lot to look forward to.
Novelist John Boyne has written a dozen novels—perhaps the best known of which is The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, a YA novel about the Holocaust that was adapted for film. He'll be back in 2015 with A History of Loneliness (FSG), which will be published on February 3.
Boyne is writing about his native Ireland for the first time in this powerful story. It begins in the 1970s, when young Odran Yates dedicates himself to the priesthood. Flash forward to the modern day: Odran, somewhat disillusioned by the scandals and suffering the Catholic Church has gone through during his time in the pulpit, must also confront a personal tragedy that means he can no longer deny the corruptions of the institution he has spent his lifetime serving.
Will you read it?
Everyone's favorite self-deprecating lad-lit author returns next February* with his first novel since 2009's Juliet, Naked. Nick Hornby's Funny Girl (Riverhead) is something of a departure for the author: It's set in the swinging '60s, making it his first historical novel.
Sophie Straw is a beauty queen from Blackpool who heads to the big city of London and becomes a TV comedy sensation. The story goes behind the scenes of her hit sitcom, where writers Tony and Bill, director Dennis and Sophie's male co-star, Clive, are enjoying the success—until some of the scripts start to bear too much of a resemblence to real life. Will fact and fiction's collision sink the show's stars?
During an early reading from the book in England, Hornby said that the novel is an "attempt to re-write history and create a British Lucille Ball." But Hornby knows a little something about screenwriting as well as sitcoms: He adapted Cheryl Strayed's Wild for film, and his novel About a Boy is now the basis for an NBC sitcom. These real-life chops should provide plenty of fodder for Funny Girl. Will you read it?
*in the U.S., at least—the book will be released in Britain on November 6. The cover shown is the British cover.
RELATED CONTENT: Read our 2005 interview with Nick Hornby about A Long Way Down.
I've seen a LOT of mash-up book descriptions in my time at BookPage. "Eat, Pray, Love meets A Year in Provence!" "The Da Vinci Code meets Gone Girl!" Etc.
And just when I thought I was far too jaded to be sucked in by one, along comes a debut novel whose "meet" comparison is truly something I've never seen (and would be extremely curious to read). Are you ready?
"The Crimson Petal and the White meets Fight Club: A page-turning novel set in the world of female pugilists and their patrons in late eighteenth-century England."
Say what? Yes, that's right, Faber + Palaniuk = Anna Freeman's debut, The Fair Fight (Riverhead, April 2015). When a lifelong female street fighter born in a brothel meets a manor-born lady eager to escape the confines of her sheltered life, both women might have a chance to fight their way to the top. Best of all, this is based on a true story: The author has worked as a bartender at the Hatchet Inn in Bristol, England, the city's oldest pub—a hotspot for pugilism in the 18th century.
I've put a BOLO on the galley for this one! Will you read it?
As someone who loves both curmudgeons and cats, I was delighted to see that grammar grump Lynne Truss (Eats, Shoots & Leaves) had gone feline with her first novel, Cat Out of Hell. Already on sale in Britain, it will be published in the U.S. in March, by Melville House. (Listed in the catalog selling points: "Cat on the cover!" This is certainly a draw for me.)
However. Truss' opinion of our feline friends is characteristically skeptical. She launches her horror spoof with the premise that cats have the potential for evil. In fact, some cats are so human-phobic that they don't trust cats who get along with humans . . . and are intent on destroying them. Can one widowed academic foil this plot? And what did his wife have to do with the mystery?
It seems that the summer 2015 season is off to a good start: We've just heard that Sara Gruen, who made her name with Water for Elephants, will release a new book on June 2—and it's a return to historical fiction.
Though few plot details are available, At the Water's Edge is set in 1942 and follows three Americans who travel to Scotland on a quest to find the Loch Ness monster. Sounds like quite the adventure! Will you read it?