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The Vaguely Unsettling - Livres de Mois

In October Livres du Mois we venture into the vaguely unsettling, art and stories that send a chill down our spines but are so good we can't look away. From orphans with terrible luck to baking haunted gingerbread houses to murder and voodoo, we will explore my favourite books that leave one feeling...well.. vaguely unsettled.


The Gashlycrumb Tinies


Edward Gorey

The perfectly creepy, amusing book that inspired Tim Burton, Neil Gaiman and Guillermo Del Toro.

A is for Amy who fell down the stairs B is for Basil assaulted by bears C is for Clara who wasted away...

D is for Desmond thrown out of a sleigh

... and so it goes on, an A to Z of poor little orphans and their untimely ends.

This book was written by Edward St. John Gorey, who I wrote about earlier this month and inspired the title of this months Livres du Mois. Gorey was an American writer and artist noted for his illustrated books. His characteristic pen-and-ink drawings often depict vaguely unsettling narrative scenes in Victorian and Edwardian settings.


Deceptive Desserts


Christine McConnell

Photographer and stylist Christine McConnell transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary—from everyday dinners, to desserts for all occasions, to the walls of your kitchen, and even some over-the-top creations just for fun.

Taking inspiration from the likes of Tim Burton, Wes Craven, Alfred Hitchcock, and Vincent Price and mixing in a dash of Stepford Wife, McConnell’s baking and home DIY projects are a league above and beyond anything you've seen before. In Deceptive Desserts, each dessert is a work of art—some a little twisted, others magical—but every recipe inspires readers to create their own rules without spending a fortune. Doesn't everyone want to eat deserts that look like spiders?

Nothing is sacrosanct in the wonderfully weird world of Christine McConnell and nothing is what it appears to be—even a classic dinner can be transformed into something decadent, with doughnuts that look like chicken drumsticks, green beans made of candy, and ice cream mashed potatoes. A master of illusions in baking, McConnell shows readers how to create their own secret hidden gems in the kitchen.


A Series of Unfortunate Events


Lemony Snicket

There is nothing to be found in the pages of A Series of Unfortunate Events but misery and despair. You still have time to choose another international best-seller to read. But if you must know what unpleasantries befall the charming and clever Baudelaire children read on...

The novel tells the story of three children, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, who become orphans following a fire, encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, a plot to steal their fortune and cold porridge for breakfast. Then again, why trouble yourself with the unfortunate resolutions?

The writer of A Series of Unfortunate Events has been inspired by Edward Gorey since he was child and I must say, it shows.


Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil


John Berendt

A sublime and seductive reading experience. Brilliantly conceived and masterfully written, this enormously engaging portrait of a most beguiling Southern city has become a modern classic.

Shots rang out in Savannah's grandest mansion in the misty, early morning hours of May 2, 1981. Was it murder or self-defense? For nearly a decade, the shooting and its aftermath reverberated throughout this hauntingly beautiful city of moss-hung oaks and shaded squares. John Berendt's sharply observed, suspenseful, and witty narrative reads like a thoroughly engrossing novel, and yet it is a work of nonfiction. Berendt skilfully interweaves a hugely entertaining first-person account of life in this isolated remnant of the Old South with the unpredictable twists and turns of a real life landmark murder case.

It is a spellbinding story peopled by a gallery of remarkable characters: the well-bred society ladies of the Married Woman's Card Club; the hapless recluse who owns a bottle of poison so powerful it could kill every man, woman, and child in Savannah; the ageing and profane Southern belle who is the "soul of pampered self-absorption"; the acerbic and arrogant antiques dealer; the sweet-talking, piano-playing con artist and Minerva, the voodoo priestess who works her magic in the graveyard at midnight. These and other Savannahians act as a Greek chorus, with Berendt revealing the alliances, hostilities, and intrigues that thrive in a town where everyone knows everyone else.

In 1997 the book was made into a film directed and produced by Clint Eastwood and starring John Cusack, Kevin Spacey and Jude Law. One of the main sources of information for Berent during the book and film was The Lady Chablis, an American actress, author, and transgender club performer. Through exposure of the book and film she became one of the first trans performers to be introduced to a wide audience.


I hope you have discovered something new to read. If being vaguely unsettled is not to your taste you may find something milder in The Library but I can't make any promises.


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