Today's Reading

Houses remember.

That was what Mr. O'Hare had said to Victoria the first day she and her family came to Somerton, the day that began the end of everything.

At the time, she'd liked the sound of that. Somerton was an old house, after all, and the idea of its papered walls and mullioned windows holding the secrets and dreams of all who had walked its halls appealed to her. She hadn't thought that perhaps houses hold on to the bad with the good, just as people do.

But why would she ever have thought that there might be bad memories in such a place? That summer, the last good season of her life, was such a glorious one, full of blue skies and lemon-yellow sun, and there was no sign of all the horror to come. There were only warm, lazy days, the soft hum of bees in tall flowers, the silky feel of grass against her calves as she walked through the fields surrounding the house.
She had forgotten, as we all do, that beautiful things can contain their own darkness.

Lilith Rising, Mari Godwick, 1976

 
With its publication in 1976, Lilith Rising blew open the doors of the Boys Club occupied by such horror authors as William Peter Blatty, Jay Anson, and Thomas Tryon, a feat made even more impressive by the youth of its author. Blatty was forty-three when The Exorcist was published, Anson fifty-six when The Amityville Horror was unleashed. Tryon had already had an established Hollywood career as both an actor and writer before The Other put him on the map as one of America's preeminent writers of horror.

But the author of Lilith Rising was a girl just barely over the drinking age, a petite English redhead named Mari Godwick.

Of course, by the time Lilith Rising was published, her name was already famous. Infamous, even. But even if it hadn't been for the events of the summer of 1974 (sometimes luridly referred to as "The Villa Rosato Horror"), Lilith Rising would've caused a sensation. Horror had, after all, been mostly the territory of men, until Mari Godwick and her creation—some say avatar—Victoria Stuart stormed onto the scene.

Even divorced from its real-life history of violence, the book shocks. Victoria is no victim, no screaming girl covered in blood. She brings about the destruction of those she loves with no regret, single-minded in her focus in the way teenage girls certainly are in real life, but had not been permitted to be in the realms of horror fiction.

Mari Godwick was asked time and time again if she was Victoria, and her answer, given with an enigmatic smile, was always the same.

"We all are."

The Lady and the Monster: Women in Horror, 1932-1990, Dr. Elisabeth Radnor, University of Georgia Press, 2001


CHAPTER ONE

Somewhere around the time she started calling herself "Chess," I realized I might actually hate my best friend.

It was the third name she'd given herself in the nearly twenty years I'd known her. When we'd met in fourth grade, she was just Jessica. Well, "Jessica C.," since there was also "Jessica M.," and "Jessica R.," and then one girl who just got to be Jessica, like she'd claimed the name first, and everyone else just had to fucking deal with it. So I guess it wasn't a surprise that by the time we were sophomores, Jessica C. had turned herself into "JC," which eventually morphed into "Jaycee."

That lasted until halfway through college. Sometime between her third and fourth change of major, she became simply, "Jay," holding on to that moniker until ten years ago, right after we both turned twenty-five and she'd finally broken up with that asshole, Lyle. That's when Chess was born.

Chess Chandler.
 
I can't deny that it sounds good, and it definitely looks good printed in giant font on the book I'm currently holding in my lap as I wait for Chess to meet me for lunch.

She's late, because she's always late, even though I'd purposely shown up fifteen minutes after I'd told her to meet me, hoping to avoid this very situation. But of course, just as I sat down, I'd gotten a text from her. Leaving now!
...

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Today's Reading

Houses remember.

That was what Mr. O'Hare had said to Victoria the first day she and her family came to Somerton, the day that began the end of everything.

At the time, she'd liked the sound of that. Somerton was an old house, after all, and the idea of its papered walls and mullioned windows holding the secrets and dreams of all who had walked its halls appealed to her. She hadn't thought that perhaps houses hold on to the bad with the good, just as people do.

But why would she ever have thought that there might be bad memories in such a place? That summer, the last good season of her life, was such a glorious one, full of blue skies and lemon-yellow sun, and there was no sign of all the horror to come. There were only warm, lazy days, the soft hum of bees in tall flowers, the silky feel of grass against her calves as she walked through the fields surrounding the house.
She had forgotten, as we all do, that beautiful things can contain their own darkness.

Lilith Rising, Mari Godwick, 1976

 
With its publication in 1976, Lilith Rising blew open the doors of the Boys Club occupied by such horror authors as William Peter Blatty, Jay Anson, and Thomas Tryon, a feat made even more impressive by the youth of its author. Blatty was forty-three when The Exorcist was published, Anson fifty-six when The Amityville Horror was unleashed. Tryon had already had an established Hollywood career as both an actor and writer before The Other put him on the map as one of America's preeminent writers of horror.

But the author of Lilith Rising was a girl just barely over the drinking age, a petite English redhead named Mari Godwick.

Of course, by the time Lilith Rising was published, her name was already famous. Infamous, even. But even if it hadn't been for the events of the summer of 1974 (sometimes luridly referred to as "The Villa Rosato Horror"), Lilith Rising would've caused a sensation. Horror had, after all, been mostly the territory of men, until Mari Godwick and her creation—some say avatar—Victoria Stuart stormed onto the scene.

Even divorced from its real-life history of violence, the book shocks. Victoria is no victim, no screaming girl covered in blood. She brings about the destruction of those she loves with no regret, single-minded in her focus in the way teenage girls certainly are in real life, but had not been permitted to be in the realms of horror fiction.

Mari Godwick was asked time and time again if she was Victoria, and her answer, given with an enigmatic smile, was always the same.

"We all are."

The Lady and the Monster: Women in Horror, 1932-1990, Dr. Elisabeth Radnor, University of Georgia Press, 2001


CHAPTER ONE

Somewhere around the time she started calling herself "Chess," I realized I might actually hate my best friend.

It was the third name she'd given herself in the nearly twenty years I'd known her. When we'd met in fourth grade, she was just Jessica. Well, "Jessica C.," since there was also "Jessica M.," and "Jessica R.," and then one girl who just got to be Jessica, like she'd claimed the name first, and everyone else just had to fucking deal with it. So I guess it wasn't a surprise that by the time we were sophomores, Jessica C. had turned herself into "JC," which eventually morphed into "Jaycee."

That lasted until halfway through college. Sometime between her third and fourth change of major, she became simply, "Jay," holding on to that moniker until ten years ago, right after we both turned twenty-five and she'd finally broken up with that asshole, Lyle. That's when Chess was born.

Chess Chandler.
 
I can't deny that it sounds good, and it definitely looks good printed in giant font on the book I'm currently holding in my lap as I wait for Chess to meet me for lunch.

She's late, because she's always late, even though I'd purposely shown up fifteen minutes after I'd told her to meet me, hoping to avoid this very situation. But of course, just as I sat down, I'd gotten a text from her. Leaving now!
...

Join the Library's Online Book Clubs and start receiving chapters from popular books in your daily email. Every day, Monday through Friday, we'll send you a portion of a book that takes only five minutes to read. Each Monday we begin a new book and by Friday you will have the chance to read 2 or 3 chapters, enough to know if it's a book you want to finish. You can read a wide variety of books including fiction, nonfiction, romance, business, teen and mystery books. Just give us your email address and five minutes a day, and we'll give you an exciting world of reading.

What our readers think...