Welcome one and all to this week’s Top 5 Wednesday post! For those of you who don’t know Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme/challenge which was created by the wonderful Lainey from gingereadslainey and is now overseen by the equally lovely Sam from Thoughts of Tomes. Every Wednesday, participants devise their Top 5 based on a given topic.
This Wednesday’s topic is Favourite Creepy Settings: these don’t have to be from horror books, but any setting from any book that gave you the heebie jeebies…in a good way. I don’t read many/any horror books so thank goodness Sam specified that these settings could be from any kind of book! These places might not feature in scary books but they definitely do creep me out!
5. Manderley from Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Could I answer a Top 5 Wednesday list about creepy places without mentioning Manderley? I don’t think so! Manderley itself, as an estate, sounds potentially beautiful but the way that it is described by the narrator in a dreamlike, slightly surreal way in the opening chapter of this novel unsettles the reader from the very beginning. As the reader is introduced to Manderley through this unnamed second wife’s eyes when she first comes to her new husband’s home after the wedding, and the pressure she feels to be as good as his first wife, Rebecca, results in Manderley having an encroaching and overwhelming presence in the story itself.
4. Cabeswater, from The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater
Similarly unsettling is the forest of Cabeswater, situated on the ley lines that Gansey and co. search for in Henrietta. The entire place gives off a magical, ethereal, and ancient vibe that is creepy simply because, if you’re not careful, Cabeswater could very well trap you inside it forever. It’s as though the trees are so watchful and wise that if they could sense you’re a bad person or there for nefarious purposes then they could probably tell and would work against you. Plus the trees speak Latin, and I’m unfortunately not well versed in it, so I feel we wouldn’t communicate very well.
3. Department of Mysteries from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JK Rowling
The entirety of the Department of Mysteries is creepy af – but especially the weird brain room. The entire concept of an empty room only filled with a murky tank of an unidentified green liquid is odd enough, but then add into it that floating in this tank are pearly-white brains? Gross. As is seen when Ron accidentally makes contact with one of the brains, they throw out tendrils which kind of attach themselves onto whatever surface they can (including a person), and the possibility of that coiling around me like some weird octopus makes me feel mildly sick – definitely fulfills the creepy setting requirement!
2. Bolvangar from Northern Lights by Philip Pullman
Anyone who has read Northern Lights will not be surprised to see this place get a mention. Bolvangar is the location of the General Oblation Board’s research station where it conducts medical experiments on children who have been kidnapped and brought to Bolvangar for this very purpose, specifically it performs the experimental intercision process which splits a human and their dæmon by way of a guillotine. The mere idea of this is enough to turn anyone’s stomach who knows about the vital link between human and dæmon and Bolvangar in my head is synonymous with this cruel process. Apparently its name also means ‘Fields of Evil’ so that sounds pretty damn creepy to me!
1. White London from A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
White London is creepy because of one very important reason – the Dane twins. Astrid and Athos Dane are cruel and sadistic and the throne of White London is well known for being surrounded by bloody violence and murder. Astrid in particular is extremely creepy, so it’s no surprise that the kingdom she presides over with her twin brother entirely creeps me out. Even its evocative description gives me chills: “Scorched metal and settling ash. A dying city, a desperate people, a defiant magic. There is no future for the weak, and power bends only to those who take it. The ruthless twins perch on marble thrones, their lips red with blood. They give orders— And a magician in chains obeys.” Creepy, or what?
That’s it for now, folks, those were my Top 5 bookish favourite creepy settings. What are some of your favourite creepy settings from books? Be sure to link me to your Top 5 Wednesday post below, if you have one, as I’d love to read it!