I belong to a murder mystery book club with a very odd Valentine’s Day tradition. All year we read one book per month, alternating between cozy mysteries and slightly grittier novels to appeal to everyone. In December we pick a holiday book with recipes, and one of our members enjoys baking a few of them for the group. We seem like your typical book club . . . until February rolls around and we select the most disturbing, gruesome serial killer book we can find. Why? To celebrate Scarytine’s Day.
Last year we read Heartsick by Chelsea Cain. Brilliant story. Amazing ending. And it contained torture scenes so upsetting I covered my eyes and waited for them to pass. But that only works at the movies, so I had to suck it up and read on. And I loved it. This year we’re reading Every Dead Thing by John Connolly, if you want to jump on our bandwagon. He weaves two complex child abduction serial killer mysteries together beautifully, and he doesn’t hold any punches. As a mother, I had a tough time reading about the child murders, but as an author I was awed by his careful plotting and attention to detail. If you’re looking for a gruesome mystery with lots of twists and turns, this is the book to read.
When I first joined the book club I didn’t understand the tradition, but I was also a newlywed. Years later, I totally get it. Valentine’s Day is about new love. Children with first crushes. Teenagers with first boyfriends / girlfriends. Newlyweds. New Parents. But what about the rest of us: the single, the divorced, the widowed, or even those who have been dating / married so long the novelty of this holiday has faded?
For those who don’t feel compelled to scream their love from rooftops, candy shops, floral markets, or jewelers, it can be very satisfying to play against type. Watch a gruesome movie. Read a disturbing book. Maybe even take advantage of those great Valentine’s Day sales to buy yourself a gift. In December we have Festivus for the rest of us. Perhaps in February the same should be true for Scarytine’s Day.