I don’t know about your state, but for the majority of residents in Indiana, spring break means Florida (or a staycation, in which you wish you were in Florida). I’m pretty sure that if you live in a cold climate (which this winter has been all of us) Florida sounds pretty good right now. Whether you’re looking for reading material that takes place there, or just wish you were there yourself, here’s a list of books set in Florida that should get your blood pumping.
A terrible car accident that causes dramatic personality changes and leads to his divorce causes Edgar Freemantle to relocate to an isolated island in the Florida Keys, where he discovers that he possesses a remarkable artistic talent with supernatural aspects.
Hunger by Rodman Philbrick
Genetically engineered, human-eating sharks are loose in the Florida Keys. Doesn’t that summary make you want it for your next beach read?
If you prefer to stay inside while reading about malevolent, carnivorous, underwater predators, you could consider pairing this with the movie Deep Blue Sea. While I haven’t actually read this book, the plot sounds remarkably similar.
Treasure hunters, ghosts, and a serial killer haunt this romantic suspense thriller.
Speaking of treasure hunters, here’s a real life story of treasure hunting filled with tragedy, obsessiveness, and, well, treasure. I can’t remember how old I was when the discovery and salvage of the Atocha became a big deal, but there was a massive exhibit at the Children’s Museum here, called The Search for the Golden Treasure, and I remember it well. The author of this book, Jedwin Smith, actually accompanied Mel Fisher and his company of treasure seekers on several dives.
Dead Tide and Dead Tide Rising by Stephen A. North
These are fast paced zombie thrillers set in Pinellas County, Florida. Dead Tide Rising is the sequel to Dead Tide. Zombie lovers will find these to be good vacation reads, unless they happen to be vacationing in St. Petersburg. Read our review of Dead Tide here and our review of Dead Tide Rising here.
Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand
Jeff Strand is well known for his comic horror. Werewolf fans on their way to Florida are in for a treat with Wolf Hunt, which describes a road trip across Florida by two low-level thugs charged with delivering a man in a cage to a crime lord. Given the title, I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to reveal that the man is, in reality, a ravenous werewolf. Strand doesn’t short his readers on the gore, though, so even with the comedy, it’s not for the weak of stomach. Read our review here.
Dying Days by Armand Rosamilia
Another fast paced zombie thriller that takes place in sunny Florida. Rosamilia has written several books and short stories set in this world. This one is available for 99 cents on Kindle, so it’s an inexpensive and easy choice that will help you to decide if you want to try more of his work. Read our review here.
Skeletons in the Swimmin’ Hole: Tales of Haunted Disney World by Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Six short horror stories for adults set at Disney World. The perfect antidote to Disney sweetness.
Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
He is not a horror writer, but I have read and loved most of Cory Doctorow’s work. I haven’t read this one, however. Reviews I have seen on it suggest that Doctorow was focused more on his setting (Disney World) and exploring ideas than on character development and plot. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom takes place in a future where scarcity is not a problem, wealth is based on reputation, and death is temporary, lasting only until your personality can be downloaded into a clone. This doesn’t leave a lot of opportunity for meaningful conflict in a murder mystery. However, it sounds like Doctorow does put a lot of love into detailing the setting and the feelings of the people who really do live for Disney, which makes me wonder if he once wished he could live there himself. This was his debut novel, and his writing has become much more mature since then, but if I ever get back to Disney World (it’s pricey these days), I think I’d take this with me.
Shadows Over Florida by David Goudsward and Scott T. Goudsward
This nonfiction title is one horror movie fans can actually use to plan their vacations! Florida was the site of the filming of many grindhouse and exploitation movies in the 1960s and 1970s, and the Goudswards cover this in detail. They also document some of the influences Florida has had on prominent horror writers. Read our review here.
Not interested in Florida, and still want to warm up with a good book? Check out this booklist from earlier this year for more titles.
Whether you stay home, travel to sunny Florida, or choose some other vacation option, have a great spring break and enjoy some good reads!