10 Posts to Hallowe’en: Post 5, Books to Read for Halloween

I am celebrating as much as I can for Hallowe’en – and that means here on the blog too! So I present to you, my lovelies, the 10 Posts to Hallowe’en !

Each post will highlight a particular part of the Hallowe’en season I enjoy immensely and wish to share with everyone.

Please feel free to participate by commenting below!

Books to Read for Halloween


I do love to read.

It is not only that books can transport you to another time and place, a whole other universe with new things to discover and new rules to learn – it’s also about the feelings imbedded in a new world – the alliances and the bonds, the affairs and the atmosphere. A Christmas story can transport you from your cold seat on the subway to a comfy couch before a roaring fire, watching snowflakes fall gently outside. Or a murder mystery can have you steeped in the rain soaked city alleys and the too-silent hallways of old houses.

Similarly, a well-written horror story can spike your adrenaline and creep you out – making you look around and question all the shadows around you. And knowing this, I always turn, year and year, to the books I have read, to set my mood for the latter half of October. Not all have to do with Halloween, but all have made me feel shivers or look over my shoulder in fright. And so I offer them to you, dear readers, and hope you’ll offer some back so I can continue to expand my list! 

First off, we have …

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James.

     I encountered this one a bit late (for me!) – law school era, a book that I happened to find at John King in Detroit when I was browsing through the racks  and racks of warped paperbacks that were crammed into all the nooks and crannies. It wasn’t this cover I found on the internet, but just a plain neon yellow cover with faded navy blue font on the cover, but I left that somewhere in one of the boxes of books I have in my Mom’s basement, and this cover caught my eye. I will admit, I did watch the movie before I read the book – so I knew what it was about, but it still left me unprepared for how James hooks you into the narration and keeps you dangling, spinning from what ifs and theories, and still unsure of whether or not something supernatural has occured, or if it was just a psychosis.

   I highly recommend this book for any creepy-reader fan! It is atmospheric and you will question your own sanity, but it is so worth the goosebumps!

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

This is a newby – I only just read it last autumn, and it was one of those books I started reading, knowing (at least a little) of what was going to happen. I am tuned into the Quirk world, and have been since Pride, Prejudice and Zombies, and so when Miss Peregrine’s came out, I already knew a little of what was happening in the book – that an American teenager would travel to the united Kingdom in order to discover the secrets of his recently deceased grandfather. Also, there would be peculiar children. I was expecting something slow and drawn out, a world-building first book of a series. Instead it was jam-packed with frights and odd twists and turns, as well as a set of rules that keeps the story telling tight and believable. The main character can be a little annoying at first – a product of a reluctant hero, but the surrounding characters, baddies and other elements of the story more than bring about a brew of fearfully creepy brilliance where the atmosphere is charged with danger and the stakes are high.

This is the type of book you read when you want something scary enough to delight, but world-building enough to invest your time in. AND the second of the series will soon be out (and you best believe I will get it when it does!)

  A Stir of Echoes by Richard Matheson

  Oh yes – this is also a Kevin Bacon movie. A really good Kevin Bacon movie, actually. We watched it when I was in law school – my roommates and I decided to try a few horror movies we’d never heard of, and since the dvd cover mentioned Matheson, who I adored after I read I am Legend, I decided that it would e my pick for fright night. The movie truly was scary, and so well done – I highly recommend it.

   And now, for the book – It took me another year, and then I borrowed the audio book from a friend, but I drove around the city twice to get to the end of it after a trip home from school. I was entranced and horrified – that is the Matheson touch, just a slight pulling of the reader into a world that only slightly makes sense, so that you are on edge the entire story through. Because at any moment, you will encounter that thing that is making our hero insane. You will turn and see the dead girl and feel her rage. But it’s not only this, or our main character’s insanity that gets you – it’s possibility that this is not isolated, that this touch of madness can seep into any normal person and sweep them into similar circumstances, all through a game that no one could believe was dangerous.

   For Halloween, it’s a brilliant read – scary and a little maddening, and it definitely will keep you shivering.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

I know, I know – this is somewhat overdone, isn’t it? Every Halloween a headless horseman pops up in numerous candy commercials and references in sitcoms. Or, as it right now, it’s own television show which is brilliantly kitsch and awsomely nuanced (more on that at another time…). And never mind all the movies – from Johnny Depp as Ichabod Crane to The Wind in the Willows spin. What I have found is that the original story is definitely not as well known – probably owing to the fact that even I – who generally like the story for it’s creepy atmosphere and brilliant climax scene – don’t particularly like the actual ending. More and more, Ichabod is portrayed as a man of action – far removed from a timid, love-struck school teacher who has an overly active imagination and is quite jumpy. The story itself is eerie – it borrows from German folk tales of hunters on horses chasing ill-moraled and ill-fated riders t their deaths. The addition of the headlessness and the pumpkin are theatrical elements that now evoke Halloween, but at the time were only to heighten the horror.

I would recommend getting the audio version – it’s beyond brilliant, read in a slow timbre with a few sound effects. It was great to listen to while driving, even though I kind of wished it hadn’t been sunny while I was listening …

  77 Shadow Street by Dean Koontz

  I am a fan of Dean Koontz to the point of absurdity – I have all the books with exception to one, and I am still trying t track down a copy from the 80s, that cover reminds me of when I took it out at the library and feel in love. In general – any of his books would be a good Halloween read – they tend to be scary, slightly paranormal and pretty fast paced. However, last year I read 77 Shadow Street and decided it would become my go-to Halloween read for Dean Koontz for several reasons: first, there are some epically unexplainable baddies that right out terrify you; secondly, the cast of characters is set up like they would be in a survivor set up with zombies or a plague – they need to band together in order to survive, but they’re also individuals who have their own agendas; and thirdly, it’s set in a creepy old house that’s been turned into apartments. Like, it is definitely a place I would want to live in. The plot is slightly strange but easy to follow, the changing point of views add to the adrenaline you feel whenever a sound is heard of a sight is seen.

  It’s the perfect modern haunted house story with a twist – and a pretty good one at that. I think it would be great to add to any Halloween reading list.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

This is one of those old books I read once when I was pretty young, then watched all the movies, and finally picked up again a couple of years ago. And in the interim I had forgotten how powerful Jackson is at evoking the creep factor. Our heroine has had the misfortune of her life plans being delayed or derailed by imposing family members for a long time, and at the beginning of the book she has finally taken it upon herself to be free – and just what that entails is making her way to a creepy house, in some dark hills, surrounded by an inhospitable town that holds a secret she is attracted to.

The book itself is not very long, but it’s very powerful with supernatural elements interwoven with great atmosphere that builds into the story so that by the time you put it down, you are left with a ton of questions and a feeling that something profound has happened – you’re just not exactly sure what.

If you love horror stories that revolve around the ins and outs of a creepy old house – this is definitely for you. This is definitely a book that will send chills up and down your spine!

And then, for honourable mention and a throw-back to my own childhood:

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Because you all know you read these. And you all know that they terrified you at the time. And that is why you must pick this up again …

Hope you guys enjoyed the list and are liking the Halloween posts so far!

Now, do you have any recommendations for me??

Cheers!

AmmyB

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