Halloween Reading Suggestions
For my fellow bibliophiles on this site, the Halloween season is always a time to celebrate. At libraries and book stores across the nation the horror books pulled out of the dark corners they usually occupy and are proudly put on display so that even the casual browsers can find them. With so many choices for your literary horror fix, I have narrowed the field to a few of my favorite books for you to read during this Halloween season.
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury: Few can deny that Ray Bradbury was one of the greatest story tellers in history. With his novel, Something Wicked This Way Comes, the literary legend pens a tale which is the ultimate tribute to the days of fall, filled with equal parts joy and excitement as well as dreariness and terror. In this coming of age story, Will, Jim, and Will’s elderly father uncover a horrible secret about the carnival which has set up in their sleepy turn of the century town. Now the three of them find themselves locked in a battle of good and evil against the man known as Mr. Dark. Something Wicked This Way Comes stands as one of the greatest stories from an undisputed master of the genre written in his beautifully fluid style.
All That Lives by Melissa Sanders-Self: The tale of the Bell Witch is the first major documented case of the paranormal in the United States. In the early 1800’s Betsy Bell and her family were terrorized by a supernatural force until the Bell clan’s patriarch met his end. Author Melissa Sanders-Self takes this story and tells it in a way that it has not been told before. Framing Betsy Bell’s struggles as a coming of age story proves to be a stroke of genius in this twist on a classic American ghost story. Sanders-Self has discovered a brilliant way to tell a classic story that many of have heard before with a fresh twist.
The House by Bentley Little: The haunted house subgenre has always been popular among horror aficionados. But leave it to master of the macabre, Bentley Little to take this type of story and turn it completely on its head. In, the House a group of strangers of various ages and backgrounds, discover they all grew up in the same creepy house in different regions of the country. Whether they lived in the house in the Pacific Northwest or the inner city of Chicago, they all ran afoul a sinister “little girl”. Now as adults they all once again find themselves in this supernatural house, trapped until they can finally uncover its secrets. Like all of Little’s best work, this is not a story for the faint of heart but if you an enthralling read for the Halloween season this is one to pick up.
The Gates by John Connolly: It can be argued that it is kids who get the most enjoyment out of Halloween, who among us do not look back in fondness of our days dressed up and venturing from door to door in search of treats. It is this same whimsical innocence that John Connolly taps into in his book, the Gates. Young Samuel Johnson and his dachshund, Bosswell, attempt to get a three day head start on their trick-r-treating only to discover that a couple in their sleepy Irish village has summoned Satan who will open wide the Gates of Hell on Halloween night. Our misfit duo find themselves joined by a flunky demon as they must save the world on the spookiest night of the year.
Black Creek Crossing by John Saul: When it comes to crafting a good classic horror tale, few modern authors are better than John Saul. He does not seek to reinvent the haunted house, rather he builds it better than just about anyone else. In his 2003 book, Black Creek Crossing, Saul tells the story of a bullied girl who moves to a haunted house in a new town and befriends a fellow misfit youth. Together, with the help of a mysterious black cat, they discover a talent for witchcraft and set out to use their new power to make their tormentors pay. This novel has all of hallmarks of a great horror tale; witchcraft, a haunted house, possession, and a black cat; yet it never feels overburdened with all of these horrific elements.
Severed by Scott Snyder, Scott Tuft, & Attila Futaki: Many of us (OK all of us) like to wander over to the graphic novel section of our local book store or library. For that reason, I included this underrated gem from best-selling scribe Scott Snyder which is well worth picking up for the Halloween season. Snyder and his co-writer Scott Tuft sought to tell a historical horror story in a style they call a “slow boil” building tension constantly until a terrifying conclusion. In the early twentieth century, a boy named Jack hits the rails in search of his father, but a man who is nothing short of a monster, and a taste for people, has the young boy set in his sights. If you mainly know Snyder from his work at DC Comics, I highly encourage you to ick this up and see what the man can do with the horror genre. Futaki’s illustrations are breathtaking as he effortlessly switches between; sun soaked landscapes and cold and dreary houses of horror.