by 2 September 30, 2013
Goodbye, September. Tomorrow we welcome October to our daily planners, as well as all the spooky fun that accompanies it. As of tomorrow, you have exactly 31 days to find the perfect pumpkins for carving, buy all the best candies (then hide them to avoid gorging yourself), and plan a brilliant Halloween costume. Never mind the fact that you have no real plans for Halloween yet (it’s on a Thursday), or that you’re almost thirty and still insistent upon dressing up for the weirdest, pagan-ist, sugariest holy day in the US.
One thing that will definitely get you ready for All Hallows’ Eve is a scary book. Since you’ve got a month to prepare, why not cram-pack your October with as many creepy stories as you can stand? Below are some of my favorite ghost stories and supernatural novels that will definitely get you in the proper mindset for the approaching holiday. Enjoy, and maybe leave a nightlight on.
1) The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Known now for its late-90s film adaptation, (The Haunting), this terrifying novel is recognized as one of the best works of psychological supernatural fiction. Jackson introduces a cast of visitors who have all come to explore Hill House, the token haunted mansion. Main character Eleanor begins to form an unsettling bond with the house, despite repeated ghostly occurrences. The Haunting of Hill House is disturbing because of the seeming connection between the supernatural presence in the house and the emotional unrest of Eleanor.
2) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
If reading Frankenstein seems like a Halloween cliché, I invite you to revisit this tale of Gothic reanimation and unconventional science fiction. You already know that Shelley’s protagonist, Dr. Frankenstein, sets out to bring the dead back to life but is horrified by his creation. What is perhaps more shocking is that Mary Shelley was only 21 years old when this classic thriller was published.
3) The Witches by Roald Dahl
Yes, this is technically a children’s book. But after revisiting this story about young Bruno – an English boy living with his grandmother and learning everything about how to identify a “real” witch – I have to admit I found it really unsettling. Bruno discovers and exposes a witch convention, but only after suffering a quite dramatic poisoning at their hands. Like in most of Dahl’s books, the adults are (uncomfortably) the bad guys in this children’s story, which is perhaps why it has been so popular.
4) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
If you aren’t already obsessed with the quirky, macabre brilliance of Neil Gaiman, this is an excellent novel on which to begin your obsession. Meet Nobody, (“Bod,” to his supernatural friends in the graveyard), the orphaned protagonist of this darkly funny tale. Bod’s parents were murdered when he was a toddler, leaving him to wander into – and eventually grow up within – a nearby graveyard. While The Graveyard Book seems like a strangely heart-warming story, there are definitely lots of moments that will give you the shivers.
5) Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice
Of course this is on my list. (It came down to Rice or Poe, naturally I’m going to choose the female author.) Interview with a Vampire is more than just a period film with Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. It all started with Anne Rice and her beloved New Orleans background; the vampires Lestat and Louis (played in the film version by Cruise and Pitt, respectively) wreak their havoc in Louisiana, feeding on humans but then feeling morally conflicted about it. This is the essential vampire story: it has drama, gore, sensuality, history, and an ethical implication that is maybe even more haunting than the behavior of the undead.
Good luck sleeping after getting through this homework, my luvvies. All five of these books are filled with the stuff of nightmares, perfect reading material for getting into the Halloween frame of mind. Maybe you'll even find inspiration for your costume.
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