Today’s guest post is by Thea from The Book Smugglers and she shares her top ten favourite horror novels. What a great list! Most I have read or are on my tbr list but there are one or two that are new to me.
It’s great to find kindred spirits of the horror kind! Thanks, Thea, for joining in with the All Hallows Eve fun!
Thea’s Halloween Must Read List
“The skies they were ashen and sober;
The leaves they were crispéd and sere —
The leaves they were withering and sere;
It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year;
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir —
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.”
~ “Ulalume” by Edgar Allan Poe
October is an evocative month – the weather gets colder, leaves change color, Summer has officially ceased its last throes of whimpering life. And, of course, this all means it is time for my favorite holiday of the year…All Hallows’ Eve.
And, on these cold and blustery nights, what better way to celebrate the season than to curl up with a good, scary book? Here’s a list of my top 10 Halloween Must Reads…
10. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski
Surrealism in literary form, Mr. Danielewski’s novel about a house whose insides grow labyrinthine passages while the outside remains the same, and a family’s choice to explore these rooms is one of the most terrifying reading experiences I have ever had. And by “reading experience” I truly mean it is an experience – the novel is written in ergodic fiction – that is, form reflecting content. It’s pretty trippy stuff.
9. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark Collection by Alvin Schwartzman
These are children’s tales, yes – but all these years later, these childhood favorites still manage to scare (as well as make you feel all wonderful and nostalgic inside). And how about those gorgeous illustrations? Stephen Gammell’s work is still terrifying.
8. Christopher Pike
Another YA great, Christopher Pike and Stephen King were the two dominant literary voices in my formative years. Despite the cheeseball covers (which I happen to love, by the way), Christopher Pike’s work is the staggering stuff of heartbreaking genius. He does it all – science fiction, regular slasher-type horror, supernatural horror, reincarnation stories, you name it. Across multiple pantheons and mythologies, Mr. Pike remains one of the finest storytellers I have ever had the pleasure of knowing through reading. If you haven’t read him yet, start NOW.
7. I am Legend by Richard Matheson
Written in the ’50s, this still remains one of the finest examples of horror literature ever. The world has become overrun by vampires, and Robert Neville is the last man alive. If you’ve only seen the movie, please read the book.
6. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Another classic. I don’t think you can make a top 10 Halloween Read list without Shirley Jackson on it. Not only is her Hill House deliciously creepy – think of those gorgeous opening lines:
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids ar supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
…but her characters are the stuff that drive this novel. Sanity, it’s all relative…
5. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
I remember reading this when I was quite young, and I have kept a copy of this book and have revisited it frequently over the years. Best prologue EVER:
“But one strange wild dark long year, Halloween came early.
One year Halloween came on October 24, three hours after midnight.
At that time, James Nightshade of 97 Oak Street as thirteen years, eleven months, twenty-three days old. Next door, William Halloway was thirteen years, eleven months and twenty-four days old. Both touched toward fourteen; it almost trembled in their hands.
And that was the October week when they grew up overnight, and were never so young any more….”
4. ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Stephen King’s second novel, and remains one of my all time favorites to this day. Stephen King’s take on vampires, terrorizing the small town of Jerusalem’s Lot is a classic that has since been retold and reinvented time and time again. Absolutely fantastic, terrifying stuff. And the movie ain’t too shabby either.
3. At the Mountains of Madness by H.P. Lovecraft
Again, what’s a must read list without some Lovecraft on it? And this novella is probably my favorite of his work. It’s all about the Elder Things, baby. Of course, Call of Cthulhu isn’t such a bad investment either.
2. The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman
The definitive zombie comic, Robert Kirkman’s epic saga about humans trying to survive in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse is harrowing stuff. It may have lost steam in these later volumes, but there’s no denying how important, how significant this comic is in the zombie cannon. Absolutely essential reading.
1. It by Stephen King
You didn’t think I’d only have one King book on this list, did you? It is one of the five books I’d bring with me if I’m stranded on a desert island. A tale about childhood friends combatting an unthinkable evil, then reuniting years later to finish the job, this is a book that still scares the pants off of me. And I love it.
So that’s my list! Of course you should also remember to check out some Dan Simmons, some Clive Barker, some Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore, amongst others to truly make your Halloween reading experience worth it…but I’ve taken up enough of your time as it is.
What Halloween Horror titles are your essentials? Any favorites you’d care to share?