Halloween is almost upon us, and if you’ve been following our Tumblr, you know I’m pretty excited about that. Among the things I love about Halloween are candy, costumes, pumpkins, cute black cats, and creepy reading. Now generally speaking, I don’t like being scared. I avoid horror movies like the plague. I even avoid trailers for horror movies. But this time of year, I can usually deal with it a little and subject myself to a creepy read or two. There’s something compelling and engrossing about scary books, and this is the perfect time of year to cozy up with a pumpkin flavored something or a few handfuls of candy corn, and get a good case of the shivers. Here’s a few books you might check out to give yourself a scare!
Dracula by Bram Stoker – Just because it’s a classic doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of spooky goodness in Dracula. From the early pages carefully describing the creepy atmosphere in Transylvania, to the horrifying description of Dracula himself (spoiler: vampires were not always attractive; Dracula has blood red eyes and hairy palms, among other things,) to the gore of finally killing a vampire, Dracula has plenty spine-chilling scenes to go with its well-deserved literary classic status. Bonus points for being able to tell people you’re reading a classic while you enjoy the horror monster goodness.
In the Shadow of Blackbirds by Cat Winters – One of last year’s Morris award (for best YA debut author) finalists, In the Shadow of Blackbirds was creepy enough that if it hadn’t been up for an award, I might not have read it. Lucky for me it was a Morris nominee! In the Shadow of Blackbirds was an engaging and exciting read, and although it definitely scared me, the creepiness is part of what made it so good. In the Shadow of Blackbirds is historical fiction with a strong paranormal element. Spiritualist photographers, ghosts, and a terrifying plague all come together to create a frightening, almost-real world, enhanced by real life black and white photos from around the fall of 1918 when the book is set.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman – Yes, Coraline is aimed at kids, but that didn’t stop it from scaring the pants off me the first time I read it. I cannot overstate how eerie the other house and other mother and other world presented in Coraline are. The fear of everything we know and love somehow becoming wrong is something I think anyone can understand and sympathize with, and Coraline plays on those fears. And some images from Coraline I will never forget – buttons will never be the same for me, and sometimes I’m still kept awake at night by the thought of a sinister hand stalking me.
Scowler by Daniel Kraus – Main character Ry’s father has been in prison for the last eight years, but in Scowler, Ry is faced with the possibility of a monster returning – or being created. I’ll admit: this one I haven’t read, because I’m just too darned scared of how terrifying it will be. The audio version won an award, because apparently the narration intensifies the already intensely scary text. Reading about the audio version was when I decided that I just couldn’t do this book. But if you find real-world monsters to be scarier than made up ones, and psychological thrillers to be creepier than vampire attacks, then Scowler just might be the perfect frightening read for you this Halloween.