This is the perfect time of year to indulge in reading of the spooky, creepy, haunting, blood-curdling variety. A plethora of books will fit the bill; here are a few of my favorites.
Dracula by Bram Stoker – How can I leave Himself off the list? I’m not a vampire fan (books, films, television shows) but I do love their granddaddy. He’s creepy and charming, can scale walls without climbing equipment, comes with a built-in mist machine and has no reflection. Save for his sharp teeth, what’s not to love?
The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova – This is a terrific novel inspired by Dracula and the real history of Vlad the Impaler. The narrator tells of her parents’ search for Dracula’s tomb and of how her dead mother was bitten by a librarian/vampire. She also learns that she and her mother are descendants of Vlad. Eerie happenings occur as the narrator travels across 1970’s Eastern Europe to learn the truth of her family’s past. The Historian is steeped in the geography and history of that region and is a great companion piece to Dracula.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving – I’ve always felt local pride in Irving’s story. The real Sleepy Hollow is just fifteen miles from my hometown and my favorite grade-school class trip was to Irving’s home of Sunnyside in Tarrytown, New York. The story has always sparked my imagination. We all know the tale of Ichabod Crane, Katrina Van Tassel the headless Hessian horseman. That’s no reason not to make a reading of this classic short story an annual Halloween tradition.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – Manderley. A vast estate. Mrs. de Winter. A brooding husband. An antagonistic housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. An entire wing of a mansion closed off in honor of a dead woman. A rocky beach and mysterious cottage. A cute spaniel. The immense foreboding starts on page one and continues until the last paragraph. Alfred Hitchcock directed the movie. We all know he didn’t make chick flicks. Do you need more reasons to read this gothic classic?
The Shining by Stephen King – I saw Stanley Kubrick’s film my freshman year of college, way back in 1985. Though considered a classic by many, I wasn’t particularly fond of the movie and therefore harbored a decades-long dim view of the book. I’m a late arrival to King’s work (I started with Lisey’s Story in 2007) and I didn’t get around to The Shining until 2011. It quickly became one of my favorites. The story is well-known: Jack Torrance, his wife and their young son, Danny, take up winter residence in The Overlook Hotel as caretakers for the closed inn. Jack slowly loses his mind while Danny sees the ghosts of people murdered at the grand hotel. It’s all terrifically absorbing and scary as heck. I’m glad I got over my grudge with the film. I certainly won’t wait twenty-six years to read the sequel, the just-released Doctor Sleep.
Mary Modern by Camille DeAngelis – This is a clone, not a ghost, story. It’s a great gothic novel about a scientist, Lucy, who accomplishes her deceased father’s goal and deals with her infertility with one single act: she uses blood from an apron found in her attic to create a clone. Lucy carries the fetus in her womb and in just a few months time gives birth to a woman who greatly resembles her grandmother, Mary. Grandma quickly grows up and wants the company of her husband. Lucy gets to work cloning her grandfather while also dealing with a preacher who threatens to expose her unless she uses her science to bring about the second coming of Jesus. There are fabulous twists throughout the story and the novel ends with a whopper of a revelation.
Want more spooky reading material? Try Frankenstein, anything by Edgar Allan Poe, Bag of Bones, The Witches of Eastwick or Mommie Dearest.
So what’s on your Halloween reading list?