October! YAY! YAY!!!! YAY!!!!!! and also BOO!
This is such a magical month. The colors, the cool nights, the way your imagination can run wild with ghost stories… I LOVE this time of year. If you need me I will be curled up in the autumnal sunshine or next to a roaring fire reading (obviously) every scary, spooky and eerie book that the library has to offer.
For me, the season officially starts when I have spent some time with Shirley Jackson.
Friends, if we ever meet please ask me about Shirley Jackson. I have so much to say about her, so many thoughts, so much awe. She was a fascinating person (Ruth Franklin wrote an INCREDIBLE biography about her) and I have such admiration for her ability to write such chilling fiction AND lovely memoirs about being a mother. She was a very creative person and it shows in her writing. My favorite opening paragraph from a novel (EVER) is from We Have Always Lived in the Castle:
“My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.”
Shirley Jackson is best known for her spooky story The Lottery but I would argue that We Have Always Lived in the Castle is true genius. Every time I read this novel, I can’t believe how sorry I feel for Mary Kat. She and her sister are horribly ostracized by the people in her town and the isolation they face is heartbreaking. Yet, Mary Kat is also a terrifying person… I mean, did she kill her whole family? maybe?
The prose in this novel is wonderful and the dedication between the sisters is fascinating... I am getting goosebumps just thinking about it!
The Witches by Roald Dahl is technically a children’s book. Although, I suggest that you don’t read this book until you’re at least thirty. I’m kidding but seriously, this book is creeeeeeeepy.
I love this book because it was one of the first that truly scared me but here’s the thing, I STILL think it’s scary.
I mean, the idea that witches look like regular women however they are actually out to “get rid” of children? EEK. Witches could be your neighbors, your parent’s friends, teachers, who knows! and they are all secretly plotting to make children disappear. This book is a serious twist on the usual witch story and perfect for a nine to twelve year old that wants a good Halloween spook.
Recently, I watched the film A Quiet Place and was immediately reminded of Bird Box.
This is the story of a monster/spooky something that will destroy you if you look at it. If anyone wants to survive they must learn to navigate the world blindfolded. What sets this novel a part from other post apocalyptic stories? The main character is a mother. A mother who is trying to teach her young children how to navigate the world without sight. Scary right? Spoiler: There is a scene when the mother and her children are all blindfolded and trying to navigate a river. IN A CANOE!!!
Read this book before the Netflix film comes out. So Fun!
Marisha Pessl’s Night Film is more of a thriller then horror but it was such a heart racing, page turner that I must include it on this list. The story of Scott Mcgrath, (a washed up journalist) is extremely captivating as he becomes obsessed with a reclusive film maker named Cordova. When Cordova’s young and brilliant daughter commits suicide, Mcgrath is determined to find out if it was murrrrrderrr. This book is a twisty path of bizarre characters and strange places as McGrath tries to find Cordova who is never interviewed, never seen and his staff all swear to secrecy.
If you like a mystery that has you guessing over and over again, check out Night Film.
Look at that cover!! So good. Grady Hendrix is a maniac and all his books are so, so, soooo unique. My Best Friend’s Exorcism is fantastic because it is both super spooky and also fills me with a nostalgia for the cheesy fiction I read in high school.
My Best Friend’s Exorcism is about a group of high school girls in the 80’s and reads like a John Hughes film (Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles).
At one point one of girls, Abby, takes a quiz from a magazine to find out if she is driving her best friend (Gretchen) away. Turns out, it’s not Abby’s fault that Gretchen is acting so strangely. Turns out, Gretchen is possessed by the devil.
If you were ever a fan of the Sweet Valley High series I suggest you pick this book up. Your mind will explode because the writing style seems so familiar but the story is bananas.
Wow! This list is very entertaining! Not trying to brag but seriously these titles are all excellent! What is surprising about this list is that none of the books are overly gory.
There are so many books in the horror genre that are centered around men’s violence towards women and I am surprised that this list does not have a single torture book on it.
I’ve realized that for me, reading is my time to forget the news, forget the world’s problems and lose myself in a good story. These books are entertaining and fun and an effectual place to be when you are losing sleep over the real world.
What are you reading to celebrate (or forget) this haunting time of year?