Top Ten Books for Halloween

“That’s how it goes, you think you’re on top of the world, and suddenly they spring Armageddon on you.”

Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

A few weeks early, but there’s nothing like good planning…

  1. House of LeavesMark Z. Danielewski. This is seriously creepy as well as being cerebral and well-written. I love that the horror is implied; it’s a horror of dark, of infinity, of shadows moving in the corner of your eye and strange sounds at the edge of hearing. Get reading now, though, because it’s a long one.
  2. The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova. Dracula is hunted through libraries and museums and old forgotten churches. Evocative and scary and bookish – perfect for October evenings when the nights are drawing in.
  3. Frankenstein – Mary Shelley. I include this because it’s traditionally a horror novel, but it’s not particularly scare-inducing in this day and age. What it is is thoughtful, sad and bitter. And one that everyone needs to read. EVERYONE, do you hear.
  4. Night FilmMarisha Pessl. Like House of Leaves, this book is one in which the horror is never specified. There might be something going on. There might not. It’s that atmosphere of unspecified fear that makes it so compelling to read, and so shiver-inducing. For me, it captures the attraction of horror precisely – the need to understand the mystery without really wanting to, because answers spoil everything.
  5. Perdido Street StationChina Mieville. I was kind of dithering about whether to include this on the list, because it’s technically not horror. But it is an uncomfortable thing to read; it is dark, and its monsters wouldn’t be out of place in a straight horror novel or film.
  6. RebeccaDaphne du Maurier. Haunted and atmospheric, and extremely claustrophobic; full of ghosts and unexplained fragments of time. Just lovely.
  7. Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger. I tore through this book. Like The Time Traveler’s Wife, Niffenegger’s other novel, it’s a story about people who just happen to be caught up in supernatural events; the focus is on character development rather than shock and terror.
  8. Carpe Jugulum – Terry Pratchett. Vampires as you’ve never seen them before! Comic fantasy with an edge – excellent if you want some light relief from all the scary things.
  9. Good Omens – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Ummm…more light relief, featuring Armageddon and the Antichrist and other wonderful things. Look, it has Death in it. It must be horror.
  10. Titus GroanMervyn Peake. Like Rebecca, Mervyn Peake’s writing is claustrophobic, dense and Gothically disturbing.

(The theme for this post was suggested by the Broke and the Bookish’s weekly meme Top Ten Tuesday.)

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