A Halloween Reading List

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With All Hallows’ Eve just days away, we thought we’d do another reading list. So get ready for some spookiness with these great reads, none of which are written by a guy named Steven King. (Nothing at all against Mr. King. But he doesn’t need to be on every list, does he?)

Hangsaman, Shirley Jackson

Lists of this sort usually have The Haunting of Hill House or We Have Always Lived in the Castle. But Jackson’s second novel, about an emotionally wounded college student and her new “friend,” is decidedly creepy and atmospheric.

I’m Thinking of Ending Things, Iain Reid

“Unnerving” is one way to describe this debut novel by Reid, a Canadian hitherto known best for his non-fiction. It’s a bit of an understatement, though. The slightly neurotic narrator goes for a car ride with her new BF and, well, things don’t turn out so well.

The Terror, Dan Simmons

At nearly 800 pages, this fictionalized account of the doomed Franklin expedition could be called a slow burn. Read on as the men of the icebound HMS Terror and HMS Erebus descend into starvation and madness, all while being stalked by an Inuit demon. Fun times.

Through the Woods, Emily Carroll

Canadian artist Carroll first got attention for her creepy webcomics, which can be seen on her website. But this gorgeous book of five horror comics includes the excellent “His Face All Red” and is well worth picking up.

Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

A nervous young woman marries way out of her league and must contend with the uppity servants at Manderley, her husband’s estate. More gothic than scary, this 1938 classic still has plenty of menace in the character of Mrs. Danvers and the mystery of Manderley’s late mistress, Rebecca.

The Turn of the Screw, Henry James

One of the greatest ghost stories ever written… Or is it a ghost story? In this tale of supernatural evil haunting an English estate, James famously leaves open the possibility that the new governess might be just a tad delusional. Ooh, the suspense.

The Woman in Black, Susan Hill

Okay, “better than the movie” can get cliched. And the two movie versions of this 1983 book, the made-for-TV one in 1989 and the Daniel Radcliffe vehicle in 2012, are actually not that bad. But, yeah. The book is still better. A must-read for anyone into classic ghost stories.

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson

While we’re on the topic of books being better than their movies… Yikes. Three adaptations to date, and not one of them gets it right. The odd thing about this classic vampire novel is that the horror isn’t so much the vampires, who seem almost quaint. Rather, it’s the protagonist’s loneliness, and the utterly stunning realization he has at the end.

Ghost Story, Peter Straub

Ooh, secrets. Secrets and lingering guilt. Five aging men meet up now and then to swap ghost stories. Then one of them dies and the others start having nightmares about their own deaths. Could it maybe have something to do with that young woman who died years before? Well, duh.

Eileen, Otessa Moshfegh

Eileen Dunlop’s life is full of self-loathing, petty crime, and day-to-day foulness. Then she meets perky Rebecca, and for a little while it looks like their new friendship might just save poor old Eileen. But only for a little while. Shortlisted for the Man Booker in 2016.

 

 

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