Today I decided to share my second post for Bookending Autumn 2019, which is hosted by Clo and Sam! The prompt is 13 Days of Halloween: share 13 Books &/or Movies to get into the spirit of Halloween/Day of the Dead/Samhain/All Hallow’s Eve.
I’ve decided to share 8 books I’ve read and recommend to get you in the spirit of Halloween, and 5 books off my tbr that I would love to read at this time of year, if only I could find the time.
Books That Gave Me Chills!
1. The Forbidden Door
Synopsis: She was one of the FBI’s top agents until she became the nation’s most-wanted fugitive. Now Jane Hawk may be all that stands between a free nation and its enslavement by a powerful secret society’s terrifying mind-control technology. She couldn’t save her husband, or the others whose lives have been destroyed, but equipped with superior tactical and survival skills—and the fury born of a broken heart and a hunger for justice—Jane has struck major blows against the insidious cabal.
I’m a big Dean Koontz fan. Don’t hate me, but I usually prefer him to Stephen King. I think it mostly comes down to nostalgia; I read Koontz first. The Forbidden Door is the fourth installment (out of five books) from Koontz’s Jane Hawk series, so DO NOT start with this one! Start with The Silent Corner. If you’re more into thrillers than horror, this might be a series for you. It kept me on the edge of my seat and had me looking over my shoulder.
2. The Graveyard Book
Synopsis: Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn’t live in a graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts. There are dangers and adventures for Bod in the graveyard. But it is in the land of the living that real danger lurks for it is there that the man Jack lives and he has already killed Bod’s family.
Don’t want to have to sleep with the lights on?? Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is chilling but won’t have you hiding under the covers. I read this one last Halloween with my son and we both really enjoyed it!
3. Warm Bodies
Synopsis: R is having a no-life crisis—he is a zombie. He has no memories, no identity, and no pulse, but he is a little different from his fellow Dead. He may occasionally eat people, but he’d rather be riding abandoned airport escalators, listening to Sinatra in the cozy 747 he calls home, or collecting souvenirs from the ruins of civilization. . . . And then he meets a girl.
Maybe you prefer some humor or romance with your horror?? The first time I read Isaac Marion’s Warm Bodies (this was before the movie too), I was struck by how refreshing, new, and exciting it was! And I laughed a lot too.
4. The Diviners
Synopsis: It’s 1920s New York City. It’s flappers and Follies, jazz and gin. It’s after the war but before the depression. And for certain group of bright young things it’s the opportunity to party like never before. For Evie O’Neill, it’s escape. She’s never fit in in small town Ohio and when she causes yet another scandal, she’s shipped off to stay with an uncle in the big city. But far from being exile, this is exactly what she’s always wanted: the chance to show how thoroughly modern and incredibly daring she can be. But New York City isn’t about just jazz babies and follies girls. It has a darker side. Young women are being murdered across the city. And these aren’t crimes of passion. They’re gruesome. They’re planned. They bear a strange resemblance to an obscure group of tarot cards. And the New York City police can’t solve them alone.
Libba Bray’s The Diviners is still a bit tame, but it will keep you turning the pages. I especially loved the great cast of characters. It’s loads of spooky fun!
5. Fear Nothing
Synopsis: Christopher Snow is different from all the other residents of Moonlight Bay, different from anyone you’ve ever met. For Christopher Snow has made his peace with a very rare genetic disorder shared by only one thousand other Americans, a disorder that leaves him dangerously vulnerable to light. His life is filled with the fascinating rituals of one who must embrace the dark. He knows the night as no one else ever will, ever can – the mystery, the beauty, the many terrors, and the eerie, silken rhythms of the night – for it is only at night that he is free. Until the night he witnesses a series of disturbing incidents that sweep him into a violent mystery only he can solve, a mystery that will force him to rise above all fears and confront the many-layered strangeness of Moonlight Bay and its residents.
Are you wondering if I ever read anything considered true horror? Fear Nothing, another one from Dean Koontz, had me wanting to sleep with the lights on. It’s been years since I’ve even read this book, but there are scenes that still haunt me. And I loved the main character Christopher Snow!
6. Seize the Night
Synopsis: At no time does Moonlight Bay look more beautiful than at night. Yet it is precisely then that the secluded little town reveals its menace. Now children are disappearing. From their homes. From the streets. And there’s nothing their families can do about it. Because in Moonlight Bay, the police work their hardest to conceal crimes and silence victims. No matter what happens in the night, their job is to ensure that nothing disturbs the peace and quiet of Moonlight Bay…. Christopher Snow isn’t afraid of the dark. Forced to live in the shadows because of a rare genetic disorder, he knows the night world better than anyone. He believes the lost children are still alive and that their disappearance is connected to the town’s most carefully kept, most ominous secret—a secret only he can uncover, a secret that will force him to confront an adversary at one with the most dangerous darkness of all. The darkness inside the human heart.
So I feel like this is cheating a little bit, but my next pick is the follow up to Fear Nothing, Seize the Night. This one was just as chilling as the first one, and I’m still hoping Koontz will finish the series–even though it’s been over twenty years.
Synopsis: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” So the second Mrs. Maxim de Winter remembered the chilling events that led her down the turning drive past the beeches, white and naked, to the isolated gray stone manse on the windswept Cornish coast. With a husband she barely knew, the young bride arrived at this immense estate, only to be inexorably drawn into the life of the first Mrs. de Winter, the beautiful Rebecca, dead but never forgotten…her suite of rooms never touched, her clothes ready to be worn, her servant — the sinister Mrs. Danvers — still loyal. And as an eerie presentiment of the evil tightened around her heart, the second Mrs. de Winter began her search for the real fate of Rebecca…for the secrets of Manderley.
A classic piece of gothic literature, Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca is masterful storytelling that is best paired with a cozy blanket, a cup of hot tea, and a roaring fire to take off that chill!
8. The Haunting of Hill House
Synopsis: First published in 1959 under the title The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson’s beloved novel has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of the psychic phenomena called “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers–and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
Usually the creepiest, scariest things are the things you can’t see. Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House is the perfect representation of that fear. Read it late at night, curled in bed, listening to the sounds of the house settling around you for the optimal effect. (Then follow it with the Netflix adaptation if you need more thrills!)
Books… Chilling on my Shelf!
9. The Witches: Salem, 1692
Synopsis: The panic began early in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s niece began to writhe and roar. It spread quickly, confounding the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, husbands accused wives, parents and children one another. It ended less than a year later, but not before nineteen men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death. Speaking loudly and emphatically, adolescent girls stood at the center of the crisis. Along with suffrage and Prohibition, the Salem witch trials represent one of the few moments when women played the central role in American history. Drawing masterfully on the archives, Stacy Schiff introduces us to the strains on a Puritan adolescent’s life and to the authorities whose delicate agendas were at risk.
Nonfiction can be just as chilling, if not more so, than fiction. I won an ARC of Stacy Schiff’s The Witches: Salem, 1692 before it was published in 2015 and I still haven’t read it. It’s a beast of a book at almost 500 pages and it has some mixed reviews which have continued to put me off. But every time I go through books to pass on, I hang on to it. Have you read it?? What did you think?
10. Slasher Girls & Monster Boys
Synopsis: A host of the smartest young adult authors come together in this collection of scary stories and psychological thrillers curated by Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea’s April Genevieve Tucholke. Each story draws from a classic tale or two—sometimes of the horror genre, sometimes not—to inspire something new and fresh and terrifying. There are no superficial scares here; these are stories that will make you think even as they keep you on the edge of your seat. From bloody horror to supernatural creatures to unsettling, all-too-possible realism, this collection has something for any reader looking for a thrill.
I just recently snagged a copy of Slasher Girls & Monster Boys on paperbackswap.com. Short story collections are great because if you don’t like what you’re currently reading, you can just move on. Have you read this one yet?? Do you have a favorite story?
Synopsis: Paul Sheldon. He’s a bestselling novelist who has finally met his biggest fan. Her name is Annie Wilkes and she is more than a rabid reader—she is Paul’s nurse, tending his shattered body after an automobile accident. But she is also his captor, keeping him prisoner in her isolated house. Now Annie wants Paul to write his greatest work—just for her. She has lots of ways to spur him on. One is a needle. Another is an ax. And if they don’t work, she can get really nasty…
I only hear great things about Stephen King’s Misery. Even though I’ve seen the movie, I still want to read the book someday. If you’re a King fan, is it at the top of your faves?
12. The Shining
Synopsis: First published in 1977, The Shining quickly became a benchmark in the literary career of Stephen King. This tale of a troubled man hired to care for a remote mountain resort over the winter, his loyal wife, and their uniquely gifted son slowly but steadily unfolds as secrets from the Overlook Hotel’s past are revealed, and the hotel itself attempts to laim the very souls of the Torrence family.
I’ve been wanting to read King’s The Shining for a long time. My family is even mad at me because I won’t watch the movie until I’ve read the book first. So I really need to get to this one soon.
Synopsis: The small New England town of Coventry had weathered a thousand blizzards…but never one like this. Icy figures danced in the wind and gazed through children’s windows with soul-chilling eyes. People wandered into the whiteout and were never seen again. Families were torn apart, and the town would never be the same. Now, as a new storm approaches twelve years later, the folks of Coventry are haunted by the memories of that dreadful blizzard and those who were lost in the snow. Photographer Jake Schapiro mourns his little brother, Isaac, even as-tonight-another little boy is missing. Mechanic and part-time thief Doug Manning’s life has been forever scarred by the mysterious death of his wife, Cherie, and now he’s starting over with another woman and more ambitious crimes. Police detective Joe Keenan has never been the same since that night, when he failed to save the life of a young boy . . . and the boy’s father vanished in the storm only feet away. And all the way on the other side of the country, Miri Ristani receives a phone call . . . from a man who died twelve years ago. As old ghosts trickle back, this new storm will prove to be even more terrifying than the last.
Snowblind by Christopher Golden is another book that I’ve had on my shelf for a few years that also has some mixed reviews, but it keeps surviving the cull. It sounds like a good one to read in the dead of winter as well. Let me know if you’ve read this one!
Have you read any of these? What’s your favorite spooky book to read during the fall season?