Five Spooky Books to Read this Halloween
It´s the season to get scary... Halloween is finally upon us and you´re probably wearing a slutty pumpkin, vampire or a totally un-Halloweeny costume as you´re reading this. So if you´re here and if you love this holiday as much as our American brothers and sisters do, or if you´re simply into good spooky literature, check out my top five books you need to read this Halloween!
1. Ira Levin´s Rosemary´s Baby
The spookiest of them all, Rosemary´s Baby was written in 1967 and quickly became the top bestselling horror novel of the 60s. As most horror stories, the book starts off with a sweet couple moving into a new neighbourhood and getting acquainted with their quirky and eccentric neighbours. Contrary to what you might think, the house is not haunted, but their lives soon start to be. As Rosemary discoveres she is pregnant, her husband starts developing strange behaviours and her neighbours and doctor get weirder and weirder. So does Rosemary´s craving for raw meat. I won´t ruin this for you as I am sure you´ll finish it within one day, just like I did. My advice is to start reading early in the morning so nightfall doesn´t catch you with an unfinished book!
“Like so many unhappinesses, this one had begun with silence in the place of honest open talk.”
2. Neil Gaiman´s The Graveyard Book
A children´s fantasy - horror fiction book, Neil Gaiman´s Graveyard Book is one of my favourite novels of his. It tells the story of an orphaned boy, Nobody Bod Owens who is adopted and raised by the local raveyard´s spirits. The story has warewolves ( with funny Romanian names like Miss Lupescu), an angel of death (Lady on the Grey), ghouls and obviously plenty of ghosts. Less scary and more spooky, the book is an ode to the death and their selfless sacrifice to protect Bod up until he becomes a young adult and has to part ways with them. Gaiman´s writing inspired many other great writers and is as delicious as his surreal plots so be warned that if you start reading him, you might not be able to stop very soon!
“Name the different kinds of people,’ said Miss Lupescu. ‘Now.’
Bod thought for a moment. ‘The living,’ he said. ‘Er. The dead.’ He stopped. Then, ‘... Cats?’ he offered, uncertainly.”
3. The Annotated Work of HP Lovecraft
The black covers of this book alone make up for a wonderful Halloween decor if you´re throwing a party tonight! As for the contents, you can find all of Lovecraft´s chilling tales like "The Call of Cthulhu", "The Whisperer in Darkness," "The Shadow Over Innsmouth," "The Colour Out of Space" and many others. I´ve written a bit about this book in a past article and I stand by what I said about the usefulness or rather lack thereof of too many annotations and Lovecraft´s personal beliefs. That does not make Lovecraft less of a brilliant mystery and horror writer, so here is the book again.
" Over the course of his career, Lovecraft―"the Copernicus of the horror story" (Fritz Leiber)―made a marked departure from the gothic style of his predecessors that focused mostly on ghosts, ghouls, and witches, instead crafting a vast mythos in which humanity is but a blissfully unaware speck in a cosmos shared by vast and ancient alien beings. One of the progenitors of "weird fiction," Lovecraft wrote stories suggesting that we share not just our reality but our planet, and even a common ancestry, with unspeakable, godlike creatures just one accidental revelation away from emerging from their epoch of hibernation and extinguishing both our individual sanity and entire civilization. "
“It wearied Carter to see how solemnly people tried to make earthly reality out of old myths which every step of their boasted science confuted.”
4. Salman Rushdie´s The Satanic Verses
The Satanic Verses is a wonderful example of magical realism at its best. And yet I couldn´t bring myself to finish it. It´s surely happened to you before, reading an objectively brilliant book and just not seeing it. You know it´s good, everyone tells you it´s good, and yet reading it is a complete drag. That was this book for me. I had to add it to the list as a deeply controversial book, a Shakespearean depiction of the evolution of evil up until its culmination and downfall, Salman Rushdie´s book is Halloween worthy not just because of its content but because of what effect the book has had on society. From that view point, this one might be the spookiest of them all actually.
“Something was badly amiss with the spiritual life of the planet...Too many demons inside people claiming to believe in God.”
5. Edgar Allan Poe´s Tales of Mystery and Imagination
What would be a top five spooky book recommendations without Edgar Allan Poe? Albeit having lived a short life, Poe´s name is the one most associated with the concept of macabre when we´re speaking about American literature from the early 19th century. Poe was himself a character involved in mystery (even his peculiar death is still involved in it) so it´s no surprise that he´d be the inventor of detective fiction. This collection of short stories is a perfect reading for this Halloween and for anyone trying to familiarise themselves with the works of the greatest macabre American writer of the 19th century.
“The look on his face frightened me terribly, but at the same time I was pleased not to be alone any more.”