Have I mentioned that I love Halloween? Well, I do. However, since I am well past the trick-or-treating age, much to my lament, one of my favorite ways to spend a chilly Halloween night is curled up with a good scary book and a bag of chocolate treats. There are so many spine-tingling tales out there, half of which I have not read, but here are the five–in no particular order–that top my list of Halloween reads.
It by Stephen King–This book has the trifecta of creepiness: Pennywise, the Dancing Clown, a disembodied, phobia exploiting demon, and terrorized little kids (because things are always more creepy when they happen to little children–and here is the beginning of a theme). I first read this when I was about 14. Before that, I had no problems with clowns. After and to this day, clowns generally freak me out. At more than 1000 pages, you may not finish it tonight, but it is a great way to spend the evening. (Honorable Mention: The Shining)
Creature by John Saul–This book is horror, but it is a horror that is so grounded in a possible reality (another emerging theme) that it really scared the beejeezus out of me when I first read it. In the book, scientists in a small company town are performing medical experiments on the children of the company’s employees. Things start to go terribly wrong, when the children start to degenerate as a result of the experiements. (John Saul is another good one for creepy horror stories where the victims are children. Honorable mention: Shadows).
Night Chills by Dean Koontz–Another book where the horror is so firmly grounded in a possible reality that I could not help but be a little afraid. In Night Chills, the residents of a sleepy company town think that they are receiving preventative medical treatment, but in reality they are actually receiving injections that are supposed to make them more productive and efficient workers. But the injections have unwanted side-effects and that’s when the people of Black River begin to die… (Honorable Mention, though not quite as creepy because of the amazing golden retriever: Watchers).
Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury–Ray Bradbury uses language in a way that sends shivers up your spine. Not only does he tell a horrific story that involves carnivals, side-show freaks, and two young boys, but he tells the story with such beautiful and haunting language that you literally fall into his world.
“The Glass Bottle Trick” by Nalo Hopkinson–Caribbean folklore has some of the creepiest stories that I have heard. I recently heard Edwidge Danticat give a reading about the “Water People” in Haiti. Though I think that there is supposed to be something comforting in the tale, the idea of these water creatures just made my heart beat more quickly. Hopkinson’s story is another such example. All I can say is that if a man tells you that he has two wives that have passed away, you probably shouldn’t marry him. It’s part of the Dark Matter anthology.
What are your favorite Halloween reads?