When it comes to horror, I am a bit of a scaredy cat. It pains me to confess that I watched ‘The Conjuring’ in broad daylight, with the curtains open and with my laptop placed at a safe 2 meters distance from me. And still I felt that I would never pee alone for the rest of my life.
Reading the Exorcist, I knew I was up for sleepless nights for a fair few weeks.
But give me Gothic Horror, any day, and I will devour it within hours! The sweet spot for me lies somewhere between the blood and the gore, and the dramatic moments specifically created to cause suspense and tension.
I quite enjoy the metaphorical chill down my spine. That tingling sensation of being watched, a presence detected in the corner of your eye, of someone – or something, being there but not quite there. And so, here is my list of Halloween reads, if like me, you are someone who loves horror, but prefers the elegant, and understated bone chilling stories, over gut spilling, bloody horror.
With one of the best opening lines in the literary world, Rebecca absorbs you into the hauntingly beautiful world of Manderley, the handsome but aloof Maxim De Winter and the sinister house keeper Mrs. Danvers. Full of mysterious and gripping moments, and an incredible plot twist, the book had me on the edge until the very end (hello late nights!). A perfect read for those chilly rainy evenings.
Haunting of Hill House
Written by Shirley Jackson, and adapted into movies and a hugely successful Netflix series, The Haunting of Hill House has been consistently ranked as one of the best Horror Books of the 20th century, and appears on the favourites lists of the likes of Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.
With all the elements of a classic haunted house story, we visit Hill House with Eleanor and 3 others, to examine the allegedly mysterious ongoings of the house. Tethering on the edge of supernatural, The Haunting plays with your fears, and makes you question reality. Ultimately, with this book, Shirley Jackson proves how usually it is fear itself that we fear.
Bazaar of Bad Dreams
What is a Halloween list without Stephen King? Though probably not as popular as some of Kings’ other books like IT, Pet Cemetery, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams hits the right notes with it collection of sinister short stories guaranteed to make you glance over your shoulder randomly!
Is it obvious that I am perhaps partial to Stephen King? Based in USA in the 1960s/70s, Salems Lot is Stephen King at his finest, even though it was actually just his second published novel! We visit the small town ‘Jerusalem’s Lot’ in New England, seemingly harmless where people mostly exist in harmony, until a sinister event unleashes a reign of horror. While the first 20% of the book was mostly placid, it picks up on the horror fairly quickly and by the time we get to the end, you’re probably going to sleep with the lights on!
I really couldn’t curate a Halloween read list without including Dracula. It was 2013 when I first read Bram Stoker’s masterpiece, written brilliantly in journal format; this was the book that got me hooked to the gothic horror genre, and will always be a top favourite for me.
Dracula for me is THE original vampire story, and everything else will always be inspirations!
Also if it isn’t obvious by now how much, how very much I love this book, I also wrote a long-ish post here, about visiting Whitby to ‘Find Dracula’