Recommended Reads: 18 Reads for Halloween
Discover new authors (or revisit old favorites) with The Poisoned Martini ‘s Recommended Reads. Perhaps these suggested titles will expand your reading list.
With Halloween approaching, now is the perfect time to settle in with a gothic or terror-inducing read. These chilling stories may make you think twice about those sounds that go bump in the night. It may depend on what scares you, but give one of these spine-tingling tales a try.
Books of Blood by Clive Barker (1984-5) – These six volumes of horror stories, some tinged with elements of fantasy, launched Barker’s career. The first story in volume one, The Book of Blood, and the last story in volume six, On Jerusalem Street, frame the stories and were the basis of the movie of the same name, Book of Blood (2009). Several other stories in the collection have also been adapted into film.
Dead Things by Stephen Blackmore (2013) – A necromancer returns to the hometown he abandoned to solve the brutal slaying of his sister. Eric Carter doesn’t just see dead people; he can control them. Determined to use whatever means necessary to solve his sister’s murder, he seeks the dead’s help and learns that someone is out to either destroy or control him. See my review here.
Cain’s Blood by Geoffrey Girard (2013) – A former soldier is tasked with hunting down escaped serial killers who were part of a government initiative gone awry. The soldier is accompanied by a teenager who has just learned he is one of the escaped clones. Project Cain (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2013), a companion book for young adult readers, is also available.
NOS4A2 by Joe Hill (2013) – The driver of a 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith takes passengers to a side world known as Christmasland that twists the mind of all who visit. Now that driver is after the one passenger who escaped. Hill is also known for his comic book series, Locke & Key, and he happens to be Stephen King’s son.
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill (1983) – In this contemporary novel set in Victorian England, a junior solicitor is tasked with going through the papers of the deceased Mrs. Alice Drablow. In the process, he sees the woman in black and discovers a mystery involving this vengeful specter. The basis for the 2012 movie starring Daniel Radcliffe.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959) – The classic horror tale about a young woman accompanying an investigator of supernatural phenomena to a sentient house that tries to possess her.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (1898) – A governess becomes convinced that two malevolent ghosts want to possess the children in her charge. Are the ghosts real manifestations or illusions of her mind?
Doctor Sleep by Stephen King (2013) – The True Knot search for special children to feed off, and they want to feed off twelve-year-old Abra Stone. Standing between them and the girl is Danny Torrance, a middle-aged alcoholic, who will find a new purpose after enduring the horrors of the Overlook Hotel in King’s 1977 classic, The Shining. Though not necessary, you may want to read The Shining first.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King (1983) – Let’s face it, author King deserves two spots on this list, and I think this one is his creepiest. An ancient burial ground brings dead things back to life. A doctor, haunted by death, first uses the burial ground to resurrect a cat, but some things should stay dead…
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin (1967) – When Rosemary becomes pregnant she slowly begins to believe her husband and the elderly neighbors in her apartment building are conspiring against her. Is she correct in her assumptions or is she slowly losing her mind?
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft (1999) – This re-issue by Penguin is the first of three volumes compiling Lovecraft’s works. Most of these creepy tales of forbidden knowledge, inherited guilt, old gods, and hidden horrors were written between 1926 and the author’s death in 1937. Besides the title story, The Rats in the Wall and The Shadow Over Innsmouth are considered must-reads.
Necroscope by Brian Lumley (1986) – The first in a series of novels, Harry Keogh is a necroscope, someone who can speak with the dead. He is recruited by E-Branch, an organization that employs investigators and spies to counter psychic phenomena, to defeat a necromancer. Lumley is also known for his Lovecraft inspired works.
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice (1990) – The Mayfair family have long been haunted by a mysterious spirit. This richly written tome recounts the history of this family of witches and what they will unwittingly unleash. See my review here.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (1818) – A summer evening in Switzerland, in 1816, gave rise to one of the most iconic characters in horror. Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with creating life. His “monster” will terrorize him and those he loves.
The Terror by Dan Simmons (2007) – Captains Sir John Franklin and Francis Crozier and their crew are plagued by starvation and disease on an ill-fated expedition; they are also being stalked by a monster related to Eskimo lore. Based on Captain Sir John Franklin’s actual expedition to the Arctic Circle (1845-48).
Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897) – Though not the first vampire story, this is widely considered the most popular and influential in vampire fiction. Jonathan Harker travels to a mysterious count’s residence and unwittingly aids this blood-thirsty creature’s desire to enter Victorian England society.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub (1989) – Four aging men, members of the Chowder Club, will face a long-buried secret in Milburn, New York, where ghosts exact terror and vengeance on the living.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891) – An ageless young man wastes his life on hedonism and debauchery, but these immoral acts are apparent in a mysterious portrait.
Have you read these or other books in the by these authors? Which movie adaptations have you seen and like? Comment on your favorite horror tales.