Recently I put together a short list of recommended books for a “book beat” article I contribute to a local newspaper, The Eagle Bulletin. Appearing in the October 22, 2014 issue, the selected books appeared under the banner of “Some New and Well-Respected Horror Reads for Halloween.” Though not the title I’d originally chosen for the article, this one perfectly fit with the selections of recent releases, a forthcoming favorite, and one classic title of the horror genre.
The Supernatural Enhancements by Edgar Cantero
Twentysomething A. inherits a Virginia mansion (including a live-in butler!) from an unknown cousin. “ ‘Axton House and all of its contents.’ I could hardly conceive a harsher interruption to my lifestyle than that of the Thomas Jefferson stamps, the news of my deceased relative, and his posthumous gift, which I finally accepted as an amendment for his failure to produce any Christmas presents for twenty-three years.” Axton House was the home of the Wells family for several generations and a center of ghoulish activity. This Gothic tale is set in the 1990s, but its style harkens back to an earlier era. It’s told in the form of letters, journal entries, and transcripts. Cantero is a writer and cartoonist in Barcelona, Spain, and this is his English debut novel. You can visit his blog at punkahoy.blogspot.com, and don’t worry it’s in English (and Spanish).
The Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco
Okiku has wandered the world for centuries. “You may think me biased, being murdered myself,” she says. “But my state of being has nothing to do with curiosity toward my own species, if we can be called such. We do not go gentle, as your poet encourages, into that good night.” Perhaps someone’s been watching the Ring movies too many times. This ghost story does indeed pay homage to such Japanese horror films and mines the well of Japanese legends. Okiku hunts down murderers, particularly child killers, until she meets a strange tattooed boy. With lyrical language, the story vividly captures the imagery and feel of Japanese horror that will keep you up at night. This tale of vengeful spirits is the debut novel by author Rin Chupeco who read Stephen King’s Pet Semetary when she was six years old! You can visit her website/blog for more information at rinchupeco.com.
The Three by Sarah Lotz
Four passenger planes crash at almost the same moment in disparate parts of the globe. Each crash yields a survivor, but the fourth one only lives long enough to record a chilling message. The other three are children who emerge from the wreckage unhurt but not unchanged. The story unfolds like a collection of oral histories and transcripts gathered together to present the whole picture of this creepy tale. The effect of the narrative may be like surfing the internet, but it’s an interesting device that suits this particular novel. Lotz has written other urban horror novels under pseudonyms with other others, but this is her first solo outing. You can visit her website at sarahlotz.com.
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H. P. Lovecraft
Howard Phillips Lovecraft has inspired many horror writers over the years, including Stephen King. In fact, the cover of Cantero’s book (see above) is reminiscent of Lovecraft imagery. What is it about these strange tales of old gods that chills us today? Find out in this volume that includes some of the best Lovecraftian tales, including “Rats in the Wall”, “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”, and the titular story. These early twentieth century tales became the foundation for the Cthulhu Mythos, a shared fiction universe, initially expanded by Lovecraft’s contemporary, August Derleth, and then by later authors. Learn more at the H. P. Lovecraft Archives (hplovecraft.com).
Prince Lestat by Anne Rice
After more than a decade, the vampire Lestat returns. A mysterious Voice is compelling the eldest of vampires to kill the newly created mavericks leading to a crisis not seen since the Queen of the Damned. The novel is richly told, revealing past and present, as the mystery unfolds. Several characters return to the fold (like revisiting old friends) and appear along with new characters navigating the secret and perilous world of vampires. Rice, along with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, was one of the first authors to pen vampires as romantic, angst-filled creatures of the night. Prince Lestat, due out on October 28th just in time for Halloween, is the eleventh book in the Vampire Chronicles. And of course, you can visit Rice’s website annerice.com for more details.
Read something spooky for Halloween. Discover new authors (or revisit old favorites). Perhaps the suggested titles above will expand your reading list.