I had this post idea planned for ages, and as it turns out… it’s also this week’s Top Ten Tuesday theme over at The Broke and the Bookish! The prompt is “top ten books/movies to read/watch to get in the Halloween spirit.” So I might as well link up with them too… right?
I tried to choose just ten stories total, but sometimes I have trouble limiting myself. So instead I’m recommending thirteen stories: ten books to read and then three things (either movies or episodes of TV shows) to watch.
If you enjoy classics, try:
1. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. How can I talk up this story without giving away its twist?! Basically, the main character achieves eternal youth… but at a high and horrifying cost. Oh, and it’s full of Wilde’s usual wit, which is always a plus.
2. The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle. It’s really quite remarkable how well this book messes with your emotions. There has to be a logical, non-supernatural explanation behind the hound… right? But it seems so real…
3. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black. “Vampires? How ridiculous,” I
thought. And then I read this AMAZING book. Black adapts vampires for the modern day, turns them into pop culture icons, and creates an utterly believable dystopian fantasy.
4. Dracula by Bram Stoker, adapted by Nicky Raven, and illustrated by Anne Yvonne Gilbert. The original book is actually quite readable considering its age – most books of its time have overly florid writing – but this adaptation is, if impossible, even better. It’s only about a hundred pages long and beautifully illustrated! Seriously, I have, like, a crush or something on Gilbert’s artistic style.
If you love mysteries, try:
5. And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie. In this novel, often considered to be Christie’s masterpiece, ten people are invited to a lonely island – but none of them know their host, or why they were invited there. One by one, they begin to die off… even those who you thought were the culprits. THIS IS THE MOST BRILLIANT MYSTERY I
HAVE EVER READ.
If you’re a child (or a child at heart), try:
6. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. You can’t get much more Halloween-y than a graveyard! This is a really creative, imaginative book and I wish I’d read it when I was little.
7. Malice and Havoc by Chris Wooding. This horror duology is written for children, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s tame. IT’S CREEPY. Imagine a horrifying comic book that transports its readers into the world of its story, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what Malice and Havoc are about.
8. Coraline by Neil Gaiman and illustrated by P. Craig Russell. There is a prose
version – it came first, actually – but I’ve only ever read the graphic novel version. And it’s really good! The art is beautiful and sinister-looking, perfect for telling the story of a litle girl who discovers a horrible parallel world.
If you prefer to be only mildly frightened, try:
9. The Scorpio Race by Maggie Stiefvater. Imagine racing horses. Boring, right? OK, now imagine KILLER HORSES THAT SOMETIMES EAT THEIR RIDERS. This is a lovely book, and thankfully just a little on the scary side.
10. Misery by Stephen King. Feeling brave? Read this. The narrator, Paul, is a well-known author when he crashes his car on a lonely road. He is rescued… by his “number one fan,” who punishes him he writes something she doesn’t like – and never intends to let him leave. This novel doesn’t have ghosts or werewolves or anything like that. It doesn’t need to. Its portrayal of a completely twisted human being is frightening enough all on its own.
Time for some recommendations of things to watch!
1. The Birds. This isn’t even my favorite Alfred Hitchcock film, but it’s still really really good. It’s unsettling because, well, who really cares about birds? They just fly around and peck at things and do their cute-bird thing. No one pays attention to them – until they start attacking people. BE SURE TO WATCH THIS WITH ALL THE LIGHTS ON.
2. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (The Twilight Zone). This is from a really cool, cerebral, old TV show, and it’s on Netflix so you should definitely check it out! In this story, a passenger sees a hideous creature on the wing of his airplane, tearing it apart. But it’s just an apparition caused by his earlier nervous breakdown… right? Right?
3. “Midnight” (Doctor Who). There are quite a few scary Doctor Who episodes, but this one is my favorite. This story is amazing because it relies on ambiguity and the power of what is not seen, rather than what is. (And if you want more scary recs, I suggest “The Empty Child / The Doctor Dances,” “The God Complex,” and “Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead” – which, coincidentally, takes place right before “Midnight.” Maybe you could watch all three in a row?)
So, tell me: What stories put you in the Halloween spirit? What’s the spooky story you’ve ever read? And if you’ve read/watched any of my choices, rate them in order of scariness – I’d love to know what you think!