Happy Halloween! As a part of today’s festivities, our staff has offered 10 books to read while waiting for trick or treaters to show up at your door. Read these novels by the fire, by the lamp, or by the jack-o-lantern, but, be careful; these horror stories may leave you too scared to answer the door:
1. “The Face in the Frost” by John Bellairs
“A creepy sort of ghost story,” says Humanities Librarian Robert LeBlanc, this novel follows the story of two wizards seeking to discover a source of evil magic. Recommended reading for Advanced Dungeon and Dragons Dungeon Masters, this book (at 174 pages) may be perfect for reading in between groups of trick or treaters showing up at your door/dorm room.
2. “At the Mountains of Madness” by H.P. Lovecraft
Attempting to dissuade an expedition into the Antarctic, the protagonist of this novella speaks of the horrors he witnessed when he explored the frozen continent. With mountains higher than the Himalayas, ancient ruins and hidden civilizations, this one will surely chill you to the bones. This recommendation – part of H.P. Lovecraft’s collected works – comes from Resource Management Team Leader David Burke.
3. “Anything by Michael Crichton” – Luisa Cywinski
I cannot agree more with this recommendation! Crichton writes excellent stories that toe a fine line between science-fiction and horror. His novels include tales of artificial intelligence gone awry, thrillers of micro-organisms from outer space, and, of course, the famous Jurassic Park. This picture includes some of those Crichton books in our collection, but there are certainly many more.
4. “Carrie” by Stephen King
King’s debut novel is my own recommendation. King appears once more on this list, but “Carrie” helps us understand the early workings of the mind of the best horror writer of our time. The fragmented composition of the novel, including clippings from newspapers, and the shifting points of view add to the suspense of this marvelously crafted thriller.
5. “Grendel” by John Gardner
Also recommended by Luisa Cywinski, this pomo myth retells Beowulf from the perspective of the monster Grendel. Besides being a true fright, this is one of the few novels of the genre that can claim it explores the philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. Get a good scare, and give an intellectual lecture to your visitors, as you explore Grendel’s psyche and the swamp with this piece.
6. “Through the Woods” by Emily Carroll
A short collection of stories by comic artist Emily Carroll, “Through the Woods” won two Eisner Awards in 2015. English and Theatre Librarian Sarah Wingo says this piece has “a creepy and spooky feel without feeling derivative of anything you already read.” If you’re into comics/graphic novels, this may be the Halloween piece for you.
7. “Salem’s Lot” by Stephen King
Set in Jerusalem’s Lot, Maine, “‘Salem’s Lot” contains the generic conventions of vampires and abandoned houses. It received wide acclaim when it was released in the mid-’70s. Enjoy this one, but try not too read too much into your own small town; there’s many places for vampires to be hiding. This recommendation comes from Humanities Librarian Robert LeBlanc.
8. “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel
This one is “not really scary but has a spooky vibe,” says English and Theatre Librarian Sarah Wingo. With on-stage heart attacks and pandemic Swine Flu, “Station Eleven” promises those frights that derive their horror from the plausibility of such events. Enjoy this winner of the 2015 Toronto Book Award with a Snickers, and a Reese’s, and a Hershey’s bar or two, or three…
9. “Coraline” by Neil Gaiman
Gaiman’s “Coraline” “transforms such ordinary objects as buttons and cats into objects of horror,” according to graduate assistant Hunter Houtzer. Also the subject of 2009 film, this story explores secret worlds that may, in fact, just be the figments of our diseased imaginations. Get a peek at this story on Houtzer’s PATW blog.
10. “The Night Circus” by Erin Morgenstern
This one is “Gothic without being scary,” according to Nursing and Life Sciences Librarian Robin Bowles, and “Not specific to Halloween but has an atmospheric, Tim Burton-esque vibe,” continued English and Theatre Librarian Sarah Wingo. Set near a re-imagined Victorian London, this novel follows a circus that seemingly appears and disappears without warning.
Do you agree/disagree with any of our staff recommendations? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @FalveyLibrary. (All images courtesy of Amazon and Wikipedia, except the one of our shelves; I took that.)
Article by William Repetto, a graduate assistant on the Communications and Marketing Team at the Falvey Memorial Library. He is currently pursuing an MA in English at Villanova University.
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