If you’d rather not spend time and money planning a Halloween costume, and have already seen all the scary films released this year, why not settle down with a spook-tastical book instead? After all, the things you can imagine in your mind can be scarier than things you can actually see.
Third time’s the charm...?
Stephen King’s Pet Sematary is about a man called Louis Creed who loves his family but in a “supernatural” way. You’ll see what I mean. After Louis buries the family cat Church in a creepy cemetery, it comes back to life but starts acting oddly and cruel. Though he regrets ever burying the cat in this strange cemetery, Louis does it again after his son Gage dies in a car accident. Surprise, surprise, his son comes back evil and twisted, forcing Louis to send him back to the grave. Obviously Louis seems to think it will be third time lucky, because he thinks that he can do it again with his wife Rachel – but that it will turn out okay if he buries her in a different way. The result is … well, I’ll let you find out. Louis loves his family and he doesn’t want to be lonely. But would you rather live with the loneliness or would you rather live with an evil resurrected being who is no longer the person you know or love?
No time for clowning around
I found It by Stephen King so terrifying a read that I’ve yet to actually finish the book. It’s the inspiration for all of them creeptastic clowns that can be seen in the news scaring up communities around the world. They’re scary for a good reason too. Clowns are HORRIBLE. Clowns that kill young children in horrific, graphic detail and appear to be made out of the stuff of nightmares? Erm, no thanks. But if you’ve got nerves of steel, this is the perfect book to read during Halloween. Just don’t answer the door for any clownish looking trick or treaters when you’re midway through this one …
It’s bigger on the inside
Things start out creepy from the get-go in House of Leaves by Mark Z Danielewski, when a sketchy tattoo artist named Johnny Truant discovers a weird manuscript that is written almost like a college thesis. It’s all about the Navidson family, who have said goodbye to life in the big city, and moved to a small town. Pretty quickly, though, they realise that their new home is less of a dream house, and more of a nightmare. Strange things start happening; rooms seem to change size, and when Will, the father, starts taking some serious measurements, he discovers that the inside of the house is just a little bit bigger than the outside. Things get even weirder when a door appears on one wall of the living room. The family opens that door and they can see that it leads to a long dark corridor, which naturally calls for some investigation. It’s a mystery that keeps getting deeper and more dangerous – even for Johnny, who is only reading the story. He doesn’t even know if the story is true, but he does know that his life will never be the same.
Careful – she might be a witch!
The Witches is a definite contender for Roald Dahl’s scariest book. The idea that monstrous, child-killing demons were hidden in plain sight was a lot to deal with when I was little. The seven-year-old narrator is told stories about these creatures by his grandmother, who was once a witch-hunter. He learns that witches act like human women, but hide their claws, blue saliva and toe-less feet. Of course, it’s only a matter of time before his path crosses with the very monsters he has been warned to fear …
Who am I? Where am I?
The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Imagine waking up in a metal elevator, having no memory of who you are or how you were brought to this place that’s called the Glade. Having to run for your life with other Gladers who try to stay alive as well as “solving” the Maze, a labyrinth of high concrete walls covered in ivy that changes every day. This is the story of Thomas, who remembers nothing but his name, and the other children, who try to survive a place that’s full of surprises and twists. Everything looks suspicious, even the people who are helping you, and you just can’t help but try to guess who Thomas really is, who the Gladers really are, what’s actually going on – and what will happen to them all at the very end.
Ghastly babysitters in a graveyard
Neil Gaiman is a master of fantasy writing, but two of his books for young readers are remarkably creepy: Coraline and The Graveyard Book. The latter opens as a mysterious man murders an entire family – all except the toddler, who has crawled off to explore. He is rescued by a vampire and taken to a graveyard, where the ghostly residents become his surrogate family. They name him Nobody, or Bod, and do everything they can to protect him, especially from the man who is still out to kill him. And this guy is relentless. What with the descriptions of the deliciously scary graveyard and its inhabitants, and the horrifying murderer on the prowl – as well as illusions to the terror of growing up – these books are the perfect pages to lose yourself in on All Soul’s Eve.
Sparkly vampires? Now there’s a scary thought
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer must be one of the scariest books of all time. Not because it’s about vampires, which admittedly can be a rather frightening subject matter, particularly around Halloween. No, the Twilight series is scarier for a much more harrowing reason. It is just so terribly written. For example, “Aro laughed. ‘Ha ha ha,’ he giggled.” For those of us who care about grammar, or the English language, or just the future of intelligent thought, we can’t let writing like this continue. What could be more frightening than the possibility that we might be remembered as the generation that celebrated the demise of the English language via a moody Robert Pattinson?