Happy early Hallowe’en!
Now, I typically keep it light on my blog, but I am actually the BIGGEST horror fan there ever was.
With that in mind, I’ve collated a little list of my favourite horror books that will make you think the coat hanging up in your bedroom is some kind of soul-stealing demon. Fun, right?
This is definitely not an exhaustive list, and I have chosen a lot of classics. I’m planning on reading some new horror books this year, especially ones by translated authors because some of the western horror tropes are getting a little bit repetitive if I’m honest. So, let’s begin!
Tam O’Shanter by Robert Burns
This is technically a poem, but something about Tam O’Shanter by Robert Burns creeps me out to this day.
Basically this girl is minding her own business, just dancing away, and this dude catcalls her. Gal turns out to be a witch that’s part of a group of ghouls and demons and just general scary beings who are celebrating Hallowe’en (party sounds lit).
Anyway, they chase him (he’s on his horse) until he gets to a bridge (witches can’t cross water for some strange reason?) and in a final attempt to catch him, the witch pulls his horse’s tail off (poor horsey, she’s called Meg), but he and the (now tailless) horse get away.
Oh and the dude is called Tam O’Shanter.
So, the moral of the story is?? Don’t catcall? Honestly the older I get the more I think Tam is the villain of this piece. Like?? Animal abuse is never okay, but her reaction to getting catcalled? Go off, I guess?
Stephen King’s The Shining
Now, not to insult the King of Horror, but this is one of the very few Stephen King horrors that isn’t ruined by a strange ending (seriously, the premise of IT is petrifying and genius, but the ending? Goofy af and not in a good way).
Made even more popular by Stanley Kubrick’s iconic film (Come and play with us Danny…) and Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the dad who becomes more and more unhinged as the story goes on, The Shining is a Hallowe’en classic.
But, while I’m a massive fan of the movie adaption, it does miss out some of the scarier bits in the book (probably because of CGI constraints) and does Jack Torrance kinda dirty. In the film he dies in a maze trying to kill Danny and Wendy. In the book he realises he’s trying to kill his son and blows up the hotel, killing himself in the process but saving his kid and wife.
Also Dick Hallorann, a black chef at the hotel, is brutally killed in the movie even though he doesn’t die in the book. There’s a racist horror trope in there somewhere. So yeah, read the book.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
This is a recent read for me! I really enjoyed this book.
It’s about a young woman whose recently married cousin contacts her saying her husband and his family are holding her hostage.
The imagery in this book. The symbolism. I regret reading it so quickly, I wish I’d savoured it more. It managed to use a lot of classic horror tropes in original ways, and I really rooted for the main character and her cousin.
This story contains a lot of gender and racial politics that add to the tension, as so many small red flags grow into huge, glaring, terrifying markers of what is to come.
I’m not going to say anymore because I don’t want to spoil anything, but read this book!
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein
The OG, the brilliant, the iconic Mary Shelley. The defence invoked by “fake” geek girls everywhere. This is where Sci-Fi all began.
While I would probably describe Frankenstein as more of a gothic novel than a horror story, it definitely has some scaryyyy elements. I mean, a scientist literally makes a giant collage of a person out of assorted stolen corpses and then animates it. Scary stuff.
Also, the line ‘Beware; I am fearless and therefore powerful’ hits different when you remember that this book was written by a women. Shelley also happened to be the daughter of women’s rights advocate, Mary Wollstonecraft.
And that’s a wrap!
I know that current restrictions mean we can’t run around in fun costumes scaring ghosts on Hallowe’en this year, but we can still watch a scary movie or read a scary book with a big ole bag of sweets, and isn’t that what Hallowe’en is really about? Tooth decay and trauma.