Monday, October 24, 2011

Ten Scary Books to Read

Autumn brings a chill to the air and shadows of darkness block out the light earlier as evening draws near. This is a good time of the year to stockpile books and read indoors. Most of all, it's October and Halloween is fast approaching. So the reader wants something frightening to devour. I have many favorites, but I will only do ten here. If you want others to know your own suggestions, feel free to leave a comment.

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson: A 1959 novel by author Shirley Jackson. Finalist for the National Book Award and considered one of the best literary ghost stories published during the twentieth century, it has been made into two feature films and a play. Jackson's novel relies on terror rather than horror to elicit emotion by the reader, utilizing complex relationships between the mysterious events in the house and the characters’ psyches. This is also the only book to scare me in the daytime, in a room full of people.

2. Ghost Story by Peter Straub: For four aging men in the terror-stricken town of Milburn, New York, an act inadvertently carried out in their youth has come back to haunt them. Now they are about to learn what happens to those who believe they can bury the past -- and get away with murder.

3. Hell House by Ricard Matheson: Rolf Rudolph Deutsch is going die. But when Deutsch, a wealthy magazine and newpaper publisher, starts thinking seriously about his impending death, he offers to pay a physicist and two mediums, one physical and one mental, $100,000 each to establish the facts of life after death.
Dr. Lionel Barrett, the physicist, accompanied by the mediums, travel to the Belasco House in Maine, which has been abandoned and sealed since 1949 after a decade of drug addiction, alcoholism, and debauchery. For one night, Barrett and his colleagues investigate the Belasco House and learn exactly why the townfolks refer to it as the Hell House.

4. It by Stephen King: A promise made twenty-eight years ago calls seven adults to reunite in Derry, Maine, where as teenagers they battled an evil creature that preyed on the city's children. Unsure that their Losers Club had vanquished the creature all those years ago, the seven had vowed to return to Derry if IT should ever reappear. Now, children are being murdered again and their repressed memories of that summer return as they prepare to do battle with the monster lurking in Derry's sewers once more.

5. Salem's Lot by Stephen King: For vampire fans. Author Ben Mears returns to ‘Salem's Lot to write a book about a house that has haunted him since childhood only to find his isolated hometown infested with vampires. While the vampires claim more victims, Mears convinces a small group of believers to combat the undead.

6. Dracula by Bram Stoker: An 1887 novel by Irish author, Bram Stoker. The classic vampire story revolves around a struggle between good and evil, tradition and modernity, and lust versus chastity. The author didn’t invent vampires, but his novel has so captured the public’s imagination that he is rightly considered their popularizer.

7. Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe: Of course, I would add Poe's works!

8. The Red Church by Scott Nicholson: A boy and a sheriff must solve the mystery of a haunted Appalachian church when a strange preacher returns to town. Stoker Award finalist

9. Phantoms by Dean Koontz: CLOSER… They found the town silent, apparently abandoned. Then they found the first body strangely swollen and still warm. One hundred fifty were dead, 350 missing. But the terror had only begun in the tiny mountain town of Snowfield, California.
AND CLOSER… At first they thought it was the work of a maniac. Or terrorists. Or toxic contamination. Or a bizarre new disease.
AND CLOSER… But then they found the truth. And they saw it in the flesh. And it was worse than anything any of them had ever imagined…

10. Wolfen by Whitley Stieber: This is out of print, but still my favorite werewolf novel. Do a search for it in your local used bookstores, or through Amazon or Only two people have grasped the full horror of the Wolfen--one man and one woman, both cops, locked in a strange passion of love, hate, and sheer terror.

Another author to read for his dark fantasy is Ray Bradbury. He even has some perfect for this time of the year. Just google his name or check for bhis books on Amazon or Barnes and

And if you're interested in reading any of my scary fiction, try Spectre Nightmares and Visitations: Many things scare us. But the most fearful things are those that infect our nightmares and visitations. Monsters from the closet or from another planet. Ghosts that haunt more than houses. Werewolves are not the only shapeshifters to beware of. Children can be taken from more than the human kind of monsters. Even normal things can be the start of a heart-pounding terror. Prepare to step beyond the pages into Spectre Nightmares and Visitations.
Just tell yourself that they're only stories.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Familiar with all of these, if not from book then movie, except Phantoms (though, of course familiar with Dean Koontz) and The Red Church, but I do have a copy of the latter around here somewhere.

So glad you started with The Haunting of Hill House. It's amazing how terrifying suggestions and hints can be. I always prefer that to gore, but this really is a masterpiece. You finished up with another fave of mine: The Wolfen--both book and film.

The Shining is the book that scared me most, admittedly after dark when I was alone in the house, but that demonish clown from It still gives me a shiver. And the Salem's Lot mini-series caused me to shriek out loud. Come to think of it, I was in a room full of people for that one.

Yeah, a very good list for this time of year. Boo!