Monday, October 19, 2009

Best Halloween Reads

This is my list of the best Halloween books and stories. Aside from being great works of fiction, many of these works created the monsters that make Halloween possible.

1. Dracula by Bram Stoker - There is no vampire book on the market that comes near this one. The tale of an ancient vampire come to prey on the young women of England, and the men who fight to stop him. This work is seductive exploration of vampires which lays the basis for contemporary lore.

2. Frankenstein by Mary Shelly - This story was born from an evening Mary Shelly telling ghost stories with Lord Byron and Percy Bysshe Shelly. From that evening, Shelly created Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. In this novel, Shelly explores the horror of creation and the human thirst for knowledge with a disregard for caution.

3. Dreams in the Witch House by H.P. Lovecraft - The story of a young student who has had the misfortune of renting a room in a house rumored to have been occupied by a witch. Now, he is plagued by terrifying dreams and the rats that inhabit his room. This incredible story gave me the same nightmares it described. Talk about horror!

4. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson - Like many of the books in this list, you have heard the story, but not the way it was first told. Stevenson explores the human capacity for evil and the idea of split personalities in this tale of terror. In the process, Stevenson creates a true Halloween monster.

5. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James - This story of a vengeful ghost who has come to take the children in the governesses care will leave you terrified.

6. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier - The story of the second Mrs. de Winter seeking the truth of surrounding the death of the first while living in the shadow of her ghost. This psychological thriller will leave you wanting more.

7. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson - Billy Bones, Long John Silver, the black spot, maps to buried treasure; this classic novel created them all and laid the foundation for most pirate lore.

8. The Woman in White by Wilke Collins - A psychological thriller filled with ghosts and cases of mistaken identity.

9. Macbeth by William Shakespeare - "Double double toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble . . ." Need I say more?

10. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson - One of the best vampire novels since Dracula. This story explores the themes of isolation and humanity in a post-apocalyptic world ruled by vampires.

11. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo - The story of a hunchback, who was abandoned as a child, the priest who took him in, and the priest's sexual weakness for a poor gypsy girl. This story reveals that sometimes true monsters are regular people and people who appear terrifying may still have a heart filled with love.

12. The Black Cat by Edgar Allen Poe - Poe's tale of the macabre teaches us not to mess with kitties!

13. Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury - The story of two young boys and their quest to save their town form the creepy dark carnival that rolls into town one autumn night to steal souls. A great book for young adults.

14. The Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith - The best young adult vampire romance novels on the market today.

15. The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding - One of the best new novels I have read recently. Wooding weaves a very movie like tale set in a time warped London of a young wych-kin hunter and a woman possessed by a wych. A very fascinating novel suitable for young adults.

16. Wait 'Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn - This tale of a lonely ghost looking for an eternal playmate still terrifies me.