I am not a big horror person: getting me to watch a film all the way through is difficult at the best of times but make it a horror film and I’m out of the door quicker than you can say ‘Hallowe’en.’ Books are the same – I had a bad experience with a particularly creepy James Patterson book when I was about 9 and since then, the reading of ‘scary’ books has been restricted to daylight hours only. In spite of this, I have read a fair few books that would fall under the ‘creepy’ horror genre and I thought I’d comprise a list of my favourite reads as we get closer to everyone’s favourite creepy holiday – a creepy book for everyone!
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson.
Possibly one of the best books that I read in 2016 and still a book I recommend to anyone who asks about my favourite books. We Have Always Lived in the Castle is arguably Jackson’s most renowned work and follows Merricat Blackwood, a young girl who lives on an isolated estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. We learn that there used to be 7 Blackwood’s – all but the remaining three family members mysteriously murdered through arsenic in the sugar bowl. Constance was charged with her family’s murder but eventually acquitted for the crime. The story follows the family living in their isolation until one day, a long-lost cousin arrives on the scene and threatens to upset the serenity of their livelihoods. The book is beautifully written with the right level of creepy that leaves you on the edge of your seat but not scared out of your wits. The creepiest of creepy books.
Dracula by Bram Stoker.
The book that is on every university/A Level Gothic reading list ever. When I was in college studying for my A Levels, at the end of the 1styear all those years ago, we were given a reading list of gothic fiction for our coursework module for A2. I devoured as much of the list as possible and one of the books that made it to the forefront of the list was Dracula by Bram Stoker. This is a book I actually bought a new copy of recently, so I could reread it without the stress of coursework and I’m really looking forward to seeing if my views of it change. Definitely a creepy book to explore.
The Shining by Stephen King.
A book I’ve never actually read (but I have watched the film, so I’m including it) is The Shining by Stephen King. I love the film- there’s nothing better than a creepy film with a twisting ending and I have absolutely no doubt that the book is just as good- if not even better. I’ve read quite a few Stephen King books before and loved them – his style of writing is so exquisite and his books so well written that I’m more than excited to get stuck into this one.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman.
Neil Gaiman is an author like no other. Whether he’s writing for adults or children, his writing is phenomenal, with descriptions that leave little to the imagination. I wasn’t sure what to think about Coraline when the film first came out – I’m always slightly sceptical about book to film adaptations, particularly involving childrens’ books- so I bought a copy with the intention of reading it first. I expected a cutesy childrens’ book with some loveable characters – naïve me, thinking Enid Blyton-esque characters. What I actually found myself reading was creepy and terrifying, and a book that could arguably be intended just for adults. I can’t say I’ve ever seen the film but the book is a delight. Creepy beyond belief.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
I love this book. The writing is spectacular, it’s creepy beyond anything I’ve read before and you’re constantly anticipating what is going to happen next. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is a classic for a reason – focusing itself around 2 wives of George de Winter – one alive, one dead. It’s infamous for its opening line (Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again) and its creepy housekeeper Mrs Danvers. I don’t want to say too much about the plot of this one as it has a twist that you really need to read to believe so if you are yet to read this creepy book, use this Hallowe’en month as an excuse and put it straight to the top of your pile.
What is your favourite creepy book? Any I should be reading this Hallowe’en? Let me know!