With our neighbors decorating their homes for Halloween and planning their seasonal parties, spooky season is upon us! If you’re not a longtime fan of horror authors like Stephen King and Ania Ahlborn, it can be tough to know what to pick up when you want to be scared. I’ve got you covered with some starter suggestions this fall.
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. The subtitle, “Short Fictions and Disturbances,” should give you a clue as to what to expect from this collection. The five stories in Gaiman’s third collection variously entertain, transform, and, frankly, terrify. They include takes on fairy tales, ghosts, things that go bump in the night, and even Sherlock Holmes (in a story about beekeeping so delightful it’s been nominated for awards). Neil Gaiman is one of the most interesting thinkers and lyrical writers around today, and his short stories are uniformly strong and intriguing. Released in 2015, Trigger Warning is also available as an audiobook CD from the library.
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. This novel is a revelation in creature-feature stories. Told from the point of view of Jacob Marlowe, the last existing werewolf, it’s as graphic and gory as you might expect from a book narrated by a monster. But Marlowe, who has grown weary and lonely after two hundred years of immortality, is a more complicated and likable character than that would suggest. On the run from a vampiric organized crime ring and lacking the ability to truly connect with humans, Marlowe is planning to end his life. This account of his final days is violent and sexual, thrilling in all the right ways. Also available as an audiobook CD and a digital audiobook.
The House Next Door by Anne Rivers Siddons. Although an accomplished novelist of realistic fiction about women and families, Siddons wrote only one horror novel in her lifetime. This is that novel, and it is a triumph. It tells the story of a thirtysomething married couple who observe with dismay the construction of a house on the vacant lot next door to their home. But soon they realize there are bigger problems with the house than their own diminished privacy. Everyone who lives in the house emerges changed, and not for the better. Can the house next door be haunted, or is something else at play? Siddons died September 11 of this year, and you can honor her memory by picking up her scariest book this fall.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson. You’ve likely heard of this modern classic by now, if for no other reason than Netflix’s show of the same name which was released last year (it’s more an homage than an adaptation). In addition to the book, we have ebook and digital audio versions available at the library. This book follows Eleanor, a lonely young woman who has agreed to be part of a group of investigators staying in the titular Hill House, with the goal of discovering whether it is haunted. The canny reader might, instead, ask themselves whether it is Eleanor who is haunted. Jackson’s writing on identity and society is peerless to this day, perhaps illustrated by Hill House’s incomparable opening paragraph:
“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
Check out these books and many more this Halloween season, and don’t forget to tell us your favorite October reads! The Classics Book Group is meeting October 1 to discuss Dracula, so if you’d like another classic scary story and some company to discuss it with, stop by the Customer Service desk on our upper level to grab your copy and get in on the action!