I love horror. I really do. I like a book that’s going to scare me, unsettle me or just make me think differently about the world. October is the perfect time for dipping your toe into the horrors that lie between the covers of books. To that end, I offer you a list of both contemporary and classic horror tales.
From the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe and H.P. Lovecraft to the true story of murder in “In Cold Blood,” horror comes in a surprising number of flavors, both cosmic (Cthulhu, anyone?) and every day. Horror also has elements of its cousins, fantasy and science fiction, like the horror of discovering that the person you thought was your friend is actually that same person, but from another dimension, as in Peter Cline’s “The Fold.” Zombies can take on intelligence, witches wander into living rooms, and giant box stores hold some of the scariest horrors out there. So join me in trying out horror… whether you are looking for something literary and thrilling, like grandmaster Ray Bradbury’s “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” or something a little more historic, like Alma Katsu’s “Hunger,” or just something different, horror has something for you!
You know the story: Mad scientist makes monster. Mad scientist is horrified of his creation. Monster runs away. Monster is killed by mob with pitchforks and fire. Learn the real story of the monster and his plans for revenge against the man who created him.
The original vampire, Dracula, will fill your heart with terror, as he manipulates, maddens and devours the innocent around Carfax Abbey, before finally fixating on Mina Harker, wife of his solicitor.
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderlay again.” So starts “Rebecca” the classic novel of jealousy and revenge. When the new Mrs. De Winters arrives at her husband’s estate, she is confronted by the housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers. Mrs. Danvers was deeply devoted to the first Mrs. De Winters, and implies that the new wife will never live up to the perfection that was Rebecca. A gothic classic of suspense.
When Dark’s Carnival comes to town, Will and Jim are drawn to the rides and games. But Dark’s Carnival holds a secret: The carnival can help you fulfill your wildest dreams and twists them into nightmares. What happens when Will and Jim discover that Dark’s Carnival is more than it seems in this classic dark fantasy?
Meet the serial killer that haunted everyone’s dreams! Hannibal Lechter and Clarice Starling team up to find the serial killer, Buffalo Bill, who is hunting girls along the East Coast.
Guy and Rosemary are just starting out when they rent an apartment in New York’s Bramford Apartment building. In spite of rumors of witchcraft and Satanists, their apartment and neighbors are wonderful. Guy’s career is taking off and he agrees that it’s finally time to start a family. What could go wrong?
The first true crime book, Capote describes the unprovoked murder of a farm family in a quiet Kansas town. Follow the family through their last days and charts the murderers as they plan their attack.
Welcome to Hill House! Dr. Montague, a specialist in the supernatural, has invited three subjects to spend the night, while he searches for possible supernatural manifestations within the house. As the evening wears on, Eleanor, a shy young woman, begins to experience a wide variety of supernatural events. Is Hill House haunted or is Eleanor imagining things?
While caring for two children, a governess becomes convinced that the grounds of the summer home they are living in is haunted by two former employees: the former governess and her lover.
Reagan’s behavior has gotten worse and worse and her mother has finally decided that after doctors and therapist can’t help, that maybe a priest can. Enter Father Karras, who is struggling with his own crisis of faith. He agrees to see Reagan as a therapist, but quickly realizes something demonic is at work.
Once a writer of pulp fiction, Lovecraft has become one of the most recognizable masters of horror. His works run the gamut from supernatural fiction, to dark fantasy to science fiction horror. Be sure to read “At the Mountains of Madness,” a science fiction horror story of an Antarctic expedition gone awry; “Call of Cthulhu,” a horror story about the arrival of the Great Old One’s awakening and “The Shadow Over Innsmouth,” a story of one family’s alliance with the Deep Ones.
Widely acknowledged as one of the great writers of horror and mystery, Poe’s stories continue to scare readers today. Covering stories of being buried alive, revenge and madness, these stories are perfect for a dreary October afternoon.
Mike Erikson is recruited by DARPA to investigate the Albuquerque Door—a device that seems to make instant transportation real. The scientists who invented it and used it, swear it’s completely safe…or is it? Science fiction, with a touch of otherworldly horror.
The Signalman, a government special agent, meets a woman in a diner in Winslow, Az. The Signalman has witnessed a disturbing incident in the past week that have continued to bother him. In the desert a cult leader gathers the innocent and disturbed to his compound, promising them the end of the world. Meanwhile, in outer space, the New Horizons probe has stopped communicating with the earth. Could aliens arriving on earth be the end of the world that cult is waiting for or is there something more disturbing happening?
After moving into a new apartment, the Kano family feels like it has found a home to grow into. The only concern is the nearby graveyard. Soon the family is disturbed by noises in the basement and creepy neighbors. Unwilling to move, the Kano family begin investigating their new home and discover something truly unsettling.
The story of the Donner-Reed party is horror enough without adding anything to it. But Alma Katsu has managed to take a truly American tragedy and make it even more horrifying than the original. The Donner-Reed wagon train is haunted by something dark and mysterious that even the Native Americans avoid. Is this the real reason they never made it to California before the snow fell, trapping them at Truckee Lake and leaving them no other choice than cannibalism?
Designed to look like a catalog from your favorite Scandinavian retailer, this book tells the story of a haunted box store. The paths through the store don’t always lead to places you’d want to go and the doors between sections are just as likely to trap you in the walls. What could have led to a haunting in such an innocuous store?
Black Spring, a beautiful town on the banks of the Hudson, with a horrible history. The town is haunted by the Black Rock Witch, a seventeenth century woman with her eyes and mouth sewn shut. She walks the streets and enters people’s homes at will, often standing in one place for hours or days on end. The town’s teens, tired of being kept in the dark by the technological lock down imposed by the town’s adults, decide it’s time to do something about the Black Rock Witch once and for all. How could they know that trying to destroy her would lead to their own destruction as well?
An ingenious retelling of Lovecraft’s “The Horror at Red Hook,” starring Charles Thomas Tester, a black man hustling to put food on the table and keep a roof over his father’s head. Knowing that a guitar case can make you invisible while you loiter on the street corner or that a nice suit will get you into places you might not be able to get into otherwise helps him as he delivers items from one side of Manhattan to the other. When he delivers an occult tome to a reclusive sorceress, Tom discovers a magical realm and gains the attentions of things better left alone.
Melanie’s day starts with getting taken from her cell to the school room. Bound in a straitjacket and strapped to a wheelchair, she and her fellow students study. At the end of the day, its back to her cell, surrounded by armed guards. Melanie jokes that she won’t bite, but no one seems to believe her. A twist on an old story, “The Girl With All The Gifts,” will leave you breathless and wondering.
Beware of the small door that opens into the garden at the back of Slade House. Once you come into the garden, you can’t leave, ever. Reminiscent of Ray Bradbury, Mitchell uses connected stories to tell the history of Slade House and its residents. Don’t let this literary spin on the vampire story dissuade you; this book has a little something for everyone, including a haunted house, ghosts and mysterious characters.
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