I’m not a fan of horror films. I never have been. When I was a child, I used to freak out about everything. My sisters still make fun of me for not being able to watch the part of The Neverending Story with the creepy eyes in the cave. The first time I watched Jurassic Park I couldn’t sleep because of the spitty dinosaur. I’m happy to say that I’m much better now but I still can’t be bothered with most contemporary horror films. They’re just a load of jump scares put together with a super flimsy and silly plot. Either that or torture porn like the Saw movies. It’s just not something I want to spend my time watching. Which means, next week on October 31st, I won’t be enjoying a horror movie fest. I might see if I can find a classic to watch but I’d rather spend the night reading a scary book. So, for this week’s Friday Favourites, I wanted to list some of my top spooky reads for Halloween.
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
This is one of the greatest thrillers ever written. Agatha Christie’s amazing murder mystery is so atmospheric and tense. I’ve read it multiple times but it is a thrilling experience every time. The whole setting and pace of the novel are perfect for telling the story. As the numbers dwindle the murders get more frequent and paranoia kicks in. People may like to think of Agatha Christie as “cosy crime” but this novel is anything but cosy. It’s creepy and has one of the best literary twists of all time. The perfect book to read on Halloween night.
- Stephen King
Officially not a novel, obviously, but what Halloween would be complete without a bit of the King of horror? Which book you chose depends on what kind of fan you are I guess. For me? I’d go with a classic King. I haven’t been as bothered about his latest works. Carrie? The Shining? Pet Semetary? Who knows. As long as it’s creepy as fuck.
This is one of the definitive modern ghost stories. It has been adapted a number of times; most recently on Netflix in 2018. I didn’t watch it. I knew I wouldn’t cope with it. Shirley Jackson’s novel is skillfully written and does everything to bring the terror out of the narrative. Many writers have tried and failed to write haunted house novels but Jackson’s effort is truly one of the greats.
- Dracula by Bram Stoker
How could I not? Bram Stoker’s gothic tale is the pinnacle of Vampire novels. Although, I will admit that it has suffered somewhat thanks to the many movie adaptations. The 1897 novel just isn’t as scary for contemporary readers as it might have been for readers when it was published. However, as a lover of all things gothic, I do love this book. And there is a reason that it’s stuck around for this long, right?
- American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis
What could be more Halloween than a serial killer? Brett Easton Ellis’ novel isn’t exactly scary but it is a terrifying look into the mind of a killer. Patrick Bateman gets more and more diabolical as the novel goes on. It’s a gory and unsettling tale. All the more unsettling because of Bateman’s narration. It’s one of those utterly unforgettable reads.
- The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
Another classic story that really gets under your skin. The story of a haunted house, a young nanny, and children. All three of which should give you an idea of how much potential creepiness there is in this novella. I mean children always make things extra creepy, right? One of the best things about this story is that Henry James is never explicit. It means you get to make things as creepy as you want.
Frankenstein’s monster is one of the iconic characters from Hammer Horror films. The monster who likes to go on violent rampages is such a terrifying concept. The original novel might lack the obvious terror of the movie adaptations but it still manages to build tension. I know there’s a really long section in the middle where we hear about his gap year with a blind man and his family. Still, there are some spooky and dark moments. Plus, that scene in the lab is pure Halloween.
Who is Murdocal? A casual critic who is a little bit too obsessed with pop culture. A young woman who swears and rants much more than she knows she should whilst trying to make her way in an adult world she isn't prepared for. A not as recent as she'd like literature graduate who, between job applications and subsequent rejections, has turned to the internet to fight the boredom and review the shit out of everything.
"Maybe, just maybe, I'm the faller. Every family has someone who falls, who doesn't make the grade, who stumbles, who life trips up. Maybe I'm our faller."