Every year, around this time, I become a brave little toaster and challenge myself to read a horror book. This is not a genre I read very much of, I'm not enamoured with horror movies either. The slasher movies are so bad they make me laugh. But the second a film has someone with a) straggly black hair, b) people moving strangely, or c) strange children, then you had better believe I am out of there.
My husband will recount the evening we decided to watch 'The Woman in Black'. Surprised (it was my choice), we settled down to watch. There was a lot of fog, a scary carriage ride and a few bumps. But you had better believe that at the sight of that strange child at the end of the garden I was out of there, standing up and pacing like a lunatic. It's the mind, the strength of what we can imagine vs what we see with our eyes.
And so, dear reader I have put together a list of horror books perfect for you other brave little toasters. I've started with, in my opinion the least scary through to scariest.
Ok I'm starting on the lighter side here. This is the 3rd book in the series to feature Dr Grace Helsing, who descends from a long line of vampire hunters now turning their hand to healing the creatures they once hunted. After taking on the role of Interim Medical Director at a spa for Mummies (the bandaged kind from Ancient Egypt, not people who have had children) several of the Mummies are struck down by a sudden, swift and mysterious illness. Great fun and humorously written.
Whilst this novel is not a traditional Boo! read, it is atmospheric, misty and talks about witches and the Pendle Witch Trials. It is 1612, and Fleetwood Shuttleworth has been advised by her doctor that she should not fall pregnant again as she would die. But she is already with child and so engages the services of midwife, Alice Gray, who helps Fleetwood negotiate her tricky pregnancy. But then Alice is accused of witchcraft. Eerie, atmospheric and with the terrifying and sinister Jennet, this novel captures the culture of accusation and fear. It's excellent.
The classic, and a novel which spawned a thousand films and books all about the Vampyre including the Twilight novels and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (another classic). Told through a series of letters and diary entries. Jonathan Harker meets a mysterious Count in Romania, strange things happen during his visit, and then the Count journeys to England. The hunt must begin to get rid of this monstrous creature. The journey to England on the Demeter is a masterclass in tension writing. A mysterious black dog is spotted by the crow, one by one they start to disappear. The captain lashing himself to the wheel, the ship arrives. This always makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.
I read this in my formative teenage years, which is probably why I have been scared of horror books since. A journalist returns to his hometown, a number of years after an event which he cannot remember and which left one of his friends with life-changing injuries. Then people begin to act very strangely. Something is coming.....
This would have been more on the not scary side, if I had not read this during a pandemic, because dear reader this is a book set during a pandemic and it gave me chills as it felt like we were living in end of days territory. The book concerns a terrifying outbreak and how certain people seem immune, but are having visions or nightmares of a place to go, and someone to be very, very scared of.
You remember I told you about how figures with long, black hair scare me. This is up there for everything you cannot see but your mind will (un)helpfully fill in the blanks. It is marketed as a crime novel, do not read it as a crime novel. Instead savour it and be scared. A father and daughter driving down a road, encounter a confused, woman in a dressing gown. They bring her home, the next morning she is gone and the father has no memory of ever having picked her up. Set in the wilds as Scotland, the writing is as crisp as the scent of pine. Very scary.
I read this whilst on a hen-do, and at 2am was pacing my room and nearly begging to sleep with the others I was scared witless. Calisade Mountain College has lived in the shadow of the mountain, where something has always felt wrong. and then event occur, strange events. People change. arrrggghhhhh!
I hope you have enjoyed looking back at some of my previous Halloween reads. There will be a Halloween read for this year that I will post on Halloween. I'm now off to cuddle someone and maybe have something strong to steady my nerves. Boo!