There’s a chill in the air again, a little tingle of anticipation. This is the one month of the year we look forward to being spooked. We wear fantastic costumes and don new personas, if just for a night. It’s October.
October is one of those months that deserves a good, creepy book. From classics to contemporary novels, I’ve rounded up a few of my favorites to share with you in honor of this ominous season.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman Coraline and her family have just moved into a new house, a subdivided building with three other tenants – former showgirls Miss Spink and Miss Forcible and Mr. Bobinsky, who is trying to train mice for a circus. As Coraline explores the new place, she stumbles across a small door that leads her to an alternative world and where she meets her “other” parents. While things at first seem to be perfect, much better than the real world, Coraline begins to see through the cracks and realizes there is a deadly price to pay if she decides to stay. Faced with having to release the lost souls of three children and escape her “other” parents, she must be brave and cunning to outsmart the being behind the madness.
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde Basil Hallward has painted a beautiful portrait of his friend Dorian Gray, perhaps the best painting he has ever created, and he gifts it to his subject. It is praised as eerily life like, and Dorian Gray soon comes to realize it will preserve his youth and beauty while he will wither away. Corrupted by Lord Henry into the belief that his beauty is all he has in life, Dorian wishes the painting would age and deteriorate while he remains as he is. His wish comes true. As he explores the wonders and vices of the world, the painting becomes physically decrepit. But at what price has Dorian agreed to pay and what will his sins cost him in the end?
Hater by David Moody Things are calm, well boring, almost, in the world. That is, until the news starts reporting on a rush of extremely violent assaults. Loved ones, friends, and complete strangers have begun attacking, most often killing each other, and there’s no explanation. It soon becomes clear there are two kinds of people in the world: the unchanged and the haters. Everyone is at risk to change into killing machines or to become victims, no matter the age, gender, race, or religion. Within a short time frame, society is forced to shut down. As Moody’s website puts it, “ATTACK FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER becomes the order of the day…only, the answers might be much different than what you expect….”
Edgar Allan Poe I realize it may be fairly cliché to add Edgar Allan Poe to an October reading list, but there’s a good reason he’s so often recommended. Poe is the ultimate goose-bump master. His stories are chilling and disturbing, even nowadays when much more blood and gore are flashed across the film screen on such a regular basis. It’s in what he doesn’t say as much as what he does. I can’t even recommend which story in particular. I do dare you, though, to move beyond the over-told classics of “The Raven” and “The Fall of the House of Usher”, as fantastic as they are, and explore his other works. You won’t regret it.
Cotton Bales, Goatmen & Witches: Legends from the Heart of Texas Compiled by Bradley T. Turner and Photographs by Mark Burdine TSTC Publishing has its own spooky book to add to the mix. Gathered from the citizens of Central Texas, these stories bring to life the whispered stories and forgotten secrets that illuminate the darkest recesses of the Texas psyche from the distant past to the present day. While it will not be available for purchase until November, I highly recommend checking out a few of our sample stories, which can be found under the “About Us” heading on this blog. They are perfect for sharing at Halloween parties and for spooking your friends and family members on dark evenings.