October has officially become Halloween season, and it is always a lot of fun to put anything horror into focus. While Bede and I will be watching horror films for our 31 Days Of Horror challenge, there are other horror medium’s you can feast your eyes on.
Horror books and stories are always a must for the season, there are so many gem’s out there just waiting to be seen. I have decided to make a list (no particular order) of some picks I believe are perfect for October. Some many well known, and others may not, if you the reader haven’t read any of these, they come with my highest of recommendations.
It was not until I had seen the 1986 film Re-Animator, that I had taken much notice of author H.P. Lovecraft, this was my introduction to his world. After seeing the original film, a classic horror/comedy from Stuart Gordon, I tracked down an Omnibus of Lovecraft’s work. It contained Herbert West – Reanimator, and the story did not disappoint.
Originally published in 1922 in serialized form, the story wasn’t actually one of Lovecraft’s favourites, in fact he only continued to write it because he was getting paid. Some have said this is one of his lesser works, but personally I disagree and think it is quite good and very compelling.
Part parody of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and part horror story, this is a great early example of the ‘zombie’ that has become extremely popular over the years. The work is the first mention of Miskatonic University, a name that would become associated with Lovecraft. There is a lot on offer, with adventures that get disturbing and horrific. Herbert West is a classic mad doctor, a character that any reader would likely not want to come across. He remains a memorable character and one that sticks out among Lovecraft’s work.
If you haven’t yet come across any written work from H.P. Lovecraft, this is a good place to start.
The List is a graphic novel that comes packing a punch to the gut. Coming from Melbourne based writer Paul Bedford, one has to wonder what went through his head as he wrote this, what sort of deep and dark place he went to, in order to create this. Be glad he did and came out well, because The List is not an experience that any reader will soon forget. With wonderful art by Henry Pop and Tom Bonin to go along with the story, this is a book that will be read from start to finish in one go.
It isn’t ideal to go into this experience with any knowledge or synopsis before hand, it is best to just jump into the experience and come up for air once done. It will stay with you, perhaps even keep you awake at night, not many pieces of writing have such a grand affect on its readers. The book is available through Amazon, and I assure you readers, this is a purchase you will not regret.
Here is an excerpt from my review “You won’t find anything else quite like this out there. This is something that you can get so much out of; you’ll be thinking about it and examining it and then find yourself going back again.”
Author Joe Hill is the son of famed horror writer Stephen King, and as they say the apple does not fall far from the tree. Joe Hill certainly has his father’s talents for telling a compelling and horrific story, yet their writing styles are very different and each can offer their own worlds. Horns is a memorable novel from Joe Hill, it is part horror, part fantasy and part crime, it doesn’t just contain itself within just one genre, it weaves through them successfully without fault.
The main character here known as Ig, wakes up one day to find horns growing from his head, the horns seem to come with strange powers and Ig must deal with more than just the horns. A short synopsis, the book is best read with just that, the story at hand unwinds with lots of twists and turns and the unexpected. When I dived into this book it really held my attention and I couldn’t put it down, once finished I was left thinking about it for days and something about it still haunts me to this day.
I do recommend reading the book before seeing the film adaption by Alexandre Aja, it is a good film and a worthy adaptation to Joe Hill’s work, the novel just contains a lot more that the film wasn’t able to put in. The film does showcase a great performance by Daniel Radcliffe, who was well suited to play Ig.
Thomas Harris made a name for himself with his creation of Hannibal Lector and Silence Of The Lambs (book and film), Hannibal is a memorable character and immortalized on screen by Anthony Hopkins who played the role several times on film. Whilst Silence Of The Lambs remains the more popular work, Red Dragon often gets over looked, and it really shouldn’t because the novel is fantastic and brutal.
Red Dragon is the introduction of Hannibal Lector, he is not a main character, but he certainly leaves a lasting impression. The story here is about former FBI Agent Will Graham (who tracked down Hannibal) who emerges from his retirement to help hunt a serial killer known as ‘The Toothfairy’ who targets families. In a similar vein as Lambs, Will Graham consults Hannibal about ‘The Toothfairy’ in order to try and find him. The mystery here is intriguing, and it unravels at the perfect pace and keeps readers on their toes.
If you haven’t read this book I highly recommend it, it works as a stand alone and I found it to be a quick read because I couldn’t put it down. A good follow up would be Michael Mann’s Manhunter where Hannibal is played by Brian Cox and the short lived TV series Hannibal, which takes a lot from this book. I consider this to be one of my favourite books, and I do actually prefer it out of the stories featuring Hannibal Lector.
The Woman In Black is a classic gothic ghost story, under 200 pages it is not a long read, but it is one you want to be long because it is so good you really don’t want it to end. There have been two films made based on the book, both quite different to each other but keeping closing to the essence of the book; funnily enough another adapted work on this list starring Daniel Radcliffe.
The main character Arthur Kipps is a solicitor who is hired to tend to the estate of an elderly woman named Alice Drablow who lived a recluse life at Eel Marsh House. Whilst away from his family and London, Arthur begins to experience strange things at Eel Marsh House and encounters a ghostly figured of a woman in black.
The story is told from Arthur’s point of view, as he is asked by his step children to tell a story, disturbed he decides to write down what happened to him many years ago. Susan Hill has written a classic with this novel, it is unsettling and unpredictable. There is something extremely creepy about the way she has written the story, and whilst reading the book it is quite easy to become startled and wonder if there is a ghost wondering around.
I absolutely loved this story, and I must thank my great friend Beatrix for sending me a copy as a gift, it has become a favourite and one I do want to revisit this Halloween season.
List written by Marcella Papandrea
Adore ‘The Woman In Black’.