Halloween is on the way, and some spooky reads are certainly in order. I haven’t really read very many ‘ghost’ or ‘horror’ stories, so the books on the list I’ve put together, don’t quite fall in that category–perhaps they are more mysteries than horror–but most do have something that makes them right for the season. So here goes. (This might have a few minor spoilers).
The Hound of the Baskervilles by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is the third of four full-length novels featuring Sherlock Holmes. Here Holmes and Watson are called by a Dr. James Mortimer to look into the mysterious death of his friend, Sir Charles Baskerville who was found dead on his estate with an expression of horror on his face. The footprints of a giant hound are found nearby, and there is the story of a curse on the family. Sir Henry Baskerville the the new heir, and Dr Mortimer fears for his life. Of course, there are mysterious happenings soon after Sir Henry arrives from Canada, including an anonymous note warning him away. I read this book a few years ago after a long gap, and I loved the atmosphere, which is perfect for this season.
Incidentally, I would also recommend the version on the TV show Sherlock (Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman) which was one of its episodes (The Hounds of Baskerville) I really enjoyed. The spookiness was done very well, and the solution was pretty interesting as well.
Jane Eyre on a spooky list? No I didn’t just put this in simply because it’s one of my favourite books. This is of course the story of a orphan Jane Eyre who after sometime in the care of some horrendous relations, is sent to an as awful school (luckily with a few redeeming features) and then finds herself at Thronfield Hall, the home of the Rochesters as governess to a young girl, Adele. But things at Thornfield Hall are not quite as they seem, mysterious noises at night and further frightening occurrences indicate a secret. Not only these elements, but some of those symbolic ones like the storm and the splitting of the tree, definitely make this one for the season.
(On this account may be Wuthering Heights will also fit in, but I really don’t like that book one bit).
Though a few of Eva Ibbotson’s young person’s books would fit in here, Dial a Ghost is one I read recently, and this certainly makes for a Halloween read. While this is not scary in any way, ghosts and ghouls are among the main characters including a pair of shriekers, who love to smear blood around, harm children, and of whom Lady Sabrina wears a python around her neck. I found this a really enjoyable read, and if you’re looking for something with spooks but which is still light-hearted and fun, this one is a good choice.
This penny dreadful is the tale of Lieutenant Thornhill who goes into a barber shop run by Sweeney Todd and disappears never to be seen again. Others have vanished the same way. Thornhill’s friend Col. Jeffrey and Joanna Oakley set out to investigate, and how Thornhill and others disappeared and where they ended up (especially the latter) is definitely horrifying if one doesn’t know it already (even if one does, really), and perfect for a Halloween read.
In this short story by Agatha Christie (part of the Regatta Mystery and Other Stories), a man sees a vision of a beautiful young woman being strangled by a man with a scar. Later he meets and falls in love with her, and noticing that her fiance has a scarred neck, warns her off. But fate cannot be defeated all that easily, as the man (and the reader) finds out in this chilling short tale.
In a Glass Darkly is also the name of a collection of supernatural stories by J. Sheridan le Fanu, which also certainly fits the bill, but since I haven’t read these yet, I am not including in this list. But if you’ve read it, or plan to, I’d love to hear what you thought of it.
Another short story, Royal Jelly by Roald Dahl is about a young couple whose new baby is very weak and does not eat. To get it to do so, they try something innovative, but the results… well, that’s why its on this list! Definitely an element of the creepy, as is apparently the rest of the collection, it’s part of but I haven’t read.
I also have to mention two collections that I haven’t read so far, but which are definitely perfect for the season.
These two story collections bu Daphne Du Maurier are ones I definitely want to read and they promise to be bone chilling and surprising. So this seems to have turned into a list of not only recommendations, but a ‘want to read’ one as well!
So, have you read any of the books on this list? Did you find them spooky or simply mysterious. What are your Halloween reading plans? Any spooky or bone-chilling titles you’d like to recommend? Looking forward to hearing all about them!