Many thanks to the Daniel Boone Regional Library for providing all but one of my books this month! These are soooo not the sort of thing I would ordinarily buy, and so I kept their fabulous staff busy with all of my hold requests. Love my library!
Also, big thanks go out to my friends, who made many of the recommendations!
I also pulled recommendations from several online lists that I found when searching for Halloween books.
1. The Shining, Stephen King - Meh. I bought it a few years ago because it was recommended by a whole bunch of my friends. Call me crazy, I've never been much of a fan of King's. (The fact that he sometimes comes across in interviews and quotes as a complete know-it-all ass doesn't exactly endear him to me, either.) I was in the mood to start my month of scary books a few days early, and as I already had it on my shelves...this is what I started with. Meh. I've never particularly found the Kubric movie to be all that scary. (Crazy, I know, for someone who loves horror movies as much as I do.) As I've also seen the King-approved made for TV version which is pretty darn faithful to the book there just weren't any surprises to be had by actually reading The Shining. Meh.
2. Before I Go To Sleep, S.J. Watson - Yes, it took me a while to get into it. However, it was totally worth it. I would be remiss if I didn't point out that it reminded me of a dark version of the movie 50 First Dates. The nature of the beast also led it to feel like a less-well written shadow of Life After Life. The best part is that days later I was STILL contemplating the ending...and questioning what was going to happen the very next day.
3. Lost Boy Lost Girl, Peter Straub - Disappointing. I really didn't feel any tension, and rather than questioning the end I just accepted it at face value. Too many genres and ideas in one book? Perhaps. It was more successful as an examination of one family's relationships than it was as a scary book.
4. A Night In The Lonesome October, Roger Zelazny - Pretty funny to refer to a Halloween book as "Charming" but it was! I would probably let my girls read this book, even though there are a few curse words. Loved it.
5. A Prayer for the Dying, Steward O'Nan - This is a small book, and it's not at all a traditional horror book. (Although I did find it on a list of creepy books put out to celebrate Halloween.) Yes, the events portrayed in the book are truly horrifying....largely because they are exactly the sort of thing that HAS happened. Mostly, it's a heartbreaking look at love and loss. I cannot recommend this book enough. (Plus, it'll make you super glad we live in the era of modern medicine.)
6. Heart Shaped Box, Joe Hill - LOVED it! A very satisfying ghost story. I appreciated the fact that the action started right away, as I find a too slow build up to be a common problem among horror books. Likewise, the ending was awesome...again avoiding the common problem of just breaking off too soon. I simply loved the characters and I could not put it down. Since it was a real and true ghost story, it actually felt like the first true Halloween book of the month.
7. The Haunting of Hill House, Shirley Jackson (audio) - More of a character study than a scary book for me. Granted, I know (and laugh at) the movie, and although that took liberty with the original text it was familiar enough to not give me any surprises. I caught some character details that I loved, and I did appreciate the fact that this is the sort of ghost story where you never actually see the spooks. The reader was amazing, although this is the rare case where I wonder if I would have loved it more if I had read it instead of listened. Then again, had I not found it in downloadable audio I would not have added it to the reading list!
8. Something Red, Douglas Nichols - Ooooohhhhh, I LOVED it. To be honest, though, I loved it more because it fits more accurately within my beloved fantasy genre than it does in horror. Something Red is a shape shifter novel, following a small group of traveling folk through NW England in the thirteenth century. If you love and crave strong female characters, you will love this book. Molly - a displaced Irish queen who leads our band of travelers - is simply amazing.
9. The Little Stranger, Sarah Waters (audio) - A properly wonderful haunted house novel! Period and everything! Reminded me rather of Downton Abbey, in fact. Waters is amazing, and I'm glad I wound up with two of her books this month. Have to admit...I'm still wondering if the narrator was as reliable as he appeared to be...
10. Neverland, Douglas Clegg - I have mixed feelings. The book is Southern Gothic, and the unique but familiar characters are very well drawn. At its heart, it's a book about an unhappy family suffering through an awful vacation, with a healthy dose of crazy horror thrown in. The thing is, I just couldn't get through it. I tried multiple times to read it, and for some reason it never took hold of me. Given my gigantic pile of books this month, I decided to put it down and move on.
11. The Solitary House, Lynn Shepherd - While I did have a bit of trouble getting into this book at first, I'm really glad I gave it a good chance. As a lover of all thinks Dickens and Collins, I appreciated Shepard's use of Bleak House and A Woman in White (one of my all-time favorites!). True...at times I thought she was rather smugly being a tad too clever, and her POV was very tough to follow at times...but fun nonetheless and worth the extra effort to follow along.
12. Affinity, Sarah Waters - Sigh. Just when I'd decided that I love Sarah Waters. I made it 1/3 of the way though, and just couldn't care less about the protagonist. Spooky books only work if you care about the characters!
13. Dracula the Undead, Freda Warrington - Sooo much fun! I'll admit, I'm not normally fond of the trend in modern day to write 'sequels' to classic literature, but Warrington is a favorite of mine and I thought I would try it. Warrington's take on Bram Stoker's classic characters doesn't quite ring true..but it's close enough to be a fun ride!
14. Stoker's Manuscript, Royce Prouty - Fun fact, I just happened to notice this on the new book shelf at the library when I picked up the first batch of horror novels for the month. It was so new it wasn't listed on Goodreads yet! This is yet another take on Bram Stoker's classic...this time fusing 'history' with his manuscript and the 'truth' behind the book. It was a lot of fun, and I must admit that I love it when vampires are actually...you know...scary! (Not to knock the fuzzy vampire trend...I admit to enjoying it as well. I just like it a wee bit better when the vamps are actually monsters.)
15. The Shining Girls, Lauren Beukes - I was only able to fit this in because the library had it in downloadable audio. A time traveling serial killer. Awesome! Super-cool in audio because they used different voice actors for the different characters, which is always a treat. Loved Kirby, loved the style the book was written in and loved the concept!
16. Dr. Sleep, Stephen King - Nope, not a King fan, but I was curious and liked the idea of closing my month with the sequel to my first scary book. True, King's writing is much better in this book than it was in The Shining. True also that I found myself considerably more invested in the characters this time around. True, it was a much better reading experience because the story was fresh and new to me. I'll go so far as to say it's possibly the best King book I've ever read. (And now I never have to read another King novel....)