Halloween approaches and I’m back to share ten of my most beloved scary books. Some contemporary, others classic, all bring moments of fright and delight to this hallowed time of year.
Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl since January of 2018. Jana writes, “it was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together.” In that spirit, link up with your list at That Artsy Reader Girl and comment with your list, link, or thoughts below.
10. Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural, haven’t read all of these yet, but had to feature it. Isn’t that cover chilling? The artwork is the reason I snatched up this thrift copy, and I was excited to find lesser-known stories by Poe, Shelley, Matheson, H.P. Lovecraft and even J.R.R. Tolkien.
9. Midnight by Dean Koontz- read waaaay back in my youth. My first Koontz book was the best of the 10-15 I barreled through during my horror phase. The story is dated now, but that opening scene is one of the most frightening passages I’ve ever read.
8. The Chalk Man by C.J. Tudor. Ah, this tale comes back to me as startling images every so often. The plot plays on childhood fears quite well, but even scarier, it mercilessly ferrets out the hidden darkness of adulthood.
7. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. A classic for a reason. Now that I’ve recently traveled unfortunate Ichabod’s trail through Tarrytown, Irving’s densely descriptive setting has come to life in my imagination.
6. Through the Woods by Emily Carroll. Sinister, sparse, and gory. These graphic tales of unexplained phenomena and spirits with unsettling motives work especially well set in the nostalgic isolation of pre-cell phone days.
5. The Passage by Justin Cronin. Vividly terrifying on many levels; government experiments gone awry, super vampires, a child possessed with extraordinary powers, end of days panic and [my favorite part] the breach and fall of the last safe place on earth.
4. Stephen King’s books could occupy their own top ten post. However, both The Stand and The Dark Half remain constant horror favorites to me. Whether the battle between good vs. evil encompasses the entire world, or the space within one man’s psyche-King reigns supreme.
3. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden. A Russian folk/fairytale combining ancient magic, zealots, a creepy encounter with a recently dead upyr, and a smidge of witch/wizard romance. This novel gave me actual goosebumps while reading. Unfortunately the second of the trilogy was a letdown, but I still recommend this book for a spooky one-off thrill.
2. Birdbox by Josh Malerman. Nonstop tension gave my fight-or-flight muscles an imaginative workout.
1. The Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King. An underrated entry in King’s canon, perhaps due to its graphic novel format. A thrilling mysterious build-up with resourceful child ‘detective’ characters captured long before the Stranger Things kids came to be. The encounter on the covered bridge between wheelchair-bound Marty and the villainous werewolf he exposes equals definitive horror brilliance.
Reviewing these titles caused me to realize I prefer eldritch tales of isolation and madness over the traditional witches, spooks and vampire stories. Have you read any on my haunting list? What’s the scariest book you’ve read?