It’s the right time of year for a little atmospheric reading material. I’m not much into gore, and “horror” movies are really hit and miss for me, since there is so much of that built into so many of them, so curling up with a good spooky book is more my cup of tea.
In the misty, chilly nights of October, my preferences lean toward novels that are suspenseful, eerie, know how to set the mood with imagery…and preferably feature a ghost (or at least the possibility of a ghost) in them.
Here are three novels that I can recommend. Well, only two, really, because I’m still reading the third. But the writing so far is good, and she’s the author of Book #2, so I’m going to predict it will be a good story as well.
Book #1 – The Turn of the Screw, by Henry James
This has got to be one of the most masterfully written suspense/thriller/psychological studies I’ve read. It’s short – a novella, really. And it’s Victorian in setting and style, so be forewarned that there is a lot of description and long, complex sentences. The author also leaves it to the reader to decide whether there is a ghost or a case of paranoid delusion, brought on by the stifling Victorian societal pressures/a case of sexual hysteria, so if you despise a story that doesn’t leave everything neatly tied up in a bow, then this one may not be for you. There is also a pretty good and faithful-to-the-novella film version put out by PBS and starring Jodhi May, with a smaller role played by Colin Firth.
Book #2 – The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill
Yes, this is the novel that inspired the recent film starring Daniel Radcliffe, of Harry Potter fame. However, the novel uses a framing technique (beginning in the “present” for one of the characters and then shifting to the story itself) and ends quite differently from the film. There was also a play made from the story, along with several earlier screen versions. The British television version from 1989, while low budget, has plenty of atmosphere and chills, and I saw it before I read the novel or watched the more recent 2012 film.
Book #3 – The Mist in the Mirror, by Susan Hill
This is the one I’m reading now, and so far, so good. I don’t know much about it yet, except that I enjoy the author’s use of description to set the mood and tone. As a writer, I admire the development of atmosphere, along with character and plot, and Susan Hill seems to do this quite well. Stay tuned to hear more about this one….or if you’ve read it, feel free to tell me what you thought of it – or any of these texts – in the comments. If you have other recommendations that would be great too. 🙂 Happy reading!
11 thoughts on “Some Spooky Reading”
Just got done with my Halloween read the devouring today.
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Is it a vampire or werewolf type story, or something else? I don’t think in familiar with it but I’m always looking for another good read. 🙂
Well it is about the creatures who are a lot like dementors from Harry Potter but on the night before Christmas they try to take over people bodies through letting them see their worst fears.
Ah, thanks. Sounds really creepy!
I just picked up Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children. My coworker read it and loved the story and the eery photos that are in it. I just bought it and can’t wait till I can sit down and read it. I think the next one that I might get is book one you suggested, The Turn of the Screw. Thank you.
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I hope you enjoy The Turn of the Screw. It’s a little dense in style since it was written so long ago, but if you don’t mind that kind of thing it’s pretty good.
I’ve also read Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children and enjoyed it a lot. The pics are cool. In fact I liked the technique so much that I used some photos in my own upcoming novel. They give a little kick of personal connection to a text. Thanks for commenting!
I’m looking forward to the style. I’ve been on a look out for a good horror novel. The cover sold me. I hope I can create an eye catching cover like Ransom Riggs.
I’d love to hear what you thought after you’ve read. I didn’t feel it was a horror story so much as a kind of fantasy adventure. Still enjoyed though.
I will let you know. It might take some time. I’m a slow reader. Lately I’ve been getting a bit faster since I’ve listening to audiobook. A good listen is A Curious Dream by Mark Twain. Mark has a conversation with a skeleton in a graveyard. It’s a half hours long. A great tale for October.
Ps. Thank you for visiting my blog.
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Finished it. Sorry it took me a while to write back. I really enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. The story was captivating, I couldn’t put it down. The blend of story and photographs kept my attention to the last word. I’d love to live in a loop. I just got paid so I’m off to the book store to get Hollow City.
How’s yours coming along?