Tuesday, October 05, 2010

31 Things I Love About Halloween: Horror Books

As slowly as I read prose, it's not cheating to list this separately from Horror Comics. I can get through several graphic novels a week, but prose books of any length take me about a month, so I have to be very particular with which ones I commit to.

This season, I'm re-reading a couple of shorter novels. I should finish Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto tomorrow and then I'll dig into Stephen King's Carrie. If you're unfamiliar with Otranto, it's generally acknowledged as the first gothic romance and a major inspiration for books like Dracula and Frankenstein. It's got a spooky old castle, an evil nobleman, a couple of innocent young girls for him to terrorize, a mysterious stranger, a dangerous knight, a giant suit of sentient armor, and a ghost that materializes from a portrait. And it's only a little over a hundred pages. Highly recommended if you don't mind the archaic writing style, including extremely long paragraphs and no quotation marks to differentiate speakers in dialogue. It's very very readable, but not what you're used to.

Any of you guys reading anything good and spooky right now?


Wings1295 said...

Right now I am reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. Little slow, but interesting.

Another great "Halloween" read is Neil Gaiman's Graveyard Book!

Michael May said...

Ooh! I'd forgotten all about The Graveyard Book. I've been wanting to get to it and this would be a perfect time of year. Great suggestion.

Shawn said...

Have you heard about Libivox?
It's an online collaborative effort to make audio books of works that are in the public domain.
I've listened to a few...mostly the reading is pretty good, but sometimes not.
Castle of Otronto seems to be there for download:

John Rozum said...

Wings, I found that to be one of the worst books I've ever read. The main character is actually completely superfluous to the story. the ending is also a complete anticlimactic disappointment. That book was clearly rushed to publication in order to cash in on The DaVinci Code and could have used a lot more editing and at least a couple more drafts. I was angry that I didn't go with my instinct to quit about 100 pages in.

In the photo accompanying this post I heartily recommend Octavia Butler's "Fledgling" and Joe Hill's "20th Century Ghosts."

Wings1295 said...

John: I do agree with you about the book. More editing would have done this book a world of good.

Michael May said...

I've been meaning to check out Joe Hill for a while. Everyone says he's excellent.

Unknown said...

I was very impressed with Joe Hill.

I read books like a fiend, especially this time of year, but a few favorites that I've read recently -

Patient Zero and all three of the Pine Deep novels by Jonathon Maberry

The Strain, by Del Toro and Hogan, in anticipation of the second book

Vampire A Go-go by Victor Gischler

Trapped by JA Konrath

And I've got a pile of 'em on the To Read shelf. I love Halloween!

You can check out my reviews for those books on My Site, if you're interested.

I, Warren said...

I'm currently reading "The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New Horror", edited by Stephen Jones.

Jones has taken a story a year from the 20+ run of his "Best New Horror" short story anthologies and included them in this book.

The "Big Names" are represented (Stephen King, Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Peter Straub etc etc) alongside less well-known but equally good (or better!) authors.

While the label "Best" may be problematic (Jones freely admits in his intros to each story that another story than the one included here won this award or that accolade), it does a pretty good job of giving you a snapshot of what the horror short story landscape was like in a given year.

Some of the stories are far far stronger than others, but the sheer volume and variety means there were more hits than misses for me.

And hey, for $17.50 Canadian/$13.95 US for over 700 pages, you can't go far wrong!

Michael May said...

Kristopher, Vamipire a Go-Go sounds like something I'd enjoy. Thanks for the recommendation.

And Warren, I'm very interested in collections that show how things change through history. Eve recent history. Best of Best New Horror is a fascinating concept to me. Thanks!

Michael May said...

That should be "even" recent history. Oops.


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