TEN… creepy books to read this Hallowe’en

 

It’s definitely feeling autumnal here in London, even if the beautiful orange and gold of the turned leaves is being faded out by a lingering fog of almost Dickensian proportions. This weekend the clocks go back and it will be getting dark  and colder at around three o’clock in the afternoon! Definitely the right time of year for curling up with a spooky read. Here’s ten recommendations.

 

 

 

1. Dark Matter by Michelle Paver

 

January, 1937. Twenty-eight-year-old Jack is poor, lonely and desperate to change his life. So when he’s offered the chance to be the wireless operator on an Arctic expedition, he jumps at it. Five men and eight huskies, cross the Barents Sea from Norway by the light of the midnight sun. At last they reach the remote, uninhabited bay where they will camp. Gruhuken. But the Arctic summer is brief. As night returns to claim the land, Jack feels a creeping unease. One by one, his companions are forced to leave. He has to decide, stay or go. Soon he will see the last of the sun, the point of no return – when the sea will freeze. And Gruhuken is not uninhabited. Something walks there in the dark

 

2. The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan 

 

In Mary’s world there are simple truths. The Sisterhood always knows best. The Guardians will protect and serve. The Unconsecrated will never relent. And you must always mind the fence that surrounds the village; the fence that protects the village from the Forest of Hands and Teeth. But, slowly, Mary’s truths are failing her. She’s learning things she never wanted to know about the Sisterhood and its secrets, and the Guardians and their power, and about the Unconsecrated and their relentlessness. When the fence is breached and her world is thrown into chaos, she must choose between her village and her future—between the one she loves and the one who loves her. And she must face the truth about the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Could there be life outside a world surrounded in so much death?

 

3. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake

 

Cas Lowood has inherited an unusual vocation: He kills the dead.

So did his father before him, until his gruesome murder by a ghost he sought to kill. Now, armed with his father’s mysterious and deadly athame, Cas travels the country with his kitchen-witch mother and their spirit-sniffing cat. Together they follow legends and local lore, trying to keep up with the murderous dead—keeping pesky things like the future and friends at bay.

When they arrive in a new town in search of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, Cas doesn’t expect anything outside of the ordinary: move, hunt, kill. What he finds instead is a girl entangled in curses and rage, a ghost like he’s never faced before. She still wears the dress she wore on the day of her brutal murder in 1958: once white, but now stained red and dripping blood. Since her death, Anna has killed any and every person who has dared to step into the deserted Victorian she used to call home.

And she, for whatever reason, spares his life

 

4. House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski 

 

Years ago, when House of Leaves was first being passed around, it was nothing more than a badly bundled heap of paper, parts of which would occasionally surface on the Internet. No one could have anticipated the small but devoted following this terrifying story would soon command. Starting with an odd assortment of marginalized youth — musicians, tattoo artists, programmers, strippers, environmentalists, and adrenaline junkies — the book eventually made its way into the hands of older generations, who not only found themselves in those strangely arranged pages but also discovered a way back into the lives of their estranged children.

Now, for the first time, this astonishing novel is made available in book form, complete with the original colored words, vertical footnotes, and newly added second and third appendices.

The story remains unchanged, focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.

 

5. The Greatcoat by Helen Dunmore

 

A chilling and atmospheric ghost story by the Orange-prize-winning Helen Dunmore.

In the winter of 1952, Isabel Carey moves to the East Riding of Yorkshire with her husband Philip, a GP. With Philip spending long hours on call, Isabel finds herself isolated and lonely as she strives to adjust to the realities of married life.

Woken by intense cold one night, she discovers an old RAF greatcoat hidden in the back of a cupboard. Sleeping under it for warmth, she starts to dream. And not long afterwards, while her husband is out, she is startled by a knock at her window.

Outside is a young RAF pilot, waiting to come in.

His name is Alec, and his powerful presence both disturbs and excites her. Her initial alarm soon fades, and they begin an intense affair. But nothing has prepared her for the truth about Alec’s life, nor the impact it will have on hers …

 

6. This is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

 

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self.

To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live.

But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside.

When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

 

7. The Warrior’s Princess by Barbara Erskine

 

Jess, a young teacher in London, is attacked by someone she fears knows her well. Fleeing to her sister’s house in the Welsh borders to recuperate, she is disturbed by the cries of a mysterious child.

Two thousand years before, the same valley is the site of a great battle between Caractacus, king of the mighty Catuvellauni tribe, and the invading Romans. The proud king is captured and taken as a prisoner to Rome with his wife and daughter, the princess Eigon.

Jess is inexorably drawn to investigate Eigon’s story, and as the Welsh cottage is no longer a peaceful sanctuary she determines to visit Rome. There lie the connections that will reveal Eigon’s astonishing life – and which threaten to reawaken Jess’s own tormentor.

Barbara Erskine’s ability to weave together the past and the present, shedding light on a real but little-known figure, makes this a tremendous novel of Roman and Celtic history, passion and intrigue.

 

8. The House of Lost Souls by H. G Cottam

 

The Fischer House was the scene of a vicious crime in the 1920s – a crime which still resonates as the century turns. At its heart was a beautiful, enigmatic woman called Pandora Gibson-Hoare, a photographer of genius whose only legacy is a handful of photographs and the clues to a mystery. Paul Seaton was lured to the house ten years ago and escaped, a damaged man. Now three students will die unless he dares to go back. But this time he has Nick Mason at his side, and maybe Mason’s military skills and visceral courage will be enough

 

9. IT by Stephen King

 

To the children, the town was their whole world. To the adults, knowing better, Derry, Maine was just their home town: familiar, well-ordered for the most part. A good place to live. 

It was the children who saw – and felt – what made Derry so horribly different. In the storm drains, in the sewers, IT lurked, taking on the shape of every nightmare, each one’s deepest dread. Sometimes IT reached up, seizing, tearing, killing…
 
The adults, knowing better, knew nothing. 

Time passed and the children grew up, moved away. The horror of IT was deep-buried, wrapped in forgetfulness. Until they were called back, once more to confront IT as it stirred and coiled in the sullen depths of their memories, reaching up again to make their past nightmares a terrible present reality. 

10. The Winter Ghosts by Kate Mosse

 

In the winter of 1928, still seeking some kind of resolution to the horrors of World War I, Freddie is traveling through the beautiful but forbidding French Pyrenees. During a snowstorm, his car spins off the mountain road. Dazed, he stumbles through the woods, emerging in a tiny village, where he finds an inn to wait out the blizzard. There he meets Fabrissa, a lovely young woman also mourning a lost generation.

Over the course of one night, Fabrissa and Freddie share their stories. By the time dawn breaks, Freddie will have unearthed a tragic, centuries-old mystery, and discovered his own role in the life of this remote town.

 

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