Have you got your pumpkins ready? In just over one week, Halloween will be upon us! There’s a noticeable chill in the air and there’s nothing better than curling up under a blanket, lighting some candles, and digging into a spooky read at this time of year.
What better place to start than with Bram Stoker’s original that birthed many of the subsequent codes of the vampire genre? Dracula is a popular villain that appears time and time again both in adult and children’s stories but I get the impression that a lot of readers are yet to dive into the story where it all began. This gothic novel was published way back in the nineteenth century but it’s lost none of scariness since then. If you’re only going to read one book this Halloween, make it this one.
I’m sure many of you will know the story of Dorian Gray, a beautiful, young man who indulges in just about every sin you can think of before his hedonistic lifestyle leads to his death. What sets this book a little apart from the others featured on this list is that it has a philosophical element to it. I absolutely love this style of nineteenth century literature that analyses and critiques the impulses of the upper classes of previous centuries and hope you will too!
Frankenstein is one of my favourite classics ever. A common misconception is that Frankenstein is the monster, but he is actually the scientist operating on the monster (though I suppose, metaphorically he is the monster of the story). Whilst the portrayal of the monster in popular culture seems to revolve around a large green entity with bolts holding his brain together, what you’ll find in the book is a much more complex and heartbreaking story.
I studied this novel at school a long, long time ago and it gave me both nightmares and a fear of the English countryside. Sherlock Holmes and Watson are called in to investigate the death of Sir Charles Baskerville of Baskerville Hall. The backdrop to this story is Dartmoor, the sort of place that’s always shrouded in mist and is home to creatures of the dark (supposedly). The story is inspired by the legend of a supernatural Hound on the moors and, of course, there’s a mystery to be solved. This is the only Holmes novel I’ve read by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle but it’s a damn good place to start.
Obviously with the recent film release, I had to include Stephen King’s IT. Would you believe this cult classic is actually King’s 22nd book? I had no idea he’d written such a large volume of books! IT follows the story of seven young children who are terrorised by Pennywise the Dancing Clown, aka IT. The novel alternates between two time periods dealing with childhood trauma and how that follows us into our adult lives. The film has been a big hit at the box office so if you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you grab the book and then book your tickets!
Poe is widely regarded as the pioneer of romanticism. His short stories and poems are well renowned for their gothic quality and he writes a lot about death and mourning. Start with “The Raven” and see what takes your fancy from there. These are perfect if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands but want to read something really good in really short bursts.
Are you a fan of the horror genre? What spooky or gothic reads would you recommend?
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