Dark Fiction for Halloween

Discussion in 'Other Literature' started by Alicia, Aug 12, 2015.

  1. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    With October just a couple of months away, I thought this might be an appropriate subject. Certain kinds of Horror books are traditional for Halloween, especially ghost stories. Do you look for scary books to read near Halloween? If so, what are some of the best you've encountered?
     
  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    How about Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Hound of the Baskervilles? It's one of my favourite instalments in the Sherlock Holmes stories and a great mystery full of misdirections.

    Other Gothic works great for Halloween would be Stoker's Dracula and Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.

    I would also recommend Collins' The Woman in White or The Moonstone (another epistolary novel like Dracula). Whilst Collins' novels don't evoke the kind of horror and grotesqueness in Stoker's or Stevenson's works, they are nonetheless full of the mystery and suspense conducive to a Halloween spirit. They also have the distinction of being amongst the earliest works of detective fiction.

    I'm not familiar with many ghost stories, but I did read Henry James' Turn of the Screw for school. I personally found it a little boring at the time (I would have been 14), but others loved it and it's a regarded as a classic. I do remember enjoying the 2001 ghost story film The Others and would also recommend the 1994 industrial-Gothic film The Crow (first film only) based on James O' Barr's comic.

    If you don't mind graphic novels, then check out From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell. It's a masterful take on Jack the Ripper. Most comics written by Alan Moore are at the very top echelon of literary quality - sophisticated, multi-layered and most of his major works have all broken new ground in the medium.

    And if you really DO like comics, then John Constantine: Hellblazer (the initial run written by Jamie Delano - first 40 or so issues - the link takes you to the first collected volume which includes issues 1-9 from the series) is just so, so good. Distinctly British in it's cynical attitude, snark and style (though the snark is emphasised on Garth Ennis' run right after Jamie Delano). Stories about a Cockney 'sorcerer' and deceptive confidence man navigating the grey lines between the ambiguous powers of light/good and dark/evil, trying to maintain balance often to very detrimental effects (on himself and esp. others). Dresden Files this ain't. John Constantine was created by Alan Moore for his stint on the The Saga of the Swamp Thing, another title transmuted by Moore's Midas touch.

    Definitely Richard Matheson's I Am Legend. If you've been unfortunate enough to have seen the recent screen adaptation with Will Smith, please put it out of your mind completely and pick up the tense, melancholic and chilling short novel.

    As a kid, I used to love the film The Goonies (probably still do even though I haven't seen it in over two decades) and I think it would be a great adventure to watch for Halloween, especially if you have young children. Nothing scary about the film, but it still screams Halloween spirit to me.
     
  3. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    I really do need to read Hound of the Baskervilles. It's too well known not to. I've read Jeckyll & Hyde and Frankenstein, but need to catch up with Dracula. The Crow is awesome!

    I do have ghost stories in mind though. Legend of Sleepy Hollow is also on my Halloween tbr, but I'm looking out for lesser known works.
     
  4. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I've also never read this classic.
    Most definitely! I love everything about the movie and the soundtrack remains one of my favourites. I even have a VHS tape of the movie where the cover is signed by James O'Barr. Got it for $25 bucks in 1995 in L.A.
     
    TomTB likes this.
  5. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    Awesome!
     
  6. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I thought of a few more stories that might work for Halloween.

    Edgar Allan Poe is a must for Halloween, and a must any other time, too. I'm specifically thinking of two stories: "The Fall of the House of Usher" - a ghost story with a pretty ghastly conclusion; and "The Cask of Amontillado" - the story of a man enacting revenge on another who previously slighted him. These two stories are very claustrophobic and a good collection should contain both.

    How about Arthur Miller's play The Crucible? Whilst not technically dealing with the supernatural, it depicts the lengths to which people will go to when taking advantage of the extant mass hysteria and the atmosphere of fear and distrust - in this case the hysteria during the Salem witch trials. Very, very good play and doubly scary because of the lies, deceit and accusations that spin out of control.

    The stories of Franz Kafka. They are weird, sometimes grotesque and sometimes absolutely brutal. "Metamorphosis" is the story most cited, but "In the Penal Colony" is one of the most brutal and disturbing I've ever read.

    Cormac McCarthy's The Road is a post-apocalyptic fantasy and it is harrowing. It's the story of a father and son journeying together after a global cataclysm, and whilst there is horror aplenty, it's really about maintaining that flicker of hope in truly dark times. A beautiful little novel beautifully told.

    Did you by any chance take a look at Alan Moore's From Hell? I'm taking a guess here by saying that comics are not your preferred medium, but I think you should dive into the works of Alan Moore with an open mind. Also, I find that for a medium as visual as comics, they really are best experienced as a tangible, paper product.
     
  7. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    I'm not a big comic fan but Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman are exceptions. Also Elfquest.

    I've read most of Poe. The others could be possibilities, though I do prefer supernatural stuff for Halloween.
     
  8. mariasmith

    mariasmith New Member

  9. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    @Alicia, did you figure out which titles to read for Halloween?
     
  10. Alicia

    Alicia Well-Known Member

    Found some good ones.
    Legend of Sleepy Hollow is next up.
    A Halloween Tale by Austin Crawley was excellent.
    Joyland by Stephen King also really good, but not scary.
     

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