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3 Spooky Books for the Halloween Season Print E-mail
Written by Severed Guest   
Friday, 07 October 2016


Halloween is still about a month away, but October is the season of horror, and fans of the genre love to set some time aside to enjoy scary new films and revisit the classics. But if you want something that can occupy you throughout the month of October leading up to the actual holiday, it might be a good idea to stock up on a few spooky books to dive into. Full horror doesn't always work particularly well in written form, because there's just a loss of shock value and atmospheric impact compared to film. But the books below are unsettling in their own ways while being perfect for creeping you out as we enter the season of scares.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

 It may seem like an obvious first choice, but let me ask you: have you ever actually read Dracula? A lot of us know the character and the general idea of the story, but haven't actually read Stoker's original 1897 novel. Yet that novel is recognized as a classic of horror, gothic, and vampire literature, and is well worth a read—particularly this time of year.

In case you're unfamiliar with the specifics of the story, Dracula tells the tale of the legendary vampire Count Dracula's creepy ways and his attempt to spread the vampire virus across Europe. It plays out largely in two ways, as an exploration of Dracula's character and a battle between Dracula and the forces of Van Helsing, a doctor attempting to thwart the spread of vampirism. The story is not horror in the sense we think of it today, so much as a gothic adventure tale. But it's certainly got its scary moments, and anyone who enjoys vampire lore today ought to enjoy it.

The book is particularly worthwhile given that there's really not a good modern cinematic adaptation of Stoker's tale. Dracula Untold came out a few years ago as the first of many planned Universal monster movies, but it was butchered by critics. One writer even suggested that you should go into watch the film taking everything you know about Stoker's novel and throw it out the window. I'd agree: the book is more worth your time. 

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

 This is another classic, in this case in the science fiction/horror genre, that many people know about but not as many (at least in younger generations) have read. Wells published the book, which is really more of a novella, toward the end of the 19th century, and it became an enduring work in its dual genres.

The plot is surprisingly straightforward for what some consider to be a canonical work. Basically, a strange man named Griffin arrives in a new town and takes up residence in an inn, only appearing publicly in an almost mummified state, wrapped in bandages and showing no skin. As it turns out, Griffin has made himself invisible through scientific experiments, and proves to be dangerous and bordering on insane as he attempts to delve deeper into his experimentation. It's probably a little scarier than Dracula, if we're comparing these works, though it's also a fascinating tale that, surprisingly, hasn't really been imitated very frequently over the past century-plus.

As with Dracula, there are no satisfying modern interpretations, save a few half-hearted television adaptations. There is a video game that fits into the online casino arcade genre, which is surprisingly adept at presenting an atmosphere in line with the original novella. Described as a slot machine taking queues from a 1933 film based on the work of Wells, it uses slot reels and a drawn background to capture the spirit of the turn-of-the-century era in which the story takes place—with a science fiction twist, of course.

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

 If you're looking for something more contemporary, this 2014 novel by David Mitchell may be just the thing. Mitchell has become one of the more popular modern writers in recent years, best known for Cloud Atlas but increasingly recognized for his unique, sensationally detailed writing style. Mitchell plays with reality in unexpected ways that can creep you out even if he goes nowhere near traditional horror motifs.

The Bone Clocks is a difficult book to summarize. Taking place over the span of a lifetime, it explores the idea of two secret, ancient mini-societies in conflict. Each has ways of becoming immortal, but one's good and the other's evil. More ordinary characters get wrapped up in the underground war being waged between these competing factions, and what ensues is a weird, captivating, and frequently unsettling story.

Mitchell also wrote a follow-up to The Bone Clocks. It wasn't a direct sequel, but a sort of spin-off tale with a similar style but less ambitious scope. Slade House, the spin-off, was described in reviews as arriving just in time for Halloween, and even drew some comparisons to ghost stories and the work of Stephen King. If The Bone Clocks looks or sounds a little intense, this smaller book may be a perfect October read also.











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