What’s on Everyone’s Reading List this Time of Year?
There’s a crispness in the air and dead things crunching underfoot. It’s autumn, and with Halloween and Día de Muertos looming before us, nothing makes us feel cozier, and simultaneously unnerved, than a deliciously terrifying horror book.
We all know that the thriller, suspense, horror and paranormal genres are best consumed in book format. Sure, we love a good horror movie, and of course we enjoy the festive events surrounding the season like haunted houses and zombie walks, but admit it, there’s nothing more exquisite than wrapping your fingers around a mug of warmth while reading a good, scary story as the world around you dies in preparation for the looming winter.
Your top horror novel picks this Halloween season are:
1. Oubliette—A Forgotten Little Place by Vanta M. Black
There’s no getting away from the frenzy surrounding this gem. Fast-emerging as a stunning piece of pop-horror-literature, you’ll be sucked into the various character-driven storylines like a victim falling into Oubliette’s abyss.
Follow two quirky sisters as they jaunt to the Loire Valley in France to renovate a decrepit castle. While working, playing, and flirting, the stories of the unfortunate souls who met their demise within the castle’s oubliette (a pit or dungeon where prisoners were thrown and left to die) unravel around them.
Twists, unexpected turns, and scary-rabbit-like things are lurking within the book that one five-star reviewer calls, “unputdownable”. Based on real events, people, and legends, history enthusiasts will enjoy being whisked away to times like the period of the Black Death, the Reformation, the French Revolution, the Inquisition, and more.
Oubliette—A Forgotten Little Place has five star ratings on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Stacey Chillemi from The Huffington Post tells readers, “The ending of the book will leave you speechless as this well-paced thriller with supernatural touches gives you the surprise of your life…”
2. Madhouse by John Skipp, edited by Brad C. Hodson and Benjamin Kane Ethridge
Imagine madness as a plague, a sweeping infection that one could “catch”. In the middle ages many believed insanity was contagious; something that could be caught from others. What if, they were right?
Madhouse takes you to a deliciously-creepy mental hospital where staff try to figure out what’s causing the madness malady to spread while desperately holding onto their own sanity.
An anthology sewn together with an array of writings from some of the horror genre’s most talented authors, the book contains sanity-shattering tales from John Skipp, Jeff Strand, Scott Nicholson, Lisa Morton, John Palisano, and many others.
The art and illustrations in Madhouse augment the reading experience. The cover, which looks like a twisted mashup of Salvador Dali and Henry Fuseli, oozes with creepiness. Looking at the art is nearly hypnotic, and if one where to believe in the supernatural, one might imagine the image itself being possessed by a sinister force; you simply cannot look away from it!
3. Ghosts: A Haunted History by Lisa Morton
The most ubiquitous of supernatural entities, ghosts are depicted in every culture across the globe. Going back to the Epic of Gilgamesh, ancient Rome, the Middle Ages and beyond, Morton—an expert on Halloween and a master storyteller—delivers a comprehensive guide to ghosts with this book.
Tracing the ghost’s constantly shifting contours, Morton asks the most obvious question: “What exactly is a ghost?” She examines related entities such as poltergeists and wraiths. She asks how a ghost is related to the human soul, and gives you a comprehensive outline of the different types of ghosts, what they look like, what they do, and where they originated.
Whether you are a believer, a skeptic, or an agnostic hovering somewhere in between, you’ll be enthralled by this historical account of ghosts. The book is wide-ranging, informative, and adorned with over fifty imaginative images.
Praise for Ghosts: A Haunted History includes this review from Rue Morgue, “Ghosts is intelligent and well structured. It’s also well informed, which is apparent in the sheer volume of spectral examples that Morton has collected, yet her writing style remains accessible. . . . The perfect companion for those who err towards skepticism over embellishment yet still find themselves riddled in goose-pimples when they hear a creak in the floorboards in the dead of night.”
4. Midian Unmade: Tales of Clive Barker’s Nightbreed by Joseph Nassise and Del Howison
An all-original horror anthology set in the world of Clive Barker’s cult film masterpiece, Nightbreed, Midian Unmade includes stories from Seanan McGuire, Amber Benson, Karl Alexander, Nancy Holder, and Kevin Wetmore.
The collection of tales follows the monsters from Nightbreed after the fall of their city, Midian. Driven out of their homes, with most of their loved ones massacred right before them, they become a mostly-unseen diaspora. Some are hunted down, while others become the hunters. There are some who desperately seek refuge, while there are those who only want revenge.
The third story in the book is The Night Ray Bradbury Died by Kevin Wetmore. Beautifully written, it, along with the others in the collection, are the perfect accompaniment to a night snuggling by the fireplace as the wind outside whips up a howling vortex of moldering leaves.
With a forward by Clive Barker, fans as well as those new to Nightbreed, will enjoy this dazzling collection of horror short stories and appreciate the diverse styles and perspectives presented by such a talented mix of authors.
Ready for Something Really Scary?
These books, along with the authors and contributors who made them possible, will gather for a unique event on October 13th at the Flintridge Bookstore & Coffeehouse in Los Angeles. Titled The Dark Universe, an homage to the poem Nemesis by H.P. Lovecraft, the horror author’s panel is moderated by Vanta M. Black and promises to discuss ghosts, the paranormal, and all the horrifying topics we love during Halloween.