Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Reading

Although Fall officially starts in September but, for me, Halloween is the real indicator.  Autumn leaves, cool nights, pumpkins, Indian corn, corn candy and Halloween reading.  Okay, I'll admit I'm a wimp when it comes to scary/creepy.  Perhaps it comes from living alone, or from having paranormal encounters, but I still believe there could be monsters in the closet.

That said, I do still like books with that slightly creepy, might-be-possible paranormal element to them.  So here's my list of un-traditional Halloween reading, in no particular order.

GHOSTS by Ed McBain
I love books by McBain, particularly his early books.  It amazes me how he can create fully-developed characters, have multiple story lines and write an excellent police procedural in under 200 pages.  In "Ghosts" McBain gives us a double murder, a doppelganger psychic/medium, a blizzard and the ghost of a child.  I first read it many years ago and have never forgotten it.  

FAERIE TALE by Raymond E. Feist
Although Feist is considered a SciFi author, I love this book and read it every year or so. However, this is not your child's faerie tale even though it involves brotherly love and courage. It is fantasy; it is horror. It is creepy, dark, at times violent, at times sexual and always a page-turner. Those who love Celtic myth and Shakespeare will recognize magical elements of The Fool, elf-shot, Trooping Faeires, and more. It is one of those rare books that makes you feel as though it "could" be possible and causes even non-Catholics to wish for a vial of holy water, a silver sword and a true faerie stone.. Each time I read it, I find myself researching the legends and faerie folk involved, looking for erl-king hills and avoiding faeire rings at midnight on Midsummer's Night and All-Hallow's Eve. Next year, I'll remember to start earlier in the day so I'm not up until midnight finishing it. At least I wasn't in the woods. It's the blending of fantasy in contemporary life which, to me, makes this book so compelling, frightening and memorable.

THE MIDNIGHT ROAD by Tom Piccirilli
From the opening sentence, I found myself embroiled in Flynn's story.  Piccirilli's writing is lyrical, although a bit overblown.  He has an excellent ear for dialogue and knows when to use humor to provide a bit of balance to the dark.  This is an example where the weather becomes an essential element of the story, along with the talking dog.  The characters are eclectic and have violent histories.  I would have said this might not be my type of book, but instead, I found it a dark, intriguing, haunted and haunting book I couldn't put down.

This is the third book in DePoy's "Fever Devilin" series, which I love.  Set in the Georgia Appalachians, Devlin is a folklorist.  There is a paranormal aspect to each of the books in the series, but this was the one which was the most chills-up-the-spine scary.  

There are now five books in this series of which I've read the first three:
- The Weaver and the Factory Maid (2003)
- The Famous Flower of Serving Men (2004)
- Matty Groves (2005)
The title and plot of each book relates to an old English ballad with the protagonists being folk musicians.  I found the books quite well done and each book somewhat creepier than the last.

THE SHADOWY HORSES by Susanna Kearsley

Archaeologist Verity Grey's book believes he has finally found the location of the lost Ninth Roman Legion in Scotland because of a local boy who claims he's seen the ghost of a Roman soldier walking in the fields.  I'm sorry I don't have my review of this; I must re-read it.  I do remember it is one of my favorite books by Kearsley, and that's saying something.

There are others, of course.  I really liked Lillian Stewart Carl's books "Ashes to Ashes," "Dust to Dust," "Time Enough to Die," and "Lucifer's Crown."  None of these are particularly creepy/scary but they do use ghosts in an effective manner.  Then there are those series I read that are more paranormal/fantasy:
- Jim Butcher - Dresden series
- Simon R. Green - "Nightside" series
- Laurell K. Hamilton - Anita Blake series up through "Blue Moon" after which she lost me
- Charlaine Harris - Sookie Stackhouse series

I also want to include my favorite Halloween movie: PRACTICAL MAGIC  with Sandra Bullock, Nicole Kidman and Aidan Quinn. 

So there you are.  I know there are a lot of books I've forgotten.  Please let me know your personal favorites.

In the words of the old Scottish prayer:

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!

Happy Halloween and happy reading,


  1. LJ, I haven't read any of those books, so which ONE should I snag?

  2. Ghosts is very short and a quick read. Otherwise, Faerie Tale is a favorite of mine but it does get creepy. A friend of mine was reading and loving it but did call to ask whether she was old enough to read it by herself; she was 45 year's old at the time.

  3. I love all these suggestions. Have read a few, not all. I'm going to see if DePoy's THE MINISTER'S GHOST is in the Kindle store. On account of my depleted-till-January book budget and not having time to get to the library this weekend.
    -- Dianne

  4. I know what you mean, Dianne. My one breakdown is that I've ordered a signed, HC 1st edition of Dennis Lehane's new book. I've no business doing it, but I am.