Scary Reads for Halloween

October is upon us and we all know what that means. Halloweeeeeeeen! So lets get some scary shit started. Now I know its the 14th already and I’m a slow coach / lazy bastard (delete where appropriate) so let’s not waste anymore time. Without further ado and rambling chat let’s get cracking.

Over the next couple of weeks I have some spooky soundtrack reviews planned, horror movie reviews and the best Netflix recommendations for the season. So stay tuned if you’re interested in any of that.

But for now I thought I’d start in the old fashioned way – and recommend some books.

Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist

You know how annoying it is when you’ve just really enjoyed a film only to be told “the book is so much better”. Well in this instance I’m afraid that irritating and slightly pretentious sentence could actually be true.

I read Let the Right One In after I’d seen both adaptations and I wouldn’t say I enjoyed it loads more as such but to cut a long story short (no pun intended) it’s just so much more horrific. The book goes into territory that neither movie would ever have dared and the subject matter goes way darker. It’s a fantastic debut novel – well written, gripping and also pretty gross. Which is always good.

I’ve read other books by Lindqvist and though none of them impressed me as much as Let the Right One In, one thing that constantly stood out is he knows how to create characters. And flawed characters at that. There’s never anyone particularly “good” in his novels, there’s a layer of darkness over everyone, even main characters.

Of course we’re all familiar with this particular story – Oskar and Eli (or their apple pie cousins Owen and Abby), fangs, snow, bullies and blood. Oh and some angry cats. Yep it’s a great film. But in the original story the depravity goes waaaaaay further and though it’s horrible it’s also kind of awesome.

Salem’s Lot – Stephen King

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It’s true I could have used any number of Stephen King novels for this post but I always remember – with genuine fondness – just how badly Salem’s Lot scared me the first time I read it. Which was only about nine years ago – I wasn’t a kid or anything!

Stephen King, he just has…..a knack for what he does. A way of really getting into the reader’s head and I’ve never been scared in the same way when reading stuff by other horror authors. With King you really believe it’s real sometimes.

I had a pinnacle moment with Salem’s Lot when I realised (to some dismay) that I couldn’t actually read the book at night anymore. I constantly imagined the awful fang-shaped things that were surely lurking outside my window and I resigned the book to daytime use only. An absolute corker of a vampire novel with real old school echoes.

Collected Ghost Stories – M.R. James

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M.R. James actually helped to formulate the creepy, crawling ghosts we know today in modern film and literature. Before James time, ghosts only really existed in gothic horror and were all ‘white sheets and rattling chains’. James wrote his ghost stories in a more contemporary style (and setting) which made his stories far more relatable to the reader  which also made them scarier and more realistic.

I used Collected Ghost Stories for illustrative purposes but there are tons of books around dedicated to his short stories and some publications may be cheaper than others. It’s also worth mentioning that whilst I was writing this post I discovered a podcast dedicated to his stories – A Podcast to the Curious – that’s got to appeal to you hip, trendy, smart phone using bloggers, hasn’t it? And having listened to a few ‘creepy pastas’ on youtube I know how effective it is, listening to a scary story whilst sitting in a dark room. Ha, who am I kidding. I’ve never been brave enough to sit in a dark room whilst listening to a scary story!

But whatever route you go down, you must be sure to read the story ‘Oh Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’ – it’s my personal favourite M.R. James and it’s really, really spooky.james2

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About emmakwall

Films, books, soundtracks, good humour
This entry was posted in Miscellaneous, Random Writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

40 Responses to Scary Reads for Halloween

  1. Emma, I’m so glad you mentioned this: You know how annoying it is when you’ve just really enjoyed a film only to be told “the book is so much better”. Well in this instance I’m afraid that irritating and slightly pretentious sentence could actually be true.
    I find it irritating usually as well. Just because how can anybody expect the movie and the book to be the same thing? And that’s usually the reason cited as to why the book was better, because the movie cut out this or that. Drives me insane. There’s a quote I always use from the Chocolate author whose name I can’t remember at this second that basically says “You would expect a cow and a hamburger to look the same.” One comes from the other and that’s fine. But still, there are instances when I think the movie really isn’t a well done adaptation (like The Lovely Bones.)
    I have seen Let the Right One in and LOVE IT so if the book is even better than say no more! My friend told me the book was really disgusting though and made her want to barf haha.
    Spooky book recommendations are the best, thank you!!

  2. Thanks for the recommendations Emma, I’ll need to check out that last book! Intrigued by the horror podcast too — I’ll probably be pressing pause a lot.

    • emmakwall says:

      No problem Adam! Thank you for reading them 🙂

      Yes that was quite a cool find, I was just looking up M.R James and it was one of the first sites google came up with. I can’t imagine much better than a cold winter evening listening to ghost stories!

      I’ll definitely be pressing pause a lot too 😀

  3. Haven’t read any of those but I suppose I should change that at some point. Right now I am reading Anne Rice’s latest – Prince Lestat.

  4. I loved Let the Right One In and Salem’s Lot! Awesome choices Ems. I’m ashamed to say I haven’t read any of M.R. James’ work, so I’m going to see if I can find any of his books the next time I visit the library. Have you tried any H.P. Lovecraft?

  5. I love Let the Right One In – the foreign original version is best. And now, I have to read the book – gross, you say??? I’m in!!

  6. beetleypete says:

    Salem’s Lot is very good, I agree. I now want to read ‘Let The Right One In’, after your comments, as I enjoyed the (original) film so much, and the book sounds even better!
    Thanks, Em!
    Best wishes, Pete. x

    • emmakwall says:

      Thank YOU Pete – you’re always so nice to me 🙂

      I’m glad we agree yet again!! I hope you do read Let the Right One In, I think it’s well worth reading, I honestly do! 😀

      I know you don’t celebrate Halloween too much but please tell me you’re dressing Ollie up as a pumpkin or something?!

      Ems x

      • beetleypete says:

        Not a chance, Em. Ollie is a dog who is never dressed up. Doggy dignity must be maintained!
        I checked Amazon for the ebook. It’s still a fiver. When it comes down in price, I will get it for my Kindle app. (I resent paying much for electronic books that cost so little to produce!)
        Always trying to be nice, Pete. x

  7. Colin says:

    Hard to beat M R James in my opinion, as good as it gets really. Here’s a slightly left-field suggestion: try some John Dickson Carr (He Who Whispers</em, The Three Coffins, The Burning Court for example) for a detective yarn with a distinctly M R James-style supernatural twist.

    • emmakwall says:

      I agree (I saved the best to last!)

      Don’t think I’ve ever read John Dickson Carr but thank you so much for the tip, I’m going to look him up now 🙂

      He Who Whispers….sounds darn freaky!!!

  8. movierob says:

    I don’t like scary books or movies at all, but I have been known to read some of King’s non-horror stuff. When I do venture into this territory, I don’t read or watch at night also, so u aren’t alone Ems!

    • emmakwall says:

      I know you love Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption 🙂

      Have you ever heard of The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon? It’s Stephen King and it is a horror novel I suppose but far more psychological and the protagonist is a young girl lost in the woods. Perhaps you’d enjoy?

      It’s weird, I love horror movies etc but I’m still such a wimp!!!!! Well, only of the supernatural stuff really.

      • The Vern says:

        I read the pop up book version of The Girl who Loved Tom Gordon. It wasn’t bad, it was like a Del Toro Fairy Tale like vision mixed with King’s writing. Those two should collaborate more

      • movierob says:

        Perhaps. I finished 11-22-63 a few weeks back, loved it and then Rage for the upteenth time this past week. Really wanna read and reread more of his stuff. Im eyein IT and The stand too b/c its been over twenty years since I read them

  9. alexraphael says:

    Sometimes I think Steven King must have born on Halloween haha.

  10. vinnieh says:

    I need to get my peachy bum into gear and read some of these, especially at this time of year.

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