A Sunday Scare Up

I’m starting to realize that a month is way too short a time to list and review some of my favourite horror/bordering-horror books and series. So here’s a short (inconclusive) list of some books I like going back to for thrills and chills:

1. The Graveyard Book* by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean

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Why You May Like This One:  It’s a gothic take on The Jungle Book, you guys. Only, instead of animals there are ghosts. But like The Jungle Book there is danger, and friendship, and heartbreak, and growing up. It’s just beautiful. The illustrations are, as usual with McKean, gorgeous and add that extra thrill to the story. So if you know someone who likes Kipling but is uncertain about scary books, then this is a good way to add a little horror to their bookshelf.  It is also a book that I think any age can read. Also, one of my favourite first lines.

Why You May Not: Well, honestly, maybe this book isn’t scary enough. The thing about Gaiman is that he loves his classics and he loves his fairytales, folklores, and mythologies. reading his stuff is like going through a creepy treasure hunt in search of interesting literary references. His brand of scary (for kids’ books, at least) is quite subtle. But that is not to say that his story is lacking in plot. It just doesn’t (IMHO) deliver that thrill of fear that you might be seeking. In which case, read on!

2. The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein (series) by Kenneth Oppel

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Why You May Like This Series: I love well-written adaptations, and Kenneth Oppel just knows how to deliver on that front. If you like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this series is definitely worth exploring.Oh, but if you don’t like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this series is still worth reading. Oppel not only introduces Victor Frankenstein to a new generation of readers, but also introduces gothic tropes, real historical events, and makes it accessible for all levels of readers. (Levels, I said levels, not ages!) It is a gripping series.

Why You May Not: Oh yes, there is horror, and fantasy, and madness, but there is also a love triangle. I imagine that some of you are tired of this. Also, I WANT MY TRILOGY, but I don’t think Oppel is working on one …

3. Cirque du Freak (series) by Darren Shan

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Why You May Like This Series: Admittedly, I discovered the series only because it had Jo Rowling’s review stamped on the cover. But I did really love what I read. This series is the one that finally allowed me to move on from Christopher Pike and R. L. Stine. It is fantastical, horrific, the characters and enigmatic but also well-written, and there is never a dull moment.

Why You May Not: Too much horror, perhaps? (Though I’m certain this is tamer than Shan’s other stuff.) Also, it is a pretty long series. (I myself have never finished it, though I am tempted to go back and start over!)

4. Zombies Vs. Unicorns (short story anthology) edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier

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Why You May Like This One: It’s one of those collections where there are so many different kinds of stories with so many writers, there’s bound to be at least one that is right for you. For my part, I loved at least 90% of the stories. Yes, even some of the unicorn ones were awesome.

Why You May Not: Unicorns.

5. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (series) by Ransom Riggs

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Why You May Like This One: Firstly, good writing. Secondly, such a great concept- found photographs that prompt a story? Awesome. Thirdly, parallel worlds. Lastly, if the X-Men weren’t mutants but circus freaks with odd powers, this would be their story, I think.

Why You May Not: It’s not as gripping as you would expect, I guess. And well, there’s the odd supernatural/human pairing which, I guess, only irks me? I don’t know. Apart from that, really not so much scary as it is creepy. You know, like walking down a road at night, no one’s there, but your mind is freaking the heck out. Yup, that kind of read. (I kinda like those reads, so …)

Tentative Bonus Recommendation- The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

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Why You May Like This One: This is one of those books that isn’t really meant for children or teens, but if you are a reader who lives somewhere between the high school phase and university phase, then you will be inclined to pick this one up. I didn’t even know this was going to be a vampire story, until it happened, and I was struck by how cleverly Kostova had weaved horror and fantasy and mystery into capital “H” History and personal histories. It is an absolutely enchanting read.

Why You May Not: It is a bit dense (though not everyone may agree), it does have some graphic moments (but not really gratuitous from what I remember),  and honestly, it is a book that makes you wish for a sequel when you know there won’t be one anytime soon.

These are just some off-the-top-of-my-head All Hallow’s Read recommendations.

What are some of your old favourites?

*I really surprised myself by not picking Coraline!