Monday, October 3, 2011

Five Best Books: Ghost Stories

5 Best Books is the weekly meme hosted by Cassandra at Indie Reader Houston. Each week there's a new topic and 5 book picks to talk about. This week she is asking about our top five ghost stories. And, in fact, she plans on picking appropriate seasonal topics for the entire month of October.

I'm not much for scary stories let's see what I can come up with.

1. Madam Crowl's Ghost & Other Stories by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu. A collection of ghost stories from the mid- to late-1800s. I read that last year for a fall challenge. Click the title for a review.

2. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James: The story starts conventionally enough with friends sharing ghost stories 'round the fire on Christmas Eve. One of the guests tells about a governess at a country house plagued by supernatural visitors. But in the hands of Henry James, the master of nuance, this little tale of terror is an exquisite gem of sexual and psychological ambiguity. Only the young governess can see the ghosts; only she suspects that the previous governess and her lover are controlling the two orphaned children (a girl and a boy) for some evil purpose. The household staff don't know what she's talking about, the children are evasive when questioned, and the master of the house (the children's uncle) is absent. Why does the young girl claim not to see a perfectly visible woman standing on the far side of the lake? Are the children being deceptive, or is the governess being paranoid?

3. The Woman in Black by Susan Hill: Set on the obligatory English moor, on an isolated cause-way, the story stars an up-and-coming young solicitor who sets out to settle the estate of Mrs. Drablow. Routine affairs quickly give way to a tumble of events and secrets more sinister than any nightmare. This first-class thriller - lately reincarnated on the stage - is a brilliant exercise in controlled horror. A real spine-tingler by a real master

4. Ghosts Who Went to School by Judith Spearing. Not a scary ghost story, but one of my favorites as kid. It's about Wilbur and Mortimer (and their parents) who are ghosts and have been busy haunting a house. But Wilbur and Mortimer have gotten bored with the whole haunting thing and decide that they want to go to school. This is a fun book about what happens when a couple of ghosts "haunt" the kids at school. It's also the book that introduced me to the word glockenspiel.

5. The Watcher in the Woods by Florence Engel Randall. Not precisely a ghost story. But there is some sort of supernatural presence in the woods near the Carstairs' new home. The daughters, Jan and Ellie, can "sense" and "hear" the watcher, respectively. And the reluctant seller of the home, Mrs. Aylwood, can see the watcher. Is it really the presence--ghostly or otherwise--of Karen Aylwood who disappeared 50 years ago at the age of fifteen? Or something else with a more malevolent plan? [also made into a Disney film--but I've never seen it] I was more into the spooky and supernatural when I was younger and I absolutely loved this book.


Jenners said...

I've always wanted to read The Turn of the Screw. It has such a great title. Maybe next year for RIP.

srivalli said...

The turn of the screw was the scariest book I ever read. The atmosphere he creates was very disturbing. After reading Turn of the screw I decided not to read horror books. I love horror movies but I would runaway from a horror book.

Yvette said...

I don't read ghost stories so I'm not sure if I'll be able to come up with five this week.

But I enjoyed reading your post anyway.

I've heard before about THE WOMAN IN BLACK (when I read Hill's non fiction book, HOWARD'S END IS ON THE LANDING) and I have it on my list.

But I am so NOT a horror reader. Though I am enjoying my current reading of DRACULA by Bram Stoker.

Cassandra @ Indie Reader Houston said...

I know that I started reading Turn of the Screw once, but I must not have finished it. I don't remember anything like you description. I may have to give it another try.

I think you list is way creepier than mine. I don't read Horror, either, but I do enjoy it when, on occasion, elements from those books find their way into what I'm reading. That's how I came up with my list :)

Ryan said...

I really want to read The Turn of the Screw and The Woman in Black. Maybe next Fall.....for sure next Fall.

My favorite ghost story is The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, love it.

Anonymous said...

The Woman in Black sounds really suspenseful. Looks like a good book for Halloween!