Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday: Halloween Reads

Hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

Top Ten Tuesday is an original bookish meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. Each week a
new top ten topic is posted for followers to write about. This week--with Halloween right around the corner--we are considering our Top Ten Halloween Reads. Those spooky stories that are just right for reading while waiting for the ghosts and goblins to come out.

We've discussed before how I'm not a big horror/spooky/scare-the-pants-off-you fan I am. So here's my list...perhaps a bit tame compared to some:

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.

2. 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.

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?

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.

The Cabinet of Curiosities by Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child. I don't normally do this kind of thriller but it kept me gripped and on the edge of my seat the whole time. It features a 20th-century NYC struck by killings that duplicate earlier murders, with the victims' spinal cords ripped away and clues pointing to a 19th-century scientist who sought the secret of immortality. Featuring fabulous locales, colorful characters, pointed riffs on city and museum politics, cool forensic and paleontological speculation and several gripping set pieces including an extended white-knuckle climax.

The Complete Stories of Edgar Allan Poe A few murders in the Rue Morgue anyone? A little Pit and the Pendulum action?

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving. Nothing like a headless horsemen to creep you out.

Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. A little mass murder set around the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. Very creepy.

The Maul & the Pear Tree by P. D. James & T. A. Critchley. Murders in 1811. Another creepy one.

10. Any of the Alfred Hitchcock collections:
Stories to Be Read with the Lights On; Stories That Go Bump in the Night; Stories My Mother Never Told Me; etc.


Red said...

I really need to check out Turn of the Screw. I keep hearing good things about it. And of course you can't have a list of Halloween stories without having Poe on there!

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

You picked very scary yet well written books. I have not read a single one. Sigh.

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Oops. I have read Devil in the White City. And that was excellent.