As the air chills and the leaves dance in the wind, the local children seek solace in our cosy Kensal Library and a lot of them seem to be planning their Hallowe’en costumes and organising trick-or-treat routes. We’re planning a craft session (today at 4pm) for this devilish celebration. Ghouls, demons and toilet-paper-covered mummies are all invited.
I vamped up the display in orange and black while our young customers helped me choose the most spine-tingling reads, and what a choice there was! This got me reminiscing about some of my all-time favourites with a scare factor that will have you checking under the bed for monsters.
So, reader, in the words of the author of my first book, I urge you to beware; you’re in for a scare.
1. Please don’t feed the vampire (give yourself Goosebumps) by R.L. Stine
If you’re in your 20s like me there’s a good chance your nightmares were littered with Goosebumps references. Other greats include Say Cheese and Die and Secret Agent Grandma.
You’re invited to choose from over 20 spooky endings. In this book you buy something called ‘vampire in a can’. At first you think it’s just a normal vampire costume, but then you notice a packet in the bottom of the can labelled ‘DANGER–KEEP AWAY!’ It’s compelling and there’s the thrill of knowing you control the outcome adds to the suspense.
2. Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
As soon as Wolf began to feel
That he would like a decent meal,
He went and knocked on Grandma’s door.
When Grandma opened it, she saw
The sharp white teeth, the horrid grin,
And Wolfie said, “May I come in?”
Poor Grandmamma was terrified,
“He’s going to eat me up!” she cried.
In this collection of poems Dahl lends his trademark dark humour to reworkings of fairy tales. If you think Little Red Riding is meek and scared of the big bad wolf this time then you are in for a shock.
3. The Hound of the Baskerville by Arthur Conan-Doyle
In this spooky Sherlock Holmes crime novel set largely on Dartmoor in Devon, Watson tells the story of an attempted murder inspired by the legend of a fearsome, diabolical hound of supernatural origin.
This was the first appearance of Sherlock Holmes after his intended death in The Final Problem’, and the success of The Hound of the Baskervilles led to the character’s eventual revival.
4. The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman
New York Times’ best-selling author Neil Gaiman’s transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman creates an impressive tale of the powerful magical forces that exist beyond life, death and far off into other worlds by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with the everyday experiences of seemingly normal people. The stories and lives of a colourful array of characters weave throughout this dark fantasy published by DC and comprising ten volumes.
5. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James
In the Gothic classic The Turn of the Screw Henry James tells the story of a young governess who moves to a large, secluded house to look after two young orphans. She soon starts to see apparitions of the former governess who has died amid scandalous rumours, and the dead servant who had terrorized the house before her arrival. Much of the suspense is ambiguous; we do not know if the ghosts are a very real evil, or if they mark the downward mental spiral of the protagonist. It is difficult to determine the ongoing evil which is hinted at in the book, and this unease and confusion make for a tense read. The unresolved explanation leaves the reader with many unanswered questions; these left a lasting impression on me. Was the evil real or a delusion? It definitely helps that the two young orphans are decidedly creepy; we all know the use of terrifying children is a classic go-to tool in any horror story.
Customer Services Assistant, Kensal Library