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Books for Halloween

With Halloween fast approaching, staff horror aficionado Liam Delaney presents a frightening short-list of horror fiction recommendations. For more Halloween reading, see this blog post from October 2015 and this 2010 newsletter article by NYSL Librarian Emeritus Andrew Corbin spotlighting ghost stories. A list of horror anthologies and some recent arrivals follows Liam's recommendations. 

It Stephen King

Both a coming of age story and a terrifying journey into the bizarre, Stephen King's It cemented his place as godfather of the weird and taught the world to be afraid of clowns. A masterful tapestry of fear, woven with childhood innocence and the paranoia of the 1980s, It will keep you up at night, forever. It waits in the shadows. It watches. It waits. 

N0S4A2 | Joe Hill

Charles Talent Manx kidnapped Victoria McQueen when she was only a child and tried to take her to his fantastical otherworld of terror known as Christmasland. Now, Victoria (astride her magic motorcycle) will need to tread with care if she wants to stop the horrific madness of Manx and his army of children irreparably twisted by Christmasland. N0S4A2  can veer perilously close to nonsense, but Joe Hill is in top, weird form in this fantastic horror/thriller about the terrors of youth and the monstrosity of Christmas.

House of Leaves |  Mark Z. Danielewski

House of Leaves is an indescribably surreal read. A horror novel within a horror novel, it tells the story of a mysterious series of home movies that supposedly made their way through Hollywood known only as “The Navidson Record,” in which a family moves into their new home only to find that its size and layout make no sense—and things only get worse from there. It is also the story of Johnny Truant, who finds the “Record” and slowly has a full mental breakdown as he plunges deeper and deeper into the history of the Navidson family. Filled with coded language and insanity, House of Leaves is brilliantly spooky, and spookily brilliant. 

Dracula’s Guest | edited by Michael Sims

This collection of Victorian vampire stories is sure to keep you up at night. A connoisseurs’ collection of little-known works by such luminaries as Edgar Allen Poe, Guy de Maupassant, and Sheridan Le Fanu, Dracula’s Guest offers a plethora of tales soaked in blood and draped in lace. This is an excellent book for the vampire lover inside of us all.

The Wasp Factory | Iain Banks

The profoundly disquieting debut from Scottish author Iain Banks is a deliciously disturbing look into the mind of a sixteen-year-old sociopath. Sadistic and yet lusciously told, this wonderful book was controversial when it was first published, and remains so today. The subtlety in The Wasp Factory makes this short horror novel all the more shocking. 

 Further Reading: Anthologies & Recent Arrivals

American Fantastic Tales: Terror and the Uncanny (Peter Straub, ed.; 2 volumes, Library of America)

Blood Thirst: 100 Years of Vampire Fiction (Leonard Wolf, ed.)

The Case Against Satan | Ray Russell (1962 exorcism novel, republished by Penguin Classics in 2015) 

The Doll-master and Other Tales of Terror | Joyce Carol Oates

Ghostland: an American History in Haunted Places | Colin Dickey 

Great Tales of Terror and the Supernatural (Herbert A. Wise & Phyllis Cerf Wagner, eds., Modern Library) 

Haunted: On Ghosts, Witches, Vampires, Zombies, and other Monsters of the Natural and Supernatural Worlds | Leo Braudy (Yale U. Press)

Horror Stories: Classic Tales from Hoffmann to Hodgson (Darryl Jones, ed., Oxford U. Press)

Masterpieces of Terror and the Supernatural: a Treasury of Spellbinding Tales Old & New (Marvin Kaye, ed.) 

The New Gothic: a Collection of Contemporary Gothic Fiction (Bradford Morrow & Patrick McGrath, eds.)

The Oxford Book of Gothic Tales (Chris Baldick, ed.) 

The Vampire Archives: the Most Complete Volume of Vampire Tales Ever Published (Otto Penzler, ed.; preface by Neil Gaiman)