Vampires, Witches, and Werewolves: Books To Read About Your Favourite Ghosts And Ghouls
There are plenty of movies that are guaranteed to give you a fright, but let me tell you this: it can't compare to the creepy tingles of a good horror book. If you have an appetite for any particular monster, then you're in luck. We've rounded up some of our favourites — from werewolves to vampires — so that you can enjoy a cosy (or creepy?) night in with them.
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Vampires: Dracula by Bram Stoker
The world is obsessed with vampires. Over and over, in pop culture and in traditional mythology, we see representations of bloodsuckers portrayed in a variety of angles. This Halloween, take a look back at one of the classics with Bram Stoker's Dracula. Having first read this in high school, I can honestly say that reading Dracula has given me a deeper appreciation for the vampire legacy, especially when confronted by those in TV or movies.
Stoker's masterpiece is a classic for a reason. While some of modern media like to simplify Dracula's tale, Stoker's book goes all out and paints a deeply enriching viewpoint of the world inhabited by its characters. A tragic love story, Dracula begins in Transylvania where lawyer Jonathan Harker is held captive by Count Dracula himself. The count then makes his way towards England where his story meets with the lives of Mina (Harker's fiancée), Lucy (Mina's friend), and Lucy's three suitors — all of whom must now find a way to stop the count from taking even more lives.
Aliens: The Tommyknockers by Stephen King
A master of horror, Stephen King is known for books such as The Shining, It, and Carrie. This Halloween, venture further along King's fantastical oeuvre with his book on aliens, entitled The Tommyknockers.
Set in rural Maine, The Tommyknockers tells the story of Roberta "Bobbi" Anderson, who one day stumbles upon a metal object that turns out to be the protrusion of a buried spacecraft. Magnetic and hypnotising, the spacecraft's gravity captures Bobbi's imagination to the point of delirium. As she begins to dig and uncover more of its hulk, strange things begin happening in the town of Haven, Maine. In classic King fashion, The Tommyknockers is a deeply immersive read, painting an overarching view of the town and its residents. It introduces us to a cornucopia of many surprising heroes, all of whom are imperfect yet well-intentioned, and who make this out-of-the-world story into something quite relatable.
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Haunted Houses: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
While vastly popular today, Shirley Jackon's The Haunting of Hill House was, in fact, published in 1959. It was nominated for the National Book Award in the subsequent year (1960) and has since been remade into two feature films, a play, and a series on Netflix. It tells the story of four protagonists who come to investigate Hill House. There's Dr Montague, an investigator looking for evidence of a "haunting"; Theodora, his assistant; Eleanor, a reclusive woman with experience in poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of the Hill House estate.
An ominous psychological thriller, The Haunting of Hill House is disturbing without the flamboyance in most modern tales. It carries an undercurrent of the ominous that makes it a perfect read this coming Hallow's eve.
Zombies: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
Inspired by Welsh mythology, The Bone Houses is Emily Lloyd-Jones' inventive take on the zombie epic. It tells the story of Ryn, a teenage gravedigger who lives in a remote town. Problems arise as a decades-old curse disrupts Ryn's meagre occupation causing the dead to come back to life. Around the same time, readers are introduced to the arrival of Ellis, a mapmaker who takes Ryn on an adventure in the mountains in search of a magical cauldron that could end the curse.
Vivid, imaginative, and immensely engrossing, Emily Lloyd-Jones describes the scenes in her book with great detail. From fight scenes to the gory descriptions of the living undead, Ryn and Ellis' journey is an unpredictable one that takes its readers through the unsettling yet majestic backdrop of the United Kingdom.
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Magic: Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau by Martha Ward
A historical book set in the 1800s, Martha Ward's Voodoo Queen: The Spirited Lives of Marie Laveau takes its readers through a fascinating journey of New Orleans culture. Through testimonies and eyewitness accounts, the book brings light upon the lives of the two Marie Laveaus — mother and daughter — who were leaders of an indigenous American religion in the 1800s.
The book tackles many angles of the Laveau women — their impact on the structural racism in New Orleans at the time, as well as the suspicion that hung around their reputation. Offering readers a glimpse into the political, social, and spiritual climate of the Creole community, this book is less about horror than it is about the compelling mysteries of the Laveau family.
Werewolves: The Werewolf of Paris by Guy Endore
In a tale both historic and horrific, The Werewolf of Paris is a classic written by Guy Endore in the 1930s. It's a gruesome book — filled with bloodshed and myth — which may very well serve to be a good companion this Halloween season. Narrated by an unknown persona, the book takes its readers through the unfortunate life of Bertrand Caillet. Born on Christmas Eve, Caillet himself is a werewolf and suffers from strange and sadistic tendencies. After horrific incidents in his home town, Caillet flees to Paris and enlists in the National Guard during the Franco-Prussian War. What follows is a dramatic tale of epic proportions perfect for a night of reading.
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Monsters: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
The beauty in reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is in dispelling the myth of Frankenstein himself. While pop culture often depicts the monster as nothing more than a dumb ogre, Shelley's original character was an intelligent being who often questioned himself, his ethics, and the world around him. Pushed to desperate measures by his unloving creator, Frankenstein's monster wreaks havoc upon the lives of those around him. Compelling and often philosophical, Frankenstein is a must-read for all modern-day horror fanatics.
Clowns: The Grin of the Dark by Ramsey Campbell
There was a time when clowns had become the marquee monster in pop culture; and easily enough, these fantastical caricatures are easily portrayed in many unsettling ways. One of the books that tackle this is Ramsey Campbell's The Grin of the Dark. The book starts out by introducing its protagonist, film critic, Simon Lester. Out of a job and troubled in romance, Lester is given the opportunity to write about the long-forgotten comedic actor, Tubby Thackeray. Yet, uncovering the truth about Tubby's life proves to be more than just hard work — it's horrific work. As Simon Lester is pulled in deeper and deeper by the evil that surrounds Tubby's life, he comes to realise that while Tubby may be dead, he isn't entirely gone.
Disquieting and creepy, Campbell's The Grin of the Dark is the perfect book for those looking for a scare this season!