Category Archives: Horror

Halloween Reads Part II

the woman in blackThe Women in Black by Susan Hill

Why wouldn’t you stay overnight in a dead person’s mansion, trapped in by swamp waters, candles for lighting, and piles of old papers to read through the night? Seems unsettling enough and then you layer in the rumours of a haunting; the woman in black, who curses children of the local township.

 

 

 

 

heart shaped boxHeart Shaped Box by Joe Hill

The debut novel from Stephen King’s son, the tension and thrills during the first ¾ of this story make it difficult to sleep. Every innocent household sound is frightening; particularly the crackle of a radio. Judas Coyne hears about someone selling a ghost on the internet, and when his purchase is delivered it arrives in a heart shaped box. The foreplay in this book is gripping, astounding and breathtaking. The climax leaves you feeling kind of ripped off. Worth it for the initial fun though!

 

 

lexicon_uk_hb_big

Lexicon by Max Barry

This one is a bit of a Sci-Fi thriller, and extremely unsettling. Two years ago something terrible was unleashed in an Australian mining town called Broken Hill. Thousands died. Few people know what really happened. Part X-Men, part zombie apocalypse, you’ll tangle with linguistics and be rattled long after reading.

 

 

 

The-Ghost-of-Miss-Annabel-Spoon2-300x242The Ghost of Miss Annabel Spoon by Aaron Blaby

A scary looking picture story book that has beautifully bleak illustrations capturing the ghost of a sad young lady. She haunts the town and the folk think something must be done about her unwanted presence.

 

No matter what hour, she lurked looking sour,

Be it midnight or mid-afternoon.

Her dresses were shabby, her mood always crabby.

Her name was Miss Annabel Spoon.

With deliciously clever rhymes and a warm ending, this is actually a great ghost story for primary aged children.

 

In a Dark, Dark Wood  – A Traditional Tale

In a dark dark wood, there was a dark dark house

And in the dark dark house, there was a dark dark room…

You know what’s coming but right? As a child though,  the tension is tantalizing.

 

funny bonesFunny Bones by Janet and Allen Ahlberg

A big skeleton, little skeleton and their pet dog skeleton venture out of their cellar at night with the hope of finding someone to frighten. The trouble is, everyone is in bed so they have to satisfy themselves by scaring each other. It’s a bit scary, but in a fun and giggly way.  More nostalgia for me here, with classic line art, block colouring and simple repetitive text. The Ahlbergs seriously knew how to write kid’s books.

Over 30 years on, and this one is still relevant.

 

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Halloween Reads Part I

Those of you who are regular readers will know my love of a ghost story.  I really do have a bit of an obsession with creeping myself out to the point where my heart palpitates if I’m alone in a darkened hallway.

So, what better time is there to share my slightly unhinged reading habits?  Here are a few of my favourite supernatural and spooky reads…

Me and Mog book cover

 

Meg & Mog by Helen Nicholl

Frog in a bog, bat in a hat, snap crackle pop, and fancy that…

Colourful line drawings of witch Meg and her stripey cat Mog are perfect for little ones at Halloween. If the bright colours and simple illustrations don’t take you back to primary school in the 1980s your childhood was certainly deprived.

the witches

 

The Witches by Roald Dahl

As a child was there anything more thrilling as seeing an old lady wearing gloves, boots and scratching her head? She was most certainly a witch and thought you smelled of dog poo. My favourite Dahl book by far.

 

 

thesmallhand

The Small Hand by Susan Hill

Imagine standing in an old garden looking out across a manicured expanse with a huge water fountain at the centre. A tiny child’s hand slips into yours. It’s icy cold. You look down and no one is there. Goosebumps much?

 

 

seance

 

The Séance by John Harwood

The book that spurred my love of the ghost genre. Set in Victorian England it is a creepy homage to the ghost story traditions of old. Orphan girl Constance is left an unusual bequest from a distant relative, but it comes with a warning:

Sell the hall unseen; burn it to the ground and plough the earth with salt, if you will; but never live there.

If none of these classics take your fancy, stay tuned for Part II…

 

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King

dr sleepMy husband is a newspaper man.  He subscribes to his reading material of choice both digitally and in print.  Nothing makes him happier than hearing the thunk of the cling wrapped paper hit our driveway on a Saturday morning.

He reads the papers from cover to cover, but he starts at the back pages for sport.  He knows every sporting result, every match up, every ladder.  He also knows world events, politics, and what’s hot and not this week.  He reads book reviews to get ideas for me, hates Andrew Bolt, and has a special patronising voice that he reserves for reading out the guilt laden and superficial advice from the Body & Soul section.

On Sunday, he savours the broadsheet.  In the morning he uses it as a plate to eat his egg sandwich, yolk and salt dripping on the parts he’s already gotten to; and at night he pours over the extras and inserts while elbowing me in bed as he tries to manoeuvre the 3 metre pages.

So while I can say my husband is an avid reader, it’s normally The Age annual footy guide that takes pride of place on his bedside table.

Last night I went to bed late.  I expected him to be snuggled up with the light off, snoring gently after a hell of a week.  However there he was, legs tucked up to his chin, no blanket, eyes boring holes into the crisp white pages of Stephen King highly anticipated new book.

When he finally looks up, his eyes are wide and he’s bitten his lip.

Holy shit, this book is getting good.’

When I first saw the movie The Shining, there were so many creepy elements that affected me.  The dead twins in the hallway, the trademark Kubrick direction, the 70s bowl haircut on the kid who spoke to his finger, and none more than the hideously sexy ghost who seduces ‘Heres Johnny’ John Torrance and then turns into a naked rotting corpse in his arms.

And it’s only moments into reading the sequel Doctor Sleep that this ghoulish character returns and you’re reminded that you’re back reading the master of the supernatural genre.

The tale picks ups decades after the horror at the Overlook Hotel took place, with little Danny (Doc) Torrance all grown up and battling with the demons of the past.  He’s been drifting, fucking up and trying to escape both his father’s legacy and the events of his childhood that haunt him.  He self-medicates to drown out his ‘shining,’ but soon, remnants of his supernatural abilities re-emerge and the meeting of teenager Abra Stone forces him to go into battle to save her soul.

While a whole bunch of cool mind-reading, ESP, telekinesis stuff goes on between Dan and Abra, there is evil lurking nearby.  A travelling tribe of highway folk called the True Knot are in search of sustenance.  And they want Abra.  Part vampire, part kidnappers, part murderers, they are led by a powerful, engaging, and chillingly evil woman in a top hat who drives an RV.

In true King style, the action and spooks are from start to finish.  There is real substance to Dan’s personal struggles as he fights his demons in a gritty and authentic portrayal of addiction. There is a love story of sorts between an unlikely pair, and the plot is fast moving, uncomplicated and tense.  The baddies are really bad, and the goodies are genuinely flawed.  It also gives the original The Shining more depth and intrigue, as the story travels back in time to Danny’s awful memories of the hotel on the hill.

While there is always a risk of a King ending being just that bit too epic (think the giant spider in IT) the climax here is cleverly crafted and will not disappoint.

In Short: “Holy Shit, this book is getting good.”