Compelling, creepy and scary treats for your Halloween reading

Good Reads1 copyBy John Hoover
©2015 Telegraph Publishing LLC

September is drawing to a close as I write this column.

The days have started to cool and the nights have become downright chilly. Very shortly the Autumnal Equinox will announce the official beginning of fall and, following close on its heels comes October, one of my favorite months of the year.

It is that brief interlude between the sunny, warm days of summer and the cold and snowy days of winter, the last chance to get the house and grounds prepared for winter’s onslaught. As the days grow shorter, we draw nearer to Halloween when the ghosties and ghoulies come out to trick or treat. So for our theme this month we’ve decided to do “scary” Good Reads.

AliveLynne starts us off with Alive ($18) by Scott Sigler, which sounds to me like a really scary Good Read: “One day, children, dressed in school uniforms, awaken and climb out of their coffins. They find themselves in an underground world with corridors and doors that open to hundreds of rooms full of mutilated corpses. A teenaged girl, who knows that her name is M. Savage only because it was engraved on  her coffin, emerges as leader, and it is to her that the other lost children give their trust to get them out. A creepy, terrifying, and wonderful story of our possible future. For young adults but a great read for older readers as well.”

The LotteryBill suggests that you “read Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery ($3.35), now an American classic, for a study of fate. It’s not exactly a Halloween story – The Lottery takes place in June – but the understated horror of a small town stoning an unlucky neighbor, chosen by a draw, makes you shiver.  Jackson lived in North Bennington, and she probably had Bennington in mind when she wrote The Lottery.”

“Since following national politics provides enough of a scare for me these days,” says Amanda, “I’ll stick to recommending a perennial childhood favorite for my October Good Reads pick.  Katherine Holabird’s Angelina’s Halloween ($6.99)Angelinas Halloween was one of my children’s favorite stories to read together at this time of year.  As with all of the books in the Angelina series, the colorful illustrations are wonderful and this one really captures the magic of Halloween costumes and trick-or-treating.  Looking ahead, also consider adding Angelina’s Christmas ($6.99) to your favorite young person’s library!”

For scary, Kim says, “My No. 1 choice would have to be anything Graveyard bookwritten by Edgar Allan Poe. He’s just so perfect for Halloween reading! I dare you to read some of his classics, like The Tell Tale Heart or The Pit and the Pendulum around a campfire or on a cold windy night, and NOT jump out of your skin at the first noise. Another, more contemporary author that also writes some great  spooky stories, is Neil Gaiman. My favorite probably has to be The Graveyard Book ($8.99), about a young boy named Bod who, raised by ghosts, straddles the shadowy world between the dead and the living. All the while, a mysterious figure named Jack searches for the boy, to settle some unfinished business.”

Odditorium“Halloween isn’t just a fun holiday – for me,” says Sylvan, “it represents the last major milestone before frightening winter weather might make us all snowbound. So, my pick is not only an interesting read, but showcases eight places to visit in Vermont while a day trip is still possible to schedule. Joe Citro’s Vermont Odditorium ($9.99) describes the legends that have grown around Lake Champlain’s monster, Stowe’s haunted covered bridge and more. Whether his tales inspire you to go sleuthing into these macabre mysteries in person, or just have a thrill travel up your spine from the safety of your couch, it’s a great introduction to some spooky places in our own backyard.”

RevivalI don’t think there is anyone who is better at scary books than Stephen King and Revival ($17), one of his more recent efforts, fits the bill. Jamie Morton’s meeting with Charlie Jacobs, the new minister, when he was 6 years old begins a relationship that spans five decades and ends in one of the most cataclysmic conclusions of any work of fiction I’ve ever read. Frightening but oddly exhilarating at the same time Revival is an excellent book by a master storyteller, one to sit up late with on Halloween.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeGood Reads

About the Author: After a 35-year career as a high school social studies teacher, John Hoover and his wife, Sally, retired to Vermont. He lives in Windham where he serves as a Justice of the Peace and Library Trustee. He works part time as a book-seller at Misty Valley Books, is active at St. Luke's Episcopal Church and sings in several choral groups.

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