Previously, I gave some recommendations for short books. It’s time to do it again, but this time with Halloween reads in mind. There’s still time, so if you wanted something shorter to read for the season, here are plenty of options for you. The page counts are from my own editions to give you an idea of how short these books really are.
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving (71 Pages) We’re starting with the classics. This one has been taken and shaken up several times, but the original is still creepy. Maybe not for the reasons you’d imagine. It has a bit of fridge horror to it, which makes it even creepier in my book. Pair it up with the Disney cartoon for extra fun.
Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (116 Pages) A werewolf story! Well, technically. The good doctor doesn’t turn into a literal wolf, but this story is all about a good man unleashing his id all over the world. And just how sick and nasty that turns out to be. It’s also tragic like a werewolf curse, making it very similar at its heart. Also, another classic, the kind that proves why they have staying power.
Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu (112 Pages) A classic vampire tale that predates Dracula, tackling the story from the perspective of a young woman who is beset upon by another young woman. Very controversial for its time, which makes it an interesting one to dissect. It’s also just chilling. The author wasn’t faced with the vampire conventions we have today, so the patterns Carmilla follows are steeped much deeper in folk tradition. Try this one out for something new… that’s actually very old.
Child of God by Cormac McCarthy (186 Pages) This one’s for the people who are looking for something besides books about monsters. This is a literary novel with a dark edge sharp as a knife. We follow Lester Ballard, and he has lodged in my brain with the same force as characters like Patrick Bateman and Hannibal Lecter. So if you’re looking for something dark, autumnal, and unforgiving, this is for you.
Your House Is On Fire, Your Children All Gone by Stefan Kiesbye (198 Pages) Another in the same vein as the above. That title alone would be a terrible thing to hear, wouldn’t it? Already it’s chilling. It’s mainly about a German village that’s trapped in very old ways and very superstitious. It makes for a haunting read punctuated by some truly terrifying moments but with a literary edge that makes it darkly beautiful.
Who Goes There? by John W. Campbell Jr. (161 Pages) If what you’re after is a book about a monster that’s just fun and not super deep, here is the story that eventually became The Thing from Another World and John Carpenter’s remake (my favorite movie of all time) The Thing. It’s all about a bunch of burly men trying to deal with an alien threat with some nice, horror notes throughout. It’s a bit cheesy and pulpy, but it’s worth trying out, especially if you’re a fan of either adaptation.
I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream by Harlan Ellison (134 Pages) Keeping on the science fiction path for a moment longer, this is a modern classic. It tackles the existential horror of being trapped and tortured in a way that no other story ever has or ever will. We follow the last humans on earth as they’re toyed with by a supercomputer named AM. And it is devastating. Also, very well-written. Ellison can always be counted on for that. Keep in mind that the page count is for an entire collection of stories, so there’s more spookiness to be found than just the one.
The Grownup by Gillian Flynn (63 Pages) Typical of Flynn, this is one twisty, turny ride. Is there a haunting? Perhaps. Is there a twisted person behind it all? Maybe. Is our gray-morality character going to find they’re on the wrong side of all of it? Oh, you know it’s true. It’s quick and fun, perfect for the season, and it’ll tide you over until she finishes that next, dark book.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle (149 Pages) I did a fuller review of this in my September 2016 wrap-up. I get to explain there why I feel this book was brilliant, fun, and frightening with important messages all over the place. It’s a riff on Lovecraft. It’s surprising and page-turning. I feel like this one has it all for your Halloween needs.
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker (164 Pages) Ending on the strongest note I can imagine. The book that became Hellraiser, a modern horror classic. It’s a little different than the movie that came after it, but the changes were all made by the author himself, so you can see how both versions of the story are valid. It’s dark and gruesome with lovely writing. It’s a vision that is entirely unique to Barker, and it’s worth having a look.
Now guess what! Redbubble is having a sitewide sale on the 24th, and I have a special code for you. If you buy something from my shop, use 20off-sjdesigns at checkout to get 20% off tomorrow. This code expires at 11:59 PM of the 24th, so take advantage now. I know no one wants to think about Christmas before Halloween, but it is coming. This could help you stock up on much needed prezzies.
Know that any support you guys give me is so appreciated. As always, happy geeking!