Sunday, October 5, 2008

'Tis the Season for Horror Reading

The temperatures are topping out in the seventies at last, the trees are tinged with color, and the sun is setting earlier. Fall is here, and that means Halloween is bearing down on us. Around about this time of year, I look to take in a little of the scary atmosphere, and I'd like to share some of my favorites with you. Today's edition is some reading material I come back to again and again when the horror mood strikes me.
  • The Laughing Corpse, Laurel K. Hamilton. In a world where vampires are not only real, but can vote, even a woman who raises zombies for a living won't take every job she's offered... This is the second, and my favorite, of the Anita Blake series. The series itself fairly notoriously jumped the shark just past half a dozen novels in, but the early books are quite enjoyable noir-ish splatter horror.
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles, Arthur Conan Doyle. All of the Sherlock Holmes stories are worth reading, but this is the best written of the bunch, and it has enough of the supernatural element to be worth pulling out around Halloween time, especially if you prefer the kind of ghost story that can be explained without resorting to the supernatural.
  • The War of the Worlds, H. G. Wells. The oppressive force in this horror tinged milieu classic is the inevitability of evolution. We all know how this story ends, but it's that famous for a good reason. If you like you horror sci-fi style, this book has giant fighting machines, heat rays, chemical warfare, and aliens from another world. What's not to like?
  • The Colour Out of Space, H. P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft's works have achieved widespread influence, though they aren't to everyone's tastes. His prose is so purple it could make Prince blush; his imagery is so fantastic that it can come across silly if you aren't in a receptive mood. I thoroughly enjoy them. If nothing else, they make good weird tales for around the campfire or on a blustery night when the house is creaking. Lovecraft himself considered "The Color Out of Space" to be his best story, and I certainly agree.
  • The Revelation to John. Often incorrectly cited as the Book of Revelations, the Christian apocalypse and its tales of struggle between good and evil is one of the most pervasive influences on horror you are likely to find. The word apocalypse itself has been changed by the book. Originally a synonym for revelation, now it has come to mean the end of the world. Apocalyptic literature is an ancient style of couching a message in symbols and images which provides fertile soil for the active imagination. Many religious scholars today will tell you that The Revelation to John is using an ancient tradition of writing to disguise a message of hope for salvation to churches being oppressed by Rome under the emperor Domition. Many horror fans will tell you to shut up and watch the movie. Either way, it's a frightening tale that doesn't end well for everyone. And hey, if that isn't enough for you, you can flip back to Daniel for another dose of apocalypse.
  • Dracula, Bram Stoker. Do I really have to recommend this one? All the vampire stories, novels, movies, and comics out there today owe their existence to this novel. And frankly, Dracula isn't just better than most of them, it's better than most of them combined. It's the ultimate Gothic horror tale and an enduring literary classic.
Now comes the interactive part: help me add to my list! Sound off in the comments about what you like to read to get into the Halloween mood. After all, this thing comes around every year, and I may want to recycle the topic.

1 comment:

Lee said...

Poe's work is always creepy (Masque of the Red Death for one). Actually, the later Harry Potter books are about as close to horror as I like to read.