Our Haunting Selection of Halloween Reads

Here then at long last is my darkness. No cry of light, no glimmer, not even the faintest shard of hope to break free across the hold — Mark Z. Danielewski, House of Leaves

Many of the core elements of Halloween are thought to have originated from ancient Celtic harvest festivals. On All Hallows’ Eve the boundary between the physical and spiritual world was thought to be at it’s thinnest.

The festival has also long been associated with the consumption of food, a few examples being potato pancakes, apples and soul cakes. It was traditional to abstain from eating meat, a tradition reflected in the eating of certain vegetarian foods to this day.  It was in America in the 20th century that it was turned into the candy-coloured, sugar rush holiday that it is today. Indeed Halloween is now one of the major North American holidays.

Much of the modern imagery for Halloween has its roots in fiction, especially Gothic and horror fiction, with iconic characters such as Frankenstein, the Mummy and Dracula. So to put you in a Halloween mood we have selected some strange and macabre tales to shiver the spine and chill the soul for Halloween. And a few have a distinctly Kiwi twist on the supernatural world–enjoy!


Frankenstein, or, The modern Prometheus / Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
“No-one in the grip of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, with its mythic-minded hero and its highly sympathetic monster who reads Goethe and longs to be at peace with himself, can fail to notice how much more excellent the original is than all the adaptations and imitations which have followed. In her first novel, Mary Shelley produced English Romanticism’s finest prose fiction.” (Adapted from Catalogue). For availability of the 1931 classic film, click here.

Dracula / Stoker, Bram
“When newly qualified solicitor Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help a new client purchase a residence in London, he is unaware that he will be lucky to escape with his life. Harker’s fateful visit to Count Dracula’s castle begins a series of disturbing events, as the malevolence he discovers there reaches across continents and oceans to twist and abuse his loved ones at home in England.” (Adapted from Catalogue) For availability of Christopher Lee’s first Dracula Film click here.

The scarecrow / Morrieson, Ronald Hugh
“Ronald Hugh Morrieson combines Boys’ Own adventure, psychological thriller, small-town saga and family farce to produce a unique masterpiece. 14-year-old Neddy Poindexter and his mate Les proceed to take swift revenge on the chook-rustling Lynch Gang, but things turn sinister when the vulture-like Hubert Salter stalks into the small community of Klynham. There is a  killer on the loose – and Neddy is in terrible fear for the safety of his sister.” (Catalogue) For availability of the 1981 film click here.

Into the mist / Murray, Lee
“When NZDF Sergeant Taine McKenna and his squad are tasked with escorting a bunch of civilian contractors into Te Urewera National Park, it seems a strange job for the army. Militant Tahoe separatists are active in the area, and with its cloying mist and steep ravines, the forest is a treacherous place. Yet nothing has prepared Taine for the true danger that awaits them.  Taine draws on ancient tribal wisdom as he becomes desperate to bring his charges out alive. Will it be enough to stop the nightmare?” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Wake / Knox, Elizabeth
“One sunny spring morning the Tasman Bay settlement of Kahukura is overwhelmed by a mysterious mass insanity. A handful of survivors find themselves cut off from the world, and surrounded by the dead. As they try to take care of one another, and survive in ever more difficult circumstances, it becomes apparent that this isn’t the first time that this has happened. And, it seems, they are trapped with something. Something unseen is picking at the loose threads of their characters, corrupting, provoking, and haunting them.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves / Danielewski, Mark Z
“A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a family that encounters an endlessly shifting series of hallways in their new home, eventually coming face to face with the awful darkness lying at its heart. Focusing on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The shining / King, Stephen
“Jack Torrance’s new job at the Overlook Hotel is the perfect chance for a fresh start. As the off-season caretaker at the atmospheric old hotel, he’ll have plenty of time to spend reconnecting with his family. But as the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote . . . and sinister. And the only one to notice the strange and terrible forces gathering around the Overlook is Danny Torrance, a uniquely gifted five-year-old.” (Adapted from Catalogue) For availability of the legendary Stanley Kubrick film click here.

Teatro grottesco / Ligotti, Thomas
“This collection features tormented individuals who play out their doom in various odd little towns, as well as in dark sectors frequented by sinister and often blackly comical eccentrics. The cycle of narratives that includes the title work of this collection, for instance, introduces readers to a freakish community of artists who encounter demonic perils that ultimately engulf their lives. These are selected examples of the forbidding array of persons and places that compose the mesmerizing fiction of Thomas Ligotti.” (Adapted from Catalogue)

The hunger / Katsu, Alma
“After having travelled west for weeks, the party of pioneers comes to a crossroads. It is time for their leader, George Donner, to make a choice. They face two diverging paths which lead to the same destination. One is well-documented – the other untested, but rumoured to be shorter. Then the children begin to disappear. As the survivors turn against each other, a few begin to realise that the threat they face reaches beyond the fury of the natural elements.” (Adapted from Catalogue) Also available as an Audiobook.

Halloween horror a librarians’ fiction selection

For the spooky readers out there, or those willing to dip their toes in the genre for Halloween, we bring a librarians’ selection of hair raising, blood curdling, page turning reads.  From the mysterious brain of Edgar Allen Poe to the unnerving skills of Stephen King here are some of the best tales, classic and contemporary that our library collection has to offer.

We have eerie novels for a full immersion experience and collections of short stories for those who like their samples of mystery and fright in measured doses. Whether a remote location or an overpopulated mind, these authors have distilled the mysterious responses people have to places and things to startle our senses. So if you are prepared for the creeping dread of an unexpected draft or the pulse raising effect of a far off noise, turn the page dear reader…

Little star : a novel / Ajvide Lindqvist, John
A man finds a baby in the woods, left for dead. He brings the baby home, and he and his wife raise the girl in their basement. When a shocking and catastrophic incident occurs, the couple’s son Jerry whisks the girl away to Stockholm to start a new life. There, he enters her in a nationwide singing competition. Another young girl who’s never fit in sees the performance on TV, and a spark is struck that will ignite the most terrifying duo in modern fiction. Chilling, unnerving, and petrifying, “Little Star “is Lindqvist’s most disturbing book to date.” (Catalogue)

I am legend / Matheson, Richard (print), (eAudiobook)
“In Matheson’s vampire classic I Am Legend, a plague has decimated the world, and transformed the unfortunate survivors into bloodthirsty creatures of the night. Robert Neville is the last living man on earth. Every other man, woman, and child has become a vampire, hungry for Neville’s blood. By day, he is the hunter, stalking the sleeping undead through the abandoned ruins of civilization. By night, he barricades himself in his home and prays for the dawn. How long can one man survive in a world of vampires?” (Catalogue)

The shining / King, Stephen
“One of the true classics of horror fiction, The shining is regarded as one of Stephen King’s masterpieces. This tale of a troubled man hired to care for a remote mountain resort over the winter, his loyal wife, and their uniquely gifted son is a a searing study of a family torn apart. As the harsh winter weather sets in, the idyllic location feels ever more remote… and more sinister. Secrets from the Overlook Hotel’s past are revealed, and the hotel itself attempts to claim the very souls of the Torrance family…” (Catalogue)

Inspection : a novel / Malerman, Josh
“J is a student at a school deep in a forest far away from the rest of the world. The students are being trained to be prodigies of art, science, and athletics. But J is beginning to suspect that there is something out there, beyond the pines, that the founder does not want him to see, and he’s beginning to ask questions.  Meanwhile, on the other side of the forest, in a school very much like J’s, a girl named K is asking the same questions. J has never seen a girl, and K has never seen a boy. As K and J work to investigate the secrets of their two strange schools, they come to discover something even more mysterious: each other.” (Catalogue)

Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of leaves / Danielewski, Mark Z
“A blind old man, a young apprentice working in a tattoo shop, and a mad woman haunting an Ohio institute narrate this story of a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. Of course, neither Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Will Navidson nor his companion Karen Green was prepared to face the consequences of that impossibility, until the day their two little children wandered off and their voices eerily began to return another story — of creature darkness, of an ever-growing abyss behind a closet door, and of that unholy growl which soon enough would tear through their walls and consume all their dreams.” (Catalogue)

The raven and other short stories / Poe, Edgar Allan
“Celebrated American author Edgar Allan Poe’s most cherished works are re-presented in this handsome volume from IDW Publishing. Featuring “The Raven,” “The Cask of Amontillado,” “The Masque of the Red Death” as well as additional poems and short stories from the author’s library, all accompanied by the haunting art of Ben Templesmith.” (Catalogue)

 

The murders of Molly Southbourne / Thompson, Tade (print), (eBook)
The rule is simple: don’t bleed. For as long as Molly Southbourne can remember, she’s been watching herself die. Whenever she bleeds, another molly is born, identical to her in every way and intent on her destruction. Molly knows every way to kill herself, but she also knows that as long as she survives she’ll be hunted. No matter how well she follows the rules, eventually the mollys will find her. Can Molly find a way to stop the tide of blood, or will she meet her end at the hand of a girl who looks just like her?” (Catalogue)

The doll-master and other tales of terror / Oates, Joyce Carol (print), (eBook)
Six terrifying tales to chill the blood from the unique imagination of Joyce Carol Oates. A young boy plays with dolls instead of action figures. But as he grows older, his passion takes on a darker edge… A teenage girl is thrilled when her favorite teacher asks her to house-sit, even on short notice. But when an intruder forces his way into the house while the girl is there, the fate of more than one life is changed forever… A nervous woman tries to escape her husband. He says he loves her, but she’s convinced he wants to kill her… These quietly lethal stories reveal the horrors that dwell within us all.” (Catalogue)

The haunting of Hill House / Jackson, Shirley (print), (eBook), (eAudiobook)
“Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely assistant; Luke, the future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past. As they begin to cope with horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers – and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.” (Catalogue)

Night music : Nocturnes ; / Connolly, John
“‘Spookier than mere pastiche, meatier than pure pulp, Nocturnes hits exactly the right note in reinventing the golden age of ghost stories.’ From stories of the monstrous for dark winter nights to fables of fantastic libraries and haunted books, from a tender narrative of love after death to a frank, personal and revealing account of the author’s affection for myths of ghosts and demons, this is a collection that will surprise, delight – and terrify.  Night music: Nocturnes 2 is a masterly collection to be read with the lights on – menace has never been so seductive.” (Catalogue)