Several years ago, Neil Gaiman proposed a new tradition on his blog that involves giving your friends, neighbors, family, whoever, a scary book on Halloween in place of or in addition to your usual festive sweets. Now there is a whole website dedicated to spreading the word, cataloging lists of recommended scary reads, and more. So whether you decide to adopt Neil’s big idea or whether you’re just looking for a quick read yourself to get pumped for our favorite spooky holiday, check out my list below!
- The Sandman by Neil Gaiman — This comic book is alternately thought-provoking and grisly with typical Gaiman story-telling finesse. With a dark and jagged art-style and beautifully rendered characters, some of whom are members of the Endless, who live through centuries upon centuries in all of the sartorial splendor that entails, this work is perfect for costume inspiration as well. Follow the tale of Dream as he interacts with the world of mortals after decades of captivity by an ambitious immortality cult. Bring a little nightmare to your Halloween by indulging in this creepy comic.
- “The Masque of the Red Death” by Edgar Allan Poe – Get in the mood for your Halloween masquerade ball or costume party by reading this classic short work of Gothic fiction. Filled with opulent but chilling imagery of a gathering of nobles in the midst of a city ridden by plague, this story tells the tale of haughty Prince Prospero and his aristocratic friends who learn that luxury and power are not enough to evade death. Hopefully your own costume party ends on a higher note than poor Prospero’s.
- “The Dunwich Horror” by H.P. Lovecraft — If you were ever curious about the Cthulu mythos or the sci-fi/horror master that is H.P. Lovecraft, this short story is a good one to start with. Based on some old New England legends, combined with Lovecraft’s own readings and eerie imagination, it recounts the tale of a strange, disturbed family who are cultivating a mysterious fiendish presence in their farmhouse in the desolate town of Dunwich and striving to unleash the horrific entities of destruction known as the Old Ones. Read the story to find out if they are successful or not, and learn more about the nature of Lovecraft’s creepy creations.
- Midsummer Night’s Scream by R.L. Stine — In one of Stine’s latest novels (having come out just last year), a group of teens participate in a renewed attempt to shoot a horror movie that had been terminated sixty years before due to three deaths on set. But this second attempt is less than fortuitous with a string of tragic accidents that plague the shoot. Will they be able to finish the movie? Or is the project beset by a deathly curse? The only way to find out is to read the book. And I know all you Shakespeare geeks will appreciate the nods to the Bard that Stine incorporates into the story with the convoluted love plot and punny title.
- The Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudson — What could be scarier than high school? Especially when the attractive new librarian seems to have something sinister behind his sexy smile. Protagonist Cynthia Rothschild endeavors to uncover his demonic plot before her best friend falls into his evil hands, all while trying to work crew for the school’s production of Sweeney Todd and pursue her own crush, the drool-worthy lead actor. If you thought your high school days were hell, they’ve got nothing on Cynthia’s literally hellish experience.
- Coraline by Neil Gaiman — It’s only fitting to begin and end a list inspired by Neil Gaiman with works by the man himself. This classic graphic novel should need no introduction, but it is the tale of a little discontented girl named Coraline who finds her way into an alternative reality much like her own but with some terrifying twists. It turns out to be the realm of her maniacal Other Mother who wants to sew button eyes onto her face and capture her soul as she has done to a number of children before Coraline. It’s up to Coraline to find the bravery to rescue the souls of the previous children and find her way back to her mundane but safe reality. Nothing like an overbearing parent to put a little fright into your night!
Have you got other recommendation for the perfect Halloween read? Write them in the comments! Would you give a book for Halloween? Do you wish people gave you books for Halloween? What will you be reading on this scariest of all nights?