October. The greatest month of the year. And the perfect time to read some classic horror. Below is a reading list for those of you who seek the dark places of the world. Beware the shadows!
1. A Night in the Lonesome October by Roger Zelazny–The definitive horror novel for the month of October, the criminally underrated A Night in the Lonesome October tells the story of Jack and his loyal dog snuff as they seek to prevent the return of the Great Old Ones on Halloween Night. In the process, they have to deal with Vampires, Frankenstein, Werewolves, Witches and the like. The book is written in 31 chapters, one for every day of the month. Oh, and did I mention it’s all told from the perspective of the dog? Truly one of my top ten favorite books of any genre, this is a book you need to read.
2. High Moor by Graeme Reynolds — There are numerous reasons to love this book, but let’s start with the literary ones. High Moor takes the tired, metrosexualized werewolf genre and injects desperately needed excitement, violence, horror, and heart. High Moor is a page-turner of the highest quality, and when you finish it you will immediately buy High Moor 2: Moonstruck, and then you will wish High Moor 3 was already available. But there’s another reason to love High Moor. Graeme Reynolds is an example for unpublished authors all over. He believed in High Moor so he embarked on the treacherous world of self-publication, and he did it the right way, paying for an editor and a professional cover design. I’m just waiting on the movie. Read my review here.
3. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson — You can’t have Halloween without a haunted house, and there is no greater story about a haunted house than Shirley Jackson’s classic story of isolation, alienation, and good old fashioned ghosts. Just check out this first line–“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”
4. The Mourning House by Ronald Malfi — Another story of a haunted house, The Mourning House is the shortest entry on this list. It is also one of the best. In life, there are times when one comes upon a work of art that is so stunning, so brilliant, and so fantastic that the mind struggles to accept that it is real. So is Ronald Malfi’s Mourning House. For years, I have searched for a piece of storytelling, a novel, a short-story, a movie, a television show, that could chill me. That could reach down in my soul and twist it. That could make me shudder and break out in goosebumps. Something I could savor every moment of and enjoy at some deep, transcendent level. It’s a rare thing, a piece of fiction like that. But “Mourning House” accomplished it. I loved this story. I loved every word, every syllable. I found myself reading it line-by-line, both afraid and excited to scroll down and see what was next.
5. Verland: The Transformation by B.E. Scully — Verland is by no means a perfect book, but it is one of the best vampire stories to emerge in the last few years. Scully has an eye for detail, perfectly describing her settings without drowning the reader in the sort of overindulgent excess that plagues so many books. Scully’s characters are as deeply fleshed out as her scenery. These are people with flaws and strengths that the reader will believe in. There’s also little of the convenient stupidity that is a staple of horror–no one runs up the stairs when they should run out the front door. All and all, a great choice if you are in the mood for vamps, though if you haven’t read Dracula, do yourself a favor and go for it.