Thursday, October 31, 2013

DOA's Five Favorite Scary Books

I love ghost stories and horror novels and have been reading them for a very long time.  I thought in honor of Halloween and a few lists of scary novels I've seen out there that I should pick five that I loved and can recommend.  If you love scary books, I recommend you go beyond novels to short story collections of horror and ghost stories.  The short story form is perfect for that brilliant situational setup and then BANG!  Many writers who may surprise you have probably tried their hand at a scary story because don't we all love those thrills and chills?  Here are five novels that will haunt you. They are not in order of scariness, that I can't decide on.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I had been reading horror novels for some time and watching scary movies forever.  I decided one day to read Dracula.  Whatever we've seen on film cannot compare to the total immersion in a dark and dangerous vampire existence as written by Stoker.  I recall reading it in the middle of the day and jumping at every random sound.

The Enemy by Charlie Higson

This first in a series really took me by surprise.  It starts off in a boys school in the English countryside where terrified students are trying to keep their teachers from breaking into their refuge and devouring them.  A virus or something has turned everyone over age 14 into murderous, ravenous zombies.  The claustrophobia of those kids, and their respect for the adults now trying to kill them really ratchets up the horror.  Throughout the series but here particularly is the sense of wanting adults to be their caretakers, to have answers, to heroically save them in some way.

Adding to the horror is the non-stop pace of things, kids run, they fight, they die.  All bets are off, anyone you like as a character may die, probably does die horribly as the novel goes along.  What redeems it from being just a munch fest is that most of the kids are incredibly decent and they do what they can to protect those younger and more vulnerable in the face of terrible odds.  Hope never dies with the very best of them, but it is carried forward by those who survive.

Salem's Lot by Stephen King

All of Stephen King's novels are scary, let's face it.  Going back to when I first read Salem's Lot, I really was awed at how scary this was.  That little boy, facing off against a monster.  Good and evil in a bare knuckled fist fight. That basement.  A new take on a vampire story, something written about a place that could be anywhere USA, and monsters could lurk.  I always wanted another of King's books to be as scary for me as this one was, and only The Shining came close (not that stoopid movie grrr).

Summer of Night by Dan Simmons

This is one of the scariest books ever.  I have recommended it to customers over time who wanted something scary and I think every single one came back and said whoa.  Do you have more like that?
No, as a matter of fact I can think of nothing like it.   In a small town in the 1960s, five friends slowly discover the return of an ancient evil in their town.  The center of the horror is the Old Central School.  Like school isn't scary enough for a lot of kids, this one has evil seeping into staff and students.  That school is a rambling enormous old beast of a building, full of dark places and darker deeds.  Nerve wrackingly suspenseful.

Usher's Passing by Robert. R. McCammon

If you love Poe and even if you don't, this wonderful novel has descendants of the House of Usher (there was a brother) wrangling over the estate of their dying father, a billionaire munitions manufacturer.  The family home called  Usher Lodge is a remote mansion in North Carolina.  In a nearby town, children have been stolen by the Pumpkin Man over time.  Rix Usher, a horror novelist whose wife recently committed suicide, has a shaky disposition at best, but coming to the family home brings back unimaginable childhood terrors and threatens to unseat what sanity he has left.

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