With Halloween fast approaching, I thought now would be the perfect time to once again recommend a few creepy reads, in case you’re on the lookout for something to get you into the spirit of the season as the day itself draws ever closer.
Final Girls by Riley Sager
Final Girls is like a love letter to the horror genre, indulging in many of the old-school tropes that make it famous, and yet in a way that really works. And so, for all its twists, tension and gore, it manages to capture a fun and even nostalgic quality that will remind you of popcorn flicks of days gone by. The characters are fleshed out, flawed and unreliable, adding to the absorbing nature of the story, which in itself centres around three young women known in the press as the Final Girls, as they were each the sole survivor of a mass murder; two of whom must band together after the other is found dead.
Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin
This is a very recent read for me, and one I suspect will linger in my mind for quite some time. It’s the story of a young couple who move into a luxury apartment block, with the wife eager to start a family. They befriend an elderly couple on their floor, but become suspicious of their true intentions when they become increasingly involved in their lives, and in particular Rosemary’s pregnancy. It gets right under your skin and builds a sense of dread incredibly well, and all at the perfect pace to keep you gripped.
The Resurrectionist by E.B. Hudspeth
The Resurrectionist is presented as though it’s non-fiction. The first half is the ‘biography’ of a famous yet hugely controversial scientist who conducted mysterious experiments in his bid to prove his hypothesis that birth defects and deformities are merely the body’s attempt to revert to former states, with all mythical beings and creatures having once been real and humans being their descendants. It’s deliberately vague and unsettling, with his obsession driving him to take drastic measures that will no doubt disturb. The second half of the book is his magnum opus; painstakingly detailed and macabre anatomical artwork that lays out how he believes such creatures would have evolved. I love the idea of people finding this book on a dusty library shelf in decades to come and believing, just for a moment, that it could perhaps be real.
The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs
If you’re looking for something brief to pick up of an evening and creep you out, a short story like The Monkey’s Paw could be ideal. It’s a classic of the ‘be careful what you wish for’ message, in which a family come into possession of a magical (or cursed) monkey’s paw that will grant them three wishes, though each coming with horrifying consequences they could not foresee. It’s very atmospheric and testament to the fact that what you don’t see can be as powerful and unnerving as what you do.
The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley
The Beauty is a dystopian novella that centres around a group of men after a fungal disease has wiped out all women. They await inevitable death whilst living on the memory of everything they have lost, until a strange new species begins to grow from the bodies of the deceased women. The way the men choose to treat these beings will determine the entire future of society. Whiteley manages to create a world that is both beautiful and revolting, and it’s one of those stories in which the cruelty of mankind itself becomes the true monster of the piece, with themes of gender roles and storytelling adding even greater depth to this hypnotic fever dream of a story.
What reads would you recommend to get into the Halloween spirit?