I thought that for Halloween I'd highlight some books that either get overlooked or unfairly forgotten. I'm something of a fan of all things horror and gothic - so I'm going to give you fair warning that these books are not for those who scare easy. If you've got the stomach for it, then read on...
1. For the Rock Fan - Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Judas Coyne is an old rocker with a thing for collecting macabre and occult objects. He may have just bought the real deal.
This was the first book I read by Joe Hill. This was the start of my love of his work. I adore this book. It may be too scary/spooky/grim for some - Hill has horror running through his veins - but for anyone up for a walk on the darker side of life, I seriously recommend this. The quality of the writing speaks for itself; this is easily one of my favourite books.
2. For the Scandi-Noir Fan - Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist
1981. Sweden. A bullied twelve-year-old, Oskar - finds a friend, Eli. Eli is not all she seems. And people are dying.
This is not a book for the faint-hearted. Fair warning. These are not the vampires who sparkle - these are the kind of vampires based in the gritty realism of Scandinavian winter. It also involves some fairly uncomfortable social problems - including a character who is a paedophile. While Lindqvist's deftness with difficult topics is evident even through the translation, this is still highly disturbing fair.
3. For Your Inner Goth - Florence & Giles by John Harding
New England in 1891. Neglected by their guardian, Florence and Giles have made their own entertainment. But then there's what happened to the last governess, and Florence's suspicions of the new one.
This book has a fabulous twisted feel to it - truly gothic. Inspired by The Turn of the Screw, and devilishly readable, all fans of spooky period drama, and things that go bump in the night, will be thrilled. This isn't particularly long, and has quite a fast pace to it; plus some real page-turning credentials.
4. For the Movie Fan - The Crow by J O'Barr
Eric Draven has a score to settle. The Crow has brought his spirit back to wreak his vengeance.
Born of grief, and plagued by it's own mythos, The Crow has developed something of a life of its own. Long before the film which would be Brandon Lee's last, there was the graphic novel. This is not a happy book. It is graphic. It is violent. There is rape, drugs, and murder. For all that, there's something about which is sublimely beautiful - it's a piece of art. I had the great pleasure of meeting James O'Barr once (one of my heroes, if you must know) - and he is a genuinely lovely person, despite everything he's been through in his life.
Some people creates worlds in their heads. Vic McQueen has her bridge, Charlie Manx has Christmasland.
You can find my full review of this novel here. This is another fantastic book from Joe Hill. It's long, but very much worth the read. I do recommend that if you're not ok with having your childhood memories possibly irreparably ruined, you read this at any time except Christmas. I'm just saying.