It is that time of year again. The time when my husband begs me to read Dracula with him. We read A Christmas Carol in December and Dracula in October. It is fun to read a book at the same time and talk about things we love and hated. Dracula is not nearly as creepy as I always imagined it being from the movies I have seen, but it is a fantastic thriller and a perfect October read. Here are some of my favorites to read during the spookiest of months.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Perhaps the original haunted thriller, Dracula is still as good today as it was when it was written in 1897. What we know of Dracula from popular culture is very different from the Dracula of Bram Stoker’s masterpiece – and his Dracula is far more terrifying. The characters are brilliant and the storyline is rich and compelling. A must-read, especially for anyone into classic literature.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Like Dracula, the way we perceive Frankenstein is far different from the character in Mary Shelley’s book. We usually think of Frankenstein as this brainless, lumbering idiot with bolts sticking out of his neck. Not so in the book. Dr. Frankenstein’s creation is brilliant, malicious and downright scary. The book plays on human emotion and you find yourself vacillating from feeling bad for the creature and loathing his existence. This book can drag at points, but it will also leave you looking over your shoulder for a creepy creation that stalks your existence.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson
Is there such thing as a horror fairytale? We Have Always Lived in the Castle is the story of an ostracized family living in their big house in a small town, ostracized because at family dinner one night, four people didn’t make it out alive. Only two sisters and a uncle remain, living secluded lives. One of the sisters is arrested but eventually acquitted of the murders, but that doesn’t change the fact that the entire town thinks she did it. This story is kind of oddball, told from the perspective of the slightly unhinged younger sister. It is thought provoking and creepy, perfect for an October read.
The Burning by Jane Casey
A serial killer is on the lose. He has already beaten four women beyond recognition before lighting the bodies on fire, earning him the nickname, The Burning Man. Detective Maeve Kerrigan is on the task force that is working to bring him to justice, when a fifth body, Rebecca Haworth, is discovered. As Kerrigan digs deeper into the fifth victim’s life she starts to realize that The Burning Man might not be responsible after all and a second killer is on the loose.
I wasn’t sure what I was expecting in this detective but I ended up liking Maeve Kerrigan a lot more than I thought I would. She is definitely a woman in a man’s world, fighting for her place on the task force by working hard. Maeve is extremely likable as a character, and while the book moves slowly to end the conclusion, it doesn’t feel slow. I love that while she is smart and focused, she doesn’t seem omniscient. She is the narrator of the book as well as Louise, Rebecca’s best friend, to give more perspective into Rebecca’s life. A life that seems idyllic and wonderful on the outside, but under the surface is dark and desperate.
The Journal of Professor Abraham Van Helsing by Allen C. Kupfer
Perhaps the most unsettling book I’ve ever read, this book plays itself as the real journal of Abraham Van Helsing, the famous vampire-hunter character in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. While this book is fictional, you would have a hard time guessing it from the way it’s written. It reads and feels like the real deal and gives glimpses into the deeper world of vampirism and its history throughout the world. This is a must-read if you want to stay up at night.
The Shining by Stephen King
Most people know this as only a movie, with a crazed Jack Nicholson staring through a door, but it was first a novel by Stephen King. I first saw the miniseries adaptation of this film when I was 12 and was fascinated/terrified by it. Last year, I had the chance to read the book when I found it at a yard sale. It’s the first book by Stephen King I’ve read and I was impressed by his ability to craft a brilliant story that wasn’t so much scary as it was unsettling. There’s no big monster that jumps out; rather you see the transformation of Jack from a struggling father to a crazed madman, and it’s all in his head. Plus, the fact that the setting of this book is in an isolated hotel far up in the Colorado Rockies in the winter makes it a perfect location to have you scared.
Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Jacob makes the journey to Cairnholm near Wales, to visit the orphanage where his grandfather grew up to discover it was bombed out during the last World War. How can that be? His grandfather received a letter from the Headmistress, just a few years ago. It is a mystery that Jacob is determined to solve. I really liked this book. It is the first book in a series, but I felt like it was fun and intriguing and I love where the story headed. This book isn’t particularly scary, but the real old photographs the author used throughout the book really gave it an eerie feel. The picture on the cover is one of my favorites.
I Am Not A Serial Killer by Dan Wells
What would you do if you thought you had the potential to be a serial killer? John Cleaver knows he has the potential to be very dangerous and so he has created a list of rules to keep himself in check, until he meets someone who is even more dangerous than him. I love this story and the cover, it is simple but very telling.