It is October and if I am not watching scary movies, then I am reading scary books. And really, it isn’t necessarily scary books, but rather ‘spooky books.’ Books that are just a little too weird for comfort are some of my favorites. Even though October is almost complete, maybe try and take the time to read one of these spooky books.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein is the O.G. monster story in my opinion and has been a fixture in my October life for as long as I remember–before I even read the book. Previously, I only associated the monster with how he was portrayed in movies as the green guy who can’t think except to terrorize the town and murder people. Movie Frankenstein was not a cool dude and when I finally decided to read Mary Shelley’s original novel, I expected to be more scared and terrorized than I was. I’m only including it on this list because of the whole crazy science and super-stalker stuff that goes on. The novel starts by introducing the “doctor” and how he had plans to creates life and he avoided his family for a long time to do it. He collects all the body parts he needs and finally gets to create life, but once he does, he instantly regrets it and runs away. HE RUNS AWAY. He leaves this creature (possibly dangerous, definitely clueless) to fend for himself. They finally meet up and Frankenstein’s “son” tells him about how he learned to speak and read and how all he wants from his “father” is for him to make him a wife/companion. Isn’t that so sad? SPOILER the “doctor” doesn’t do it. Then people are killed, and Frankenstein is forced to run away. Eventually, they talk everything out, and Frankenstein’s “son” lives alone in the mountains for the rest of his existence. It’s a pretty sad ending, at least to me, but it definitely is one of my top Halloween reads for years to come.
P.S. I’m not sold on the creation of “Frankenstein’s Monster” opposed to “Frankenstein” simply because I have more respect for this being than I even have for the self-proclaimed doctor/college dropout. Also, if the “monster” is Frankenstein’s “son” like they mention several times in the book, why can’t they both be Frankenstein?
The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock
The Devil All the Time was recently adapted into a Netflix movie so I, naturally, had to read the book as soon as possible before I could watch it. The best way to describe this book is to very loosely say it is a true-crime. It follows many interesting people and generally they all circle around a small Ohio town and a couple of traveling serial killers. There were so many strange characters in this book that it was hard to put down but also hard to keep reading at the same time. Tragedy after tragedy seems to orbit around Arvin Eugene Russell even before he was born, and the author expertly embroiders everyone else’s life with his. I highly recommend reading this book (and then watching the movie) if you want to feel the spooks of small-town life and the tragedies and scandals that ensue.
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires is a book that I did not take seriously the first time I saw it. I was thinking, “what a ridiculous name and concept for a book. I wouldn’t ever be able to read and enjoy it”, but then I bought it. There was something about the cover that made me buy it and risk losing a couple of days out of my life while reading it. It was fabulous, and it was ridiculous. There are a lot of mixed reviews on Goodreads, but overall I enjoyed this book. I want more people to read it. Much like the title suggests, this story is about a group of women in the late 1900s who are mostly house-wives that started a book club where they almost exclusively read true-crime books and anything about serial killers. There is a new guy who moves into their neighborhood, and the protagonist is not impressed. After an encounter in the woods, she is convinced he is selling drugs to children that are causing them to kill themselves. Eventually, that blows over because he seems like such a respectful guy and she is just a silly house-wife who doesn’t know anything, but the women eventually get on her side and plan to kill him. SPOILER ALERT: they kill the vampire, but you should read and find out how they did it because it is outrageous, and I definitely dreamed not-so-sweet dreams about it when I fell asleep that night. This book would probably fall under the ‘campy’ side of horror that you can’t help but laugh at; however, there were absolutely a lot of gory and gross bits of this story that make you take it a little more seriously.
Dark Matter by Blake Crouch
Dark Matter is one of the first science fiction books I read and I have read it several more times since I first picked it up. The basis of this story is that a man is kidnapped from his dimension and his ideal family and job life, and he has to travel through a ‘time machine’ to try to find his original reality. Not only was this book amazing, philosophical, and quotable, but it also made me feel super smart. Because of this book, I went through a phase where I did so much research on time travel and fancy physics stuff and tried to understand what was going on. We get to see how this author interprets how impactful seemingly little decisions can be in our lives and everyone else’s. In one reality we see a nuclear waste zone. In another, we see a plague that has killed almost everyone. There is another one where the main character chose to pursue his career rather than have a family. I won’t say anything about how this story ends because I think if you have any hint about what is going on, you don’t enjoy it as much. This is a book that you definitely need to be a little clueless and confused while you read.
These books are some of the best that I have read this year (and possibly overall) that help set the Halloween mood. From monsters, serial killers, vampires, and time travel, there is no way you could go wrong!
Here is my Goodreads where you can find more books that I have or want to read: https://www.goodreads.com/mandinicole