Halloween Reading

Halloween is right around the corner and I have put together some of my favorite October reads. While some are obviously horror/scary reads other are more subtle but put me in an autumn frame of mind when I think about them.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

I will never forgot the first time I read The Historian.  From the moment I read the words “to My dear and unfortunate successor”, I was hooked. I would list The Historian in my top 20 favorite books. Based on the reviews it is one of those that people either loved or hated.  I loved the feel of the book.  The musty libraries, that feeling of someone looking over your shoulder and turning to find that no one is there.  The Historian has great atmosphere and is the perfect read for an October evening.

The House With a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

I have read The House With a Clock in Its Walls nearly every Halloween since I was a child.  If I were to associate any one book from childhood it would be this one.  I fell in love with the unlikely hero, Louis Barnavelt, because, as a child, I could relate to him.  Last year, during the week of Halloween, I read it to my daughter and it has become one of her favorites too.  One of the things first first drew me to the book were the illustrations.  The book was illustrated by Edward Gorey and I can recognize his work on sight and immediately think of The House With a Clock in Its Walls.

Let The Right One In by John AjVide Lindqvist

Let The Right One In is the most unique vampire book I have ever read.  It is horrifying and gruesome, but at the same time sweet and heartbreaking.  It was made into a movie and originally released in Sweden and later in the U.S. under the title Let Me In.  I found I enjoyed the Swedish version better as it stayed more true to the book, but the casting in the U.S. version was stellar. Lindqvist is billed as the Swedish Stephen King and rightly so, because this book gets under your skin.  In all my reading I do not think I have read a vampire more terrifying than Eli.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

The Night Circus is in my top 10 reads of all time.  I fell in love with this book during the opening lines.  While this book is not horror, or even very scary, it puts me in a Halloween/autumn frame of mind.  If Neil Gaiman were to write “Romeo and Juliet” it would be something like The Night Circus.  The mysterious circus that appears only for a short while and then disappears without a trace, the doomed lovers, and their rival fathers, all of these put together make for an unforgettable tale.  I have bought several different copies just for the different cover art, which is so striking and unique and perfectly captures the essence of the book.

The Vampire Lestat and The Queen of the Damned by Anne Rice

I cannot read The Vampire Lestat without immediately reading The Queen of the Damned.  The two flow perfectly together into one story.  I read these in October at least once every few years and never get tired of the outrageous Lestat.

There you are, gentle readers, a few of my Halloween favorites.  What books do you turn to when the nights grow colder and the leafless trees cast strange shadows about?  Happy reading!

Book Review: Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King

Full Dark, No Stars is the first short story collection of Stephen King’s I have ever read.  Actually I would not call it a short story collection, more of a novella collection as there are four stories, each ranging from about 80 to 100 pages.  This book has one of the most descriptive titles I have ever read, because it captures the core of each story, utterly and completely dark.  And when I say dark, I am talking the complete absence of light in the purest sense.  This is not anti-hero dark, this is you have lost everything and there is no hope dark.

As I mentioned there are four stories in Full Dark, No Stars; “1922″, “Big Driver”, “Fair Extension”, and “A Good Marriage”. I read them all in order (which is not something that I always do when reading short story collections), except for the last two.  I read “A Good Marriage” before I ending the book with “Fair Extension”.  I am not really sure when I did this other than the concept of “A Good Marriage” struck my fancy at the time.  This worked well for me as “Fair Extension” seemed like a good ending for the collection.  If you wanted to attempt to end this collection on a high note, I think the story “Fair Extension” is about as close as you are going to get.

I am not going to summarize the stories because I think that takes some of the fun away from the reader and spoils the experience.  I will say that my favorite is probably “Big Driver”, as it is a story of revenge, and who does not like a good “getting what they deserve” tale, but as with all good King stories, there is a twist.  I would definitely label these stories as “horror”, no doubt about that, but of the psychological kind more than the “monster/evil entity” type. One story had some of latter but was still heavy on the psychological bent.

King picks at the scab until it bleeds.  He uncovers the monster in all of us.  That was what I found most disturbing in these stories.  These were ordinary people, placed in extraordinary circumstances (the hallmark of King’s style) and we the reader sit back and watch the events unfold in utter fascination (or should I say horror).  The scariest monsters out there are not demented clowns, vampires, or possessed cars, we are the scariest.  A fact these stories drive home.

I found several covers to Full Dark, No Stars, but I think the most powerful is the overhead view of the woman with her arm outstretched and covering her head.  It looks like she may be trying to push someone (or something) away and protect herself.  I think this captures that essence of these stories.  The sense of helplessness while being engulfed by darkness.

I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it to anyone looking for something “different” in their horror.  The psychological bent to these stories really worked for me and I am hoping to find more like this as I read more of King’s work.

Release Day for THE GODBORN by Paul S. Kemp

The Godborn, Book 2 of The Sundering

Today is the release day of Paul S. Kemp‘s highly anticipated Forgotten Realms tale,  The Godborn.  I received a review copy from Netgalley which can be found here. The Godborn has been my favorite read of 2013 and I am looking forward to reading it again. This time around I plan on listening to the audio version which is available from Audible.

I don’t think anyone could be more excited than the author on the release day of their book, but I am pretty damn excited myself.  I have been waiting for this book for years and I can’t wait to have a signed copy grace my bookshelves.

Even if you are new to the Erevis Cale saga, The Godborn is still a perfect place to start and there is enough backstory to catch readers up on past events.

The Godborn is available today in hardcover, ebook, and audio formats.