I confess, Halloween is my favorite holiday. I love the costumes, the decorations, the imagination, and the silliness of pumpkin decorating, haunted houses, corn mazes, and treats salty and sweet. It’s a time to enjoy fantasy, being scared, spooky stories, bonfires, and parties.
There are books, by both indie writers and writers that have publishing houses behind them, that I turn to during the Halloween season. I’d like to share some of my favorites with you. Here are ten I love, five indies and five not. Some may be familiar, some brand new to you. I hope you’ll take a look at them.
Favorite Indie Horror Stories
- The Threshold by Anita Kovacevic. This is actually a novella. Kovacevic packs a creepy punch in a few pages. With the flavors of Lovecraft, King, and Clive Barker, Kovacevic begins with a somewhat humorous look at a small town population before drawing the reader into a dark netherworld. Nothing is more frightening than finding the veneer of average small town has a big crack running right down the middle. The Threshold
- Horror at Pine Ridge by Craig McDonough is a vampire tale that sneaks up on the reader. It starts out seemingly an average neck biting vampire tale but soon takes on a darkness that keeps the reader turning pages. These vampires don’t sparkle although the blood they draw does glisten in the moonlight. With a tone that crosses “Dracula” with “Salem’s Lot” it will keep any vampire lover engaged. Horror at Pine Ridge (Currently Unavailable, Being Re-edited)
- Death Most Wicked by Suzi Albracht is the prequel to her Devil’s Due Collection and by far my favorite. While the story introduces Detective Mikhael Ruskoff and sets the stage for his eventual “problems”, the real horror is the kidnapping and murder of young girls. The kidnapper is creepy and disturbing, the reasons for the actions bizarre and alarming. This book proves it doesn’t require the supernatural to be frightening. Death Most Wicked
- Your Last Breath by Carole Parkes and Doug Lafuze. Once again the protagonist is not a supernatural being but could easily be the guy down the street. Mental illness has produced some of the best psychopaths in literature. Serial killers are terrifying because we don’t know what makes them tick or how they choose their victims. This particular nut is cut from a new kind of cloth and he racks up his kills joyfully. Your Last Breath
- Random Lucidityby Dave Adair Another book that is more than horror and perhaps better fitted to the thriller category. But don’t mistake what seems a benign tale in the beginning to remain docile. When it took a turn I wanted to dig in my heels and say Whoa! What just happened? A rich read with multiple story lines that are woven together so subtly you don’t see it coming. Random Lucidity
Favorite Non-Indie Stories
- Dracula by Bram Stoker was the first book I read that kept me up all night and scared me into wearing a cross around my neck for months. Even though over the years I have come to view it as more than a horror story, it still holds enough of a nightmare factor to make me uneasy. Stoker’s brilliant addition of what were then new technologies in a story about a centuries old terror legend makes this book an all around winner. Dracula
- Pet Semetary by Stephen King says it all with the line, “Sometimes dead is better”. In this case it sure as hell is. Like many horror stories the problem is man playing God. Louis Creed doesn’t seem to learn that lesson very well and the result is a nightmare. Pet Semetary
- ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King is the modern day King manages to take Stoker’s vampire and by tossing a whole town into the mix magnifies it. What really gave me the shivers was the fact that King made kids into vampires. The notion that the innocence of childhood could be so corrupted is delightfully disturbing. ‘Salem’s Lot
- The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty was so upsetting the first time I read it I almost felt physically ill. It didn’t help that it claims to be based on a true occurrence. The gradual insinuation of evil into the life of Reagan and her actress mother builds tension so effectively it is impossible to set down. Even if you’ve seen the movie, you must read the book. It’s a helluva story. The Exorcist (40th Anniversary Edition)
- NOS4A2: A Novel by Joe Hill is darkly chilling and plays on every mother’s fear for her child. While children love Christmas, they do NOT love Charles Manx’s Christmasland. Manx is an enigma. And you don’t want to get close enough to solve the mystery of who or what he is, especially if you are a child. With a fascinating heroine in Victoria McQueen who is forced to reach deep into her past to save her own child from the horrors she managed to escape. Joe Hill rose to the top of my favorite author list when I read this book. NOS4A2
What are your favorite Halloween books? Next time I’ll list my favorite kids Halloween books!