Last year Neil Gaiman had the great idea of giving someone a scary book for Halloween. If you don’t know who he is, Neil Gaiman has written all sorts of amazing stuff, from graphic novels to Coraline to Stardust to American Gods. He has excellent spooky hair and gets extra points for being married to Amanda Palmer (of the Dresden Dolls). In short, he is pretty awesome.
Anyway, I think All Hallows Read could be an amazing tradition. You don’t have to buy expensive new books, you can lend or give your own copies, take them out from the library or hunt them down in secondhand bookshops and charity shops. (Buying for yourself is also a definite option). In my head the Read also involves copious amounts of chocolate and ice-cream, with candlelight and storms.
I don’t read much horror anymore, so I feel a bit out of the horror loop. I like books that creep me out through and this seems like an excellent time to rediscover the terror. But what to choose?
Obviously Stephen King has written some great horror. As I said in a previous post, I read quite a bit of him when I was little. Misery was the first one I found, and in that weird child-logic way, I kept re-reading the part where he has his foot chopped off because it was the bit that freaked me out. They’ve just re-made the film version of The Thing, so could be apt timing for another read of that one.
How about a bit of Edgar Allen Poe? I remember my English teacher wrinkling her nose at me when I said I loved The Raven, and I guess some people get put off by the fact it’s a poem. It’s brilliant in an insidiously spooky way and best when read out loud by a deeply voiced man. I actually quite like The Simpsons’ version, the narrator is great, even if the fact Bart is the raven takes away some of the doom. Poe also wrote some great scary short stories like The Tale-Tell Heart which are definitely worth a look.
I’m a big fan of dystopian fiction, which isn’t strictly horror but often has some great creepy elements: room 101 in 1984, the way people are ‘born’ in Brave New World, The mechanical hound and people setting light to themselves in Fahrenheit 451. The very nature of a dystopia brings horror in one form or another.
I really like Gaiman’s scary children’s books, such as Coraline and The Graveyard Book. If you’re giving a children’s book, it’s absolutely acceptable to read it yourself first. Remember Funnybones from primary school? “On a dark dark hill, there was a dark dark town. In the dark dark town there was a dark dark street”. Amazing.
Here’s a link to the All Hallows Read website HERE and Neil’s video explaining the whole thing.