Last year I made a conscious effort to select spooky reading for the entire month of Halloween. Since my reading taste tends towards urban fantasy and mysteries, it's safe to say that 80% of the books I choose any time of the year would qualify as "spooky" reading. But what I really meant was something more specific. I wanted to read books that had a particularly haunting quality to them, a gothic quality.
It worked out well last year. I read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. And The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield - a new book with a great old fashioned gothic read feel to it. I also read a cozy mystery called All Hallows' Evil by Valerie Wolzien. It didn't have a gothic feel to it, it was just a pleasant, quick, cozy, but it took place during Halloween so it was fun timing. That was it, last October was a busy month.
This year I started earlier, in midSeptember, trying to start a string of haunted stories. I read Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris. I'm a big fan of Harris' Sookie Stackhouse books and this new series didn't disappoint. The main characters are unique and intriguing and the stories have a gritty, quirky real feel to them even with the paranormal happenings.
Next I read a big ol' hardcover I picked up at a thrift shop called Hiding From the Light by Barbara Erskine. I was a little worried it would be a sort of historically padded love story, not really my thing as a general rule, but I was willing to give it a try as the setting and story were an interesting choice. Basically it was about modern day characters in a seaside English village who were being haunted by local community ghosts of long ago witch hunts. Like I said, I started out hesitantly, but was quickly won over. The characters and setting were complex and interesting. A thick book, I read long into the wee hours for most of a week to finish it, only to be completely shocked at the ending, and NOT in a good way. I spent the book considering the many different outcomes that could play out, only to feel completely sideswiped and cheated by a stereotyped ending that seemed completely incongruous with the character's personalities and the information the writer fed us. Harumph - I finished it over a week ago and I'm still feeling annoyed at being cheated out of what could have been a really great book.
Next I found another cozy murder mystery with a Halloween themed cover. Strange Brew by Kathy Hogan Trocheck. It turned out that the story starts with a murder on Halloween night in the first chapter and then moves on and doesn't really look back on the whole Halloween theme the cover promises. But, it was a first read of this author for me and I really liked her style and her characters so hey, I'm not disappointed. I've already found another book in the series to read soon.
I was thrilled to find a used copy of the next in Charlaine Harris' Harper Connelly Mysteries, Grave Surprise. The mystery is unveiled in a first chapter spent in a old cemetery, so that was a good spooky bit. I'm halfway through it but so far it's just as great a read as the first one.
After this I really should take a spooky break and read this month's book for my reading club. I'm not sure if there's still time for me to find the book in time to read it for the meeting. I was gonna borrow someone elses copy and that didn't work out, so hmmmm. I do want to read this book but not now, now I want to plow ahead with more spooky reading. I'd like to find a copy of Dracula. Or maybe some Edgar Allen Poe. I haven't read him since I was a kid. I'm also considering reading my first Anne Rice.
Or, what I really want to read but I'm trying not to buy any new books at the moment, is Neil Gaiman's new one, The Graveyard Book. Fortunately, someone (I think it was another Post Spooky participant too) turned me on to the news that Gaiman is doing a book tour and reading one chapter from the book at each stop. The readings are available online. I managed to get in listening to half the first chapter before I saw I'd run out of time and had to quickly pack up and leave on our two day football trip this weekend, but it left me anxious for more. The hardcover book itself, a young adult selection, has great illustrations and is definitely on my list to own, but I can't pass up the opportunity to listen to it being read from the author's very own lips!
Spooky Question of the Day: Are you reading anything appropriately spooky this month? What is your favorite spooky author or book(s)?