It's the most wonderful time...of the year....
The werewolves are hairy
The ghosts very scary
To fill you with fear
Tis October, ghasts and ghouls, AKA Halloween. (Seriously, the entire month is just Halloween. Let's rename it. It's not like "OCTober" makes sense for the TENTH month of the year...Thanks O'Caesars.)
Now, this may come as a bit of a shock to you, but I am a fan of Halloween. I always have been. Since the days of heading over to Mr. Simpsons house at the end of a spookily wooded driveway to the party where there was always a mountain of candy in the middle of the room and black and white monster movies on the TV. Since the days of checking out the orange-covered children's book on Halloween from the elementary school library over and over and over again. (Or also the orange-covered Universal monster movie books from the public library. Somewhere in time, Child Jim is very confused why Murders in the Rue Morgue was considered a monster movie. It was just an orangutan. It wasn't even giant.) Needless to say, Halloween is my special favorite.
And so I want to share with you a newer tradition, one that hits me in the scares and the reads. It is called All Hallow's Read. Here's one Mister Neil Gaiman to explain it:
Now, I've attempted to get my friends to partake in this tradition with me for a number of years without any luck. The one time it succeeded was when I just said "Screw it" and bought people books. But financially, that's not really feasible for me right now, so I will instead put out some potential suggestions for you, the internet person, to check out whether by purchase or library or tracking me down and saying, "Hey, can I borrow that book from you?" (To which, I will respond "Yes! Yes! Here! Now get me out of this bear trap!")
Let's face it. You knew this one was coming. And you knew it for the same reason, I'm recommending this book.
I love the miniseries. I love this Barlow. He's terrifying and monstrous and wonderful. And so I had to read the book. And the book is just as good. This is, as Stephen King put it, what if Dracula didn't go to a modern city like London or New York, but stayed among the sleepy New England towns, towns that another King antagonist pointed out, "Know how to keep their secrets." It plays straight with its vampire lore. When they realize ALL they have to do to defeat Barlow, you like the characters realize just how impossible your victory may be. The good guys are not assured victory. And there's also the Marsten House, an evil separate than Barlow, an entity in and of itself.
Another vampire tale. Huh. Imagine that.
I heart Mike Mignola. He's a wonderful mythological storyteller. This is one of several collaborations between him and Christopher Golden and by far the best. The premise: WW1 has ground to a halt due to the "plague" that Lord Baltimore accidentally awoke on the battlefield one night. Since that time, he has dedicated himself to the extermination of evil, but also to tracking down the scarred vampire who has destroyed his life. Three men arrive in a city at Lord Baltimore's request. As they wait for their friend to arrive each tells two tales: one, a story of their association with Baltimore and what he saw and the second an encounter of their own that led them to believe him. Set up in the classic style of The Canterbury Tales, each story is different and mythic in the sense of old storytelling, where each one seems to occupy its own world and doesn't connect neatly with each other and that's okay.
I will say, this one is not for everyone. There are long slogs of narration prose in this book, but if you can stick it out, I think its highly worth it.
(If you want something a little shorter or really love Baltimore and want more Mignola Golden goodness, maybe take a look at Father Gaetano's Puppet Catechism.)
Oh and speaking of not for everyone...
I could put down any number of classics on this list--Dracula, Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde--but you already know those. You've already read those. How about something NO ONE knows about? Unless of course they read the same "listicle" a few years ago that I did about how there are no classic werewolf novels. Here's an attempt...Alexandre Dumas, yes THAT Alexandre Dumas, wrote a werewolf story once upon a time. It's not your typical werewolf story either, no sad eyed Larry Talbot's here. This is old-fashioned werewolf morality tale in the vein of the Grimm Brothers or other fairy tales. Again, this one is a bit of a challenge--it is OLD literature (Most people forget that a fair portion of The Three Muskateers is them being given letters of introduction so that other people will give them money or stuff) but hey, it too is fairly short and if you get through it, you TOO can brag to your friends "Oh hey, did you know the Count of Monte Cristo guy wrote a werewolf book? Yeah, I've read it."
Also Reads: In the, DID YOU KNOW: suggestions, Louisa May Alcott wrote a short story called "Lost in a Pyramid; or The Mummy's Curse." I haven't read it, but hey...an unexpected story from a literary titan to brag about.
Lizzie Bordon takes on the eldritch horrors of the Cthulhu mythos. DO NOT BE FOOLED. This isn't Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. There is no flipping in the air with an ax to do away with monsters. There are however characters you care about and deep-seeded dread and corruption and madness. Everything is dealt with seriously and with the proper amount of horror by those experiencing it. Both this and the sequel Chapelwood live up to the best Lovecraftian stories.
If you are perhaps in the mood for a little lighter fare, how about the story of a snarky necromancer? Of a similar tone to another book YOU MAY BE FAMILIAR WITH this is a novel series that delves into necromancy, vampires, werewolves, devils, steam punk, and love craft always with a bit of foot note sarcasm and a tongue safely, but not TOO firmly placed near its cheek.
Not enough for you? Well how about seeking/helping out some NEW horror. Inkshares, the company that brought you "Me" is holding a horror writing contest. Nearly 100 authors currently have books for you to peruse and pre-order. The Top 3 will be published, but all have a chance to put a tale of terror in your hands. (Including my fellow Our Fair City writer Mark Soloff. You can find his book The Silent Scream of Melania Trump, a satirical send up of horror, samurai fantasy, and politics, HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERE.)
Anyway, that's it from me (except that my reading list is currently The Strain Book 2: The Fall, to be followed by either Annihilation or Lovecraft Country). I better get back to REAL writing instead of this blogging crap.
*Vincent Price Cackle*