Monday, October 31, 2016

Scary Stories We Love to Read

Halloween is upon us. While the trick-or-treaters beat a path to your front door for their sugar fix, what better time to curl up on the couch wrapped in that fuzzy blanket and bury your nose in seasonally frightful reads. 

Contributors Melanie (Grab the Lapels), Drew (Raging Biblioholism), and I have some recommendations for ya. Check them out!

Drew's Picks

Wytches,Vol.1 by Scott Snyder & Jock
Maybe it's Jock's sharp and jittery imagery or maybe Scott Snyder's take on witches is just that scary - but this comic run legitimately gave me nightmares. It goes full tilt boogie basically from start to finish and I find myself in the unique position of both wanting a second run and dreading it. "Pledged is pledged," as they say...

Listen to Me by Hannah Pittard
More Hitchcockian dread than true terror, Hannah Pittard's single-sitting road-trip novel is one of the most effective thrillers I've ever read. She builds the tension from the first page and when she does finally let it go, in a moment altogether human and ordinary, it's a better release than any fright could've been. Seriously, read it in one go. 

The Shining by Stephen King
Look, I'll say it again and again and again: no book has ever scared me more, or better. I like other Stephen King books more and I even like other horror novels better... but this one still takes the cake when it comes to even just thinking about it and getting scared all over again. This one deserves every ounce of hype.

Melanie's Picks:

Pet Semetary by Stephen King: 

While King may seem like a friendly guy in his interviews, Pet Semetary is downright scary with its murderous undead brought back to life after being buried in "sour" ground.

World War Z by Max Brooks: 
I've heard a lot of complains that the multiple narrators in World War Z all sound the same,but if you listen to the audio version, the famous voices are impossible to confuse. Each character is played by a different voice actor, and the numerous interviews, with the emotionally wrought dialogue and subtle sound effects, really put you there, as if you, too, survived World War Z.

Santa's Little Helper by H.D. Gordon: 
Is it a Christmas novel? A Halloween gore-fest? Santa's Little Helper helps characters right into their graves as he tortures a group of children who just want a happy holiday. Gordon has no qualms about killing people off, so the tension is high.

The Last Final Girl by Stephan Graham Jones: 
Any horror reading list that doesn't include Jones is incomplete. The Last Final Girl is my favorite because Jones uses movie direction to plot out a story of a slasher wearing a mask of Michael Jackson in the "Billie Jean" video and killing off high school kids (of course!). The "last final girl" is that one who makes it out alive, thanks to some rules to survive a horror movie (like those Randy describes in Scream, a horror film that knows about horror films).

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith: 
Known for her psychological thrillers, Highsmith really kicks up the scares when we meet Bruno, a young man who has a conversation with a stranger while riding the train. Bruno hates his father, the stranger, a respectable architect named Guy, hates his wife. Bruno then tries to convince Guy to do a switcheroo: Guy can kill Bruno's unreasonable father, and Bruno can kill Guy's wife. Guy says no, but Bruno starts the process anyway. And he shows up everywhere. And he wiggles his way into Guy's life. Bruno is the ultimate creep that Guy just can't escape, nor can he convince anyone he's being stalked by a killer.

Altmann's Tongue by Brian Evenson: 
The book that led Brigham Young to practically force Evenson to quit. A student complained in an anonymous letter that Altmann's Tongue is a "showcase of graphic, disgusting, pointless violence." And wow, is it violent. You leave Evenson's first book feeling pretty awful. However, Evenson argued back, pointing out, "My violence is a kind of violence that you can't cheer for. Movies glamorize killing. My book, however, shows how pointless violence is." You can't argue with that depth of horror.

Lori's Picks:
(AKA the things I fear the most)

Puppet Skin by Danger Slater:
Beware all ye who, like me, have an irrational fear of marionettes. Forget Pinocchio. Danger Slater has created a world where real boys and girls are turned into wooden puppets as part of their graduation process. This is the story of one girl who bucks the system and says fuck all ya'll! Creepy as all get out, Danger has outdone himself with this one. 

Arachnophile by Betty Rocksteady:
Holy giant spiders and humans living side by side, batman! I have been afraid of spiders for as long as I can remember. When I see one, in real life or in a photograph, I feel my heart begin to race and I have to swallow the urge to vomit. I won't attempt to squish one because, god forbid I miss it and it escapes, I'd die from the anxiety of trying to find it again, though I also can't just let it live because WHAT IF IT GETS ON ME or MAKES BAAAAAABIES??! So you gotta know that picking up this book, it set off every warning, trigger, and alarm in my body but I just couldn't resist. I've been dying to check it out. And hot damn, despite the fact that this fucking thing had my brain buzzing, my skin crawling, and my stomach clenching the entire time I was reading it, I fucking LOVED it. It was the most bizarre, tenderly twisted love story I have ever read. 

Scratch by Steve Himmer:
Loosely based on Algonquian & Wampanoag lore from the region where the story is set, it's wholly original and incredibly unsettling. Martin's the new guy in a small, secluded, superstitious town and he's heading up the new housing project out in the middle of the woods. As the trees are cut back to make space for the new development and after a frightening run-in with a bear, Martin learns about the legend of Scratch - an unknown entity that is accused of luring townspeople into the woods, never to be seen again. When a local drunk disappears, the rumors and whispers of Scratch rise up again. And what of the pile of bones that is uncovered while excavating the site? And the little boy who was last seen chasing a fox into the forest behind his home, was that Scratch's handy work as well? 

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