October 23, 2012

Top Ten Books to Get in the Halloween Spirit

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by the bloggers of The Broke and the Bookish. This week's top is ten books to get in the Halloween spirit. Now, I love Halloween. I love the idea of a day where you get to dress up like (and become) someone else. I find the history behind the holiday fascinating. As for the horror element of the holiday...not such a fan. I don't do scary very well. So since I haven't read any horror novels, I instead picked lots of Gothic and romantic-era books that are still evocative of the dark and creepy mood we associate with Halloween.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie And Then There Were None is Christie's most enduring work and possibly the best murder mystery story ever. And, since Ten by Gretchen McNeil seems to be a YA take on Christie's novel, I think it's important to recognize this original murder-mystery literary masterpiece. This was my first Christie book but by no means my last. There's tons of suspense, murder, and an incredibly clever twist.
Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice Anne Rice is the one responsible for reintroducing the vampire to our modern culture. A lot of the aspects we take for granted in vampire lore were popularized (if not created) by Rice. Even if you're in love with the sparkly vampires prevalent in today's culture, I think it's important to look back and see a prime example of a time when vampires were terrifying monsters, immortal killers, and dangerously charismatic.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley The "Frankenstein" costume is a perennial Halloween costume (English major critique: Although it should actually be called "Frankenstein's monster." Frankenstein is the name of the scientist who creates this being, not the being itself.). But seriously, Shelley's work has got all the elements for a perfect Halloween read: the dark and cold weather, the crazy scientist, the monstrous creation. Plus it's an enduring classic of nineteenth-century British literature. 

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier I absolutely adore this book! Rebecca is the story of a young, unnamed protagonist who has recently married a wealthy, older man. As she tries to fit in to her new life, all around her she keeps hearing about her husband's previous wife, Rebecca. Rebecca's presence is pretty much a constant factor throughout the book. This is definitely a haunting book as the memories of Rebecca literally haunt our protagonist.

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte Now before you dismiss this choice as irrelevant, let me explain. The infamous red room scene? The idea of the crazy woman in the attic? Mysterious fire? Bronte's most famous story about the relationship between a young governess and her mysteriously reclusive employer is not simply a love story. Much like her sister Emily's Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre is a very atmospheric tale with a creepy mood spread throughout.

The Hounds of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle Once again, here the author utilizes the idea of the moors and bleak countryside to create a tale full of perils. The hounds mentioned in the title are like ghosts, glowing a faint green and haunting the lands at night. And of course it wouldn't be a classic Sherlock Holmes story with a murder or two. 

Anything by Edgar Allan Poe I'm rather partial to some of his short stories like "The Pit and the Pendulum," "The Tell-Tale Heart," and "The Cask of Amontillado." Poe's stories are classic horror fare, and his short stories are all quick reads. For many of his stories, I went in expecting darkness and despair and yet still found myself surprised by how dark they become.

The Italian by Ann Radcliffe At first glance, Radcliffe's famous work could easily be taken simply as a Gothic romance. But add in a murderous monk, the Holy Inquisition, and sinister and mysterious surroundings and you've got the makings of a dark tale.

Coraline by Neil Gaiman The monsters and beings that Coraline faces in her alternate-reality home should definitely be part of any Halloween celebration. Going into a home like yours but with subtle differences that gradually become more pronounced sounds so creepy. And the people have buttons for eyes! Ick! The version that I read even had illustrations to help readers get better visuals.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman I am not a fan of Unwind by any means, but I picked this novel mainly because it's been a very long time since I've read something that's creeped me out so much I was unable to sleep that night (the last book I remember creeping me out to this degree is actually Frankenstein). It is a book that really examines the boundaries of life and death and what it truly means to be alive, so since death is a common theme of Halloween I think this is fitting.

What books get you in the Halloween spirit?
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Amanda loves few things better than sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. She frequently stays up far too late, telling herself she just needs to finish one more page. When she's not wrapped up in the stories of others, Amanda works as a children's librarian in a public library.


  1. I've read practically all of these and I love them! Especially Jane Eyre, Rebecca, and And Then There Were None. Awesome list this week, Amanda!(:

  2. DUH! Why didn't I even think of the Classics?! GREAT CHOICES!

    1. haha I was apparently in a very classics-oriented mood. Thank you!

  3. I love that you mostly stuck to classics! Two of my faves are up there--Frankenstein and Jane Eyre! <3 And thanks for reminding me to break out the Poe this Halloween! I never seem to remember. :P
    Great list!
    - Lauren

    1. Thanks! I love the classics! I haven't read any in a while now, unfortunately. And I hope you do get to read some Poe! I should as well. His stories are nice and short enough. :)

  4. Totally agree on the ones I've read. Still have to read anything by Poe - I have a big fat collected works but maybe that's the problem, it's so daunting, where do you start?! Have to get a copy of The Italian now, sounds great (and frightening!).

    I remember reading And Then There Were None when I was a teenager and that book completely got its claws into me, it was so scary and I was so stunned at the twist, it completely got me!

    So far, Coraline is the only Gaiman book I've liked, not that I've read them all or anything. And it was really scary! And I love Rebecca. Jane Eyre is still one of my favourite books, and Frankenstein is so thought-provoking.

    I haven't read Interview with a Vampire, Unwind or The Hound... yet, but I will! Great list Amanda. :D

    1. Ooh yes definitely read The Italian! I also really liked A Sicilian Romance by Radcliffe. And yes, I had a very similar experience with And Then There Were None. It gave me a newfound respect for the mystery genre. I recommend all of these books (except maybe Unwind...had some issues with it.)Thanks so much for commenting, Shannon!


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