Halloween has become a holiday associated with children, but even adults can get in on the fun. There are plenty of spooky, or downright scary, reads that hit the shelves this time of year. Here are a few of my favorites:
“The Stand,” by Stephen King ($16.95, Anchor): King was writing post-apocalypse horror before it was cool and this classic published in 1978 is still my favorite. It tells the tale of a mysterious illness that sweeps through the world, wiping out nearly the entire population. Those who survive are then pulled into a classic battle of good versus evil, God versus Devil. Although the length (my copy is more 1,100 pages) is daunting, it’s an engrossing read that will keep the reader up all night.
Honorable Mention: “The Shining,” by Stephen King ($7.99, Anchor) which scared me half to death.
“Red Dragon,” by Thomas Harris ($7.99, Dell): Harris is a notoriously slow writer, but what he generates is almost always worth the wait. This is his second novel, his first featuring Hannibal Lecter, the cannibalistic psychologist. In it, injured FBI agent Will Graham comes out of retirement to catch a vicious serial killer and face the man who nearly killed him. Although the movies made from this novel have been admirable adaptations, none of them capture the spine-tingling terror of this book that has made readers cry, while reading it.
“Pride and Prejudice and “Zombies,” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith ($12.95, Quirk Books): You may recognize Grahame-Smith’s name from my review earlier this year of “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” but I actually enjoyed this book more. It’s the ultimate what if of “what would happen if zombies were in a Jane Austen story.”
Purists will perhaps cringe, but the ride readers are taken on is amusing, unexpected and sometimes downright chilling.
Finally, if you do have wee ones about this Halloween, I will also suggest “The Girls’ Ghost Hunting Guide,” by Stacey Graham ($9.99, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky): Meant for girls ages 9 and up, though you could probably go a bit younger, it provides all the information any girl, or boy, ever needed for her own ghost hunting party, which will likely take some pressure off mom and dad if they’re planning a Halloween gathering and leave them more time for scary books of their own.
(Editor’s Note: Jesse Petersen has written some of her own scary stories with her award-winning zombie series “Living With the Dead.” You can find out more at her website www.jessepetersen.net)