Just Can’t Get Enough

Recommended reads for Halloween season

Autumn is the perfect time to snuggle up with a good book. Mostly because it’s raining outside and it’s miserable stuff out there.

But it’s also a high-point in the publishing calendar year. We’re getting all sorts of spooky books this year as everything occult is becoming popular again. I say bring on the trend! All the more witches and demons for us. Weird thing is, I tend not to read very much horror in the autumn. I save all those up for the summer where I can stay up late and scare the shit out of myself. I love supernatural romance and mystery at this time of the year. Characters > plot.

I gathered a list of my favourite books to read at the Halloween season. Incidentally, not many of these are new releases. But that does mean you can find these at a good used price.

Who said being spooky had to be expensive?

Whether you enjoy listening to a book or having pictures, there’s plenty to enjoy. So let me know what you’re reading this year (send some recommendations!). I’ve got plenty of books on funeral homes and murderous mischief awaiting me. Let the season begin!

The Novels:

If you like a bit of gore with a side of sweetness, there are loads of supernatural-themed cozy mysteries to choose from. I’m pretty new to the genre, so I may be one of the worst people to get a recommendation from. But I can say Caught Dead Handed: A Witch City Mystery is a pretty fun place to start.

Lee Barrett has returned to Salem, Massachusettes to interview for a TV reporter job. Only she ends up landing a gig as a psychic on a late-night horror movie show. Thing is – the job is only vacant because of the murder of the previous host. When Lee begins to see visions, she reluctantly begins to solve the murder.

And speaking of psychics… Gallows Hill by Lois Duncan is a supernatural thriller about Sarah, a young girl who begins to have visions upon moving to a new town. After posing as a fortune-teller for a fair, Sarah realises she’s set off a frightening chain of events linked to the Salem Witch trials hundreds of years earlier.

The book was turned into a pretty good made-for-TV movie called I’ve Been Waiting For You. (Terrible title change.) So if you want to skip the book and head straight for the adaption, I’d definitely recommend it. Try finding it on YouTube before dishing out £100 for the dated DVD.

You can’t talk about good adaptions of witch books without mentioning Practical Magic. Alice Hoffman’s classic is a wonderful tale about sisterhood, horrible ex-boyfriends and magic. You probably already know the story from the iconic 1995 film of the same name. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, look it up and welcome to the world.

I personally think the prequel, The Rules of Magic, has more autumnal ambience, but it’s not worth reading without reading Practical Magic first. It will make you laugh and it will certainly make you cry. But most of all: it will fill your room with spells and a certain magic of its own.

The last novel recommendation is the Night World series by L.J. Smith. This is a classic YA series from the 90s. And personally, I think it’s one of Smith’s bests (only bested by the Forbidden Game trilogy). Set in a world similar to our own, human children keep falling in love with supernatural creatures. Sad news for them, this is a major no-no.

You’ll probably be able to draw similarities between the summaries of Night World and Twilight. Only, bless Twilight, L.J. Smith is actually a good writer. She has a great knack for making memorable characters. Even though each novel in the series follows a different set of children, I could easily describe the main character in each book. They have flaws, they have strengths. Sometimes they’re weirdly into techno music in a big way. But none of us are perfect, are we?

You might have noticed I’ve recommended a lot of supernatural romance and YA here. I’m very (not) sorry. This was unintentional. Have you ever heard of Stephen King? Yeah. Give that guy a try or something…

The Graphic Novels:

With the release of Shudder’s Creepshow reboot, it’s time to celebrate by revisiting the original (as well as enjoying the new show, obviously). If you haven’t yet, try the comic book version of the film. There isn’t much new here if you’ve already seen the 1982 movie, but there is something very satisfying about seeing the movie on page in a EC Comics-style.

A short read full of ghoulish fun.

Now the next pick is particularly special to me (as evident by the fact that I recommend this series to literally everyone). I first heard about Locke & Key at a Q&A at an IDW comic con panel. Most of the men on the panel agreed that this Joe Hill-penned story was one of their favourites. After following their recommendations, it’s one of mine too.

Locke & Key follows the story of the Locke children after the brutal murder of their father. They along with their mother return to their father’s ancestral home, Keyhouse. While healing from their trauma, they children discover a series of keys that each holds a magical power. As they gain more knowledge of they keys, an evil entity looms around them, growing stronger.

There’s an adaption coming to Netflix in 2020. And the cast really looks like the cast we deserve. So now is the time to read the comics before the show is released.

And if you’re like me and occasionally like revisiting the realm of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there are loads of comics to choose from. Most of them are terrible. Some are more interesting than others. I personally enjoyed Tales of the Slayers, which is a selection of stories about various vampire slayers throughout history and the future (featuring Karl Moline’s gorgeous Fray).

If you’re not ready to commit to the long story-arches of the comic series aren’t sure where to start with Buffy comic material, this isn’t a bad place to start. It’s by no means earth-shattering content. But for a quick, fun vampire read – this is it.

The Audiobooks:

If you know anything about my reading habits, I’m obsessed with audiobooks. It’s the number one way that I consume books these days.

Horror and fantasy are great genres to listen to. Horror especially, as the right narrator really adds an ambience that only enhances a book. Not that being said…I haven’t read many horror books on audio. I typically read mystery and thrillers. That way I can’t look at the end of the book and spoil things for myself.

I’m the literal worst.

One such example of a great narrator bringing a story to life is Peter Bishop’s go at Algernon Blackwood’s short story “The Willows“. It’s only two hours, but there’s a lot of well-built suspense that has a great payoff. Plus it’s not a huge commitment. No summary here. Best to go into this one completely blind.

If you love haunted houses, look no further than anything by Darcy Coates. I listened to The Haunting of Blackwood House a couple of years back, but I still recall some great, thrilling scenes. It isn’t going to be the most original tale you ever read, but if you want some spooky doors with your blood and screams, I do recommend Coates.

At the point of writing this, I’ve not yet finished with Serpent & Dove, but I’m still going to throw it in these here recommendations. I’m an unabashed lover of YA fiction. I don’t care that I’m an adult. I haven’t been this obsessed with a story in ages.

Lou is a witch. Reid is a witch hunter. So it’s fairly inconvenient when they are forced into marriage to save their lives and reputations. As Lou continues her work to save her kind, she becomes more entangled in Reid’s world. It’s incredibly addictive. So it’s probably best to hold off until you have 15 hours to sit and listen to this baby.

My favourite music moments in horror films

I love the use of pop music in horror movies. The juxtaposition of something nice with something horrible always works for me. . Think “Hip to be Square” in American Psycho – a delightful piece of music playing over an axe murder. But pop music can be used to bring us to the right period or even build the character’s personality more than a score can. It’s a useful tool not often used in horror movies.

And I’ve realised, that many of my favourite scenes in horror movies revolve around music in some way. So why the hell not throw a little list together about it? I’ve chosen these particular scenes for many reasons: they make me laugh, they flesh out the plot, or its just excellent to watch horrible things happen to good music.

Now I’m not counting original scores here because that would be a list all on its own (the gialli soundtracks alone earn a list). And I’m also not including theme songs (that means no Dokken) because that would also be an excellent list.

The band on the Night Train to Terror (1985) perform “Everybody But You” by Joe Turano

“What kind of train is this?”

Night Train to Terror is SUCH a mess. A lovable mess, but a mess all the same.

The 80’s cult film was essentially an anthology movie pieced together of three different films (to be honest, those bits aren’t really important). Tying them all together was the titular train ride. On board is Satan and God, but also a random rock band making a music video.

The movie isn’t great. It’s certainly very weird. But more importantly, it gave us this:

The awkward dancing. The air guitar. The strange bit where they’re all swaying. That being said, this song is such an earworm. This is not only my favourite music moment in a horror movie, but probably my favourite movie moment ever. If you’re having a bad day, chances are this can work its magic on you.

“Sittin’ Here At Midnight” – Reggie Bannister Bill Thornbury’s (as Reggie and Jody) jam session in Phantasm (1979) 

Phantasm is a dark movie, as in it nearly all takes place at night or inside Morningside mausoleum. It’s haunting and filled with nightmares, but it’s also funny and has a great cast of characters. This particular scene is less than a of couple minutes, but it perfectly encapsulates the wonder of small-budget film making: many moments just feel really…real.

The score for Phantasm is pure excellence, but I will always love the guitar jam session between Reggie and Jody. It builds the authentic friendship between the two characters, which helps the ending become all that more compelling.

Actor Bill Thornbury, who wrote the song, still performs it live. You can watch a full live version here.

Angela’s dance to “Stigmata Martyr” by Bauhaus in Night of the Demons (1988)

There’s something wrong with Angela.

Night of the Demons is one of the quintessential 80s horror movies. And it would be nothing, absolutely nothing without the character of Angela. When a group of high schoolers go to an abandoned mortuary where they take turns being possessed and getting killed on Halloween night.

There are many iconic moments. The lipstick, the razor blades. But Angel’s strobe-lit dance is one of the best.

Actress Amelia Kinkade is a trained dancer, and she uses that training to great effect. In some ways, its similar to the Return of the Living Dead scene with Linnea Quigley’s character Trash dancing on the tomb. Its sensual, yet threatening. But the scenes use their actors in different ways: Linnea’s to build up a party mood (to quickly be crashed) and Amelia’s to build a sense of foreboding.

You’re dancing in The House of the Devil (2009) – “One Thing Leads to Another” by The Fixx

Many contemporary horror films try to replicate the feeling of an 80s or 70s horror movie. Most of those fail. But The House of the Devil does it really, really right.

One of the best ways to set a period for a film is music. When student Samantha (Jocelin Donahue) gets a babysitting job “watching” an older woman, she soon finds herself bored. And what better way to spend the time than dance around to The Fixx on your Walkman?

It’s a fun scene, and Donahue really captures the jubilant dance moves of the 80s well (Molly Ringwald and Ally Sheedy would be proud). But while it is meant to show her casual boredom and youth, the scene still manages to be slightly menacing. It also works by making the viewer feel relaxed, only to shatter the illusion of safety.

Pretty much all of Slumber Party Masscre II

I love the Paisley Underground sounds used in the soundtrack for Slumber Party Massacre II. There’s a lot of great music moments to choose from in this one, but the girls singing “Tokyo Convertible” is easily my favourite bit.

It may be a weird pick considering the main baddie is a manifestation of a greaser rock star. He has a bunch of great songs. I even love the selection of Wednesday Week as the sound chosen for the friends’ fictional band. But there’s something very jubilant about this scene. It’s a fun bit of friendship-building.

Oh and the song is seriously excellent.

Its Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich – “Hold Tight” car scene in Death Proof (Grindhouse, 2007)

My best friends loves this soundtrack. Its a test of your nerves driving to this soundtrack with the movie’s imagery in mind.

Like many of Tarantino’s movies, the whole Death Proof soundtrack is excellent. They’re key to bringing the scenes to life. But in this case, the song is a mocking warning to the women whose lives are about to be cut short.

It’s gruesome, and the song is great.

“People are Strange” in The Lost Boys (1987) – Echo & the Bunnymen

The right song is essential when introducing a new location. We need to know how a place feels, and we can pick up cues not only with visuals, but with sound. If you’re introduced with the slogan “Murder Capital Of the World” and a haunting Doors cover, chances are – you’re not a very nice place, but you’re probably cool.

The early scene in The Lost Boys shows Michael, Sam, and Lucy entering their new city of Santa Carla for the first time. And compared to the safe little town they came from, the people here really are strange. It’s certainly a literal take, but by using a cover by the Bunnymen, the take is slightly elevated.

I also want to put in a good word for the saxophonist scene with Tim Cappello. It’s so good, it’s a close second. Ultimately, though, I went more with scene-setting than pure enjoyment.

Bonus choice: “Sensuous Tiger” from The Capture of Big Foot (1979). NEVER FORGET!

Five great horror soundtracks to play this Halloween

It’s finally Halloween! The greatest night of the year. We’ll wake up tomorrow to a world of Christmas music, but for tonight: the world is ours, horror fans!

I love a good horror movie soundtrack any time, but I’ve chosen five of my favourites to listen to tonight. Don’t (or do) listen to them alone tonight. But be sure to lock the doors.

1. Deep Red (Profondo rosso) by Goblin and Giorgio Gaslini

Goblin’s soundtrack for Suspiria typically gets more love. I get it, it’s one hell of a soundtrack (and my personal top five). But there’s something very interesting and exciting about Profondo rosso. This giallo’s score switches seamlessly between Goblin’s progressive sounds, to the incredibly creeping singing of a child, to Gaslini’s more traditional pieces. Even if you just seek out the title track, it’s worth it. But “Mad Puppet” is really the jewel in the crown here. It’s a bit funky, like if you feeling a bit cool before you’re about to die.

2. Halloween (2018) by John and Cody Carpenter, Daniel Davies

Including this just because you’ve probably listened to the original once or twice already. This is an updated take on Carpenter’s soundtrack from the 1978 original, and it feels a lot more industrial because of it. Come for the familiarity, stay for the excellence.

3. City of the Living Dead (Paura nella città dei morti viventi aka Fear in the Town of the Living Dead)by Fabio Frizzi

Ominous and foreboding, this is Frizzi at his finest. City of the Dead is surreal and shocking (like most of Lucio Fulci’s work), but Frizzi has always complimented his vision well. It might not be your favourite movie, but the soundtrack is always glorious.

4. It Follows by Disasterpiece

Easily the most unsettling on this list. While It Follows is already a few years old now, its soundtrack still sounds like the future of horror. You can find its 80s synth inspirations everywhere now. While there are lighter moments (“Jay”, “Detroit”), much of the soundtrack builds to painful stretches of suspense (“Heels”). I can’t listen to “Inquiry” without getting goosebumps. Sure, it’s just music, but are you sure there’s nothing following you?

5. Carnival of Souls by Gene Moore

Want to remember those fond feelings of being terrified in church? Well, look no further than this eerie organ-based soundtrack by Gene Moore. The music immediately invokes the feelings of loneliness and desperation Mary feels throughout her journey. Definitely not one great to play at parties. This was movie made on a shoestring budget, but somehow the soundtrack (and the movie) defied all of that to create something really special.


What will you be listening tonight? Sticking to “The Monster Mash”? Probably for the best…if you want to sleep tonight.

My most anticipated things this Autumn

Helloooo, autumn!

Today is the autumnal equinox, which means I woke up to rain and cloudy skies. In both Britain and the States, I love this season. Wisconsin is my preferred between the two, because there is more crunchy leaves and happier people. But nevertheless, this time of the year is absolute magic. And I mean ‘magic’ in both a figurative and literal sense.

This is still a time of year that feel more like renewal than death. And most importantly, this is the time of the year that I get to be queen. Horror movies become socially acceptable again. Spooky TV shows come out. Other people start talking about Halloween. It’s all happening.

But there’s plenty of amazing things coming up this autumn. These are just the handful I’m looking forward to most:

1. The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina on Netflix

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is by far the best horror comic to come out of the Archie Horror imprint. It is absolutely brutal, and SO much fun. When this show was announced, I was infinitely more excited than the news about Riverdale. Sabrina was always my favourite Archie character as a kid (I grew up at the height of the MJH and cartoon era), and I’m excited to see another, darker version of her.

This Netflix adaptation looks fabulously cast and seems to have encapsulated the feeling of Robert Hack’s art work. This take on the classic teenage witch promises to be dark and (hopefully) terrifying. Bring it on, Salem!

Available for streaming on October 26th.

2. Halloween (2018)

Sure, everyone is sick of remakes and sequels (see numbers one and three on this list). But this latest addition to the Halloween franchise looks genuinely good. It looks like a lot of love and care went into making it, which already sets it apart from many of the other installments in the franchise. This Jamie Lee Curtis film will actually be a direct sequel to only the first film, which means it will disregard the other films. This probably angers a lot of fans, but I think it’s certainly more interesting than any other direction they could have chosen.

Plus Carpenter is doing the score, so I couldn’t ask for anything more.

In cinemas in the US and UK on October 19th.

3. The Haunting of Hill House on Netflix

Admittedly, after watching the first trailer for this show, I’m significantly less excited for this one. I was hoping for a more detailed, intricate adaptation of Shirley Jackson’s novel, but instead this looks like…well, I’m not sure what it is. The trailer bares zero resemblance to anything about the book. Though I guess I had to expect some major changes if they were going to expand a 250 page novel into 10 episodes of television.

But Netflix and Mike Flanagan have worked well in the past before, so there’s plenty to be positive about. This will be the third adaption of Shirley Jackson’s iconic novel. While I love the Robert Wise adaption, I’ve always loved the book more and was really looking forward to a contemporary take on the work. So hopes up and fingers crossed.

Available for streaming on Netflix on October 12th.

4. Reading all the books

I’m naturally a slow reader, but I like to over-stuff my TBR every autumn. It’s wishful thinking to imagine that I’ll read everything I want to this season, but I will try. This month, the paperback version of Alice Hoffman’s The Rules of Magic was released in the UK. I’m currently devouring it and crying over some of the best magical realism I’ve ever read.

Also, I do love to reread a childhood favourite of mine, Gooseberry Park. While technically set in early Spring, this book is so cozy, it always screamed autumn to me. My copy has been through a lot, so each read is nearing the book’s last.

5. Two Evil Eyes (Due occhi diabolicion Blu-Ray from 88 Films

This British film distributor KILLED IT with their release of Umberto Lenzi’s Eyeball (Gatti rossi in un labirinto di vetro). 88 Films are easily one of my favourite companies, so I was overjoyed when they announced a Blu-ray release of this 1990 film directed by my two favourites, George Romero and Dario Argento. They’re sure to do great things with this release.

You can pre-order now from 88 Films’ website for a release date of October 15th.

6. Horroctober at the Prince Charles Cinema

The PCC is my home away from home. They take 50% of my paycheck every month (sadly, that’s not much of an exaggeration). Each October, the cinema curates a fabulous selection of Halloween and horror movies to show. Horroctober pretty much offers something for everyone, so guard your wallets wisely.


What are you looking forward most to this season? Thanksgiving? Christmas nearing so you can start playing Mariah Carey?

Treasure these few months because it will be 2019 before you know it, and we’ll be entering the bleakest part of the year. Cheery thoughts, ya’ll!

Horror movies to watch for the Halloween season

Only the uncivilised believe that any horror movie is appropriate for Halloween. Who watches Friday the 13th at this time of the year? These people are amateurs.

But seriously, we can’t consider every movie with snow a Christmas movie, so why make exception for Halloween? I’ve collected some of my favourite movies to watch at this time of the year. Some are on-the-nose, yes, but I like to think they best celebrate what this time of the season really feels likes.

I personally like to enjoy classics of the genre, but that isn’t to say there aren’t others worth mentioning. My list isn’t the most inspired, but sometimes it’s worth just revisiting the traditions. So whether you watch horror movies all year round, or just this week – maybe you’ll find something here:

1. Halloween (1978)

John Carpenter’s classic should be a staple for everyone’s Halloween. Growing up, I was constantly renting this movie from the rental shop. But it wasn’t until I watched it on the full screen at the Prince Charles Cinema in London that I realised how truly incredible this movie is.

Rent it, watch it, continue the tradition. But if you have the opportunity to see this in a cinema, you absolutely need to.

2.  Night of the Demons (1988)

On the surface, this movie looks like pretty standard fair: kids go into haunted house on Halloween, kids become possessed, kids die. But Night of the Demons is so much more than an average slasher film. Like many of the late-80s slashers, there’s a lot of style influence from the American hardcore scene (see number 5 on the list). It’s ascetic and memorable characters (including great performances from Amelia Kinkade and Linnea Quigley) make this a slasher a head above the rest.

This is one of the few films that I actually enjoy the sequel to (actually, any 90’s horror movie with Christine Taylor is a win), so I also will throw that one in as a bonus rec.

3. House of the Devil (2009)

This Ti West-directed beauty is more than just a nostalgia trip. While the film looks and feels very much like an early 80’s thriller, it offers a much more contemporary take. The tale is of a young woman who agrees to a babysitting job on the night of a lunar eclipse. Only the job isn’t so average, instead of a unruly group of kids, it’s to watch an elderly woman. It’s certainly a slow burn, but West does an incredible job at building suspense.

Also, arguably the best use of The Fixx in any movie.

4. Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

It’s fabulous, stylish and just everything a gothic stunner needs to be. Bride of Frankenstein picks up precisely where Mary Shelly’s original tale ended. This is Universal Horror at it’s height.

Arguably, any of the Universal Monster Movies is perfect for Halloween, but the story of Frankenstein and his monster is very special. And Bride of Frankenstein might actually be better than the original. Elsa Lanchester’s Bride character doesn’t come to life until towards the end, but she’s so iconic, you’d think the movie is about her.

And as always, anything where Boris Karloff is the monster is necessary viewing for Halloween.

5. Return of the Living Dead (1985)

Like Night of the Demons, this Dan O’Bannon-helmed zombie movie is full of style and Linnea Quigley’s boobs. It has a fantastic soundrack, talking zombies (well, they can say “brains”), and the fabulous Don Calfa. The story isn’t exactly inspired, but it’s done in such a way that everything feels fresh. It’s enough to inspire your own picnic in a graveyard.

If not this one, just go with the classic Night of the Living Dead. That one never gets old.

6. Mad Monster Party? (1967)

I only watched this stop-motion animation movie for the first time back in September, but it made such an impression I feel compelled to share this strange, zany film. Sure, it is terribly dated, but how many animated movies really stand the test of time.

Answer: Charlie Brown.

But this little Rankin/Bass movie (Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer) is a literal monster mash of characters. It’s corny, yes, but anything that is willing to use King Kong alongside Dracula is going to be.

7. The Haunted Castle aka The Devil’s Castle (Le Manoir du diable) (1896)

My first proper introduction to Georges Méliès was in a media studies class at university. Our professor was completely enamored with the magic that the French director was able to create on film. And that affection was infectious. I’ve loved Méliès work ever since.

Many of his films contain sinister undertones, but none quite like Le Manoir du diable. Two men encounter Mephistopheles’ castle, which is haunted by bats, skeletons and spectres. It’s only three minutes, but this black-and-white silent film manages to create some seriously chilling imagery. Completely astounding for something created in 1896.

This is often considered the first horror film ever made. So if you haven’t seen it, be sure to treat yourself to a viewing.

8. The Omen (1976)

The 70’s was a truly golden era of horror cinema, especially the kind interested in religion, demons and Christianity. The Omen is often paired with the slightly-superior The Exorcist, and arguably, both of these films could make the list. But the first time I watched The Exorcist I was in a farmhouse in July – so I’ve ruled it out. But The Omen is about an adopted child that ends up being the Antichrist. Can it get more seasonal than that?

Just watch the graveyard scene.

9. Don’t Look Now (1973)

Based on Daphne du Maurier’s short story, this is a dark and brooding tale of lose and obsession. It’s certainly the most harrowing movie on this list, but it’s also the most stunning. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie play a couple of parents who leave for Venice after the accidental drowning of their daughter. But they don’t find the escape that they desire in Italy. Sutherland’s character begins to see visions, which includes a lot of red rain coats.

Don’t Look Now is filled with cold, dark places perfect for the short, dark days. It’s also terrifying.

10. Fright Night (1985)

Fright Night is everything I love about 80’s movies: it’s a bit wacky, the main character is a lovable goof, THE MONSTERS ARE REAL, KIDS, and there are a lot of great, memorable lines! It’s like Goonies meets Lost Boys meets Monster Squad with a bit more thrills. Oh, and a lot of great lines.

When Charley realises that his next-door neighbour is a blood-sucking fiend, he sets out with a motley group of friends to get rid of him. It’s a comedy of errors, but one that includes a late-night horror TV show host. The idea of horror movie actors helping you destroy a servant of darkness has to be a dream for most horror fans.

There is also a documentary available on Shudder called You’re So Cool, Brewster! The Story of Fright Night, which I will need to watch…as soon as I make it through this list again.

Favourite reads for the Halloween season

October, kids. It’s OUR season. The season where we can wear our pumpkin dresses without glares, be incredibly morbid and just be called “festive”, and pretend to be one of those “seasonal readers”.

So maybe it’s just me. But I’m getting into the spirit of things here.

I have to admit, I don’t read much horror or thriller novels in October. Shock, horror, but summer is typically when I gorge myself on trashy books where characters meet their grime demises. I don’t only watch horror movies in the autumn, so why save reading certain books just for October?

That being said, there are certain books which feel a bit more seasonal than the average book. These are stories that are a little bit more old school, whether they’re classics of the genre or just take on the style.

But just warning you now: there will be no Stephen King on my list. I know he’s meant to be one of those ‘staple’ authors, but it’s my not-so-deep and dark secret that I really don’t like him. Or at least I have yet to read one of his books that I enjoy. But I’m going to keep trying (if you have any recommendations, please share).

So grab your pumpkin spice arsenic teas, everyone! These are my recommended reads for Halloween:

1. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Is there any haunted house book that’s better? That’s a rhetorical question and the answer is no.

Shirley Jackson is the queen of twisted, psychological tales. The Haunting of Hill House shows Jackson in perfect form. If you’ve seen the classic 1963 version of The Haunting, you’ll know the gist of this one. Four people go to stay in a supposedly haunted house where strange and horrible things begin to happen. Is it real? Or is it all in their heads?

This is one of the few books has actually managed to terrify me. Don’t read it when you’re home alone (or do, and scare the crap out of yourself).

2. How to Survive a Horror Movie by Seth Grahame-Smith

I have a real love-hate relationship with ol’ Seth. On one hand, he’s written this hilarious in-joke of a book, but on the other, we have him to blame for that Dark Shadows script.

How to Survive a Horror Movie is exactly what it says on the label: a step-by-step guide for navigating your way through a horror movie. Each page packs in as many Easter eggs as possible, making it a hunt for references. I read and re-read the shit out of this book as a teenager. Perhaps it’s time for adult me to give it another try.

3. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina vol. 1 “The Crucible”

Archie Comics have been killing their revamped series. I think the jewel in their crown is this dark and horrifying version of Sabrina.

All of the original ingredients are here: Harvey, Salem, the aunts. Only Sabrina meets a nemesis with vintage Archie character Madam Satan. Don’t expect too many jokes with this one. Think more along the lines of blood-rituals, possessed trees and face eating.

It was announced last month that the Riverdale creators are working on turning this into a television show. You have all of my attention and all my love.

If you can’t wait, the Jughead one-shot The Hunger from last spring has been turned into a new full-length series. Issue #1 will hit comic book shops on October 25th.

4. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

Just give me a chance with this one.

Jane Austen often has a reputation she doesn’t deserve. The woman was fierce and clever, and wrote one heck of scathing book when she wanted to. Northanger Abbey is a parody of the gothic novel that was incredibly popular at the time. Her heroine Catherine Morland is silly and naive girl who has lived most of her sheltered life in the country. She goes to Bath and is whisked off on a journey full of ‘haunted’ homes and ‘murders’.

Northanger Abbey is, yes, a romance novel, but at heart it’s really about a girl becoming a woman. Catherine as the lead heroine is an absolute gem. She spends so much time dreaming that she’s in a Gothic romance novel that she forgets she actually doesn’t live in one herself.

This is certainly the most unusual choice on this list, but if you’re not into reading this, try watching the 2007 adaption starring Felicity Jones and JJ Field. It’s that perfect balance of Gothic imagery, sweetness and sick muslin jokes.

5. Spell on Wheels vol. 1

This limited-run series published by Dark Horse is absolutely brilliant. It’s full of feminism, witches, and mystery. And hilarious mythical monster romances.

Three witches go on a road trip throughout New England to look for their magical items that have been stolen from them. They try to track down their items while thwarting evil along the way.

The style really couldn’t be better for this time of the year. It’s a seriously good-looking comic. But also: witches.

6. Dark Entries by Robert Aickman

Aickman, for me, is incredibly dated in ways that male authors often are. He lacks all ability to write fleshed-out female characters. That being said, the short stories in this collection are pretty great. More than anything,  they’re appropriate for Halloween. “The School Friend” and “The Waiting Room” are stand outs amongst the six stories included.

Most people prefer Lovecraft (there isn’t much in the way of similarities here), and I won’t argue that. But Aickman macabre stories are definitely worth checking out if you have yet to be exposed. He’s well worth experiencing.

American of London’s summer horror reads 2017

I know that summer is typically when people consume garbage books, but summer doesn’t have to equate to the mind-numbing. Life is too short to read shit books on purpose.

Increasingly I’ve found that I’ve enjoyed reading horror novels in the summertime, especially when I go home to Wisconsin. There is something unknown about the forest around my parents’ house that fills my imagination with spooky ideas.

As August is giving us its final, dying breath before autumn mania takes over, I thought I’d chat about the horror stories I’ve read this summer.

1. My Best Friend’s Exorcism by Grady Hendrix

This was one joyful read. A glorious throwback to a horror golden age. It surprised me, made me laugh aloud but most all — creeped me out quite a lot. In My Best Friend’s Exorcism, Gretchen and Abby are the best of friends. They’ve been together through their fair share, but they meet ultimate test when Gretchen becomes possessed.

I’ve never read anything else from Hendrix, but his book Paperbacks from Hell: The twisted history of ’70s and 80s paperbacks is out in September, and that’s a definite “yes please” from me. Hendrix built such a great, convincing story around his main characters’ friendship, that I think I’ll be reading anything he writes from here on out.

And quick note, this book sat on my TBR shelf for nearly a year until I saw the paperback edition and had to buy it immediately. I mean, look at it – it’s incredible.

2. Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan

This is a bite-sized thriller about a group of kids who accidentally kill their English teacher (spoiler alert). Like many of Duncan’s novels, the teens have to learn to accept responsibility for their actions or deal with what happens to you when you’re a nasty little liar.

I mentioned this in my review of the made-for-tv adaption, but I picked up this Lois Duncan novel in a used book store. I’ve been interested in reading Duncan’s novels for a while and I quite enjoyed this. Duncan was fantastic at building up feelings of suspense and guilt. A disturbing little read.

3. Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

It’s rare to get excited about any books that come through our office at work, but when I heard co-workers talking about creepy dolls and needles stuck in a boys’ eyes, I knew I had to get my greedy little hands on this book. It took almost two years to do it, but I finally read it!

Frozen Charlotte isn’t likely to blow anyone away who’s familiar with the genre, but there is plenty of atmosphere that is rather chill-inducing. It follows the story of Sophie, a girl who goes to stay in Scotland with some family after the supposed suicide of her best friend. It’s immediately clear to Sophie that not all is well with her family or the weird dolls she finds everywhere.

There’s a prequel novel out in September. The first novel was good enough for me to gladly read the second.

4. “The Willows” by Algernon Blackwood

I listened to Algernon Blackwood’s short story “The Willows” on Chilling Tales for Dark Nights’ YouTube page, which you can listen to here. Peter Bishop does a fantastic job with the narration. They do a number of stories on their page, and its well worth a visit if you enjoy audio books.

“The Willows” follows two men as their make their journey down the Danube. They stop for the night on an island filled with willow trees. The men begin to have explainable supernatural experiences as their situation becomes increasingly dire. It’s a story that slowly unfolds, and dramatically. Blackwood was absolutely fantastic at creating a chilling story.

I definitely want to read more of this man’s stories in the future.

5. The Butterfly Garden by Dot Hutchison

Not strictly “horror” this one. The Butterfly Garden is more thriller, but the two often go hand-in-hand. This book, to me, is in the same realm of something like The Silence of the Lambs, which also treads the line between thriller and horror.

The story follows two FBI agents as they interview a girl who has been held in a greenhouse known

as the Butterfly Garden for years. Her captor is the Gardner, a twisted man who mutilates his victims by tattooing them with butterfly wings. The story changes POV between the interview with the girl, Maya, and Maya telling her side of the story.

I found this a difficult one to rate. In many ways, it’s very good – I felt scared, I cried, I was sickened. But also, I think Maya was meant to feel like an unreliable narrator but I believed everything she said. There’s no real twist here. It’s either guessable or given away by the synopsis. Not exactly what you want in a thriller.

6. The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer by Jennifer Lynch

It’s been a rather Lynch-filled summer. With the return of Twin Peaks I’ve been living in the Lynch World since April (when we started re-watching the original show leading up to the The Return). So I was very pleased when I got this book for my birthday from my co-workers.

And…wow. What a saucy book.

Laura Palmer’s diary is certainly very shocking. Unfortunately, Jennifer isn’t anywhere as good as her father in building characters, but she does know how to write terrifying and sickening scenes. One day I want to sit with all of the pieces of the Twin Peaks puzzle and see if I can put any of them in place.

7. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice

I’m a very slow reader. So when I received my copy of The Witching Hour in the mail, I nearly wept. IT IS SO LARGE. I managed to read this beast in about 24 days, but boy I’m still not certain if it was worth it.

The Witching Hour is an epic in every sense of the word. While there is one main plot line, much of the story is filled with the history of every Mayfair Witch. For the first 400 pages, I was so into it. Rice has such an alluring style of writing. But the lady cannot be described as brief. Do readers really need to know every detail of a house? And when I say every detail, I mean I could draw you a picture of this thing.

Despite it being simultaneously devious and tedious, I found myself actually wanting to read the other books in this series (of which there are two more). Damn you, Anne Rice.