This week Spooky Sunday looks at Horror Stories by E Nesbit, an author best known for her children’s classics such as The Railway Children and Five Children and It. This is also the first short story collection I’ve tackled for Spooky Sunday and it’s interesting to see how this more concise medium tackles the task of creating a sense of creepiness. But can an author best known for enchanting children craft a truly spooky story? Let’s find out!
This week Spooky Sunday tackles a real life ghost story in Neil Spring’s fictionalisation of the investigation into Borley Rectory: The Ghost Hunters. Set over the first half of the twentieth century the novel follows Sarah Grey and her employer, paranormal researcher Harry Price as they investigate the place known as ‘the most haunted house in England’. Does this novel live up to the spooky reputation of its real life inspiration? Let’s find out.
Yes, I know it’s Tuesday but seeing as we get five whole Spooky Sundays this October I think we can deal with one Spooky Tuesday. To kick off this year I read one of the pillars of the genre, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Telling the story of an ancient Transylvanian vampire who tries to make it in the big city and the group of meddling kids determined to stop him Dracula is one of the best known horror stories out there. But is the original anything like our pop cultural perceptions and does a novel that spooked readers over hundred years ago still hold some scares in the modern day? Let’s find out!
SPOILER WARNING: Very vague and minor spoilers
As an avid Agatha Christie fan (as evidenced from my twelve thousand recommendations in our Roger Ackroyd post) I am slowly collecting all of her bibliography and even more slowly making my way through. In this series I’ll hopefully cover the many high and occasional lows of Christie’s career while also reducing that massive section if my TBR made up by her works.
To start off with we tackle Evil Under the Sun a beach themed murder mystery packed with everything you could ever want. Love triangles! Witchcraft! Drug dealers! Are any of these actually relevant to the main crime? Find out below!
SPOILER WARNING: Very mild spoilers (no revealing whodunnit)
For today, on the eve of Halloween I feel I’ve saved the best til last. I first bought Something Wicked This Way Comes last year with the intention to read it for that Halloween, however I found myself taking too long reading my previous book and ended up saving it for this year instead. So I had a year’s worth of anticipation built for this book and I’m glad to say it lived up to my expectations.
Something Wicked This Way Comes features one of the most famous examples of the creepy carnival as it rides in to town the week before Halloween and two boys, Jim and Will, try to protect the town and ultimately themselves from its malign influence.
SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Something Wicked This Way Comes.
For this, the penultimate Spooky Sunday, I read Fangland by John Marks which earns the not entirely complimentary honour of being the weirdest book I’ve read this year by far. Fangland is a sort of modern retelling of Dracula which follows Evangeline Harker, an associate producer on America’s biggest news programme as she goes to set up an interview with a mysterious man rumoured to be the head of crime in Eastern Europe and disappears in Transylvania. The book then splits between Evangeline’s experiences and those of her colleagues back in America as strange things begin to happen in their offices.
SPOILER WARNING: The below review contains moderate spoilers for the plot of Fangland.
This week’s Spooky Sunday was a somewhat rushed affair as I actually ended up reading the majority of the book today due to a minor reading slump earlier in the week. Her Fearful Symmetry is a ghost story about twins which centers on a house bordering London’s famous Highgate Cemetery; it’s probably the least conventionally creepy book on my list but there’s still plenty to enjoy. The story centers on a pair of American twins who inherit a London flat which once belonged to their mother’s sister (themselves also twins) as well of the other residents of the house including their not quite departed aunt.
SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Her Fearful Symmetry
Staying on task with my Spooky Sunday goals this week I read Neverland by Douglas Clegg. I found this book through a Halloween reads recommendation list and while it’s probably not something I would have picked up on my own it definitely made for interesting reading. Set during a summer vacation at their family’s ramshackle old mansion Neverland is a southern gothic horror story that follows the increasingly sinister games played by the narrator Beau and his odd cousin Sumter. Like the story from from which it draws its title this is a book about childhood and the price to be paid by growing up, albeit told in much darker way.
SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Neverland.
Halloween is probably my favourite seasonal holiday and this year I thought I’d celebrate with some spooky reads. I’m hoping to get one of these up each Sunday but we’ll see how it goes.
Slade House is a book that can best be described as a science fiction ghost story. It’s set over a period of thirty-six years and follows the mysterious events surrounding the titular house and those who visit it through a series of interconnected short stories. Each of the stories features a different narrator and time period while following the same basic premise of the protagonist being drawn into Slade House then charting their experiences inside.
SPOILER WARNING: The following review contains minor spoilers for the plot of Slade House