Happy Halloween, readers! I have had a great time delving into some spooky and thrilling reads this month, in honor of this ever-so-eerie day.
Since college, I haven't focused much on the horror genre (or at least not more than any other genre). But when I was in middle and high school, that was almost the only thing I read. Looking back on it, I'm kind of amazed that my middle school Reading and Language Arts teachers never marched me to the school counselor's office. All I read was Fear Street, and all the stories I wrote involved murder, suicide, and death in general. 'Twas a different era, I suppose. Thanks for trusting that I wasn't a psycho, teachers!
Nowadays, I still love to pepper my reading with scary books. Books give me enough of a scare-factor that I feel sufficiently creeped out, but they don't overload me with horrifying special effects and gore the way the movies do. The beauty of reading is that you can visualize and focus on the plot elements at your own pace, in your own head. They can still freak me the eff out, but it's easier to walk away if I need a breather. This is what keeps scary books on my TBR list.
Thus, in honor of the awesomeness that is Halloween, I'm highlighting some of my all-time favorite scary reads, from my dark days as a horror-writing youngster to now.
The Scary Stories books by Alvin Schwartz
I had all three of these books in elementary school, and they are still scaring the pants off me to this day. The stories themselves are straight-up frightening, but paired with the pictures? They're like the visual equivalent of The Ring. GAHHH! In hindsight, I can't believe these were marketed to fourth graders. Do kids still read these, or have they been banned because the children of the 80's showed too much mental damage?
Christopher Pike teen novels
When I hit middle school, Christopher Pike and RL Stine were my homeboys. I would read any Fear Street you threw at me. But in terms of the scare factor, Pike always won out. Stine's books were always a little campy and predictable, but Christopher Pike went straight for the gritty, gory, sex- and drug-infested teenage horror story. Again, probably a bit much for my 11-year-old self. But these books still stick with me as awesome reads. Chain Letter was one of my faves.
Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child
I have no idea why I took this book out of the library in middle school. Apparently I wandered into the adult section and ended up with this at random. I read it three times, and every time I didn't sleep for days. If you've seen the movie (with Julianne Moore), it's kind of cheesy. But the book was no joke. Now remember--I was in middle school. It might not be so scary to me now. But back then, the crazy Amazonian beast roaming the halls of the Natural History Museum was a nightmare. I still think about it every time I visit the AMNH in New York.
Helter Skelter by Vincent Bugliosi
What's scarier than nonfiction horror? This is the story of Charles Manson and the Manson murders, in full and disgusting detail. I read this in high school (came strongly recommended by my MOM...and I wonder why I was drawn to horror novels). If you like true crime, this is the ultimate.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King
As an adult, Stephen King is my horror master. I've read a ton of his stuff, but Pet Sematary might be tops on the list for me in terms of fright. A family moves into a new house, and discovers an ancient burial ground in the woods behind it. It contains powers that are beyond the imagination--and of course, those powers are abused accordingly. Burial ground + dead pets + little kids = totally twisted.
What were your scary favorites throughout the years?