So first off, I'd like to apologize for yet another delay in an installation of my Frightful Fridays series. I can't help but notice it's turning into Terror Tuesdays... Given that the whole idea of this series is to finish on Halloween (a Friday) I will do my best to get back on schedule. This past weekend was a hectic one, it was our Canadian Thanksgiving, my fiance and I also went on vacation for two nights immediately after I worked a full shift on Saturday. To top it off I've been crazy sick. I had planned on writing the post and publishing it when I went up north to the trailer but sadly forgot that there's no internet there. Instead I went fishing, collected some fall foliage, got a little drunk and played video games, went hiking and enjoyed autumn and nature to the fullest extent. Now I'm back, so let's get this show on the road.
What to read for Halloween
For this installation of the Frightful Fridays series, I've selected a few short stories and novels for you to read for Halloween. Now, many of these are actually not Halloween themed, unlike the films and television specials from my previous post. Instead, these are classic horror stories which I think you will enjoy. I believe most of the short stories are available online. I've linked to those texts that I could find via educational and fan websites. I hope you enjoy!
Revelations in Black
By Carl Jacobi
This is a short story about a gentleman who is attracted to a series of books handwritten by an alleged mad man. The books contain a three part story which is heavily laden with symbolism. As if possessed by some unforeseen force, the protagonist finds himself attempting to decode and unravel the mystery behind these texts. Are these books fact or fiction? What horrors lie in wait? Do vampires really exist?
Unfortunately, I don't have a link for this particular text. It can be found in Carl Jacobi's horror story anthology of the same name. Revelations in Black is the first story featured in that anthology. It's also featured in The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories, a vampire anthology which I own. I was impressed with Jacobi's writing style and I would say it's worth getting a copy of either book.
The Fall of the House of Usher
By Edgar Allan Poe
When it comes to Halloween literature, a lot of people will recommend that you read Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven, and although I think it's a very good piece I prefer The Fall of the House of Usher. As usual, Poe has a knack for establishing mood and this short story is wrought with gloom and anxiety.
The story follows an unnamed narrator who sets out to visit his ailing friend, Roderick Usher. As his friend descends into a kind of madness, the narrator attempts to lift his spirits but sadly it's to no avail. Usher is a gloomy character who is restless and anxious. His sister is on her death bed and as Usher well knows, he too will succumb to a similar fate. As the story progresses Usher's paranoia overwhelms him, he expresses to his friend (the narrator) that he feels his house is alive. Because this is a short story I won't indulge any further, but I think it's the perfect story for Halloween. It begins on a dark and gloomy autumn day, Usher lives in an apparently haunted and decrepit dwelling, there's death, malady and madness. It's just plain awesome. Check it out!
The October Game
By Ray Bradbury
I mentioned Ray Bradbury in a recent post, he wrote The Halloween Tree. He also wrote this delightfully grotesque short story called The October Game. Again, I don't want to give too much away so I'll give a brief description. The story is about a husband who is just a little bit disturbed. He's growing to seriously dislike his wife and child. He is seriously annoyed by the idea of participating in their Halloween party, so he decides to make his own fun... It's dark, creepy and perfect for Halloween. Read it here.
The Strange Adventures of a Private Secretary in New York
By Algernon Blackwood
I found this short story years ago when searching for old ghost tales. It's a work of fiction, but goodness what an interesting piece. I had never read anything by Blackwood before and now I'm smitten. This short story is about a legal secretary who travels to meet with a very creepy client. Much to his dissatisfaction he has to stay the night in a creepy old manor. Lots of weird stuff happens. It's both dark and funny, definitely give it a read.
The Masque of the Red Death
By Edgar Allan Poe
This is another great Poe tale. The story is obviously about the red death, a plague that gripped the nation and killed thousands of people. Prince Prospero has locked himself and his wealthy followers in an abbey, away from all the death and destruction that lingers beyond the abbey walls. To lighten the mood, Prospero throws a masquerade ball. He elaborately decorates several rooms for his guests to enjoy. The masquerade appears to go off without a hitch but unbeknownst to Prospero someone, or something, has crashed his party. What terrors await these party goers? Find out here.
By Bram Stoker
It's not Halloween without vampires and what better vampire literature to read than Bram Stoker's Dracula? A young English lawyer named Jonathon Harker is sent to close a real estate deal with Count Dracula of Transylvania. Harker travels to visit the count at his castle only to become imprisoned and accosted by female vampires. He later learns that Dracula too is a vampire, feeding off of blood and transforming into a bat. Harker manages to escape but to his dismay the horror only appears to follow him back home to England.
This is a great novel and popular amongst vampire and Goth enthusiasts. If you haven't yet read this book I strongly encourage you to do so.
By Mary Shelley
This is another classic novel that is a must read! Mary Shelley's Frankenstein follows an aspiring scientist named Victor Frankenstein. Dissatisfied with conventional science, Victor experiments with reanimating life. His attempts are successful, but at what cost? What happens when man plays god? Victor demonstrates that man's desire to dissect and control nature can have negative consequences. I strongly recommend reading this book.
There are many great stories and novels, too many to list! I hope that you find one of these pieces to your liking. If you have any good reading suggestions I'd be happy to hear them!