(As always, a big thanks your to the fab bloggers over at The Broke and The Bookish for this weekly meme!)
This week it's Halloween week on Top Ten Tuesday, so I'm celebrating my favourite scary reads. I love horror books and ghost stories despite being laughably easy to scare and having an overactive imagination, so I can't resist a good chiller! I don't read an awful lot of scary books, so I've had to trawl through some of my dustier shelves and back pages of my kindle to jog my memory and in the process scare myself into sleeping with the light on tonight. So, in no particular order...
The Shining - Stephen King
“Wendy? Darling? Light of my life. I'm not gonna hurt ya. I'm just going to bash your brains in.”
The granddaddy of horror, and in my humble opinion, one of the creepiest books ever written, The Shining by Stephen King is a masterclass in suspense, creeping dread and outright horror. This was the first book I ever read by King, and the first book I ever read that genuinely scared me. I almost did a Joey from Friends and put the book in the freezer. The movie version is pretty good, and The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror spoof one of the best ever, but there's a reason this book is considered a horror classic. Because it is.
Gerald's Game - Stephen King
"It's come back. The thing that was here last night has come back for you."
Another from King, this book is weird. Like, really weird. It features pretty much one character, chained to a bed, for almost the entire story. Trapped in an isolated cabin with her husband's corpse (which is slowly being eaten by a stray dog) and nightly visits from a terrifying, deformed apparition which will eventually come to kill her, Gerald's Game is a slow burning character study into the psyche of Jessie as she slowly goes mad in isolation and nears death from starvation after accidentally killing her husband during sex. Not so much scary as it is creepy and deeply unsettling. Probably one to read on the kindle, because if anyone asks what you're reading you'll have a hell of a time explaining the basic premise.
Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children - Ransom Riggs
"The strangest feeling came over me. I let go of my grandfather's body and stood up, every nerve ending tingling with an instinct I didn't know I had. There was something in the woods alright - I could feel it."
A mysterious island, an abandoned orphanage, creepy kids, all the ingredients are here for a spooktacular read. From the oddly weighty book itself, to the peculiar photographs dotted inside, this book is already freaking me out and I'm only half way through it. Known as "the creepy kids book" in my book group, it was a hard selling getting some of us to agree to read it.
The Woman in Black - Susan Hill
"I stood absolutely helpless in the mist that clouded me and everything from my sight, almost weeping in an agony of fear and frustration, and I knew that I was hearing the appalling last noises of a pony and trap, carrying a child in it."
The film is good, but the book is better, although it boasts a truly nasty sting in the tail. The premise is a simple one, that of a haunted house, but it's the malevolence of the ghost in this ghost story that sets it apart from many others. Every page of The Woman in Black is steeped in dread, foreboding and impending doom, and the oppressive setting of Eel Marsh House, haunted by the titular woman in black is super creepy.
Ring - Koji Suzuki
"But even after she spoke, the eerie shadow showed no signs of dissipating, It was behind her, keeping still, watching and waiting. Waiting for its chance to arrive."
Yeah, I still won't watch the "video" on either the Japanese or US version of this film. I always make sure I miss a little bit, just in case. Seriously, I almost had several heart attacks watching Ringu (the creepy eye at the end - shudder!) and the US version was fantastic. The book is more steeped in science and practicalities of a psychic curse, but still induces shivers and the occasional glance over your shoulder, especially if you're a wuss like me.
Dark Water- Koji Suzuki
"A shiver ran down Yoshimi's spine. As she looked up she saw the shadow gaining greater substance. There could be now doubt that someone or something was up there."
The movie version of this focuses on one story in the anthology; Floating Water. But all of these short stories bristle with menace and fear of the unseen, what lurks beneath the surface. None are outright terrifying - although some have their moments - but the creep factor is cranked up to 10, leaving you with a lingering sense of unease that doesn't quite go away when you put the book down. Whether it's the story of the "abandoned" island in Tokyo bay, the one about the ship that won't sail because of the ghostly drowned child clinging to the keel or the tale of a man trapped alone in underground caves that he has no hope of escaping from, prepare to be freaked out!
Anything in the Point Horror series
It was a proud day for me when I graduated from the Goosebumps series to Point Horror when I was a kid. I have fond memories of traipsing along to the library and swapping the six I'd just finished out for a new six until they had to start ordering them in for me from other libraries in the area. And the day my parents actually decided that Point Horror wasn't going to scare little me into having nightmares and started letting me buy them with my pocket money...I thought I'd died and gone to book heaven! Fatal Secrets was the first Point Horror book I ever owned, but the whole series holds a special place in my heart.
IT - Stephen King
"And George saw the clown’s face change. What he saw then was terrible enough to make his worst imaginings of the thing in the cellar look like sweet dreams. What he saw destroyed his sanity in one clawing stroke."
Clowns freaked me out before I read this book. Now they're the stuff of nightmares. Horror stories that go after children are hard to get right without feeling exploitative or cheap, so there's something doubly unsettling about a killer clown. I did try and find a GIF for this entry, but I almost gave myself a nervous breakdown edging through them on giphy, so I gave up. Pennywise is confined to my nightmares!
Dracula - Bram Stoker
"Listen to them, the children of the night. What sweet music they make!"
No school like the old school. I studied this book for my English Lit assignment in college and fell in love with it. Things Dracula-related that I've also fallen in love with; Christopher Lee and Luke Evans, but that's another story. Equally seductive and nightmarish, there's a reason vampires are still one of the most written about creatures of the night, and this is the book that started it all. The ultimate halloween read.
The Dead House
I ran out of creepy books, so The Dead House is my number ten because I really, really want to read it!
So those are my top ten (well, nine plus one I haven't got to yet!) scariest reads! I'd love to hear other peoples, despite being easily spooked I love horror stories so let me know any I need to check out in the comments.