Friday, October 31, 2014

The Old World Stories

The All Hallow's Read website has their own section for book recommendations so I thought I would contribute.

The post is about classic creepy novels.  Those books written in another time and in a language we're not used to hearing or speaking anymore.

The Turn of the Screw
by Henry James

A woman takes a job as a governess to two children on a lonely countryside estate.  She soon finds herself bearing witness to ghostly figures that roam the house and gardens, searching for the children under her care.  

This book is a short one but goodness, every word is designed to terrify you.  I made the mistake of reading it in one sitting during a winter night.  The house creaked a lot with the cold and someone kept getting up to use the washroom.  A nightmare of a night. This novel is such a delight not just because it terrifies with its suggestions but also because it allows for each reader to experience it differently.  The novel is ambiguous so readers are informed by the main character and their own feelings about what they read.  Henry James...turning you into your own worst enemy since 1898.

The Woman in White
by Wilkie Collins

On a midnight stroll on the grounds of a great house, Walter Hartright meets her.  A woman dressed head to toe in white.  What follows is a story of betrayal, mistaken identity, amnesia and crime and of a man with a taste for white mice.

I read this for a class during my time as an undergrad at University.  I think I may have been one of the few that got through it.  It is definitely not a book for everyone. It is long and descriptive, and it  takes its time getting to the good stuff but when it all comes together? It's worth the wait.  This story has mystery and atmosphere and gothic horror.  The last half of the book will leave you screaming.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll, a good man, creates a potion that allows another darker nature to come through.  It's name is Mr. Hyde.

What is so scary about this book is the suggestion that each human being has both good and evil inside them.  The dual personality in one body that struggles for dominance (i.e. Jekyll & Hyde).  Despite knowing the story already, watching the events unfold was interesting.  And Stevenson is a fantastic writer because he filled this short book with subtle complexity.

The Illustrated Man
by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man is a wanderer whose entire body is covered in pictures and each one is alive. Each one tells a story.

Ray Bradbury is an amazing writer.  Reading Fahrenheit 451 as a teenager, I laughed at the idea of flat wall to wall televisions.  Look what we have now. He had a knack for seeing the possibilities in fear and anxiety and that is why his writing is timeless. This collection of stories ranges from fantasy to horror to science fiction. I dare anyone to read The Veldt and say they were not scared by the end of it.

The Best of H.P. Lovecraft
by H.P. Lovecraft

A collection of 16 short and terrifying stories.

Everyone always recommends Mr. Lovecraft and after reading this collection of short stories, I know why.  He knew how to write a story that started out creepy and then got creepier until you were so scared that sleeping was no longer an option.  I dare anyone to turn off the lights after reading The Rats in the Walls.

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