Literary Links: Spooky Reads

The reader’s urge for a scary book rises as Halloween looms, whether due to a desire to embrace spooky customs, or due to the wish for an absorbing thrill to distract and perhaps inoculate oneself from the menace of roving gangs of masked children demanding candy. Your local library yearns to slake this thirst. The following books are, of course, just a few of the thousands of scary fictional titles you can find at the Daniel Boone Regional Library. If none of these strike your fancy (maybe you’d rather read a nonfiction account of the end of the world or something about clowns), we can find one that does. Either way, one thing is certain: no one at the library will try to take your candy unless you’re being really messy.

Passage book coverOf course, you could always read one of the thousands of novels by Stephen King, but perhaps you just want to read something a lot like Stephen King. Try “The Passage” by Justin Cronin. The first book in a trilogy, “The Passage” shows society’s collapse at the hands and fangs of vampires and then jumps forward to an era when floodlights and walls are mandatory if you wish to survive. In a refreshing twist, there is very little romance ascribed to the vampires.

If you prefer your post-apocalyptic action and chills to originate from less Dead Lands book coverfantastical sources, “The Dead Lands” by Benjamin Percy will give you a world nearly obliterated by a super flu and nuclear bombs. Where St. Louis once was, two explorers (Lewis and Clark) set off to find something better than the corrupt city they’ve called home. Given all the nukes, it’s completely reasonable that they find themselves hunted by massive spiders and other unfriendly mutants.

Bird Box book coverIf nuclear war and a devastating pandemic strike you as too realistic, “Bird Box” by Josh Malerman offers a less likely apocalyptic scenario: all over the world people are seeing something that instantly drives them to brutally attack and kill those around them before killing themselves. No one knows what these things look like, because if you see them, you’re going to die in graphic fashion. The solution, obviously, is to live permanently blindfolded. It’s scary.

Blindness” by Jóse Saramago must be mentioned, Blindness book coverbecause it is another book about the world ending and people not being able to see things. Saramago’s apocalyptic blindness is caused by failing eyes rather than blindfolds made necessary by the madness-inducing monsters stalking the world. It’s even scarier.

Broken Monsters book coverBut maybe you’re tired of the end of the world, and you’d like to read about some good old fashioned murdering. “Broken Monsters” by Lauren Beukes chronicles the hunt for a serial killer with an obsession for fusing the corpses of his human victims with those of animals. This makes for some disturbing imagery and should work wonders preparing you for all the children dressed as clowns Shining Girls book coverthat will visit you in the coming days. If you want your murder-filled fiction to have a healthy dose of sci-fi, another of Beukes’ novels, “The Shining Girls,” tells of a serial killer who travels through time to hunt young women. The book is brutal and massively suspenseful.

Head Full of Ghosts book coverIf the only thing that can distract you from real children trying to take your candy is fictional children who may or may not be possessed by an evil spirit, “A Head Full of Ghosts” by Paul Tremblay is the spooky cure for what ails you. A child begins behaving badly and creepily, eventually to an extreme degree. Her father decides she is possessed. The family is broke, so he agrees to turn their quandary into a reality television show. The book builds to one of the most chilling endings I’ve encountered.

If these are too fanciful for you, but you still wish to be disquieted, try Vegetarian book coverThe Vegetarian” by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith). Although it sounds like a horror franchise commissioned by a steakhouse, it is actually a novella about losing your mind, the unknowability of those closest to us, and the pitfalls of painting flowers on your insane sister-in-law’s naked body.