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Spooky Halloween Reads (Part One – Classics)

Halloween is merely one week away and what better way is there to get into the spooky mood than read some spooky books ūüôā In preparation, I have made a compilation of some of my favourite classic books to read during Halloween. Here are my choices:

1. The Complete Stories and Poems by Edgar Allan Poe132314

“The unabridged Edgar Allan Poe contains all of Poe’s classic tales and most haunting poems – presented, for the first time, in the order he originally wrote them. This complete collection of Poe’s versatile genius lets you share his journeys into the wondrous and macabre that have entertained and fascinated readers for generations. Not a word has been deleted!”

the-turn-of-the-screw-and-other-stories 2. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

“A very young woman’s first job: governess for two weirdly beautiful, strangely distant, ¬†oddly silent children, Miles and Flora, at a forlorn estate. An estate haunted by a ¬†beckoning evil.¬†Half-seen figures who glare from dark towers and dusty windows- silent, ¬†foul phantoms who, day by day, night by night, come closer, ever closer. With growing ¬†horror, the helpless governess realizes the fiendish creatures want the children, seeking ¬†to corrupt their bodies, possess their minds, own their souls.¬†But worse-much worse- the ¬†governess discovers that Miles and Flora have no terror of the lurking evil.¬†For they want ¬†the walking dead as badly as the dead want them.”

3. Dracula by Bram Stokerdracula-cover

“When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman‚Äôs neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‚ÄėMaster‚Äô. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing deeply into questions of human identity and sanity, and illuminating dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.”

frankenstein-cover 4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

“Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a ¬†Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of ¬†science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. ¬†Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation ¬†upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts ¬†but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented ¬†by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a ¬†campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.
¬†Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and ¬†science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever.”

5. The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Lerouxgaston-leroux-1

“First published in French as a serial in 1909, “The Phantom of the Opera” is a riveting story that revolves around the young, Swedish Christine Daa√©. Her father, a famous musician, dies, and she is raised in the Paris Opera House with his dying promise of a protective angel of music to guide her. After a time at the opera house, she begins hearing a voice, who eventually teaches her how to sing beautifully. All goes well until Christine’s childhood friend Raoul comes to visit his parents, who are patrons of the opera, and he sees Christine when she begins successfully singing on the stage. The voice, who is the deformed, murderous ‘ghost’ of the opera house named Erik, however, grows violent in his terrible jealousy, until Christine suddenly disappears. The phantom is in love, but it can only spell disaster. Leroux’s work, with characters ranging from the spoiled prima donna Carlotta to the mysterious Persian from Erik’s past, has been immortalized by memorable adaptations. Despite this, it remains a remarkable piece of Gothic horror literature in and of itself, deeper and darker than any version that follows.”

legend-of-sleepy-hollow6. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

” “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is a story by Washington Irving written while he was living ¬†in Birmingham, England. “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” is among the earliest examples of ¬†American fiction still read today. The story is set circa 1790 in the Dutch settlement of ¬†Tarry Town (based on Tarrytown, New York), in a secluded glen called Sleepy Hollow. It ¬†tells the story of Ichabod Crane, who is a lean, lanky, and extremely superstitious ¬†schoolmaster from Connecticut, who competes with Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt, ¬†the town rowdy, for the hand of 18-year-old Katrina Van Tassel, the daughter and sole child ¬†of a wealthy farmer, Baltus Van Tassel. As Crane leaves a party he attended at the Van ¬†Tassel home on an autumn night, he is pursued by the Headless Horseman, who is supposedly the ghost of a Hessian trooper who had his head shot off by a stray cannonball during “some nameless battle” of the American Revolutionary War, and who “rides forth to the scene of battle in nightly quest of his head.”

7. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson9780141389509

“Few Victorian mysteries are more haunting, sinister and profound than¬†Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.¬†It is when Mr. Utterson, a dry London lawyer, peruses the last will of his old friend Henry Jekyll that his suspicions are aroused. What is the relationship between upright, respectable Dr. Jekyll and the evil Edward Hyde? Who murdered the distinguished MP, Sir Danvers? So begins Stevenson’s spine-tingling horror story, the story of Dr. Jekyll’s infernal alter ego, and of a hunt throughout the nocturnal streets of London that culminates in some dreadful revelations.”

What are your favourite spooky classic reads? ūüôā

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Sunday Poem: ‘Romance’ by Edgar Allan Poe

 Romance, who loves to nod and sing,
  With drowsy head and folded wing,
  Among the green leaves as they shake
  Far down within some shadowy lake,
  To me a painted paroquet
  Hath been--a most familiar bird--
  Taught me my alphabet to say--
  To lisp my very earliest word
  While in the wild wood I did lie,
  A child--with a most knowing eye.

Of late, eternal Condor years
So shake the very Heaven on high
With tumult as they thunder by,
I have no time for idle cares
Though gazing on the unquiet sky.
And when an hour with calmer wings
Its down upon my spirit flings–
That little time with lyre and rhyme
To while away–forbidden things!
My heart would feel to be a crime
Unless it trembled with the strings.

Edgar Allan Poe

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Poem: ‘Annabel Lee’ by Edgar Allan Poe

It was many and many a year ago,
   In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
   By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
   Than to love and be loved by me.

 

I was a child and she was a child,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
But we loved with a love that was more than love‚ÄĒ
¬†¬†¬†I and my Annabel Lee‚ÄĒ
With a love that the wingèd seraphs of Heaven
   Coveted her and me.

 

And this was the reason that, long ago,
   In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
   My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
   And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
   In this kingdom by the sea.

 

The angels, not half so happy in Heaven,
¬†¬†¬†Went envying her and me‚ÄĒ
Yes!‚ÄĒthat was the reason (as all men know,
   In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
   Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

 

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
¬†¬†¬†Of those who were older than we‚ÄĒ
¬†¬†¬†Of many far wiser than we‚ÄĒ
And neither the angels in Heaven above
   Nor the demons down under the sea
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;

 

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
   Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
¬†¬†¬†Of my darling‚ÄĒmy darling‚ÄĒmy life and my bride,
¬†¬†¬†In her sepulchre there by the sea‚ÄĒ
   In her tomb by the sounding sea.
Edgar Allan Poe
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Saturday Poem: ‘Dreams’ by Edgar Allan Poe

Oh! that my young life were a lasting dream!
My spirit not awakening, till the beam
Of an Eternity should bring the morrow.
Yes! tho’ that long dream were of hopeless sorrow,
‘Twere better than the cold reality
Of waking life, to him whose heart must be,
And hath been still, upon the lovely earth,
A chaos of deep passion, from his birth.
But should it be- that dream eternally
Continuing- as dreams have been to me
In my young boyhood- should it thus be given,
‘Twere folly still to hope for higher Heaven.
For I have revell’d, when the sun was bright
I’ the summer sky, in dreams of living light
And loveliness,- have left my very heart
In climes of my imagining, apart
From mine own home, with beings that have been
Of mine own thought- what more could I have seen?
‘Twas once- and only once- and the wild hour
From my remembrance shall not pass- some power
Or spell had bound me- ’twas the chilly wind
Came o’er me in the night, and left behind
Its image on my spirit- or the moon
Shone on my slumbers in her lofty noon
Too coldly- or the stars- howe’er it was
That dream was as that night-wind- let it pass.

I have been happy, tho’ in a dream.
I have been happy- and I love the theme:
Dreams! in their vivid coloring of life,
As in that fleeting, shadowy, misty strife
Of semblance with reality, which brings
To the delirious eye, more lovely things
Of Paradise and Love- and all our own!
Than young Hope in his sunniest hour hath known.

Edgar Allan Poe