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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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‘The Turn of the Screw’ by Henry James ****

As today is Halloween, I felt that it was fitting to post the review of my first creepy read of October.  Originally published in 1898, this is one of the spookiest ghost stories which I have read.  I really wanted to enjoy Henry James when I first picked up Washington Square a few years ago, but I sadly found it rather disappointing.  I am pleased to say, however, that I very nearly loved The Turn of the Screw.

‘The Turn of the Screw’

The storyline of this Gothic tale is relatively simplistic Рa haunted country house Рbut James has made the most masterful use of the genre which I have read to date.  The entirety of the novella is beautifully written, and James has crafted the atmosphere in such a way that several passages sent shivers down my spine.  He has injected just the most amount of creepiness into the more unsettling parts of the tale, but it is not consistently scary throughout.  There is a sense of foreboding throughout, however, which builds as you read on.

I surprisingly did sleep well after putting the book down at its creepiest part, which I was rather pleased about, but I would Рand will Рhighly recommend it to everyone.  I feel that The Turn of the Screw could serve as a marvellous introduction to classic ghost stories, novellas, and the classic and Gothic genres in general.  I urge you all, with Halloween in mind, to go and unearth this fabulous little story.