If you’ve never heard of All Hallows Read, it’s a neat celebration of books and Halloween invented by Neil Gaiman a couple of years ago. It’s easy enough to take part. During the week of Halloween, or on the day itself, give somebody you love* a scary book to read. You should keep it age appropriate – the point is not to create a lifelong trauma – and preferably make it something you’ve read and enjoyed yourself (so you can with hand on heart say that you can recommend it).
Go and do it. There’s no point my making suggestions for what to give, because I don’t know what you’ve read and enjoyed. I’ll make an exception for those of you who want to give a kid a book. Go with Neil Gaiman’s own stuff. For most ages, Coraline should provide suitable levels of fun. Pre-teens who are feeling that bit more mature will dig The Graveyard Book as an alternative. Younger children will have a blast with The Wolves In The Walls (and if they come out of the walls, it’s all over…). Buying these books for your kids also gives you a perfect excuse to read them yourself, too. I love them.
If you’re not usually a reader of spooky stories, use Halloween to remedy that. As you’re here, and that’s just what I write, I’ll point you first to my own stuff. All are available in paperback and as ebooks, and Halloween is the perfect time to try one.
If you’re nervy of the strange stuff, try my latest novel Craven Place. It’s as much a mystery as a ghost story (to the chagrin of many online reviewers, it seems), and is more spooky than terrifying.
If you’re a fan of genre television – Buffy, Supernatural, The Walking Dead – then try a copy of Thy Fearful Symmetry instead. It’s big budget, end of the world stuff, with a cast of angels, demons, and flawed men and women trying to find a way through.
If you like things a bit more extreme, try Cuckoo. For the most part, it’s a twisty psychological thriller, but it plunges in and out of some visceral body horror.
Away from my own books, reading King’s Doctor Sleep this year reminded me of what an intense and terrifying novel The Shining is (Doctor Sleep is the sequel). If you’ve never read it, mark the scary season with that novel. It’s the first book I read that truly terrified me as a teen, and is thus responsible for my lifelong love of the genre. You’ve very likely seen Kubrick’s movie, but don’t let that slow you down even if you loved it (I do). The book is so much more…
Finally, if you’re already well versed in the likes of Stephen King and want to dig a little deeper into the genre, get yourself a copy of Stephen Volk’s Whitstable. I read it a couple of weeks ago, and it’s the most intense and heartbreaking story I’ve read in a long time – the very best of what the genre is capable of.
Already have a story aside for Halloween? Let me know what it is below.
Whether one of my books or another, line up your Halloween read now. Get it ordered. Get it ready. Put it on a shelf where you can see it. When Halloween week comes around, dive in and celebrate the season the best way possible.
You know what you must do.
*or just somebody you like. At the very least, not somebody you loathe. Unless it’s somebody you loathe who’s going to totally freak out at The Shining and be tormented by nightmares for months. That’d be okay, I guess.