A frightful turn of the page

Published 6:01 am Monday, October 28, 2013

Often times the best Halloween reads will leave much to the imagination of the readers.  Illustration by Sherri Thissen

Often times the best Halloween reads will leave much to the imagination of the readers. Illustration by Sherri Thissen

It is the perfect time of year for a good book. Nothing beats spending time with a good book and a cup of coffee or tea, but with the coming of Halloween this time of year is even better with a good scary read.

“The cold nights, the crisp leaves falling, the change (of season), it just ties in with the old legends,” said Sue Grove, English teacher for Riverland Community College.

A truly gifted horror author can often times take a mundane subject and turn it against the reader.

Illustration by Eric Johnson

Illustration by Eric Johnson

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Some of the best examples of this is the haunted house. How many times has a book or story started with a dream home, something every family strives for, a place of safety only to see the dream turn page after page to nightmare?

Authors from both the past and today have achieved this fear.

“Stephen King in general is one of the best,” Grove said. “(Edgar Allan) Poe. Some of the stories like the ‘Telltale Heart’….gothic personified.”

When it comes to Halloween there is no shortage of content from the ancient gothic tellings of Poe, to the terrors from beyond the stars of H.P. Lovecraft, to the ravings of a madman in a haunted hotel from the mind of King.

But it’s not limited to these sources.

“What also comes up are the urban legends,” Grove said.

Those stories, like the Hookman and Bloody Mary, get told around campfires and darkened bedrooms, hooking as it were, our darkest psychologies and fears rooted in the unknown.

However, along the way, a reliance of overindulging the senses has invaded horror, taking away the best assets of a lot of older horror from Poe, Lovecraft, Washington Irving and so many others.

“Sometimes, I just don’t see the subtly,” Grove said. “You read every single detail. What I tell my students, is let the characters bring out the scene. That’s what these people do.”

So, as Halloween comes around, indulge in a good scare and let the night of shadows take you away. Perhaps that scraping of branches against the glass.

A haunted list of scary delights

“The Fall of the House of Usher,” by Edgar Allan Poe

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” by Washington Irving

“The Halloween Tree,”  Ray Bradbury

“Haunted Heartland,”  by Beth Scott and Michael Norman (collection)

“Haunted America,”  by Michael Norman (collection)

“Historic Haunted America,”  by Michael Norman (collection)

“Rebecca,”   by Daphne Du Maurier

“Dracula,”  by Bram Stoker

“The Haunting of Hill House,” by Shirley Jackson

“The Phantom of the Opera,” by Gaston Leroux

“Happy Halloween, Great Pumpkin!”  by Charles M. Schulz

“It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,”  by Charles M. Schulz

“The Birds,” by Daphne Du Maurier

“October Country,” by Ray Bradbury

“The Shining,”  by Stephen King

“The Black Cat,” by Edgar Allan Poe

“The Historian,”  y Elizabeth Kostova

“Rosemary’s Baby,” by Ira Levin

“Haunted House,”  by Jan Pienkowski (pull out book)