I like reading scary books. Ironic, since I can’t even sit through an episode of Supernatural without getting the heebie-jeebies. I can’t stand guts and gore and horror on television or in movies, and the idea of seeing an R-rated horror flick in a theater sounds like pure torture to me.
But I do love suspenseful books. Well, every once in a while that is. There has to be a waiting period between books, just enough time for me to get over the weird noises in the closet or the click of the ceiling fan. Here’s the catch, though–they have to be written well. Nothing is worse than a failed attempt at a literary murder.
I just finished reading a suspense novel that a friend recommended to me, and I thought it was convincing enough to keep me immersed, but not enough to give me the chills. I’m most fond of whodunit mysteries and ‘locked in a house during a dark and stormy night’ classics.
The Woman In Black by Susan Hill is one of the best books I’ve ever read, perfectly blending suspense and Victorian gothic horror without any gore. (The movie, however, I had a hard time sitting through. They destroyed the ending, and the whole time I could only see Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter. Apparently ‘Take out your wand, Harry!’ was the improper reaction to the film.)
One of my all-time favorites, which hooked me on mystery at a very young age, was The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. It was recommended to me by a trusted fellow bookworm, my lovely aunt, and out of the dozen or so times I’ve read it, The Westing Game never fails to impress. It’s one of those books that makes you think, which means it’s not necessarily light reading, but I love it just the same. It is a literary work of art.
And speaking of all-time favorites, if you’ve never given Bram Stoker’s Dracula a shot, you’re really missing out! It is a phenomenal classic that everyone recognizes but few have read. And it’s a shame. The iconic title character is so well written and the story so artfully crafted, it’s impossible not to enjoy.
There are a few slow moments during the transition from Jonathan Harker’s journal to Mina and Lucy’s letter writing, but the story picks itself up in no time and speeds towards a fantastic finale full of memorable gothic characters, from the mental patient Renfield to heroic Doctor Van Helsing. The story is intriguing and the finale satisfying. Plus, it’s a classic!
Dracula has earned its way onto my list of top 3 favorite books of all time!
Ideally, the perfect thriller should surprise you at the end, and, unfortunately for the characters, should resolve neatly but unhappily. This was the problem between the book and the movie for The Woman In Black. In the book, the finale leaves the reader abruptly surprised, their hankering for horror satiated. In the movie, a ‘happy ending’ scenario replaces this perfect finale–everyone dies and moves on together in the afterlife. (Not unlike Lost, really, now that I think about it.)
With Halloween rolling around the corner, I’ve decided to swap light summer reads for murder mysteries. I’m afraid that’s about as festive as I get for Halloween, other than Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which I am determined to attend this year at Disney World.
Although perhaps I’ll forgo the murder mysteries until October and re-read some of my old intellectual favorites during September, like Steinbeck’s East of Eden. I can’t stand Steinbeck normally, but East of Eden is the one exception, a book I personally consider to be the closest we’ll ever get to the Great American Novel.
But I’m getting sidetracked. Does anyone have any recommendations on murders, mysteries, horror and suspense books? If so, comment below! I’ll hit up the library as soon as possible. I’m just dying to get my hands on a new novel! (See what I did there? Dying? Haha…)
And, while you’re at it, I’ll take any book recommendations you might have, horror or not. I’m a bit of a bookworm and would love to get my hands on some fresh chapters!