The leaves are falling off the trees, the decorative gourds are ripening in the fields, the ghouls are busy hanging up cobwebs. That’s right, it’s Spooky Season! In the spirit of which we’ve spun together a web of seasonal spinetinglers, gut-churning ghost stories, and nauseous novels for your dismal delectation… enjoy?
Come Closer, by Sara Gran
Come Closer: Sara Gran£8.99
Written back in 2003 but reissued beautifully here, Sara Gran’s tale of a woman’s gradual unhinging feels strangely historical, almost pre-internet, something from an analogue age. Comprehensibely terrifying, you might find yourself shutting the book simply to keep yourself from it. Anyone hear tapping? No? Just us?
Cursed Bunny, by Bora Chung (tr. Anton Hur)
Cursed Bunny: Bora Chung£10.99
A collection of genre-defying Korean short stories that jump between the ridiculous and the terrifying. Dive in to find Angela Carter-style fables, body horror, ghost stories and science-fiction – it begins with a talking head in a toilet bowl and sort of goes on from there. Nuts, but brilliant, and not for the faint-hearted.
Beloved, by Toni Morrison
Beloved: Toni Morrison£9.99
A much beloved classic (sorry). This is a richly imagined haunted house novel and gothic masterpiece. It’s a ghost story in the literal sense — the titular Beloved (named because that was the only word on her grave) is the embodied spirit of a long-dead child — and in the metaphorical sense: it’s a ghost story about America’s moral skeletons-in-the-closet.
Death in Her Hands, by Ottessa Moshfegh
A compelling, uncanny, typically Moshfeghian take on the murder mystery. And if you haven’t read any Ottessa Moshfegh before, now is absolutely the time! No one does narrative voice quite like her. In Death In Her Hands, it’s one of paranoia, isolation and self-doubt.
Vesta is a widow, living in near isolation with her dog, Charlie, near the woods at the edge of Levant — a desolate and unremarkable town in America’s back reaches, where, perhaps, a murder has taken place. Vesta finds a note which leads down a compulsive path of obsession and delusion.
Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
The perfect October novel. Small-town America. Boys on the cusp on manhood. A mysterious carnival comes to town in the week leading up to Halloween… A real proto-Stephen King feel to everything.
Bradbury is an absolutely unparalleled writer. His stories are simultaneously classic, familiar, and totally original and genuinely thrilling.
Where the Wild Ladies Are, by Aoko Matsuda (tr. Polly Barton)
Witty and melancholy in equal measure, this is a collection of interlinked short stories loosely based around traditional Japanese folktales with a contemporary, feminist twist. A few of the stories begin with a light touch of context, which is exactly the right amount of handholding: you don’t have to have read any Japanese folktales to enjoy this. These are great ghost stories in-and-of themselves. If anything, it just makes you want to come back for more.
Sisters, by Daisy Johnson
Sisters: Daisy Johnson£8.99
Sisters July and September are so close that they’re almost one, at the expense of almost everyone else (including their mother, Sheela). Lying at the heart of this slim and savage novel is the fact that we know something has happened, but we don’t know what – discovering the secrets held between these two inseparable sisters is a haunting treat. We can’t even bring ourselves to even mention the word ‘ending’ because when you get there you’re going to be a HUSK, nothing but a HUSK of a person. Do not say we didn’t warn you.
I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson
Richard Matheson is, simply put, the genre-defining horror writer. I Am Legend sits somewhere between horror and sci-fi: a morbid marriage of vampire novel and post-apocalyptic spine-tingler, richly deserving of its… err… legendary status.
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Lists Of Literary Distinction: Spooky SeasonProduct on sale