The time has finally come to unapologetically order pumpkin spice cliches, wear oversized sweaters, watch Y2K horror movies and steal your sibling’s candy haul. As someone who desperately searches for that nostalgic Halloween feeling every October, I decided to pick, read and review five books that will definitely do the trick. So grab your pumpkin spice whatever, fluffy socks and get ready to feel scared like a kid again.
My first pick is a bit of a classic, and might even be a generic choice. But it is one of my personal favorites and I would be doing you all a disservice by keeping it off the list. “Interview With The Vampire” by Ann Rice is one of those books that pull you in by the neck, sinks its teeth in and never lets go. I have read countless vampire books over the years, and “Interview With The Vampire” has made it nearly impossible to find one to match its brilliance. It drags the reader through the mind of an unwillingly immortal vampire living on the streets of New Orleans during the gothic 18th century. It also does not hurt that Brad Pitt was cast as the vampire in question in the live-action movie.
My second pick requires more of a physical search than a Google Search. I believe that the best scary stories are the ones you can finish in one sitting. And since there is not an abundance of authors writing short story compilations, you might have to venture out and find the used section of your local bookstore or thrift and see what grabs at you. “Prom Nights From Hell,” written by Meg Cabot, Kim Harrison, Michele Jaffe, Stephenie Meyer and Lauren Myracle caught my attention. And the Value Village spirits were right to send it my way. It includes five gut-wrenching, paranormal stories about what definitely did not happen at your Senior Prom. The book contains stories that range from murderous prom dates to slow dancing with the Grim Reaper who could not care less about your popularity ranking. As this book was written in 2007, you might have an easier job finding it on Amazon than you would at Barnes and Noble, but the search for your own underground spooky short story compilation just adds to that eerie Halloween aesthetic.
My third pick is both a no-brainer and a must-read. Especially if you happen to be exhausted of the “helpless female protagonist” trope. However, I must warn you that this novel most definitely qualifies as horror, and I recommend reading the warning page before diving in. “Mexican Gothic” by Silvia Moreno-Garcia pulled me into a gothic haunted house and convinced me that I should read even slower just to prolong the beauty of the story. I still can’t tell what I loved more, the main character, Noemi Taboada, who is a damsel nowhere near distress, or the fact that the burn of this story is so slow that the reader is forced to succumb to the atmosphere and the eeriness of Silvia’s handcrafted world.
Pick number four, in my opinion, is also a no-brainer for the season. But once I admit why I bought it, you might believe it is also out of narcissism. “Gallant” by V.E. Schwab originally caught my attention due to its gorgeously illustrated cover. Then after flipping through it, I realized that the novel is both illustrated and formatted in a very peculiar way, which made reading it an experience in itself. Then, I flipped to a page and read that the main character’s name was Olivia. It was a done deal at that point. My only issue is that although the spooky worldbuilding was fantastic, that is all I can really applaud. After reading “Mexican Gothic,” another story regarding a haunted mansion of sorts, Gallant was more on the tame side. So, if you would still like to sleep soundly at night, then this book is perfect for you.
Lastly, but most definitely not least, I would like to take a mini trip down memory lane, all the way back to February of this year when I wrote my first book review for The Montclarion. I wrote a review for Rachel Gillig’s astounding novel “One Dark Window,” and at the end of the review, I warned the reader that they should not read the book. Not until the sequel, “Two Twisted Crowns,” comes out in Oct. 2023. That time is now, and “Two Twisted Crowns” is available for purchase both on Amazon and Kindle right now! A book with a plot this enragingly suspenseful and mysterious must be chased with a shot and a promise that the story will continue soon. I made the mistake of reading it in January and was stuck craving pumpkin pie and closure. Do not make my mistake and give into the darkness while it is socially and emotionally acceptable to do so.
Happy Halloween and read at your own peril.