Treat yourself to terror this Halloween

      Although horror movies can be great, my personal favorite medium of art in the horror genre is books. Although there are many modern or semi-modern horror or Halloween-themed books that I have enjoyed (I recommend The Shining by Stephen King, the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, and The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury in particular), I sometimes wonder if the classics are occasionally forgotten. Here are three older tales that are guaranteed to get you in the spirit of All Hallows Eve.

1. The Turn of the Screw by Henry James: A novella by one of the most renowned writers of the nineteenth century, this work will give you nightmares of a curious nature. Rather than forcing fear at the reader, James subtly and masterfully crafts a suspenseful horror story that terrifies by nature of what it does not reveal rather than by nature of what it does. Set in a country manor and narrated by a governess, the story centers upon the troubles of the governess’s two charges, Miles and Flora. Both children, they interact with two ghosts, dead caretaker Peter Quint and dead governess Miss Jessel, in elusive and peculiar ways. The novella demonstrates the link between the spiritual and the physical with dark undercurrents, including the suggestion of pedophilia. This subtle horror makes for a compelling read as the governess, stubborn in her desire to solve the problems alone, draws herself further and further into a strange world of corruption and deception.

2. “The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe: This masterful tale of psychological guilt follows a man who adores animals  and becomes an alcoholic. He grows violent with his wife as well as with all of his pets barring one: his favorite cat, Pluto. Events spiral out of control as the narrator thrillingly descends into insanity. The line between the real and the supernatural, the physical and the psychological, is explored in this invigorating, bone-chilling short story that will leaving you wanting more (P.S. If you do want more of Poe, I highly recommend “The Raven” and “Annabel Lee”).

3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: This novel is hands-down my favorite on this list. Shelley uses the medium of science fiction/the supernatural to explore fascinating Biblical allusions, what makes someone/something truly monstrous, innocence vs. experience, and the central question of how much knowledge is too much. Although when we think of Frankenstein we think of Boris Karloff or the bride of Frankenstein, the true monstrosity in the novel is how narrator (and inventor of the creature) Victor Frankenstein destroys his life and self in his lust for knowledge. Can man ascend to the level of God, as Victor does when he creates new life, without serious repercussions for upsetting the natural laws of the world?