Lots of people have favorite books that they re-read every year at about the same time. Perennial October classics include Something Wicked This Way Comes and–with a very special place in my heart–Roger Zelazny’s A Night in the Lonesome October. Last year, I contributed a story to the Lovecraft eZine‘s Night in the Lonesome October tribute issue.
For me, the annual October traditions are more likely to involve movies than books–I try to watch Monster Squad (1987) and Trick ‘r Treat (2007) at least once a year around this time, along with other seasonal fare–but I try to get into the Halloween reading spirit as well. This year, my workload is ensuring that I do less reading than I usually might around this time, but I have been making my way back through Junji Ito’s classic Uzumaki, which just got a fresh hardcover release.
It’s worth noting that a year or two back Neil Gaiman started up an All Hallow’s Read campaign, encouraging you to “give someone a scary book for Halloween.” This is an idea that I can wholeheartedly get behind. So if you’re looking for some good scary books to hand out to folks, I’ll toss out some suggestions of a few recent ones that I’ve enjoyed that seem particularly germane to the season at hand.
Valancourt Books are purveyors of fine Gothic and other out-of-print and hard-to-find titles, ranging from horror to pretty much anything else. They’re fine folks, and they used to be local here in Kansas City, and they’re going to be releasing, just in time for Halloween, The Monster Club by R. Chetwynd-Hayes. I’ve never read the book, but I’ve seen the movie, and I’m mostly familiar with Chetwynd-Hayes as the guy whose stories inspired flicks like it and the Amicus anthology picture From Beyond the Grave.
I’m particularly fond of Valancourt because they also released another book that would make a great Halloween treat: J.B. Priestley’s Benighted, for which I wrote the introduction.
Back on the subject of books that I haven’t read yet, I haven’t yet knocked out Adam Cesare and Matt Serafini’s All-Night Terror, but I have no doubt that it’ll be a perfect read for the season, and at a price that can’t be beat. Also, how could you resist that premise?
Now on to books that I actually have read! I just finished The Halloween Legion, which is a cute, pulpy comic book that’s equal parts 50s sci-fi film, early Fantastic Four comic, Ray Bradbury, and those live-action Disney flicks from the 70s, all with great art by Thomas Boatwright, one of my favorite artists and a guy who hasn’t yet hit as big as he really should. As I said in my Goodreads review, it’s really hard to go far wrong with a book that’s got a mummy, a zombie alligator, and flying shrunken heads all within the first two pages.
Earlier in the year I read and talked about my friend Ian Rogers’ debut collection Every House is Haunted, but it bears repeating. It’s one of the best horror collections I’ve ever read, full stop, and it’s got the perfect atmosphere for the autumn season. If the tastes of the people on your All Hallow’s Read gift list lean a little less toward the spooky and more toward the erotic or the hilarious or both (with still more than a dollop of spooky), you could do worse than to pick up Molly Tanzer’s debut A Pretty Mouth, which came out last year around this time. Molly’s one of the best of us, and she’s got a new collection on its way out from Egaeus Press, so you’ll want to snap this one up so that you can say you were reading her back when.
There are no shortage of other books I could recommend for your October reading edification, but I’ll run out of time and space long before I hit them all. Try Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s This Strange Way of Dying or John Langan’s brilliant second collection The Wide Carnivorous Sky. Looking for something from a variety of authors? Try Tales of Jack the Ripper, if you haven’t already, which features my story “Ripperology.” Red Jack may not be the first thing you think of when Halloween rolls around, but there’s plenty of fog and autumn chill in those pages, I can assure you.
And of course, I fancy that my own humble collection, Never Bet the Devil & Other Warnings would make a pretty solid late-October read, or All Hallow’s gift. This is my season, after all, and I like to think that my love for it, and for all things spooky and monstrous, comes through in all my stories.