The Books on this month’s list all have something in common – a ghost (or two).
Ghosts and haunting are popular plot devices in literature, but not all ghost stories are horror stories. Some ghosts are spirits of our loved ones come back to ease our pain and give us closure while others have a more nefarious goals. Some of these books have even been made into movies, but trust me the book is always better. It’s always fun to read a few scary books at Halloween time, but for those of you who don’t celebrate Halloween or prefer not to sleep with the lights on, I’ve included a couple of books with a ghost character that are not in the horror genre.
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (novella) – an 1898 horror novella. A governess for two children at a remote estate becomes convinced the grounds are haunted.
Accursed Inhabitants of the House of Bly by Joyce Carol Oates – this is a short story by Joyce Carol Oates which is a reworking of The Turn of the Screw.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson – an investigator of the supernatural rents an old secluded mansion hoping to find evidence of the supernatural. He, his two female guests and their host, the young heir to Hill House begin to experience paranormal activity which escalates with deadly consequences. Stephen King cited The Haunting of Hill House in his non-fiction book, Danse Macabre as one of the finest horror novels of the 20th century.
The Amityville Horror by Jay Anson – loosely based on the experiences of the Lutz family who purchased a home in New York that had been the scene of a grizzly murder. Twenty-eight days after moving in the Lutz’s fled the house claiming it was haunted. Their tape recorded story served as the basis for Anson’s book.
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – if you haven’t read this classic, you should definitely pick up a copy this month. Sometimes being the second wife can be murder especially with a perfect first wife like the late Rebecca , a housekeeper like Mrs. Danvers and a husband like Maxim de Winter. This book has one of the most memorable opening lines in literature, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.”
The Dead by James Joyce (novella) – main character Gabriel Conroy must contend with the ghost of Michael Furey , a boy from his wife’s childhood who was hopelessly in love with her and now haunts her memory.
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold is the story of a teenage girl, Susie Salmon who was raped and murdered. She watches from heaven as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she comes to terms with her own death.
The Truth About Celia by Kevin Brockmeier – Celia, younger daughter of a sci-fi writer named Christopher Brooks, disappears. In his grief, Brooks writes a series of stories speculating about what happened to her- each story turns out to be about his life forever haunted after losing a child.
Beloved by Toni Morrison – Beloved is the adult ghost of a 2 year old child murdered by her own mother. The mother, Sethe was an escaped slave whose master was attempting to force her and her children back into a life of slavery. Sethe attempts to kill her children to spare them from a life of slavery, but only succeeds in killing her oldest child. Years later when Sethe is freed and building a life in Ohio, she is haunted by Beloved. It’s a sad but elegantly told story about guilt, relationships, and the horrors of slavery that never made it into most history books.
It by Stephen King – a ghost clown living in the sewers shows himself through balloons and sinks of blood.
The Shining by Stephen King – a tale about a haunted hotel in the Rockies.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub – a group of men gather together to tell ghost stories – the creatures from their tales come to life along with some demons from their past.
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver - a group of men in the Arctic in the 1930’s face darkness, snow, fog and eerie silence – there is something out there, but what?
The Woman in Black by Susan Hill – a locked nursery door and screams for help coming from the marshes around the house on an estate. In the nearby the village children begin to go missing. Recently made into a movie starring Daniel Radcliffe
Hell House by Richard Matheson dubbed the scariest haunted house novel ever written by Stephen King. Billionaire Dr. Lionel Barrett spends the night in a haunted house to prove there is life after death.
Books of Blood by Clive Barker- a book of horror stories -bloody tales, scary tales and a few ghost stories thrown in for good measure.
Heart shaped Box by Joe Hill – a man buys a suit which takes him over, body and soul. Is it a demon or a poltergeist?