Three October Must-Reads: The Spookiest Stories You're Going to be Told to Read
By Liam Fearer
It’s that time of the year again! The nights are drawing in and that one weird isle in Tesco which sometimes has seasonal merchandise and sometimes just has pillows and picture-frames is stocked up with all the face paint your dog could eat. But what are you going to do when all your friends have gone out to bob for some apples in the union and you weren’t invited? Watch a movie? Play a game? Ha ha ha ha ha; not a chance. What you really need is a couple of spooky horror stories to get you in the mood. Lucky for you, I’ve got the goods. If you read quickly enough, you might get them all read before you need to start cutting up your bedsheets.
Gerald’s Game by Stephen King
Why not start out the season with a little tale by the King of Horror himself, Stephen. Gerald’s Game, like a lot of King’s stories, takes a fascinatingly unique and horrifyingly realistic premise and adds in a good helping of psychological terror to tell you a surprisingly uplifting tale of survival against all odds.
The story follows Jessie Burlingame, who during a romantic weekend away with her husband, gets handcuffed to a bed. Then her husband dies, and Jessie is trapped to the bed. With no way to escape, Jessie endures all manner of hallucinations, voices in her head and the sight of her husband being snacked on by a stray dog. But a far more horrifying danger is at hand with the sudden arrival of the sinister spectre known as the “Space Cowboy.”
The book deals with the idea of being a ‘prisoner’ – trapped in chains which aren’t always physical. It is (at times) a difficult read, but it is certainly a story worth your time. A lot of the horror is (shockingly) the product of the real world, but if you’re looking to be truly scared, it’ll be well worth it.
The Hellbound Heart by Clive Barker
Niche pick, but this is one of my favourite novellas, and one that more people should read. It was written as the basis of a film Barker wished to make – which would become the ‘Hellraiser’ franchise – and maintains a lot of the key features of the movies. But the screen adaptations tend to focus mostly on the Cenobites, inhabitants of a hellish realm and members of a morally ambiguous religious order dedicated to exploring extreme sensual experiences. Their experiments get so extreme that the boundaries between ‘pleasure’ and ‘pain’ blur, and from the way these creatures are described, the results of them are quite obvious. Damn nature, you scary.
The novel follows Frank Cotton, a hedonistic and selfish d-hole who is searching for the ultimate sensual experience. Using a puzzle box he obtained in Germany, known as the Lemarchand Configuration, Frank summons the Cenobites and is sucked into their world of sensory overload. To escape, Frank enlists the help of his brother’s wife, and his formal lover, to make human sacrifices and restore Frank’s decimated body to full strength. You can image it goes very well for the pair.
The book is like Gerald’s Game a hard read at times, not because it does with real world issues, but because it’s just a bit gross (if you’re not a fan of fluids, stay away.) However, it’s an interesting enough story that you will have been glad you picked it up. If you’re into that kind of thing, it could definitely elevate your October.
By ‘that kind of thing’, I mean graphic horror novels. Not the other thing, you animals.
World War Z by Max Brooks
Okay, so you click on here looking for a few quick reads to tide you over until you start reading Dicken’s A Christmas Carol again. Well, here is an International Relations textbook based in a parallel universe where zombies from the far east invade and began a worldwide disaster with massive cultural, social, and geo-political implications. Don’t like it? Good. It’s Autumn, you’re not supposed to.
This book is fantastic, and despite the fact most paperback versions now say it is “the book behind the major motion picture,” it is about fifteen-thousand times better than the Brad Pitt endeavour. It follows a fictionalised version of the author himself as a journalist travelling the world twenty years after the outbreak to collect first person accounts of the happening and compile them into an oral history for future generations. The book is comprised of a collection of (fairly) short interviews from survivors of all backgrounds, so it is fair to say it is episodic. These episodes deal with a number of topics related to the outbreak and, obviously, have read world implications. One particularly fascinating episode is the reality-TV survival bunker, broadcast around the world. Totally not feasible… right?
So, there’s my list. Read them! Or don’t. It’s entirely up to you and, honestly, doesn’t really matter either way. It’s 2019 so most people aren’t reading anyway. There are movies and video games to give you your frights. But for those special few who still appreciate a good piece of writing, this one goes out to you. I know that on October 30th, once we’ve all finished sewing together our Garfield costumes, we will all crawl into bed, get cosy, and sit down with a good book. Only this year, for me, it isn’t going to be A Christmas Carol. Last year I started waaaay too early.
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