It's officially October (read: Halloween month), which can only mean one thing: my power is reaching its zenith.
Let's get one thing straight. I love anything and everything spooky. You know that feeling after you've watched a scary movie, and you have to walk upstairs in the dark? I thrive on that I'm-going-to-be-eaten-by-a-ghoul sensation. I'm especially ready for Halloween this year, as it's been such an unbearably hot summer! Considering my wardrobe is made up almost exclusively of thick jumpers and cotton, I've been shaking my fist at the sun and counting down the days to autumn.
And here we finally are! So, as I polish my hooves and buff my horns, I'd like to take this opportunity to share what I'll be reading this month.
Bone China by Laura Purcell
I cannot wait to start this. I've been a fan of Laura's work ever since her debut, The Silent Companions, came out. Easily digestible Gothic fiction with an emphasis on its compelling female characters and stark setting. This was soon followed by The Corset which was rather different, but still firmly creepy. I don't know how she manages to write so fast, but you won't see me complaining!
Bone China takes place in Cornwall, where Louise Pinecroft has travelled with her father after their family was ravaged by Consumption. Dr Pinecroft believes his new controversial medical trials will change the world. Meanwhile, Louise becomes discomforted by strange tales of fairies, who are said to be on the hunt for people to spirit away to their realm. Forty years later, Hester Why moves to Cornwall to care for the partially paralysed Miss Pinecroft.
Sounds spooky. Gimme.
The Stranger Beside Me by Ann Rule
Want to terrify yourself? Great! Look no further than Ann's real life account of being friends with serial killer Ted Bundy.
My mouth was hanging open pretty much constantly the first time I read this. I began to side-eye my nearest and dearest, aggressively questioning them every time they left the room (most of the time they were just using the bathroom). Ann does a thorough job of taking us through the life of Ted Bundy, who would give with one hand and take with the other, leaving a trail of devastation in his wake. This is a true crime book, so if you don't like reading about real murders, often described baldly, you might want to give this one a miss.
The Stranger Beside Me is a terrifying reminder that we don't truly know the people we spend our time with, and that even the most normal-looking person has the capacity for evil.
The Hannibal Lecter Series by Thomas Harris
Strong female protagonist? Check.
Twisting and turning plot? Check.
Doctor with a protein-rich diet? Check.
The Hannibal Lecter series means a lot to me, for a couple reasons. Silence of the Lambs was the first 'grown-up' film my parents ever let me watch with them. Then, later on, when the TV adaptation came out, I made friends in the fandom whom I still talk to every day. There's something about the hungry doctor that inspires such loyalty and emotion in people.
If you're not sure where to start, I'd recommend going with Red Dragon. Although Hannibal Rising is canonically the series' origin point, Thomas Harris wrote Red Dragon first and will introduce you sooner to the emotional puppy that is Will Graham.
Penny Dreadfuls: Sensational Tales of Terror by Various
Okay, if I'm honest, I was so enamoured by this beautiful book that I barely glanced at its contents before I bought it.
Luckily for me, it's full of treasures! There are short stories written by the likes of Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Whitehead, Arthur Conan Doyle and Louisa May Alcott - as well as containing the 1818 edition of Frankenstein and the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
A great choice if you're looking for something bite sized, or just want a little something to terrify you before bedtime.
The Institute by Stephen King
It's been a while since I've read anything new of Stephen King's, the last one probably being Doctor Sleep. But Waterstones tempted me with a shiny half price sticker, so here we are, I guess.
The Institute is about a group of psychically talented children who are kept prisoner in the eponymous Institute, subjected to a series of tests and procedures meant to combine their gifts. When Luke Ellis is kidnapped and brought to the Institute - run by the pantsuit-wearing Mrs Sigsby - he becomes hellbent on escaping. Banding together with his fellow inmates, including the young telepath Avery Dixon, Luke is determined to bring the Institute to its knees.
I'm about 50 pages from finishing it, and have to say I've really enjoyed it! It's not a particularly new story, but the characters and storytelling are strong enough to make it interesting. If you're a fan of IT or Stranger Things, I think you'll like this.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I've lost count of how many times I've read Frankenstein, although I do remember the first. Year 9 of secondary school, English class, taught by the formidable (and kind of stinky) Mrs Jackson. We were only required to read the first couple of chapters for a homework assignment, but I ended up reading the entire thing - and not just to get brownie points because I was a teacher's pet.
Shelley was 18 when she wrote Frankenstein - mind blowing, considering at 18 I was too busy playing Guitar Hero to do much else. It's such an atmospheric story and, if I can be honest, has never been adequately adapted to reflect its brilliance. If you haven't read much classic fiction, this is a great place to start.
Do you have any recommendations for a spooky October read? Or maybe you have a book you simply have to read come Halloween? Let me know!