50 Scariest Books of All Time: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

8

Halloween is near, and if you’ve been following along I’m reading and reviewing my way down one site’s list of the 50 scariest books of all time. Today I bring to you a classic from my childhood –

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark
By – Alvin Schwartz

Scary_Stories_to_Tell_in_the_Dark_cover

It seems that people who are really drawn to horror as adults, got into it as young children. I really cannot explain to you what it is about horror that I love so much, but what I can tell you is that I have memories of watching Night of the Living Dead, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Pet Semetary, It, The Amityville Horror, etc. for the first time as vividly as I remember what I ate for breakfast today. I was 6 years old and it was New Years Eve, mom let me stay up late and Night of the Living Dead was playing on TV – I remember that but I don’t remember meeting my sister for the first time and I was 6 when she was born…  priorities, right?

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is classic to kids who grew up in the 80’s and 90’s – they scared us to death!

Light, cheerful nighttime reading.

Light, cheerful nighttime reading.

There are three volumes in total, and they are all amazing. The stories are urban legends and folk tales all adapted by the author, and the illustrations that came with these tales are the things of my nightmares to this day. Sadly the publishers have taken the terror out of the artwork for the newer generations. It’s a tragedy!

original

Original on the left, tame new version on the right.

If you can get a copy of the original version of these three books, do so and don’t let go! If you can only find the newer versions that’s fine too, the stories are all amazing still, it’s just the illustrations that have been changed.

Regardless, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark is a must have for anyone who loves horror, adults and kids alike!

50 Scariest Books of All Time (3 down, 47 to go)

  1. It – Stephen King
  2. Piercing – Ryu Murakami
  3. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
  4. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  5. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  6. Hell House – Richard Matheson
  7. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  9. The Best of H.P. Lovecraft – H.P. Lovecraft
  10. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  11. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  12. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  13. The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  14. Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin
  15. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
  16. The Trial – Frankz Kafka
  17. Books of Blood – Clive Barker
  18. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  19. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  20. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  21. The Complete Tales and Poems – Edgar Allan Poe
  22. Dawn – Octavia Butler
  23. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  24. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  25. The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski
  26. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  27. The Cipher – Kathe Koja
  28. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  29. The Ruins – Scott Smith
  30. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M. R. James
  31. Naomi’s Room – Jonathan Aycliffe
  32. The Ritual – Adam Nevill
  33. Johnny Got His Gun – Dalton Trumbo
  34. Incarnate – Ramsey Campbell
  35. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  36. The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
  37. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
  38. The October Country – Ray Bradbury
  39. White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
  40. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  41. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison
  42. The Collector – John Fowles
  43. The Store – Bently Little
  44. Penpal – Dathan Auerbach
  45. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  46. Swan Song – Robert R. McCammon
  47. The Wolfen – Whitley Strieber
  48. The Hot Zone – Richard Preston
  49. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson
  50. 1984 – George Orwell

 

Book Review: Witches, Stitches and Bitches

2

I’m going to take a break from going through the list of 50 Scariest Books of All Time, and bring to you another review, just in time for Halloween!

Witches, Stitches and Bitches
Edited by Shannon Page

WS&B

Evil Girlfriend Media has published the first of their three little word anthologies. As you can guess from the title, each story has to encompass witches, stitches, and well…yeah…bitches! There are 16 short stories in total – some set in our world, some set in fantasy lands, all including stitches in vastly imaginative ways ranging from stitched up doppelgängers to a skin stitched from dogs. And the bitches…well you won’t be disappointed by them.

I’m going to reflect here my review from Amazon. I am a woman, but I tend to hate when too much “girl power” is thrown around.  It’s not like I want the man to oppress me, but I tend to be turned off by too much women’s lib as well. That being said, I was a bit apprehensive I was sitting down to potentially read nothing but a bunch of girls rule boys drool stories.

That is absolutely NOT the case at all. These are all fun and vastly different treats. I love short stories and found them all evenly paced and developed. These short stories are written by men and women with different styles – you seriously cannot go wrong.

Check out the EGM site for more about this fun little publisher, plus links to where you can buy the book. There are two more similar anthologies coming out in the near future!

50 Scariest Books of All Time: The Woman in Black

4

If you’ve been following along, I am reading and reviewing my way down one website’s list of the 50 scariest books of all time. Today I bring you review #2.

The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill

WomaninBlack

You may remember the movie based on this from 2012, starring Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe. The story is of Arthur Kipps, who getting late in life is beckoned by his step-children to recall a ghost story to them on Christmas eve. Angry and frustrated he storms from the house, upset that the ghosts of his past have been stirred again in his mind, clearly hoping to have forgotten some event that happened to him earlier in his life. Determined to set his ghost tale to paper in an attempt to forget – he gives us the tale of the woman in black.

Arthur’s story is a classic gothic-style ghost tale. He’s sent to a secluded home to wrap up the affairs of a recently deceased client of his. He gets many vague hints from the local townsfolk of a potential bad situation going on at the house, but he shrugs them off and doesn’t think twice about the place. He finds himself being haunted by a ghost – the woman in black – however. The bulk of his story is the strangeness he experiences over a few days at the old house.

I found myself a little underwhelmed by this book. Not so much really that I hated it, or regretted taking the time to read it. If I was lost on an island with only this to read, I wouldn’t be so furious as to not pick it back up and enjoy it again…I just felt that it could have been more than it was.

I think honestly it just left me more sad than it did scared or chilled. Yes, there is a ghost….and yes she’s got herself a pretty bad mean streak, but the events that unfold are more sad than anything at all.

I did see the movie when it came out, and reviewed it here. I did go to film school, but find myself more than I’d like to admit muttering that familiar term, “the book was better” we all hear our friends mutter when a movie based on a novel is made. I’m going to break tradition in this case and say that I found the movie better. The suspense and terror were more felt on-screen than on paper, for me at least. I actually found the movie really scary, and being the crazy horror nerd that I am I don’t find scary movies all that scary very often.

All that being said, I’d probably give the book 3.5 out of 5 stars. It’s under 200 pages so a really fast read, it’s not so terrible that it’s a waste of time to read, but maybe you should also go check the movie out as well.

50 Scariest Books of All Time (2 down, 48 to go)

  1. It – Stephen King
  2. Piercing – Ryu Murakami
  3. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
  4. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  5. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  6. Hell House – Richard Matheson
  7. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  9. The Best of H.P. Lovecraft – H.P. Lovecraft
  10. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  11. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  12. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  13. The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  14. Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin
  15. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
  16. The Trial – Frankz Kafka
  17. Books of Blood – Clive Barker
  18. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  19. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  20. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  21. The Complete Tales and Poems – Edgar Allan Poe
  22. Dawn – Octavia Butler
  23. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  24. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  25. The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski
  26. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  27. The Cipher – Kathe Koja
  28. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  29. The Ruins – Scott Smith
  30. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M. R. James
  31. Naomi’s Room – Jonathan Aycliffe
  32. The Ritual – Adam Nevill
  33. Johnny Got His Gun – Dalton Trumbo
  34. Incarnate – Ramsey Campbell
  35. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  36. The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
  37. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
  38. The October Country – Ray Bradbury
  39. White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
  40. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  41. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison
  42. The Collector – John Fowles
  43. The Store – Bently Little
  44. Penpal – Dathan Auerbach
  45. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  46. Swan Song – Robert R. McCammon
  47. The Wolfen – Whitley Strieber
  48. The Hot Zone – Richard Preston
  49. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson
  50. 1984 – George Orwell

50 Scariest Books of All Time: Heart-Shaped Box

5

Welcome, welcome, welcome! Step right up, one and all, all and one. I bring to you today review #1 from the list of the 50 Scariest Books of All Time!

Heart-Shaped Box –  by Joe Hill

HSB

Joe Hill is Stephen King’s son, but don’t think he became a favorite among horror fans because of his father. He went for years publishing without letting anyone know who he was. In fact, if anyone commented on his website that he had a striking similarity to Mr. King, he politely asked that the comment be removed. So for years he made a name for himself as a horror writer, without his father’s rather remarkable shadow looming over him.  The cat was let out of the bag though, but he’s OK with that, he’d already established himself without being accused of having his father’s help.

Don't look a bit alike, do they?

Don’t look a bit alike, do they?

Heart-Shaped Box is the story of aging rocker Jude, who has a fascination with the macabre. One day he finds someone selling a soul online. All he has to do is buy the dead-man’s suit, and his soul is Jude’s to keep! Jude couldn’t pass that up!

Once the box arrives, he, his girlfriend Georgia and his assistant Danny realize buying a dead-man’s soul wasn’t as funny as they previously thought it would be. Turns out the soul is out for revenge, and when he says he’s going to kill anyone who associates with Jude, as well as Jude himself, he means it.

Most horror doesn’t really scare me – but this novel did. I’ve been riddled with insomnia for about a month now, and it began right as I was reading this book. Coincidence? Who know…but this book certainly did keep me up at night. The premise is a bit goofy, sure – buy a dead man’s suit on an eBay like site, and become haunted by his spirit. But the story is so compelling and so down right creepy that you can look past the premise to really enjoy the story.

The characters are rich and deep as well. Jude is this aging rocker who may still be popular, but his prime was in the past. He’s divorced as well, and doesn’t keep the company of any woman remotely near his own age. His women are all in their 20’s, and he never refers to them by name but rather by the state they are from.  At first you think – what’s up with this gross old man and his cute 20-somethings? But he’s so real and so rich as a character, you begin to learn not only about him but Georgia as well and you truly find yourself caring for them.

I really loved this book. It’s the first of Hill’s novels that I’ve read, but will not be the last. Don’t go pick this up because the guy is Stephen King’s son – pick it up because it’s an amazing horror story.

50 Scariest Books of All Time (1 down, 49 to go)

  1. It – Stephen King
  2. Piercing – Ryu Murakami
  3. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
  4. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  5. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  6. Hell House – Richard Matheson
  7. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  9. The Best of H.P. Lovecraft – H.P. Lovecraft
  10. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  11. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  12. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  13. The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  14. Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin
  15. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
  16. The Trial – Frankz Kafka
  17. Books of Blood – Clive Barker
  18. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  19. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  20. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  21. The Complete Tales and Poems – Edgar Allan Poe
  22. Dawn – Octavia Butler
  23. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  24. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  25. The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski
  26. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  27. The Cipher – Kathe Koja
  28. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  29. The Ruins – Scott Smith
  30. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M. R. James
  31. Naomi’s Room – Jonathan Aycliffe
  32. The Ritual – Adam Nevill
  33. Johnny Got His Gun – Dalton Trumbo
  34. Incarnate – Ramsey Campbell
  35. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  36. The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
  37. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
  38. The October Country – Ray Bradbury
  39. White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
  40. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  41. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison
  42. The Collector – John Fowles
  43. The Store – Bently Little
  44. Penpal – Dathan Auerbach
  45. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  46. Swan Song – Robert R. McCammon
  47. The Wolfen – Whitley Strieber
  48. The Hot Zone – Richard Preston
  49. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson
  50. 1984 – George Orwell

50 Scariest Books of All Time – A Challenge

7

I’ve always been a sucker for horror. At 29 years old I can without a doubt say that for over 2 decades I’ve been in love with the genre. I’ve also found that it seems people who love horror were drawn to it at a young age. For me it was Stephen King’s It, and A Nightmare on Elm Street that I remember watching first in the early 90’s. Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare came out when I was 7 years old in 1991, and I saw it in the theater. So by the time I was 7 I was already a die-hard Freddy Krueger fan, because I begged to be allowed to go see the movie once the previews began running on TV.

Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that I am really into horror!

Recently my local library posted a link to a list of the 50 Scariest Books of All Time. Admittedly these are listed as the scariest books, not the 50 greatest horror novels – so some of these are non-fiction horrific events.  Some of these I’ve read, but a lot I haven’t. So that got me thinking – I love making up book challenges for myself, (like my challenge to read 10 books in January 2012), so why not read and review all 50 books! It should be a fun challenge for not only my inner book geek but also my inner horror geek!

  1. It – Stephen King
  2. Piercing – Ryu Murakami
  3. The Exorcist – William Peter Blatty
  4. Ghost Story – Peter Straub
  5. American Psycho – Bret Easton Ellis
  6. Hell House – Richard Matheson
  7. Dracula – Bram Stoker
  8. The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  9. The Best of H.P. Lovecraft – H.P. Lovecraft
  10. The Turn of the Screw – Henry James
  11. House of Leaves – Mark Z. Danielewski
  12. The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
  13. The Silence of the Lambs – Thomas Harris
  14. Rosemary’s Baby – Ira Levin
  15. The Amityville Horror – Jay Anson
  16. The Trial – Frankz Kafka
  17. Books of Blood – Clive Barker
  18. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy
  19. Heart-Shaped Box – Joe Hill
  20. Carrion Comfort – Dan Simmons
  21. The Complete Tales and Poems – Edgar Allan Poe
  22. Dawn – Octavia Butler
  23. We Need to Talk About Kevin – Lionel Shriver
  24. The Girl Next Door – Jack Ketchum
  25. The Painted Bird – Jerzy Kosinski
  26. The Wasp Factory – Iain Banks
  27. The Cipher – Kathe Koja
  28. Lord of the Flies – William Golding
  29. The Ruins – Scott Smith
  30. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary – M. R. James
  31. Naomi’s Room – Jonathan Aycliffe
  32. The Ritual – Adam Nevill
  33. Johnny Got His Gun – Dalton Trumbo
  34. Incarnate – Ramsey Campbell
  35. The Woman in Black – Susan Hill
  36. The Great God Pan – Arthur Machen
  37. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
  38. The October Country – Ray Bradbury
  39. White is for Witching – Helen Oyeyemi
  40. Let the Right One In – John Ajvide Lindqvist
  41. I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream – Harlan Ellison
  42. The Collector – John Fowles
  43. The Store – Bently Little
  44. Penpal – Dathan Auerbach
  45. In Cold Blood – Truman Capote
  46. Swan Song – Robert R. McCammon
  47. The Wolfen – Whitley Strieber
  48. The Hot Zone – Richard Preston
  49. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson
  50. 1984 – George Orwell

Happy Halloween, everyone!

That One Time a Murderer Lived Under my Roof and Fathered my Sister.

2

I always thought Bob was a little creepy, even before I really knew him. Mom introduced me to her co-worker and friend when I was 18, and denied up and down that she was romantically attracted to him.

A few months later that changed – I’m not sure what happened, but suddenly they were an item. It wasn’t a slow build up either – it all seemed so very frantic and fast. I had been away from home for just a few months making my way through my first year of college away from home, when suddenly a strange man and his daughter were moving into my home. Suddenly there was no more room for me there.

The story Bob told everyone, was that his wife was a little crazy and a few years prior had run off, never to be seen again. Abandoning her daughter and husband like a shadow in the night. He was, as he said, very much in love with my mom and wanted a new family with her. Being that I was 19 at the time, you can do the math…mom wasn’t a yougin’ anymore and her birthing years were quickly coming to a close. Bob, however, wished to remain “married” to his missing wife for a total of 7 years, at which point he’d be able to declare her legally dead and cash in her life insurance. Therefor his solution was to have the baby then…get married a few years later! Being that she was the villain in his story, no harm, no foul…right?

Three months before my 2nd year of college wrapped up, about a week before my 20th birthday…my mother gave birth to Becca. The spitting image of Bob.

By that time, as you know if you’ve been paying attention thus far, I was no longer living at home. However, I did have many belongings still there…which seemed to be magically running off with their own feet. But the thing was, it wasn’t only my things missing. My sister Kelly’s things were missing, mom’s things were missing, Bob’s things were missing, and Bob’s daughter Jennifer’s things were missing….we all had stuff missing. Bob seemed to always know where these missing things were going though…my sister was stealing my stuff, or my friends were stealing hers, her friends were stealing Jennifer’s things and Jennifer was stealing mom’s things and so on and so forth etc, etc, lather rinse and repeat.

Right up to and during the time that Becca was born I had become pretty outspoken to mom with my disgust with her, Bob and the whole situation. I was pretty convinced he was a bad guy and was swindling her for some reason. I’m not sure why he chose my mother to swindle…we were on welfare at the time. I grew up poor, dear reader, so I’m not sure what his end goal was there if he was looking for someone to swindle money out of. But for some reason he was…only mom was the last person to see it.

After a while my friends knew, I knew, my sister Kelly knew….we all knew it was him doing the stealing.

One night sometime after 2 in the morning after a long shift at McDonald’s, I jumped in the backseat of my friend’s car for a ride home. He let me know my mother had called….and that Bob had stolen her car and the little money she had in the bank. He was gone. When Becca was 3 months old during the summer of 2004, we all saw the last we’d ever see of Bob. When I heard the news I was all at once not surprised, relieved he was gone, and furious that he had taken mom’s car, money, and heart.

After he left, mom began getting calls from detectives in Delaware. He had been under investigation ever since his wife went missing, for her murder…but they could never piece the puzzle together to pin it on him. Mom wasn’t any help to the detectives, but their calls solidified it in her mind that it was probably true that he had killed his wife. She also accepted the fact that he was the one who had stolen all of our missing belongings. Turns out he had 2 storage units in town, and with a police warrant she was granted entry into the units to retrieve ONLY the items she knew by heart that were gone. Once she got into the units however, she discovered so much more was missing than she realized, including a baby blanket my grandmother had made for me. He was never stealing items to make a profit from them, he was stealing items and pitting the lot of us against each other.

My mom attempted for years to have him arrested. He ended up in Alabama after leaving our old Kentucky home in mom’s car. He lived his days out there, never giving any of us a second thought as far as we know. Mom did get him on the phone once, and he acted as if they were old friends and that Becca didn’t exist to him. The police never arrested him for stealing the car, the money, or unpaid child support.

He died this May.

His storage units went up for auction to one lucky bidder who gained access to a master collection of random things, some of it I’m sure belong to me.

What no one ever realized, however, was that his dead wife was in the storage unit…all these years. The coroner and forensics have determined that the bones that were wrapped up in plastic grocery bags are those of his dead wife Doris. Of course, police can’t determine without a shadow of a doubt at this time that he was in fact the one that murdered his wife….but everyone knows it’s true.

It’s all so surreal, the home I spent my high school years in became the scene of a police search for more bones. The man whose DNA flows through my sister Becca was a murderer and surely a sociopath. He lived in that house with my mom and my sisters and at any time…he could have killed them too. In fact, I’m almost certain that if Becca had been a boy my mother would be dead right now. If mom had money , she’d be dead right now. Thankfully she’s alive and we’re all unscathed in this whole ordeal.

Although Becca will never know her father, she will know and come to understand one day what kind of man he was. My hope is to always let her know that she’s not like him in any way, and what he was and did will never matter to her and her life.

And I hope that poor Doris may now rest in peace.

If you want to read Jennifer’s story, click here, which is a more interesting version of my outsider view of the whole ordeal.

A New Start

2

I changed my theme, I thought the cobwebs would be fitting to how little use this blog has been the past few months.

I started it one fall evening when I lived in an unhappy place and was going through an unhappy time in my life, and felt that just talking to myself and get some “creativity” out may make me feel better. As it turns out I’ve moved from that place, and life has been so much less toxic in the past year – thus my blog fizzled and died.

However, I still have an urge to write… just not about what’s going on in my head anymore, because though I may fail from time to time, I’m trying very hard to stop living in my head.

My source of escape ever since I was a wee lass was stories. Be it something my dad had written, a monster movie on the TV, Narnia books… no matter the type of story they provided a place for my  head to comfortably rest in the clouds.

So I have decided to start blogging again, but to review stories – books, movies, shows, poems, etc etc what have you and what not. Will my past readers care to read anymore? I dunno! If you do I will still love you and proved this imaginary pouty face to let you know how sorry I am for being such a blog deserter this past year. Will this bring me new readers? Not sure about that either. And to be honest, I’m fine with that. If I’m the only one reading my own blog, well I guess that’s OK!

Now…..ALLLLL that being said I DO have one last non-review related blog to publish. Here I am with my own new start breaking my own rules….uh oh well it’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to 😀

Without further ado – I leave you now in suspense of the new updated Cheesecake Summer!

– Laura