50 Scariest Books of All Time: Dracula

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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 we’re all familiar with whether you’ve read it or not –

 

Dracula – By Bram Stoker

 

stoker

The plot of Dracula probably isn’t a surprise to anyone, unless they’ve been living under a rock. It’s the story of the vampire Count Dracula, and the horror he inflicts on a handful of people.

I’m usually a big fan of the classics, for instance Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books of all time. However, one of the biggest hurdles when it comes to classics can be the language. Sometimes the language is so overly flowery from certain time periods it can make the books unreadable. I was glad that was not the case with Dracula.

I also love the interesting story-telling convention used for this novel. It is a collection of journal entries, notes and letters written by the group of people affected by Dracula. Each of the  main characters has a specific point of view regarding Dracula and what he has done to them or their loved ones, and I love how the story is laid out with their journals and notes assembled in chronological order.

What I found most terrifying was the fact that Dracula could visit a person night after night after night, draining them of more and more blood. It wasn’t an instant death, it’s a long drawn out process for his victims.

For me, Dracula is one of those stories that the plot has been known since childhood, so reading the book wasn’t really necessary. I’m glad I did finally sit down and give it a read though. It’s a great story and a great lesson in non-traditional story-telling.

50 Scariest Books of All Time (4 down, 46 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
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50 Scariest Books of All Time: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

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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

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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

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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

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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

We Have Always Lived In The Castle

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I’m 8 books down for the month, having finished Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived In The Castle around 6 this morning. I’ve had this book on my “to do” list for a few years now.

Here is the synopsis from Barnes and Noble

Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.
And the synopsis from Amazon
Alone since four members of the family died of arsenic poisoning, Merricat, Constance and Julian Blackwood spend their days in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears.
I think the first thing I said when I finished the book was, “wow, that was weird”. Which is a good thing, to me! I love weird. I’ve heard this book described as a horror (as Shirley Jackson wrote some horror novels), but I don’t really know if that is a true representation of this novel. Sure, it has some horrific people, and our protagonist Merricat is disturbed and performs magic rituals to keep their house safe. But it’s not really horror in the sense that Stephen King’s IT, is horror. It’s more psychological than that, and delves into the horrors that human nature can produce out of fear and spite. I wasn’t really sure what I was getting myself into when I started reading this book, but I really enjoyed it!

Peeps

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I’m officially 6 books down for the month, having finished Scott Westerfeld’s vampire novel Peeps. This is the second Westerfeld novel I’ve read this month, and I’m really becoming a fan of his YA books.

Pic from Wikipedia

Here is the synopsis from Amazon.com:

One year ago, Cal Thompson was a college freshman more interested in meeting girls and partying in New York City than in attending his biology classes. Now, after a fateful encounter with a mysterious woman named Morgan, biology has become, literally, Cal’s life.

Cal was infected by a parasite that has a truly horrifying effect on its host. Cal himself is a carrier, unchanged by the parasite, but he’s infected the girlfriends he’s had since Morgan—and all have turned into the ravening ghouls Cal calls peeps. The rest of us know them as vampires. And it’s Cal’s job to hunt them down before they can create even more of their kind. . . .

Bursting with the sharp intelligence and sly humor that are fast becoming his trademark, Scott Westerfeld’s new novel is an utterly original take on an archetype of horror.

The novel really is a nice take on the vampire genre. It turns out that it’s a parasite that causes vampirism. It’s like the great-great-grandfather of AIDS, because it is sexually transmitted (and also transmitted through kissing.) Poor Cal is really sexually frustrated because he doesn’t want to infect anyone else.

I really loved the style of writing in this book – it’s almost casual like a conversation. The narration even refers to “you”, as the reader.

Scott Westerfeld had this to say about writing a vampire novel:

Maybe there are too many vampire novels, I thought. But that was part of the challenge, to see if I could do something that felt new and interesting, while still being full of bitey goodness. (Unsurprising confession: I am a Buffy fan.) So the book had to be original, but also icky, scary, funny, tragic, and (ahem) not sucky.

– Scott Westerfeld

I loved it! I give it 4 out of 5 stars and really recommend it to anyone who’d like a new take on the YA vampire novel. (I did some research and turns out this came out about 8 months before Twilight did, but don’t judge, I loved Twilight too!)