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

 

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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: 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

The Curse

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Do you think there can be such a thing as a cursed novel?

I’m a big fan of Stephen King. When I was a Sophomore in high school I carried the brick that is The Stand around with me everywhere to snickers of my classmates, “You’re reading that…for fun?!?!?!?” like that was such a foreign concept. Yes, it is possible to read books that Mrs. Bishop hasn’t assigned, imagine that.

My love of Mr. King’s works stem back from when I was but a wee-tyke, seeing my mom and grandparents read his books. I had a sick fascination with horror that began around the age of 6, so by the time The Stand mini-series came out on TV when I was in the 4th grade, I had already been loving Carrie, IT, Pet Semetary, etc for many years.

All of this has led my husband to ask me just why haven’t I read any of The Dark Tower books if I love Stephen King so much? Well, I just didn’t have a good answer for that. Nothing other than I just haven’t gotten around to it. When I was a kid my grandparents didn’t own any of those books, and they were generally my source for all things Stephen King. That’s all fine and dandy, but there comes a certain point in a person’s life when they are master of their own book collection. It wasn’t as if I was avoiding the journey of the tower, it has been on my “to-do” list for years.

So it happened a couple of months ago, my husband thrust into my hands The Gunslinger, the first novel of The Dark Tower series. Read it, he tells me. And read it I did. As I neared the end I told him he had better find his copy of the second novel (The Drawing of the Three) so I could go straight into it. And through the second novel I told him to hunt down the third – The Waste Lands.

Then, I finished The Waste Lands, and my husband warned me about going into the fourth – Wizard and Glass. See, Wizard and Glass is a cursed novel in my husband’s eyes. One that took him several attempts to finish. The first time he was making his way through the book his parents lost their home (this was when he was younger and lived with them). They lost most of their possessions in one fell swoop.

The second time he attempted the novel, his father passed away.

He has since finished the book, and I think he did so without any further incident. But he did warn me when I began reading it, and I didn’t listen. Sure enough, the curse of Wizard and Glass passed down to me.

Two weeks ago today (which now feels more like two months ago) we got a call from our landlord, and without getting into gory details (there are several shows on TV about the subject) we were basically told that in a week we may lose our apartment. We spent a week frantic, terrified, nervous, sad, angry, frightened, distraught, worried, unsure…etc etc etc. The week went by and last Tuesday came and went without incident. With the help of several friends and my mother, we managed to do what our landlord asked, which secured our spot in our apartment.

This past couple of weeks has been a complete whirlwind. After all the drama with our apartment, we were scheduled to leave town the next day for a vacation with a bunch of friends. Which after all the stress was definitely well needed.

At any rate, Wizard and Glass now sits by my bed, around 100 pages from the end. And I’m terrified to pick it back up and finish. Will I just be tempting the universe to do something else to destroy our lives?

My husband has offered to just tell me what happens. I’ve also thought about reading the Wikipedia entry on it. I know this sounds weird, I mean really how superstitious can you get? But honestly, that is three times the book has been read by the two of us that something downright life altering has happened!

I’m still undecided on what to do. What would you do? Just laugh at the universe and pick it back up to finish? Get the synopsis from someone who’s already read it, like my husband? Would listening to the audio version be just as terrifying as reading it myself? I just don’t know…and until I figure out what I’m brave enough to do, I think Wizard and Glass is just going to have to sit there and wait.

Now that I think about it, this whole thing sounds like one crazy Stephen King novel…

Seriously…I’m Kidding

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Sunday I finished reading Seriously…I’m Kidding by my BFF Ellen DeGeneres. That leaves me today and tomorrow to read one more book in order to have read 10 books this month! *Runs off to find a Dick and Jane book* Phew, I’m back.  I got this guys, I got this.

I love Ellen, so much. I watch her show like it’s a religion. I own box sets of her sitcoms, I own her books, and every day when I step out of my shower I wipe my feet on her face! (Well, my shower mat is Nemo and Dory from Finding Nemo). She’s so funny! I love reading her books too, because it sounds like what the inside of my head sounds like.

Here’s the description from Amazon.com:

I’ve experienced a lot the last few years and I have a lot to share. So I hope that you’ll take a moment to sit back, relax and enjoy the words I’ve put together for you in this book. I think you’ll find I’ve left no stone unturned, no door unopened, no window unbroken, no rug unvacuumed, no ivories untickled. What I’m saying is, let us begin, shall we?
– Ellen DeGeneres
Mostly, it’s like 241 pages of delicious creamy monologue from her show. Well, maybe creamy isn’t the right word, that makes it sound kind of gross. Anyway, you get the point.
Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts:
Way, way back in the day, like in the 1990’s, if you wanted to tell everyone that you ate waffles for breakfast, you couldn’t just go on the Internet and tweet it out. There was only one way to do it. You had to go outside and scream at the top of your lungs, “I ate waffles for breakfast!” That’s why so many people ended up in institutions. They seemed crazy, but when you think about it, they were just ahead of their time.
And:
There’s a very easy way to save water. Take group showers. It’s fun. It’s friendly. At first, my house-keepers were resistant to this idea. But luckily my landscaper talked them into it.
– Ellen DeGeneres
Oh that Ellen, she does go on, and on, and on… she’s so funny! I mean, it’s no wonder she’s my BFF for life! If only we could meet, so I could let her know about us being BFF. I’m sure she’d see it too, that we were separated at birth or something. Nevermind she’s older than my mom, that doesn’t matter. Pfft. Logistics and stuff, I ain’t about being logical!
…Maybe I shouldn’t have tried writing when I’m sick and surely under the influence of NyQuil. That stuff will whack a girl up – yo. Oh yeah I was talking about Ellen. This book is full of useful stuff, like how to save water, short short stories, haiku, practically anything you’d want to read while imagining Ellen’s voice the whole time. And if you get tired of reading, you can just turn to the front cover and get lost in her Cover Girl blue eyes. Such….pretty………eyes.
Ok I’m going to bed. Read Ellen’s book!

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!

The House of Dead Maids

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Last night I finished the fourth book in my goal to read 10 this month. So far I’m still ahead of schedule on my reading!

I picked up The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle this past Friday after I turned to my husband and said, “I’m judging this book by its cover!”

Then I actually read the line of text under the title, “A chilling prelude to Wuthering Heights“, and I knew I had to buy it. Contrary to the eye rolls my husband gives me every time I mention it, Wuthering Heights  by Emily Bronte has been one of my favorite books ever since my amazing AP English 4 teacher in high school plopped it down on our desks for that weeks reading.

Here is the description of the book as listed on Amazon.com

Tabby Aykroyd thought she was coming to the dusty mansion of Seldom House to be a maid, but she’s not being asked to clean or cook. Then one day a man, presumably the owner of the house, shows up with a small boy. The boy insists he’s the master of the house, and curiously no one disputes him. Tabby is to be his playmate. The young master is a savage little creature, but the house itself contains far worse: Scores of dead maids and masters haunt Seldom House. Tabby is terrified for her life and the life of her young charge. But why isn’t the young master afraid?
The House of Dead Maids by Claire B. Dunkle
It was actually a really interesting read. The tale itself was full of frightening ghosts, and if you have read Wuthering Heights you learn about what made Heathcliff the way he is. If you haven’t read Wuthering Heights, then what’s wrong with you? It’s a classic – go read it! I’m only teasing…I do urge you to read it if you find classics interesting, but if you haven’t read Wuthering Heights, reading The House of Dead Maids would still be a great read on its own, and hopefully leave you wanting to go read Wuthering Heights and learn more about Heathcliff and how his life turns out — which trust me is extremely interesting. I can feel my inner Wuthering Heights fan-girl starting to foam at the mouth, so I will stop myself short of writing for hours about the novel and just say that I think its a really great novel full of revenge and ghosts – and you just can’t go wrong with that! Ahem, back to the novel at hand, The House of Dead Maids actually has a book trailer!

The novel ties in Bronte family history, which makes it really interesting. On the author’s website she calls it a historical fiction. The protagonist of this novel, Tabby, was based on the real life maid of the Bronte sisters. Being the fan of Wuthering Heights that I am, I love how this book ties in original fiction with the story of Wuthering Heights, and the actual lives of the Bronte sisters.

I give it 4 out of 5 stars. It’s a fun YA ghost story regardless if you’ve read Wuthering Heights or not.