I’ve never been a fan of horror fiction, Stephen King type books. I’m not even one for horror flicks really. The blood and guts and gore never did anything for me. To me, it all looks fake, so it doesn’t appeal to me.
Stories with a spooky feel, now that’s more of what interests me, storylines with a vibe of something happening, though we’re not really sure what exactly. Those are more real to me, and therefore are the “scary” stories that draw my attention.
One of my favorite authors of late is Jennifer McMahon. I won’t lie—I was initially drawn to her books because of the covers. (In fact, that’s how I usually choose books, which is probably not the best form of filtering for a librarian, but I have to start somewhere, and since I’m a visual person, that tends to be it.) The covers for McMahon’s books (so far) are pictures of young girls, all who look like they might harbor some sort of secret to another world. But maybe that’s just my take on seeing them after having read a few.
Of the ones I’ve read so far, they all offer that spooky feel I like in scary stories—odd things happen, things that can’t readily be explained, things that are mysterious and creepy, things that happen to make every day life seem like they are a little more from another dimension. In the end, this is rarely the case, but of course the reader doesn’t know that until the end of the book.
I’m currently reading Don’t Breathe a Word. It’s about a little girl who goes missing, and years later, the girl’s brother and cousin receive word that she is alive and returning. Both the brother and cousin believe that the girl was taken by the Fairy King. Weird things start to happen, and they are on a quest to figure it all out. Was the girl taken to another world? Did something else happen? At this point, I can’t figure out what the end result will be.
And to me, that’s what makes a great creepy story, the inability to figure out exactly what happened, right up until the end.
So far, I’d have to say my favorite McMahon book is Dismantled. It’s creepy in the way I like, full of mystery and secrets and suspense. And it kept me guessing right up until the end, though I might have had a couple of theories.
Aside from the creepiness of many of her books, McMahon is a solid writer. She’s coherent and concise—sometimes, though a story can be good, I lose interest if it goes on for too long, taking unnecessary turns this way and that, before ever reaching the end. I also like that she’s from Vermont, and so her stories take place there. (I can relate to Vermont love.)
If, like me, you enjoy a creepy and/or mysterious read, check out these other options:
- Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
- The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield (a personal all-time favorite and being released as a BBC movie in December, which I hope finds its way to America soon after)
- Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
- Great and Terrible Beauty (series) by Libba Bray (this is more fantasy than I usually read, but I loved this series)
- Me and Emma by Elizabeth Flock
That’s just a short list off the top of my head.
So this Halloween, curl up with a good creepy book, and maybe a piece or two of your favorite candy.
Enjoy your Halloween and stay safe!