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As Halloween approaches, you might be curious as to the best reading material suitable to the season!
Below I have compiled a favorites list of my top 5 spooky classics!
This is the ultimate Halloween read, correct? For many years, I was frightened to pick up this one. One has a general expectation of blood and gore with Dracula. In reality, it is more akin to a gripping Victorian mystery. Except for one scene in particular, it is not graphic. The description of Transylvania at the beginning is atmospheric – brooding and sinister. I was particularly shocked to learn that the author, Bram Stoker, never traveled to Transylvania! He had a vivid imagination indeed.
Set in early twentieth century England, it follows a young woman who marries a wealthy older man. It is her first marriage, but his second. Once she travels to his estate, Manderley, she is constantly reminded, either by staff, her husband’s family, or by the estate itself, of his first wife Rebecca. Although this is not your typical ghost story, Rebecca’s menacing presence is felt throughout the novel and influences events at every turn. On a side note, the prose by Daphne du Maurier is gorgeous!
3) The Picture of Dorian Gray
This short novel by Oscar Wilde begins with an interesting premise. An innocent young man falls in love with his own portrait. He speculates how life would be different if he remained youthful forever, but his portrait aged instead? The results and implications are straight out of a horror movie. This book is for mature audiences only.
4) The Woman in White
This Victorian mystery novel, despite its length, is well worth the effort! It begins with a haunting image – a mysterious tragic woman dressed in white, in seeming distress, who follows the protagonist. Who is she, and who is hunting her? This tale of forced marriage, double identity, and murderous intent is a masterclass in suspense! Wilkie Collins, a contemporary of Charles Dickens, was much underrated in my opinion.
5) Jamaica Inn
Another English classic by Daphne du Maurier, Jamaica Inn presents the tale of Mary Yellan, an orphaned girl who comes to live with her aunt and uncle at Jamaica Inn. She is thrust into a world of mystery, for Jamaica Inn, she soon discovers, holds many dark and deadly secrets. The ending of this novel was quite satisfying, but it holds you on the edge of your seat from start to finish!