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Recommended Reads: Five Frightful Stories this Halloween

Written by The Reader, 31st October 2016

On this Hallowed Eve we thought we'd get into the spooky spirits with a few frightful recommended reads...

8e664e60ea66ad3607f8a874112cac66.jpgThe Haunting of Hill House - Shirley Jackson (1959)

"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more
 Shirley's novel is arguably one of the scariest houses to ever exist in fiction, making readers fear for their lives as they listen out for the walls to whisper or move when the evening begins. The Haunting of Hill House follows the self-destructive, Eleanor Vance who visits Hill House for the summer. Eleanor, alongside 3 other characters who have experienced paranormal activity in their lives are invited by Dr. Montague who wishes to explore the house's supernatural horrors. Shirley's text and her descriptions of the happenings in Hill House makes readers brew with terror, particularly when Eleanor seems to become somewhat possessed by the house on the hill...

Read the full story here


The Raven - Edgar Allan Poe (1845)

"Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door"

This narrative poem creates a real supernatural atmosphere for it's reader this halloween! The Raven follows a heartbroken narrator whose beloved Lenore has passed away, on a dark evening in December. The man, lonely and in need of some comfort, begins to hear his window tapping by a talking raven. The  eerie repetition of "nevermore" and Poe's stylised choice of language deems this a howl-o-ween must-read.

Read the poem in full here

The Birds - Daphne du Maurier  (1952)

18869985"There isn’t going to be any news,” said Nat. “We’ve got to depend upon ourselves.” 

He went to the door and slowly pulled away the barricades. He drew the bolts and, kicking the bodies from the step outside the door, breathed the cold air. He had six working hours before him, and he knew he must reserve his strength for the right things, not waste it in any way. Food and light and fuel; these were the necessary things. If he could get them in sufficiency, they could endure another night."

The original story behind Hitchcock's classic horror, The Birds is a tightly-wound coil of suspense that threatens to spring free at any moment. The reader is drawn into the quiet, provincial life of Nat Hocken's family, living through the very real horror of violent attacks, the constant unease and the fleeting comfort of their fragile, battened down sanctuary from the birds.

Read the short story in full here.

woman-in-blackThe Woman in Black - Susan Hill (1983)

"For how long I sat there, in extremes of despair and fearfulness, I do not know..."

When any novel begins with a ghost tale that pains the storyteller to share, you just know that you're in for a gruesome read! Arthur Kipps, a past solicitor recalls the terrible incidents which happened in his youth as he attended the wonderfully gleeful named house, Eel Marsh after the death of Alice Drablow. Hill's story deals with a true mixed bag of Gothic themes (notably isolation, suspicious murders and spooky 'othered' women) deeming this, a truly unforgettable Halloween read!

Read the full story here.

The Turn of the Screw - Henry James (1898)

turncover.jpg"It was as if, while I took in – what I did take in – all the rest of the scene had been stricken with death. I can hear again, as I write, the intense hush in which the sounds of evening dropped. The rooks stopped cawing in the golden sky, and the friendly hour lost, for the minute, all its voice."

Last, but never least is James' The Turn of the Halloween is complete without this dark novella! James' story follows an unnamed governess who looks after two suspicious children, Miles and Flora in the quiet country village, Bly. But... the governess soon realises that things are not all as they seem, as past employers, Peter Quince and Miss Jessel come to haunt her in all of their ghosty-glory, leading to a frightful event...

Read the novella in full here.

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