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Friday, September 4, 2020

Bloody Disgusting’s Fall Reading Guide: 10 Books to Read This Halloween Season

Spooky season is finally here!

That means time to put out the Halloween décor, plan your holiday watchlists, and curl up with a good book. Nothing says fall better than a good ghost or horror story. From graphic novels to novels to activity books, there’s something for all literary tastes this Fall.

Here’s what we’re recommending…

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

This classic 1898 novella by Henry James follows an inexperienced governess hired to care for two children at a country estate. There’s something not alright with the kids, or the estate, which is haunted by its past. It’s not just the ghosts that made this novella a classic, but the ambiguity that made the story fertile ground for analysis for well over a century. It also serves as the base for Mike Adaptation’s latest literary remix for Netflix, The Haunting of Bly Manor. Meaning that not only is this short tale perfect for Halloween reading, but it’s also excellent supplemental reading for the series.

Night of the Mannequins by Stephen Graham Jones

If author Stephen Graham Jones isn’t on your radar, this killer novella will put him there. Especially for the slasher fan. Night of the Mannequins tells of a teen prank gone wrong, and things get deadly. The question becomes whether there’s a psychopath on the loose or something supernatural afoot. Expect Jones to throw some brutal curveballs and for things to get extremely gory.

Fright Favorites: 31 Movies to Haunt Your Halloween and Beyond by David J. Skal 

Turner Classic Movies presents a gorgeous coffee table style collection of modern and classic horror that captures the Halloween spirit. It’s full of curated images, reviews, and behind-the-scenes stories to expand your annual Halloween viewing horizons. Fright Favorites is the perfect book to display year-round, as well as offer up new ideas for your 31 Days of Horror watchlists.

Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill (releases Sept 8)

Initially released in seven separate comic issues in 2019 as part of Joe Hill’s curated Hill House Comics line, Basketful of Heads is getting a hardcover graphic novel release on September 8th. Meaning that if you missed its initial run or only occasionally dabble in graphic novels, this is the perfect release to bring you up to speed. June Branch is staying with her boyfriend for a relaxing weekend when escaped criminals break in and take him. She grabs a strange ax when one of the criminals attacks her, and she decapitates him. Only his head keeps right on talking. It turns out June’s new weapon is enchanted, and it kickstarts an overarching mystery. Set in Derry County, Maine, and with references to Shawshank Redemption, Hill’s story is set in the Stephen King universe.  

The Ghost Tree by Christina Henry (releases Sept 8)

The bodies of two young girls are found in the woods, torn apart. Naturally, the police have no leads. It’s hardly the first time a corpse has shown up with missing body parts in the small town of Smith’s Hollow. When Lauren begins having visions of a monster in the woods, she realizes it’s up to her to stop it. The closer she gets to answers, though, the more she realizes that there’s something seriously wrong with her town. Creepy small towns that are rotten to the core and a creature in the woods make perfect ingredients for a good Halloween read.

The Beauty of Horror: Haunt this Journal by Alan Robert (releases Sept 8)

For those not into the idea of taking on novels for Halloween, the only reading required here is the instructions. From the author of the popular horror coloring book series The Beauty of Horror comes a companion activity book that dares you to color outside of the lines this time. Ghastly Ghouliana takes you on a descent into Halloween madness as she commands you to rip up, tear out, and unleash your macabre creativity.

It Will Just Be Us by Jo Kaplan (releases Sept 8)

An atmospheric gothic tale perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Sam Wakefield lives in a decaying mansion at the edge of a swamp. It’s labyrinthine halls, built by mad ancestors, contain the ghosts of the past. The arrival of Sam’s pregnant sister awakens something within the manor, and a new apparition of a disturbed boy appears. A spirit, unlike any other, holds the key to locked secrets and potentially serves as a harbinger of doom. It Will Just Be Us offers up a slow-burn haunted house tale.

The Autumnal by Daniel Kraus, illustrated by Chris Shehan, colored by Jason Wordie, and lettered by Jim Campbell (releases Sept 23)

Vault Comics launches a new horror series that couldn’t be any more perfect for fall reading. The inaugural issue of The Autumnal sets up a plot that follows Kat Somerville and her daughter, Sybil, as they start anew in the quaint town of Comfort Notch, New Hampshire, following the death of Kat’s mother. However, once they arrive, they discover the guarded town residents are desperate to keep the pair away from fallen leaves. Set to unfold over eight issues, expect horror in the form of something monstrous lurking around this woodsy New England town.

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher (releases Oct 6)

After her divorce leaves her broke and with nowhere to go, Kara moves in with her uncle. While her uncle is away, she finds a strange hole in one of his walls. Enlisting the help of a local, Simon, to patch the hole, the pair discovers it’s actually a portal to other realms. Places that they probably shouldn’t go. These places are inhabited by nightmarish creatures that prey on fear. The Hollow Places creates immense suspense from the buildup, but expect the encounters with the monsters to get gory. Expect a lot of humor, too, offering some welcome levity.

Video Palace: In Search of the Eyeless Man, edited by Nick Braccia and Michael Monello (releases Oct 13)

Shudder’s exclusive scripted podcast series Video Palace, created by Nick Braccia and Michael Monello, delivered a 10-part story involving a mysterious VHS tape and its origins. Its lead character went missing in his pursuit of answers, but not before hearing about the Eyeless Man. Folklore professor Dr. Maynard Wills, Ph.D. embarks on his investigation of the Eyeless Man here, inviting popular horror and gothic fiction writers to share their own Eyeless Man stories. Braccia and Monello edit a hefty collection of shorts that enhance the ever-growing world that began with the podcast. Look for stories by genre stalwarts like Graham Skipper and Brea Grant. It’s a comprehensive companion piece, and the mid-October release date gives plenty of time to catch up with Shudder’s podcast.


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