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Gollancz's Favourite Halloween Reads

Team Gollancz tell you all about their favourite scary books to read at Halloween . . . 

Horns group shotGillian: What could be more spookily appropriate a read today than Horns by Joe Hill? I love this story – it’s a chilling tale of romance and revenge with a supernatural twist that keeps it gripping to the end. Perfect reading as the light fades and you wait for the first knock on the door …

Jen: My Halloween read is The Haunting of Hill House. I’ve never read this before, but both Simon and Sophie spoke so highly of it that I went out and bought a copy on payday. I recently re-read Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” and was astounded by how terrifying it was. I’m looking forward to reading this horror classic this weekend. With all the lights on and probably winding sleeping with a nightlight on. Because I am that big of a scardey cat.

Sophie: My Halloween read is the astonishing novel We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. The gothic suspense story follows eighteen-year-old Merricat Blackwood and her reclusive existence with her creepy sister Constance in the secluded Blackwood manor. The brilliance of my favourite Shirley Jackson’s novel lies in the disturbing complexity of the unreliable Merricat and the pervading sense of the uncanny.

Darren: My Hallowe’en read is Hellblazer, the acclaimed comic series featuring amoral magician John Constantine, which ran from 1988 to 2013, and was written by a veritable Who’s Who of the British comics scene – Jamie Delano, Garth Ennis, Mike Carey, Andy Diggle, to name a few – as well as a year-long stint by Scottish crime writer Denise Mina. If you like your heroes whiter-than-white and your conflicts Manichean, best leave Hellblazer on the shelf and find something a little more four-colour. But if you want a thoroughly flawed anti-hero making his way through a world painted in shades of grey, with a George R. R. Martin-esque attitude to collateral damage, go pick up a copy of Hellblazer; you won’t regret it.  Well . . . you might, but only if you eschew the comic for the truly awful Keanu Reeves movie.

Jon: It seems churlish to pick one of my own books but Dark Matter by Michelle Paver is one of the scariest ghost stories I have ever read. You are lying in bed in the dark, in a wooden cabin, in a snow-storm, hundreds of miles from the nearest other human being.

Then there is tread on the wooden porch outside…

Simon: Those that know me will be expecting me to say Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury – that glorious extended prose poem in praise of shadows and wonder and the terrors of growing up and the greater terrors of staying a child. It’s in my top five of any books. So let me cheat and ring the changes with a second book. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. The best vampire novel there is. The vampire novel that strips them down to what they are; predators. Predators, lying cold and unblinking in a drift of autumn leaves beneath your house. Waiting for their moment.

Harriet: My Halloween book of choice has got to be The Demonologist by Andrew Pyper. As someone who gets scared by adverts for scary films and has an intense fear of little girl ghosts, I usually steer clearly of anything remotely creepy. But my mind was completely changed by this book, in which Pyper combines spectacular descriptions of possessions with plenty of reference to demonic literature to appeal to my geeky side. I am now eternally scared of cellars and Venice, but it was worth it . . .

Happy Halloween!