Novels from authors like Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, and Stephen King will satisfy your appetite for frights.
Halloween is the season of treating, whether it be sweets for the kids or sweets for yourself. But the haunting season is also the perfect time for book lovers to treat themselves to some horrifically indulging tales. If you’re craving a good twist or hungry for a satisfying scare, here are seven books that will cook up your newest worst nightmare.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
In this book from the author of American Gods, food is a form of deadly temptation. After Coraline’s family moves to a new place chock full of odd people, she finds adjusting difficult. Particularly when the two people she wants most to keep her company—mom and dad—are continually working. So when Coraline stumbles upon a hidden corridor to a world where mom and dad dote on her every attention and desire, Coraline finds the temptation of her “other” parents hard to resist. But with every new delicious meal, tasty dessert, and fun game, the dark motivations behind her “other life” become dangerously clearer.
Coraline, $7 at amazon.com
Thinner by Stephen King
In this novel from horror-mastermind Stephen King, pride, greed, and gluttony create a terrifying concoction. Billy Halleck is an overweight, 38-year-old lawyer who unapologetically indulges in all of his vices: food, women, and power. One evening, Halleck’s vices lead him to kill a Romani woman with this car. Unwilling to take responsibility, the hotshot uses his legal sway to get off but finds himself facing down a “thinning” curse from the young woman’s father. At first, eating as much as he wants, only losing weight, and being as attractive as he’s ever been is a gift—until Halleck realizes the curse plans to consume him until there’s nothing left.
Thinner, $10 at amazon.com
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
In today’s world, we most commonly associate genetic engineering with things like fruits and vegetables. But in Jimmy’s dystopian future, the human race is nearly gone and replaced by genetically modified humans. Known as “Crakers,” these gentle, multicolored and herbivorous creatures that smell vaguely of citron are now the answer to humanity's survival. But how did they, Jimmy, and the rest of the world get here? Atwood takes readers on an at times truly unpleasant and disturbingly dark journey through one man’s disconcerting efforts to make us “better” ecological consumers.
Oryx and Crake, $11 on amazon.com
John Dies At The End by David Wong
When smart, but total slacker video-store employee David gets a weird call from his friend John late one night, things quickly spiral from mostly dull to utterly bizarre. It starts after John takes an odd mind-altering substance called “Soy Sauce” that gives him a heightened sense of awareness but has some less than pleasant side-effects. David accidentally joins John on his unsettling drug trip and soon after both find themselves in the midst of a series of gruesome deaths that lead to battling the likes of giant meat monsters as they work to prevent an invasion of supernatural beings.
John Dies At The End, $15 at amazon.com
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures by Aaron Mahnke
In this newly released and first in a three-book collection of stories, readers explore the unsettling human origins of some of our most universally frightening monsters. As the book reveals, often times our most terrifying tales are culinary histories such as with the stories “The Beast Within” and “They Made A Tonic.” By looking at the lesser-known but closer to home Hannibals and Draculas, this book—inspired by the horror podcast and Amazon series of the same name—encourages readers to uncover the ins and outs of how monsters bent on devouring our souls, our bodies, and our blood, were born and bred from our own inner demons.
The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures, $19 on amazon.com
Dark Harvest by Norman Partridge
In this gothic coming-of-age tale that won the Bram Stoker Award, Halloween is a time of many rituals. It’s 1963 and Pete McCormick, along with the other boys in town, isn't getting ready for trick-or-treating. Instead, they are preparing for an annual rite of passage that will see them come face to face with October Boy. The frightening pumpkin-faced creature rises from the cornfields every Halloween and makes its way to town, ready to feast on his young challengers. For most of the fight, Pete is willing to give his life for the chance at freedom taking down October Boy provides until he comes finally encounters the legendary nightmare and its unsettling truth.
Dark Harvest, $16 on amazon.com
An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm's Fairy Tales by Brothers Grimm
We often associate fairytales with magic, adventure, and love, but many of the tales we know and love have a much darker—and deadly—origin. In this collection of 19th-century German fables, two of horrors oldest writers use food to terrify their readers. In Hansel and Gretel, discover the potential danger of accepting candy from strangers. In Little Red Riding Hood, examine your carnivorous nature. And in Snow White, where the temptations of beauty and power can find one biting off more than they can chew.
An Illustrated Treasury of Grimm's Fairy Tales, $20 at amazon.com