Spine-Shivering Novels for Your Reading List
With Summer (at least here where I live, in the Northern Hemisphere) being the season that often sees the biggest uptick in travel, it never hurts to bring along a good book or two for the plane trip, for the beach, or for that hot summer evening spent in a woodland cabin. Fiction is the perfect getaway for your getaway.
And, here are three horror novels, one for each full summer month, which I recommend to give you a chill and a thrill…
- The Bad Seed (1954) by William March is a classic horror/thriller, which introduces the reader to what happens when a mother discovers that her own daughter is a murderer. The character drives and emotions are complex, and the plot is well-developed. I also enjoy the natural pacing of this novel. In addition, the book provokes the inescapable question… What happens to the average family when a child serial killer is born into their midst? This then can create the deeper, philosophical question within the reader… How important are family bonds, and are there limits to what one should do for family?
- The Haunting of Hill House (1959) by Shirley Jackson is another horror classic that would make for a terrific travel read. It is pure gothic horror and is considered by many to be one of the best literary ghost stories published during the 20th century. The premise is that of four people conducting an experiment, an academic exercise, to test the possible reality of haunted houses. What starts off as just some spooky phenomena soon builds, as Hill House takes the visitors up on their challenging endeavor. Beautiful prose and subtle psychology also make this an enjoyable tale. This book is one many people seem to fall in love with over and over again, at least for those that delight in a terrific haunting.
- Pet Sematary (1983) by Stephen King is probably my all-time favorite scary book… probably. Instead of a fast thriller or a tale focused on any kind of gore, what makes this novel so creepy is the slow-burn style of terror. It all begins when the Creed family, whose father is a physician, move to the picturesque town of Ludlow and purchase a charming house. Behind the house is a path that leads to an old pet cemetery (spelled on the marker as ‘sematary’). The Creeds soon learn that children from around the area have buried their beloved pets on the plot of ground that they now own, and when the Creed family’s own cat dies, well, things then take a hideous turn. For those who haven’t read this powerful horror work by the famous Stephen King, I won’t spoil it for you. But, I will say one more thing here before I leave you to your own intrigue, and that is how much I also appreciated the author’s use of the Wendigo, an ancient and ghoulish creature from Native American folklore, as an overarching antagonist in the story-line.
With spooky reads in hand, I hope you all enjoy the Summer Season ahead, both on the road and within the pages of horror fiction. And, for those of you who happen to prefer visual entertainment over the literary, it may help to know that all of these selections have been made into movies and/or series, should you be so inclined.
Check out the trailer from the original 1989 film version of “Pet Sematary.”