Oh, Halloween! The gleefully macabre celebration of all things ghoulish: ghosts and goblins, witches and werewolves, vampires and zombies, and haunted houses that creak and groan with the crushing weight of anguished and angry spirits.
It’s no surprise that most Halloween stories delve into the dark corners and shadows of life. That premise is in the very name of the holiday. Originally known as All Hallows’ Eve, it’s celebrated just before All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day — two holidays meant to honor the dead. For thousands of years, people all over the world have remembered the lost with candles, rituals, costumes, and revelry.
Historians have also linked Halloween to the Celtic festival of Samhain, an acknowledgment of summer’s end in Ireland, Scotland, and the Isle of Man. According to the mythology, the veil between our world and the Other becomes thinner on this date, allowing spirits from the other side to revisit their earthly haunts.
The best Halloween stories produce tingles up the back of the neck, while also, maybe, breaking one’s heart just a little bit. After all, good scares and sorrow often go hand-in-ghostly-hand.
In this episode, we get curious about Halloween traditions and explore the lore that swirls around classic creepy creatures. Then we recommend books that celebrate the spirit (and spirits) of Halloween, including stories for self-proclaimed scaredy-cats, titles that should come with a ‘don’t read this at night’ warning label, and a few in-between. Trick or treat!
We get it: No one, including us, needs to listen to 'Master Mash' again. Tune into this playlist for 13 unusual, atmospheric, and super-fun Halloween-inspired songs that will put you in the mood for candy and costumes.
We've selected our favorite literary vampires according to a very sharply honed list of criteria. They're all remarkable versions of this ancient creature, and they populate stories worthy of their dangerous charms.
The only thing better than reading a scary story is when someone TELLS you a scary story. Light a candle, grab someone you trust to share the terror, and let these stories creep you out in the very best way.
In this episode, we revel in that delicious tingle up the back of the neck, courtesy of the undead, that reminds us we're alive. Plus, candy, bonfires, costumes, and books. SO MANY BOOKS that celebrate Halloween.
Stoker's Dracula is the OG vampire: intelligent, cunning, and even a little sexy. But you do not want that bad boy visiting your bed chamber! Simmer a big pot of this delicious, vampire-repelling magic.
The poet's atmospheric poem blurs the divide between memories and haunting. He casts the 'harmless phantoms' — who glide by our sides and sit at our fires — as silent visitors, forging our connection to the beyond.
In addition to social-climbing tendencies, scarecrow-like appearance, and ability to annoy the dead and undead, Ichabod Crane is also known for gluttony. With a sweet-and-spicy cake like this, who can blame him?!
Oh, Carmilla! She's beautiful and slinky and, perhaps, not as innocent as she seems. Which makes this vampire story a suspenseful, atmospheric romp through dark bedrooms, chilly drawing rooms, and misty mountains.
In honor of what would have been American artist Edward Gorey's 95th birthday, we invite you to creep into his gleefully macabre world of Victorian manor houses, elegant characters, with plenty of murder and mayhem.
Who could possibly resist the allure of secret family history, a crumbling mansion, a hidden 17th-century book, and an antique key?! Certainly not our heroine Connie Goodwin, which makes for a great story, indeed.
This weekend, take an unsettling but stylish adventure to an isolated mansion in 1950s Mexico. Yes, the Doyle family is creepy and the house is quite sinister, but our heroine Noemí is a charming and feisty companion.
This story has the ideal elements for a King horror tale — a creepy carny, a haunted ride, a fortune teller, and an unsolved murder — it's really a coming-of-age story that captures that breathless ache of summer.
An isolated school, a frustrated and misunderstood teenager, a rash of unsettling and inexplicable experiences. This novel from Louis Duncan, the queen of YA horror, is a timely, thrilling tale for readers of any age.
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Top image courtesy of Ehud Neuhaus/Unsplash.