Halloween is just around the corner. In honor of it, I thought it might be fun to list the top 5 “scary” or “monster-themed” books that influenced me as a teenager or young adult.
5. Salem’s Lot by Stephen King: The King of Fright has a seemingly endless catalog of great scary books. IT is a favorite of many. (A highly anticipated movie version is due out next year. I can’t help but wonder if that has any relationship to the uptick in bizarre clown-related news lately. If so Mr. King’s influence is scary in and of itself…Hmmm.. I sense a new book idea.) However, while IT is terrifying, no doubt, a different Stephen King book still haunts my dreams.
There are many great vampire books I’ve loved over the years. But, Salem’s Lot was my first. I read it when I was 10 or 11. As an adult, if I read it again, I might have a different opinion of its “scary” level. But, I read it when I was pretty young and I still shiver in bed at night when I think of something fangy knocking at my window.
4. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: I would be remiss to not include a book about one of the most iconic monster characters in history. I read it when I was very young, probably about 13 or 14. To be honest, I didn’t quite appreciate it at the time. But as an adult, not only do I appreciate the story more, I also appreciate that a woman wrote it in the early 1800s. (Although, notably, she had to publish it anonymously because no one would read a story written by a woman. Those were the times people! Aren’t you glad you live in the 21st century?) Still, the story has resonated over the years, often getting re-imagined in new books, TV shows and movies. (A fantastic Phineas and Ferb episode comes to mind). It’s simply a classic.
3. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore: To be fair, I read this book in my twenties. I’m still going to count that as a young adult because, really, when you’re in your 20s you’re barely an adult. Regardless, I had to include it on my list. This isn’t just another book about vampires. This book is funny and clever. It turns the table on the typical romantic vampire lore, which is usually some girl falling in love with an older, mysterious vampire. (Not to knock those books, I’m a lover of the Twilight and Sookie Stackhouse series!) But, in Bloodsucking Fiends the vampire is a strong girl and the boy is the one who is falling hard. I love that it twists up the regular story.
2. The Witching Hour by Anne Rice: Although she’s known for her series on vampires, which I also loved, The Witching Hour is my favorite book by Anne Rice and one of my favorite “monster-themed” books of all time. In high school, I stayed up all night one summer reading this book. Then I read the second one in the series immediately after. The internet didn’t really exist yet so I think I had to wait to go to an actual store before I could read the third one. (It was like the dark ages back then. We had no choice but to go to a real, live bookstore. I know, it’s awful to think, right? – In case my sarcasm is not coming through, I love book stores and real books. Sorry internet!) Still, even with that setback, I’m pretty sure I managed to polish off the series in under a week. Maybe it was my very first inspiration for The Travelers. It’s hard to say. However, I remember not wanting the series to end and wishing for a 4th book. Maybe Ms. Rice will help me out one day.
1. Communion by Whitley Strieber: There are no crazy murderers or monsters in the classic sense in this book, unless you count aliens as monsters, which after reading it you may. Still, this may be the scariest book I’ve ever read in my life. That’s not an overstatement. I found it so terrifying that I couldn’t even keep the book in my room when I wasn’t reading it. Want to not sleep for two weeks? Then read Communion. Oh, did I mention it’s supposed to be a true story. Yep, make that two months. Added bonus, there is a movie version starring Christopher Walken, who epitomizes creepy. Read the book first though, like most books vs movies, it’s better. Scary or not, I loved this book. But, I’m pretty sure I gave it away right after I finished reading it. I was too scared to keep it in the house any longer.
Those are my top 5. I’d love to know other’s favorites! Please post your favorite scary or monster-themed books in the comments section!