It’s that time of year again! Break out your cozy sweaters, light your scented candles, decorate your pumpkins, jump in a pile of fallen leaves, and dust off your best ghost stories—the spooky season is upon us. Halloween, as both a holiday and a more general season, has long been a source of inspiration for writers and storytellers to produce some of their most haunting, chilling work. Whether you’re interested in Victorian apparitions wreaking havoc in old-money manors or slippery killers stalking city streets, you’ll find a tale to your taste among the vast and varied array of autumnal literature.
One of the aspects of the Halloween-themed canon that has proven most fascinating and enduring over the course of centuries is that much of it was not composed with the idea of “Halloween” as we know it in mind. Celebrations and commemorations of the dead and their spirits have long played central roles in cultural identity, from the All Hallows’ Eve observation which became modern Halloween in the European West to DÍa de Muertos in Mexico—but the stories we tell for a midnight thrill have often existed in their own category, associated with these holidays only in retrospect. They constitute a genre separate from the adventure or the romance or the mystery, though they can contain elements of all three.
And although they might seem far-fetched for their employment of magic or magical realism, meant to transport us from the familiar world, they can frequently feel more real than any of those other stories. After all, we look to ghost stories for affirmation that there are some things we cannot explain, and for a way of legitimizing our fear when we look at the forces that render us helpless (like the social ills of our day). Some stories frighten us with their foreign atmospheres, others by showing us the real world through a distorted lens that reminds us of how we are always one misadventure away from the madness.
Besides, there are few feelings like curling up under a blanket or by a crackling fire and reading a story that takes you right to the edge of safety and reality while ensconced in your own environment of security. Find your latest fireside read by browsing our Halloween-book sale at https://www.readhowyouwant.com/us —you’ll find otherworldly offerings like Allison Rushby’s When This Bell Rings, about a gifted graphic novelist and a search across London to find her when she disappears. These books are bound to put you in a paranormal mood.