Storytime for Grownups: Halfway to Halloween

by Adam Davis, Director of System Services for the Palm Beach County Library System

Two confessions: 1) I forget to dress up for Halloween every year, and 2) I buy candy to give out, but I actually just eat it at home. Since I’m preparing a list of astonishingly scary books in honor of the halfway point to All Hallow’s Eve, I have no excuses for October 31st.  And you, the reader, have no excuses not to read these titles… unless, of course, you’re too scared.


Danielwski, Mark Z. “House of Leaves”.

untitled“A photographer decides to create a film document of his family moving into a new home. The project runs smoothly until the interior dimensions of the house turn out to be larger than the exterior. Over time, a maze of passageways appear and disappear, perhaps inhabited by an unseen malevolent creature. Equipped with cameras, a team tries to explore the shifting labyrinth, but they are forced out after the expedition proves deadly. But what they have managed to film is a critical success, generating thousands of pages of analysis. Years later, a trunk of these documents fall into the hands of a young man after the curious death of a neighbor. He finds that the dimensions of his own life may not be as fixed as he once imagined, and that he might also be pursued by an unknown entity…” –Eric Robbins ©Booklist


Darnielle, John. “Universal Harvester”.

th“Jeremy works at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa… This is the late 1990s, and even if the Hollywood Video in Ames poses an existential threat to Video Hut, there are still regular customers, a rush in the late afternoon… But when a local schoolteacher comes in to return her copy of Targets –an old movie, starring Boris Karloff, one Jeremy himself had ordered for the store–she has an odd complaint: “There’s something on it,” she says, but doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, a different customer returns a different tape, a new release, and says it’s not defective, exactly, but altered: ‘There’s another movie on this tape.’ Jeremy doesn’t want to be curious, but he brings the movies home to take a look. And, indeed, in the middle of each movie, the screen blinks dark for a moment and the movie is replaced by a few minutes of jagged, poorly lit home video. The scenes are odd and sometimes violent, dark, and deeply disquieting. There are no identifiable faces, no dialogue or explanation–the first video has just the faint sound of someone breathing– but there are some recognizable landmarks. These have been shot just outside of town.” ®Bowker


Datlow, Ellen (ed.). “Nightmares : a new decade of modern horror”.

fb26194532187d47bae953933f7ad57a“Building off her indispensable “Darkness: Two Decades of Modern Horror” (2010)… Datlow has here collected the 24 stories that she has most enjoyed from 2005-15. Her task is aided greatly by the fact that the last decade has been a fertile one for the genre, with the emergence of incredible new voices and the decision by nongenre writers to give horror a try. Arranged in chronological order by year of publication, these tales represent the breadth of horror from psychologically chilling to all out terrorizing and feature just about every type of monster or ghost imaginable. — Becky Spratford ©Booklist


Hunt, Samantha. “Mr. Splitfoot”.

2FD7778C00000578-3389103-image-a-6_1452190118704“Ruth and Nat are orphans, packed into a house full of abandoned children run by a religious fanatic. To entertain their siblings, they channel the dead. Decades later, Ruth’s niece, Cora, finds herself accidentally pregnant. After years of absence, Aunt Ruth appears, mute and full of intention. She is on a mysterious mission, leading Cora on an odyssey across the entire state of New York on foot. Where is Ruth taking them? Where has she been? And who — or what — has she hidden in the woods at the end of the road? In an ingeniously structured dual narrative, two separate timelines move toward the same point of crisis. Their merging will upend and reinvent the whole. A subversive ghost story that is carefully plotted and elegantly constructed, Mr. Splitfoot will set your heart racing and your brain churning.” ®Bowker


Jackson, Shirley. “The Haunting of Hill House”.

th8YZYABAM“First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s ‘The Haunting of Hill House’ has been hailed as a perfect work of unnerving terror. It is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, his lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers–and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.” ®Bowker


King, Stephen. “It”.

it2drevOne word: Pennywise. Scared yet? Before the film remake is released in September, read or re-read the book… if you dare!




Kunzru, Hari. “White Tears”.

41RgctJPPKL__SY346_If you were scared out of your wits by Jordan Peele’s recent social horror film, “Get Out”, you may enjoy this one! “Two twenty-something New Yorkers. Seth is awkward and shy. Carter is the glamorous heir to one of America’s great fortunes. They have one thing in common: an obsession with music. Seth is desperate to reach for the future. Carter is slipping back into the past. When Seth accidentally records an unknown singer in a park, Carter sends it out over the Internet, claiming it’s a long lost 1920s blues recording by a musician called Charlie Shaw. When an old collector contacts them to say that their fake record and their fake bluesman are actually real, the two young white men, accompanied by Carter’s troubled sister Leonie, spiral down into the heart of the nation’s darkness, encountering a suppressed history of greed, envy, revenge, and exploitation.” ®Bowker


Whitehead, Colson. “Zone one”.

zone-one-paperbackFrom the author of this past year’s amazing novel, “Underground Railroad,” comes this chilling zombie novel.


“In this wry take on the post-apocalyptic horror novel, a pandemic has devastated the planet. The plague has sorted humanity into two types: the uninfected and the infected, the living and the living dead. Now the plague is receding, and Americans are busy rebuilding civilization under orders from the provisional government based in Buffalo. Their top mission: the resettlement of Manhattan. Armed forces have successfully reclaimed the island south of Canal Street–aka Zone One–but pockets of plague-ridden squatters remain. While the army has eliminated the most dangerous of the infected, teams of civilian volunteers are tasked with clearing out a more innocuous variety–the “malfunctioning” stragglers, who exist in a catatonic state, transfixed by their former lives. Mark Spitz is a member of one of the civilian teams working in lower Manhattan. Alternating between flashbacks of Spitz’s desperate fight for survival during the worst of the outbreak and his present narrative, the novel unfolds over three surreal days, as it depicts the mundane mission of straggler removal, the rigors of Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, and the impossible job of coming to grips with the fallen world. And then things start to go wrong.” ®Bowker



The Palm Beach County Library System has dozens of electronic books, printed books both novels & non-fiction, audiobooks, and DVDs or Blu-ray discs to help you understand how spooky the world really is! Travel to your closest branch or find them on the web! As always, we’d like to thank Adam Davis, director of system services for the Palm Beach County Library System, for all his help in putting together this list.