Though you wouldn’t be able to guess it from the weather we’ve been having so far, it is in fact October and that means we’re heading towards Halloween, one of my favorite holidays of the year. To get you into the mood that the weather is trying to undermine, how about checking out a couple of new creepy books here at The Field Library?
We could, of course, start with the classics, and one of the great scary classics is Dracula, by Bram Stoker. I’ve already recommended this book in the past, because even people who are familiar with the basic story (a group that pretty much includes everybody, especially this time of year) can be surprised at the way Stoker tells it. But if you’ve already read the ur text and you’re totally familiar with the book, perhaps a different take on the origins of the story could breathe new life into it and bring you a greater appreciation for both Dracula and his famous author. In that case, let me suggest Dracul, by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker. If you’re noticing the name of the first author and wondering about it, yes, Dacre is a descendant of the famous Bram, and is using Bram Stoker’s original notes as inspiration and shaping of this book. The protagonist of the book is Bram Stoker himself, facing the inspiration for the vampire he later wrote about. As a boy, Bram was bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, and spent much of his time under the supervision of the young Ellen Crone. While she was taking care of Bram and his sister, there were a number of suspicious deaths in the neighborhood, coupled with some seriously strange behavior on Ellen’s part, which culminated in her unexpected disappearance from their lives. Then, years later, Bram’s sister returns from Paris to tell him that she’s seen Ellen again, and that the whole nightmare of their childhood is returning to life. Of course we’re thinking Ellen is a real vampire, but is she?
For a different kind of creepiness (the type fans of the original version of Wicker Man might enjoy), there’s also Devil’s Day, by Andrew Michael Hurley. John Pentecost, the protagonist of the book, grew up in a remote village by the edge of the moors. Every year, John returns to help bring the sheep down from the moors before the winter comes, and every year his grandfather, the Gaffer, would perform a ritual to mark the boundaries of the village and keep the devil out for another year. The ancient ritual involves drawing the boundaries with pen and paper but also involves telling particular stories and performing other acts that seem unusual and maybe meaningless. This year, however, John returns to his home village with his new wife, and this year the Gaffer has died, and this year things are different, and the villagers aren’t sure whether the devil actually has been kept out or not, whether the Gaffer’s actions were necessary to protect them from an ancient evil that might be moving in on them now.
Ancient evils, possible vampires, the movement of the devil through the affairs of human beings: what better way to get yourself ready for Halloween than to dive into these new and creepy books? Come and get them at The Field, before it’s too late.