Saturday, October 29, 2011

Halloween Book Review - Ghost Story by Peter Straub & The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Halloween is just around the corner, while the Indian summer we've been experiencing here in Holland seems to have come to an end, making it the perfect time to curl up with a good scary book as the wind howls and batters the windows.

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson is considered a horror classic and rightfully so. It begins, as many haunted house stories do, with a group of strangers meeting to investigate paranormal activity at Hill House, "a place without kindness, never meant to be lived in...." What separates this book from others is the depth of the characters and the way in which the super natural effects them. I don't want to write too much and spoil it!

Ghost Story by Peter Straub is a more contemporary novel written during what I think is horror's second golden age after the Victorian period: the 1970's and 80's. Described as "a super natural revenge story," it's a brilliantly crafted story that keeps readers guessing as to the real nature of the terror, building the suspense along the way. Again, I'm hesitant to say too much and spoil the fun.

Both of these books were made into movies. But as is so often the case, the film versions don't quite match the books. But if I had to recommend one to watch, it would be "The Haunting." The 1963 edition, not the more recent one which is more a comedy thanks to bad acting and terrible special effects, than a suspenseful chiller.

Have a very scary Halloween. Boo!

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