You have seen his name everywhere, and you know who he is. Who better to lead you into Halloween than horror master himself – Stephen King.
You could simply watch one of the many newly-released films with King’s name stamped obtrusively at the bottom, but where his talents truly lie is in his ability to make the mind reel, and visualise horrors unimaginable through his written word.
THE GIRL WHO LOVED TOM GORDON
Simple, beautiful and haunting.
Nine-year-old Trisha gets lost in the deep forest of the Appalachian Trail and faces an innate sense of horror at the realisation that she might never be found. It is not long until she realises that she is not alone.
Her blind panic, resulting in resignation, mirrors our feelings while still keeping us at a horrified arm’s length.
King’s ability to describe the surrounding forest as a peaceful and beautiful juxtapose against Trisha’s fear and isolation makes the tale even more haunting.
While you may have seen the recent release of IT Chapter Two, it pales in comparison to this 1166-page behemoth.
The horror is more gruesome, the friendship more bittersweet, and the ending even more heartbreaking.
It is bigger and better.
While this book is not one of King’s fiction works, it does take you deeper into the genre of horror itself.
In Danse Macabre, King analyses the impact of horror fiction in print, TV, comic books, film and radio.
He examines the influences on his work, and interrupts the authoritative narrative to input tales from his childhood, and recalls his fascination with horror.
FULL DARK, NO STARS
Full Dark, No Stars is a collection of four novellas: 1922, Big Driver, Fair Extension and A Good Marriage.
You might remember 1922 from Netflix’s original 2017 film, in which a disgruntled Midwestern farmer, fed up her “city-gal ways”, decides to murder his wife.
It is a simple plot, nothing new from King’s regular spin, but the relentless and merciless haunting of nothingness that fills each moment of the delusional farmers’ life is the chill that runs down your spine.
And the rats. Oh God, the rats.
The novellas all focus on the theme of retribution, and while Big Driver can be crude and follows King’s regular rape-revenge plotlines, Fair Extension brings an unsettling and disquieting realisation that perhaps true horror is in the human ability to wish bad things on others.
The final novella, A Good Marriage, perhaps rings too close to 2019’s online obsession Ted Bundy.
We see housewife, Darcy, discover her husband is a murderer. And what is a wife to do, if not to stop him?
If you love your pet a little too much, then this is not the book for you.
A slow build to the central climax, you follow Dr Louis Creed into the marshy Indian-owned land beyond the Pet Sematary and hear the whispers of the spirit of the forest curl around your ears. You might just put the book down for good.
While these might not be the cheap jump scares you would typically get on the big screen, the inherent messages, ominous undertones and truths a little too close to home make for perfect Halloween reading. Who needs sleep when you have Stephen King?