VINTAGE Halloween

 Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Is there a greater Gothic horror novel than Frankenstein? We don’t think so. Mary Shelley was just 18 when she began working on it, prompted by Lord Byron’s suggestion that their group of friends should try their hand at writing ghost stories. As a young scientist, Victor Frankenstein pushed moral boundaries in order to cross the final frontier and create life. But his creation is a monster stitched together from grave-plundered body parts who has no place in the world, and his existence can only lead to tragedy.

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

The Master and Margarita is the darkest and funniest of dark comic tales. A man with one green eye, one black eye, and an array of alarming accomplices including a demonic, fast-talking black cat, arrives in Moscow. When he leaves, the asylums are full and the forces of law and order are in disarray. Only the Master, a man devoted to truth, and Margarita, the woman he loves, can resist the Devil’s onslaught. A satire as well as a spine-chilling story, it was censored by Stalin and only published after Bulgakov’s death.

Swansong by Kerry Andrew

It’s not just the classics that can chill you to the bone. In Swansong, Polly Vaughan tries to escape the ravaging guilt of a disturbing incident in London by heading north to the Scottish Highlands. There, she finds a fresh kind of fear, alone in this eerie, myth-drenched landscape: white shapes float in the waters of the loch and in the woods, and on her first evening she comes across a man in the forest, apparently tearing apart a bird. Who is this strange loner? And what is his sinister secret? Andrew’s own understanding of the folk songs, mythologies and oral traditions of these islands give her writing a charged, hallucinatory quality that is uncanny and deeply disquieting.

The Gloaming by Kirsty Logan

Kirsty Logan’s writing is riddled with magic. In The Gloaming, Mara lives on an island of stories and magic, but every story ends in the same way. She will finish her days on the cliff, turned to stone and gazing out at the horizon like all the islanders before her. Mara’s parents – a boxer and a ballerina – chose this enchanted place as a refuge from the turbulence of their previous lives; they wanted to bring up their children somewhere special and safe. But the Island and the sea don’t care what people want, and when they claim a price from her family, Mara’s world unravels.

The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger

For the easily spooked, though not for the faint-hearted, Audrey Niffenegger’s magic is of a different kind: the time travel kind. Her bestselling novel, made into a film, is the extraordinary love story of Clare and Henry who met when Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-two and Henry thirty. Impossible but true, because Henry suffers from a rare condition where his genetic clock periodically resets and he finds himself pulled suddenly into his past or future. In the face of this force they can neither prevent nor control, Henry and Clare’s struggle to lead normal lives is both intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

Ghostly edited by Audrey Niffenegger

Who better, then, to bring together a selection of the very creepiest, weirdest and wittiest ghost stories around? Scare yourself silly with old favourites by Edgar Allan Poe and M. R. James. Entertain the unnerving with tales from Neil Gaiman, Kelly Link and Audrey Niffenegger herself. And as bedtime nears, allay your fears with funny new writing from Amy Giacalone and the classic wit of Saki. The ultimate ghost lover’s collection.

Adamtine by Hannah Berry

Hannah Berry, the comics laureate, is no stranger to horror. In her second graphic novel, Adamtine, all people could do was speculate on the fate of those who vanished – strangers; seemingly random, unconnected: all plucked from their lives and never seen again. The notes left behind, apparently describing some slender reason for their removal, were all that linked them. They were all delivered by one man. Some years later, four strangers; seemingly random, unconnected, all take the last train home. But something each of them has forgotten – or is trying to forget – is catching up with them; with a terrible, inexorable purpose. The Devil is in the detail, as they say. A compulsive whodunit – can you work it out before the end?

Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami

Kafka Tamura runs away from home at fifteen, under the shadow of his father's dark prophesy. The ageing Nakata, tracker of lost cats, who never recovered from a bizarre childhood affliction, finds his pleasantly simplified life suddenly turned upside down. As their parallel odysseys unravel, cats converse with people; fish tumble from the sky; a ghost-like pimp deploys a Hegel-spouting girl of the night; a forest harbours soldiers apparently un-aged since World War II. There is a savage killing, but the identity of both victim and killer is a riddle – one of many which combine to create an elegant and dreamlike masterpiece. This is the masterful, inimitable Murakami at his best.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

He is deathly pale. His fingernails are cut to sharp points. His teeth protrude menacingly from his mouth in clouds of rancid breath… Yet even Count Dracula’s unnerving appearance and the frightened reaction of the local peasants fail to warn Jonathan Harker, a young man from England, about his host. Little does Jonathan know that this is a land where babies are snatched for their blood and wolves howl menacingly from the forest, where reality is far more frightening than superstition. A story that has inspired so many, and still remains the most terrifying of all.

The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories by Angela Carter

You know the tales of Red Riding Hood and Puss in Boots, of Beauty and the Beast and Bluebeard. They are scary stories already, yet lurking in all of them is something yet more sinister, and Angela Carter teases out these threads and stitches them into something new. These are dark, sensual, fantastic stories that revel in language and the imagination – you can smell the flowers wilting, see blood dripping slowly. They’ll leave you petrified and panic-stricken – and longing for more.

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