Kate’s second instalment of book recommendations are perfect for this spooky season. (Read her first instalment of recommendations here).
I love the arrival of fall. It means colourful leaves, pumpkin-spiced everything, cozy sweaters, and, hopefully, some rainy afternoons with a good book in hand. With the weather turning and Halloween approaching, I always find my literature choices veer to the darker end of the spectrum. Suspense, thrillers, mysteries; they’re all fair game for me now. Here are some of my all-time favourites to help jump start your fall reading.
The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury
While Ray Bradbury is better known for his adult fiction (his works such as Fahrenheit 451 are very popular in English Lit classes) his kid’s books are just as delightful. My particular favourite is The Halloween Tree. The story opens on Halloween, with a band of friends gathering, eager to run amok. When they discover a member of their group is missing, they must turn to a mysterious stranger for help. Only by travelling through time and space to learn the true meaning of Halloween can the boys hope to save their lost friend. This fabulous book offers a bit of everything; it’s spooky, educational, funny, and emotional and appeals to a wide range of readers. Plus, it’s not that long, making it a perfect family read.
All Souls Trilogy by Deborah Harkness
What do you get when you cross vampires, witches, time travel, and alchemy? You get the All Souls trilogy by Deborah Harkness. The story begins with Diana Bishop. Haunted by the murder of her parents decades before, Diana tries to repress her magical abilities believing that magic and the murders are somehow linked. But when she stumbles across an ancient alchemy text she is pulled into a centuries-long mystery that people, including her parents, are prepared to die for. Through the series Diana must unravel the secrets of her parents’ deaths while learning to accept who she is in order to survive. Full of fast-paced action, lively characters, and twisting plot this series is a great choice if you’re looking for a fun, supernatural adventure.
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Classic literature lovers, this is the perfect fall read for you. If you are a fan of mysteries and haven’t read any of Collins’ work, I strongly recommend you check him out. A popular writer in the mid-nineteenth century, Collins is credited with creating the detective novel genre. Though not a detective novel per say, The Woman in White seamlessly uses the gothic genre (also popular at the time) to introduce the detective style. The result is an intense psychological thriller that entwines evil villains, ghosts, mental illness, money, status, power, love, and intrigue. Even with a small cast of characters, you’re never quite sure who to believe. Even the mystery itself isn’t fully revealed until the final chapters. The rollercoaster plot will have you up reading well past your bed time, so I suggest you make a good cup of tea and prepare to settle in with this one.
The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris
It’s a general rule that movies adapted from books are never quite as good as the source material; and that’s a rule that holds true here as well. I saw the film before I read the book and I have to admit that even knowing the end game didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel. I think it’s because regardless of how good the film is (and it is excellent) it still can’t match the level of detail created in the book. Harris pushes his characters to explore their ethos in awkward and often uncomfortable ways; which he layers on top of grisly, almost clinical, descriptions of the violent crimes his characters are so desperate to solve. The result is a novel that is raw and truly thrilling to read, although definitely not for the faint of heart.
History/True Crime (Non Fiction)
The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
The book is, ostensibly, about the Chicago’s World Fair in 1893. Most of the book discusses the monumental tasks the creators of the fair had, and it celebrates what those men and women were able to accomplish. From architecture to exhibits, fair attendance to maintenance, Larson gives readers a true appreciation for how spectacular this event was. But the book is not all glitz and glam. The reason it makes it into my list of recommended mysteries, is that this book is also about one of America’s most prolific serial killers. Hidden beneath the bustle and the industry of Chicago at the turn of the century, Dr H. H. Holmes, or so he was known, was able to execute hideous crimes with shocking abandon. The degree to which he manipulated some of his victims is truly staggering. I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t reading a novel, that this in fact happened, and that is what makes the book all the more sinister. Even now, just thinking about it gives me the creeps. If you are looking for a mystery, but you want to avoid a novel, I recommend you give this book a try.
(Photos/Reviews by Kate Stewart for Type A Type B)