Message in a Bottle
Cindy Scares Me…


The days have been growing shorter, and now it’s dark by the time the kids go to bed. There’s a brisk chill in the air too. Fall is announcing itself.

Late the other night, I sat up working on our monthly newsletter. I was grasping for time in between my one-year-old daughter’s separation anxiety screaming fits. Her twin brother hasn’t exhibited her recent behavior, thank goodness, but she virtually howls.

Roger had asked Cindy to help me compile the Halloween booklist for adults. I love a good thriller and and have read far too many of them, but it’s been a long time since I’ve read a full-fledged horror novel. I was sifting through new titles to include when I opened Cindy’s email.

Cindy, as you know, has rung up hordes of titles at the front counter and always has her finger on the pulse of what customers like. She took Roger’s charge seriously, and her suggestions went above and beyond the scope of the list I was trying to cultivate. So I felt it was only appropriate to share her deeper thoughts on the blog as to what you should be reading for Halloween. Her list was so good that I nearly woke my peacefully sleeping husband just so I didn’t feel so alone in the house. With my daughter finally silent, I felt like shrieking myself. The very names of some of Cindy’s books sent chills up my spine, as I began to picture ghosts, murderers, and vampires roaming in my backyard.

First Cindy gave me this list of authors:
H.P. Lovecraft
H.G. Wells
Edgar Allen Poe
Bram Stoker
Mary Shelley
Ray Bradbury (The Halloween Tree)
Whitley Streiber
Peter Straub
Clive Barker
Ira Levin
Robert McCammon
Tanith Lee
Joe Hill (20th Century Ghosts, Horns, Heart-Shaped Box, NOS4ATU)
Neil Gaiman (The Graveyard Book)
Stephen King (Dr. Sleep)
Peter Stenson (Fiend)
Adam Mansbach (The Dead Run)

Then she went more specific with these titles:
The Historian
The Turn of the Screw
Woman in Black
Interview with the Vampire
Haunting of Hill House 
Haunted Washington
Bad Seeds
Ghosts: Recent Hauntings
Poe’s Children
(ed., Peter Straub)
The Big Book of Ghost Stories (ed. Otto Penzler)

I’ll add Tana French, Jo Nesbo, and Sophie Hannah to Cindy’s list of authors and Every Last One, Before I Go to Sleep, and Sister to her list of specific books.

I used to read horror novels under the covers with a flashlight when I was a teenager, long after I was supposed to be asleep. I read all the early Stephen King and Flowers in the Attic like that and scared myself sick. It may have been a long time ago, but just thinking about reading some of the books on Cindy’s list brought back those memories. I could feel the hair on the back of my neck stand up. And when my daughter started a fresh round of screaming, I nearly screamed with her.

Halloween is coming. Lock your doors and read yourself into a tizzy. It’s kind of fun.


Ghost Stories

Scary Stories to Tell in the DarkIt’s October, and that means Halloween is coming. And along with that, creepy stories. Have you heard the one about the kid whose friends dared him to spend a night in a haunted house?

He took the challenge and late one Saturday night, he took his sleeping bag and pushed open the creaking front door. The house was deserted. He made his bed on the floor of the living room, praying he would fall asleep fast so this would be over quickly. A few minutes went by, and then, he heard it. Wrap….Wrap…Wrap. It was a distinctive sound, coming from somewhere inside the house. He figured it was just the wind and turned over. Again it came. Wrap…Wrap…Wrap. “Okay,” he thought. “I better shut that window.”

He heard it again. Wrap…Wrap…Wrap. It sounded like it was coming from upstairs. He followed the noise and with each step it got louder. The noise sounded angry and he was getting scared. His friends better pay up when this was over.

Wrap…Wrap…Wrap. The noise seemed to be coming from a closet down the hall. Wrap…Wrap…Wrap. He walked towards it until the sound was so loud he had to cover his ears. Wrap…Wrap…Wrap.  "This is it," he thought, and with great fanfare, he threw the door open and screamed.

Inside the closet sat some wrapping paper.

Okay, so it wasn’t the best story you’ve ever heard, but it sure freaked me out when my dad told it when I was five. Soon after I was reading Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark under the covers with a flashlight. There’s no better way to get the most out of Halloween than reading some good old-fashioned horror.

If you aren’t scared yet, here are a few other deliciously creepy tales to read in front of the fire with the lights off. If you dare.

Nightmares  & Dreamscapes

Nightmares & Dreamscapes by Stephen King: Featuring twenty short horror stories, a television script, an essay, and a poem, Nightmares and Dreamscapes contains unique and chilling plots including everything from dead rock star zombies to evil toys seeking murderous revenge.

The Tell-Tale HeartThe Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe: Revisit one of Edgar Allen Poe’s most famous and chilling stories about a man who takes the life of an older man for a really bizarre reason. The nameless man tells the story of the murder in order to prove his sanity.

The Turn of the ScrewThe Turn of the Screw by Henry James: A young governess is the only one who can see the ghosts of the previous governess and her lover, and so no one believes her when she insists the ghosts are controlling the two orphaned children for some evil purpose.

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