Sunday 30 October 2011

Spooky Reads For Hallowe'en

'Tis Hallowe'en tomorrow and I thought it would be a little remiss of me if I didn't highlight some of the great spooky reads that I have had the pleasure of reading over the past year or so. Naturally, the books I discussed this time last year are still must-reads for all young horror fans, and you can read about them here. And if you're not a horror fan, or have read them already, why not give one as an All Hallow's Read.

Department 19 by Will Hill

In a secret supernatural battle that's been raging for over a century, the stakes have just been raised – and they're not wooden anymore.

When Jamie Carpenter's mother is kidnapped by strange creatures, he finds himself dragged into Department 19, the government's most secret agency.

Fortunately for Jamie, Department 19 can provide the tools he needs to find his mother, and to kill the vampires who want him dead. But unfortunately for everyone, something much older is stirring, something even Department 19 can't stand up against…

I do not think I will ever get tired of shouting about just how brilliant this action horror story is. If you have not yet discovered it then where have you been hiding since April? The sequel, The Rising, is out next March - I wonder how many times I will have re-read this by then?

Dancing Jax by Robin Jarvis

At the end of a track, on the outskirts of an ordinary coastal town, lies a dilapidated house. Once, a group of amateur ghost hunters spent the night there. Two of them don’t like to speak about the experience. The third can’t speak about it. He went into the basement, you see, and afterwards he screamed so hard and so long he tore his vocal cords.

Now, a group of teenagers have decided to hang out in the old haunted house. Dismissing the fears of the others, their leader Jezza goes down into the basement… and comes back up with a children’s book, full of strange and colourful tales of a playing-card world, a fairytale world, full of Jacks, Queens and Kings, unicorns and wolves.

But the book is no fairytale. Written by Austerly Fellows, a mysterious turn-of-the-century occultist, it just might be the gateway to something terrifying…and awfully final. As the children and teenagers of the town are swept up by its terrible power, swept into its seductive world, something has begun that could usher in hell on earth. Soon, the only people standing in its way are a young boy with a sci-fi obsession, and his dad – an unassuming maths teacher called Martin…

Robin Jarvis is a legend and this is just the latest in a long line of outstanding books by him. He doesn't really see his writing as horror but Dancing Jax will hit you on a psychological level and haunt your thoughts for weeks afterwards. I had the pleasure of meeting Robin at a HarperCollins bloggers' tea last week and it is hard to believe that such a nice man could write such scary books. If you have not yet read his Tales from the Wyrd Museum trilogy then make that a priority as well - the books are in the process of being re-released and every one of them is a great scary read.

Long Lankin by Lindsey Barraclough

When Cora and her little sister Mimi are sent to stay with their elderly aunt in the isolated village of Bryers Guerdon, they receive a less than warm welcome, and are desperate to go back to London. But Auntie Ida's life was devastated the last time two young girls were at Guerdon Hall, and now her nieces' arrival has reawoken an evil that has lain waiting for years.

A haunting voice in an empty room ... A strange, scarred man lurking in the graveyard ... A mysterious warning, scrawled on the walls of the abandoned church . . . Along with Roger and Peter, two young village boys, Cora must uncover the horrifying truth that has held Bryers Guerdon in its dark grip for centuries - before it is too late for Mimi.

An old-school ghost story that is guaranteed to scare your socks off. I know a number of other bloggers who have struggled to sleep after making the mistake of reading this one at night.

CRYPT: The Gallows Curse by Andrew Hammond

Meet Jud Lester: Star agent with CRYPT, the Covert Response Youth Paranormal Team.

When a crime is committed and the police are at a loss, CRYPT is called in to figure out whether something paranormal is at work. Jud is their star agent.
Jud, unwillingly paired with new recruit Bex, has just landed his biggest case yet ... people have been disappearing in mysterious circumstances while others are viciously attacked - yet there are no suspects and a complete lack of hard evidence. The only thing that links each attack is the fact that survivors all claim that the culprits were 17th century highwaymen.
Can Jud and Bex work out what has caused the spirits of these dangerous men to return to the streets of London before they wreak more death and destruction?

This is the first in a series from debut YA author Andrew Hammond and comes packed with some great action scenes as well as enough gore and horror to keep fans of the genre salivating for more.

The Shadowing: Hunted by Adam Slater

Its head was a mass of wet, gleaming veins and cartilage, muscle and teeth - a face without skin or form. The creature held Callum's gaze with its unblinking eyes. And then the hideous face changed. Every hundred years the gateway opens between their world and ours. The hunt is on. No one is safe. The Shadowing is coming . . .

Another 'first in a series' book and I loved it. What's more, the sequel, Skinned, has already been released and is even better and scarier than the first book.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

Nearly fourteen years ago a freak virus swept across the world turning those infected from the living into the undead. Benny Imura has grown-up never knowing anything different; his last memories of his parents tainted by the image of them becoming zombies. Now Benny is fifteen, and his brother Tom wants him to join the "family business" and train as a zombie killer. The last thing Benny wants is to work with Tom --- but at least the job should be an easy ride. Then the brothers head into the Rot and Ruin, an area full of wandering zombies, and Benny realises that being a bounty hunter isn't just about whacking zombies. As he's confronted with the truths about the world around him, Benny finds his beliefs challenged and makes the most terrifying discovery of all, that sometimes the worst monsters you can imagine, are human...

If you like zombie stories then this is a must buy for you. If you don't like zombie stories then this is still a must buy - yes it has some gory moments, and the occasional swear word, but it is much more than a horror story - it is a tale about two brothers working together to overcome a great evil, and a fantastic study in what makes us human in a world gone crazy. I have not yet read the sequel, Dust and Decay, but I can see it on my shelf screaming "read me or else....".

Blood Ninja by Nick Lake

Taro is a boy from a coastal village in rural Japan, fated to become a fisherman like his father. But in just one night, Taro's world is turned upside down - and his destiny is changed forever. Skilled in the art of silent and deadly combat, ninjas are the agents of powerful nobles who rule sixteenth-century Japan. So why did a group of these highly trained assassins creep into a peasant's hut and kill Taro's father? And why did one ninja rescue Taro from their clutches, saving his life at enormous cost? Now on the run with this mysterious saviour and his best friend Hiro, Taro is determined to learn the way of the ninja to avenge his father's death. But if they are to complete their perilous journey, Taro must first evade the wrath of the warring Lords, decipher an ancient curse, resist forbidden love - and come to terms with the blood-soaked secrets of a life lived in moonlight.

I can't believe I didn't include this is last year's list of Hallowe'en recommended reads. Ninjas + Vampires + Samurai = lots of bloodsplattering win! I have just read the sequel, Lord Oda's Revenge, and it is just as good, and even more gory, then the first book. Watch this space for my review.


If you love your horror then I hope there is something there that appeals to you. Have a great Hallowe'en!


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