Monday, October 15, 2012

Five Great Books/Series For Halloween (And The Raven)

To me, curling up with hot apple cider and a good Halloween-themed book is one of the best things to do on a cold October night. If you agree with me, than this is the list for you. Here are five books (novels, series, and one author) that I must have to set the mood of the month for me:

1) Halloween by Silver Ravenwolf
Yes, this book was written by a Pagan author BUT it is not just a Pagan book. This fun book tells of the history of Halloween from a serious religious time to its modern form as a night of fun and frolic. It also includes recipes for the holiday and for those of you who are Pagan there are ritual suggestions included. But if you are not Pagan you can still enjoy the majority of the book and you can easily skip the small section that includes rituals if you choose to do so. This book can be enjoyed by anyone who loves Halloween regardless of their religious beliefs.

2) Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (The Series)
If you are a 90's kid like me, you know these books and you might know them well. They were very popular back in our day. Why? Because they were fucking awesome! Now that I am grown up I will still read them to the children I love in my life or by myself because they bring back great memories and they continue to be fun ghost stories even after all of these years. So read them to your kids (and don't forget...when the book instructs you to do something like scream, do it. Scares the hell out of the kids, then they always laugh, and that will make you laugh. It's great fun for everyone.) or read them by yourself. 
3) The Haunted Ohio Series
To me, this is sort of like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark for grown ups. I don't know if they are available outside of Ohio...I assume they are. Maybe they are best enjoyed by Ohioans because we know the places that are talked about in the book (it's that whole 'Oh my god...I always knew there was something off with that damned house' thing) but the stories surrounding the ghosts are the main focus and they can be enjoyed by anyone. I've read the books every October since I was about 17 and I continue to read them every year.
4) The Widow's Broom
When I was a little girl I loved...loved...LOVED this book. Not only was the story great, the pictures were amazing. At 25 years old I still love this book and most of the kids who have been around me have heard the story because I will use them as an excuse to read it. (I'm shameless, I know.) The story is about a widow who finds a witch who has crashed in her garden. The woman ends up with the enchanted broom of the witch and her neighbors are none too happy about the diabolical thing that sweeps floors and carries water by itself. Want to know what happens to the woman and her magic broom? Well, then, you have to read the book. :) Gather the kids, heat up some cider or cocoa, and read them this great story. Don't forget to show them the pictures. 

5) Almost Anything by Stephen King (for you) and The Berenstain Bears Halloween Books (for the kids)
In my opinion, there is no one in our modern culture who does horror quite as well as Stephen King. I think of him almost like the Poe of our time in that aspect. So it seems fitting that books like Pet Semetary, The Shinning, and Bag of Bones should be a part of this list. The man is a master in his genre and for some his books may give you nightmares but it's worth it. And even if you are harder to scare like me, his amazing style will keep you up long into the cold October night. 

The Berenstain Bears has kept two generations entertained so far and I have no doubt that the stories of the most infamous bear family will continue to stand the test of time because they are fun, they are educational, and the adorable bears are sort of hard to resist. When I was little my favorite book from the series was Trick or Treat. I believe they have a couple of Halloween books but that was the only one I ever read and, true to my nature, I got it from a book fair when I was seven and I read it every Halloween until it got lost in a move when I was twelve. Again, these are books that the whole family can enjoy.
Edgar Allan Poe isn't officially on the list (because I am going for 31 items with the movies, the books, and the songs...Type A personality, ya know?) but how can I leave him out? He should really be number one. The Black Cat, The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart...his stories (and some of his poems) were horror before there was really a genre for it. In many ways, he is the father of the horror genre. And October would not be complete without his literary genius, twisted as it was. And speaking of Poe, The Raven is out on DVD. Add it to your fun this month. It was one hell of a movie. :)
And because I adore you all, here is The Raven in its entirety. (Just like I said when I posted The Black Cat, I mean no copyright infringement and I am confident that Poe doesn't mind if I post his beloved poem.) Taken from

The Raven

[First published in 1845]
horizontal spaceOnce upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
`'Tis some visitor,' I muttered, `tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more.'

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating
`'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more,'

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
`Sir,' said I, `or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you' - here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the darkness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, `Lenore!'
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, `Lenore!'
Merely this and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
`Surely,' said I, `surely that is something at my window lattice;
Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
`Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou,' I said, `art sure no craven.
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning - little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast above the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as `Nevermore.'

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only,
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered `Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before.'
Then the bird said, `Nevermore.'

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
`Doubtless,' said I, `what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his hope that melancholy burden bore
Of "Never-nevermore."'

But the raven still beguiling all my sad soul into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird and bust and door;
Then, upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking `Nevermore.'

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamp-light gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamp-light gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then, methought, the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose foot-falls tinkled on the tufted floor.
`Wretch,' I cried, `thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he has sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe from thy memories of Lenore!
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe, and forget this lost Lenore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted - tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

`Prophet!' said I, `thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels named Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden, whom the angels named Lenore?'
Quoth the raven, `Nevermore.'

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