Halloween means feeling scared and celebrating all that terrifies: you or something that just sounds like it would. And there is no better way to experience all of that than with books which have the capacity to grip, entrall, and yet make you feel very, very afraid…
Andrew Michael Hurley’s latest book is like a breath of fresh air: a horror piece about saving all the sheep in a farm from the Devil. Every year, it used to be so, that the Gaffer, along with resketching the village boundaries (ink-wise) would observe a remembrance of stories and communal customs, which would keep the animals safe. But with the Gaffer’s death, the farmers of the village are in doubt over if they can do just the same. There is also an interesting arc thrown in over the Gaffer’s grandson, John Pentecost and his wife Katherine, in the book, but what sets this book apart is that the fiction can both scare and marvel, in part because of the Endlands landscape the story is based in, simultaneously.
Film critic, journalist and fiction writer Kim Newman’s first in the series is an alternate history piece, which smells remarkably like Victorian England, except that vampires lurk everywhere and particularly in the highest echleons of English society. The vampires commit deeds that are considered normal by human standards, such as acting oppressive, playing power games and such, which add dimensions to the beings; characters, both real and fictional, from the Victoria era also appear in the book with entirely new stories. What’s most remarkable about the work, it almost goes without saying, is that it chose to take out a very rich and colourful piece of history, and recreate it in an entirely new chilling avatar, and yet it all sounds and feels very much alive and real, making it a tale that’s (surprisingly) gripping.
This Halloween, English Heritage decided to publish a book based on the accounts of numerous authors, all dispatched to live in several of its historic sites. What each of them brought back was a tale that could chill to the bone, in the most breathtaking of all locales, from Eltham Palace to Dover Castle; very timely and a befitting ode to the supernatural airs of historic places!