I’m a big horror fan, and I'm bummed that Halloween isn't going to be the same this year with COVID-19.
So I put my horror-loving brain to the task of coming up with some recommendations for things my fellow horror fans can do to stay home and safe on Halloween through group activities on Zoom, Skype, or whatever calling service brings you and your spook-loving pals together!
This is going to be a four-part blog!
- Part 1: Horror Book Club (you are here)
- Part 2: Podcasts in the Dark
- Part 3: Horror-Themed D&D Night
- Part 4: Scary Story Circle Online
Host a Horror Book Club
I know book clubs aren't for everyone, but if you love horror, picking out a scary novel (or short story collection) to talk about with horror fans could be just the ticket. Whether you want to read something new (I have recommendations!) or classic (SO MANY RECOMMENDATIONS BUT I NARROWED DOWN TO 5!), it's a great chance to enjoy the best of the horror genre!
Just pick a book, and then pick a calling app (Skype, Zoom, whatever your thing is) to get together and discuss, or do a dramatic reading.
Bonus points if you turn out all the lights and hold flashlights in front of your faces on Zoom.
Horror Book Recommendations
The horror genre is immense and there's a lot of awesome stuff to try, but I picked out 5 books that I think might be a good starting point for talking your friends into a one-off Halloween book club.
The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
Reading this novel is literally the most scared I’ve been while holding a book.
It’s classic paranormal horror by one of the foundational horror authors. (Also, while I enjoyed the Netflix series, be forewarned that they aren’t much alike.)
Beloved by Toni Morrison
Set in post-Civil War America, Beloved is a harrowing ghost story that explores intergenerational trauma and the psychological effects of slavery. The climax of the novel is still seared into my mind from the first time I read it.
Dark Matter by Michelle Paver
I picked this little number up during quarantine and ended up reading through in one setting. It follows a disastrous expedition to an abandoned mining camp on an island in the far north of Norway, as the dark season falls and a strange entity begins to make its presence felt. Riveting stuff. The world needs more Arctic horror.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
I think we’re so surrounded by the influence of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that a lot of people never bother to read the novel itself. Hoo boy, are they missing out.
Dracula is one of my favourite horror novels, and a brilliant example of an epistolary novel (a novel written entirely through letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, and other documents from the world of the story itself).
It's worth taking the time to savour one of the cornerstones of horror in any medium.
Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories, edited by Roald Dahl
Turns out the beloved children’s author LOVED a good ghost romp.
If you’re looking for a well-edited collection of shorter horror stories by someone who took the time to dig through thousands of stories for the cream of the crop, this book will do you well.
And a Shameless Plug!
Also, if you’re looking for some shorter scary stories, I just rounded up 12 of my favourite postcard-sized horror stories from my weekly postcard fiction project, The Shortest Story.
You can read them in this blog, and even have some of them narrated for you by Cecil Baldwin of Welcome to Night Vale and Jonathan Sims of The Magnus Archives.
If you really like them, you can preorder my new microfiction collection, The Story Engine, which I wrote while developing my deck of writing prompts. It includes some new horror stories and narrations!
Alright, that’s all for now, but stay tuned for the rest of my “How to Have a Spooky Halloween at Home” recommendation series.
If I missed a horror book you adore, let me know in the comments!