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  • Writer's pictureEmily

Scary books read in October 2020

Updated: Nov 8, 2022

The House of Whispers- Laura Purcell

Uncle Silas- Sheridan Le Fanu

Let the Right One In- John Ajvide Lindqvist

The Invited- Jennifer McMahon


The Only Good Indians- Stephen Graham Jones

My October reading was a bit of a let-down this year, even though the books were interesting. Most of them just weren't very scary. I made more of a plan this year for my scary reading; I usually just scrounge around the library for whatever I can find, and I have a few books of ghost stories that I like to re-visit, but that are all in storage now. So, having a list all ready to go didn't really work out. Maybe next year I just poke around the library and book stores and get things at random, or re-read things that I know will creep me out because they've done it before.

The House of Whispers is just something that I checked out a couple of months ago and really needed to turn back in. It turned out to be pretty spooky. A woman moves out to a remote house to be a nurse for a very sick old woman, and the local people believe in fairies, and then there's quite alot of evidence that something unnatural is going on in the house. I will probably read more from Laura Purcell. Maybe for next spooky season, although I don't usually stay away from scary books for the rest of the year.

Uncle Silas was a crazy old Gothic about a young orphaned woman sent to live with her mysterious uncle in a secluded house. Naturally, she's an heiress. It's all very over-the-top, but really good. It is truly scary to read about a young woman living in a time when she couldn't really take control of her own life. She's at the mercy of people who don't have her best interests at heart... by a long shot... and they can easily block anyone trying to help her. The book has two villains, and one is a duplicitous, abusive woman who is tall, bald, and worst of all, French. She's the most interesting character by a long shot. It's nuts, but if you like Gothic, you're used to that.

Let the Right One In is gross. It's sad. Pretty much all through the whole thing. There are suspenseful bits, but not the kind of scary I was expecting from a vampire book. One of the main characters is a pedophile who lives with and (in a way) cares for a child vampire. I didn't think that the violence was gratuitous; it was bringing up questions about power, force, control, consent, etc., but it was gross. I knew that it wasn't a traditional vampire story- the main character actually says at one point that she isn't a vampire, but doesn't offer any other explanation. The movie adaptation is, I believe, more popular and more famous than the book, and I've read that it was tamed down quite a bit. It's a horror novel, but not a good one for Halloween fun.

The Invited was more of a mystery with ghosts than a haunted house story. It has an interesting premise; a couple are building a house on the site of a tragedy. Because they're interested in local history, they incorporate some historic materials into the building, which invite the ghosts into the house. It was only ghosty for about the first third, though; then it was just different story lines putting pieces of the old story together. I liked it; it held my interest, but it didn't scare me.

The Only Good Indians is a galley that I got at a library convention in February and held onto all this time. I got back right before all the pandemic news hit. I was never in the mood for it, and then I was close to Halloween, and it's a horror story, so I saved it. It was the scariest of the books that I read this year, so it was lucky that I saved it for the last and actually finished it on Halloween. I was worried that I wouldn't like it because it got really good reviews and sometimes that gets my expectations up too high. But this one was not over-hyped, and was properly scary. It brought the suspense up slowly at first, and then the last third of the book is... let's say disturbing. The ending was hopeful though, which I liked.


October is probably my favorite month, combining my favorite season with one of my favorite holidays, and it was kind of a let-down this year. At least I got through it! As for my reading, I think it's possible that no fictional horror could stand up to the combination of a pandemic and the possibility of Trump being re-elected.

Maybe next year.

Going forward, I'm trying to read books that will be a little easier to deal with. No more climate change or pedophiles. I can handle a couple of murders, but I'm going to try to make sure that there aren't many of those. I checked out a bunch of books in case things shut down here. Maybe some of them will be hopeful. I could use the boost.

I'm also going off reading the brand-new books. I've been putting on library holds for new books so I can read them as soon as they come out, but then I'll get a new book when I'm not in the mood for it, but I need to read it and get it back before someone else puts a hold on... I made sure that everything I checked out last time has been out for awhile, so it probably won't matter much how long I have it out. And it is probably, mostly, not very dark.

I wrote up this list in October, so you can read that here to compare the anticipation with the results.

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