Are you looking for something to read on the spookiest night of the year?
Something to sink your teeth into once the last of the trick-or-treaters has gone and you've poured yourself a well-deserved glass of wine? Time to get your comfy clothes on, close the curtains and prepare to raise the hairs on the back of your neck.
Of course, vampires, werewolves and zombies are the natural choice on a night like this.
it just so happens that I'm a lover of horror and the supernatural - everything from M R James to Anne Rice and Stephen King. So here are my top picks for tonight.
I have a real soft spot for vampires (no, not my neck!). One of my favourite books is Let The Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist. This atmospheric Swedish novel tells the story of Oskar, a heartbreakingly sad, lonely boy, so desperate to preserve his growing friendship with Eli that he is prepared to overlook the mounting evidence that all is not what is seems with her.
I found the descriptions of a vampire's first metamorphosis fascinating, and this book gave me a new slant on the whole vampire genre. If you want to see the film of the book, I'd recommend the original Swedish rather than the American remake.
Another vampire book I hugely enjoyed is Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice, which introduces us to the vampire Lestat and is the first of The Vampire Chronicles, a series convincingly set in the vampire universe. Anne Rice evokes the atmosphere of New Orleans beautifully.
And of course, we can't overlook the seminal Dracula by Bram Stoker. I read this in a log cabin in the Scottish Highlands one autumn, sitting in front of a wood-burning stove and fortified by a bottle of red wine (of course!). A perfect setting, I'm sure you'll agree! The dramatic chase scene at the end is one of the most intense passages I've read, and I love the epistolary style - having the point of view of multiple characters adds an extra dimension to the telling of the story.
Just don't ask me to recommend anything that involves vampires who go out in daylight and (urgh) … sparkle.
A recent read, The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan, is a hugely enjoyable tale of yes, you've guessed it, the last werewolf on Earth. Jake is 400 years old and fed up with living, until a chance encounter reawakens his lust for life. Graphic, sweary and sexy, it's a well-told story that grabs you and runs. And it's the first in a trilogy, so of course I quickly devoured the following two titles (Talulla Rising and By Blood We Live).
The Walking Dead is one of the biggest TV shows in the world at the moment, and I've been an avid follower since the first episode, but I haven't yet got into the graphic novels. My zombie choice for you today is World War Z by Max Brooks. Now, if you've seen the film let me set you straight that the book is nothing like it. The basic story of the Brad Pitt character is in there, but the book is an after-the-fact piece of journalism which analyses the facts, ten years on from the zombie apocalypse. With interviews and narratives by survivors and key players, it shifts between identifying Patient Zero, where it all began, and first-person experiences and government strategies to tackle the hordes. I found this an intelligent and absorbing read – it wasn't what I expected, but I wasn't disappointed.
What's your book of choice for Halloween? Do you like out-and-out guts and gore? Or do you prefer the subtle build up of discomfort and an unsettling atmosphere?
I always love to learn about books I haven't read, so go on, drop me a comment and tell me your favourites. And don't forget to check under the bed tonight!