Gruesomely Good Horror
Gruesomely Good Horror and Ghost Story Books to Read This Halloween
Did you know the word “Halloween” is directly derived from one of the Medieval celebrations All Saints’ Day? In Old English, All Hallows refers to “the feast of the saints”. Therefore, Halloween, which was first documented in the 18th century, is in fact, a Scottish variant which refers to All-Hallows-Even (evening).
However, the spelling of Halloween as we know it today wasn’t commonly adopted until the 20th century.
Aside from the typical “putting on your favourite scary disguise and asking for candy” affair, why not do something extra special and memorable this Halloween?
Make this year’s Halloween a special one by getting some of the best horror books and ghost stories, many of them written by celebrated Scottish authors, as well as those inspired by TV series:
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Robert Louis Stevenson
Stevenson, a Scottish novelist, travel writer and poet, was a leading representative of English literature Neo-romanticism.
The idea of multiple personalities has fascinated suspense and horror book enthusiasts for centuries. The author’s famous exploration of mankind’s bases capacity for evil is explored in this dark, psychological tale which puts man’s morality into question, drawing on contemporary theories of criminality, evolution, class and secret lives.
Dracula – Bram Stoker
Ask any horror fan about one of the undisputed best horror books ever written, and they will point to the 1897 novel Dracula.
You may have read many books and seen many movies from modern times about the tale of Count Dracula – however, Stoker’s novel is what inspired them all.
You might find it surprising that the original Dracula book, which was partly inspired by the famous Scottish castle ruins, Slains Castle, was told in epistolary form – i.e. a collection of diaries, logs, newspaper clippings and letters.
But of course, the main story revolves around the Count’s attempted escape from Transylvania to England along with Abraham Van Helsing’s face-off with the blood sucking vampire. This classic horror book has stood the test of time and is well worth the read this Halloween.
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
If haunted house ghost stories are your cup of tea, Jackson’s 1959 book will give you goose bumps all over.
The book revolves around four people who embark on exploring the haunted mansion Hill House. Dr. John Montague, who’s interested in digging up evidence of ghosts and supernatural beings, rents the home and sends out invitations to four people who are eager to experience what it’s like to be visited by ghosts.
A modern Netflix series of the Shirley Jackson novel sees siblings who grew up as kids and had the chance to see the most well-known haunted house in the country. Now adults, they are faced with tragedy while confronting the ghosts of their past – some of which may only be lurking in their minds while others might actually be waiting for them at the Hill House. The series was rated 92% by Rotten Tomatoes.
Ash – James Herbert
David Ash, a paranormal activity investigator, is sent to a secluded location in the Scottish countryside – the Comraich Castle – where he must investigate a high profile case: a crucified man discovered in a locked room. Initial reports have suggested that the castle is haunted.
Strange, animal-like sounds coming from the woods, a reclusive hooded figure walking across the courtyard, the castle’s inhabitants afraid to talk about the things they have seen – what the detective is bound to discover may shock most readers. Definitely a worthy read this Halloween!
A Discovery of Witches – Deborah Harkness
Deep in the confines of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Diana Bishop, a young scholar conjures a bewitched alchemical manuscript during her research.
A descendant from a distinguished line of witches herself, Diana shuns sorcery and after just a furtive glance at the manuscript, puts it back in the shelves, completely unaware that her discovery unlocks a chain of events where an entire horde of witches, demons and vampires descend upon the library.
What Diana has stumbled upon is a coveted treasure lost for many centuries – only she can break the spell and banish the witches and demons to where they belong – somewhere far away from the material world.
Sky One, the British entertainment channel, bought rights to the books and adapted them into a TV series, which was mostly shot in Wales and premiered on the 14th of September 2018.
Haunted Castles & Houses of Scotland – Martin Coventry
An absolute bone chilling collection of over 200 highly detailed accounts of ghost stories involving Scotland’s famous castles as the backdrop, as well as great houses in Stirling, Crathes and Edinburgh, just to name a few.
The one thing readers might find really exciting and thrilling is that most of the sites in Haunted Castles and Houses of Scotland can actually be visited – all the necessary visitor information is there. There’s a detailed map for all the sites, along with photos of the castles.
Tales of headless horsemen, murdered serving girls, a phantom cannonball, portents of death, sorrowful Green Ladies, men too evil to rest – ah, this is going to be a memorable Halloween book reading session indeed!
In fact, one such story was the awful Glamis Castle secret which was once the talk of Europe between the 1840s and 1905 – shrouded in mystery that involved a secret passage, a hidden chamber with allegedly a prisoner, solemn initiations and shadowy figures that would only be visible in brief glimpses in the dead of night.
One account of the story was so terrible, that the 13th Earl’s heir of the ancestral seat at Glamis Castle simply refused to have it revealed. It wasn’t until 1830 that Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott wrote about his chilling account after spending a night at the castle.
Get Your Horror Book Reading Hat on
The days continue to grow shorter, while the nights grow longer – Halloween is right around the corner – could there possibly be a more perfect time to huddle up with a really great horror book and have it scare the daylights out of you?
If you’re looking for any one of these horror classics and much more to be delivered right to your door step, check out Kingdom Books, an online Scottish book shop which offers discount books in Scotland, and a wide assortment of ghost stories by Scottish authors, the most revered horror books by Scottish authors, or for that matter, the best collection of cheap discount Scottish books you might find online.