BY AARON SAGERS
Paranormal Activity 3 may
be (and it is), it is still a product being
shown in a noisy environment with a lot of people around, and projected
onto a big screen with a fairly powerful lightbulb - in a giant room
well lit by emergency exit lights and signs.
What is so scary about that?
Instead, fear is sometimes best served at
night in a lonely, dark, pindrop-silent home – maybe under the covers
of the bed, even – via the pages of a spooky book.
Played out in the
much more expansive theater of the mind, the images we conjur in our
minds from a book can be far more disturbing than what we see on the
screen of the local Cineplex. Anyone who has read Stephen King’s
It or Edgar Allan Poe would not disagree.
With that in mind, consider the following a reading list for the
remainder of the Halloween and fall seasons. Some tales more outwardly
scary than others, these recently released books all offer the
reader a chance to scare himself for a little longer than just an hour
and change in a theater.
The Walking Dead
The zombie genre is a no-brainer for making you squirm during this season. Not only are the creatures enjoying a pop culture
resurrection (as well as the high brow treatment, thanks to AMC’s TheWalking Dead), they are a deceptively complex literary device with
which many authors have left a mark. For instance, Zombies! Zombies!Zombies! is an 832-page collection of stories from the aforementioned
King and Poe, along with Richard Matheson, Mort Castle, H.P.
Lovecraft, Harlan Ellison, W.B. Seabrook (credited with writing the
first zombie tale) and more. Edited by Otto Penzler, this is a meaty,
affordable collection. Also check out Scott Kenemore’s Zombie, Ohio:A Tale of the Undead. Kenemore’s first novel tracks self-aware zombie
Peter Mellor as he struggles to deal with his re-animated state, find
his non-zombie girlfriend and uncover who killed him. It’s more humor
than horror, but Zombie, Ohio doesn’t want for good old-fashioned
The Haunting Dead
Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson have been pursuing the paranormal on
Syfy’s Ghost Hunters since 2004, and over the past seven years of
the show – and more than a decade prior to that – the leaders of TheAtlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) have been gathering evidence as
well as creepy stories of ghosts and more. Ghost Files collects these
stories from the TAPS leaders’ previous two books – Ghost Hunting and Spirit Seeking – as a straightforward examination of their
haunted cases. Whether or not the passing reader believes in the tales
of demon attacks or violent spirits, the matter-of-fact storytelling
leads to some tingling of the spine. Hawes and Wilson are also joined
by co-writer Cameron Dokey in Ghost Hunt 2, a sequel to last year’s
short story adaptation of the TAPS cases which targets young readers.
Whereas Files is to-the-point, Hunt is aiming for spooks and
succeeds without being too terrifying for the kid set. Keeping with
the young adult category, author Marley Gibson’s fifth installment of
her Ghost Huntress series. Book Five: The Discovery still follows
teen medium and paranormal investigator Kendall. A ghost book for the Twilight set, Kendall grapples with her love for a boy – while she
and her team also battle a tormenting doll, which is a vessel for an
The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan (the same author who gave readers a
peek at the mind of the devil in I, Lucifer) is a sexy, blood-soaked
horror adventure with loads of comedy. Revolving around the
200-year-old werewolf Jake Marlowe, Duncan gives readers the wolfman
story that’s been missing in pop culture for too long. An adult answer
to the Twilight stories, Marlowe is a sharp sophisticate who is
brutal but dashing. Marlowe is contemplating ending his existence and
race after living life without love, but the romp is never overly
sentimental. And yes, vampires do pop up – as do a group of monster
hunters - but this time the werewolves are not the underdogs. Speaking
of monster hunters, Josh Gates’ new book recounts the adventure of the
Syfy host. A travelogue and diary of the unexplained, DestinationTruth: Memoirs of a Monster Hunter is a fun, behind-the-scenes look
at a man whose career has him globetrotting in pursuit of Bigfoot,
Mongolian Death Worms, living dinos and more. Gates has an easygoing,
likable demeanor onscreen that translates well to the page; he seems
like the crazy friend you want to travel with for an adventure, but
who also makes you question whether it’s a good idea to do so.
Moreover, while Gates doesn’t dismiss the existence of the creatures
he pursues, it is also refreshing that he never seems compelled to
bludgeon the reader into believing either.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Salem’s Lot and Poltergeist director
Tobe Hooper goes back to the movies, but in book form with Midnight Movies. After attending
a special screening of the student film from his past, the
fictionalized character of Hooper soon begins to realize he had
inadvertently unleashed a plague on humanity with the film. As the
death toll mounts and viewers fall victim to zombification or
sex-crazed behavior, Hooper and his cast attempt to solve the mystery
of the movie in this fun horror story. In A Miscellany of Murder, a
group of authors known collectively as The Monday Murder Club combine
heinous acts from true history and pop culture in this book of trivia.
Instead of having a plot, the deadly data contained in the book,
categorized by the seven deadly sins, is simply disturbing on its own
– especially when the fictional fatalities fit perfectly alongside the
factual. Shockingly, the book manages to be humorous and entertaining
despite the macabre material.