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Don’t Turn out the Reading Light

Last week after a visit to my doctor for my second ultrasound, my husband and I took a slight detour home and stopped off at a local bookstore. Inside, we giggled and smiled over children’s classics and wandered up and down the maze of childhood journeys. Then I saw it.

“Oh, God!” I shouted, horrified. I had never been more scared in my entire life  and to compound the feeling, I was terrified for my soon-to-be baby. What sat before me was a sight I was unprepared for and a book I was too scared to pick up. The aisle narrowed all around me and my palms began to sweat. I worried for the future of children everywhere and wondered, what cruel sick joke was someone playing by placing this paperback in with the likes of “Winnie The Pooh and Tigger Too”? My heart pounded harder. I felt trapped and had the sudden desire to flee for my life.

Eric rushed over, confused and concerned over my scream. I pointed to the sight in front of me and he slowly leaned forward to pick it up.

“No! No! Don’t come near me with it!” I demanded as he held the pages in his hands.
Justin Bieber’s memoir had nearly claimed another victim.

Later I gathered my nerves over a swirling cup of caramel apple spice coffee. And it dawned on me I’ve never provided encore readers a list of horrific Halloween reads—until now.

“The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead” by Max Brooks
The first to grace this list is a title suggested by a few marines in Camp Lejeune’s armory from Headquarters Company, Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division. Created by a “Saturday Night Live” staff writer, this lampoon outlines damn near every possible zombie-human interaction. Brooks shapes in detail for readers, as if the zombie apocalypse were steadily upon us, thorough plans to survive during a full-blown zombie outbreak. Pushing the meaningless entertainment further, Brooks also tracks back to past “recorded attacks” dating from 60,000 B.C. to 2002.

Brooks also displays humor and absurdity from cover to cover as he impulses readers to understand their own bodies, their family surroundings and a variety of weaponry (blades, as Brooks points out work best as they don’t need reloading, and clean socks are also important). How to outfit your home in case of a long siege and how to survive flesh-eating fiends from beyond the grave in any region and any environment also make their mark between the pages. “The Zombie Survival Guide: Complete Protection from the Living Dead” is by far the best book available on the market when it comes to learning how to protect one’s life—and notably the greatest read for those bored out of their mind.

“IT” by Stephen King
There simply cannot be Halloween without a Stephen King novel by one’s bedside. Actually, there cannot be any discussion anywhere regarding fear and terror without King acutely mentioned. Among all that I have read, “Pet Sematary,’ “Bag of Bones,” “Firestarter” and “The Shinning,” just to name a few—none compare to the absolute blood-freezing chill of “IT.” Inside this outstanding nightmare-inducing thriller, King places us beside seven teenagers when they first stumble upon a horror so unspeakable it does not have a name.

Flash forward to their adulthood, we revisit them as successful and happy adults. However, when the group finds themselves back in Derry, Maine, the evil still lurks, taunts and torments, and they are forced to confront it once more.

“Ghost Story” by Peter Francis Straub
Peter Francis Straub, author and poet, is perhaps the most celebrated horror novelist in our current history. With numerous literary honors under his belt, such as the Bram Stoker Award, World Fantasy Award and the International Horror Guild Award, Straub has solidified himself among literature’s greats—also within my top Halloween must-have’s. Within his simply titled tale, the possibility of supernatural revenge becomes the epicenter as five young men—Ricky, Sears, Edward, Lewis and John—“accidentally” kill a woman named Eva. Panic stricken, the boys stuff her lifeless body into a car and push the vehicle into a murky lake.

Fifty years later, they still reside in their tiny hometown of Milburn, New York, and the guilt of what transpired has not yet left them. Neither, too, has Eva’s ghost. Patiently like a hunter in the woods, she waits to claim the lives of those who claimed hers—accident or not. Without question, “Ghost Story” will make readers re-evaluate the worst thing they have ever done and ponder in fear the consequences that could be looming just beyond the horizon.

“The Witching Hour (Lives of the Mayfair Witches)” by Anne Rice
This book is the intriguing tale of witchcraft that crosses centuries and continents. Rice creates for readers a family dynasty of witches known as The Mayfairs. A rich web that captures murder, mystery, incest and philosophy, “The Witching Hour” takes a detour from the immortal vampires Rice is so well-known for and instead delivers fresh characters in a new legend set in New Orleans. There is one important plot-moving similarity, however, within this novel that mirrors her other memorable stories: The dead simply will not die.

“The Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe”
As if Edgar Allan Poe’s work needs introduction or justification, this is an extensive collection of all his disturbing and provoking work. Fit for any eerie October night, through Poe we journey into the horror and depth of the average man’s soul, and we shine a light onto man’s most hidden and dreaded fear—himself.

A master unmatched, his poems and shorts make my top five not because of his language, rhythm, meter or tone. Rather, because his work does not focus on demons or monsters. Instead, Poe emphasizes that which is tucked away within us all—a descent into madness. Through Poe we learn where our dark shadows sleep and explore what waits behind our psychological chamber door.

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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