I remember as a kid the fun of Friday the 13th, a day that was supposed to bring bad luck, a day that in my mind was forever linked to a 1980’s horror film. For me personally, Friday the 13ths have historically been good days. I’m not sure why; perhaps I’m looking for the good on those days?
Today’s Friday the 13th brings with it a full harvest moon, which makes my heart sing.
And to honor the day, I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorite reads that lingered with me, creeped me out, made me think and/or just have ghosts in them. None of them are ‘horror’ and none of them are Stephen King. Sorry! I don’t read a lot of horror. My imagination likes to toy with me, so typically any psychological thriller or horror movie/book I see/read sticks with me for some time.
And so, off the top of my head, here are a few of my favorites:
The October Country by Ray Bradbury
I’m a HUGE Ray Bradbury fan, but this was one of the first collection of short stories I read of his years ago, and to this day I think about the short titled “The Next in Line”. I’m not even sure I’m remembering it correctly, but it has mummies and that was enough. He has other amazing shorts in this collection as well, including “Skeleton”, which made me think of doctors and medicine differently. If you haven’t read anything by Ray Bradbury, pick up the classic Fahrenheit 451, but another of my favorites is Something Wicked This Way Comes. My all-time favorite short story by Ray Bradbury might be “The Veldt”. It’s not in The October Country, but it is easily found online, or in other short story collections.
You really can’t go wrong with Bradbury.
Texas Gothic & Spirit and Dust by Rosemary Clement-Moore
I read the second first, and then decided I loved it enough to give Texas Gothic a try. I grew up in Austin, Texas in the Hill Country where Texas Gothic is set, and I’ve read enough books that wrongly portray life in Texas, so I was nervous to read another. This one gets it right. Well, I mean, except I don’t know any witches and haven’t dealt with ghosts. But the rest tracked.
The main character in Spirit and Dust can speak to the dead and helps the FBI solve crimes. Texas Gothic follows her cousin, who is ranch-sitting for her aunt, who is a witch, and unfortunately she’s got a ghost problem.
Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake
You want more ghosts? How about a guy, Cas, hunting a ghost of a girl who wears the dress she was murdered in and who has killed every person who has entered the house she was killed in…except for Cas?
Warning: there is a sequel. I have to admit, I haven’t read it. I felt okay having this be a stand-alone and other books were calling. But I try to warn you if there’s a series or sequels in case you’re looking solely for stand-alones.
The Butchering Art by Lindsey Fitzharris
This isn’t horror, unless you’re horrified by old surgery practices, which if you weren’t, you’re about to be! This non-fiction book is fascinating and gives a great history of one surgeon’s quest to modernize Victorian medicine so that people didn’t die more often at the hospital than they did getting operated on at home. If you like history, I recommend this. If you like medical non-fiction, I recommend this. If you like knowing weird trivia facts, I recommend this.
Short summary: Fitzharris focuses on the 1850-1875 western medical world, primarily looking at the rise of Dr. Lister’s carrier and the quest to prove that ‘germs’ were causing infections that led to death instead of any of the other popular theories of the time.
Man-Eaters Volume 1 by Chelsea Cain
This might be more comical horror if we were trying to slot it into horror at all. The feminist commentary in this graphic novel is fierce. It’s a hilariously dark read where some of the best parts hit way too close to home. I’m very much looking forward to volume 2, which I’m picking up from my library today.
The premise is rather simple: “A mutation in Toxoplasmosis causes menstruating women to turn into ferocious wildcats – easily provoked and extremely dangerous. As panic spreads and paranoia takes root, the fate of the world rides on the shoulders of one twelve-year-old girl.” – backcopy of Volume 1.
This was billed as part Cat People, part The Handmaid’s Tale. What really made this graphic novel shine for me were the advertisements and propaganda pieces.
I hope you all have a fantastic Friday, even if it is the 13th, and maybe find a new book/graphic novel to snuggle down with for the weekend ahead.