The origins of Halloween date back to a Celtic tradition marking the end of the harvest season. Later, this pagan celebration was given Christian connotations by the Church, and the term “Halloween” translates to “All Saints” (“History of Halloween” Radford, B.). The modern celebration of Halloween proves to be far more removed from its origins, and nowadays Halloween is typically associated with candy, haunted houses, pumpkin spice lattes, and carving jack-o-lanterns. As the weather cools and Halloween approaches, here are some spooky books you can curl up with to embrace the Halloween spirit.
1. “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
“Beware; for I am fearless,
and therefore powerful”
– Mary Shelly, Frankenstein, 145
“Frankenstein” is a classic Halloween book that follows the creation and life of a grotesque and terrifying creature, yet Shelley uses the creature, Frankenstein, and the other characters to addresses deeper societal issues still present in modern day society. Common themes in “Frankenstein” include fear of reverse colonialism, fear of the “other,” and racial “othering”.
2. “Dracula” by Bram Stoker
“Once again…welcome to my house. Come freely. Go safely; and leave something of the happiness you bring.”
– Bram Stroker, Dracula, 24
“Dracula” depicts the journey of English lawyer Jonathan Harker to a strange castle in Transylvania and the even stranger man he meets, Dracula. Just newly a guest at the castle, Jonathan realizes that he is now in fact a prisoner and must fight to remain alive.
3. “The Picture of Dorian Gray” by Oscar Wilde
“You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit.”
– Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray
An artist, Basil Hallward, paints his subject, Dorian, and is captivated by his beauty. Dorian grows increasingly concerned with the decay of his appearance and image, and ultimately goes through great measures to retain his beauty.
4. “Murder on the Orient Express” by Agatha Christie
“But I know human nature, my friend, and I tell you that, suddenly confronted with the possibility of being tried for murder, the most innocent person will lose his head and do the most absurd things.”
– Agatha Christie, Murder on the Orient Express
The Orient Train, departing from Istabul to London, is stopped due to heavy snowfall. A murder takes place and everyone on the train is a suspect. The detective, Hercule Poirot, must now interrogate all the suspects aboard to find the murderer.
5. “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson
“Quiet minds cannot be perplexed or frightened but go on in fortune or misfortune at their own private pace, like a clock during a thunderstorm.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
A lawyer, Mr. Utterson, is told of a horrific tale murder by his friend, Enfield. Mr. Hyde, a respectable scientist, was said to have trampled a girl. Mr. Hyde continues to further express the duality of his sinister nature.
6. “The Outsider” H.P. Lovecraft
“I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men.”
– H.P. Lovecraft, The Outsider
The narrator expresses his disconnect with the outside world. He fails to recall details of his origins, and other personal information. It appears that he has been living in the eerie castle for his whole life. The narrator gains the courage to face the unknown and the outside world.
Radford, Benjamin. History of Halloween. Live Science, 2017. Accessed 23 October 2018. Web. www.livescience.com/40596-history-of-halloween.html.