5 Spooky Facts About Famous Horror Writers

Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. Some of these horror writers had lives straight out of a Gothic novel.

1. Mary Shelly Lost her Virginity on a Grave

When she was a teenager Mary fell for the older and very married Percy Shelley. To hide their relationship the two would meet at her mother’s grave. It is said that is where the two made love for the first time. Mary fell pregnant and became Percy’s wife a few years later after his previous wife committed suicide. Some believe that Mary’s father murdered Percy’s first wife to remove some of the scandal from Mary.

2. HP Lovecraft Was a Strange Teenager

When he was a young man HP Lovecraft would only go outside after nightfall. This led to him being extremely pale. He also suffered from horrible night terrors which would later be inspiration for some of his works.

3. No One Knows How Edgar Allan Poe Died

On the 3rd of October 1849 Edgar Allan Poe was found wandering the streets of Baltimore. He was delirious and wearing clothing that wasn’t his own. He was taken to a hospital where he died on the 7th of October. He never regained enough clarity to explain what happened to him. Some believe that it was alcohol poisoning while others have conspiracy theories about murder.

4. What was Inside Mary Shelley’s Writing Desk

When Mary Shelley died 1851 her family opened her writing desk. Inside they found it full of locks of hair from her dead children and the remains of her husband’s heart. When Percy Shelley was being cremated his heart was stolen from his body and Mary kept it. Mary Shelley will always be more goth than you.

5. Where in the World is Ambrose Bierce?

In 1914 the horror and satire writer Ambrose Bierce traveled to Mexico to experience the Mexican Revolution first hand and he was never heard from again. Some believe that he committed suicide, some think he was executed and others think that he simply did not want to be found. Whatever happened we will probably never know.

Advertisements

Spook Stock Halloween Readathon!

It is almost time for my readathon!!!

If you dont already know, I announced during the summer my plans to host my own Halloween themed readathon called Spook Stock.

The goal of Spook Stock is to celebrate Halloween, horror and all things dark and spooky. The horror section has been disappearing from bookshops in recent years so why not show it some love on Halloween month?

Horror not your thing? You can still take part, just make sure you have at least one book that is Halloween suitable. Thriller, crime, or books that are simply dark or contain monsters of any kind are perfectly fine.

The Rules are simple:

1. Read as much as you can in 1 week.

2. You can read whatever you like but there has to be at least ONE Halloween appropriate book in your To Read List.

3. Take part in daily blogging challenges that are posted throughout the week. (Not compulsory)

 

If you are taking part in Spook Spock simply write a blog post or social media status on your usual platform and link it back to this post with your TBR and I will share everyone who is taking part. We can be our own coven of spooky readers for the week.

The Readathon Dates: 23rd – 30th of October 2017

 

Halloween Reading Recommendations: Short Story Collections

Me getting ready to recommend some books during my favourite time of year:

Since this is a book blog for all things creepy, kooky, mysterious and ooky all year around it is safe to say that I have quite a few Halloween reading suggestions. So I have decided to break them up into different posts. Today I will be suggesting my favourite short story anthologies to get you into the Halloween spirit. Short story collections are my favourite kind of book to read in October. You can just pick out a creepy story you are in the mood for and get through it in one sitting. Creepy reading in bite sized chunks.

So in no particular order here are 5 of my favourites

The Mammoth Book of Victorian and Edwardian Ghost Stories Edited by Richard Dalby

The Victorian and Edwardian eras were the golden ages of ghost stories. This bind up collection contains over 40 of the best and creepiest tales from the time period.

I own a rather battered copy of this book because it was one of the first ghost story collections that I owned and I like to read a story or two from it every October. This is perfect reading if you are a fan of Victorian or Gothic literature.

Did you know that it was a Victorian tradition to tell ghost stories on Christmas?

 

20th Century Ghosts by Joe Hill

A collection of horror stories from one of my favourite horror writers, Joe Hill.

A lot of this collection is more strange than Halloween style creepy, but it still makes for good, dark October reading. It is Simpson’s Tree House of Horror levels of weird at times.

My favourite story in this collection is the title story, 20th Century Ghost. It is so sad! If you end up reading just one story from this collection it has to be that one.

 

 

 

Dark Water by Kōji Suzuki

I have been a little addicted to Japanese horror novels this year so of course one of them is going to make it onto this list.

Kōji Suzuki is the amazing author behind the very famous Ring series, and you might just recognize the title of this book from another famous Japanese horror film with an American remake, Dark Water.

This collection is beautifully eerie and wonderfully well written. Dark Water is a collection of horror stories which are all linked with the theme of water. I love when writers have a theme in their short story collections, because they can cover so many fears and genres just by focusing on one small thing. This is one of the best horror collections that I have read this year and if you are a fan of Japanese horror, you need to check this one out this month.

 

The Travelling Bag: And Other Ghostly Stories

This book is perfect if you want ghost stories that are not too scary. Susan Hill’s work is based on old Gothic literature so many of her stories follow the logic of Crimson Peak. “Just a story with a ghost in it, not a ghost story.” She uses ghosts and creepy things to shine light on the horrors of humanity.

This would make perfect reading for a dark October night with unpleasant weather beating at your windows. When you have read all of the original Gothic ghost stories pick this book up for some that have been written in a more modern time period.

 

 

The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce

I was tempted to add Edgar Allen Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination on this list but I decided that he gets enough love in October so I should give this spot to another Victorian horror writer who doesn’t get enough love. Ambrose Bierce.

Ambrose Bierce was a generally strange person who wrote non stop throughout his life. His stories are grim, strange and many were laced with that brilliant Victorian dark sense of humor and irony. If you want a “comedy” story about a man being buried alive and then beaten to death with a shovel this is where you need to look.

Bierce is one of my all time favourite Victorian writers. I dare say that I enjoy him more than Poe sometimes.

So those are my top picks for Halloween horror anthologies this year. Tell me what your favourite short horror story is because I am always open to suggestions. What is your favourite Halloween read?

Life Updates: Cats and Discount Skulls

I had a big list of book related post ideas but then I realised that I haven’t just spoken to you guys in a while. So…Hi! Hows it going? Good? Good.

So what have I been up to? Well I have some new skulls!

Over  the last month or so I have been doing some skull buying experiments. You might recognise the human skull from photos that appear on this blog and my Instagram (@Belle_and_books), so he isn’t new, but the two next to him are my two skull buying experiments.

The human skull is called Fred by the way. It is also the name of the skull who is littered all over this blog.

I was inspired by the Youtube series Gothic Homemaking and their episodes on skulls and taxidermy to do some of my own shopping around. Which would look better, a fake resin skull or a real taxidermy skull? So I set out to find one of each. The bird skull I found in an oddities market and was being sold by a vegan taxidermist who sources all of her dead animals ethically. She was someone I went to school with so she cut me a deal since the bird’s beak was a little damaged. (You can follow the taxidermist and all of her morbid works on Instagram at @FeralWitchJewellery tell her I said hello) The cat skull isn’t as interesting. I bought it from Amazon for £5. It is entirely fake. I cant decide which I like better but the cat skull is a little more sturdy because you know…bird bones are small.

In bigger and more exciting news: This Sunday, as in two days from now, I AM GETTING A CAT!

A little black kitten is rolling into my life on the first of October. She is a 9 week old rescue cat who I have affectionately named Mort. And before you ask, yes that is a Terry Pratchett reference. I pity any mice that wander into my house in the future because I have a cat who is somewhat called death.

I have been wanting a cat for years and now I am properly settled into my new home my partner and I decided that it was finally time to get the cat that I have always wanted. We went to a shelter last weekend where we were shown their newest arrivals; a cage of black kittens who had recently been in foster care. They had been left at the shelter in a box with no mother when they were very tiny so they had to be raised by a foster. This means that Mort will forever be a house cat because she had no mummy to teach her cat stuff.

I think the people at the shelter were a little biased because they had other new kittens who were different colours but she took one look at me and steered us toward the black cats. Aw well, I wanted a black one anyway. We picked her over her siblings because while I was talking to the shelter staff she reached out of her cage and kept grabbed my long black cardigan. I think she adopted me a little bit.

Maybe I will write another update post about the day I go to collect her. Lately I have been busy stocking up on kitten toys and supplies.

Now I am off to take a shower while I waiting on a pizza to arriving at my house. Have a good evening and if you have a cat give me some cat parenting tips, I will need them.

Also if you want to know what I am up to when I am not blogging about books or you want to follow my library unpacking process follow me on Instagram @Belle_and_books because I kinda live there, or check out my GoodReads to see what I am currently reading.

Oh and if you are in a morbid, possibly Halloweeny mood, I recommend checking out Ask a Mortician on Youtube. I have been watching her videos all day.

REVIEW: Horrorstör by Grady Hendrix

Summary:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:

“Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans water goblets, and smashed Liripip wardrobes. Sales are down, security cameras reveal nothing, and store managers are panicking.

To unravel the mystery, three employees volunteer to work a nine-hour dusk-till-dawn shift. In the dead of the night, they’ll patrol the empty showroom floor, investigate strange sights and sounds, and encounter horrors that defy the imagination.

A traditional haunted house story in a thoroughly contemporary setting, Horrorstör comes packaged in the form of a glossy mail order catalog, complete with product illustrations, a home delivery order form, and a map of Orsk’s labyrinthine showroom.”

Review:

(Note: I have started adding links to the cover images in my reviews so you can add things to your GoodReads to-read list a little more easily) 

Is it possible to set a horror novel in IKEA? Apparently so.

This is a novel that has been on my radar for a long time. Every time I would search my library’s audiobook section for horror novels it would pop up. I was a little reluctant to read it. A horror novel set in a fictional version of IKEA sounded a little stupid, but then I had a change of heart. I went from finding it stupid to potentially brilliant. Could this idea be so daft that it works? Well, after reading it I can officially say, it does.

Horrorstör has all of the brilliant elements of the modern haunted house story but it is all set at night in a fictionalized version of IKEA. It is fast paced, has tons of creepy moments and doesn’t shy away from gory moments. It might be a little stereotypical at times but in a good way. I was expecting this book to read like a parody of the horror genre but it ended up being one of the better horror novels I have read this year.

I think one of my favourite things about Horrorstör is the characters. They are so relatable and recognizable. If you have worked in retail you have probably met at least one, if not all, of these characters before under different names as your co-workers. You have the girl who doesn’t want to be there, the middle aged single woman who LOVES her job and is very friendly, the uptight manager, the artsy 20-something girl with brightly coloured hair and the young 20-something nice guy. These are the people who are tasked with solving the mystery of what is happening in the store at night.

I loved this book so much that I am going to break my current book buying ban for it. I listened to the audiobook version of this novel but I have seen the physical copy online and it is designed to look like an IKEA catalog. That sounds amazing so I need my own copy.

Warnings:

Mild gore: Mostly broken bones and blood, mild horror.

Rating:

 

 

4 out of 5 Skulls

This is a solid horror novel and I think it would make a brilliant Halloween read if someone wanted a simple and fast paced creepy book. Lots of ghosts and threat, but nothing too offensive. An older teen or the usual YA reader could handle this one.

Dark Reads of the Month: August

This is a little later than  my usual monthly book posts because it was my 29th birthday last weekend so I was busy. Also I have been unpacking my library and that is taking a long time. Maybe I will share photos when it is finally finished.

So any way, on to the books for the month.

I Am Behind You by John Ajvide Lindqvist


A group of strangers wake up one morning to find that everything outside has disappeared. Anything beyond their windows is now nothingness. What happened? Why did it only happen to them? And why do creepy figures and creatures keep appearing?

As I have mentioned in previous posts I am a huge fan of Lindqvist’s first novel Let the Right One In. It is one of the best vampire novels of all time in my opinion. So when the publisher asked me to read his new novel I jumped on it. This novel reads very much like a Stephen King book without the King tropes. It was The Langoliers without the disappointing ending. I can’t say much more without spoiling it so just read it for yourself if you are a fan of this kind of surreal horror with lots of mysterious happenings.

The Mist in the Mirror by Susan Hill


A young man with a life long obsession with a famous explorer decides to write a novel about his hero’s life and uncovers some horrific truths along the way.

This is very much along the lines of classic gothic fiction. I absolutely love everything by Susan Hill right now and her gothic novels are just what you need when the weather becomes more Autumny. This novel was a little longer than her other books but I enjoyed the slower pace of it. It was like a slowly unwrapped mystery burlesque.

If you have read all of the old gothic novels I suggest you pick her books up because they are basically old fashioned gothic literature written in modern times.

Charlotte Says by Alex Bell


This is the prequel to a novel I wrote about in my first Dark Reads of the Month post: Frozen Charlotte. This is a series about haunted dolls that make people do horrible things. In this prequel we find out about the history of the school Frozen Charlotte was set in and where the dolls came from.

Normally I don’t write about prequels or sequels to novels on here but I didn’t know this book was coming out until it was sent to me and I know a few people on here read Frozen Charlotte because of my post about it so I thought I would let you know about the newly released prequel.

This is a YA horror novel but it is seriously creepy so I think plenty of adults would enjoy it if they wanted a quick spooky read. I loved both novels and  I am 29 years old and not a big fan of young adult fiction. If dolls jamming pins into people’s eyes sounds icky enough for you maybe give this a read. It would make perfect Halloween reading. Just maybe read Frozen Charlotte first.

ARC REVIEW: I AM BEHIND YOU By John Ajvide Lindqvist

Synopsis:

Synopsis from GoodReads.com:

“A supernatural superthriller from the author of Let the Right One In

Molly wakes her mother to go to the toilet. The campsite is strangely blank. The toilet block has gone. Everything else has gone too. This is a place with no sun. No god.

Just four families remain. Each has done something to bring them here – each denies they deserve it. Until they see what’s coming over the horizon, moving irrevocably towards them. Their worst mistake. Their darkest fear.

And for just one of them, their homecoming.”

Review:

Creepy, disturbing and confusing, I am Behind You is a novel that will keep you guessing.

When I first heard of this novel I automatically thought of one of the first Stephen King stories I read and that was The Langoliers. The Langoliers was a bit of a bust to me personally but I still liked the idea of a group of strangers waking up to find themselves suddenly cut off from the rest of the universe, so I hoped that this book would give me what The Langoliers was missing. Did it deliver on that front? Heck yes it did. In spades.

Not only did this book actually have the twist I wanted to see in The Langoliers but it also had something else, a creep factor. While Stephen King focused more on the human element with The Langoliers and that fell into a pile of nonsense at the end, I Am Behind You gives you both them human and supernatural element of horror. The characters start seeing freakish creatures and figures and they get increasingly worse and more horrifying as the book goes on.

The only real issue I found with this novel was the changing view points. Normally I am fine with a novel that changes character perspective but this book did it constantly. It meant that I found myself getting one or characters confused because they were similar.

I would say that this would make a great Halloween read. If you don’t want ghosts, and ghouls, but you want a disturbing adult novel that will get you thinking I would suggest picking this one up.

I Am Behind You is scheduled for release on the 7th of September. 

Rating:

 

 

3 out of 5

This is a pretty solid three out of five. I enjoyed this novel a lot but I dont feel quite right giving it four starts for some reason.