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.

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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?

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.

Frightful Fridays: The Shining

Well it is coming up to Halloween so I thought I would finally brush the dust of an old series idea of mine called Frightful Fridays where I look at the real life horror stories behind our favourite horror novels. The whole world is on a Stephen King kick right now so we are going to start things off with The Shining.

The Overlook Hotel that is setting for The Shining was inspired by the real life Stanley Hotel in Colorado that opened in 1909. It has its fair share of ghost stories, many of which are very similar to the ghostly happenings in the novel.

In The Stanley Hotel most of the haunting is focused on the ballroom. Many members of hotel staff and guests have heard noises coming from the ballroom late at night as though a party were taking place in the empty room. Many times staff have received complaints from guests about the noise coming from the ballroom and when they have gone down to investigate they have found it completely empty. The piano in the ballroom has been known to play on its own and people believe that it is haunted by a ghost called Flora, the woman who was married to the hotel’s original owner. She was a pianist and was the inspiration behind her husband building such a large ballroom in the hotel. The ghost of her husband has also been spotted wandering around parts of the building.

The ballroom is not the only haunted spot in The Stanley Hotel. Various guest rooms have their own resident ghost. In one room guests have frequently awoken to find a man standing over their bed staring at them. He watches them for a few moments before running into the closet and disappearing. In the same room guests have witnessed the same closet door unlocking and opening on its own. Things have also been known to go missing in this room such as watches or entire sets of luggage. In other rooms guests have seen figures standing in the middle of their room at night that simply vanish. Phantom children have been seen and heard playing in the hallways of the hotel and some rooms even have ghostly housekeepers with beds that turn down themselves at night and luggage unpacking itself.

Stephen King spent one night in The Stanley Hotel and says that it was the inspiration behind the novel The Shining. It also served as the filming location for both the film and the television miniseries based on the book. During his stay at The Stanley Hotel Stephen King said that he had a nightmare that was the main inspiration behind the novel: “I dreamed of my three-year-old son running through the corridors, looking back over his shoulder, eyes wide, screaming. He was being chased by a fire-hose. I woke up with a tremendous jerk, sweating all over, within an inch of falling out of bed. I got up, lit a cigarette, sat in a chair looking out the window at the Rockies, and by the time the cigarette was done, I had the bones of The Shining firmly set in my mind.”

So what did you think of the first in this series? I have tons more ideas for these so maybe I will do more of these posts as it gets closer to Halloween. I never have a shortage of horror stories to share.

Recipe: How to Make Realistic Blood Cocktails

I love the idea of blood cocktails, the more realistic the better, especially when it is coming into the Halloween season. So I did some research and a few experiments with my shiny new blender and I think I have created the most realistic blood cocktail possible, both in texture and in colour. You might have seen this already if you follow me on Instagram but this is the recipe. (Instagram: @Belle_and_books)

I enjoyed these this weekend while watching Interview with the Vampire with my best friend.

You will need:

-A Blender or smoothie maker. I used a smoothie maker

– Sieve

– Half a tin of cherry pie filling

– 2 tea spoons of vanilla extract

– Red food colouring (as much as needed) I used gel food colouring.

– 1 drop of yellow food colouring

– 2 tablespoons of Chocolate Syrup

– Spiced Rum (I used Captian Morgan’s) or Red Bull. This will either give your blood intoxicating or an energizing effect. I added 4 shots of Morgan’s to mine.

– 60 ml (a decent splash) of Coconut Water.

Interesting Fact:
Coconut water can be used as a replacement for saline solution in medical emergencies as it has a similar structure as blood plasma. Perfect for our fake blood.

These measurements will make 2 large wine glasses of blood.

Step 1:

Put the cherry pie filling, food colouring, chocolate syrup and vanilla extract into the blender and blend until you get a smooth and blood red paste.

Step 3:

Add a splash of Coconut Water to the paste and blend again. Make sure you do not water it down too much.

Step 4:

Add your mixer, whether that is alcohol or Red Bull. Remember you want to keep your blood a realistic consistency so do not make it too runny. Blend again. It should be the same thickness as a smoothie.

Step 5:

Once you are happy with how your blood tastes run the mixture through a sieve a few times until it is as smooth as possible. This will remove any remaining pieces of cherry.

Step 6:

Pour it into your serving glasses and place in the fridge to thicken up for an hour or two. When your guests arrive you can make it a tiny bit more realistic and pop it into the microwave for a few seconds to make it body temperature. Just make sure to use microwave safe glasses.

Happy drinking! And if you make these yourself make sure to tag me in your pretty gory photos. I would love to see them. Perfect for Halloween.

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.