Under the Skin – Michel Faber
A friend from university recommended this book to me, and it always makes me laugh to think that her sister gave her this book as a stark warning against hitchhiking. I don’t know if her sister was worried about her turning into a psychopath or if she got confused, but I found the initial premise of a female targeting brawny, male hitchhikers quite interesting. The lead character is genuinely creepy and you get snippets of information as you go along that just makes the story stranger and stranger. One of the best build ups of suspense I’ve read in a while, and the plot twist did surprise me.
Asylum – Madeleine Roux
Strictly speaking a young adult novel, I’m still enjoying this book, probably because I have a weird fascination with creepy mental health asylums. The story follows a group of teens that end up staying in a former mental health facility whilst their dorms are being renovated. After snooping around as teens do, the group discover an abandoned wing, which is where all their trouble starts. Haunting photos, nightmares of torture, past patients and ghostly obsessions, it’s all really creepy! And to really send a shiver down your spine, there are photos and illustrations of real life asylums in the book which makes it all seem gut-churningly more real. Admittedly, the characters are clearly intended for a young audience so some adult readers may struggle with that, but for teens and those with an unhealthy interest in asylums, it’s well worth a read!
Coraline – Neil Gaiman
A kid’s book that adults can enjoy too, Gaiman certainly understands how to write for children without being patronising or elusive. The characters are presented to us through a child’s perspective and come across as quite odd but interesting. And Coraline herself is very easy to like and follow. The story is spooky and Gaiman doesn’t shy away from the eerie in his writing, but there’s plenty of funny moments along the way too. I’ve been reading this as my book for the commute home but I’m sure this would make a good book to enjoy with your kids
The Haunting of Hill House – Shirley Jackson
I’m not normally one to change my reading habits with the seasons but I had to pull out a Shirley Jackson novel this Halloween. The Haunting of Hill House is a classic and Ms Jackson is a master of psychological terror. The book builds up a tense atmosphere full of dread and suspense, and the spooky occurrences are all so subtle that you end up freaking yourself out more than any author could. The constant ‘what’s going on here?’; ‘is this real or not?’; ‘what if that means this?’ is an emotional rollercoaster and I found myself on edge from start to end.
Funny Bones – Alan Ahlberg
Yes, finally, I can read this classic story to my little boy! He’s just turned 4 so we’re spending a lot of time reading together at the moment, and I’ve been saving my favourite childhood book for Halloween. “On a dark, dark hill, there was a dark, dark town…” those opening lines transport me straight back to being a kid again and greedily reading through the skeletons’ adventures. There are some wonderful illustrations throughout and lots of repetition that will make reading the book aloud together loads of fun. I cannot wait to tuck him up after a night of pumpkins, trick or treating and scary costumes and get stuck into this book together.
Let us know what you’ve been reading this week in the comments box below.