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Posts Tagged ‘Halloween’

Deliverance DaneI was very excited about reading The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane for my Halloween reading fest this year. From the premise, this novel seemed to have all of the ingredients for a great Halloween read…a story based upon the Salem witch trials and present day Salem, Massachusetts…a graduate student researching the history of an undiscovered Salem witch…sounds promising, doesn’t it? All in all, I found the novel disappointing. While the writing wasn’t “bad”, it wasn’t great either. Given the subject matter, the writing was far from being engaging or bewitching. I was expecting a Gothic thriller more along the lines of The Historian. An engaging novel chock-full of history, horror, and suspense. Overall, there was no real magic. No real suspense. The characters were generally flat, the protagonist increasingly dense and obtuse, and the storyline predictable within the first hundred pages. And I truly wanted to love this book but could barely bring myself to finish it.

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(picture by HeroinForMyHeroine)

“It was a fine morning, bright and dry, though with a distinct feeling of impending autumn in the air. The street was unusually quiet, but for the dying chimes of a nearby church clock and the rustle of a few newly fallen leaves drifting along the pavement and gathering beside me in a little twirling heap.
Michael Cox – The Meaning of the Night

Ah, September.  I can feel Fall just around the corner.

I love Fall. Fall is the turning of leaves, that brisk, crisp feeling in the air – you can smell it. Fall is legend and lore, magical and bewitching. Fall is pumpkins, pumpkin spice latte, pumpkin bread, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake, candy corn pumpkins, the Great Pumpkin, and the Pumpkin King. Fall is Jack-o’-lanterns, corn stalks, ravens, and black cats. Witches, mummies, Draculas, and Frankensteins. Elves, fairies, piskies, trolls, and goblins. Fall is hot apple cider and funnel cake. Fall is bouquets of sharpened pencils and You’ve Got Mail. Fall is the prelude to the holiday season.

“…they told of dripping stone walls in uninhabited castles and of ivy-clad monastery ruins by moonlight, dank charnel houses and overgrown graveyards, of howlings and shriekings, groanings and scuttlings and the clanking of chains, of hooded monks and headless horseman, vampires and bloodhounds, bats and rats and spiders, of men found at dawn and women turned white-haired and raving lunatic, and of vanished corpses and curses upon heirs.”
Susan Hill – The Woman in Black

And with September begins my traditional two month Halloween reading fest. I first began this tradition in 2004 and I eagerly anticipate it all year long. Have I mentioned how much I love Halloween and Fall?

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Here are this year’s Halloween reading picks to choose from (in no particular order and subject to change). So many choices and so little time…

  1. Isis – Douglas Clegg
  2. The Gates – John Connolly
  3. The Man In the Picture – Susan Hill
  4. Practical Magic – Alice Hoffman  (reread)
  5. The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane – Kathrine Howe
  6. Salem’s Lot – Stephen King
  7. The Walking Dead Volume 1: Days Gone Bye – Robert Kirkman  (graphic novel)
  8. The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova  (reread)
  9. Hell House – Richard Matheson
  10. Her Fearful Symmetry – Audrey Niffenegger
  11. The Stress of Her Regard – Tim Powers
  12. Dracula – Bram Stoker  (reread)
  13. The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde  (graphic novel)
  14. House of Mystery Vol. 1: Room and Boredom – Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges  (graphic novel)
  15. House of Mystery Vol. 2: Love Stories For Dead People – Bill Willingham & Matthew Sturges  (graphic novel)
  16. The Angel’s Game – Carlos Ruiz Zafon

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And what Halloween would be complete without a reading of Sleepy Hollow and Dracula’s Guest? I hope to fit in several short story readings – my favorites as well as a couple short story collections.

  1. Nocturnes – John Connolly
  2. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet – Richard Matheson

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Halloween Eve

As the maples flamed to yellow and red, and the oaks to crispy brown, a strange sound drifted now and again from the town and over the hills…”
Keith Donohue – The Stolen Child

Fall Colors

Halloween afternoon Ricky took me driving around the Heritage Hills and Mesta Park Historic Preservation Districts just north of downtown OKC to look at the Halloween decorations. The weather was perfect and this was the first day that the leaves had really started changing colors. It was a wonderful way to spend Halloween with Ricky.

Halloween will always be my favorite holiday. You can almost taste the magic and excitement in the air. You can feel that crispness of winter coming. The leaves swirling along the ground. The squirrels and other critters scurrying about to horde up their winter store of food. I love how busy the animals are this time of year. Everybody has someplace to be. Although it does make me sad that the goose spottings grow fewer and fewer the closer to winter it gets.

And I love the pumpkins everywhere this time of year. No two pumpkins are alike! And I can never have too many pictures of pumpkins. ;o)

We followed the Halloween decorations with pumpkin cheesecake at Barnes & Noble. Mmmmmm. And then it was off to look at big screen TVs at Best Buy. Ricky says that big screen TVs are his pumpkins. ;o)

Here is a link to our Flickr page for more pictures. (These are very low quality versions of the pictures.)

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This Is Halloween

“The storefronts bristled with black cats and pumpkins and witches’ hats.”
Pamela Dean – Tam Lin

The end of October is upon us. It always comes and goes too quickly. Eleven books and a handful of short stories later and my macabre reading-fest draws to a close. There is never enough time to read all that I want to read in September and October.

Best “Halloween” Reads of 2008

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The Meaning of Night: A Confession – Michael Cox
The Woman In Black: A Ghost Story – Susan Hill
The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman
Quietus – Vivian Schilling
The Last Wish – Andrzej Sapkowski

(Picture taken in historical downtown – McKinney, TX)

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Long ago, hundreds of years, men had died there and been buried in their graves; and sounds were heard under the clay, and when the graves were opened, men and women were found rosy with life, and their mouths red with blood.

Bram Stoker – Dracula’s Guest

Dracula’s Guest is one of my favorite short stories to read around Halloween. It was originally a part of Stoker’s novel Dracula, and why his publishers chose to exclude it remains a mystery to me. It would have made for a great prologue!

Dracula’s Guest follows an Englishman as he wanders around Munich on Walpurgis Night before leaving for Transylvania. This gothic ghost story tells of ancient graveyards, malevolent spirits, mysterious strangers, sudden snowstorms and howling wolves.

(Picture taken at the Riverside Cemetery – Asheville, NC)

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One grave in every graveyard belongs to the ghouls. Wander the graveyard long enough and you will find it – waterstained and bulging, with cracked or broken stone, scraggly grass or rank weeds about it, and a feeling, when you reach it, of abandonment. It may be colder than the other gravestones, too, and the name on the stone is all too often impossible to read. If there is a statue on the grave it will be headless or so scabbed with fungus and lichens as to look like a fungus itself.

Neil Gaiman – The Graveyard Book



(Picture taken at the Riverside Cemetery – Asheville, NC)

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October proved a riot to the senses and climaxed those giddy last weeks before Halloween.”
Keith Donohue – The Stolen Child

(Picture taken at the Biltmore Estate – Asheville, NC)

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