“And the most terrifying question of all may be just how much horror the human mind can stand and still maintain a wakeful, staring, unrelenting sanity.” – Stephen King, “Pet Sematary” 

How uncool is it that Halloween falls on a Monday this year? Nobody likes Mondays. The only good thing about Halloween being on a Monday is that we get one last full week of spooky season. Because, if you couldn’t tell from visiting Walmart, winter is coming. Just like the encroaching colder weather, the Christmas decorations have been slowly oozing out of the lawn and garden department of Walmart’s across the country and have started invading our candy and holiday card aisles. Just wait, as this week ends, you’ll be seeing more and more of those Early Black Friday sales.  

By the way, are they really Black Friday sales if you buy it the week before? You know, back in my day, we woke up at 3 a.m., put on multiple layers of clothing, filled our thermos of coffee and drove fifteen miles to the nearest department store. Uphill both ways in the cold! Kids these days buy their stuff online, Amazon Prime Days my foot! We used to fight for the right to spend hundreds of dollars on gifts that would most likely be next year’s trash.  

Anyway, while I have one last week of Halloween, let me give you five good books that will definitely fill that spooky itch you might have. 

1. Anything by Grady Hendrix 

Literally anything by Grady Hendrix. I recently discovered Hendrix last year and since then I’ve consumed all of his novels. His books take on the traditional subjects of horror stories, but then add a twist to them that makes it unique and fun to read. They’re still spooky too. If I had to choose my top three books of his, I’d suggest “My Best Friend’s Exorcism”, “Horrorstor”, and “We Sold our Souls”.  

“My Best Friend’s Exorcism” is an 80’s tale of friendship and demonic possession. The main character has a best friend that changes drastically over the summer and after a bit, the main character comes to find out that she’s been possessed by a demon. Or has she? It’s a great book that radiates Stranger Things vibes. Even if you’re not a child of the 80’s you’ll love this book.  

“Horrorstor” has a physical appearance of an IKEA magazine. But that’s the whole gimmick. The book is about a knockoff IKEA store that is legit haunted. 

“We Sold our Souls” is your typical story of a heavy metal band that rises to fame and then breaks up. The main character though figures out that one of her bandmates sold his/her soul to become famous. It’s a great story for all of you that love horror and music. 

2. “The Shining” by Stephen King 

Okay, I know. You’re probably rolling your eyes when you’re reading this because, of course, I would pick “The Shining” by Stephen King. How original. But am I wrong? I can’t leave Stephen King off this list, and out of all the books in his massive bibliography, “The Shining” is the quintessential ghost story. If you can think of a better ghost story written by Stephen King, send me an email at masterbookreviews@gmail.com.  

If you’ve never read the book or watched the Stanley Kubrick movie or watched the made-for-television movie, the story is simple. A man with drinking problem gets hired to watch a hotel during the winter months when the place is closed for business. He brings his wife and son along. Little did they know that the place was haunted and pretty much evil. The evil spirits twist the dude into drinking and going into a full-on murder rampage. That old chestnut.  

3. “The Dresden Files” by Jim Butcher 

Okay, while this series of urban fantasy might not technically be considered horror, it does involve all of the elements of horror. As of the printing of this column, there have been 17 novels published with more on the way.  

Harry Dresden is a wizard-for-hire in modern day Chicago. Most people think he’s a fraud though. He gets mixed up with vampires, ghosts, zombies, demons, holy crusaders, and just about everything in between. The books are written in a first-person POV, and Dresden is a sarcastic lovable character. If you’re wanting something that’s spooky, but will make you laugh while you’re reading it, these are your books. 

4. “The Near Witch” by V.E. Schwab 

This is a shorter read, if memory serves it’s only 360 pages or so. Short, haha. The book was Schwab’s debut, and it didn’t disappoint. The story is about Lexi, a resident of the Town of Near, that has heard the tale of the Near Witch all of her life. When a stranger enters the town, the children of Near start to vanish in the night and the townspeople start to grow suspicious of this new stranger. Part fairy tale, part love story, part spooky tale, this book might give you some chills. It’s meant for younger audiences so it’s light on the scary and bloody. Which isn’t a bad thing all the time. 

5. “Tender is the Flesh” by Agustina Bazterrica 

Not all horror or scary stories have to involve ghosts and demons, monsters and myth. Sometimes, it can be something as scary as food shortages. Set in a world that has suffered a plague that has rendered 90 percent of the world’s source of protein inedible, humans turn to an alternative animal to grow and harvest for consumption. Themselves. 

Marcos works in a local processing plant for “special meat” and through his eyes we get to witness how animals are processed for marketing and consumption. It’s pretty horrific and the fact that Bazterrica uses humans instead of cows brings it to our level. It makes the point that animal cruelty in processing plants easier to swallow.  

Pun intended. 

The book really does a good job of driving its point home. The character of Marcos is interesting, and the overall story is unique, but not unique because it happens today already. Just not with humans. Warning, this isn’t for the faint of heart. Especially if you’re listening to this as an audiobook. 

Those were five book suggestions for this next week. Have you read any of them? If so, what did you think of them? What are your favorite reads for this spooky season? Let me know at masterbookreviews@gmail.com. 

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