Witches and Vampires and Zombies, Oh My!

Zombies! I don’t want to be that annoying person, but I have loved zombies for years, long before the mass proliferation of TV series, films, and books depicting them. So, I’m cooler than you think. 😉 Now that we’ve cleared that up here are my Top 3 zombie novels:

Cell by Stephen King Civilization doesn’t end with a bang or a whimper. It ends with a call on your cell phone. What happens on the afternoon of October 1 came to be known as the Pulse, a signal sent though every operating cell phone that turns its user into something…well, something less than human. Savage, murderous, unthinking-and on a wanton rampage. Terrorist act? Cyber prank gone haywire? It really doesn’t matter, not to the people who avoided the technological attack. What matters to them is surviving the aftermath.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks An account of the decade-long conflict between humankind and hordes of the predatory undead is told from the perspective of dozens of survivors who describe in their own words the epic human battle for survival.

The Road by Cormac McCarthy (I know, I know, they’re cannibals not zombies but they are terrifying and they eat human flesh so I’m including it. It’s too good a book not to.) In a novel set in an indefinite, futuristic, post-apocalyptic world, a father and his young son make their way through the ruins of a devastated American landscape, struggling to survive and preserve the last remnants of their own humanity.

 

Vampire Novels

I’m back with some more spooky October reads. This week’s focus is the vampire novel. Here are my Top 3:

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King ‘Salem’s Lot is a small New England town with white clapboard houses, tree-lined streets, and solid church steeples. That summer in ‘Salem’s Lot was a summer of homecoming and return; spring burned out and the land lying dry, crackling underfoot. Late that summer, Ben Mears returned hoping to cast out his own devils and found instead a new, unspeakable horror. 

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer Isabella Swan’s move to Forks, a small, perpetually rainy town in Washington, could have been the most boring move she ever made. But once she meets the mysterious and alluring Edward Cullen, Isabella’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn. Up until now, Edward has managed to keep his vampire identity a secret in the small community he lives in, but now nobody is safe, especially Isabella, the person Edward holds most dear. 

The Passage by Justin Cronin A security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment that only six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte can stop.

Up next: haunted houses!

Favorite Audiobooks: From Spooky to Scary

This week we’ll be taking a look at three spine-tingling audiobooks. You will find that with these types of books the narrator makes ALL the difference and you can rest assured that the following narrators are excellent.

graveyardbook

The Graveyard Book written and performed by Neil Gaiman Nobody Owens (aka ‘Bod’) is a normal boy being raised in a graveyard. In a similar fashion to The Jungle Book, Bod is adopted by the inhabitants of his unique home; separate tales are told about Bod’s interactions with ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.

heartshapedbox

Heart-Shaped Box written by Joe Hill, performed by Stephen Lang Rock star Judas Coyne is a collector of the bizarre and grotesque, so when he sees a ghost for sale on the internet he buys it. It comes delivered in a black heart-shaped box. Entertaining and very scary, with exceptional narration.

doctorsleep

Doctor Sleep written by Stephen King, performed by Will Patton This sequel to The Shining follows middle-aged recovering addict Danny Torrance and the very special twelve-year-old girl he must save from murderous supernatural forces. A very good book that became a great audiobook.

Stephen King’s Short Stories

A month of short story posts would not be complete without a week dedicated to Stephen King. For the uninitiated Stephen King is a popular and prolific horror novelist, but for those of us more familiar with his work, he is also a brilliant short story writer. Here are 6 must-read short story collections from the Master of the Macabre:

nightshift

Night Shift (1978) Stephen King’s first collection of stories—is an early showcase of the depths that King’s wicked imagination could plumb. In these 20 tales, we see mutated rats gone bad (“Graveyard Shift”); a cataclysmic virus that threatens humanity (“Night Surf,” the basis for The Stand); a smoker who will try anything to stop (“Quitters, Inc.”); a reclusive alcoholic who begins a gruesome transformation (“Gray Matter”); and many more.*

skeletoncrew

Skeleton Crew (1986) A supermarket becomes the place where humanity makes its last stand against destruction. A trip to the attic becomes a journey to hell. A woman driving a Jaguar finds a scary shortcut to paradise. An idyllic lake harbors a bottomless evil. And a desert island is the scene of the most terrifying struggle for survival ever waged.*

nightmaresdreamscapes

Nightmares & Dreamscapes (1993) Featuring twenty short horror stories, a television script, an essay, and a poem, Nightmares and Dreamscapes contains unique and chilling plots including everything from dead rock star zombies to evil toys seeking murderous revenge.*

everythingseventual

Everything’s Eventual (2002) King is in terrifying top form in these short stories, taking readers down a road less traveled (for good reason) in the blockbuster ebook “Riding the Bullet”; bad table service turns bloody when you stop in for “Lunch at the Gotham CafĂ©â€; and terror becomes dĂ©jĂ  vu all over again when you get “That Feeling, You Can Only Say What It Is in French”—along with eleven more stories that will keep you awake until daybreak. Enter a nightmarish mindscape of unrelenting horror and shocking revelations that could only come from the imagination of the greatest storyteller of our time.*

justaftersunset

Just After Sunset (2008) Who but Stephen King would turn a Port-O-San into a slimy birth canal, or a roadside honky-tonk into a place for endless love? A book salesman with a grievance might pick up a mute hitchhiker, not knowing the silent man in the passenger seat listens altogether too well. Or an exercise routine on a stationary bicycle, begun to reduce bad cholesterol, might take its rider on a captivating—and then terrifying—journey. Set on a remote key in Florida, “The Gingerbread Girl” is a riveting tale featuring a young woman as vulnerable—and resourceful—as Audrey Hepburn’s character in Wait Until Dark. In “Ayana,” a blind girl works a miracle with a kiss and the touch of her hand. For King, the line between the living and the dead is often blurry, and the seams that hold our reality intact might tear apart at any moment. In one of the longer stories here, “N.,” which recently broke new ground when it was adapted as a graphic digital entertainment, a psychiatric patient’s irrational thinking might create an apocalyptic threat in the Maine countryside…or keep the world from falling victim to it.*

bazaarofbaddreams

The Bazaar of Bad Dreams (2015) Stephen King has dazzled an entire generation of readers with his genius as a prominent writer of short fiction. Now in his latest collection, he once again assembles a generous array of unforgettable, tantalizing tales—including those that, until recently, have never been published in a book (such as the story “Cookie Jar,” which is exclusive to this edition). There are thrilling connections between these works—themes of mortality, the afterlife, guilt, and what we would do differently if we could see into the future or correct the mistakes of the past. Magnificent, eerie, and utterly compelling, The Bazaar of Bad Dreams is one of Stephen King’s finest gifts to readers everywhere—a master storyteller at his very best.*

Enjoy these briliant and sufficiently scary stories!

*Synopses taken from the publisher.

On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King

To close out our series of November posts on writing and creativity, I’d like to share my personal favorite, On Writing by Stephen King:

onwriting

Part memoir, part master class by one of the bestselling authors of all time, this superb volume is a revealing and practical view of the writer’s craft, comprising the basic tools of the trade every writer must have. King’s advice is grounded in his vivid memories from childhood through his emergence as a writer, from his struggling early career to his widely reported, near-fatal accident in 1999—and how the inextricable link between writing and living spurred his recovery. Brilliantly structured, friendly and inspiring, On Writing will empower and entertain everyone who reads it—fans, writers, and anyone who loves a great story well told.

Immensely helpful and illuminating to any aspiring writer. Indispensable.