Treasures on the Shelves — The spooky season is afoot

Published 10:45 am Thursday, November 10, 2022

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October has arrived and for some that means cooler days and trick or treat. For others, the spooky season is afoot! Even if Halloween is not your favorite celebration, there is something about the atmosphere of fall that makes us more aware of things unseen. As a reader, I have always loved scary stories and even as a child I was more interested in witches than princesses. Our library patrons are divided right down the middle: those that love scary books and those that wouldn’t go near one.

If you are part of the former group and are looking for seasonal reads, you can’t go wrong with the classics. Edith Wharton may be well-known for her Gilded Age novels but her ghost stories are considered some of the best in the genre. If you want to read the most unsettling opening paragraph of any book ever, check out “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson. This novella, along with her short story “The Lottery” are among some of the most popular horror stories ever written. If you prefer movies to books, the recent Netflix adaptation of Hill House, available on DVD, is an excellent interpretation.

Algernon Blackwood may not be an instantly recognizable name but his stories have been cited as inspiration by nearly every modern horror author. The British-born writer wrote both novels and short stories, some of which have been gathered together in “Ancient Sorceries and Other Strange Tales.” His most famous story, “The Willows” is part of this collection.

A modern-day horror classic is Anne Rice’s “The Witching Hour.” Published in 1990, this epic tale of the Mayfair Witches was a literary phenomenon that opened the horror genre to new audiences. With a setting in haunted New Orleans and a cast of characters that includes not only witches but a shadowy group who studies psychic phenomena, this book has something for every horror fan.

“The Witches: Salem 1692” by Pulitzer Prize winner Stacy Schiff, is a non-fiction examination of the famous Salem witch trials. Schiff examines Puritan life through the lens of religion and isolation and how both factors played a part in the outbreak of hysteria and accusations of witchcraft.

Superstitions may not be scary but they seem to fit with the season. Defined as a false concept of causation, they exist all over the world. “Very Superstitious” by Willow Winsham, examines 100 of the most popular superstitions, including lucky number seven, hearing an owl outside your window and many others.

Whether you will be dressing up for Halloween or just eating lots of candy, a good book is the best treat of all.

Holly Howze is the branch manager for the Ripberger Public Library located in Kenbridge. She can be reached at