about a slightly psychic but otherwise commonplace young man who falls in love with a mysterious
woman to be, well, benign? NO. This is a reading experience of ever-mounting, unrelieved tension,
and suspense, and terror, which will haunt you for a long time after you read it.
Ghost Story by Peter Straub--This story of four young men grown old, tied together inexorably by
a tragedy and haunted by regrets and other things, is filled with eerie moments. As always, I enjoy
the spooky buildup to the gory denouement, but the spooky here is very well done. This book was
made into a movie which is also very good.
The Thief of Always by Clive Barker--Harvey Swick is a very bored young man until he meets a helpful
guy named Rictus, who whisks him away to Holiday House. There it is spring in the morning, summer in
the afternoon, Halloween in the evening and Christmas before bedtime, every day. Barker is a master
in the field of horror, usually writing for adults, but I think this understated book for all ages is his most
The Sneetches and other stories by Dr. Seuss--This innocuous-sounding children's book contains a story titled
"What Was I Scared Of?" featuring one of the most terrifying literary creations ever: the pale green pants
with nobody inside 'em. I was frightened of this book as a child, and my children after me. If you are not
yet familiar with it, beware. I'm not joking here. SCARY.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson--a surprisingly little-known classic by the author
of The Lottery and The Haunting of Hill House. The story is narrated in a matter-of-fact voice by the
younger sister in a family which had earlier been partially wiped out by a notorious poisoning incident.
The remnants of the family live isolated and shunned by the residents of the neighboring village, and
as they attempt to carry on their everyday lives, we slowly become aware of the reticence between
the surviving members. As always, the understated is far scarier than the elaborately described monster.
Pet Sematary by Stephen King--Okay, can't do this without having Stephen King. Pet Sematary is not
by any means my favorite King book, but that is partly because it's just too scary for me. The zombiefied
creatures are scary, yes, but even more frightening is the depiction of just how far around the bend
grief can send a person, and what horrible acts it can inspire a usually rational sane person to do in