Happy Friday the 13th, lovers!!
I love any kind of creepy, superstitious day like this. I’m waiting with bated breath for Halloween. My head is swimming with all the ways I’m going to decorate my front porch. Skeletons, spiders and the spookiest pumpkins I can carve up.
Before we get into my list of spooky novels to read today, I want to share something a little personal. On July 13th, 2012, I walked into a Tim Hortons near my home and met the man I had been talking to online for three months. He had driven five hours from New York state and crossed my Canadian border (no pun intended) so that we could finally meet in person. We had been talking every day. It started through twitter, then email, then phone calls.
We were pretty sure we were in love, but you can never be 100% sure until you meet someone in person.
We’ll celebrate our five-year wedding anniversary on October 13th, at the time of writing this. Yes, the 13th.
Tonight, we’re going to celebrate the day that changed our lives with pizza and weed and watching Friday The 13th, the classic 80s horror movie. But I think everyone should be celebrating this weird and superstitious day. One way to do it would be turning out the lights and curling up with a scary AF classic horror novel, because this day deserves a little old school creepy.
Here’s my list of the top five classic horror books to read on Friday the 13th!
5. The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum (1989)🔪
I’m not going to tell you about this. I refuse to. There are things you know you’ll die before telling, things you know you should have died before ever having seen. I watched and saw.
The most fucked up, heartbreaking, traumatizing book you might ever read. When you think you’ve hit bottom, the floor falls away. It’s a steamroller of a book, it just keeps coming, slowly. You know what’s going to happen but you can’t move, you can’t stop watching. Your anxieties will spike, your palms will sweat. And even when you’ve closed the book and moved on, you will still be thinking about this story. It won’t leave you. Does that sound bleak and awful? Sure. But it’s such a good book.
Back of the Book: Suburbia. Shady, tree-lined streets, well-tended lawns and cozy homes. A nice, quiet place to grow up. Unless you are teenage Meg or her crippled sister, Susan. On a dead-end street, in the dark, damp basement of the Chandler house, Meg and Susan are left captive to the savage whims and rages of a distant aunt who is rapidly descending into madness. It is a madness that infects all three of her sons and finally the entire neighbourhood. Only one troubled boy stands hesitantly between Meg and Susan and their cruel, torturous deaths. A boy with a very adult decision to make.
4. The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty (1971) 🔪
“You don’t blame us for being here, do you? After all, we have no place to go. No home… Incidentally, what an excellent day for an exorcism…”
This is an iconic horror novel that was inspired by the real exorcism of Roland Doe, which took place in 1949 when Doe was 13. It’s a slow build in terms of horror, but the suspense is palpable and once things ramp up there really is no turning back. Some say the book is better, and scarier, than the movie – and we all know how legendary that movie is. The ghastly imagery is intense, the atmosphere is suffocating, and the psychological aspects will worm their way into brain and keep you reading late into the night. Just maybe don’t read this one with the lights off.
Back of the Book: Inspired by a true story of a child’s demonic possession in the 1940s, William Peter Blatty created an iconic novel that focuses on Regan, the eleven-year-old daughter of a movie actress residing in Washington, D.C. A small group of overwhelmed yet determined individuals must rescue Regan from her unspeakable fate, and the drama that ensues is gripping and unfailingly terrifying.
Purposefully raw and profane, The Exorcist still has the extraordinary ability to disturb readers and cause them to forget that it is “just a story.”
3. The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson (1959)🔪
“It watches,” he added suddenly. “The house. It watches every move you make.”
Anyone who has read this will likely tell you that it’s one of the scariest books they’ve ever come across. The female lead’s psychosis is so accurate in it’s portrayal that it will leave you shook. The novel plays around with the uncertainty of is the house is really haunted? or is it just the protagonists’ unstable mind? The ambiguity, the scares and the atmosphere of Hill House will make your skin crawl and your spin tingle. Shirley Jackson basically created the haunted house genre. If you’re a horror fan, you have to read this out of respect alone.
Back of the Book: Four seekers have arrived at the rambling old pile known as Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of psychic phenomena; Theodora, his lovely and lighthearted assistant; Luke, the adventurous future inheritor of the estate; and Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman with a dark past.
As they begin to cope with chilling, even horrifying occurrences beyond their control or understanding, they cannot possibly know what lies ahead. For Hill House is gathering its powers – and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.
2. American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (1991)🔪
“I’m into, oh murders and executions mostly. It depends.”
Do you want to be scared both by the brilliance of the prose of the author, and by the psychotic nature of the lead character? READ THIS. If you are looking for scary, you want American Psycho. The murder scenes are gratuitous in their graphic detail, and inspiring in the wild imagination that was required to come up with them. Nail guns, a rusty butter knife, a sharpened coat hanger, a hungry rat… it’s fucking twisted. When American Psycho was released it was slammed by some critics and readers for being “sick” and “perverted.” You’ll love it, obviously.
Back of the Book: Patrick Bateman is twenty-six and he works on Wall Street, he is handsome, sophisticated, charming and intelligent. He is also a psychopath. Taking us to head-on collision with America’s greatest dream—and its worst nightmare—American Psycho is bleak, bitter, black comedy about a world we all recognise but do not wish to confront.
1. Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris (1988)🔪
“Nothing happened to me, Officer Starling. I happened. You can’t reduce me to a set of influences.”
Of course, this was going to be top of the list. COME ON. The name Hannibal Lecter is known by everyone, even people who aren’t fans of horror, have never seen the movie or read the book. Talk about pop culture impact! Hannibal is a truly iconic villain. Twisted, charming, psychotic and disarming. There’s never been another character quite like him. Mostly everyone has seen the movie. Some of us (#Fannibal for life) have seen the Bryan Fuller TV show. So why not go back to the source material and really honour the brilliance that is Thomas Harris? Get unnerved and creeped out then fall in love. Hannibal will make you do all of those things. It’s a ride.
Back of the Book: A serial murderer known only by a grotesquely apt nickname—Buffalo Bill—is stalking women. He has a purpose, but no one can fathom it, for the bodies are discovered in different states. Clarice Starling, a young trainee at the FBI Academy, is surprised to be summoned by Jack Crawford, chief of the Bureau’s Behavioural Science section. Her assignment: to interview Dr. Hannibal Lecter—Hannibal the Cannibal—who is kept under close watch in the Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane.
Dr. Lecter is a former psychiatrist with a grisly history, unusual tastes, and an intense curiosity about the darker corners of the mind. His intimate understanding of the killer and of Clarice herself form the core of The Silence of the Lambs—an ingenious, masterfully written book and an unforgettable classic of suspense fiction.
I hope everyone has a scary and happy Friday the 13th! I know I will.
Stay safe. Be kind. But, take no shit.
Later, Booknerds ✌️🔪