Looking for something to get you in the Halloween spirit?  What’s better than a good zombie story?  The Walking Dead has aired two seasons on AMC so far and the library owns both.  Sheriff’s Deputy Rick Grimes wakes up from a coma after being shot on duty to discover that while he was asleep, the world has changed.  At least half of the population has been wiped out.  There’s no more government, no military, and none of the comforts of the world he remembers.  And what’s more, all those people who have died have woken back up as bloodthirsty zombies.  Rick must struggle to survive and find his family who he knows must still be alive.

I’m not usually into scary or gory stuff, but this series is so compelling that I was immediately hooked.  It reminds me of my all-time favorite show, Battlestar Galactica; at its heart, The Walking Dead is a drama about how people deal with the destruction of their world and figure out how to survive while still dealing with the issues of their past.  If you can’t get your hand on a copy of the DVDs, the library also owns the graphic novels that the show is based on.

Horror Week at Davenport Library wraps up today with this terrifying suggestion from Lynn. Read at your own risk!

Handcarved coffins“Handcarved Coffins” (in the book Music for Chameleons) is a piece of novelistic journalism; Capote’s spare and economical style makes the ever-increasing  suspense immediate.

A state cop relates the stories of a series of horrific murders to Capote. The first are killed by rabid rattlesnakes that attack a couple as they open their car doors. The next die in a fire, trapped in their basement. The victims are sent a small, balsa coffin with a candid photograph of themselves. As the murders mount up, the recipients  are more aware of their fate and suffer unique torture as they wonder how and when they will die.

The murders are impossible to anticipate and guard against, and, seemingly, have no connection to each other. Their very randomness and the generic small midwestern town setting  give the murders a sense of universality – (this could happen to ME).  The fact that the victims seem entirely innocent makes the evil more purely heinous. Because this is supposed to be a piece of reportage, Capote never switches perspective to the psychopath, as is so common now. This is a piece of simple, classic horror. And it may be true.

Now it’s your turn – what’s your favorite scary book or movie? Leave a comment!

Here’s Tana’s gruesome entry for Horror Week at Davenport Library. Read it if you dare!

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The Washington Post describes The Gargoyle “as engrossing as it is gruesome, the kind of horror you watch with one eye closed.”  Truly, the opening scene is horrifying — we witness the unnamed narrator being burned alive.  Perhaps even worse, we then watch him endure seemingly endless and excruciating treatments for these burns, treatments so painful that he anxiously awaits his  release from the hospital just so he can finally commit suicide.   It should be noted that the narrator is no angel — he’s a coke-addicted pornographer, a cynical character most would consider undeserving of redemption.  Yet redemption he receives.  It comes in the form of visits from a beautiful sculptor, Marianne Engel, who specializes in sculpting gargoyles.  The only problem is that Marianne is a fellow patient, a schizophrenic from the pysch ward.   She regales him with stories of their love affair — an affair that supposedly took place over 700 years ago in Germany, when she was serving as a scribe in the monastery of Engelthal and he was a wounded mercenary.

As Marianne continues to visit, she shares other tales of deathless love from other countries (Japan, Iceland, Italy) and she earns the trust of both the patient and the hospital staff.  It is into her care that he is released. Still, all is not well.  Marianne begins a frenzy of work on her final 27 sculptures and the narrator deepens his dependence on morphine.  To break his addiction, he literally goes to Hell — here the author leans heavily on allegories from Dante’s Inferno.

Fantastic fiction?  Perhaps.  Still, a definite page-turner — as long as you can keep one eye open.

Rita brings us this terrifying recommendation for Horror Week at Davenport Library.

This movie is the reason I NEVER go to scary movies. Wait until Dark was produced in 1967. It starred Audrey Hepburn, Alan Arkin and Richard Crenna. It was being shown at the Capitol theater in downtown Davenport. A fellow worker and I went to see it as we both enjoyed the work of Audrey Hepburn. It scared the beejebees out of me. The scarest for me was you thought Audrey Hepburn had finally killed Alan Arkin, and the only light on the screen was from the refrigerator  door. All of the sudden Alan Arkin leaps out of the dark into the light of the refrigerator door. I remember everyone in the Capitol theater gasped!!!!It took me weeks to sleep at night, as every time I closed my eyes I saw this scence.

Wait Until Dark is an innovative, highly entertaining and suspenseful thriller about a blind housewife, Susy Hendrix (Audrey Hepburn). Independent and resourceful, Susy is learning to cope with her blindness, which resulted from a recent accident. Susy is terrorized by a group of criminals who believe she has hidden a baby doll used by them to smuggle heroin into the country. Unknown to Susy, her photographer husband Sam (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.) took the doll as a favor for a woman he met on an international plane flight. Alone in her apartment and cut-off from the outside world, Susy must fight for her life against a gang of ruthless criminals, led by the violent, psychotic Roat (Alan Arkin). The tension builds as Roat, aided by his gang, impersonates police officers and friends of her husband in order to win Susy’s confidence, gaining access to her apartment to look for the doll. The climax of the film, a violent physical confrontation between Susie and Roat in her dark kitchen, is one of the most memorable and frightening scenes in screen history. All performances are outstanding, particularly those of Audrey Hepburn who plays a vulnerable, but self-reliant woman, and Alan Arkin, in perhaps his best role, as the ruthless, manipulative Roat. Allmovie.com

Horror Week at Davenport Library continues with Bill’s bone-chilling suggestion.

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I generally don’t seek out media that scares the hell out of me. I’m highly suggestible and it seems a little too masochistic.

But, if you’re a glutton for punishment, any of The Exorcist trilogy will mess with your mind when the lights are out.

There’s something about the unnatural voices, inhuman body movements, haunting use of classical music, and periodic interruption of calm with the occasional terrifying act.

The Exorcist line will have you groping for the lamp and checking the doors after every creak.

To help get you in the mood for a deliciously frightening Halloween, the librarians at Davenport Public Library are going to share some of the favorite blood-chilling books and movies. Read on if you dare!

GentlemenI’ll get things started with an episode from the late, lamented tv series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. “Hush”, from the 4th season, has almost no dialogue, but it’s this very silence that adds to the horror. One night while everyone is asleep, The Gentlemen – tall, spectral figures dressed like funeral directors – magically steal the voice of everyone in Sunnydale. The people panic and chaos reins. The next night The Gentlemen, accompanied by their gruesome, Igor-like henchmen, go in search of their first victim. The trapped man is unable to scream for help and The Gentlemen cut out his heart.  Of course, Buffy, Xander, Willow, Giles and company soon find a solution, but not before everyone is thoroughly terrified.

There are two things that completely freaked me out about this show – the fact that no one could speak (and therefore were unable to call for help) and the fact that The Gentlemen, their skeletel faces grinning widely, floated above the ground as they wandered through the silent town searching for victims, their terrifying helpers limping along at their sides. I couldn’t look out the window after dark for months after seeing the show.

Written and directed by series creator Joss Whedon, this episode was nominated for an Emmy for Best Writing and is often included in lists of 10 best Buffy episodes.

Even if you’ve outgrown trick-or-treating, you can still get into the spirit of the season with some great, ghostly reads.

More Than You Know by Beth Gutcheon. Looking back on the events of the summer she was 17, elderly Hannah Grey recalls her memories of love and loss, and of the ghost who haunted her and the boy she loved. Set on the Maine coast, this evocative novel is a “humdinger of a ghost tale”.

Eva Moves the Furniture by Margot Livesey. Motherless Eva has been lovingly raised by her father and sister, but she is still often lovely. When she’s visited by invisible companions, she takes comfort in their presence. However, keeping them secret cuts her off from others. Who these companions are and their roles in Eva’s life form the center of this intriguing story.

Sleeping with Schubert by Bonnie Marson. Brooklyn lawyer Liza Durbin is possessed by the spirit of composer Franz Schubert – and her life will never be ordinary again. Follow along as Liza takes a leave of absence from her law firm to prepare for her Carnegie Hall debut, struggles with a media frenzy and her quirky family for a fun and entertaining read.

Second Glance by Jodi Picoult. Ghost hunter Ross Wakeman wants nothing more than to be reunited with his dead fiancee, but nothing he does can bring her back. Sent to a small Vermont town to investigate possible paranormal phenomena leads him to an ancient murder and possible redemption. The intricate and suspenseful ghost story will keep you enthralled to its powerful conclusion.

A Gracious Plenty by Sheri Reynolds. Disfiguring scars from a childhood accident has made Finch Nobles an outcast in her tiny Southern town. After her parents die, Finch takes over her father’s job as a gravedigger, where she befriends not the living but those who haunt the graveyard and control the seasons. This lyrical novel is sure to charm.

Halloween is fast approaching, and of course this makes an ideal time to read some of those gory horror books. However, if you’re not a big Horror fan (like me) you might enjoy these titles of a kinder, gentler nature.

Brida by Paul Coelho

Well, I should’ve known better. This popular Spanish author, Paul Coelho, has written other books about witches (The Witch of Portobello most recently) but from the title and the cover art, I guess I was expecting something different. And, really, it’s more of a light romance. The main character, Brida, is a 21 year old Irish lass who wants to become a witch, so the story line revolves around her search and/or efforts to become one. There’s some pulling together of Christian and spiritualist themes which I personally didn’t understand, but then, I kept reminding myself that it was a work of fiction.

Mozart’s Ghost by Julia Cameron

As for ghosts, I’m just finishing up Mozart’s Ghost, by Julia Cameron. This, also, has turned out to be a light romantic story. Here, the main character is Anna, a 30-something “medium –medium” as she calls herself. Anna moved to New York a few years ago in part to escape the conservative Midwestern views present in her home town of Ann Arbor, Michigan. In order to pay the rent, she teaches school by day, but her main focus is to establish herself as a medium, someone who helps others contact recently departed loved ones (i.e. – ghosts). When a struggling young pianist moves into her apartment building, she finds his constant practicing very distracting. Even more disturbing, though, are the frequent intrusions she gets from Mozart’s ghost, who is anxious for Anna to “help” the pianist correctly interpret his complex musical compositions. I’m not going to spoil the ending for you. Besides, as I said, I haven’t finished it – yet!

Unfortunately, I really haven’t read any goblin stories recently – but if you’d like to recommend one, I’d certainly give it a shot. Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy these “Halloween Light” suggestions.