Horror Week at DPL – “Hush” from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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.

Ghost Stories for Grown-ups

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.

Witches, Goblins and Ghosts, Oh No!

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.