Good evening everyone, and happy Halloween! We’re definitely feeling festive at Oxfam Petergate- if you’ve visited the shop you’ll have seen our super spooky window display complete with some of the scariest donated books we could find! To mark this spooktacular night I decided to ask some Facebook friends and frequent haunters of Oxfam Bookshop about their favourite horror novels and scary fictional characters. If you’re looking for a quieter, more sheltered way to feel scared this Halloween, here’s some recommendations of books you can find in Oxfam Bookshops.
Demi recommended that I look at some Roald Dahl books, so I decided to scope out the shop and see what I could find.
Rather than choosing a Roald Dahl classic, I came across Roald Dahl’s Book of Ghost Stories, a collection of horror stories handpicked by the man himself. My favourite is probably The Corner Shop by Cynthian Asquith, but there’s 13 other stories to choose from.
“Spookiness is the real purpose of the ghost story. It should give you the creeps and disturb your thoughts…” – Roald Dahl
If that quote is anything to go by, I’d say this book is worth a read on Halloween.
Laura recommended Horns by Joe Hill- sensationalized by the movie Horns starring Daniel Radcliffe. Horns was nominated for the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel and incorporates elements of contemporary fantasy, crime fiction, and Gothic fiction. If you’ve seen the movie you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it’ll keep you on the edge of your seat.
Now onto some scary characters, and of course we have to start off with the ultimate all-knowing villain, Big Brother from 1984 by George Orwell.
I read 1984 when I was in my early teens and this character stayed with me for years. He is ostensibly the leader (most likely a symbolic figurehead) of Oceania, a totalitarian state wherein the ruling Party wields total power “for its own sake” over the inhabitants. Big Brother was recently named as Literature’s Scariest Character in an ABE Books poll, and I can totally understand why. If you like to be scared in a very real and rather political way, 1984 is the book for you.
“Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing.”
Beth seemed very impressed by Anne Rice’s Lasher from The Witching Hour.
The Witching Hour (1990) by Anne Rice is the first novel in the Lives of the Mayfair Witches series. It begins the tale of a family of witches, and a spirit that has guided their fortunes for generations.
Beth wasn’t the only person who was impressed by Anne Rice, as Nick mentioned Claudia from Interview with a Vampire.
Claudia is a fictional character in Anne Rice’s The Vampire Chronicles series. She is one of the main characters in Interview with the Vampire (1976). Claudia (her last name is never given) was a young girl who lived in the very poor, plague-ravaged quarters of 18th century New Orleans until she was turned by the vampire Lestat. Not only is she super creepy, but she’s also inspired countless Halloween costumes after Kirsten Dunst’s portrayal of her.
Now we’re going to talk about one of my favourite fictional character’s of all time, Emily Bronte’s Heathcliff from her novel Wuthering Heights.
Although Wuthering Heights is now widely regarded as a classic of English literature, contemporary reviews for the novel were deeply polarised; it was considered controversial because its depiction of mental and physical cruelty was unusually stark, and it challenged strict Victorian ideals of the day, including religious hypocrisy, morality, social classes and gender inequality. I read the novel after seeing Tom Hardy’s depiction of Heathcliff in a two part ITV special and immediately became fascinated by Heathcliff’s character. He is a character that readers have sympathy for- a victim of bullying, prejudice, and Cathy’s selfishness- but throughout the novel we witness him commit some truly heinous acts, and that does make him pretty scary. He infamously exhumes Cathy’s body, a scene that completely surpassed all standards of ‘gothic’- but what’s worse is that Bronte originally intended for him to consume Cathy’s flesh, and her sister talked her out of it (thank goodness).
“He’s not a rough diamond – a pearl-containing oyster of a rustic; he’s a fierce, pitiless, wolfish man.”
If you want to check out some more scary books you can visit our shop on Low Petergate or visit our online store. Our Online Spotlight of the week is the suitably eerie Back-Slash by Bill Kitson, available for just £29.99 here: https://www.abebooks.co.uk/servlet/BookDetailsPL?bi=7231368161&searchurl=vcatn%3DBooks_Fiction_Thriller%26vcat%3DBooks_Fiction_Thriller%26sortby%3D17%26vci%3D54093980
Don’t forget to spare a thought for those who aren’t out celebrating Halloween this year by visiting our Oxfam GB make a donation page: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/donate
To read about our Oxfam GB Halloween Boxpark Pop-up fundraiser, click here: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/fashion-blog/2016/10/oxfam-halloween-boxpark-pop-up