Halloween can have a different meaning to us all. For most, it’s about beautifully carved pumpkins, creative DIY costumes, creeping out party guests with spooky decorations, and/or handing out candy to pint-sized trick-or-treaters. For others, it’s about observing the pagan festival of Samhain that marks the beginning of winter, or celebrating the Day of the Dead in remembrance of lost friends and family.

Or maybe it’s just an excuse for a slutty costume and bad behaviour – I don’t judge! I’m pretty sure it was around Halloween when I dodged a security patrol and snuck into an abandoned hospital with an ex-boyfriend to take a creepy moonlit tour, but that’s a story for another time.

Generally though, Halloween is an opportunity to spend the entire month of October doing my very best to scare the hell out of myself. If it’s murdery, supernatural, suspenseful or gory, I’m all over it! I find a mix of creepy books and movies is the most effective way to self-terrorize, so I’ve challenged myself to read and watch 13 titles of each format to see me through the 31st.

Today’s post is about what I checked off the list from October 1st-7th.

The Diviners – Libba Bray (2012)
Those Across the River – Christopher Buehlman (2011)
And Then There Were None – Agatha Christie (1939)
The Murder on the Orient Express – Agatha Christie (1934)
The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel (2017) [4/5]

“Roanoke girls never last long around here. In the end, we either run or we die.”

If you liked Gone Girl (which I sure did!) then you’ll probably like this. Words like “riveting” and “super messed up” come to mind. The Roanoke Girls is about a dark secret that tears a Southern family apart, and a cousin’s disappearance that forces a girl who managed to leave Roanoke behind return to figure out what happened. The cousin’s disappearance is kind of incidental to the horrifying history of the Roanoke family that is slowly revealed, and one Roanoke girl’s struggle not to be swept up in it too. I have to say, I kind of guessed what the secret might be kind of early into the book, but it ended up being even worse than I expected. This isn’t a gory, slasher style horror. For me, the ick-factor was more psychological, but no less haunting. If you want a book to really make you thankful that you’re not a member of a warped Southern dynasty, then this book is for you!

Horrorstor – Grady Hendrix (2014)
Hex – Thomas Olde Heuvelt (2013)
The Stepford Wives – Ira Levin (1972)
Pretty Monsters – Kelly Link (2008)
Monstress, Volume 1: Awakening – Marjorie Liu (2016) [3/5]

“There’s more hunger in the world than love.”

This graphic novel came up in my Amazon recommendations after searching for Bitch Planet and Atomic Blonde. Monstress has a beautiful steampunk/art deco vibe which is just visually delicious. It’s also a really interesting AU of 1900s Asia where a teenage girl, Maika, is psychically linked to a powerful monster, making them targets of both human and otherworldly powers. This graphic novel is a work of art, with the added bonus of having a really interesting story with a kick-ass female lead. Not to mention the monster that Maika is tied to, which is depicted as a tangle of black vines and eyeballs *shudders*. If you’re someone who really loves graphic novels, beautiful art deco illustrations, and a compelling story, I’m sure you’ll love Monstress. I just really can’t get into graphic novels, so this book gets 3 stars from me. Give me a frigging full-length book, please and thank you!

The Haunting at Hawke’s Moor – Camille Oster (Kindle) (2016)
Borrower of the Night – Elizabeth Peters (1973)
I Remember You – Yrsa Sigurdardottir (2010)

III – The Ritual (2015)
The Axe Murders of Villisca (2016)
The Babadook (2014) [2/5]

“If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of…the Babadook”

I decided to add The Babadook to the list because I’ve heard really good things about it from literally everyone, and it stars Essie Davis (who I adore as Phryne Fisher). Also for reasons I still don’t fully understand, the Babadook has become an LGBT figure, so I thought it was important to find out more about it. If you don’t already know, The Babadook is a psychological horror about a widowed mother battling with her son’s fear of a monster in the house that she eventually begins to see as well. If you’re looking for jump scares or gore for your Halloween jollies, The Babadook is not the film for you. But if you want to be creeped out AND see a movie that explores the emotional toll of grief and loneliness and the power of a mother’s love, then you may want to consider it. To be perfectly honest, I thought this movie was dumb, and neither scary nor deep. I also spent 95% of it hoping something bad would happen to that out-of-control, shrieking kid. Sorry, not sorry.

The Bad Batch (2016)
The Black Room (2017)
The Bye Bye Man (2017)
Gerald’s Game (2017)
The Girl with All the Gifts (2016)
It Follows (2014)
Mercy (2014)
Rings (2017) [1/5]

“Evil is reborn”

While I may not have been truly freaked out by The Ring (2002), the weird movie clip that makes you die in 7 days, and the scene where Samara climbs out of the TV were very unsettling to me. After all, I was the tender age of 16 at the time. I never watched The Ring Two (2005), but I’m fairly certain that seeing it isn’t mandatory for Rings to make sense. Nothing really new in this third installment, although the creepy “7 days” clip has been moved into the digital age by becoming an .avi file that people who have watched it can share with “tails” to redirect Samara. One girl who views it to save her boyfriend’s life discovers a “movie within the movie” that no one’s ever seen before, and realizes that Samara is trying to communicate with her. Jump scares and predictable revelations ensue. Unless for some reason you looooooooove the Rings franchise, I highly recommend you find something else to waste your time on. Or multi-task! I tweezed my eyebrows and gave myself a manicure while this was on.

XX (2017)
You’re Next (2011)

Read/watched one of these already? Let me know what you thought!

Want to follow along? This week (October 8th-14th) I’ll be reading I Remember You and The Murder on the Orient Express, and watching “The Axe Murders of Villisca”, “The Bye Bye Man”, and “Gerald’s Game”. Join me!