Today on the blog, I'm pleased to welcome Katie Dale onto the blog to tell us about the five scariest books she has ever read, as part of our Halloween blog tour.
Halloween: A perfect excuse to dress up, wear a mask, to trick-or-treat - and consequently the perfect setting for my short story TRICK OR TWEET in the recent STORIES FROM THE EDGE Anthology. What better opportunity for stalking the girl of your dreams, than a Halloween costume party, right? And that's exactly what "Bruce" does. He's never met Chloe, but by following her tweets, he believes he knows everything about her - including what she's looking for in a guy, where she'll be on Halloween night, and what costume she'll be wearing, and plans their perfect first meeting accordingly - only to discover that he's not the only one wearing a mask...
Personally, Halloween has always kind of freaked me out. To be honest, I'm actually quite a scaredy-cat. I can't really cope with horror films (I blame my Mum, who used to record movies like The Wizard of Oz but edit out the witch scenes before we watched them!) and for me scary books are even more terrifying because everything's happening inside your head, which makes it all more inescapable somehow. So it will come as no surprise that I've found more than a few books super-scary in my life, and here are my top five nightmare-tastic children's books.
THE WITCHES by Roald Dahl
The Witches has to be one of the scariest stories ever, and for me its power lies in the fact that it's so plausible. These are not easily-recognisable, easily-dismissed fairy-tale witches on broomsticks with pointy hats. No. These are witches disguised as normal women, who could be sitting next to you right now, plotting to kill children... and they do. Whether by turning a young boy into a slug so that his own father flushes him away with boiling water, or turning a child into a mackerel for his mother's dinner, this is scary stuff. And when our protagonist finds himself inadvertently trapped in a ballroom full of the world's worst witches, we know he's in big trouble. Like, getting-turned-into-a-mouse trouble. And the fact that even at the end of the book he doesn't change back, but is fated to live forever as a mouse (and consequently will only live for a few years) - Horrifying!
THE EVIL TWIN (Sweet Valley High), by Francine Pascal
I was completely addicted to the Sweet Valley High books growing up - I have shelves full of them and loved nothing more than following the safe, sun-kissed rollercoaster lives of all-American identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield as they went to the mall, the prom, and the beach, so this gruesome mini-series came as quite a shock! Enter Margo, the "Evil Twin" who is a lookalike for Elizabeth and Jess, has had a hard life, and is more than a little psychotic. She decides that the Wakefield twins have a much better life and family than her and consequently she plots to kill Elizabeth and assuming her life. Margo pulls no punches, the body count rises (children and old ladies included) and as New Year's Eve approaches, the Wakefields' lives will never be the same. Horrifying.
THE LONG WEEKEND by Savita Kalhan
The only one of my top five that I read for the first time as an adult, not a child, but that didn't make it any less scary! Two boys get into a car after school, each assuming the driver is the other boy's dad - but he's not. The driver takes them to a dark mansion in the middle of nowhere and locks them up - but what does he intend to do to them? Will they ever escape? Another page-turning read made even more frightening by its terrifying plausability, The Long Weekend had me so gripped when I was reading it on the bus one dark evening that I missed my stop and had to get off in an area I was unfamiliar with. Haunted by the terrifying characters in the book, alone in the dark, it was the scariest walk home ever!
The Train (Point Horror) by Diane Hoh
Four friends take a cross-country train tour from Chicago to San Francisco - until they discover there's a coffin on the train with them...Frog's coffin. One by one, the friends guiltily confess all the nasty things they did to Frog before his sudden and horrible death, and then, one by one, they are viciously attacked. It seems that Frog is out for revenge. But Frog is dead...isn't he?
Actually, I still don't know. I got about halfway through this book, then one of the characters got trapped in a coffin and I started having terrible nightmares and had to stop reading! I couldn't even look at the book on my bookshelf - I had to get it out of the house! It was the first book I ever stopped reading because I got too scared (but not the last!).
Grimm's Fairy Tales - collected by The Brothers Grimm
This might seem an odd choice - after all, who doesn't love a fairytale? Sweet stories full of magic that always end happily-ever after, right? Wrong. SO wrong. The original versions of these fairytales are a million miles away from the sanitized Disney versions. Murder, rape, incest, self-mutilation and cannibalism abound in the original stories, which were actually never intended to be for children at all...
'Stories from the Edge' is a collection of gripping, thought-provoking short stories by eight award-winning UK young adult authors. From the perils of online chat rooms, doping in sport, racism and terrorism, to gender and self-esteem issues, love, life and death, Stories from The Edge isn’t afraid to ask some big questions. Sometimes frightening, often funny, always brutally honest, these stories will take you to where the shadows are darkest and the ground drops away. The question is, are you prepared to look over the edge? “I guarantee that these stories will leave readers gasping for more.” – Joy Court, Chair: CILIP Carnegie & Kate Greenaway Medals Discussion Guides for exploring each of the stories are available as a free PDF download from The Edge website: http//edgeauthors.blogspot.co.uk.
To find out more about Katie Dale: