The Corpse Bride’s Recommended Reads for Halloween 🦇

My favourite time of the year is approaching – Halloween!  🦇

Here are  my Halloween reading recommendations. These are the books that have scared or thrilled me over the years!

Winterbay Abbey by John Bladek and Davonna Juroe

This is a creepy, atmospheric, old style ghost story with a sad, haunting ending. Will, an architect, goes to the historic Winterbay Abbey to design a grand restoration, but Will and his wife soon fall foul of the abbey’s curse.

The in Woman Black By Susan Hill

This gothic tale is well known as being one of the scariest books in the past few years and it lives up to its reputation. Arthur Kipps goes to the isolated Edel Marsh House to sort out the affairs of the late Alice Drablow. A chilling and brilliant ghost story.

 The Stand by Stephen King

The Stand is not only one of my favourite horror novels, but also my favourite book. It’s an epic,  apocalyptic tale of good versus evil. The horror only begins when a deadly influenza spreads rapidly across the world.

Heart – Shaped Box by Joe Hill

This is a modern, original ghost story from Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill. Scary and gory and further proof that you should not buy ghosts on the Internet! Rock star Judge buys a ghost to add to his occult collection, with horrific results.

IT by Stephen King

IT does not need much of an introduction with the current release of the movie version. The book will always be superior – over 1000 pages of pure horror in the town of Derry at the hands of an ancient evil and the terrifying Pennywise the clown.  🤡 .The characters, settings, atmosphere and scenes are perfect.

NOS4R2 by Joe Hill

This was recommended to me by David at Blue Balloon and it is excellent. This is wicked, twisted, surreal horror – a child killer, Christmasland and a Mother trying to save her son.

Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

I first read this as a very young teenager and I’ve read a dozen times since. The vampire tale of the beautiful Louis and the enigmatic Lestat is bloody, mesmerising and stunning.

Naomi’s Room by Jonathan Aycliffe

This had been the only book  that I’ve ever had to leave to one side before finishing because it scared me so much. A particular gruesome, ghostly scene would not leave my head. Charles’ daughter goes missing Christmas Eve and is later found murdered. This is is only the start of the terror for Charles and Laura.  A ghost story and a mystery.

The Ghosts of Sleath by James Herbert

All of James Herbert’s Ash series are excellent, but I picked this one for the list. Psychic David Ash goes to investigate a town full of hauntings. This had lots of gruesome imagery, along with heart.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Dracula, the father of all vampires and written by an Irish man. The tale of Jonathan Harker, Count Dracula and Mena is eloquent, timeless and scary. I think I need to re-read this one soon!

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell

This is the first YA book on the list. Creepy little dolls, a windswept location, oijua boards, deaths and a tortured teen make for a brilliant YA horror.

Dark Matter by Michelle Pavar

I listened to Dark Matter in audiobook form and it entranced me. An Artic expedition results in Jack being stranded in a rough, artic Winter alone, but he’s not alone. Haunting, tense and gripping throughout.

The Dead House by Dawn Kurtagich

Dead House is also a YA addition. A psychological, gory and original tale told from a variety of sources, including police interviews, video footage and the diary of Kaitlyn and Carly, a girl with multiple personalities.

House on Haunted Hill by Shirley Jackson

Shirley Jackson has a fantastic way of twisting the readers emotions and confusing them.  A classic tale of terror when a group of strangers go to Hill House to take part in a study. The reader is unsure whether this is a a real haunted house or the manifestations of one of the main character Eleanor’s mind.

Zom-B Series by Darren Shan

Zom-B series is a twelve book series, with an extra novella. I read the whole series of a period of months and when it finished, I was devastated to say goodbye to B Smith and the other characters like Mr. Dowling. Zombie filled and action packed, this also highlights more political themes like racism. I devoured this like warm brains.

The Fog by James Herbert

The Fog is a brilliant,  demented and grotesque book.  When the fog invades a small village in England and rapidly spreads, it drives people insane and makes them act on their most depraved and horrific instincts.

Gutted: Beautiful Horror Stories – edited by Doug Murano and Alexander Ward

This anthology from Crystal Lake Publishing re-kindled my love of the short story. Each story is unique, beautiful but also horrible. A mixture of poems and stories to entrance and disgust.

 

Turner by Karl Drinkwater

I knew that I’d love Turner from the moment I saw the bloody chainsaw on the cover.
I loved the isolated Welsh setting and the atmosphere of the village, reminded me of Summerville Island from The Wicker Man.  Three strangers fight for their lives on an isolated Welsh island where the locals are not welcoming.

Hannah by Shaun Horton

When Eli, Naomi and their two children return from a camping trip, strange occurrences start in their house and family pet Hannah starts acting viciously and strangely. I’m terrified of dogs, so this canine horror scared the beejaysus out of me.

The Beast House by Richard Laymon

In true Laymon style, this is gory, twisted, sexually charged and action packed. Thanks to my old library in Dungarvan, I discovered Laymon. Tourists come to visit the infamous Beast House, where multiple murders have occurred and get more than they bargain for.

The Silence of Ghosts by Jonathan Aycliffe

Dominic, a wounded former soldier,is sent to the countryside with partially deaf sister Octavia during the blitz. This has eerie scenes, an atmospheric creepy location and a sense of dread throughout.

This House is Haunted by John Boyne

By now, you can probably tell that I’m a fan of the classic ghost story. 👻 Governess Eliza arrives at Gaudlin Hall.  Abandoned children, unexplained occurrences and terrifying experiences await her.

 

Lockwood and Co.: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

This book is aimed at teens and is the perfect mix of scary and humourous. This is the first in the series where the team of courageous Lucy, the enigmatic Lockwood and Georges,  first start investigating hauntings across London. Hugely entertaining!

Ring by Koji Suzuki

This is the book that spawned the Ringu and Ring films. Again,  the first in a series, this story of a videotape that kills you seven days after you watch it is a tense and creepy horror.

The Ghosts of Magnificent Children by Caroline Busher

Though for younger readers, this book had to make the list, everyone knows that children love ghost stories! It was haunting and gripped me until the bittersweet ending. Four magnificent and gifted children are taken to Badblood’s circus, where a dark fate awaits them. 100 years later, their ghosts appear the Irish coast, where they befriend Rua, who must help them.

The Dead House by Billy O’Callaghan

Billy O’Callaghan’s first novel is a beautifully written ghost story. Set in the wilds of West Cork, a group of friends visited artist Maggie and try out a ouija board. Maggie unravels emotionally and artistically as the real, unseen terror unfolds. The clever, perfectly eeerie ending to this book will stay with the reader for long after the last last page.

Darkmere by Helen Maslin

Darkmere is a ghost story told in dual timelines by modern day Kate and nineteenth century young bride Elinor  and their experiences at Darkmere Castle. This a fun,  YA horror with a mix of romance, ghosts and mystery.

The Demon Road Trilogy by Derek Landy

When Amber turns sixteen, she finds out that she’s not the boring girl she thought, she’s also a beautiful red-horned demon. This is an epic rollercoaster of a journey as Amber and Milo travel across America to try to escape Amber’s parents. A brilliant trilogy featuring demonic bikers, vampires, undead serial killers and awesome characters

Zombie Girl Saga by Alessia Giacomi

This is the second atypical zombie series on the list. Eve Brenner goes on an archaeological dig with friends Akex and Cam, and is bitten by something that causes her to become a thinking zombie. This series was full of great action sequences and friendship, it reminded me of Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Hell House by Richard Matheson

It’s a very long time since I read this, but I can still remember the opening chapters and our introduction to the ominous Belasco House or Hell House. Four people are hired by a millionaire to enter the house and investigate the paranormal phenomena. Chilling and psychological, another classic ghost story.

The Haunting of Highdown Hall by Shani Struthers

This is a recent read for me and the Psychic surveys series is entertaining and scary. The series follows Ruby’s psychic investigations agency as they try to help trapped spirits. Each book has a great story at the heart and feisty characters.

The Other Side of the Wall by Andrea Mara

This is the only real thriller on the list. I had to add this as it’s the only book in a long time to really freak me out! One scene had me hiding under the covers and listening for noises downstairs.  Sylvia looks out her bedroom window at night and sees a child face down in the pond next door, she races into her neighbour’s garden. But the pond is empty, and no-one is answering the door…

Let the Right One In by John Ajvide Lindqvist

Vicious, strange, heartbreaking and bloody, a vampire novel unlike any other. Loner Oskar is befriended by new neighbour, the strange Eli, who never leaves the apartment during the day. The real horror in this unfolds as Oskar is horribly bullied. Utterly brilliant and disturbing.

Mr. Sparks by Danny Weston

Ventriloquist dummies have scared me ever since I came across Mr. Slappy in Goosebumps! Mr. Sparks is an even creepier character! After Owen’s father goes missing in the war and his Mother has a breakdown, he is left with his cruel aunt in her boarding house. Mr. Sparks shows him a way out, but soon it becomes  apparent that Mr. Sparks is not as friendly as he first seems. A tense, gripping and scary YA horror.

I’ve finally come to the end of my list! Have you ready any of these? What books really scared you?

Have a wicked Halloween! 🦇 🦇 🦇

 

Rapid Fire 🔥Fiction, Cork Short Story Festival

As most of you probably know, I’m a regular attendee of the monthly Fiction at the Friary event (you can read about it here.)

On 13 Sep, Fiction at the Friary organisers Danielle Mclaughlin and Madeleine D’Arcy brought their event to the Goldie Chapel in Nano Nagle Place, as part of Cork International Short Story festival.

The night kicked off at 7.30 with Danielle and Madeleine reading some of their own work, with Eimear Ryan of Banshee Literary magazine facilitating. I’m used to listening to them introducing other people’s work, so this was a lovely treat. Both ladies are masters of the short story, as they showed on the night.

Madeleine introduced us to Victor, an aging rock star, that you pitied and liked all at once. Vivid characters brought the piece to life. I’d love to hear about more about Victor’s escapades. Danielle read a piece of flash fiction, The Hook, told from a young girl’s point of view. This was an anxious, beautifully descriptive tale, with dark undertones.

During the Q&A session, we found out about their writing, inspirations, their editing processes and the writing community. They work brilliantly together and love hosting the monthly Fiction at the Friary events. This is no surprise to anyone who has been to the Friary Bar on the last Sunday of every month!

At 9.00pm the rapid fiction event started.

Rapid Fire Fiction

In the usual Fiction at the Friary style, jelly beans, marshmallows and Hula Hoops were in plentiful supply. Twenty writers, including myself,  read a two minute piece of fiction. As you can see from the listing below, I was surrounded by wonderful writers. I was in awe to be involved!

Rapid Fire Fiction

 

When each of us finished our piece, at the ring of the bell, we moved to a computer to write a completely original story, contributed to by everyone.

If you’d like to hear my piece, click on the link below. I will add the whole piece to the end of the post. My piece was flash fiction, aptly inspired by the Flash Fiction at the Friary event with Denyse Woods and Nuala O’Connor, hosted by Catherine Kirwan and Marie Gethins.

While our story was deciphered and edited to make some sense, special guest Nick Kelly took over on the altar with a song to revive the hard working writers.

I was excited and half dreading to hear our combined original story! After some much needed editing, Cork actor Kevin Power appeared with the printout of our story. He did a brilliant job of bringing the piece together. It was surreal and strange, with some hilarious parts, the star of the piece was a wheelie bin! Kevin definitely had the most difficult job of the night!

The wonderful evening continued with a warm, evocative short story by Colm MacManus, assisted in song by Colm Scully. The short stories continued,  as Nick returned to the stage to read a short story he had written twenty years before. The evening wrapped with a song from Nick about Andre the Giant and Samuel Beckett, which was definitely a story, as well as a song!

It was an amazing evening and such a pleasure to take part in, especially in such a magnificent venue as The Goldie Chapel in Nano Nagle Place. Thanks to Danielle and Madeleine for organising this event which showcased the beautiful short story in many forms.

Here is my piece of flash fiction from the night:

INFESTATION

It all started on the Ryanair flight back to Dublin from London. I hated flying, I said that aeroplanes were nasty hotbeds of infection. In turns out I was right, as always, my husband said.

Before the take-off, two rows in front of me, a man sat spluttering and coughing. I could almost feel the infectious drops flying towards me in the air. My husband said I was a hypochondriac. Mid-flight, a woman started retching and vomiting, commencing a domino of puke from rows 17 to 14. I was in row 10, but the disgustingly sweet smell still assaulted my nostrils.

At home, three days later, my husband started hacking and barking. I tried to ignore it, until it was followed by projectile vomiting. I went around sanitising, failing to notice the other changes until it was too late. The vomiting began at 8 in the morning and by 8 in the evening, he had started to dry out. His skin grew bumpy and grainy, seeds popped out of the tips of his fingers and ears. His breathing was suddenly laboured and he pleaded wordlessly at me with yellowing eyes. I rang for an ambulance and explained the symptoms. There was a pause before she told me that he was another victim of ‘The Shelling’. She asked me if I’d been watching the news. I replied no, it made me anxious.

He dried out to a dead, beige husk before my eyes and his breathing halted. I cried, but no tears came. A rasping cough erupted in my chest. Finally, I turned on the news. The pandemic of the Bushels virus, AKA, The Shelling, was spreading worldwide, with no cure. The had tried pesticides, but they just killed people faster. I lie and wait until I too become a shell.

 

A Big Week for the Corpse Bride

This week is shaping up to be a big one for me, with lots of happenings to keep me busy!

The week started with ‘Blood Eaters and Banshees’ yesterday in Killeena House in beautiful Baltimore.

Blood Blood Eaters and Banshees

This talk was part of A Taste of  West Cork Festival and was absolutely fascinating, himself even came along and thought the same. The talk focused on Ireland’s blood eating relationships, vampires, The Morrigan and Banshees. I’ll be doing a follow-up post on this soon.

This evening, I’m finally going to see the highly anticipated Stephen King’s IT.

It

I’ve been looking forward to this one for ages! I’ve been trying not to read reviews or posts on this until I make up my mind on it. I’ll let you know what I think, but it looks promising. The Losers are an excellent bunch of child actors and Pennywise looked terrifying in the promos. Let’s hope it’s good AND scary!

The biggest event of this week for me is reading a flash fiction piece at The Rapid Fire Fiction event in Goldie Chapel, Nano Nagle Place in Cork tomorrow evening.

I’m a regular attendee of the monthly Fiction at the Friary event and the organisers Danielle Mclaughlin and Madeleine D’Arcy are bringing their event to the Cork International Short Story festival.

To find out more about the event, click here.

The programme kicks off at 7.30 with Danielle and Madeleine reading their own works and taking over the spotlight, which will be great.

At 9.00 the rapid fiction event starts. Twenty writers, including Eimear Ryan, Susan Lanigan, E.R. Murray, Danny Denton, Catherine Kirwan and myself, will read a short piece of fiction and also write a short story on the night! I can’t wait to hear Cork actor Kevin Power read the final creation aloud. This is followed by a short story by Colm MacManus assisted by Colm Scully and a performance by special guest, Nick Kelly.

It promises to be an extremely special event. This will only be second time reading in public, the first was at last month’s Fiction at the Friary event, so wish me luck!

 

Living Like A Vampire: A Paranormal Romance (Suckers Book 1) #BookReview

I’d like to thank Jacky for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Best Read

In the depth of a black night, when all horrors seem possible.

About the Book

It is October 2004 and the world is plagued by a virus outbreak that turns people into super-strong, photo-phobic blood-suckers. Kate is a young science teacher living in a country town in Maine (US) and she doesn’t have any plans to become a ‘sucker.’ 

When it looks like suckers are nearing her hometown, Kate and her friends flee to a campground to hide from the pandemic. They thought they were safe there.

Then things go wrong. Very wrong.

Kate is thrown into emotional turmoil, action, and suspense. To top it all off she falls in love with one of the suckers.

Will love win her over to the dark side?

My Thoughts on Suckers

During Black October, an infection swarms through the human population, turning people into Suckers.

I really liked the premise of this book and the new term Suckers or succedaneums. I could imagine how easily an epidemic like this could spread in today’s world.

The story focuses around three friends – Sue, Charlie and the main character Kate. I loved the dynamic of their friendship.

There was action and drama galore in this book, but I’m a bit of a gore whore and I would have liked to see more bloody scenes.

A negative for this book was that the main character, Kate, fell in love too easily, too fast. Maybe it’s the realist in me, but I’m not a lover of romance novels or films in general, so I’m probably alone in thinking this.

The story made lots of twists and turns later in the book, which I really enjoyed. I especially liked the changes to Kate and the transformation of her relationship with her friends.

The book ended on a hopeful note, but I have a feeling that more trouble lies ahead for Kate and Charlie as Suckers: Book 2 Raising a Vampire is out now!

Purchase link:

To buy book 1 click here.

To buy book 2 click here.