Halloween. Not sure it was ever my holiday. Sure I like dressing up but I grew up outside of town; door to door trick or treating was something other kids did. I also don’t have a lot of knowledge of horror films. If I started listing my favorites you would get a couple of Hitchcock films and the realization I don’t really know any others. I like Young Frankenstein and Nightmare Before Christmas, but that would be a boring post.
This being a book blog I should post a few scary reads. But much like in cinema I just don’t read horror. Because scary books scare me, duh. But I think doing a Halloween post is pretty much a requirement if you have a blog. So why not?
Here are a couple of my favorite non-horror books that still somewhat fit the typical Halloween parameters. Read them. Or be plagued by malevolent spirits. Your choice really.
The Circus of Dr Lao by Charles G. Finney –I have shouted the praises of this book out on just about every internet forum I have ever been part of. I have a confession, I didn’t like Something Wicked This Way Comes. Too simplistic, too transparent, too much Power of Love(queue Huey Lewis). No when it comes to carnival’s of the strange I much prefer that of the incredible Dr Lao.
Start your day off with a parade consisting of three floats. It would be laughable if anyone could agree on what they saw. Was that a bear or a man in the cage? Just how big can a snake be? What else should a sleepy Arizona town do but turn out and check this strange man’s carnival out?
The Circus of Dr Lao is a wonderful little book that shows a town true wonders – and watches them go back to their daily lives. Imaginative and fun, full of wonder and just a hint of melancholy. Infuriating at what it won’t show you, this book can be a bit of a tease. Name another book that has an appendix pointing out irregularities and obvious errors.
It was written in 1935 but if I tagged Neil Gaiman’s name on a copy and passed it around I bet it would fool more than one.
Johannes Cabal the Necromancer by Jonathan L Howard- We just keep coming back to Something Wicked This Way Comes comparisons don’t we? Another evil traveling carnival but this time from the viewpoint of a truly despicable man. Johannes wants something and the only who can help him get it is Satin. Easy enough.
To enjoy this story you have to be okay with following around a horrible person as he tries to bag souls for the man downstairs. The joy comes from the inventive way he uses his carnival to suck in rubes; and watching him play games with hell along the way.
The series takes a bit of a steampunk turn in the second book, then goes right back to horror in a journey through the Lovecraftian Dreamlands. But with more humor than scary tentacled monsters; always a plus.
A Dirty Job or Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore- I have read a lot of Moore and he has a couple of books that fit the Halloween them. Both are absurd, hilarious, and slightly demented. A Dirty Job is about a man trying his best to raise a baby girl who just might be the living incarnation of Death. The first half of the book is one of the funniest things I have ever read (though like many of Moore’s works it starts to bog down in the end).
Bloodsucking Fiends is a vampire parody that is actually funny. It has it all, even if the things that go bump in the night are frozen turkeys being used as bowling balls during the night shift. And it has the better ending of the two books. It was followed by two sequels though, I would recommend avoiding those.