Fall Reading = Best Reading

Fall Reading

I love it when September is almost over. The end of September means October (the best month) is right around the corner, along with beautiful fall weather, 100 shades of orange, pumpkin-flavoured everything, and long evenings filled with reading.

Fall has always been my favourite time of the year to read in. There’s nothing better than curling up with a good book once the days start to get shorter.

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Review: Halloween Reads, Part III

Halloween is tomorrow (!!!!!!), so let’s celebrate by reading/sharing/talking about some more scary books.

The Graveyard Book, Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens lives in a graveyard.

When he was a toddler, both of his parents and older sister were murdered by a mysterious man. Bod (as he likes to be called) escapes this attacker and wanders down the street towards the graveyard that is adjacent to his home. The local ghosts bring him in, and his guardian, Silas, promises to be there for him until he is a young man. 

Bod is not allowed to leave the graveyard; the mysterious man who killed his family, who Bod later learns has dark hair and is named Jack, might still be out there. All of the ghosts in the graveyard help raise him, and teach him everything they know: from dream-walking to fading, and how to read and write.

Over time, however, Bod becomes more curious about the world outside the graveyard, which results in him leaving, and coming face to face with the Order called the Jack of All Trades. This then allows him to learn the true fate of his real family, and face those that have been looking for him since birth.

The Graveyard Book spins a supernatural tale, and will make you laugh while also giving you a slight bout of the creeps. The most mysterious part of the book, though, is Bod’s guardian, Silas.

Silas is very secretive, and never reveals much about his life to Bod. What we do know is that he often sleeps during the day, is unable to see his reflection, and, during the Danse Macabre, he explains to Bod that he is neither living nor dead. Based on these facts, I’m pretty sure that he’s actually a vampire.

Even though The Graveyard Book is technically a children’s novel, I’d still recommend it to anyone looking for a lighter, spookier read. Plus, it’s Neil Gaiman, so you know it’s going to be good. The book also has extra awesomeness because it’s illustrated by Dave McKean. 


Bird Box, Josh Malerman

Imagine living in a world where you can’t open your eyes. If you do, you might see it. You’re not sure what “it” is, but seeing it will drive you insane to the point of committing brutal violence and inevitable death. In order to survive you must stay indoors, with all windows boarded and covered up.

This is the world that Josh Malerman has created in his debut novel, Bird Box.

Weird, unexplained events started in Russia, and eventually begin happening elsewhere. Reports say that people see creatures, and then, within minutes, end up dead. No one knows what these creatures look like, or why they cause humans to go insane.

Malorie and her two young children have finally left their home to look for other survivors, but will they make it there while blindfolded?

The story focuses on their journey, and includes several flashbacks explaining how the world sunk into violent chaos over the past four years. No detail of the mysterious creatures are given, so your imagination runs wild with possibilities of what they might look like.

Read this book if you want to experience a psychological rollercoaster. You never know what’s going to happen when you turn the next page.


Review: Halloween Reads, Part II

Growing up, one of my favourite Halloween movies was Disney’s The Adventures of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1948). I don’t really remember what Mr. Toad was about, but I do remember being terrified of the Headless Horseman. Although, my fear of a ghost with a jack-o-lantern for a head didn’t stop me from watching the cartoon multiple times a year. For anyone who hasn’t seen this cinematic adventure, you can watch the full version on YouTube.

I’ve never watched any modern adaptations of Washington Irving’s short story, so my only encounter with the Headless Horseman was through Disney. That is, until this year, when I decided to finally sit down and read this ghostly tale.

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“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” was first published in 1820 as part of Irving’s collection, The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. When The Sketch Book was first released, it was published under Irving’s pseudonym, Geoffrey Crayon, which he used throughout most of his literary career. Irving wrote much of this collection when he was travelling throughout England. During his time abroad he dabbled in other forms of literature and storytelling, including German folklore, which undoubtably contributed to the creation of his later stories, including “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.”

The small town of Sleepy Hollow is immediately set as a superstitious locale. The townspeople often share stories of ghosts, demons and witchcraft, and many genuinely believe that they witness spectral events at night.

Ichabod Crane, schoolmaster of Sleepy Hollow, spends his spare time reading The History of New England Witchcraft, by Cotton Mather, who was a key figure in the Salem Witch Trials. Irving was writing just over 100 years after the Salem Witch Trials, so it’s not surprising that his small, albeit fictional, Puritan town is still reeling over the possibility of witches and demons. Ichabod, who is described as being highly superstitious, sings psalms to himself at night while walking home in the hopes of warding off whatever evilness might be attempting to ail him.

But what happens to poor Ichabod? As many know, he encounters the Headless Horseman on his way home from a party, where he was trying to woo the town sweetheart, Katrina Van Tassel. While at this function, Brom Bones, a well-known prankster from town, shares stories about Sleepy Hollow’s most popular ghost: the Headless Horseman. Many believe that this ghost is a soldier from the American Revolution who is looking for his lost head.

Headless Horseman

The tales woven by Brom Bones are so intricate and detailed that they undoubtably frighten Ichabod. He begins to worry about whether or not this frightful spectral is in fact real, and if he will encounter it on his way home later that evening. 

Of course he will.

But the ending of the story doesn’t simply tell of Ichabod’s ghostly disappearance. Or does it? The reader is left with two endings to ponder: does the Headless Horseman whisk Ichabod away, or was Ichabod able to escape and start a new life elsewhere? The only evidence left is his hat and a smashed pumpkin.

In roughly 25 pages, Irving takes you on an eerie adventure, complete with ghosts and demons. His descriptions are so vivid that you’re able to place yourself in Sleepy Hollow amongst the characters, and easily envision their fears. With such detailed descriptions, the reader is able to decide for themselves if the Headless Horseman is in fact real, or a legend. The answer, of course, depends on how convinced you are of Irving’s writing.

You should read this short story if you’re looking for a spooky read that will take under an hour to get through.

Review: Halloween Reads, Part I

October is my favourite month. It ushers in fall weather, bulky sweaters, pumpkins, colourful and crunchy leaves, and most important of all, Halloween.

Growing up, Halloween was just as (if not more) important than Christmas. Our house would be decorated inside and out, and my mum would make my brothers and I whatever costumes we could dream of. One year, while every other girl was dressed up as beautiful Disney princesses, I opted to go as Dead Snow White. One year, one of my brothers went as a box of Fruit Loops — he actually wore a cardboard box that was so huge he couldn’t walk up stairs to get to people’s front doors. And of course, who could forget my youngest brother’s favourite costume: a handmade Godzilla suit.

Even now as a twenty-something, Halloween is the best. Costumes, decorations and spooky stories have always filled my Octobers, so I naturally feel the need to share some of my favourites.

The Halloween Tree, Ray Bradbury


Bradbury’s novels and short stories are filled with elements of fantasy, sci-fi and horror, which make them natural go-to reads for the Halloween season. The Halloween Tree, however, is written as a children’s story, so it’s not likely to scare your pants off. It focuses on the story of eight young boys, lead by Tom Skelton, who set out to go trick-or-treating. When they notice one member of their group, Pipkin, has gone missing they set out on an eerie adventure to find him.

Pipkin’s disappearance was noticed when the group arrived at a seemingly haunted house owned by the mysterious Carapace Clavicle Moundshroud. He offers to help them find Pipkin, and takes them back in time to discover the ancient customs and traditions of Halloween, and trace its history through the ages. The boys quickly learn that October 31 is not just a night to get free candy; rather, it is a celebration of life and death, and the transcendence of the living and spiritual worlds.

There is a Halloween Tree, which stands on Moundshroud’s property, and it is filled with pumpkins rather than leaves. Its intricate branches represent the diverse history of Halloween traditions and links them all together. While the holiday holds different meanings to different groups, it is still rooted in the same ideas.

Bradbury’s story is beautifully written; it is thrilling, detailed and eerie. The Halloween Tree takes you on an adventure through dark corners and dusty halls. It is a prime example of Bradbury’s literary genius, and tosses you into his world of dark fantasy. The book is also illustrated, and the images match the eerie descriptions of each scene. 

You should read this book if you love Halloween.