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Thursday, October 28, 2010

All Hallow's Read--Halloween Recommendations

For me Halloween means two things: pumpkins and vampires.

I often reread Bram Stoker's Dracula for Halloween.  It was the first "grown up" book that captured my imagination and ignited a life-long passion for reading.  My appreciation of it grows with each rereading.

Over 600 pages of Dracula Galore!
Last year I spent the holiday with a cool gift that my partner bought me at Read Between the Lynes when we were up in Woodstock, IL for our annual pumpkin pilgrimage.  The gift was The New Annotated Dracula by Leslie S. Klinger, which I highly recommend for all vampire enthusiasts.  Neil Gaiman wrote the introduction to this tome.

Speaking of Mr. Gaiman, he's also trying to start a new tradition of scary book giving on Halloween and is calling it All Hallow’s Read.  I found out about it via a tweet by Joe Hill and you can read the post that started it all here.

And here's a neat idea for the Halloween season--you can watch and listen to Neil Gaiman reading The Graveyard Book here.  I haven't read the book yet, though its been on my list since it came out a couple years ago.  Each chapter is contained in its own video file so you can easily plan your viewing schedule or watch/listen to a favorite chapter.  It looks like viewing time for a chapter runs between 25-70 minutes.  The Graveyard Book is a novel for children so it would be appropriate reading (or viewing) for the whole family.  The novel won both the Hugo and Newbery Awards.

But as for my reading this Halloween season, I'm resisting the pull to reread Stoker's Dracula and am going to try it as a graphic novel instead.  I've not yet been able to read a complete graphic novel.  I lose interest in them pretty quickly.  This seems odd to me because I loved comic books when I was a kid (Sgt. Rock and Spiderman were my favorites).

Marvel Comics Dracula
DC Comics American Vampire
So I've checked out a copy of the new Marvel Comics Dracula adapted by Roy Thomas and Dick Giordano.  I already know I love the story, so I'm thinking this might be a way in to graphic novels for me.  I also checked out a copy of DC Comics American Vampire by Scott Snyder & Stephen King.  Both books were just released this month and should be available at your local bookstore.

I'm also adding The Castle in Transylvania by Jules Verne to my reading list. 

Some Halloween recommendations:

Fangland by John Marks
This is the hardcover edition.
Much cooler than the paperback.
I read Fangland when it first came out in 2007.  The cover caught my eye.  Fangland is a literary vampire novel and it was the first novel that I recall reading that incorporates the destruction and devastation of 9/11.  It pays homage to Stoker's Dracula in both content and style and has some truly creepy moments that stick with me three years later.  I highly recommend it if you're a Stoker fan.  If you're not a Stoker fan or don't like epistolary novels, you might have a challenge with it, but give it a shot anyway.  If you haven't heard of Fangland I'm not surprised.  Some bookstores shelved it in the literature section where horror fans would not stumble across it while browsing and many literary fiction readers poo-poo vampire books (I said 'many,' not 'all') so it didn't catch on via word of mouth.  It will see some light again soon, however, because its being made into a movie produced by Hilary Swank, directed by John Carpenter with a screenplay written by Mark Wheaton.

1st edition cover
Salem's Lot by Stephen King
I have no written record of my early reading years, but in my memory I read Salem's Lot right after reading Dracula.  I went to the bookstore with my Dad and browsed the shelves looking for a good vampire novel and stumbled upon it.  Then, as now, I like my vampires to be nasty & scary.  The current popular romantic vampire craze doesn't appeal to me although I did read book one of Stephenie Myer's Twilight series to see what the fuss was all about.  I also read the first book in the Chicagoland Vampires series and will probably read more of those because they're set in Chicago.  Anyway, Salem's Lot it a hell of a vampire story.  It will scare you.  It will creep you out.  There's even a few film versions you can watch.  It scared me as a kid and it scared me as an adult when I reread it a few years ago.


There are of course tons of teen vampire options out there these days, and I already mentioned the Chicagoland Vampires series by Chloe Neill.  At the bookstore where I work its shelved in the adult sci/fi section, but I think its appropriate for older teens (at least the first book is, anyway).  I recommend this series to Charlaine Harris fans and several have returned for a second and now third helping.  I haven't read any Charlaine Harris novels yet, but from describing Some Girls Bite (the first in the series) to a customer who is a big Harris fan she said it sounded like it would be up her alley, and it was.  I wrote a post on Some Girls Bite in April 2010 that you can check out here.

If you're looking for something for a pre-teen kid I recommend Kate Cary's Bloodline.  If the name sounds familiar its because Ms. Cary also writes the hugely popular Warriors series about four clans of wild cats.  Bloodline and its sequel Reckoning carry on the saga of Dracula's bloodline.  Quincey Harker a captain in the trenches of World War I?  Beautiful transition between generations.  Bravo Ms. Cary!

If you're looking for books for even younger kids,
all bookstores that carry kids books will have a display full of picture books for little ones and don't forget your local library as an option, too.

Happy All Hallow's Read Everyone! 

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