Charlie Higson, author of such young adult thrillers asThe Enemy, The Fear, and most recentlyThe Sacrifice, provides a rundown of other creepy reads perfect for Halloween season.
I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
Matheson, who died recently, was one of the writers who dragged horror into the modern world, setting his books not in fogbound victorian London or gloomy medieval castles but in modern, everyday America. This often-filmed novel was a big influence on, among others, George Romero, for whom it was the inspiration for Night of the Living Dead, the first cannibal zombie apocalypse film. The lone hero, the last surviving non-infected human, spends his days 'staking' his neighbors who have been infected with vampirism. Scary, realistic, and with a thought-provoking ending.
Draculaby Bram Stoker
If you like your blood suckers more traditional and you’ve never read this book, why not? Everything we know and love about vampires comes from this book. Frankenstein is quite hard work, and (whisper it) quite boring, but Dracula is still a great read. Starting in Transylvania it moves to England as Dracula leaves his ancestral home in search of fresh prey…
The Shining by Stephen King
Under the spell of the haunted Outlook Hotel Jack Torrance slowly becomes a threat to his family, including his psychic son, Danny. King is probably the most popular horror author of all time. His early work is brilliant and genuinely terrifying. If you thought the film of The Shining was scary you should read the book. Which is really scary. Okay, so it’s written for adults, but teens love horror (both male and female) and it's a great transition genre between kids' fiction and adult fiction, dealing, as it does, with very adult issues but behind the veil of fantasy.
Will Storr vs The Supernatural by Will Storr
A factual book, not fiction, but somehow that makes it all the more frightening. My 16-year-old found this book too terrifying to finish, but it hasn't stopped him recommending it to all his friends. Journalist Storr investigates the reality of ghosts, demons, possession, and all things supernatural. By turns scary and hilarious it will have you flipping between laughing at the weird people Storr meets and believing them.
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
Maberry’s series (of which this is the first book) starts a few years after the zombie apocalypse, when American have learned to live with the undead. Safe within their fenced-in compounds, the non-infected go about their daily business, but teenager Benny Imura has to leave town and go zombie hunting in the ‘Rot and Ruin’ of the title. A realistic look at what might happen if zombies really did attack.
Undeadby Kirsty McKay
Some Brit horror now. Indeed, Scottish horror. This is largely set on a broken-down school bus as a group of teens and their teachers returning from a school trip in snowy Scotland start turning into zombies. Genuinely scary, and funny too.
Uncle Montague's Tales of Terror by Chris Priestley
Chris Priestley has written a brilliant series of horror stories for slightly younger readers, but they still gave me the shivers and I'm a middle-aged man! This is his first collection. A boy goes to visit his creepy uncle, who tells him some creepy tales… but is there more to Uncle Monty than meets the eye?