Sunday, October 30, 2011

7 'Flashlight Worthy' Novels Featuring Spooky Houses

Just in Time for Halloween

Here at Flashlight Worthy Headquarters we've sifted through our dusty archives of 404 lists of book recommendations for some Halloween-appropriate book lists. The first that reared its spooky head is this list of  Books Set in Creepy Houses.

Anna Claire Vollers, who wrote the list, had this to say: 

Abandoned buildings, locked doors and underground passageways: they just beg for an amateur sleuth to investigate. Ever since I first read Harriet the Spy in elementary school, I've been captivated by the idea of uncovering what's hidden. You never know what you'll find: cobwebs, dead bodies, spare relatives... and it must be noted here that all the best houses, suffused as they are with evil, burn to the ground in the end. It's a universal truth.

This book list could be pages long, but below are some of my favorites, the perfect books to read on a dark and stormy night, as you're huddled under your blankets (with a flashlight, of course), clutching your book in a white-knuckled grip.

Oh, and while we here at Flashlight Worthy haven't read all the books on the list below, when it comes to the creepiest house ever encountered in a book? 

We agree that it has to be this book from Stephen King.

Manderley is second-in-command in the creepy house triumvirate. It is a place suffocated by the memory of its first mistress, Rebecca de Winter, whom everyone assumed was nothing short of perfect. The newly-married, inexperienced second Mrs. de Winter gradually unravels the mystery surrounding Rebecca's death even as she tries in vain to emulate her in life. The malevolent housekeeper Mrs. Danvers constantly interrupts her snooping, and Mrs. de Winter's moody husband does little to help as the life they've built at Manderley spirals out of control.

Completing the triumverate is the unnamed house in Christie's best-known work. Ten people are lured to the house, located on a small island, and then trapped there with no way of escape. It becomes a matter of life and death as the characters search the house and surrounding island for the killer who's murdering them one by one.

It's not a novel, but definitely worth including on this list. Poe masterfully creates a decaying house that's as much a character as any of its disturbed inhabitants. The shadowy rooms, the suffocating tomb and the near-sentient vegetation surrounding the house contribute to an all-pervading malevolence. It is the house itself that makes the story so frightening and one of Poe's best.

It's a lavish, darkly comic nod to classic British mysteries like And Then There Were None. Private investigator Cordelia Gray is trapped on an island, alone in a castle full of necrophilic objects and an odd assortment of people who each have their own sinister secrets. After the first murder, it's up to Cordelia to find the truth--no matter how many underground passageways and skull-filled crypts it takes.

Famous author and recluse Vida Winter has finally chosen to tell her life story to biographer Margaret Lea. Winter lives at the crumbling, haunted estate at Angelfield, where Margaret must do some investigating of her own in order to unspool the truth from a woman guarding dark family secrets that span generations. As Winter spins her tale of other-worldly twins, an abandoned baby and an unsettled ghost, Margaret comes to realize the living inhabitants at Angelfield are just as frightening as the dead.

If you're looking for something scarier than the books above, look no further. The Haunting of Hill House is frightening in its simplicity, subtlety and lack of actual ghosts or monsters. When a ghost hunt is organized at the malevolent Hill House, the hunters little expect the terror to come from exploring the house and grounds. Eleanor's disturbing emotional deterioration intensifies an already harrowing tale.

Thornfield is the head of the literary triumvirate of creepy houses. Mysterious laughter, sinister servants and a brooding, passionate Mr. Rochester make it impossible for Jane to stay in her room at night. When she awakes in the dark to find a deranged woman slowly ripping her wedding veil in half. As you read, just remember to breathe.

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