Green River Star -

By Jacquie Kramer
Sweetwater County Library System 

Halloween tales at the county library system

 


Halloween is only three days away!

I hope you’ve stocked up on fun-sized candy bars and have your costume all ready to go.

I have many great childhood memories of Halloween. My mom used to sew all of my costumes throughout elementary school. I was Pocahontas, Jasmine (from “Aladdin”), an Olympic figure skater, a clown, a mummy, a sorcerer, and a number of other great and original entities. I always felt proud to wear my mother’s creations.

I also remember the Halloween Blizzard of 1991 in Minnesota – where I grew up. I remember bundling up in snow pants, a thick puffy coat, a hat, mittens and boots. My costume that year was pretty much lost under all that padding – to my chagrin. I remember getting home from trick-or-treating and stepping into a huge pile of snow outside the car. After all was said and done, the storm dropped over three feet of ice and snow. If I remember correctly, I was happy to have a couple of snow days off from school.

I grew up on a farm outside a very small town in central Minnesota. My paternal grandparents lived right inside the town and were in walking distance from the school I attended. Every Halloween, my grandma would buy hundreds of dollars worth of Halloween candy – she always had the best kinds and was the most generous in doling it out. I remember her keeping track of all the trick-or-treaters on a notepad every year. By the end of the night she was exhausted, and the tally marks totaled hundreds of costumed children.

Now that I’m a bit older, I don’t take part in the trick-or-treating scene, but I do enjoy a good scary movie or suspenseful story. Over the years, I’ve read a few such books that I’d like to tell you about – just in case you’d like to pay homage to the Halloween season and read such a tale.

As far as classic literary horror/gothic novels go, I encourage you to look for Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The House of Seven Gables.” I happened to have read this book in college. It explores the supernatural and witchcraft. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s ancestors had roles in the Salem Witch Trials in the 17th century, and this book is said to comment on Hawthorne’s own struggle with guilt over that fact.

Another couple of classic gothic novels are Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.” I became familiar with these two works in high school and college. Frankenstein is a great novel to read if you aren’t familiar with the origins of the Frankenstein story. “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” explores the concept of split personalities with a little science-fiction twist. The tale has also influenced the creation of characters such as The Hulk, Two-Face, and the premise of a double-life in the superhero genre.

If your tastes run a little more current, check out Stephen King’s large catalog of horror writings. I think the first Stephen King novel I read was “Carrie,” which also happens to be King’s first published novel, having been released in 1974.

The book chronicles the title character’s use of telekinetic powers to punish her classmates who have bullied and tormented her. “Carrie” is a frequently challenged book and is one of the creepiest books I’ve read.

You might want to check out Stephen King’s son, Joe Hill’s book “Horns.” This book is characterized as a dark fantasy and follows the main character after he awakens one morning and finds that a pair of horns have grown upon his head. Along with the newly grown horns, he discovers that he now possesses some interesting powers. In 2014, a film based on this book was released with Daniel Radcliffe portraying the main character. This movie is a far cry from his Harry Potter days, just beware.

These are a few of the books I’ve read that stay true to what I would consider a Halloween-like tone. Happy reading and happy Halloween to you all. I hope the snow stays away.

 

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