All Hallows Read is a recently invented Winter tradition, which invites people to give away a spooky book to someone they think would get a kick out of it. Invented by novelist (and creator of all sorts of scary stories) Neil Gaiman, the genius of this idea is that almost everyone likes a book as a gift; it can be for anyone and it doesn’t have to be a new book. (It should be noted that All Hallows Read is not intended to replace sweets as a gift for Trick or Treaters; you can try it if you like, but you may end up with your home covered in toilet paper.)
If you’re stuck for ideas for some books to give away this Halloween, we’ve provided a top ten of some of our favourites. We’ve mixed it up a bit, but there’s definitely something here for everyone.
1) The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman – Originally conceived as a version of The Jungle Book, but with ghosts, this child friendly tale of murder and the supernatural does not mess about. Dark, funny and sweet, if there’s a ten-year old in your life who likes the spookier sort of things, then they will devour this.
2) Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig – Filled to the brim with foul language, gruesome death and an awful lot of peril, this one is not for children. Blackbirds follows the adventures of Miriam Black, a young lady cursed with the power to see what fate has in store for anyone she touches; specifically, she knows how people will die. Wackiness, adventure and mayhem ensues when she tries to break the rules. It’s both cinematic and American in feel, and recommended for those who like their horror gorey.
3) IT by Stephen King – Stephen King’s classic tale of childhood fear and the horrors that prey on them is probably responsible for more than one case of Coulrophobia; the fear of clowns. Like all of King’s text, it’s not a small book and it is a pretty epic, time-spanning tale. However, it will stay with you, and is well worth a solid winter read.
4) I am Legend by Richard Matheson - It would hardly be a list of spooky books without a vampire story, and this is one of the best. Robert Neville is the sole survival of an apocalypse which has resulted in world filled with vampires. Forget the movie of the same name (or even the Charlton Heston movie Omega Man) and pick up the real deal instead, it’s well worth your time.
5) The 13th Horseman by Barry Hutchinson – Hutchinson’s anarchic Afterworlds series kicks off with this extremely silly tale of a young boy accidentally picking up the role of Death, and finding himself leading the Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Aimed firmly at kids who are about to become teenagers, it’s filled with very silly and extremely puerile humour, with just enough spookiness to make it qualify for this list.
6) Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman – Staying on the topic of the end of the world, Good Omens asks the very simple question; what if the Anti-Christ was born and raised in a sleepy English village? The result mixes Pratchett’s classic wit with Gaiman’s dream-like darkness to create something that is both hilarious and poignant. Though thoroughly British, the authors have filled the book with plenty of footnotes for those who are not fortunate enough to come from the UK.
7) The Books of Blood by Clive Barker – Before Barker started producing exceptionally long and overly elaborate novels, he poured a lot of his terrifying vision of the world into sort stories. They never fail to be disturbing, and are filled with twisted minds and bodies all the way through. If you know someone who likes tales of giants made of human bodies and people melted into suitcases, then The Books of Blood are a great All Hallow’s Read gift.
8) Department 19 by Will Hill – The Department 19 series of books is aimed firmly at teenagers and young adults, and the adventures of schoolboy turned monster hunter Jamie Carpenter are action packed fun. Older readers will recognise many of the tropes and ideas here, but that’s the point; Hill packs as much supernatural into his pages as possible, introducing the younger reader to the world of horror in an explosive and action packed way.
9) Blood and Feathers by Lou Morgan – If supernatural action tales are your thing, Lou Morgan’s tale of angels walking the Earth might be worth your time. Starting out with a pit to hell opening up in a sleepy town and getting more scary from that point on, there’s a lot to love here, especially if you like TV shows such as Supernatural.
10) The Walking Dead – Robert Kirkman. This award-winning and best selling comic book series is essentially a complex post apocalyptic soap opera. This is the comic that inspired the TV series, and the two deviate from each other in some fairly significant ways. Though you shouldn’t try and read the entire 20 volume series in one sitting though, you’ll never sleep again.
More information on All Hallow’s Read can be found here.