The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

October 22, 2012

Danya Walker: Halloween a good time for bone-chilling books

By Danya Walker
Globe Columnist

JOPLIN, Mo. — As the calendar moves closer and closer to Halloween, I always have a tendency to read some old favorites for scary thrills. So I thought it might be fun to share some of my favorite picks. These titles should be creepy enough to have you looking over your shoulder and jumping at every little noise.

One of my must reads is “It” by Stephen King. I was in high school the first time I read this book. I pretty much devoured it, and after finishing it late at night, I was nearly too scared to sleep. Pennywise is one of the most horrifying characters in literature. As if clowns aren’t scary enough, he is a near-immortal clown who likes to kill kids.

Members of my family say the quote, “We all float down here, Georgie,” at random times, including whenever we step over a storm drain. The first time my oldest daughter, Renee, fell into a storm drain partway (I say first time because she’s done it more than once), I can remember telling her to pull her leg out before the clown got her.

Renee had no idea what I was talking about. But when I told her about the book, she couldn’t wait to read it. I made her wait until her 13th birthday, when I gave her a copy of the book as a present.

It’s one of those books that will always have a place on my bookcase. It gets pulled out every year or so when I want a familiar, terrifying read. The movie is a treat as well, especially since I had a little bit of a crush on Richard Thomas from he was on “The Waltons,” and nobody portrays a horrifying clown better than Tim Curry.


“Seance for a Vampire” by Fred Saberhagen is another delightfully creepy read, which features not only Dracula, but also Sherlock Holmes. I am a big fan of both, so when you combine the two, it’s a book that I can’t miss out on.

Sherlock goes missing during a seance, and Dr. Watson calls on Dracula to help find him. Throwing in a pirate legend and buried treasure makes the book an entertaining read.

I’ve read a lot of the mashup books featuring these different characters, including one where Sherlock Holmes meets the Phantom of the Opera. These books can be a little hokey but are still fun reads, especially at this time of year.

A book that I consider one of the scariest I’ve ever read would be “Where Are the Children” by Mary Higgins Clark. This is another one that I read as a teenager and was creeped out. But reading it as a mom, I’m always downright terrified.

The main character had her life destroyed when her two children died, and she was found guilty of killing them. She rebuilds her life, finds a new love and has two beautiful children. Then she looks outside one day and they’re gone. Just describing this book makes chills run up and down my spine.

I don’t limit my horror books to just this time of year. But there is something about being curled up on the couch, listening to the wind blow and the leaves rustle on a dark, fall evening that makes a scary book all the more deliciously dreadful. These books, plus many more frightening reads, can be found at the Joplin Public Library.

Danya Walker is the assistant circulation supervisor at the Joplin Public Library.