As Halloween approaches, the Seren team share some of their favourite spooky books!
Amy | Poetry Editor
“Damian Walford-Davies’ poetic play-for-voices Witch, is a profoundly disturbing portrait of a village in Suffolk in the throes of the witchcraft hunts of the 17th century.
I was lucky enough to see a debut performance of this in the Aberystwyth Arts Centre where some terrific poets like Matthew Francis and Tiffany Atkinson played some of the main parts of the villagers slowly succumbing to the tense atmosphere as they became embroiled in suspicion and counter-accusation. I agree with Bernard O’Donoghue who calls Witch ‘an unsettling and original masterpiece, addressing our world as much as 1640s England.’”
Rosie | Marketing Officer
“I love all things Gothic and ghosty, so picking one story to talk about was a pretty hard task.
The one I keep going back to isn’t technically a ghost story at all, but is possessed with an overpowering sense of haunting– I’m talking about Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
Du Maurier is an absolute genius and (IMHO) Rebecca is her most well-known novel for a very good reason. The story is so compelling that if I had to choose between carrying on reading and free pizza, I might just pass on the pizza. Shocking, I know.
What I love most about Rebecca is that even though we never gain a full picture of the title character, she pervades every aspect of the story as an inescapable, mystifying presence. The narrator’s recurring self-doubts and feelings of inadequacy make her truly relatable, too. Definitely one to take a look at if you haven’t already!”
“I don’t tend to read much horror because I’m a huge wuss; I don’t even like watching Shaun of the Dead on my own. That being said, I’ve always loved spooky stories, particularly ghost stories. We like scaring ourselves.
I’m sure Freud would have a lot to say about that.
Ghost stories, particularly ghost stories set in decrepit houses, are my favourite kind of spooky read for Halloween. I recently read The Little Stranger by Sarah Waters and adored it; I love its setting of post-war Britain, of a time in which the aristocracy were beginning to fade away and lose their place in society, and I love its atmosphere. Atmosphere is what makes a ghost story for me, and it seeps from the pages of this book. It reminded me of Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, another favourite of mine, in that the house is as much a character as it is a setting. It’s a brilliant book – give it a read!”
Rebecca | Editorial Assistant for Poetry Wales
“Around this time each year I dig out an old battered copy of M.R. James’ Collected Ghost Stories and read about three or four and then put the book away again for the following year. I do this because they are so good, I want to savour the collection for as long as possible. This year I will have read the final few. What will I do next year? Probably start from the beginning again!”
What are some of your favourite reads for the spooky season?