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4 Reads for Hallow’s Eve

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Horror movies not doing it for you? We look at four books that are perfect for a night in while a storm rages outsides this Hallow’s Eve. Also, you get to skip dressing up…

hallow's eve

The Taxidermist’s Daugher by Kate Mosse

Kate Mosse has been on our genre-fiction reading list ever since Labyrinth, the intelligent person’s holy grail conspiracy novel, nearly a decade ago. This time round she’s bringing gothic spookiness in this tale about a taxidermist’s daughter. Cue creepy descriptions and stuffed birds as metaphors. Constantia Gifford is trying to help her father’s business survive in pre-war Sussex when a woman’s corpse shows up garroted with taxidermist’s wire in the small village. If you’re looking for a well-written yarn that will leave you with a fairly good knowledge of how people immortalised their dead pets in the early 20th century, then this is your next buy.

Jeanne Sutton, Junior Editor, Image.ie, @jeannedesutun

hallow's eve

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

The Turn of the Screw is part of the canon, but that doesn’t mean it belongs in your dusty leaving certificate reading pile. This short novel tells the story of a governess who finds herself looking after two children in a remote mansion when all manner of weirdness starts happening. Old fashioned chills with corsets.

Jeanne Sutton, Junior Editor, Image.ie, @jeannedesutun

hallow's eve

The Quick by Lauren Owen

Victorian London? Check. Handsome aristocrats? Check. A nearly abandoned rural mansion? Check. Un unexpected romance? Check. Vampires? We couldn’t possibly say… Lauren Owen’s The Quick is catnip for brains that are looking for intelligent and truly dangerous vampires, as opposed to ones who wear drown themselves in Benefit High Tint before going out in the sun and stalking teenage girls because of that whole soulmate thing.

Jeanne Sutton, Junior Editor, Image.ie, @jeannedesutun

hallow's eve

The House Where It Happened by Martina Devlin

Having grown up in Boston, reading Nathaniel Hawthorne in school and visiting Salem, the home of the infamous Salem witch trials, I’ve always had a fascination with witch hunts throughout history. Martina Devlin’s book, inspired by real life events that took place in Islandmagee in Co Antrim, is a supreme example of how well historic fiction can both teach us and inspire us. In 1711, the last conviction for witchcraft in Ireland took place in Carrickfergus, when eight women were condemned and sentenced to a year and a day in prison for their crimes. Their accuser, Mary Dunbar, a girl of 18, claimed she was being tormented by these women. Devlin’s story takes us to Knowehead House, built on the site of a massacre in which Scottish troops attacked and killed members of the Magee clan in 1641 in an attempt to rid the town of Islandmagee of the lot of them in reprisal for the killings of settlers by native Irish elsewhere.
Devlin’s tale weaves history and fiction in a seamless fashion. Her tales of the Haltridge family, residents of Knowehead, their maid, Ellen Hill (the protagonist), and their guest, Mary Dunbar, along with the house’s hauntings by one Hamilton Lock (the fictional instigator of the Islandmagee massacre) raise long-unanswered questions about the validity of witchcraft accusations and the mental health of the accusers, while still managing to bring the reader back to a time of innocence, when spiritual reasoning was the only answer when no natural explanation could be found. Strange happenings in the house seem to support the young girl’s testimony further whenever anyone raises any doubt about her word. A chilling story that will certainly leave you feeling less alone on these cold, dark autumn nights.
The rights to the book have been optioned by Samson Films, the company responsible for Once, Run and Jump, and the recent adaptation of John Banville’s The Sea, so one to read before the masses and book clubs all get on board.

Meg Walker, Deputy Editor, IMAGE Magazine @MegWalkerDublin

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