Things that go burp in the night

Ah, Halloween: the celebration I love to hate. When I’ve finished locking the doors and closing all the curtains so the wee kiddies can’t peer in the windows and make unreasonable demands, I love to sit down with a great book. A scary book, filled with tension, drama, heart-stopping horror and dismembered body parts. Also Vom the Hungering, who lives in Diana’s closet, a small dachshund called Boswell, and the Bride of Frankenstein, currently running a B&B in Whitby.

I’ve written before about horror – good horror – and how truly wonderful it can be.  I could also go on for days about just how bad horror can be when written badly. This week’s collection of titles, however, is all about the burps.  There’s a small but fab group of writers who make me laugh. Out loud. In public. And interestingly many of these clever people choose to write in a genre that is more often linked to pants-wetting terror.

A Lee Martinez consistently produces clever, funny, heart-warming stories about monsters, zombies, robot detectives, and the end of the world – Chasing the Moon was one of my top reads last year, and even now I’m sitting here thinking I might go find it and read it again.  Who wouldn’t want a collection of odd monsters living in their apartment, devouring everything they can find, and bickering with each other?

When he’s not writing Doctor Who books, Paul Magrs takes familiar stories and characters and turns them upside down, adding extra crunchy bits on the way. 666 Charing Cross Road is (obviously) about two people living on different continents who swap letters and books back and forth.  The difference with this version is that one of the books turns out to be a manual to bring back the greatest vampire spirits of the world, who then set out to invade New York and London, in an impeccably dressed, tres chic sort of way. Magrs is also well-known for his series featuring Brenda, the Bride of Frankenstein, and her best friend Effie.

In Tom Holt’s Barking, the scariest creatures in existence turn out to be … lawyers. Opposing firms of lawyers who are either werewolves or vampires. Poor old Duncan is caught up in their rivalries when he is asked to join the law firm founded by an old school friend, and finds himself running around London under a full moon, being chased by a snow-white unicorn who seems to have less-than-good intentions.

And finally, one of my favourite grown-up writers has recently turned his hand to writing for teens, and is in the middle of producing a delicious wee series about Samuel Johnson, whose neighbour Mrs Abernathy seems to be doing very odd things in her basement, and who smells suspiciously like sulphur. Samuel and his faithful companion Boswell the dachshund must overcome all manner of evils in order to save the world and stop the gates of Hell from opening next door.  Chock-full of REAL science, the Hadron Collider, and stuff about QUANTUM, this is an absolutely adorable series, and makes me love John Connolly even more (although be warned – his grown-up books are written in a much darker vein).

That’s not scary

CoverI’m a Children’s Librarian and I read a lot of Children’s books, but I’m also an adult. An adult who isn’t actually that surprised if it turns out at the end of the book that the creepy boy that no-one else ever sees is actually a ghost <gasp>! I don’t shriek in horror at the thought of a slightly sad ghost horse hanging around a pony club or recoil in dread if a ghost only has one arm (but no bloody stump). BUT there have been a couple of ghost stories for kids that have genuinely freaked me out –

 A woman stood in the kitchen with her back to Coraline. She looked a little like Coraline’s mother only…Only her skin was as white as paper. Only she was taller and thinner. Only her fingers were too long, and they never stopped moving, and her dark-red fingernails were curved and sharp. “Coraline?” the woman said. “Is that you?” And then she turned round. Her eyes were big black buttons.

Buttons! I dare you not to feel a bit of a chill at the thought of your Mum being replaced by a stand-in with buttons for eyes.  That was from Coraline by Neil Gaiman. If you’ve only seen the movie or played the (awful) game, you should definitely check out the book, but this post isn’t about Coraline, it’s about a series of books by Chris Priestley called Tales of Terror… .

It started out with Uncle Montague’s Tales of Terror, then Tales of Terror From The Black Ship and I’ve just finished  Tales of Terror From The Tunnel’s Mouth.

“Don’t worry,” gurgled Peter. “I’m here, brother. I’ll always be here.” His mouth widened into a dimpled grin and mud oozed horribly between his teeth and down over his chin. He opened his mouth further and the mud flooded out, pouring down his chest in an unending glutinous stream.”

What books got your hiding under the covers when you were a kid, and still might as an adult?