Top Ten Tuesday – Creepy Books

toptentuesdayA weekly meme by The Broke & The Bookish

It’s my first time participating in Top Ten Tuesday and it’s a Halloween freebie day.  So here’s my top 10 creepy books in no particular order:

  1. Rebecca  by: Daphne du Maurier
    594139This is a classic tale about a young woman who moves to a remote estate after marriage.  She soon becomes suspicious of the house’s occupants and starts to investigate.  This wasn’t super creepy, but I do remember feeling concern and suspense as the main character goes about her investigation.

  2. The Shining  by: Stephen King
    11588This is one of the scariest books I’ve ever read!  It wasn’t just the obvious scary parts (although those scared me), but I was also very creeped out by Jack’s mental state as he remembers the past and processes his present circumstances.  Remember the “Friends” episode where Joey tells Rachel to read The Shining? 🙂 

  3. Black-Eyed Susans  by: Julia Heaberlin
    23746004I read this mystery last year for the R.I.P. challenge, and it definitely grabbed my attention.  I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next and sympathize with the character who knew something wasn’t right, but couldn’t always explain or prove what was wrong.

  4. The Woman in Black  by: Susan Hill
    37034This is a great classic Gothic novel!  I haven’t seen the movie, but this book is a great story that grabs the reader’s imagination, but doesn’t go overboard and cause nightmares.
  5. The Historian  by: Elizabeth Kostova
    10692Once again, this isn’t incredibly creepy, but it’s very atmospheric and leaves a lasting impression on the reader.  The main character is on a search for Dracula so you can imagine that there’s some suspense to be found within the novel’s 700 pages.
  6. Frankenstein  by: Mary Shelley
    18490This novel is probably expected to be on a creepy book list, but I wouldn’t say it’s as scary as people who think about the typical Frankenstein’s monster think.  Not only is the idea of a “monster” on a quest for revenge a scary thought, but the concepts of creating life and the responsibility of that creation is disturbing.
  7. The Quick  by: Lauren Owen
    18050175I would like to read this book again.  It has some chilling and suspenseful moments as well as being an interesting story.  A woman searches for her missing brother in Victorian England and discovers mysterious and dangerous people in the process.
  8. Bird Box  by: Josh Malerman
    18498558Wow, this post apocalyptic story had some very suspenseful moments!  There were times where I couldn’t put the book down.  It was easy to feel scared and horrified along with the blindfolded character.

  9. House of Leaves  by: Mark Z. Danielewski
    337907I didn’t enjoy all of this story, but it sure was creepy!  Also, creepy things kept happening to me while reading this book and I was beginning to think the curse at the beginning of the book was real.
  10. Dracula  by: Bram Stoker
    17245Like the previous book on the list, I didn’t enjoy the whole book overall, but it also had some memorable creepy moments that have stuck with me over the years.  It’s a classic and, like Frankenstein, worth reading just because of how influential it has been on modern culture.



What’s a creepy book you’ve read?  I’m always looking for ideas for the annual R.I.P. challenge and I actually enjoy suspense any time of the year!

The Woman in White

The Woman in White
by: Wilkie Collins

Challenges: TBR Challenge

Published: 1860

# of pages: 528

I was disappointed that it took me so long to read this book. I was reading some non-fiction books at the time and had a lot going on, but I think that affected my opinion of the book. I loved the first part and thought it was very well written and I was thoroughly hooked on the mystery. However, there comes a time in the novel where it feels like it should end…but it doesn’t. After that it dragged for me. Although like I said, it may have been because I was already taking awhile to read it. But I think I would have been more motivated to pick it up and read if it hadn’t been so slow.

The story is mainly told by Walter, an art instructor. Just before he goes to live on a private estate to tutor two women, he meets a mysterious woman dressed all in white on a dark road in the middle of the night. He helps the woman to town and finds her a carriage, but soon discovers that there are men from an asylum looking for her. The occurrence haunts him even after he goes to the beautiful estate to teach young ladies art skills.

Of course he falls in love with the beautiful, perfect, feminine Laura. Her half sister, Marian, is the opposite of Laura. Not so good looking, outspoken, outgoing, and more “masculine,” but still very nice and considerate. These characters are a very interesting part of the novel. I found Laura’s character to be very dull and washed out. She’s the perfect woman for the time the novel was written, but she’s treated like a child throughout the entire novel. Walter and Marian spend all of their time protecting her. Marian is a character that is full of life. So why the heck does Walter fall in love with Laura instead? I guess it’s just because of her looks, or maybe he’s really intimidated by Marian. It’s awful because Marian is obviously not marriage material according to any of the men in the book. They admire her, but that’s as far as it goes. I thought it was interesting that Collins wrote a character like Marian and I can’t figure out if he’s still sexist for making Laura the most “desirable” female or if he was trying to make a point that Laura was the dull, stupid one and Marian the smart one that actually thinks for herself. So maybe he wanted people to think that Laura shouldn’t really be the attractive one???

Anyway, Walter soon discovers that he can’t get away from the woman in white, even in his new situation. The woman becomes entangled with Laura and Marian and he soon finds himself investigating crimes and trying to save Laura from Sir Percival Glyde. There’s a neat plot twist and I was impressed at the intricacy of the novel. However, like I said before, I became a little tired when Walter changes tactics from trying to save Laura to revenge on Sir Percival.

So I’m not really sure what I thought about this book. I liked it, but also found some of it to be very boring. I am also still frustrated at how Walter and Marian treated Laura and at Laura’s character for being so weak. However, I still recommend this to lovers of the classics, Gothic tales, and mysteries.


by: Daphne du Maurier

Published: 1938 (Harper 2006)

# of pages: 386

Quote: “And time will melow it, make it a moment for laughter. But now it was not funny, now I did not laugh. It was not the future, it was the present. It was too vivid and too real.” -p. 222

I started reading this on Halloween. It’s a Gothic suspense, I think just perfect for being creeped out, but not too scared. And it’s true, this was a great suspense novel that kept me on my toes. Apparently this is a very well known book, but I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never heard of it before. Have you? There’s even an Alfred Hitchcock film based on the novel that I’m going to check out from the library tonight. I’ll let you know if it’s good!

The story follows a young lady who falls in love with a wealthy estate owner, Maxim. She hears rumors about how he’s been married before and although he admits it, he stays pretty quiet about the subject. He asks her to marry him and takes her back to his house, Manderley. The novel follows her as she adjusts to a new environment and the fact that Maxim had a beautiful and vibrant wife named Rebecca, who is still revered and respected by the household and their neighbors.

Mrs. Danvers is in charge of the household staff and is the creepy antagonist in the novel. The reader is constantly wondering what she’s really up to. Maxim is slightly oblivious to household affairs and so the narrator is left to herself to discover how deep Rebecca’s influence over Manderley is.

I had an idea of the big plot twist towards the beginning of the novel but then second guessed it. I think all readers will always be a step ahead of the narrator when it comes to some of the surprises she receives, but I think it’s safe to say that when the big plot twist occurs you will be surprised. And even after the big surprise the reader is still left wondering what will happen. There’s always a sense of dread throughout the book, even when things seem to be going well.

The narrator is sweet and timid with an overactive imagination. In some ways she reminds me of myself, especially how she makes up scenarios in her mind of what could happen. I’m glad to say that I’m not nearly so timid as she is. She’s painfully shy and there were times I wanted to go in the book and just encourage her to step out a little and not be so scared of upsetting people. However, I think her character was realistic and am glad du Maurier chose her personality type for a main character.

I recommend this book to everyone. It’s a well written classic that may be a little too serious for some young adults, but is great for high schoolers and adults.

Anna Karenina

Anna Karenina by: Leo Tolstoy

Challenges: My Year of Reading Dangerously, TBR Challenge, Eponymous Challenge

Published: 1873

# of pages: 853

Quote: “As the reading proceeded, especially at the frequent and rapid repetitions of the same words, ‘Lord, have mercy upon us!’ which sounded like ‘Lordavmercpons!‘, Levin felt that his mind was closed and sealed . . . ‘Well, it will soon be over now,’ he thought. ‘No, I believe he’s going back to the beginning again,’ he thought, listening to the prayers.” -Levin pp. 464-465

I substituted Anna Karenina for Lolita in the Reading Dangerously’s June challenge. I went to the library to get Lolita and couldn’t find it so I grabbed this instead since I needed it for other challenges.

I was afraid of reading this book and was amazed that it was easier to read and I enjoyed it more than I had imagined. My only complaint is that the eighth and last section could have been reduced to a couple of pages! At that point I just wanted to know what happened to the remaining characters and while Tolstoy does give us that information, I felt like he was really cramming in a lot of other stuff that should have been dispersed throughout the book (of course, he is the worldwide famous author who has gone down in history and I couldn’t write a book if I tried!).

Anna Karenina is, of course, about a woman named Anna. However, I was interested to discover that it also closely follows the Alexandrovna sisters and their familys. There’s 3 sisters: Natalie, Dolly, and Kitty. Dolly and Kitty are main characters as well as Dolly’s husband and Kitty’s love interests. Anna gets mixed in as a result of falling in love with one of Kitty’s favorite young men, Vronsky, and Levin is pulled in to the story because he falls in love with Kitty. Karenin is Anna’s husband and so is featured in many chapters. Confused yet? The only other main characters are Koznyshev and Nikolai, Levin’s brothers.

The novel has a timeline that spans over a couple of years. A lot of things happen in these years, people fall in love, marry, die, have babies, learn important life lessons. I was mainly interested in the stories, especially Kitty’s. I liked her character. I didn’t always like Levin, although I have heard that Tolstoy based this character off of himself. Levin is full of thoughts and loves to ponder these thoughts. He’s always changing his views and learning new things. Some of it is interesting, but I couldn’t force myself to care too much about the peasants and how they affected agriculture. I’m sure that at the time this novel was published that must have been an issue, but it tainted my pleasure of reading the parts that followed Levin. Also, he kind of annoyed me because of how moody he was. Everytime he was around people he was angry and frustrated. However, his love for Kitty was really sweet and I liked how he (mostly) was happy with her.

I also had to dislike Anna’s character at most times. At first I wanted to judge her and say that she shouldn’t have been so selfish as to leave her husband (especially after he forgave her after she gave birth). But after that the reader learns a little about her background with her husband. We already know that she no longer loves Karenin, but it turns out he is 20 years older than she is and that her aunt tricked them into getting married. It must have been terrible to be forced into marriage with someone you don’t love. However, I could never really get past the fact that she abandoned her son for a lover. I think she couldn’t really get past that either though. She tried to forget it and it haunted her throughout the years she was separated from the boy.

I felt bad for Karenin at times, especially when he is looked down upon for forgiving his wife instead of dueling Vronsky. Society didn’t respect forgiveness. They assumed he was a coward and didn’t realize that sometimes it takes more strength to forgive and show love. However, after he becomes self righteous and meets Countess Lydia I thought he was less sincere than he was before he started outwardly proclaiming his Christian faith.

Dolly was an interesting character and I enjoyed her thoughts. At one point she is traveling to visit Anna and contemplates her life as a mother and a wife to a man who pays no attention to his family. She wants to be like Anna, but quickly realizes that she would be unhappy with that lifestyle and from then on appreciates her life and children more. I liked her honesty because I think that’s how I would feel in her position, and I think I would arrive at the same conclusion she did. Dolly is the opposite of Anna. Sure, she doesn’t love her husband and is even mistreated by him just like Anna was by Karenin, but instead of abandoning them she sees the good in her life and sticks with her children and her friends.

The end of the novel reminded me of Voltaire’s Candide. At the end of Candide, Candide comes to the conclusion that the meaning of life and the way to be satisfied is to tend to his garden. A peasant farmer tells him that and he embraces that lifestyle. At the end of Anna Karenina, Levin is wondering the same thing, what is the meaning of life and how can he know that he is living the way he should? A peasant farmer tells him to live rightly in God’s way. And Levin is struck by that and realizes that is the key to being fulfilled.

I recommend this book to lovers of Russian literature and lovers of classics. After reading it, I don’t think I’ve ever read any references to it, but it was interesting to compare it to other novels such as Madame Bovary and Candide. It will be interesting to see if I start to discover more references now that I’m familiar with the storyline and characters. This was a good (but long) read that took me a week and a half to finish. I think others will also be pleasantly surprised that this is easier to read than it looks!


Dracula by: Bram Stoker

Challenges: TBR 2008, Eponymous Challenge

Published: 1897 (Bantam Classic 1981)

# of pages: 413

Quote: “. . . you have given me hope – hope, not in what I am seeking of, but that there are good women still left to make life happy – good women , whose lives and whose truths may make good lesson for the children that are to be.” -Van Helsing p. 198

Ladies and gentlemen!! Here it is, the long awaited Dracula post! It’s been several weeks, but things have been crazy in my life so I just now finished the book. Stoker’s novel can be summed up as: There’s a reason it’s a classic.

I was fascinated about how this was the first big vampire book. Stoker created something that everyone still knows today, over 100 years later. I was also impressed about how many of the traditional vampire myths are found in this book. I expected the book to be quite a bit different, but vampires are still unable to endure garlic, crucifixes, holy water, and the sound of prayers, just like they are in most other books and movies.

The thing that impressed me the most, however, was the fact that this book is not nearly as hokey as I expected from all of the movies and the modern image of Count Dracula. I expected the book to be fake or at least silly, but I found that it was much more believable than I every thought it would be and even scary in some parts. I actually had a nightmare one night that featured vampires! It wasn’t too scary to read, but there were parts where I almost dreaded what would happen next.

One thing that confused me in the book – I was so surprised that the wolves and vampires are friends. I’ve always seen movies and books where vampires and werewolves are enemies and thought that has always been the way they were portrayed. But in Dracula the wolves work with and seem to be controlled by the vampires. If anyone knows more about this topic please let me know!

I loved the 2 women characters, Lucy and Mina. In some ways they were your typical damsel in distress, but Mina at least had a key part in the outcome of the book. Her male companions may very well have been unable to accomplish their goal without her. Van Helsing says she has a “man’s brains” at one point. Of course this is ridiculous, she has a woman’s brains, but it is most likely how the average man in the late 1800s would think of a woman like Mina. Lucy was passive, but she still endured bravely and I feared for her life at times and was pulling for her to make it through. The men are also interesting characters and although they step up and become tough men, there are many times that they almost seem silly and clueless. There’s a good balance between the men’s and women’s roles in the book.

The forward in the Bantam Classic edition (don’t read the forward before you read the novel, it’s a spoiler!) discussed sexuality found throughout the novel. I can very much imagine writing a paper on this! The movie Dracula that stars Anthony Hopkins, Winona Ryder, and Keanu Reeves, definitely elaborates this. However, the book is very subtle on this topic, just as it is in most of the classics, and it can be argued how sexual Stoker intended some of the scenes to be.

I think this is a must read just because the character Dracula is so popular and misunderstood in today’s world. It’s also fascinating if you enjoy other vampire books which reference the many vampire myths and themes in this – the most ultimate vampire book of all time.

Great Expectations

Great Expectations by: Charles Dickens (Signet Classic)

Challenges: My Year of Reading Dangerously, Chunkster Challenge

Published: 1860 (Signet Classic: 1961)

# of pages: 490

Quote: “‘Now, I come to the cruel part of the story-merely breaking off, my dear Handel, to remark that a dinner-napkin will not go into a tumbler.’
Why I was trying to pack mine into my tumbler, I am wholly unable to say. I only know that I found myself, with a perseverance worthy of a much better cause, making the most strenuous exertions to compress it within those limits.” -Herbert to Pip p. 178-79

Now I can add Great Expectations to the small list of Dickens’ books I’ve read along with Oliver Twist and A Tale of Two Cities. I enjoyed this novel just as much! Dickens, of course, uses beautiful language and a sense of sarcasm and wit in every description. This story strongly reminded me of the tale of the prodigal son in the Bible. Pip longs for more than his simple living arrangements with his sister and brother-in-law, Joe, and when he has the opportunity of “great expectations”, immediately leaves for London to live a gentleman’s life. The entire story is full of mystery. I guessed a few, but there were a lot of surprises, especially in the last fourth of the book. That kept me hooked, because just as I started getting a little tired and felt like it was about time for something to happen, all of a sudden new plot twists appear and more mysteries crop up and begin to be solved.

I loved several of the characters. I really empathized with Joe and Provis. I couldn’t help but like them and wish I could be in the story to talk some sense into Pip in regards to how he treats them! Thankfully, everything works out well in the end, even though differently than I hoped. Herbert is another loveable character and I really enjoyed Mr. Wemmick and Mr. Jaggers. Mr. Wemmick’s wedding scene was so funny, maybe someday I’ll type it all out on here so you don’t have to read the whole book to enjoy it.

There were a lot of classic morals in here. Money doesn’t buy happines, outward appearances aren’t everything, be careful what you wish for, etc. My copy of the book by Signet Classic has both of the endings Dickens wrote for this novel. Apparently he had written an ending and then changed it just before the initial publication. I liked the second ending better, which is the traditional, typical ending. But it was interesting to read his original ending as well. Overall, I recommend this story for its plot, beautiful wording, and humor, especially if you enjoy other tales by Dickens.